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!

Classic Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting

Yield: 12-14 cupcakes

Print Recipe

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.

Additional 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

© 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!





350 Responses to “Classic Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting.”

  1. #
    ivyposted April 10, 2015 at 10:10 am

    Hi there! I’ve tried this recipe last easter and my kids love them! Its really soft and fluffy and not so sweet which i like it the most! Thank you for this wonderful recipe!


  2. #
    jmickposted April 16, 2015 at 8:51 pm

    loved the cupcakes so much had to make a second batch (which is cooling now). Going to frost this batch with chocolate cream cheese frosting! ! Can’t wait


  3. #
    Alexandriaposted April 24, 2015 at 6:56 pm

    Hey Sally! I made these the other day for my friend’s birthday and he LOVED them.

    I am doing a bake sale this weekend and wanted to spice things up a bit by making Mayan Spiced Chocolate Cupcakes. I’ll be adding some cinnamon, chili powder and cayenne to this recipe. Before I do this I have a few questions- Do you think I’ll have to change any part of the recipe? Also, do you maybe have any suggestions on to how much of each spice I should add?

    Thank you for all your wonderful recipes!!



    • Sallyreplied on April 27th, 2015 at 9:31 am

      Alexandria– I’m just getting to this question because I was away on vacation. Not sure if you tried them out already, but I think your addition of spices for the spiced chocolate cupcakes is a great idea. I would start with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon of the other two.


  4. #
    Amyposted April 28, 2015 at 3:12 pm

    Mine turned out way to moist!!?


  5. #
    Nikiposted April 29, 2015 at 11:20 am

    I made these for my daughter’s 4th birthday this weekend. After the family fell in love with your very vanilla cupcakes I turned to you again for a chocolate recipe. This did not disappoint!! I’ve found my go-to chocolate cupcake recipe now. Thanks!!


  6. #
    HimuraMaiposted May 7, 2015 at 2:06 pm

    A bit much chocolate according my brother. But otherwise very good.


  7. #
    Cherieposted May 7, 2015 at 6:47 pm

    Hi Sally, may I use cake flour in place of all purpose flour? (Same weight?) Thanks!! :)


    • Sallyreplied on May 8th, 2015 at 5:25 pm

      I fear the cupcakes will be *too* light. But it is worth a try. Add 2 extra Tbsp of (cake) flour.


  8. #
    Hamsterposted May 15, 2015 at 8:34 pm

    Can you use milk instead of buttermilk? I can’t find any buttermilk in any grocery stores.


    • Hamsterreplied on May 15th, 2015 at 8:37 pm

      I just saw your buttermilk tip-thanks!


  9. #
    Ashposted May 19, 2015 at 5:23 am

    Hey Sally, how are you? If I wanted to fill these with Nutella, would the cupcake rise around the Nutella if I put a scoop on the mixture before putting in the oven? Or would it be best to scoop out after baking? Thanks.


  10. #
    Teresaposted May 20, 2015 at 8:22 pm

    I have salted butter, can I use that and leave out the extra salt?


    • Sallyreplied on May 21st, 2015 at 7:40 am



      • Daniareplied on July 7th, 2015 at 12:39 pm

        I tried your frosting for the cupcakes and it was gorgeous.your recipes are so great Im sure you are a great a baker

  11. #
    Natalieposted May 21, 2015 at 7:58 am

    You’re not lying about finding any excuse to make these! I was desperate for a cupcake recipe that used oil instead of butter (butter costs a fortune in Japan where I live and when I have to shell out for the frosting I want to save on the cake) but I also need the recipe to be in grams, so I tried these, not sure how they would turn out. That was December last year and I keep making them any chance I get. At Christmas we made the frosting green and piped it high like christmas trees, for valentines I did red frosting like roses. I’m about to make these for the 5th time this year and I just wanted to say thank you so much for the recipe (adding cream and salt to the frosting was a revelation!) Sally I think you’re just brilliant and I have no idea how you come up with so many recipes. I love love love your chocolate chip cookies too. The thing is, the recipes I’ve tried so far are so good that I don’t see the need to try others!! :S Doesn’t stop me reading though! Thanks again!! 


