Zucchini Pistachio Cupcakes

When my friend showed up at my door with a giant zucchini, it took me about 1.3 seconds to know what I was going to do with it.  Her father-in-law had grown the zucchini in his garden and I was now the lucky recipient of a mighty nice vegetable masterpiece. 

I was a HUGE fan of zucchini growing up, experiencing its goodness in so many dishes.  But as an adult I found out it could be used in desserts too.  

Lately everyone has been boasting about their beautiful vegetable gardens and posting pictures on their websites.  Soon you will all have enough zucchini to feed the world.  What a better way to use up your stash than with these Zucchini Pistachio Cupcakes

These cupcakes are so good the Wild Boar and hooligans kept begging for more.  I was shocked at how in love they were with their Vegetable-Dessert.  They are usually less than thrilled with the vegetable-pusher-persona role I am known to take on.

The cupcakes are sweet and extremely moist.  The frosting has lime added to it, giving them a little zing and unique flavor.

I promise you will love them.  Wait till you see how easy they are to make, there is no mixer required!

Here's what you'll need:  Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe Yellow Cake mix, cinnamon, ground cardamom, pepper, ground cloves, eggs, vegetable oil, milk, zucchini, powdered sugar, fresh lime juice, lime zest and pistachio nuts.

In a large bowl, combine box of cake mix, 1 Tablespoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom, 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper and 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together 4 eggs, 1/2 cup vegetable oil and 1/2 cup of milk.

Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until smooth and add 10 ounces of shredded zucchini.  I shredded the zucchini in my food processor but a box grater would work too.

Fill a prepared cupcake pan with batter.  I made some using cupcake liners and some without.  I think they turn out better with the liners since they are so moist.  I always fill my cupcakes to the rim but 2/3 full is also an option.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-24 minutes or when a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Once the cupcakes are cooled, make the icing.  Do not do this until you are ready to frost, as it will harden quickly.

In a medium bowl, add 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar, the zest and juice of one lime and 1 Tablespoon of water.  Whisk until smooth.  If the icing is too thick add more water 1 teaspoon at a time.  If the icing is too runny, add more sugar.

Cover each cupcake with the glaze and sprinkle with pistachios.

See the little bits of lime zest in the icing...yeah, I know you doIt's so good.

I even caught a hooligan sneaking a bite.  The stinker, but I don't blame him one bit.  They are addicting.

Zucchini Pistachio Cupcakes
adapted from Rachael Ray

One 18.25 ounce box Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe Classic Yellow Cake mix
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
4 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk
1 large zucchini (10 ounces), shredded
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
Zest and juice of one lime
1/2 cup roasted, salted pistachio nuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line cupcake pans with baking liners.

In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, cinnamon, cardamom, pepper and cloves.  In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, vegetable oil and milk.  Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until smooth, stir in the zucchini.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin pans.  Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, 20-24 minutes.  Let cool.

Sift the powdered sugar into a medium bowl.  Whisk in the lime zest and juice and add 1 Tablespoon of water.  If the icing is too thick add more water in one teaspoon increments.  If the icing is too thin just add more sugar.  Cover each cupcake with the glaze and sprinkle with the pistachios.


Post a Comment


  1. Monkee 1

    Mr. G has been talking about zucchini cakes for a long time now and I was thought: Eeeewww! Well, I guess there is such a thing as zucchini dessert heaven.
    Thanks for proving me wrong (Psst: pls don’t tell Mr. G he’s right).

  2. Stephanie 2

    I think this is the one way my dad would eat zucchini! Love zucchini, any which way I can get it. So does my hubby, and, thankfully, my mini-hooligans. This is a recipe my grandma would have loved, and most likely used. She would send me care packages when I was away at college and always put a loaf of zucchini bread in it.

  3. Yum! I have to try this. One of my favorite recipes is for chocolate zucchini bread.

  4. After years of being victimized by the requisite zucchini bread at every potluck and family occasion (what else are you going to do with all of them?) these are a breath of fresh air!
    Thank you, Cathy! They look awesome.

  5. Did you peel your zucchini? I didn’t see any dark green bits. These look pretty darn good, I must say (even at 6:38 in the AM)

    I made some zucchini – choc. chip muffins last weekend.

  6. Jody 6

    These look fantastic…I love a spin on the new fave dessert these days…
    thanks for the inspiration!

  7. These sound awesome! Great summer time cupcake. I might have to make these for our 4th of July party!

  8. Fran 8

    Oh my goodness! My family loves zucchini bread so I know they would love this. You and your blog are just inspiring me to cook! My family thanks you!


  9. jancd 9

    I’ll have to pass the recipe on to my friend. She is a zucchini bread nut. I think she needs another recipe. I’m going to try it, too. I have everything I need except the nuts.

    I love your blog. It’s a must read every day. I think you have a book in that head of yours.


  10. Harmony 10

    Those look great…I wonder if I can sneak them buy my sons suspecting eye?! If not I’ll make him eat it anyway!

  11. God! You are so good!!! I’m giving this to my neighbor who has a zucchini patch about 150′ from my trailer. Thank you!

