We Tested 4 Famous Zucchini Bread Recipes and the Winner Was Simply Perfect

published Jul 18, 2023
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Credit: Image: Jesse Szewczyk

Zucchini bread doesn’t get the attention it deserves, often overshadowed by its more popular cousin banana bread. But a good loaf of zucchini bread can be seriously delicious. The secret lies in the squash itself, lending the bread a wonderfully moist texture and a slightly savory flavor that complements the warm spices. To me, the perfect loaf is rich and cakey, and stays soft for days after it’s baked. It’s my favorite summer baking project, often requiring just one bowl and a handful of pantry ingredients.

But with so many different ways to make zucchini bread, results can vary drastically. Some recipes have you squeeze the water out of the shredded zucchini, while others toss the zucchini straight into the batter. Some add Greek yogurt to the mix, while others use 100 percent vegetable oil. There’s an endless array of zucchini bread recipes, each utilizing different ingredients and techniques to give the bread a unique flavor and texture.

I was determined to find my new go-to zucchini bread recipe — the one I could turn to every summer. So I chose four of the most popular zucchini bread recipes online and baked them in a side-by-side taste test. At the end of the day, I came away with a new go-to recipe that is the best I’ve ever had, and Iearned a few new tricks for creating the ultimate loaf.

Credit: Jesse Szewczyk

Meet Our 4 Zucchini Bread Contenders

To keep the test as fair as possible, I excluded any recipes that included cocoa powder or chocolate chips — as chocolate zucchini bread is a completely different baked good. From there, I considered what factors I wanted to test: squeezing the moisture out of the shredded zucchini versus just throwing it in as is, using olive oil versus a more neutral oil, and whether or not adding yogurt would actually change the texture at all. This led me to four recipes that each took a unique approach: Serious Eats, Smitten Kitchen, AllRecipes, and Alexandra’s Kitchen.

Serious Eats’ recipe uses both olive oil and Greek yogurt, so I was curious to see if that would keep the bread moist. Smitten Kitchen adds the zucchini to the batter without squeezing out any excess moisture and showers the top of the loaf in coarse sugar. AllRecipes is fairly classic, but it has over 10,000 ratings and thousands of glowing reviews, so I was eager to see what all of the hype was about. And last but not least was Alexandra’s Kitchen (a popular food blog). She utilizes a technique I had never seen before: tossing the shredded zucchini in the dry mixture before adding the wet ingredients.

How I Tested the Zucchini Bread

Each zucchini bread recipe was baked on the same day and compared in a side-by-side taste test. I followed each recipe precisely as written and tried to keep all outside factors to a minimum. I baked them all in the same oven and used zucchinis that were all bought from the same store.

I also enlisted the help of both my roommate and boyfriend to taste the breads to see what they thought. At the end of the day the results were clear. There was one zucchini bread recipe that blew the others away, and the winning recipe has now become my new go-to zucchini bread recipe. It’s moist, flavorful, and ridiculously easy to make.

Credit: Jesse Szewczyk

1. The Untraditional (and Not Very Good) Loaf: Serious Eats’ Zucchini Bread with Walnuts

This recipe was a disappointment. It yielded two very squat loaves that didn’t rise very much. The batter was very thick and made the loaves dull and lumpy. And beyond its somewhat unsightly appearance, the bread just didn’t taste very good. Instead of being rich and cakey (qualities I look for in my zucchini bread), it was dense and bready. I was hoping that the addition of both olive oil and Greek yogurt would have kept it moist, but it didn’t, and I couldn’t taste the olive oil at all. The flavor was fine — with subtle caramel notes from the brown sugar, a pleasant warmth from the cinnamon, and pops of texture from the walnuts — but it was nothing special. And the texture just ruined it for me.

Credit: Jesse Szewczyk

2. The No-Frills Loaf: Mom’s Zucchini Bread from Allrecipes

This was a classic, no-frills zucchini bread that tasted pretty good but not great. The flavor was pleasant with a strong cinnamon note, but was the only recipe that didn’t use brown sugar, relying completely on white sugar to lend it its sweetness, and you could tell. The flavor wasn’t bad — it just wasn’t very complex. The texture was also nothing to write home about. It didn’t have that pound cake-like quality some of the other loaves did. Compared to the other zucchini breads I made, this recipe was a bit forgettable. It also yielded two loaves of bread, leaving me with an extra loaf I had to stash in my freezer.

Credit: Jesse Szewczyk

3. The Close Second: Ultimate Zucchini Bread from Smitten Kitchen

This zucchini bread was by far the prettiest zucchini of the bunch. The turbinado sugar gave the bread a wonderful crunch that perfectly contrasted the soft interior. It was a simple upgrade that made me wonder why everyone doesn’t top their zucchini bread with coarse sugar in the first place. The flavor was also great, and the most spice-forward of all the recipes I tested. The cinnamon was pleasantly strong, and the nutmeg was a welcome addition. It had a subtle gingerbread-like quality to it that I loved. The only downside was that the loaf wasn’t as moist as I would have liked. It wasn’t dry, but it wasn’t as moist and decadent as I would have wanted. If the texture was just a tad bit more moist, this recipe would have been the winner.

Credit: Jesse Szewczyk

4. The Clear Winner: Super Moist Zucchini Bread from Alexandra’s Kitchen

This zucchini bread was hands-down the best. It had a classic (and delicious) zucchini bread flavor, and it was so moist that it had a pound cake-like quality to it that made it taste rich and decadent. But it wasn’t too moist, either — it didn’t have that marshy, damp texture that sometimes happens when breads are too moist. It tasted warm, caramel-y, and just the slightest bit savory. It wasn’t trying to be anything new or unexpected — it was simply perfect. This has become my new go-to recipe and I plan to bake it every summer.

This post originally published on The Kitchn. Read it there: We Tested 4 Famous Zucchini Bread Recipes and Found a Clear Winner