This paleo zucchini bread starts with a base of tahini and maple, and gets a tender crumb from cassava and tapioca flours, all studded with pockets of gooey melted chocolate. This healthy, easy recipe is also grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, and refined sugar-free. Created in partnership with Bob's Red Mill.
Apparently, many of you dear readers LOVE tahini just like me. And we're all looking for ways to use up late summer's zucchini bounty. So when I shared some behind-the-scenes testing of this paleo zucchini bread recipe on Instagram, you all couldn't wait to get your hands on the recipe.
It took me about 10 tries to get it just right, but the wait for this healthy zucchini bread is over. I'm thrilled to share this paleo bread recipe with you today, along with a video on how to make zucchini bread that Sarah and I created together.
Effortless Zucchini Bread for Everyone
This vegan gluten-free zucchini bread gets a hint of toasty sesame flavor from tahini, warm notes of maple and vanilla, and pockets of gooey dark chocolate. It's sweet enough to call dessert, but it makes a nourishing accompaniment to brunch or afternoon tea. The texture is what keeps me coming back for more, with a springy, moist crumb from cassava and tapioca flours, plus a flax (or regular) egg.
I adapted this recipe from my vegan paleo banana bread recipe, and I'm currently working on a paleo pumpkin bread version too. I've been experimenting with a primarily grain-free diet this year for health reasons. Though challenging at times, I've enjoyed getting to know with new-to-me flours like cassava, used here, and tiger nut flour, used here, as well as almond flour and coconut flour.
This recipe uses only two (!) flours, and if you don't have them on hand, I've given substitution suggestions. It comes together with just a whisk and a bowl. Pop it in the oven and you're less than an hour away from healthy zucchini bread bliss.
Ingredients & Substitution Suggestions
- Zucchini are the star of this show. Look for smaller zucchini – 8 inches or smaller – as those will have lower water content and fewer seeds.
- Tahini and maple syrup form the base of this bread, the tahini adding richness, and the maple syrup adding sweetness and moisture. I usually use runny tahini, but this should work fine with a thicker tahini too. My current favorite brand is Soom – it's silky smooth with a mild, not-at-all-bitter flavor.
- Oil adds richness. I've been using grapeseed or sunflower oil for their mild taste, but untoasted sesame oil would be great. Olive oil and avocado oil would work too.
- Vanilla adds sweet, floral notes and salt sharpens the flavors.
- Cassava and tapioca flours from Bob's Red Mill work together to build structure and a tender, springy crumb. Cassava and tapioca come from the same root, but cassava is less processed and contains more fiber. Tapioca has had all of the fiber removed, making it starchy and sticky. Arrowroot flour can stand in for tapioca. If you don't have these flours on hand, try replacing both with 1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (wheat, gluten-free, or paleo).
- Chocolate tastes lovely against the tahini and maple in this loaf. I prefer a bittersweet chocolate with around 70% cacao. If you want to keep this refined sugar-free, use naturally sweetened chocolate such as Hu or Joya.
How to Make Paleo Zucchini Bread: step-by-step instructions & photos
What is zucchini bread?
Zucchini bread is an old-fashioned American quick bread dating from the 1950's. In the same family as carrot cake, banana bread, and pumpkin bread, it's usually made with grated zucchini, oil, sugar, flour, eggs, and leavening. Though called "bread" it's actually more like a cake baked in a loaf pan. This vegan paleo zucchini bread still tastes close to classic despite its allergy-friendly ingredient swaps.
Is zucchini bread healthy?
Zucchini bread is traditionally healthier than most cakes because it contains zucchini, oil instead of butter, and often whole grain flour (usually wheat). It's usually lower in sugar than a proper cake, and appropriate with brunch or for a snack. This zucchini is extra healthy, being free of common allergens (gluten, grains, eggs, dairy, nuts) and naturally sweetened with maple syrup instead of refined sugar. (Not that dairy and eggs are inherently unhealthy, but you may be avoiding them for health reasons.) Parents trying to sneak veggies into kids' diets often like zucchini bread as a sly vegetable vessel.
How to grate zucchini for bread?/ How do you prepare zucchini for bread?
First trim off the ends of the zucchini. Then use a box grater to grate the zucchini. I like to use the fine holes so that the zucchini melts right into the bread, but you can use larger holes if that's what you've got.
Do you peel zucchini for bread?
This recipe is best made with small zucchini where the skin is tender enough that no peeling is required, it just melts right into this gluten-free zucchini bread.
Do you take seeds out of zucchini for bread?
With small zucchini, there shouldn't be any seeds large enough to need to remove. But if your zucchini are large enough to contain visible seeds, scrape them out with a spoon before grating.
Do I need to squeeze the moisture out of the zucchini first?
Some recipes call for placing the shredded zucchini in a clean towel and squeezing out much of the liquid. I formulated this recipe to use the liquid in the zucchini to add moisture, so as long as you're using small-ish zucchini (under 8 inches long) you don't have to do that.