  12. #
    Nicola Phillipsposted May 22, 2015 at 1:43 pm

    I just want to tell you I love love your site some much.thank you for taking the time out to post.


  13. #
    annaposted May 25, 2015 at 3:33 am

    i made these cupcakes and icing this weekend and they were a huge success!!!! what a great recipe! i piped the icing with a 1M wilton piping tip and i found that there was just a bit too much icing per cupcake. My husband, on the other hand, and everyone i served them to absolutely disagreed with me! i’m going to try and make them again this weekend with a different icing tip


  14. #
    Kaylaposted May 26, 2015 at 7:46 pm

    I don’t have any brown sugar, is it okay if i use all granulated sugar?


    • Sallyreplied on May 26th, 2015 at 9:00 pm

      That should be fine– though it does make the cupcakes a little more flavorful and moist.


      • Kaylareplied on May 26th, 2015 at 9:08 pm

        Thank you!!! I ended up finding some Dark brown sugar in the far, dark corner of my pantry and used that instead. xD

  15. #
    Kaylaposted May 26, 2015 at 8:50 pm

    These were delicious!!!!
    i did another recipe for the icing because i didn’t have heavy cream or enough confectioners sugar (This was a kind of in the moment baking) and was not happy at all with that recipe :(
    But your cupcakes were so good that you couldnt even tell that the icing sucked!!!
    Thank you!!!!! 


  16. #
    Pearlposted June 5, 2015 at 4:16 pm

    Hi Sally, what if my buttermilk is powdered? 


  17. #
    BuddyAquaposted June 10, 2015 at 8:57 pm

    After tasting these, I knew that I wouldn’t trust another chocolate cupcake recipe. I have a winner! In fact, they are so AMAZING that I made 2 batches already…:D


  18. #
    Emily Bposted June 17, 2015 at 8:05 pm

    Love this recipe-I’ve been searching for the perfect chocolate cupcake -nice and moist and these are it- now my go to recipe for chocolate cupcakes. Thank you!  


  19. #
    Jadeposted June 19, 2015 at 6:04 am

    Hi! I’ve just used the frosting recipe for the red we’re not keen on cream cheese frosting. And my husband is in love with it! I just wanted to ask however, you’re frosting looks really white? How do you achieve this when the butter is yellow?
    Kind regards, Jade


    • *Layla*replied on June 28th, 2015 at 10:48 am

      Hi! Use clear vanilla extract or cream the butter a lot before adding in the other ingredients. 


  20. #
    Daisyposted June 25, 2015 at 12:53 pm

    So These Cupcakes  Will Have A Dark Chocolate Taste ?


  21. #
    *Layla*posted June 28, 2015 at 10:45 am

    I just love your recipe. 
    How can I substitute eggs in this recipe?
    I have to make eggless chocolate cupcakes for a bday, and all the other recipes on the ‘net use way too little cocoa powder and I’m afraid it just wont be chocolatey enough. But this though, is perfect.
    Please answer somebody!!!


    • Jessicareplied on August 10th, 2015 at 2:12 pm

      1/3 cup applesauce  or 1/4 cup plain yogurt per 1 egg.  The density of the yogurt may affect the texture of the cupcake. Using plain applesauce shouldn’t affect the consistency too much or the flavor. Hope that helps… Good luck!


  22. #
    Germaineposted July 2, 2015 at 6:46 am

    Tried this today and the cupcakes taste amazing =)


  23. #
    Kristinposted July 2, 2015 at 10:12 am

    Hello Sally! Happy Fourth of July!! My most favorite holiday ever!! Can I double both of these recipes? Or should I make them twice separately?


    • Sallyreplied on July 2nd, 2015 at 11:27 am

      Happy 4th to you Kristin! Doubling is *fine* but I always just make two separate batches. This helps me to avoid overmixing (which is likely when you are working with more batter).


      • Kristinreplied on July 2nd, 2015 at 11:51 am

        Thanks! I have a 24 cupcake pan. (SOOO excited to use) Can I pour one batch of batter in the baking cups and let them sit out while I make the second batter?

