Healthy Zucchini Bread

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Zucchini bread is easy to make treat with a cake-like texture. Each slice is packed with healthy grated zucchini, pecans, cranberries, cinnamon, nutmeg, and whole wheat flour.

A loaf of zucchini bread that has been sliced in 3 pieces

Zucchini bread is a popular baked good because it’s loaded with nutrient-packed vegetables, it’s easy to prepare, and it’s a simple treat to share with a crowd. This recipe has a healthy twist, without compromising flavor. White whole wheat flour is used to add in whole grains and fiber into each serving.

Plus, applesauce is used to help reduce the amount of oil added to the recipe. The tricky part is ensuring that each slice has a tender crumb, that isn’t too dry. By taking advantage of the natural moisture in the zucchini and pairing pleasing flavors and textures that complement the subtly sweet taste of the vegetable, a craveable yet more wholesome zucchini bread recipe is just a few stirs away!

How to make zucchini bread

  • Shred zucchini using the large holes on a box grater or handheld grater to add texture.
  • Do not peel the zucchini before grating. The skin is thin and gives nice green speckles.
  • Immediately strain grated zucchini to allow the excess moisture to drain, but do not squeeze out the water. This process prevents it from becoming soggy.
  • Drain grated zucchini for at least 10 minutes. Each zucchini crop has a different amount of moisture, so the amount collected will vary.
  • Do not overmix the wet and dry ingredients. Stirring the batter too much will cause overproduction of gluten formation, creating a tough bread.
  • Allow batter to hydrate for at least 10 minutes before baking.

Spatula mixing grated zucchini into bread batter

When zucchini is in season, make sure to grab some to make this delicious treat! The natural moisture in the vegetable helps the bread from becoming overly dry, especially when using whole wheat flour and alternative butter substitutes for baking.

zucchini bread batter mixture with dried cranberries and chopped walnuts

Loaf pan with zucchini bread mixture before baking

It may seem strange to add vegetables into a sweet pastry. However, the flavor of zucchini is very neutral and infuses well with other ingredients. In this recipe, cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, chopped pecans, and dried cranberries add exciting and tasty elements to the bread.

This recipe makes for two tasty loaves of zucchini bread, and I promise, people will be delighted to have a slice or two. As you can see, the baking soda gives a beautiful domed top to the bread, providing extra lift during the baking process.

loaf of zucchini bread cooling on a wire rack

What makes this recipe healthy?

If you’re looking to cut some of the fat content from the recipe, applesauce can be an excellent healthy substitute. It provides some structure to the bread and fibers to help with binding the moisture. I would not recommend higher than 50% replacement when using whole wheat flour, because it can become dry.

Whole wheat flour gives you more grains, but since the bran, germ and fiber are ground and left in the meal, additional moisture is needed. The vegetables, fruit, oil, and humectants like brown sugar help to keep the bread tender. White whole wheat has a more mild flavor and lighter color in the baked product, so I often use it in my recipes.

sliced zucchini bread showing pieces of cranberries and nuts inside

It’s hard to resist waiting until the bread cools before cutting off a piece to enjoy! The warm spices, crunchy pecans, and tangy cranberries are an irresistible combination of flavors. It’s a lovely breakfast with a hot cup of chai latte, a quick snack, or dessert to end your meal.

More zucchini recipes

How to prevent dried zucchini bread

The right balance of moisture, oil, sugars, and flour will produce a tender bread. However, if using whole wheat flour, allow the batter to rest 10 minutes before baking, 30 minutes max. This process allows the liquid in the batter to permeate the bran and the germ, softening it before baking, which will result in a more moist bread.

