Like carrot cake gone green, this zucchini-walnut cake is the perfect summer treat with it’s warm spices and sweet earthiness.
zucchini-walnut cake with cinnamon honey buttercream

Posting this cake is kind of weird for me. And momentous. But in a weird way.

I think it may be the first time ever in my life, but certainly in blog history, when I had an opportunity to make cream cheese frosting…and didn’t.


We should probably all take a moment of silence. For what, I’m not particularly sure…but it just seems appropriate.


What all this comes down to, really, is that in my old(er) age, laziness trumps cream cheese frosting love. And I just didn’t feel like going to the store for cream cheese, at least not when I had some perfectly good butter in the fridge.

Now if it had been a question of frosting v. no frosting, then I would have been lacing up my sneakers andΒ running to the supermarket (a block and a half away) in a jiffy, because frosting as an entity is non-negotiable. You can rest assured that that much hasn’t changed.


And I may be a bit biased, but this cinnamon-honey buttercream is kind of perfectly paired with the cinnamon/ginger/nutmeg/ALLTHEGOODSPICES mixed into this perfectly moist vegetable-full cake. So laziness notwithstanding, each bite is a total win.

A total HEALTH-FULL win. Just…don’t quote me on that.


Aside from it’s deliciousness, one of the best things about this cake is how easy it is. You simply mix, stir, bake, and then smear frosting all over the top in as messy and haphazard a way as your soul desires.

Less time in the kitchen = more time outside = a happier Labor Day weekend. Just saying. Make this.


One year ago…Tomato, Squash and Red Pepper Gratin

Two years ago…Carrot Cake Pancakes, Tofu Tacos with Spicy Cabbage Slaw and Avocado

Three years ago…Puerto Rican Sweet Plantain Lasagna

Four years ago…Eggplant Caponata over Creamy Polenta

Zucchini-Walnut Cake with Cinnamon Honey Buttercream
Like carrot cake gone green, this zucchini-walnut cake is the perfect summer treat with it's warm spices and sweet earthiness.
Yield: 1 9-inch cake
For the cake
  • 1½ cups all purpose flour
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp coarse kosher salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups coarsely grated zucchini (8 oz)
  • ¾ cup chopped walnuts
For the buttercream
  • 4 oz butter, room temperature (1 stick)
  • 1¼ cups confectioner's sugar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • ⅛ tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  1. Heat oven to 350. Line a 9" cake pan with parchment paper and spray with nonstick spray. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, brown sugar, and vanilla. Mix in the eggs until well combined. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, until just incorporated.
  4. Mix the zucchini and walnuts into the cake batter until just incorporated. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely before frosting.
  5. For the frosting, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter, sugar, honey, cinnamon and salt until smooth and fluffy. Spread over the top of cake once it it is cool.
Adapted from Bon Appetit and Martha Stewart
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1/10th of recipe


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86 Responses to Zucchini-Walnut Cake with Cinnamon Honey Buttercream

  1. See… if you had just done regular buttercream, I would have thought you were crazy… but you managed to create the ultimate frosting by flavoring it with honey and cinnamon. How amazing that sounds!!!

  2. Yum!! Simple, easy, moist and covered in buttercream. Again, yum.

  3. debbie says:

    Just saw this posted on FB and had to hop right over to your blog. This is looks magnificent!!! Delicious! Have a great holiday weekend Joanne!

  4. Blond Duck says:

    I love icing in any mixture. πŸ™‚

  5. Chewthefat says:

    A very timely recipe! My friends with gardens are getting rid of all of their excess zucchini! I always say, give it ALL to me!

  6. I am alllll over this cake! Anything zucchini or carrot + spice is my jam. Great recipe friend!

  7. That buttercream sounds amazing so not making cream cheese icing is perfectly excusable here. And an easy cake? Total win!

  8. You win my heart with this one πŸ™‚

  9. Abby says:

    haha I love this “gone green” version πŸ™‚ and how can you go wrong with buttercream, I wish I had a big old slice right now!

  10. Sanjeeta kk says:

    Aweee…cake with Zucchini…yes please!

  11. Kathryn says:

    Love this cake & that buttercream. Cinnamon and honey sounds like such a good frosting for this.

  12. You know, most of the time I would have been right behind you in the grocery line buying cream cheese for frosting, but I’m getting down with this cinnamon-honey butter cream. I mean, if you’re going to skip the cream cheese, at least it was with this!

  13. P says:

    I am not a huge fan of carrot cake, but I have a feeling I would love this because it uses the otherwise bland zucchini for good ;)!

  14. Joanne, this looks So Good!! I have to make this cake – I love a good cake and this will be perfect for this weekend barbecue! Thanks and have a great relaxing, weekend!

  15. I want to slather that frosting everywhere!!!

  16. Jessie says:

    I like your views on frosting and its essential-ness! I’ve never turned down a cream cheese frosting, but I think I’ll have to for this cinnamon honey buttercream. And carrot cake is one of my favorites, so I can totally see myself chowing down on this zucchini version.