  12. man – those look and sound WONDERFUL – zucchini, lime, pistachio’s… and those spices…. beautiful. a cupcake to be proud of…

  13. At least another month before zucchini season. I am still trying to find zucchini blossoms:D

  14. Lennie 14

    I’m all-in here; sounds yummy. I have an old family recipe I make when z. is in season, a quickbread with pineapple in it, but these look just as yummy and less work as well. I wonder, would shredded carrot work in place of the z too? Hmmm…….

  15. Ohhh I love zucchini!!!!! Fried, baked, however…I have a love for it!

  16. I love zucchini just about any way. I love the little flecks of zest in the icing as it makes it look so festive. Plus I have a thing for citrus icing :)

  17. Marcy 17

    Oh wow those look like yummy goodness. I LOVE zuchinni bread, and those muffins look like something I just might have to make, substituting splenda for any sugar…
    Thanks for sharing that recipe

  18. leslie 18

    NICE!! Maybe my kids would eat them and not know they are getting a green veggie!!!
    Wait for those ripe bananas..you wont be disappointed my my Banana Bread!!1

  19. Kevin 19

    Those zucchini cupcakes look great! I really like the sound of eh lime and pistachio topping!

  20. Yum, I love lime too – this looks like the best of both worlds!

    A plentiful zucchini harvest always reminds me of something I once heard…the only time you lock your car doors in a small town is during zucchini season, when everybody and their brother is trying to give away their extras.

  21. I have never seen black peper in a dessert, my curiosity is piqued!

  22. Daisy 22


    I adore zukes and have gotten tired of my overused recipes. I can’t wait to try this! I just don’t keep cake mix in the house so I’ll have to get one of those…

  23. HoneyB 23

    These look delicious! I love the topping! The hooligan is pretty handsome!

  24. jules 24

    Looks great…I love hiding good stuff where they least expect it!

  25. Lori 25

    Love the combination of ingredients in this recipe Cathy!

  26. Syrie 26

    I’ve been hearing about zucchini in baking for a while now but I’m still to try it. Your cupcakes look and sound fantastic. I love the picture with the lime zest in the icing too.

  27. Stacy 27

    You know, I’ve always wondered about zucchini bread/cupcakes. I’m not the hugest zucchini fan in the world, but I’ve never tried it in a baked good and I’m curious. Might have to try this. I love the pistachios and the boxed cake mix!

  28. pam 28

    My daughter hates zuchinni, so I love finding ways to use them and making her admit she likes it!

  29. Wow! I fell in love with your blog. This is my first time here :) I have never had cakes with zucchini and this looks delish!

  30. Wow, Cathy…what a brilliant baking idea and recipe ! If your kitchen is happen to be around the corner of my house, I will sneak through the window to grab one too….like a sneaky cat.

    I never thought of the combination Zucchini, pistachio and cupcake.

    You have to bake this and sell at your future vineyard…

  31. Flea 31

    Oooo! I can really use this one! Thank you!!!

  32. I love these! Zucchini and pistachio…how could you go wrong!

  33. Pam 33

    Those look terrific! What a great combination of flavors.

  34. zucchini, pistachio and lime – excellent combination!! Good on you for making green vegies totally lick-able! :)

  35. grace 35

    zucchini is a wonderful secret weapon for making moist cupcakes and bread. it’s a pain in my rear end to shred, but totally worth it in the end. if i lived in your house, i’d pilfer much more than just a bite–at least half of the batch would mysteriously disappear… :)

  36. I’m about to make these for Father’s Day! I’m looking forward to them!!

  37. Tipper 37

    I have some growing in the garden-can’t wait to try this!

  38. Cass 38

    These look SO delicious – I need to put them on the list of things to make in the next two weeks while I’m still eating things with huge amounts of icing. Yummm

  39. Whoo~hoo!
    I love it when I find a great recipe. This is a keeper!
    Now I just need to put some miracle grow on my zucchini.

  40. Looks great. I have a box of Dunkin Hines Moist Deluxe Chocolate around that I may try substituting for the Yellow. If I do get around to it I’ll let you know how it comes out!

  41. Deborah 41

    I LOVE zucchini bread, so why not in cupcakes!! They look sooo delicious! (Now I wish I would have planted zucchini this year…)

  42. These look fabulous. I’m made zucchini bread in the past – can’t wait to try the cupcakes. Yummmmmmmmmmm !!

  43. Elle 43

    I want these now! And I’m all over that lime frosting.

  44. Bobby 44

    mmm, noble pig these look fantastic. I love zucchini bread so I would image this is very similar. Great photos!

  45. Chuck 45

    Cathy your right, great minds do think a like ;)

    Those cupcakes look delicious and I love pistachios. The lime zest in the icing looks stunning! Very Nice!

  46. gotta give it to you on this one – WHOA! looks delicious. i absolutely love pistachios!

  47. Holy cripes these look delicious! Is it true? Can there finally be a healthy cupcake? I’d pinch myself but I’m afraid I’d wake up!

  48. great combo of flavours in there! i love the lime and pistachios!

  49. hanah 49

    these are so good!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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