Banana Zucchini Pudding Cake with Vanilla Browned Butter Glaze

It seems that I either have no ripe bananas on hand or I have more than I know what to do with.

I made this cake because it was one of those times I could have fed all the monkeys in the zoo because I had so many.

Banana Zucchini Pudding Cake with Vanilla Browned Butter Glaze - The softest, moistest cake ever! So easy and the glaze is heavenly!

I also had a little zucchini in the crisper drawer that needed to be used before it turned into a limp noodle.

I decided using zucchini in cake sounded better than just, you know, slicing it on top of a salad.

Banana Zucchini Pudding Cake with Vanilla Browned Butter Glaze - The softest, moistest cake ever! So easy and the glaze is heavenly!

The cake turned out to be falling-apart-soft, tender, and moist. I cannot stand dry cake and between the stick of melted butter, the soft bananas, the high moisture content in zucchini, and the six ounces of Greek yogurt added to the batter, this little cake was as moist as they come.

And it is just a little cake, baked in 9-by-9 inch pan. Although having too much cake laying around isn’t the worst problem in the world, I prefer smaller cakes since they’re eaten and finished up while still at their freshness peak. Plus, variety is the spice of life and with large cakes, I’m ready for a change long before the cake is anywhere near finished, so I try to bake smaller cakes whenever possible.

Banana Zucchini Pudding Cake with Vanilla Browned Butter Glaze - The softest, moistest cake ever! So easy and the glaze is heavenly!

I added one packet of dry instant vanilla pudding mix to the batter to turn this cake into a pudding cake. I just love the pudding cakes that are sold in grocery store bakeries and figured I could make my own and this cake turned out to be a close approximation, full of creamy and sweet vanilla pudding notes.

When it comes to banana cake, I prefer denser as opposed to light and airy, and bewteen the mashed bananas, the Greek yogurt, and the pudding, this golden nugget is definitely dense. I wouldn’t call it a lead balloon, but it’s not a fluffy angel food, that’s for sure. It’s a pudding cake.

Banana Zucchini Pudding Cake with Vanilla Browned Butter Glaze - The softest, moistest cake ever! So easy and the glaze is heavenly!

I could have made it lighter by adding baking powder, but purposely did not because I wanted the crumb to remain more compact and wet, as opposed to drier and lighter. I find that as much as baking powder leavens, it also dries out whatever it’s added to and I don’t prefer that result. Instead, I added just enough baking soda to get the job done, omitted baking powder entirely, and my strategy paid off because I got what I wanted in the form of a melt-in-your-mouth, rich, pudding cake.

Banana Zucchini Pudding Cake with Vanilla Browned Butter Glaze - The softest, moistest cake ever! So easy and the glaze is heavenly!

The flavor of the cake is definitely one of banana, rather than zucchini. Zucchini is so flavor-neutral, otherwise known as bland, and is masked or takes a backseat to whatever other ingredients and flavors are present. On the opposite end of the scale, bananas tend to dominate the flavor profile whenever they’re present, and they dominated this cake.

Likely due to the stick of melted butter in the batter, as I was shoveling forkfuls of this cake into my mouth, I couldn’t help but think it tasted like a banana-butter cake or a banana-based rendition of a yellow cake-mix cake, with the familiar sponginess and springiness that yellow cake-mix cakes have. In that sense, it reminds me of the Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake with Chocolate Ganache, which I think of as a pumpkin version of a yellow cake-mix cake, full of moisture and golden butteriness.

I added just one-half cup of mini chocolate chips to the cake batter and I used mini chips because they sink less easily to the bottom of the cake than regular sized-chocolate chips do, but regular-sized chocolate chips will work just fine. I didn’t want to overwhelm the cake with chocolate so kept it at a modest half cup of chocolate chips. I wanted it pudding-laden, buttery, and banana-ey more so than chocolaty. There’s just a enough to chocolate to complement the bananas.

Banana Zucchini Pudding Cake with Vanilla Browned Butter Glaze - The softest, moistest cake ever! So easy and the glaze is heavenly!

Sticking with a butter theme, I glazed the cake with a browned butter glaze that complemented the sweet bananas and pudding beautifully. If you’ve never had or cooked with browned butter, you need to board this butter train. Browned butter adds a depth of flavor, nuttiness, boldness, and an intensity and richness to everything it touches. It brings out everything that’s good and right with butter to begin with. You can do it on the stovetop but I brown butter in the microwave and it’s a piece of cake. Pun intended.