    Have a great weekend, Joanne!

  17. This reminds me of a carrot cake with the texture and I would like to eat the entire thing. Your honey buttercream looks amazing, I’m definitely going to be trying it soon and try not to eat it by the spoonful!

  18. sandra says:

    You may eventually get there – that place where even making the frosting is too much bother. I’ve reached that point – with the excuse that it is healthier without, but we all know it is really my not wanting to mess with that ornery stuff, my painting career aside.

    But this cake (w/o frosting) will definitely make it into my repertoire. So full of goodness!

  19. Yum! The frosting looks out of this world and the cake looks so moist! Perfect way to start a holiday weekend!

  20. Tara says:

    If for any reason you want to use cream cheese frosting for the rest of your life, I will be totally okay with that. Just letting you know! πŸ™‚

  21. What a great cake to close out summer!! Thanks for sharing this beautiful looking dessert and happy Labor Day to you and yours!!

  22. yummmmmmmmm.. i love cream cheese frosting… can’t believe you didn’t make it earlier since you are such a fab cook.

  23. Pam says:

    I prefer buttercream anyway. It looks decadent, delicious, and pretty too.

  24. Oooh I love cream cheese frosting, but this cinnamon honey buttercream looks creamy and delicious!

  25. Monica says:

    That frosting on top makes it look really special!

  26. Amy says:

    Anything after “zucchini-walnut cake with cinnamon honey buttercream” is all a blur.

  27. I feel not so guilty when eating a veggie packed sweet πŸ™‚ The cream cheese frosting is my favourite too.

  28. I always make cream cheese frosting too! I prefer it to buttercream. But this cake looks totally delicious. Hope you have a fun Labor Day Weekend, Joanne!!

  29. Lynn says:

    Thank you for so many tasty recipes! I am a dietitian turned medical student in my 3rd year of school in WI, so I really enjoy your stories about medicine and health. I have a shelf exam in 20 minutes, so I am just checking out your posts to relax before the test. When will you be finishing your PhD and starting back in with clinical rotations?

  30. This is such a perfect cake for easing into fall without all the explosion of pumpkin I’m seeing already, haha! Love the look of this. I’d dig into it for dessert any day!

  31. That’s some fancy buttercream. πŸ™‚

    This cake seems like a healthy indulgence to me. As long as there’s veggies in it, it counts. My rules.

  32. Melissa says:

    I completely agree with you. Frosting always wins vs no frosting, whether we’re talking about a cake, cookies, or English muffin, whatever the case may be! I love zucchini and I prefer buttercream over cream cheese frosting so I will definitely be trying this recipe!

  33. Cinnamon and honey frosting sounds magical! Way more unique than cream cheese.

  34. That frosting is calling my name! I love cream cheese frosting, but I think this would taste even better. It looks so creamy and thick that I’m drooling now πŸ˜‰
    Have a lovely weekend, Joanne! x

  35. Beth says:

    Your cake looks fantastic! And, for the record, I’d probably top it with a cream cheese frosting.

  36. Christine says:

    I would find it hard not to inhale this till I burst! Looks So Good and Moist.

  37. gloria says:

    Look amazing!! Look delicious and sbolutely tempting!! I love the frosting LOL

  38. Mary says:

    Oh Joanne!!! I mean how did you not eat the entire thing?? this looks SO scrumptious and with that wonderful frosting!! – love the ingredients πŸ™‚
    Mary x

  39. Suzie says:

    The frosting sounds so good, well the entire thing does but, I’d settle for some frosting right now πŸ˜‰ Have a great weekend Joanne!!

  40. Johanna GGG says:

    I would eat this with no frosting quite happily esp if it meant a trip to the shops. And I love cream cheese frosting but I am intrigued by the cinnamon honey buttercream – sounds juts right for the zucchini cake

  41. Hannah says:

    This couldn’t be more perfect for Rosh Hashana, too- Just swap out the shredded zucchini for shredded apples, and you’d be in business with that honey frosting. I’m still figuring out my dessert for the occasion so everything that could possibly fit that mold has been grabbing my attention. I guess this concept will have to go on the list!

  42. Whatever icing went on this, I know I would love it. I don’t think I will ever get tired of zucchini in baking and this cake makes it look elegant! If only I wasn’t so lazy in my old age I’d whip it up right now…

  43. wow, what a beautiful cake and that frosting is too good. You have given me a great recipe for the weekend. Thanks

  44. What a glorious combination of spices Joanne πŸ™‚

  45. Ooo YUM. I could totally make this with a Mila egg and coconut oil instead of butter and voila – plant based! <3 Dawn

  46. Oh I would love to have a slice of that cake. The buttercream sounds so good!

  47. Karen says:

    I always have cream cheese and have no problem just taking a big ol’ bite of it every now and then. I’d do the same thing with this buttercream. Who needs the cake? πŸ˜‰

  48. I never miss a chance to use cream cheese frosting either, but this buttercream sounds lovely! The walnuts in the cake sounds great too.

