Addictive Recipes from a Self-Taught Baker

Super Moist Chocolate Cupcakes

The only chocolate cupcake recipe you need! Homemade, moist, rich, super chocolate flavor, and so easy to make with chocolate buttercream! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

I apologize if the word “moist” freaks you out. But there’s really no other way to describe a chocolate cupcake like this! Also, who watches How I Met Your Mother?! I feel like that clip is only funny to HIMYM fans. That’s my favorite episode!

So today’s the day we are diving deep into what I like to call a “foundation recipe.” Basic chocolate cupcakes which are, indefinitely, anything but basic. See? ↓

This is a solid base recipe that serves as a jumping off point for many others. Like my basic vanilla cupcake recipe, these chocolate cupcakes hold a sacred spot in my baking repertoire. There will never be a reason to find a better version– this is THE chocolate cupcake recipe I use time and time again.

The only chocolate cupcake recipe you need! Homemade, moist, rich, super chocolate flavor, and so easy to make with chocolate buttercream! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

I shared the recipe on my blog 3 years ago, but I want to walk you through the process (1) with step-by-step pictures, (2) with careful explanations, (3) and I want to emphasize one VERY crucial instruction. If you skip this instruction, your entire batch will be ruined. Trust me, the evidence has landed in my trashcan time and time again. It’s not pretty.

Curious about other foundation recipes?

  1. Vanilla cupcakes and vanilla cake
  2. Sugar cookies and the chocolate version
  3. Oatmeal cookies
  4. Chocolate cake (try this!!)
  5. Brownies

Today’s chocolate cupcakes are for true chocolate fans. I’m talking about those of you who don’t qualify an item as dessert unless there’s chocolate involved. Strawberry shortcake is a dessert imposter and forget about apple pie. That’s some sort of health food, right?

And lucky for you–my chocolate obsessed friends– there’s a double dose of the good stuff today with both a chocolate cupcake base AND a smooth and silky chocolate buttercream. More on that in a sec.

How to make chocolate cupcakes with chocolate buttercream on sallysbakingaddiction.com

How to make chocolate cupcakes with chocolate buttercream on sallysbakingaddiction.com

You need 2 bowls, 1 whisk, and 1 spatula. The base of these chocolate cupcakes– and what is responsible for the super-moist texture is oil. We’re not creaming butter here, so there is no need to break out the mixer. Though you can absolutely use a hand or stand mixer if it’s easier for you! We’re also achieving an incredibly moist texture with buttermilk. Am I broken record here? There’s a reason I always talk about buttermilk in baking recipes: it’s the moist maker! Gives cupcakes, breads, cakes, and the like an unsurpassable moist texture. Nothing compares. I don’t typically have buttermilk in the fridge, so I sour whole milk instead. Check out my recipe notes for how to do that one.

Another tip? Make sure you’re using natural unsweetened cocoa powder, not dutched cocoa. Why? I have a nerdy wordy post explaining it! And if you really want to geek out with me today, here is why I use both baking soda and baking powder in these chocolate cupcakes. And thank you for always accepting my nerd self. ♥

So there’s 1 bowl for dry ingredients and 1 bowl for wet ingredients. Gently mix the two together. The batter isn’t as thick as you would think. We don’t really want a super thick chocolate batter because that would yield a cupcake similar to brownies. Dense. We don’t want dense! We want spongey, cakey, and rich. So the batter is thin.

How to make chocolate cupcakes with chocolate buttercream on sallysbakingaddiction.com

This Will Make or Break Your Recipe

Fill the cupcake liners only halfway full. Not 2/3, not 3/4, not all the way to the top. Half full. You will question yourself as you pour in the batter. Really? This is ALL that I’m using for each cupcake? The answer is yes, that is all you are using for each cupcake.

  • If you fill the liners too full, the cupcakes will overflow.
  • Too full = crisp mushroom tops
  • Too full = sinking in the center

Got that? Halfway full! Halfway full!

One more time: halfway full. 🙂

The only chocolate cupcake recipe you need! Homemade, moist, rich, super chocolate flavor, and so easy to make with chocolate buttercream! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Now that the cupcakes are baked and your self control is fading quickly, it’s time to frost these babes. The frosting flavor is completely up to you. I have a plethora of options from chocolate buttercream and rainbow chip frosting to strawberry, vanilla buttercream, salted caramel frosting, and cream cheese frosting. Keeping things quite monotone (though highly indulgent) with chocolate buttercream and a friendly dose of chocolate sprinkles. Figured we’re breaking the calorie bank anyway, so why not make it something that’ll seriously satisfy.