If there’s one way to make fruits and vegetables taste decadent, a browned butter glaze on top of a slice of this cake is how. Just think about all the servings of fruit and vegetables you’ll be working into your diet by way of cake.

Banana Zucchini Pudding Cake with Vanilla Browned Butter Glaze - The softest, moistest cake ever! So easy and the glaze is heavenly!Banana Zucchini Pudding Cake with Vanilla Browned Butter Glaze - The softest, moistest cake ever! So easy and the glaze is heavenly!

Banana Zucchini Pudding Cake with Vanilla Browned Butter Glaze
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This version of banana cake is a denser and richer counterpart to classic banana cake. The cake is kept extra moist by the addition of zucchini and although the flavor of the zucchini is faint, it adds a bit of texture to an otherwise smooth crumb. With sweet vanilla pudding, creamy ripe bananas, and moisture-filled zucchini, this cake is fall-apart soft and tender. It's a snap to make with just a whisk, one bowl, and is ready to be baked in just minutes. The vanilla browned butter glaze is the finishing piece that adorns this golden cake.
Serves: Makes one 9-by-9-inch pan, 9 to 12 squares
  • For the Cake
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted (one stick)
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 6 ounces vanilla or plain Greek yogurt (one standard-sized small container, about ¾ cup; sour cream may be substituted; I use Chobani Vanilla Chocolate Chunk)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 to 1¼ cups mashed ripe bananas (about 1½ large or 2 small bananas)
  • 1 cup coarsely grated zucchini (1 small zucchini)
  • one 3.4-ounce box instant vanilla pudding mix (not Cook ‘n Serve; banana-flavored pudding may be used to boost the banana intensity)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt, optional and to taste
  • ½ cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips (regular-sized chips may be substituted), optional
  • For the Vanilla Browned Butter Glaze
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter (half of one stick)
  • 1 cup+ confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoons+ cream or milk, optional and to taste
  1. For the Cake - Preheat oven to 350F, line a 9-by-9-inch pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray or grease and flour the pan; set aside. In a large microwave-safe mixing bowl, melt the butter, about 1 minute. To the melted butter, add the sugars, egg, yogurt, vanilla, and whisk to combine. Add the bananas, zucchini, and stir to incorporate.
  2. Add the dry pudding mix and stir to incorporate (You are not making pudding; simply add the mix as a dry ingredient). Add the flour, baking soda, salt, and stir until just combined, taking care not to over-mix or cake will be tougher as the gluten will over-develop. Stir in the chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for about 35 to 38 minutes, or until top is set and golden, the center is not jiggly, and edges have pulled away slightly from sides of the pan. A toothpick inserted in the center will likely not come out completely clean because this is a dense cake and both the gooey bananas and melted chocolate chips may prevent a clean toothpick test. Note - Depending on how moist your zucchini is and the moisture content in your bananas, you may need to bake your cake for a longer duration than I did. Bake until your cake is done and cooked through, given your climate and your set of ingredients. Watch your cake, not the clock, when determining how long to bake it; bake until done. This is a very soft and moist cake, and is not like traditional 'bakery cakes' or a typical birthday cake. It is a very soft cake, more like a soft banana bread and it will never become a light, airy, bakery-cake kind of cake, no matter how long you bake it.
  3. Allow cake to cool in pan for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving. While cake cools, make the glaze.
  4. For the Vanilla Browned Butter Glaze - Brown the butter in a small saucepan on the stovetop, heating over medium heat. Swirl the pan or stir frequently for about 4 to 7 minutes, or until the sputtering, crackling, and foaming has subsided, the butter has browned and has a nutty aroma. Watch it closely so that it doesn’t go from browned and nutty to burnt and inedible.
  5. Or, brown the butter in the microwave in a microwave-safe bowl by heating it on high power, uncovered, for 3 to 5 minutes, until the sputtering, crackling, and foaming has subsided, the butter has browned, and has a nutty aroma as outlined here. The same rules apply in the microwave as on the stovetop; watch it closely and start checking it approximately every 15 seconds starting at about the 3-minute mark, so that it doesn’t go from browned and nutty to burnt and inedible.
  6. Transfer hot butter to medium-sized mixing bowl and allow it to cool for about 5 minutes. Add the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and whisk to combine. Based on desired glaze consistency and taste preference, add the cream one tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached, playing with sugar and cream ratios as necessary. (I only use butter, sugar, and vanilla in this glaze, no cream). Drizzle glaze over the top of cake before slicing and serving; or slice, serve, and glaze each piece individually. I use the glaze like butter and spread it liberally on the interior surface of a slice.
  7. Unglazed cake can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days, or store glazed cake in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Unglazed cake can be frozen for up to 3 months.



