This Orange Zucchini Bread recipe is a delicious citrusy twist on classic zucchini bread made with oil not butter. A perfect one-bowl bake with summer zucchini that’s a perfect balance of sweet and savory with a hint of orange and warm spices.
I love this recipe so much because zucchini is one of my favorite summer ingredients, and paired with fresh oranges in this zucchini orange bread it’s just an absolute dream.
- Zucchini: Fresh zucchini! Roughly 1-2 small zucchini / medium zucchini should be just enough for this recipe (1 ½ cups). Bonus points if you grew it in your own garden because this is a great recipe to use up your harvest (I wish!!!).
- Orange zest and juice: Fresh orange juice and zest really bring this zucchini bread to life.
- Oil: Neutral oil helps make the zucchini bread super moist while not being too fatty – I like to use canola oil, vegetable oil, or even a mild olive oil (not extra virgin olive oil).
- Flour: All-purpose flour is my go-to for baking. Unbleached is ideal.
- Baking powder: Baking powder is the leavener.
- Sugar: Granulated sugar.
- Eggs: Large eggs at room temperature for baking! If you can, try to get pasture-raised eggs because it means the chickens have free-range of a pasture as opposed to being cramped in a barn – ultimately healthier chickens and more nutrient dense eggs!
- Spices: A combination of cinnamon and cardamom is my favorite for this recipe. Cardamom is an earthy spice with hints of citrus, so it pairs really nicely with the orange.
- Vanilla extract: Regular vanilla extract works or if you have vanilla bean paste that’s also good.
- Salt: Kosher salt. Always always always add salt to baked goods to ensure the flavors are balanced and the sweetness isn’t overpowering.
Step by step instructions
This orange zucchini quick bread recipe follows a similar baking method to pound cake or loaf cake – one bowl, bake, devour.
Prep: grate the zucchini using a coarse grater and squeeze out the extra liquid. Zest the orange rind and squeeze the juice from the orange.
- Mix together the sugar and zest.
- Add the oil, eggs, vanilla, and orange juice - whisk to combine.
- Fold in the zucchini.
- Mix in the flour, spices, and salt - mix until just combined.
1. Make zesty sugar. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the 1 cup of granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon orange zest with your fingers until fragrant.
2. Whisk in the wet. To the zesty sugar, add 2 eggs, ½ cup orange juice, ½ cup canola oil, and vanilla extract. Whisk until combined.
3. Fold in the zucchini. Add the grated zucchini to the wet mixture and fold in until combined.
4. Mix in the dry. Gently pour the 2 cups flour, 2 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ½ teaspoon cardamom, and ½ teaspoon kosher salt on top of the wet ingredients. Mix just the dry ingredients together gently, and then fully combine with the wet ingredients.
5. Bake. Pour into a loaf pan sprayed with non-stick spray and lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350F for 50-60 minutes. It’s done when it’s golden brown and a toothpick or knife poked into the center comes out clean or with a few crumbs. Let cool for at least 10 minutes in the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Ingredient substitutions and additions
- Use yellow squash instead of zucchini
- Use lemon instead of orange for a delicious lemon zucchini bread
- Instead of all purpose flour, try 1:1 gluten free flour, oat flour, or whole wheat flour
- Use coconut sugar in place of granulated sugar
- Try brown sugar for ½ of the sugar amount (so ½ brown sugar ½ granulated sugar)
- Add chopped walnuts or pecans
- Add chocolate chips
- Add raisins or dried cranberries
- Instead of (or in addition to) cinnamon and cardamom, try nutmeg!
How to easily get the extra liquid out of zucchini
Unwanted moisture is the villain of baking, and zucchini has a lot of it! Which means we want to get rid of as much of that excess water as we can before we add the zucchini into the batter.
This is important because if the zucchini is too liquidy, that liquid will come out while the zucchini bread is baking, causing it to be too wet and not bake properly.
To get the extra liquid out – after you grate your zucchini, either put it in a cheese cloth, a thin dish towel, or paper towel. Ball it up into one area, and squeeze!! Green liquid should start to come out which is exactly what you want. Squeeze until you can’t get any more liquid out – it’s okay if it’s not 100% all out, just get the most out that you can.
Tips and tricks
- The easiest way to grate zucchini – either a coarse grater or if you’re up for cleaning it, the food processor is also great. Mix the batter until it’s just combined – if you over work the batter it’ll be a bit more dense and not as crumbly and squishy.
- Zest only the orange-colored part of an orange – once you see the white, stop zesting! The white part can be a little bitter, so just get the orange. A little white is okay though, don’t sweat it!
- Add turbinado sugar – if you want a little sugary crunch on top, sprinkle some turbinado sugar on before you bake the bread.
- Let it cool first in the pan – zucchini bread is super moist, so let it cool in the loaf pan for at least 10 minutes before you remove it otherwise it may fall apart.
- Line your pan with parchment and leave some hanging over the edge – it’ll help you lift the bread out of the loaf pan
- If you want a taller cake – use a smaller loaf pan, just keep an eye on its baking as it might need a bit more time since it will be thicker.
- Check your oven temperature – cooking time may vary depending on your oven. I like to put a thermometer inside my oven to keep tabs on the temperature at all times.
- Add an orange glaze on top – mix roughly 1 cup powdered sugar with 1 teaspoon orange zest and 1-3 tablespoon milk until your desired consistency.
- Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the fridge for up to 6 days.
- To freeze, wrap either slices or the entire zucchini bread in parchment paper and place in a freezer-safe bag. Freeze for up to 6 months.
- I prefer to freeze individual slices because it's easier to take out a serving when you want it.
Baking with eggs at room temperature is ideal because it helps make sure the eggs incorporate properly with the other ingredients. If you’re in a pinch it’s not necessary, but is definitely ideal.
You can, but you don’t need to! Just give them a gentle mix when you add them to the bowl before fully combining with the wet ingredients.
Yes! Zucchini skin is relatively thin, and since you’re grating it and baking it you can’t even tell the skin is there. Plus, it adds additional nutrients! Nutrition info on zucchini can be found here.
Nope! Using medium or small zucchini. the seeds should be small so you don't need to worry about them.
No, not really at all! The zucchini really just adds moisture and extra nutrients. Kids will not even know it’s in there!
Yes ! 8x8” round or square would be great. Baking time will be reduced by a bit so start checking it around 20-25 minutes.
Yes! To make zucchini muffins you can can use this same batter – test them at about 15-20 minutes.
More zucchini recipes
Orange Zucchini Bread
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- ½ cup fresh orange juice
- ½ cup canola or vegetable oil
- 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups grated zucchini
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon cardamom
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- In a large mixing bowl, mix together the 1 cup of granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon orange zest with your fingers until fragrant.
- Preheat your oven to 350F. Prep a loaf pan by spraying with non-stick spray and lining with parchment paper.
- To the zesty sugar, add 2 eggs, ½ cup orange juice, ½ cup canola oil, and vanilla extract. Whisk until combined.
- Add the grated zucchini to the bowl and fold in until combined.
- Gently pour the 2 cups flour, 2 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ½ teaspoon cardamom, and ½ teaspoon kosher salt on top of the wet ingredients. Mix just the dry ingredients together gently, and then fully combine with the wet ingredients.
- Pour into the prepared loaf pan and bake at 350F for 50-60 minutes until a toothpick or knife poked into the center comes out clean or with a few crumbs.
- Let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.