And layer that buttercream on nice and tall. (used wilton 1M!)

The only chocolate cupcake recipe you need! Homemade, moist, rich, super chocolate flavor, and so easy to make with chocolate buttercream! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

I don’t normally reach for chocolate desserts (I KNOW.) if there’s a fruity one on the menu, but I would gladly unwrap one of these over any other choice. Seriously!

Super Moist Chocolate Cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup (95g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1/2 cup (42g) unsweetened natural cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature*
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100g) packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) vegetable or canola oil (or melted coconut oil)
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) buttermilk, at room temperature*
  • frosting: chocolate buttercream or any of these frostings

Directions:

  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. Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, 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 for a few seconds. Repeat with the remaining wet ingredients and buttermilk. Stir until *just* combined; do not overmix. The batter will be thin.
  3. Pour or spoon the batter into the liners. Fill only halfway (this is imperative! only halfway!) to avoid spilling over the sides or sinking. Bake for 18-21 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
  4. Frost cooled cupcakes however you'd like. I used Wilton 1M piping tip for these pictured cupcakes. Top with sprinkles, if desired. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for 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:

Interested in mini cupcakes? Fill mini liners only halfway and bake for 10-12 minutes at 350°F (177°C).

Interested in making a cake? Here's a triple chocolate layer cake that is just as moist and chocolate-y.

*Why room temperature? All refrigerated items should be at room temperature so the batter mixes together easily and evenly. Read here for more information. If needed, you can use whole milk mixed with 1/2 teaspoon of white vinegar or fresh lemon juice instead of buttermilk. Fill a measuring cup with the lemon juice/vinegar then the rest with whole milk to reach 1/2 cup.

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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.

The only chocolate cupcake recipe you need! Homemade, moist, rich, super chocolate flavor, and so easy to make with chocolate buttercream! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

More of a vanilla person? Here are my favorite vanilla cupcakes!

Favorite go-to vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Here are the best homemade chocolate cupcakes! Moist, rich, soft, and so easy to make from scratch with chocolate buttercream frosting! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com
Here are the best homemade chocolate cupcakes! Moist, rich, soft, and so easy to make from scratch with chocolate buttercream frosting! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

244 comments

  1. My mouth is watering! These look delicious! Thanks for sharing.
    -Gabby
    http://www.orcuttfamilydentistry.com

  2. MAde these yesterday and they were a hit! Super moist. I followed the directions exactly (only filling half way ). I baked them for 15mins and got 18cupcakes from one batch. Iced them with a marshmallow frosting recipe from another blogger. Needless to say I don’t have any leftovers  

  3. I made these cupcakes for our local county fair and won first place! Very moist delicious cupcake. Thank you for the recipe.

  4. Made these and they were a hit!! Thanks a lot..the kids loved it, and everyone told me they seemed to be store bought

  5. Hello sally. Can you please share your recipe for homemade buttermilk? They don’t sell buttermilk in South America, wondering if the whole milk with lemon juice would do the trick for this cupcake recipe?

  6. Can we use cacao powder instead of cocoa?

  7. Made these yesterday! A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!!!! Thank you for
    sharing your recipe ❤️

  8.  i want to try this , thank you for tutorial.

  9. Holy moly best cupcake I’ve ever tasted! Frosted with your cream cheese frosting. Made 2 more than I needed and welp yea those two are in my belly now lol!

  10. Made your chocolate cupcakes yesterday and cakes have turned out moist and amazing. Have not made any type of cake for over 20 years and these cupcakes are better than those selling at some cake shops. Also I used your chocolate buttercream recipe. Cakes look fantastic.

  11. Awesome recipe. I baked a cake for the first time in my life. I must admit the recipe is simple and easy to follow.my whole family loved it.thanka a ton

  12. Can you double this recipe?

    • Sure can! Though I recommend making two separate batches as it’s easy to over/under-mix when working with more batter.

  13. Would half blended oatmeal and half whole wheat flour work instead of the plain flour?

  14. I cannot believe I made such yummy cupcakes so easily. Thank you so much for posting this recipe!

  15. I made this and got to say this is my new go to chocolate cupcake recipe!

  16. Hello, please tell me what could replace the Canola oil?? thnx

  17. I made these last night. So delicious, light and moist. So yummy. However, I also made your vanilla buttercream to top it off and it almost overtook the cupcake flavor and that’s all we could taste. Do you normally top it with buttercream icing? Would the chocolate buttercream complement it and not take away like I thought the vanilla did? I’d love to hear what you think!