Related Recipes:

Banana Bread with Vanilla Browned Butter Glaze – Week 1 of Banana Bread Fest

Zucchini Banana Bread with Browned Butter Cream Cheese Frosting – Week 2 of Banana Bread Fest. Today’s cake and this bread both use banana and zucchini; however the bread is more like a tradtional banana bread with flecks of zucchini woven it, and the cake today is spongy and springy, almost like a cake-mix cake, and is moist. The former is more (banana) bread-like, the later is more (cake mix) cake or pudding cake-like. I couldn’t pick one over the other; it’s apples and oranges, bread and cake.

Pumpkin Banana Bread with Browned Butter Cream Cheese GlazeWeek 3 of Banana Bread Fest

Spiced Apple Banana Bundt Cake with Vanilla Caramel GlazeWeek 4 Banana Bread Fest

Carrot Pineapple Banana Bread with Browned Butter Cream Cheese FrostingWeek 5 Banana Bread Fest

Banana Bread Brownies with Browned Butter Cream Cheese FrostingWeek 6 Banana Bread Fest

Do you have any favorite banana, banana cake, or sweet applications for zucchini?

Have you ever tried or made a pudding cake?

Feel free to link up your favorite recipes. I re-linked all the previous weeks of Banana Bread Fest, seven recipes, and I don’t have any more saved banana recipes pending.

Logical choices would be banana-peanut butter (did it in the past), banana-Biscoff/cookie butter (did it), plus all the smoothies with banana. But I’m taking a banana break and moving onto molasses, ginger, chocolate, and peppermint for now. ‘Tis the season.

Have a great weekend and stay tuned for a great giveaway coming up!

114 comments on “Banana Zucchini Pudding Cake with Vanilla Browned Butter Glaze”

  1. I’m the same way! I always have too many ripe bananas or when I actually need them, there are nowhere to be found! It’s so frustrating. But I’m so glad you had some on hand to make this because it is amazing! The combination with the zucchini is just pure genius, and that glaze is to die for!

  2. I’ve never used a pudding packet in baking, but I have heard of it before. Looks amazing, Averie! Happy Friday!

    • It adds such unbelieveable softness & moisture to anything! From bread, to cakes, to cookies…one little packet just does wonders for any dough whatsoever!

      • I have 4 bananas that are approaching the perfect state, and looking for a treat to greet my partner when he arrives home from a long business trip (I’ll be at work). I just so happen to have ALL these ingredients on stock (even the pudding)… Looks like I’m baking a pudding cake. Could I make this in a loaf pan? Otherwise, I don’t have a 9×9, but I do have an 8×8.

      • I would not use a loaf pan – it will never set up in the middle before the edges were too dark. You could try an 8×8 but you’ll have to watch the baking time and use your judgment. Enjoy!

  3. I’m just the same! Have so many leftover bananas and I think this zucchini pudding cake would be a great way to use it. I love that brown butter drizzle too – absolutely delicious!

  4. SO true! I am always in the same situation. I actually take brown banana donations from family that I freeze for baking :) The cake looks just scrumptious

    • I love that you have an open brown-banana collection/donation-program going! That is awesome! My mom used to do that with her mom when I was growing up; they’d swap brown/black bananas based on who had what cooking project going on. Now I get it :)

  5. Yay! So excited to make this! I have been waiting to see whaqt the next banana recipe is :)

  6. Dang Averie. You are the queen of all thing Banana Bread! I love pudding cakes (have a couple varieties on my blog), the dense moist cake is delish! Totally going to have to put this on my to-make list! Pinned!

  7. I do love a good pudding cake too! And I like the way you think…add the zucchini to the cake instead of salad:-) I can’t wait to try this out…we always have way more bananas on our counter too. That cake is absolutely amazing looking…so rich and decadent and perfectly heavy!

  8. I could definitely see myself swapping the zucchini for pumpkin and making this case for Thanksgiving! It looks so moist and delicious.

  9. Banana and Zucchini..what a wonderful combo…the cake looks so moist and filling! Baking it this weekend….

  10. Averie this cake looks exactly like a dense cake batter blondie but MUCH softer….more buttery…. and better. Is that possible? You know I love my little cake blondies! I am so impressed – from the pudding to the BS vs BP strategy and all of that butter… you have yourself a real winner here. I’m convinced. I need to make that vanilla brown butter glaze. You clearly like it too much for me NOT to try it girl. :) the extra bananas vs no bananas… story of my life! my freezer is FULL of frozen bananas and my archives have way too much banana bread (not a problem in my book!)… and I have more waiting to be used up this weekend. Of course when I’m sick and want something comforting to the tummy.. I have none. And all that’s in the store are grass-green. Life is so hard. :(

    Small cakes/small batches are my blogging solution. I can bake so much since the recipe yields are small. I swear by them. And I have cake A.D.D. too. i am in LOVE with this cake Averie! Crisp clean pretty photos. Ok I’ll shut up now.

