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). Yields about 3 dozen.

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
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272 Comments

Comments

  1. Pencil on October 19, 2017 at 10:43 am

    OMG SALLY I’M SO HAPPY RN.
    I made your cupcakes with your vanilla and chocolate swirled frosting for a bake sale. They were the FIRST sold out! Your recipes are always the bomb! Thanks a million for making me a better baker. Although i almost ran out of chocolate frosting because i “taste-tested” it too much…

    • Shuble on May 12, 2018 at 10:42 pm

      Pencil omg, that sums up my life. I’m suprised I’m not fat yet!

  2. Shelly on October 20, 2017 at 12:15 pm

    I just switched to convection ovens. What would your expertise translate the temp and bake time too? I’m having a hard time figuring this out for all my old recipes.
    Thank you

    • Sally on October 20, 2017 at 12:22 pm

      Hi Shelly! General rule of thumb is to decrease the oven temperature by 25 degrees F. And shave off a minute or two from the recipe.

  3. Pernille Hegre Sørensen on October 22, 2017 at 7:19 am

    These were so good! Thank you for sharing the recipe! And also thank you for including the metric measures, this makes them a lot easier to make. 

  4. Heba maged on October 24, 2017 at 9:23 am

    I want to replace oil with melted butter for rich taste ..it will be OK ?

    • Sally on October 24, 2017 at 11:46 am

      I don’t recommend it.

      • Heba maged on October 24, 2017 at 5:17 pm

        Can you tell me the reason please !!



    • Grace Hsu on May 11, 2018 at 4:36 pm

      I tried using melted butter for these cupcakes and it turned out fine. I think it’s ok. If you have some oil you can try using half melted butter and half oil.

  5. Shana on October 24, 2017 at 12:29 pm

    Hi Sally, would you recommend any adjustments to this in order to make it a regular layer cake? Thanks!

  6. Ebbsterr on October 24, 2017 at 10:37 pm

    Super chocolatey tasty! I leveled up and added mini chocolate morsels. My only issue was that both batches I made were not as moist as I expected. First time I baked them for 19mins. Second time I left them in for only 15mins. Second time was definitely less dense than the first. The only ingredient I goofed up on was using self rising flour instead of the intended all purpose flour. Can this be the issue? Thanks a bunch Sally! Even if I don’t get the mood texture, this is still a great tasting chocolate cupcake!

  7. Kylie Tschida on October 25, 2017 at 4:42 pm

    I am looking to make marble cupcakes, by combining your simply perfect vanilla cupcake recipe with this recipe, should i be worried about how they will turn out; aka the mixing of the batters?? do you think it would be better if i used your very vanilla cupcake recipe and this one instead?? Need to make this asap so a quick response is appreciated!! <3

  8. Jenny on October 26, 2017 at 7:13 am

    I’ve tried this recipe of your’s yesterday. my daughter and my workmate really like the taste. Thank you for sharing your baking ideas. I am selling a brownies where i got it on your site. 

  9. Dalal on October 28, 2017 at 1:59 am

    Thanks a lot, I made this cupcake and I love it .

  10. Shawna Farris on October 28, 2017 at 2:09 pm

    Can I use cake flour?

    • Sally on October 29, 2017 at 4:29 pm

      I don’t recommend it. Much too light for these cupcakes.

  11. Terry (Philippines) on October 30, 2017 at 5:44 am

    Thanks for sharing this worderful recipe! I would like to try using dutch cocoa powder what would you suggest do i remove the baking soda?, though you have already have mentioned your reason in your “TIP suggestion” ..

  12. Chris on October 30, 2017 at 11:53 pm

    Hi Sally,
    I made two batches on two separate occasions and both times they were dry and didn’t taste very chocolaty.  I followed the recipe except I baked 14-15 minutes.  Could 350 be too high?  Thank you.

    • Sally on October 31, 2017 at 11:37 am

      Did you make any ingredient substitutions? And were they burnt? The cupcakes shouldn’t taste dry. I would check your oven temp (always use a thermometer!) or remove from the oven a minute or two earlier.

      • Chris on October 31, 2017 at 11:53 pm

        Thank you for responding so quickly.  I made no ingredient substitutions.  I baked them 4-5 minutes less than the stated time in the recipe.  Perhaps investing in an oven thermometer is a good idea. Thank you.



  13. Stella on November 1, 2017 at 9:53 am

    Hi Sally
    Can I replace the light brown sugar with granulated sugar? will that make big difference?

  14. Linda on November 1, 2017 at 2:51 pm

    Any recommendations for changes for high altitude?

  15. Martina on November 1, 2017 at 8:22 pm

    Hi sally,

    I used normal brown sugar. Could this be the reason my batter was thick? 

    Thank you!

  16. Jade on November 2, 2017 at 12:36 am

    I haven’t made these yet, I live in high altitude and wanted to check if there was anything I need to do different because of that (aka:high altitude) before I bake these cupcakes?? 