        • Sallyreplied on July 2nd, 2015 at 12:41 pm

          Yes, that would be fine!

  24. #
    Zonishposted July 5, 2015 at 7:32 am

    Hi Sally.
    I’m about to try out this recipe and instead of using brown sugar I’m only going to be using white sugar. I’m confused about how much white sugar I should use? Right now I’m just out of brown sugar so hoping this works out. 


  25. #
    Lyndseyposted July 5, 2015 at 3:24 pm

    Hi Sally

    Can you use sunflower oil instead of the vegetable or canola oil?

    Thanks :o) 


    • Sallyreplied on July 6th, 2015 at 8:06 am

      That would be fine.


  26. #
    Rachelposted July 6, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    Can I use melted butter instead of oil?  I do not have any oil on hand.


    • Rachelreplied on July 6th, 2015 at 5:48 pm

      I just made these with my 3 year old and they are FANTASTIC!!  Thank you for the recipe!


  27. #
    Louisaposted July 6, 2015 at 6:42 pm

    Can I use cake flour instead of all purpose flour?
    If so, will it make any difference?


    • Sallyreplied on July 7th, 2015 at 7:02 am

      With cake flour, the cupcakes could be *too* light. But it is worth a try. Add 2 extra Tbsp of (cake) flour.


  28. #
    Alice Simardposted July 8, 2015 at 8:42 pm

    omg these cup lee were sooooooo good thanks for this amazing recipe


  29. #
    Lisaposted July 8, 2015 at 9:27 pm

    These look delicious and simple! I will make them for my son’s birthday. Just need to know if the recipe doubles easily…never sure when baking?


    • Lisareplied on July 8th, 2015 at 9:29 pm

      Sorry just saw you had already responded to this question. Thanks!


  30. #
    Lianeposted July 10, 2015 at 1:13 am

    I just made a half recipe of these and they turned out a bit salty.  Any ideas why that would be?  The texture was fluffy and light!  


  31. #
    Marwaposted July 11, 2015 at 9:58 pm

    The frosting seems delicious! But everytime I try making a frosting it doesn’t turn out smooth:( the powdered sugar feels crispy in the mouth! What do you think the problem is?


    • Beckareplied on July 15th, 2015 at 2:40 pm

      You might want to try sifting the powdered sugar before adding to the mixer, if you haven’t already. :)


  32. #
    Zandraposted July 16, 2015 at 1:47 pm

    I made the chocolate cupcakes using coconut oil and they turn out wonderful. My family loved them. I didn’t use the frosting because I made a oreo buttercream frosting that worked  just fine.


  33. #
    Lucyposted July 16, 2015 at 7:49 pm

    Hi Sally! I’m so happy to see that you’ve posted something including oil (I never have butter at home), and I’m planning on making these soon. Recently, I came across a recipe involving raw cookie dough as a cupcake filling, and I want to try that out with these delicious-looking cupcakes. If I were to make this cupcake batter, freeze cookie dough, and put it on top of the batter, will the cupcakes be filled with cookie dough? Thanks! :)


    • Sallyreplied on July 17th, 2015 at 7:30 am

      Lucy, I’ve never made cookie dough cupcakes like that but it sounds right. I’m not entirely sure. If that’s what the recipe suggests, then try it out.


      • Lucyreplied on July 17th, 2015 at 10:04 am

        Thanks! :)

      • Lucyreplied on July 26th, 2015 at 12:46 pm

        Hi Sally! I did this without the cookie dough and the cupcakes were delicious. They reminded me of brownies and were very rich in flavour. I will be using this recipe again! 

  34. #
    Clairaposted July 18, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    Hi, I made thees cupcakes and they tasted fabulous! A bit of a weird thing happened though – a couple of the cupcakes had a slightly hard/gooey/sticky whitish blob on the bottom. The blob was pretty small (dime-sized or less), but still surprising in a cupcake! Do you think maybe that was because of the egg? I thought the wet mixture looked pretty smooth but perhaps I could stand to mix it a little more? Thanks for any help you can give!


