Classic Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting.

A rich, tender homemade chocolate cupcake topped with my favorite vanilla frosting. You’ll find every excuse to make this classic cupcake over and over again!

The most flavorful, moist chocolate cupcakes I've ever made!

I’m taking a break from all things overloaded today. Don’t get me wrong, an Oreo cake with Oreo crumb topping, Oreo cream filling, and milk chocolate buttercream is welcome in my apartment any day. But sometimes I crave a little simplicity. And it doesn’t get much simpler than a classic chocolate cupcake with vanilla frosting.

And sprinkles… uh, naturally.

The most flavorful, moist chocolate cupcakes I've ever made!

Speaking of overloaded, a couple weeks ago I made Marshmallow-Filled S’mores Cupcakes. Have you tried them yet? PLEASE DO. (Sorry… shouting.)

Well in that post, I briefly told you about my new favorite chocolate cupcake, which is used as the base underneath all that s’mores stuff. Today’s cupcake recipe starts with the same basic, simple chocolate cupcake batter. Let me explain these homemade chocolate cupcakes a little further because they are in the spotlight today.

Chocolate Cupcake 101

While I have a tried and true homemade chocolate cupcake recipe – which appears with chocolate frosting on my blog and with butterscotch frosting in my cookbook – I wanted to change things up. No rhyme or reason… playing around in the kitchen is simply what I enjoy most. I didn’t change much; just a few things here and there. Instead of using melted butter, I use a little oil. The oil produces an incredibly moist cupcake!

I leave out the 2 ounces of melted chocolate, so the cupcakes get all their chocolate flavor from cocoa powder. These cupcakes are still so fudgy! I find my original version to have more of a deep, dark chocolate flavor while today’s chocolate cupcakes more of a milk chocolate flavor. And my gosh, chocolate is all you’ll taste. Don’t you just hate biting into a homemade chocolate cupcake only to find a subtle taste of chocolate? What a waste.

The most flavorful, moist chocolate cupcakes I've ever made!

I love adding brown sugar to my homemade chocolate cupcakes. I find subbing some white sugar for brown sugar gives the cupcakes a little something extra and provides an even richer taste than most other chocolate cupcakes I’ve tasted.

Chocolate cupcakes paired with vanilla frosting is a match made in heaven. A dessert that everyone loves! And my fluffy, creamy vanilla frosting is the perfect topper for these homemade fudgy cupcakes. If you’re nervous about making homemade frosting, don’t be. It’s one of the easiest things to master, trust me.

I whipped these cupcakes up for my birthday last week and my friend said they tasted as tender and moist as cupcakes from a bakery. The kicker? She had one on day 2! Chocolate cupcakes are notorious for drying out as the days pass (cocoa powder has that effect on baked goods), but these stay perfectly tender and rich. They’re a great cupcake to make ahead of time for a party and frost right before serving.

Homemade Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Vanilla Swirl Frosting

I felt a little fancy in the kitchen the day I made these chocolate cupcakes and ended up baking a second batch and swirling vanilla and milk chocolate frostings on top. For all of you with frosting A.D.D. like myself, you have got to try it.

Here’s a lengthy post I wrote on How to Make Swirled Frosting. I also show you exactly how to fill a piping bag with frosting (the easiest way!), as well as how I pipe frosting using the Wilton 1M swirl piping tip – which the tip I used for today’s cupcakes.

Be sure to read that helpful post!

How to Make Swirled Frosting

Homemade Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Vanilla Swirl Frosting

This is a great go-to chocolate cupcake recipe you will use over and over again. Far superior to anything from a box!

Follow me on Instagram and tag #sallysbakingaddiction so I can see all the SBA recipes you make. 

Classic Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting

A rich, tender homemade chocolate cupcake topped with my favorite vanilla frosting. You'll find every excuse to make this classic cupcake over and over again!



  • 1/2 cup (42g) unsweetened natural cocoa powder1
  • 3/4 cup (95g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature2
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100g) packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) vegetable or canola oil (melted coconut oil works too)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) buttermilk, room temperature3

Vanilla Frosting

  • 1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 4 - 5 cups (480-600g) confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) heavy cream4
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • salt, to taste
  • sprinkles5


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners. Line a second pan with 2 liners - this recipe makes about 14 cupcakes. Set aside.
  2. Make the cupcakes: Whisk the cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl until thoroughly combined. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, granulated sugar, brown sugar, oil, and vanilla together until completely smooth. Pour half of the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Then half of the buttermilk. Gently whisk - about 5 stirs. Repeat with the remaining wet ingredients and buttermilk. Stir until *just* combined; do not overmix. The batter will be a little thin.
  3. Pour/spoon the batter into the liners - fill only halfway to avoid spilling over the sides. Bake in batches for 18-21 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
  4. Make the frosting: With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy - about 2 minutes. Add 4 and 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, cream, and vanilla extract with the mixer running on low. Increase to high speed and beat for 3 full minutes. Add up to 1/2 cup more confectioners' sugar if frosting is too thin or another Tablespoon of cream if frosting is too thick. Add a pinch of salt if frosting is too sweet.
  5. Frost cooled cupcakes however you'd like. I used Wilton 1M piping tip. There may be leftover frosting depending how much you use on each cupcake. Decorate with sprinkles, if desired. Leftover prepared cupcakes can be stored covered tightly at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator up to 5 days.
  6. Make ahead tip: Prepare cupcakes 1 day in advance. Keep cupcakes covered tightly at room temperature and frost the day of serving. Unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before frosting and serving.