    • I’ve made them with both chocolate and vanilla buttercream as well as caramel frosting! It’s really your personal preference. You could also try just adding a small amount of frosting so there is less per cupcake.

  18. Since even large eggs vary in size, is there a certain amount of liquid you are looking for in your recipes in general?

  19. These were amazingggg!

  20. I am wanting to make these tonight because they sounds delicious!! I only have dark brown sugar though!Do you think that will alter the taste very much?

  21. Hey!! I’m looking to make about 75 cupcakes for an event this week. So can this recipie be doubled or tripled to save time instead of mixing each batch separately? 

    • Separate batches is ideal to prevent over or under-mixing, but you can try to double the recipe a few times out of convenience.

  22. Miss Sally, first thing I have to tell you that I just got my copy of your cookie addiction, and that book is IMPRESSIVE. You out so much thought into every little detail… It’s something you should be so proud of! I LOVE it and can’t wait to start my holiday baking. 🙂
    The second thing…. I’m wanting to make a chocolate cake for my dad’s birthday – can this recipe be adapted to a 9×13?

    • Thank you so much Donna! I really appreciate the feedback on my new cookbook. 🙂
      This recipe isn’t quite enough for a 9×13. What about making this chocolate cake recipe? It will fit into a 9×13.

    • Yes that one looks yummy! Maybe I’ll do that. I have an 11×7 pan….would that work for this recipe? How long for baking?

      • An 11×7 would work for this batter, yes! I’m unsure of the bake time, but use a toothpick to test for doneness.

  23. Hello Sally!
    I made these delicious cupcakes 3 times today… out didn’t turn out great but by the third time they were okay. However, the middle of my cupcakes sink ever so slightly. Do you know why? I was very careful about only adding halfway of the batter. Any tips would be helpful! I also used a oven thermometer to help. So I’m not sure what the problem was…they do taste wonderful though!

    Thank You,
    Jacquelyn

  24. Hi there
    I tried making your cupcakes today and the batter so soooo think and dense. The only thing I could think of is I made my own buttermilk. I also did not overmix. Any suggestions or explanations? Thank you

    • This batter should be very thin. Did you over-measure the flour or cocoa? Be sure to spoon and level both. How did you make your own buttermilk? That may likely be the issue.

  25. Hello! 🙂 I want to make these cupcakes but on your note about how to make your own buttermilk it says whole milk with 1/2 tsp of vinegar or lime juice, is it a cup of milk or how much and for how long i let it sit? Thank you not for this recipe only but for being my menthor in baking <3

    • Hi Stephanie– use 1/2 teaspoon of vinegar or fresh lemon juice and then fill the measuring cup the rest of the way up to 1/2 cup.

      • Thank you for being so so kind, it means a lot that you take the time to answer our doubts, something rare in nowadays, specially when who’s asking is the most turtly-scared baker (in other words me). 😀

  26. All I have on hand is “special dark” 100% cocoa, which states it is a blend of natural and dutched cocoa. Is this an acceptable replacement? Should I also consider replacing the baking soda with baking powder, or doing 50/50? (Just trying to use up some buttermilk I bought for the Meyer lemon blueberry cake so I’d prefer not to buy more ingredients to use my leftover buttermilk)

    • Hi Kate! I’ve made these cupcakes with Hershey’s Special Dark with zero issue– no need to change anything, just a simple swap of the cocoa powder. Same amount.

  27. Hey Sally! If I want to bake a 6″ cake, will this recipe suffice or should I double it?

  28. Hi Sally,  I made these today and it came out so good; moist and chocolatey.! The kids loved it. Thank you so much for thjs recipe. 

  29. Can’t wait to make these for Chocolate Cupcake Day tomorrow! Will be the perfect way to celebrate at the office 🙂

  30. Just baked these and topped them with Sally’s chocolate buttercream. I doubled the cake recipe and got 30 cupcakes with the most perfect texture, chocolatey flavor, and moisture. I think using oil over butter is the key to the rise and texture. Buttermilk definitely doesn’t hurt either. 

    I added a bit of melted semi sweet chocolate to the frosting for extra richness and I’m very happy the results. Great recipes!

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