There reaches a point every summer where we’re all overwhelmed by the volume of zucchini that finds its way into our kitchens and we begin the hunt for recipes to use it up. While I am a big fan of classic zucchini bread, I also like to mix things up a bit—and this bread is the perfect solution.
A cross between the classic bread and carrot cake, this loaf is seasoned with warm spices (cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom), bright orange zest, and dusted with demerara sugar to create a crunchy topping.
Feel free to leave the bread unadorned—it’s delicious on its own! —or lean into your sweet tooth and top it with a vanilla nutmeg glaze and toasted coconut.
Wring Out Your Zucchini
This loaf is packed with grated carrots and zucchini, which not only adds flavor but also quite a bit of moisture. Which is great! But we don’t want too much—we want a moist bread, not a soggy loaf.
Zucchini is a watery vegetable, especially those big ones pulled out of summer gardens. It’s important to remove that excess water before adding your zucchini to the bread batter.
You can remove this water by wringing the grated zucchini out over the sink. You can do this with your hands (I recommend doing small batches that fit in the palm of your hand), by wrapping the zucchini in a clean dish towel or a nut milk bag (if you have one).
The wrung-out zucchini should feel more dry to the touch (more like the carrots).
To Glaze or Not to Glaze?
Sweet quick breads like this zucchini carrot loaf linger in my mind as a cross between a sweet breakfast treat and an indulgent snacking cake.
When I want to justify having a big slice for a weekday breakfast, I go glaze-free. But when I’m serving it as a dessert, or just want a little extra sweetness, I go for the toppings.
In this recipe, I suggest a simple glaze seasoned with nutmeg and vanilla, but you could swap out that extract and spice for anything you’d like. Echoing the flavors of the loaf (cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, orange) would be great swaps! Want a slightly tangier glaze? Swap the whole milk for buttermilk.
I also suggest topping with toasted coconut. I love the nutty flavor and crunchy texture it adds. To toast, spread the coconut flakes out on a sheet pan and bake at 325°F, stirring every few minutes, until the flakes are golden brown, about 5 to 10 minutes.
Zucchini Carrot Bread Mix Ins
This bread is incredibly customizable.
Add some mix-ins!
- Chopped nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, or pistachios)
- Dried fruit (golden raisins, apricots, coconut flakes, or candied ginger)
Change up the flavor
- Don’t have or like cardamom? Leave it out! Add in some nutmeg.
- Swap the orange zest for lemon.
Change the toppings
- Experiment with the flavor of your glaze.
- Swap the toasted coconut for toasted nuts or seeds.
How to Store Zucchini Bread
This bread keeps well on the counter for a few days—just store it in an airtight container or wrapped tightly in plastic wrap. Keep in mind that the coconut topping will get less crunchy over time.
It also freezes well! You can freeze the whole loaf by wrapping it in a piece of foil and then plastic wrap or freeze individual slices by wrapping the same way. I love having a few slices stashed in my freezer to pull out for a special treat.
If freezing, leave off the glaze and coconut topping. You can hold the glaze in your fridge for up to 2 weeks, and the toasted coconut in an airtight container for up to a month.
Let the whole loaf thaw on the counter, or pop frozen individual slices in the toaster or oven to quickly warm.