Recipe Notes:

  1. Do not use dutch processed cocoa. Dutch process is treated with an alkali to neutralize its acids and therefore will not react with the alkaline baking soda in the batter. Natural unsweetened, which is an acidic ingredient, is paired with the brown sugar (also acidic) in this specific cupcake recipe to react with baking soda and maintain the proper balance of acid and alkaline as the cupcakes bake.
  2. Room temperature eggs are required for the cupcakes. To bring eggs to room temperature quickly, put them in a glass of warm water for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Buttermilk is required for this recipe. If you do not have buttermilk, make your own by mixing 1 teaspoon white vinegar or lemon juice with 1/2 cup milk. Stir and let sit for 5 minutes.
  4. For the frosting, heavy cream or half-and-half will give your frosting the creamiest texture. You can use milk instead, keeping in mind that the frosting won't be as creamy.
  5. I bought these rainbow sprinkles from Walmart (Wilton brand), but also love to buy them in bulk here.

For Swirled Frosting: if you wish to frost your chocolate cupcakes with swirled frosting as pictured above, please see this cupcake recipe to obtain the correct amounts (and recipes) for the vanilla and chocolate frostings. Then, see this post to learn how I swirled them.

For a cake: Use a 9 inch cake pan. Fill only halfway – there will be extra batter to make some cupcakes. Bake at 350°F (177°C) for around 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Here is a recipe for a chocolate layer cake.

For mini cupcakes: For around 36 mini cupcakes, line mini cupcake pans with liners or spray with nonstick spray. Prepare cupcakes and frosting as directed. Bake mini cupcakes for 12-13 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Adapted from my Death by Chocolate Cupcakes

Did you make a recipe?

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© Sally’s Baking Addiction. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe.

Looking for that perfect vanilla cupcake recipe? Try my Very Vanilla Cupcakes.

Very Vanilla Cupcakes by

Or even my Ultimate Marble Cupcakes.

Marble Cupcakes by

See more cupcake recipe ideas.

FAVORITE Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting
My favorite homemade chocolate cupcake recipe-- frosted two ways!





  1. Hi Sally,

    Do you think the coconut oil would be detectable/give them a different flavor?? I’m all set to make these babies for a bake sale tomorrow and just discovered I’m out of vegetable oil.

  2. Hi Sally,
    Do you think I could replace the cocoa with carob powder (1:1) and maintain good flavor?  Also, I don’t have either vegetable oil or refined coconut oil. Can I substitute with butter or is this a bad idea?

  3. Hi Sally,
    I want to try this recipe at home but I was unsure if I could replace the unsweetened cocoa powder for just normal cocoa powder, would that make any difference? Instead of buttermilk could I use plain milk?
    For the Frosting:
    Could I use White Sugar instead of confectioners sugar?
    Oh and instead of unsalted butter could I use plain butter or margarine?

    Yours sincerely

    • I encourage you to follow the recipe as written; certain ingredients like the unsweetened natural cocoa and buttermilk are key to the cupcake’s taste, texture, and rise. Granulated white sugar is not suitable for making this frosting (too gritty, not enough volume).

  4. Hi Sally, absolutely love these cupcakes, thank you for an awesome recipe.Am wondering if I could convert these into pinata cupcakes or is it too tender to hold the candies? TIA

  5. Hey Sally!

    This is a great recipe, I tried it today. I made 12 cupcakes out of it using silicone cupcake pans, and cut them in half to sandwich them with peanut butter and also a chocolate cookie spread (I lacked confectiner’s/icing sugar t make frosting for them, plus I’m not really a big fan of buttercream) . They turned out deliciously chocolatey and moist, and they will be my go to chocolate cupcakes from now on!

    Thanks for posting it! 🙂

  6. Is the frosting a vanilla buttercream or plain vanilla frosting?

  7. Hi Sally, 

    I recently tried out this recipe and absolutely loved the end result, specifically the icing. I have been looking for a buttercream icing for ages and was so pleased with the end result of this icing!

    Just a question, my cupcakes came out completely flat so no cute little mound on top. What could have caused that? 

    Thank you!


  8. Hi Sally!

    I am making these for my son’s graduation this weekend, and wanted to put some icing in the center of the cupcakes. Would you make the frosting recipe as called for or should I add anything additional for a little bit extra to make sure I have enough for the centers and frosting on top?
    I’m only making the 12 cupcakes per the recipe. Thanks!