    • Sallyreplied on July 19th, 2015 at 11:33 am

      Perhaps it was egg not thoroughly mixed in the batter? I’m a little unsure. Mix it a little more next time and maybe add a minute to the bake time.


  35. #
    fionaposted July 19, 2015 at 11:11 am

    thanks Sally for sharing this lovely and yummy recipe on the chocolate cupcake.  i am a novice at baking, and had to make some cupcakes for my daughter’s birthday.  she requested chocolate cupcakes to bring to school for sharing, so we found you site, and decided to try it.  double to portions and made 24 cupcakes in total.  we love the taste.


  36. #
    Rubyposted July 25, 2015 at 12:27 pm

    I made them yesterday and they turned out amazing. But when I tried them today they tasted a little dry. How can I make this little more moist or retain the moisture.
    Secondly, can I put chocolate chips in this. If so how much? Any thing else i need to change if I am adding the chips?
    Thanks. I’m really a novice baker… Love your recipes.. So easy and comes out so good 


    • Sallyreplied on July 27th, 2015 at 11:55 am

      Try reducing the amount of flour by 2-3 Tablespoons. Also, make sure you are storing them in an airtight container overnight. For chocolate chips, how about adding around a cup?


  37. #
    Darleneposted July 27, 2015 at 10:20 am

    I made these for my nieces and nephew and they were a hit and believe me that’s an accomplishment!


  38. #
    Lucyposted July 28, 2015 at 6:25 pm

    Hi Sally! I would like to bake this into a cake. Would I need to spray the pan, or grease it? Thanks! 


    • Sallyreplied on July 28th, 2015 at 8:08 pm

      Either work!


      • Lucyreplied on July 28th, 2015 at 9:30 pm

        Thanks! :)

  39. #
    MKposted July 30, 2015 at 10:25 pm

    Wow! These cupcakes were delicious! Super moist, light and just perfect! My little girl who loves to bake, made these for a play date and were a hit with all her friends and their mums!! 
    Love your recipes! God bless!❤️


  40. #
    Haleyposted August 4, 2015 at 9:33 am

    I made these cupcakes and loved them! But the butercream recipe is the best part! I still use it everytime i bake cakes! Love the addition of heavy cream which is atypical for a buttercream recipe 


  41. #
    Sarahposted August 6, 2015 at 11:40 am

    Hi Sally – I recently used this vanilla icing recipe on some vanilla cupcakes and I thought it turned out good! However, the next day some people tried them and complained that the icing was too grainy. Any thoughts on why this would happen or how to prevent it? My butter was room temperature, and I used half and half instead of heavy cream (all I had). Would it be possible to overmix the icing if I left it mixing longer? Thanks!


    • Sallyreplied on August 7th, 2015 at 8:55 am

      Grainy icing– hmm. And you’re using confectioners’ sugar? Try sifting it. This will help! Don’t over-beat the frosting.


  42. #
    Maryposted August 7, 2015 at 11:00 am

    Is there a substitute for the butter milk?


    • Maryreplied on August 7th, 2015 at 11:03 am

      and if i use the substitute will the cupcakes taste different?


  43. #
    kateposted August 14, 2015 at 10:08 pm

    sorry for posting it twice!!! my computer is going crazy :p ;D


  44. #
    claireposted August 15, 2015 at 1:58 am

    I made these cupcakes, and they were yummy!!! i will make them again!!! thanks for sharing!


  45. #
    krupaposted August 17, 2015 at 9:31 am

    I’m so excited to read this, because I was searching for a website with all the recipes at one place. This is so so cool! And you give awesome tips also which clears all my doubts (which no other website does). I’m gonna try the chocolate cupcake and soon will let you know how it comes out(fingers crossed).
    Thank you so much for posting.
    And the pictures are out of the world!!! <3 <3 <3


  46. #
    Pamela Penmanposted August 19, 2015 at 8:20 am

    These are absolutely fantastic!!!!  Not greasy which I really appreciate, and not too sweet.  Very chocolatey!  Question:  how would greek yogurt plus milk substitute for the buttermilk??  If you think that would work, in what measurement?  Thanks!!!


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