  49. How incredibly moist it looks…and I LOVE how well studded it is with those nuts. Save me a slice!! =)

  50. cquek says:

    gosh , i don’t want a slice but the whole cake all by myself..

  51. This sounds incredible! I could do some serious damage on this cake…I LOVE walnuts! Have you ever tried walnut butter? It’s so addictive!

  52. This cake looks perfect! So moist and with that fabulous creamy frosting. I want to dive right in.

  53. bellini says:

    We like the easier way out, although running to the store for cream cheese would have allowed me to have 2 pieces:D

  54. I want to eat that frosting with a spoon! It looks so fluffy. Love this, Joanne! Hope you have a great weekend!

  55. This has my name all over it, I love zucchini in cakes and breads, and the frosting puts it over the top. Great pics, too!

  56. Foodiewife says:

    I hate being offine for so long. You’ve posted NINE recipes, I need to catch up on. How do you do it, girl? Of course, I had to start here. Love zucchini in cake. A definite moist factor. Brilliance on the frosting. It has vegetables, so it’s healthy, right? I’m hungry, now.

  57. Donna says:

    I, too, crave a good cream cheese frosting, but Hey: Honey cinnamon buttercream. C’mon. Sounds so flavorful!

  58. The texture of this cake looks amazing, (though I’d have to replace walnuts with pecans), and the buttercream looks to die for. I’d probably just eat it right off the spoon… never mind the half frosted cake!

  59. pam says:

    Mix, stir, bake. I can do that!
    Sidewalk Shoes

  60. lovely,moist and tender cake…walnuts add such a wonderful nuttiness to it….cinnamon and honey give it a touch of sweet warmth….awesome cake and adorable food clicks as always… πŸ™‚

  61. I’m all about the honey buttercream lately. Looks perfect on the zucchini cake!

  62. Kate says:

    All frosting is good frosting (even though I like cream cheese frosting the best.)

  63. yeah Joanne this buttercream alone sounds like a treat!
    what a great flavor combo girl!

  64. katie zeller says:

    Perfect timing… I have both zucchini and walnuts in my garden… and no cream cheese. But I still have some powdered sugar left from the carrot cake LOL

  65. ‘like carrot cake gone green’ hahaha it should be a Dr Seuss book

  66. Hotly Spiced says:

    That’s a beautiful looking cake and perfect fare for a long weekend. I love the ingredients in the icing xx

  67. You know, I’m pretty pumped that you didn’t do a cream cheese frosting. This buttercream sounds delicious! The cinnamon and honey almost make this feel like an early fall breakfast (yes, I eat cake for breakfast!)

  68. Kim Tracy says:

    I am absolutely crazy about zucchini cake. This one looks so delicious! I love cream cheese frosting too, but I will avoid going to the store at all costs. As much as I love cream cheese frosting, I think the cinnamon honey buttercream looks just as tasty.

  69. This is a gorgeous cake! I love the cinnamon honey buttercream!

  70. Ashley says:

    This looks fantastic!! I love zucchini bread, but can’t recall if I’ve ever had it in cake form. Yum!

  71. This looks delicious Joanne. It reminds me of carrot cake which my husband and I both love. Love that cinnamon honey buttercream. YUM! πŸ™‚

  72. Megan says:

    I think I would actually like this buttercream better than cream cheese frosting. Sounds like an excellent save!

  73. Reeni says:

    The cinnamon honey buttercream sounds perfect for this zucchini cake! I know zucchini = summer but it just seems so fall-ish with all those warm spices and walnuts. Completely delicious.

  74. Meg says:

    Oh, this looks so amazing. I would jump through all kinds of hoops to have a slice right now!

  75. grace says:

    pretty sure i’d like to just go ahead and stick my face in that buttercream.

  76. Shannon says:

    now you have my mind going to a honey cinnamon cream cheese frosting πŸ™‚ yum! i have a monster summer squash begging to be baked with hanging in my fridge, i’d better get to it!

  77. Nutmeg Nanny says:

    Oh my, this frosting just looks and sounds wondrous πŸ™‚ I can’t wait to taste it!!

  78. Adrian Fleur says:

    This looks so delightful. I can’t wait for the day I actually try a zucchini cake! Or perhaps try and make this recipe =) Lovely.

  79. I love cakes like this. You probably already realize that for me frosting is totally negotiable, but this one looks wonderful.

  80. Just wanted to let you know I made this and just posted it on my blog. It was amazing! That frosting – omg!

  81. […] Notes Recipe adapted from Joanne Eats Well With Others […]

  82. Adam says:

    Could I use Pecans instead of Walnuts?

  83. Glenda says:

    I made it and it was amazing. The frosting was melt in your mouth perfect! Will make many more. Thank you:)

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