    • Hey Ashley! This recipe yields a TON of frosting. You’ll have enough to fill each cupcake and frost each cupcake; just don’t frost with as much frosting as pictured on these cupcakes. I piled it HIGH!

  9. Hi Sally!
    I love these cupcakes and have made them a handful of times. However, they always sink in the middle. Do you have any suggestions? 
    Thanks so much!

  10. I just made these for my sisters graduation party. They are AMAZING. Seriously the best cupcakes ever. Frosting pairs perfectly with them! Might be a silly question, but do you need to refrigerate the Frosting because of the cream? I don’t normally do homemade Frosting but I love it! 

  11. Beautiful cupcakes! I am certainly no professional, but was asked last minute to bake for my cousin’s bridal shower next weekend. My go-to chocolate recipe, while delicious, does not make good cupcakes (too light, and the tops are either completely flat or spread out – I know this has just as much to do with technique as the recipe, but I’ve never been able to remedy it).  I did a test batch of these yesterday and I am very happy with them.  For cakes and such I will stick with my go-to, but this recipe made for some very pretty, slightly-domed, light-but-sturdy-enough-for-piles-of-frosting cupcakes. I will be topping them with swirled vanilla bean and strawberry buttercreams and a little chocolate-covered strawberry.  Thanks for another great recipe! : )

  12. OH MY GOSH. I made these for a BBQ and they were the best chocolate cupcakes I’ve ever had! I added a sprinkle of cinnamon and a splash of strong coffee in the buttermilk cup. The frosting was amazing and I nailed the 2 color technique but I put the chocolate and vanilla in separate bags and then both those in another bag. And the recipe made 12 for me. SO SO GOOD!

  13. Hi Sally!
    Can I use butter instead of vegetable oil for the cupcakes?

  14. Hi sally. I want to make this for my friend’s bday treat but it’s very very very difficult to find natural unsweetened cocoa powder here where i live. And also we dont have large eggs here. Only small to medium size eggs. What should i do?

  15. Why am I the only person who can’t make this recipe work? I just made it following recipe exactly and they sunk and are too moist. Then I remembered that I tried this recipe a couple times for my wedding cupcakes a couple yrs ago with the same results. I’m bummed.

  16. Mine failed a bit. They were edible, just not the light, fluffy cupcake I was going for. They were very moist and dense- they rose, then sank- with a hard crust on top, like a brownie.

  17. I love the flavor and texture of these cupcakes.  But they keep sinking each and every time. None of my ingredients are old. Pls pls pls tell me what to do. I am supposed to do an order for a wedding in a few days and have absolutely no idea what Is going wrong. Pls help!

    • Are they underbaked? Try leaving them int he oven for a little longer. And make sure you aren’t mixing up the baking powder and baking soda measurements. I’ve done that before by accident!

      • I’ll try baking a few mins more and see. I’d think that’ll dry them out though. The ingredients seem to be pretty accurate though. Thanks for your reply Sally.

  18. Hi, Ms. Sally,
    Can i use all purpose cream(Nestle brand) for frosting,heavy cream is so pricey here and hershey cocoa powder? Thanks so much. A novice here,this would be the 2nd cupcake recipe im going to try..

  19. I want to love these, but I’ve tried 3 different batches but the tops sunk in and had bubbles.  I used all brand new ingredients and even bought an oven thermometer.  I’ll probably just use for cake pops…wish they looked as pretty as yours!

  20. OMG!! These were sooo GOOD!! They were soft and chocolaty and oh so delicious! Definitely a new fave!

  21. Does anyone know how much frosting this makes?  How many cupcakes can I frost?

  22. Does anyone know if this will make enough frosting to cover a 2 layer (9 inch) cake?

  23. Hey Sally 
    I am new baker and venturing into professional baking and I recently stumbled upon one of your recipes and since then I have atleast tried three and just yesterday I tried this one ans it turned out amazing…. I also wanna say that I love how you explain everything and every step that I don’t even feel like watching a video rather I look foreard to the whole thing before I try your recipe … it kinda prepares me ☺️ Thank you so much once again and I look forward to trying more recipe of yours

  24. I really love this cupcake recipe of yours! I’m glad I found your blog, I made this last night and it’s so delicious! Thank you! ^^

  25. Is it okay to make frosting without heavy cream?

  26. Can I add food coloring to the frosting? and can I make it a day/ night in advance?

    • Know what? I made this recipe and left it on the table for more than 24 hours now and its still soft and moist…i cant believe it…

  27. I have used this recipe yesterday for a 7th bday party..too bad i cannot share the picture of the cupcake here…i made a christmas tree chocolate cupcake. thanks for sharing your recipes…youre my go to website for my baking requirements.

  28. Hi Selly, can I frost the cakes overnight and keep it outside… Will the frosting be fine?

  29. This is the best chocolate cupcake I’ve ever tried! It’s so soft and tasty!

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