However, if your zucchini are large, they may have a higher water content. In this case, place the shredded zucchini in a clean towel and squeeze out some of the liquid. Measure or weigh the zucchini shreds after you have squeezed so that you have 3/4 cup or 165 grams post-squeezing.
Can you make zucchini bread with yellow squash?
Yes you can! Just make sure the squash are on the small side.
Can you freeze zucchini bread?
Yes! This vegan gluten-free zucchini bread freezes beautifully. Tuck a whole loaf (or slices separated with pieces of parchment paper to prevent sticking) into a freezer bag or two. It will keep for up to a few months.
How to thaw frozen zucchini bread?
Defrost the whole loaf or individual slices in the fridge or at room temperature when ready to eat. You can also pop slices, frozen or thawed, in a toaster oven for a few minutes for a warm slice of paleo zucchini bread that's perfect for eating with DF vanilla ice cream.
How to keep zucchini bread moist & fresh?
Store this grain-free zucchini bread in an airtight container or plastic zip-top bag. Its high moisture content makes it prone to growing mold if left at room temperature for too long, so pop it in the fridge for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to several months.
How long does zucchini bread last in the fridge?
Up to 1 week, but it's best within the first few days. You can "refresh" slices of this grain-free zucchini bread in a warm oven or toaster oven for a few minutes.
Can I use this batter to make healthy zucchini bread muffins?
Yes! Line a muffin pan with liners, fill the cups two-thirds of the way, and decrease the baking time as needed until a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs.
More ways to use zucchini:
MORE VEGAN PALEO DESSERT RECIPES:
- Paleo Vegan Banana Bread
- Paleo Vegan Fruit Cobbler
- Vegan Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Vegan No-Bake Chocolate Tart
- No-Bake Vegan Lemon Tart with Berries
- No-Bake Vegan Brownies with Hazelnuts & Ganache
- Raw Vegan Key Lime Pie
More Collaborations with Bob's Red Mill:
- Paleo Lemon Cake + Paleo Cream Cheese Frosting
- Gluten-Free Tart Crust + Lemon Tart
- Almond Flour Pancakes with Citrus + Poppyseeds
- Gluten-Free Chocolate Ginger Cookies
- Gluten-Free Biscotti with Hazelnuts + Chocolate
- Dairy-Free & Gluten-Free Carrot Cake
More Tahini Desserts:
- Vegan Chocolate Tart with Tahini + Caramel
- Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies (GF + Vegan)
- Tahini Vegan Hot Fudge Sauce
- Gluten-Free Brownies with Tahini Frosting
- Tahini Chia Pudding
*Bojon appétit! For more Bojon Gourmet in your life, follow along on Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest, purchase my gluten-free cookbook Alternative Baker, or subscribe to receive new posts via email. And if you make this vegan paleo zucchini bread recipe, I’d love to see. Tag your Instagram snaps @The_Bojon_Gourmet and #bojongourmet.*
Paleo Vegan Zucchini Bread with Tahini & ChocolatePrint Recipe Pin Recipe
- ghee or coconut oil, for the pan
- 3 tablespoons (40 g) water
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon finely ground flaxseed (7 g) (or omit the water and flax and replace with 1 egg for non-vegan)
- ½ cup (130 g) room temperature runny tahini (such as Soom or Kevala)
- ½ cup (150 g) maple syrup
- 3 tablespoons (35 g) neutral oil (grapeseed, untoasted sesame, sunflower, avocado, and olive oil all work)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¾ cup (165 g) packed finely grated zucchini
- ¾ cup + 2 tablespoons (135 g) cassava flour
- ¼ cup (30 g) tapioca flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 4 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate, plus more for topping
- sesame seeds for sprinkling, optional
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350ºF. Rub an 8x4 or 9x5-inch loaf pan with a little ghee or coconut oil and line with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the ground flax and water. Let sit until it forms a thick gel, 5-10 minutes or longer. Whisk in the tahini, maple syrup, oil, and vanilla until smooth and emulsified. Stir in the grated zucchini.
- Sift in the cassava and tapioca flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir until just combined, then fold in the chocolate.
- Scrape into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle with sesame seeds if using and a few chocolate chunks, pressing the chunks into the batter.
- Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs, 45-55 minutes, rotating halfway through for even baking. Let cool slightly, remove from the pan, and let cool completely (or as long as you can wait!) Slice and enjoy!
- Store the bread at room temperature for up to 1 day, refrigerate for up to a week, or freeze for longer storage (see note).
- If you don’t have the flours called for, try this with 1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (wheat, gluten-free, or paleo) if you prefer.
- For a more classic zucchini bread taste, trade the tahini for cashew butter or almond butter and add 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon to the batter.
- If you like nuts in your zucchini bread, add in 1/2 - 3/4 cup chopped toasted pecans or walnuts. You can leave the chocolate off if it's not your thing.
- This zucchini bread freezes well. Tuck a whole loaf (or slices separated with pieces of parchment paper to prevent sticking) into a freezer bag or two. Defrost in the fridge or at room temperature when ready to eat. Slices reheat well in a skillet with a little ghee or vegan butter for a warm, toasty zucchini bread treat.
- Nutrition data is for 1 of 8 servings.