  17. Natalie on November 2, 2017 at 6:48 am

    Hi i am going to make these cupcakes tomorrow. I was wondering do you have a frosting recipe that goes with these delish looking cupcakes?

    • Natalie on November 2, 2017 at 8:31 am

      Just saw the link for frostings. I guess I’m all set for tomorrow. Can’t wait to start baking! 🙂

  18. Karen D on November 2, 2017 at 6:09 pm

    OMG!!! To DIE for! You were spot on! 14 cupcakes!!! This is my go-to from here on out!!!!
    Thank You 

    Sincerely
    Chocoholic!!!

  19. Sam on November 4, 2017 at 2:17 am

    Hi Sally,

    I love those cupcakes they were exactly everything you described and they were a huge hit. One of my friends is lactose intolerant, what do you suggest I use to replace the buttermilk?

  20. LouH on November 5, 2017 at 1:12 am

    Can I freeze the cupcakes once frosted?
    Can frosting be frozen to use later?

  21. Tricia on May 6, 2018 at 8:29 pm

    Hi, Sally. How many mini cupcakes does this make? I’m looking to make about 70 mini cupcakes. Thanks.

    • Sally on May 7, 2018 at 9:46 am

      Hi Tricia! About 3 dozen.

  22. Fariza on May 7, 2018 at 9:33 am

    I’m a bit confused with your recipe since it asks for 3/4 cups (95g) but the measurements of cups and grams don’t match. I found this for most of the ingredients and another recipe. When I measure 3/4 cups and convert it to grams its 180 grams. So it would be very helpful if you could help me.

    Sincerely

    • Sally on May 7, 2018 at 9:41 am

      Hi Fariza! Ingredients weigh different amounts. For example, 1 cup of sugar is heavier than 1 cup of flour.

  23. Ally B on May 7, 2018 at 9:58 pm

    Hi Sally! Do you have a recommended substitution for the buttermilk? I am lactose intolerant. I was thinking almond milk as it has a similar velvety texture.

    • Sally on May 8, 2018 at 6:54 am

      Hi Ally! The cupcakes aren’t quite as moist without the buttermilk addition. If using almond milk, make sure you add 1/2 teaspoon of either fresh lemon juice or white vinegar.

  24. Patty Link on May 8, 2018 at 5:44 pm

    We love the taste of dark bittersweet chocolate so I was wondering if I could add some coffee flavoring or micro-fine bits of coffee beans to get that taste since Dutch chocolate is a no-no in this recipe?

    Thanks for your fabulous creations! We loved the vanilla cupcakes with vanilla beans & my, how the cost of vanilla beans has risen since you originally printed your recipe! Smiles.

    • Sally on May 9, 2018 at 9:47 pm

      I can’t see why not! Let me know how they taste.

  25. Sara on May 12, 2018 at 4:43 pm

    Hi Sally!
    Sorry if asking this again but, can I double your recipe? Thx

    • Sally on May 14, 2018 at 6:22 am

      Hi Sara! You can definitely double this chocolate cupcake recipe, but I find it’s best when made in two separate batches. More batter can risk over-mixing.

  26. cheryl on May 13, 2018 at 1:32 pm

    I filled half full and they still overflowed. A double batch made 20, so I know that I didn’t go overboard with filling. I will try a SCANT half next time. Hoping that I can still use them or I’ll be making another batch.

    • cheryl on May 13, 2018 at 1:32 pm

      that was supposed to be 30, not 20

  27. Dee on May 13, 2018 at 6:31 pm

    Cupcakes are delicious. I made 12 cupcakes. I filled each cup a little more than half way. Did not cause any of the problems mentioned. Also, I used a different buttercream frosting the second time I made them. Your recipe for chocolate buttercream was good, but not creamy enough for my tastes. I found a recipe that is creamier and a little less sweet. Calls for melted chocolate and less powdered sugar. Made a delicious cupcake. Thanks for this cupcake recipe!

    Rating: 5
  28. Alina on May 14, 2018 at 5:41 am

    Hi there! In the last years, I have tried many muffin recipes (moist muffins wannabes), but I have never found this amazing texture the muffins of your recipe had.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! So good and so balanced!

    Rating: 5
  29. RS on May 15, 2018 at 8:33 am

    Hi Sally, I will be using a gas oven (which has a fan inside) for the first time to bake. Ive made your recipe before but only in an electric oven. Do you think I need to change anything this time around?

    • Sally on May 16, 2018 at 9:34 am

      You shouldn’t have to change anything if using a gas oven.

  30. Anna on May 16, 2018 at 10:55 am

    Hi Sally,
    Can I use this recipe to bake in a mini loaf pan? Would this yield 2 mini loaves?

    • Sally on May 16, 2018 at 11:08 am

      Hi Anna! You can pour and bake the batter in a loaf or mini loaf pan(s), but I’m unsure of the bake time or how many loaves the batter will yield.

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