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

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours, 25 minutes
  • Yield: 12-14 cupcakes
  • Category: Cupcakes
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


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 powder*
  • 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 temperature*
  • 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 pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) buttermilk, room temperature*

Vanilla Frosting

  • 1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 45 cups (480-600g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) heavy cream*
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • salt, to taste
  • sprinkles


  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.


  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: 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.
  2. Cocoa Powder: 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.
  3. Buttermilk: Buttermilk is required for this recipe. You can make your own DIY version of buttermilk if needed. Add 1 teaspoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to a liquid measuring cup. Then add enough whole milk to the same measuring cup until it reaches 1/2 cup. (In a pinch, lower fat or nondairy milks work for this soured milk, but the cupcakes won’t taste as moist or rich.) Stir it around and let sit for 5 minutes. The homemade “buttermilk” will be somewhat curdled and ready to use in the recipe.
  4. Cream: For the frosting, heavy cream or half-and-half will give your frosting the creamiest texture. You can use milk instead, but keep in mind that the frosting won’t be as creamy.
  5. 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.
  6. As 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Be sure to check out my 10 tips for baking the BEST cupcakes before you begin!

Keywords: chocolate cupcakes with vanilla frosting, chocolate cupcakes

Try them with milk chocolate frosting next!

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


  1. Hi Sally! I’m not sure why, but these were an utter fail for me. They sunk in the middle, got crispy like a brownie on top, and stuck to the cupcake liners. I followed the recipe to a T. I bake your recipes all the time and they always come out perfectly! Except this one. So many other people seemed to have this exact problem. It was super runny, too, almost like there wasn’t enough flour or too much liquid. All my ingredients were new and I don’t have any problems with baking muffins andndnd cupcakes in my oven other times. 🙁

  2. 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.

  3. 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?

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

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

  7. 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!

    1. You wouldn’t have quite enough batter for a 9×13 with this recipe, but this chocolate cake will fit into a 9×13 🙂

  8. 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!

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

  9. 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???

    1. 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!

  10. 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 ?

  11. 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?

    1. The oil helps to keep them super moist. If you would prefer to use melted butter I suggest this recipe:

  12. 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!

    1. 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!

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

  14. Oh my god
    I just finished making these and I can tell you 100%, my family members have never loved me more XD
    They’re so perfect
    Thank you for this recipe!

  15. For some reason when I click print recipe it just reloads the page and doesn’t bring up the printable version. Help Sally!

  16. These cupcakes came out PERFECT! I will never use a different chocolate recipe ever again!!! Super moist, rose perfectly. I made your chocolate cream cheese frosting to go on the and they were rich and decadent!!! I will try vanilla buttercream next time!

    I also made your Moist Yellow Cupcakes and they didn’t turn out as well. The flavor was nice, but they were flat and little drier than I’d like.

  17. Oh my goodness. These cupcakes almost made me sad. Sad that I have wasted so many years making cupcakes from a mix. SO good and SO easy. They came out perfectly. Perfectly moist (which I always struggle with with chocolate cakes) and perfectly delicious. I can’t even imagine how they could be improved. Thanks for another winner!

  18. For anyone else wondering about dairy free modification…I make these all the time with almond milk/vinegar and they turn out perfect!

  19. I just noticed your measurements translations are off…1/2 cup of cocoa is 42 gr but half a cup of sugar is 100gr?

  20. My mom made these cupcakes for our Gender Reveal party – she just dyed the frosting pink & blue. They were ABSOLUTELY delicious. We were lucky to have extras that we put in the freezer, and pulled out for another few days afterwards. They take just a few minutes to defrost – and were just as good as when they were fresh. Stellar cupcake & frosting recipe!

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I’m Sally, a cookbook author, photographer, and blogger. My goal is to give you the confidence and knowledge to cook and bake from scratch while providing quality recipes and plenty of pictures. Grab a cookie, take a seat, and have fun exploring! more about Sally