Sweet Zucchini Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

A couple weeks ago, I read Nicole’s post on Cooking After Five for Orange-Scented Olive Oil Muffins.  In her post, Nicole mentions she likes to bake muffins for road trips.  [Insert glass shattering]  I’d never considered baking muffins for road trips, but it makes so much sense!  What a wonderful idea. And great timing, too, since me and “the fam” have headed to Las Vegas for a week!

Sweet Zucchini Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

As usual, I bookmarked Nicole’s recipe…but Orange-Scented Olive Oil Muffins turned into Sweet Zucchini Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting, as I had some extra zucchinis from the Farmers Market that needed to be used.

Sweet Zucchini Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Speaking of cupcakes, ever wonder the difference between muffins and cupcakes?  Well, I have.  Turns out there’s actually some controversy over this topic.  In short: frosting does not a cupcake make.  Crazy, I know!  After doing my diligent research, I found that cupcakes are considered “little cakes” while muffins are more like bread.  Further, cupcakes are more of a dessert food, are lighter in weight and, generally, have lots of decorations whereas muffins are heavier, tend to contain fruits, chocolates and/or nuts and are usually not iced.

Overall, the best description I found was this: If you threw a cupcake against the wall, you would hear something of a “poof!” If you threw a muffin, you would hear a “thud!”  Awesome.

Given that distinction, however, I’m pretty sure this recipe for zucchini cupcakes is actually for muffins, but I will let you take that up with Martha Stewart, as that is where I found it.

Either way, they are a super tasty sweet treat.  Just be sure to eat them within a day or so because they tend to dry out and lose their muffin-y-ness any later than that.

I’ve also used this frosting for Carrot Cake and it was delish.  It’s very rich and smooth.

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If you give this recipe a try, let me know what you think by leaving a comment and rating it. And don’t forget to take a picture and tag it #asweetpeachef on Instagram! I LOVE seeing what you come up with. Enjoy!

Sweet Zucchini Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
These Sweet Zucchini Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting are a very delicious way to use up zucchini and the frosting is smooth and creamy. Yum!
Recipe type: Easy
Serves: 12
  • For the cupcakes
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1 zucchini (10 ounces), coarsely grated (1½ cups)
  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • For the frosting
  • 4 tablespoons room-temperature unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces room-temperature bar cream cheese
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. In a medium bowl, with an electric mixer, beat butter and cream cheese until smooth.
  2. Add confectioners' sugar and vanilla extract; beat until light and fluffy. Refrigerate until ready to use, up to 1 day.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cups of a standard (12-cup) muffin tin with paper or foil liners. Set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Mix in nuts.
  5. In another bowl, combine zucchini, oil, eggs, and vanilla; add to flour mixture, and mix just until combined (do not overmix).
  6. Divide batter evenly among cups. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes.
  7. Cool in tin on a wire rack for 10 minutes; turn cupcakes out, right side up, and cool completely. Meanwhile, make frosting. Using an offset spatula or butter knife, spread frosting on cupcakes. The frosted cupcakes are best eaten within 1 day.


  1. ataraxia says

    Hi Lacey,

    I would like to thank you for posting such a delicious and wonderful recipe! I have been hunting for the “perfect” zucchini cupcake recipe, where I definitely found it here.

    Thank you so much once again!

    Happy cooking and baking :)

  2. Robin says

    Hi Lacey … I was curious if I could substitute Agave Nectar for the brown sugar and confectioners’ sugar?
    Also, how do you think the frosting would turn out if I used a non-dairy cream cheese…?

    Love to know your thoughts,
    Dairy & refined sugar-free Robin :)

    • says

      Hi Robin! Very good questions! Unfortunately, I am not an expert with substituting those specific ingredients in my recipes. I think it would definitely be tricky, but mostly possible, to substitute all those ingredients, though I don’t know at what proportions. I would think the confectioners sugar would be tricky to substitute, as it is what makes the frosting harden. I wish I could be of more assistance, but I’d love to know if you try it out and how it goes! Good luck!

  3. says

    I just made these with my sister and we ate the whole batch! We added orange zest to the batter and orange juice to the icing for extra flavor and they were fab!

    • says

      Hi Nicole, thanks for stopping by! If you like zucchini bread, you’ll like these muffins/cupcakes too. Perfect for a road trip indeed….but minus the frosting cuz it gets too messy :)

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