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 (no more than halfway full, trust me!!). 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.

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. To bring eggs to room temperature quickly, put them in a glass of warm water for 5-10 minutes.
  3. 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.

Try them with milk chocolate frosting next!

The best homemade chocolate cupcakes I've tried! Recipe on



  1. Hope on February 21, 2017 at 11:17 pm

    Hi Sally! I want to make this for my birthday next week, but do you think I could make it in a 7 inch cake pan, instead of 9 inch?

  2. Kacie on April 17, 2017 at 10:58 am

    can I add espresso powder? And would I need to add hot water?

    • Sally on April 18, 2017 at 7:55 am

      I’d add 1-2 teaspoons. No need to add hot water.

  3. Xin on April 17, 2017 at 11:59 pm

    Hi, I really hope you could reply me! I have been trying out many buttercream recipes following exactly of the instructions given. However, I always get frosting that doesn’t really give a firm and nice shape after pipping. Do you know what could be the reason? I live in tropical countries which can gets really warm and I making the cupcakes for my friend’s birthday party and I really wish I can make successful cupcakes.

    • Sally on April 18, 2017 at 7:38 am

      weather has everything to do with it, yes! A little extra powdered sugar (and a pinch extra salt) should help.

  4. Victoria O. on April 23, 2017 at 6:03 pm

    Can you use coconut sugar for the brown sugar?

    • Sally on April 24, 2017 at 9:11 am

      I haven’t tested the recipe with it before. Let me know what you try!

      • Victoria O. on April 24, 2017 at 10:53 am

        Would there be any difference in flavor or texture?

  5. Jenn on April 24, 2017 at 11:27 am

    I just bought Cocoa powder and realized at home that it’s Dutch processed. Can I still use it and substitute the baking soda for baking powder?

  6. Karli on May 5, 2017 at 10:01 am

    Made these cupcakes. They taste fabulous. Super nice and moist. Also freeze well and taste just like fresh made. So far this is the only chocolate cupcake recipe I find doesn’t taste dry.

    My issue is they came out flat and didn’t rise. It’s not the baking powder or soda as they are both brand new. And my yellow cupcakes rise and dome perfect.

    Any suggestions? I’m making a large cupcake cake for my daughters birthday and need the tops to be as even as possible for decorating purposes.

  7. Emma Norbut on May 12, 2017 at 3:59 pm

    I made these and they are SOOO good! I’m not crazy about the icing, but the cake is literally like a perfect recipe, especially since whenever I try to make homemade cake, it never rises right. But it did this time and turned out great! Highly recommend!

  8. Jennifer jordan on May 19, 2017 at 1:45 am

    Hi Sally 
    This is my favorite chocolate cupcake recipe.Do you think it could be easily doubled? 
    Take care! 

    • Sally on May 19, 2017 at 9:46 am

      I would make two batches instead– doubling increases the risk of over or under-mixing.

  9. Deborah on May 27, 2017 at 4:43 pm

    Does the type of buttermilk matter? I only seem to find low fat buttermilk in the store and I wasn’t sure if it was always low fat or if there are actually different types. The I tried to do research and got extremely confused about buttermilk! Thanks for your help!

    • Sally on May 28, 2017 at 6:13 pm

      I use low fat all the time, so you can definitely use it here.

  10. Gina on May 29, 2017 at 10:06 am

    Hi Sally and Happy Memorial Day.  Quick question.  I’ve made these cupcakes several times now (made 30 yesterday).  Can you use a 9×13 pan for a small sheet cake with this recipe?  I’m thinking of 4th of July.  Thanks!

  11. Betty on June 1, 2017 at 9:00 pm

    Hi Sally,

    I love all of your recipes that I’ve tried! I made these chocolate cupcakes yesterday and I followed the recipe to a T but for some reason they turned out kind of dry and were crispy from the tops. Do you know what I might have done wrong?

    Thank you!

    • Sally on June 2, 2017 at 1:05 pm

      Hi Betty! It sounds like they were overbaked. Also, did you overfill the cupcake liners? Make sure it’s only halfway.

  12. Kelly on June 13, 2017 at 11:46 am

    Hi, Sally-these are probably the most delicious chocolate cake I’ve ever eaten. This is my “go to” recipe for chocolate cake. When I make cupcakes, they ALWAYS sink in the middle. I follow your recipe exactly. What am I doing or not doing???

    • Sally on June 13, 2017 at 11:57 am

      Filling the liners too much! That’s typically the mistake with these cupcakes. Just halfway. You’ll second guess how much to add– like, it won’t look like enough!

  13. Samantha on June 19, 2017 at 3:32 pm

    Hi sally, I wanted to get your input on how much batter I should make. I’m going to be making a 2 tiered cake, each tier needs to be over,5″ tall. I will be having a 10″ bottom,tier and 8″ top tier. Any suggestions ?

  14. Kristy Brown on October 10, 2017 at 9:52 pm

    Hello Sally. I love making your recipes. It’s the only website I go to for something sweet. I’m wondering what the difference is between light brown sugar and dark brown sugar? Are they interchangeable in the recipe?

    • Sally on October 11, 2017 at 11:19 am

      Dark brown sugar simply has a little more molasses and, with that, a stronger molasses flavor. No huge difference in recipes.

  15. Danielle on October 19, 2017 at 7:27 pm

    Could I use melted butter in place of oil ?! 

  16. Dar on May 22, 2018 at 4:51 pm

    Can melted butter be substituted for vegetable oil? Or would it change the taste too much?

  17. Annie on May 31, 2018 at 11:22 am

    Hello! This looks like an absolutely delicious recipe! I make cupcakes for a party I host every summer, but this year I am looking for a different recipe that is a little lighter. We have a lot of food and deserts, so people don’t have room for a really rich, heavy cupcake. Are these cupcakes fairly light, or would you recommend any changes or other recipes that would yield a lighter cupcake? Thank you!

    • Sally on May 31, 2018 at 1:05 pm

      These are not dense and heavy – but they are super moist and chocolatey! If you are looking for a really light but delicious cupcake, check out my Angel Food Cupcakes I posted recently. They might be just what you are looking for!

  18. Ayana on July 13, 2018 at 12:00 am

    This is my favorite chocolate cupcake recipe, so thank you! I want to make them again but don’t keep milk or buttermilk at home. Could I add the lemon juice/vinegar to heavy whipping cream or almond/coconut milk instead? I have everything else on hand and am trying not to buy something I won’t use again anytime soon.
    Thank you.

    • Sally on July 13, 2018 at 5:33 am

      Hi Ayana! I don’t recommend heavy whipping cream, but the lemon juice/vinegar and almond/coconut milk works instead.



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