    • In many ways this was sort of like a blondie; more cake-like and less cookie-dough like than a blondie, but that same denseness and pan-style kind of cake/bar. This vanilla browned butter glaze is good but the one I have here is THE BEST

      It was just more ‘glaze’ flavor that I needed. Very pronounced and intense caramel flavor which I wasn’t in need of with this b/c there was already plenty going on.

      Cake A.D.D. – great way of putting it! Me too. And as you know as a blogger, content needs to rotate and I cannot/will not just make something ‘just’ to make it. We do need to be able to eat it (or a good portion of it) and I can’t be making 9×13 cakes or layer cakes all the time or 2-3 dozen cookie batches all the time. Gah! So yes, smaller cakes/batches are key!

  11. I totally understand what you mean about having either no ripe bananas or too many. I am on the too many end of the spectrum! I’ve got way too many bananas in my freezer right now! Fortunately, now I have something to make with them – love the cake!

  12. I always have so many bananas in the freezer! I never know what to do with all of them, you can only make so many loaves of banana bread, right?!

  13. Too many bananas is one of my favorite problems to have! Also, I LOVE the idea of a smaller cake. I’m totally with you that I’m ready to switch it up far before the 9×13 pan is depleted. Dense, gooey, pudding, love. That’s what I see with this pan of yum! Thanks Averie.

  14. I have yet to bake with zucchini, but this recipe looks too scrumptious to pass up! (Definitely bookmarking.) And yes, 9 x 13-inch desserts start to get boring at the halfway point. :D

    • It adds almost zero flavor but adds full-on moisture and a touch of texture, which is a bonus. I think zucchini is so flavor neutral, that even if you ate it raw with your eyes closed, you may still not even know what it was. Lol

      Thanks for the pin!

  15. Broken record – but looks amazing! Love the green flecks in there too. I’ve had pudding cakes but never made one. Well maybe from a box. Didn’t one of the brands once upon a time include pudding in their mixes?

  16. Oh my, this looks decadent and delicious!!! I love pudding cakes too! I even add a box of vanilla pudding to my cookies! I am making your Asian pasta salad again today. It has been added to our weekly rotation!

    • I love that it’s on weekly rotation! I’ve made it twice in the last 2 weeks too. It’s never identical, but noodles, fresh veggies, peanut butter and the sauce ingredients in approximately the same amts, yep, just made some yesterday, too!

  17. so creative! I don’t know how you come up with so many amazingly looking desserts

  18. This looks like a really interesting cake! I’ve never heard of the combination of banana and zucchini, much less in a cake! Thanks for sharing the recipe and those lovely pictures.

  19. What a pretty snack cake! I love the glaze. *drinkable*

  20. I think I’m a banana hoarder. Inevitably, I’ll forget I have some on my counter and I’ll buy another batch, so now I have TWO batches on my counter both getting spotty at the same time. I could easily make 10 loaves of banana bread (not a bad idea) but this cake looks way too delicious not to try. Can you believe I’ve never baked zukes in a dessert before? Crazy, right? It’s dang time I start.

    • They add pretty color and tons of moisture with very little flavor so if anyone ‘doesn’t like zucchini’, not to worry b/c the taste is almost imperceptible. Good luck with all that hoarding and can’t wait to see what you make :)

  21. I love banana with zucchini and that glaze is incredible!!

  22. This would be a perfect change from a traditional banana bread as a use for ripe bananas. Love the addition of pudding! The brown butter glaze – makes me smile instantly :)

  23. oh gosh…i wish starbucks sold these!

  24. You know, I’ve actually never made a cake with a pudding mix and I think I want to try it.

    Actually, that’s pudding it mildly – I REALLY want to try it. (OMG – ew – someone stop me now, please.)

    Seriously, I bet the finished crumb is just really lovely and moist… will be trying this one soon!!

    • And this cake would still be totally dense and moist and rich without it but it does add a certain quality that’s just…scrumptious!

      ‘pudding it mildly’ <--- good one. You and my dad would get along great. He is always making little play on word jokes like that. Lol

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