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Healthy Zucchini Bread

Zucchini bread is an easy to make, tender treat with a cake-like texture. Each slice is packed with healthy freshly grated zucchini, pecans, cranberries, cinnamon, nutmeg and whole wheat flour.
Pin Print Review
4.55 from 20 votes
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time1 hr
Servings 20 servings
Course Bread
Cuisine American

Ingredients

  • 3 cups grated zucchini
  • 3 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • ¾ cup pecans, chopped
  • ¾ cup dried cranberries

Instructions 

  • Place the oven rack in the center position. Preheat to 350ºF (177ºC).
  • Place the freshly grated zucchini in a colander or sieve set over a bowl to drain some of the excess water.
  • In a medium-sized bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Set the dry ingredients aside.
  • In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla.
  • Add the drained grated zucchini to the egg mixture and stir to combine.
  • Add the vegetable oil and applesauce to the wet ingredients and stir to combine.
  • Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, gently folding, using three additions. Leave some dry flour spots.
  • Add pecans and cranberries to the batter, stirring just to combine.
  • Grease two 5 by 9-inch loaf pans with vegetable oil or cooking spray.
  • Evenly divide the zucchini bread batter into each loaf pan. Allow batter to sit for 10 minutes before baking.
  • Bake loaves side by side in the center of the oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and surface is golden brown, about 40 to 50 minutes.
  • Allow bread to cool in pans for 10 minutes.
  • Use a spatula to release the sides of the bread from the loaf pan then place on a cooling rack.
  • Once zucchini bread has cooled completely, slice and serve.

Notes

  • Zucchini bread can be wrapped and stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
  • Melted coconut oil, butter or ghee can be substituted for vegetable oil.
  • All-purpose flour or whole wheat flour can be substituted for white whole wheat flour.
  • Chocolate chips are an optional add-in for a sweeter bread.
  • MAKE IT VEGAN: Use two flaxeggs instead of regular eggs.
  • MAKE IT GLUTEN-FREE: Use gluten-free flour.

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Nutrition Facts
Healthy Zucchini Bread
Amount Per Serving
Calories 240 Calories from Fat 99
% Daily Value*
Fat 11g17%
Saturated Fat 1g5%
Polyunsaturated Fat 3g
Monounsaturated Fat 2g
Cholesterol 18mg6%
Sodium 233mg10%
Potassium 58mg2%
Carbohydrates 32g11%
Fiber 3g12%
Sugar 18g20%
Protein 4g8%
Vitamin A 50IU1%
Vitamin C 7.4mg9%
Calcium 20mg2%
Iron 1.3mg7%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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11 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Judy says

    Jessica, this looks beautiful. I make zucchini bread and sometimes I substitute the zucchini with pineapple and apple. I freeze a few loaves to share with neighbors during holidays or to give for comfort in a crisis. I have never drained my zucchini so I will start to do that now and try your recipe. I often make my own applesauce but the other day I got a jar of chunky applesauce at Trader Joe and I think it will work perfectly in this recipe. Here is to happy zucchini baking days. ????

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you Judy! The whole family enjoyed devouring this bread 🙂 I really like your idea of substituting zucchini with pineapple and apple. Freezing is a great idea, especially since the recipe makes 2 loaves! I will have to try the trader joe’s applesauce, sounds lovely. Happy baking!

  2. Jackie says

    Easy to prepare. Baked perfectly on convection bake for 45 minutes. Moist and firm. Not too sweet. Great recipe!

  3. Rachel says

    Used almond flour and then 1/2 cup of honey instead of granulated sugar. They came out great- not very sweet, but still yummy 🙂

  4. Sr Kathleen says

    Hi Jessica,
    Thanks for the recipe. I am wondering if I could eliminate the baking soda as it is not good for the kidneys.
    Sr Kathleen

    • Jessica Gavin says

      If you remove the baking soda it will be very dense and not rise much. Perhaps you could separately whip the egg whites, then fold it into the batter to help lighten it a bit. Let me know how it goes!

  5. Cynthia says

    I have one family member that hates dried fruit of any kind and another one hates all nuts. Do I need to add more of something when omitting those 2 ingredients?

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