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. 

Print

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

Description

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!


Ingredients

Cupcakes

  • 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

Instructions

  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.

Notes

  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 sallysbakingaddiction.com

456 Comments

  1. Would this frosting recipe be enough for a layer cake or should I double it? Want to use it for my mom’s birthday cake 🙂

  2. How would the recipe change if I made this for mini cupcakes? Also, how would you suggest making less frosting? Thanks!

  3. Hi I was wondering does the frosting taste like a plain vanilla frosting that you would get from the store in the baking section or like a vanilla buttercream?

  4. Love this recipe, but after cooled they are flat…is there anyway I can get a domed top. I tried filling up the liner alittle more and baking @ lower temp. They grew a muffin top & stuck to the side of the pan. Didn’t dome at all… Any suggestions? 

    1. Cupcakes usually have a relatively flat top. But for a high domed top, like in muffins, you can do what I do for muffins. Bake at a high temperature (about 425F) for 5 minutes then reduce to 350 for 12-14 more minutes.

  5. Hi Sally,

    Do you think the coconut oil would be detectable/give them a different flavor?? I’m all set to make these babies for a bake sale tomorrow and just discovered I’m out of vegetable oil.

  6. Hi Sally,
    Do you think I could replace the cocoa with carob powder (1:1) and maintain good flavor?  Also, I don’t have either vegetable oil or refined coconut oil. Can I substitute with butter or is this a bad idea?
    Thanks!!

  7. Hi Sally, absolutely love these cupcakes, thank you for an awesome recipe.Am wondering if I could convert these into pinata cupcakes or is it too tender to hold the candies? TIA

  8. Hey Sally!

    This is a great recipe, I tried it today. I made 12 cupcakes out of it using silicone cupcake pans, and cut them in half to sandwich them with peanut butter and also a chocolate cookie spread (I lacked confectiner’s/icing sugar t make frosting for them, plus I’m not really a big fan of buttercream) . They turned out deliciously chocolatey and moist, and they will be my go to chocolate cupcakes from now on!

    Thanks for posting it! 🙂

  9. Hi Sally, 

    I recently tried out this recipe and absolutely loved the end result, specifically the icing. I have been looking for a buttercream icing for ages and was so pleased with the end result of this icing!

    Just a question, my cupcakes came out completely flat so no cute little mound on top. What could have caused that? 

    Thank you!

    Nora 

  10. Hi Sally!

    I am making these for my son’s graduation this weekend, and wanted to put some icing in the center of the cupcakes. Would you make the frosting recipe as called for or should I add anything additional for a little bit extra to make sure I have enough for the centers and frosting on top?
    I’m only making the 12 cupcakes per the recipe. Thanks!

    1. Hey Ashley! This recipe yields a TON of frosting. You’ll have enough to fill each cupcake and frost each cupcake; just don’t frost with as much frosting as pictured on these cupcakes. I piled it HIGH!

  11. Hi Sally!
    I love these cupcakes and have made them a handful of times. However, they always sink in the middle. Do you have any suggestions? 
    Thanks so much!

  12. I just made these for my sisters graduation party. They are AMAZING. Seriously the best cupcakes ever. Frosting pairs perfectly with them! Might be a silly question, but do you need to refrigerate the Frosting because of the cream? I don’t normally do homemade Frosting but I love it! 

  13. Beautiful cupcakes! I am certainly no professional, but was asked last minute to bake for my cousin’s bridal shower next weekend. My go-to chocolate recipe, while delicious, does not make good cupcakes (too light, and the tops are either completely flat or spread out – I know this has just as much to do with technique as the recipe, but I’ve never been able to remedy it).  I did a test batch of these yesterday and I am very happy with them.  For cakes and such I will stick with my go-to, but this recipe made for some very pretty, slightly-domed, light-but-sturdy-enough-for-piles-of-frosting cupcakes. I will be topping them with swirled vanilla bean and strawberry buttercreams and a little chocolate-covered strawberry.  Thanks for another great recipe! : )

  14. Hi sally. I want to make this for my friend’s bday treat but it’s very very very difficult to find natural unsweetened cocoa powder here where i live. And also we dont have large eggs here. Only small to medium size eggs. What should i do?

  15. Why am I the only person who can’t make this recipe work? I just made it following recipe exactly and they sunk and are too moist. Then I remembered that I tried this recipe a couple times for my wedding cupcakes a couple yrs ago with the same results. I’m bummed.

  16. Mine failed a bit. They were edible, just not the light, fluffy cupcake I was going for. They were very moist and dense- they rose, then sank- with a hard crust on top, like a brownie.

  17. I love the flavor and texture of these cupcakes.  But they keep sinking each and every time. None of my ingredients are old. Pls pls pls tell me what to do. I am supposed to do an order for a wedding in a few days and have absolutely no idea what Is going wrong. Pls help!

    1. Are they underbaked? Try leaving them int he oven for a little longer. And make sure you aren’t mixing up the baking powder and baking soda measurements. I’ve done that before by accident!

      1. I’ll try baking a few mins more and see. I’d think that’ll dry them out though. The ingredients seem to be pretty accurate though. Thanks for your reply Sally.

  18. Hi, Ms. Sally,
    Can i use all purpose cream(Nestle brand) for frosting,heavy cream is so pricey here and hershey cocoa powder? Thanks so much. A novice here,this would be the 2nd cupcake recipe im going to try..

  19. I want to love these, but I’ve tried 3 different batches but the tops sunk in and had bubbles.  I used all brand new ingredients and even bought an oven thermometer.  I’ll probably just use for cake pops…wish they looked as pretty as yours!

  20. Hey Sally 
    I am new baker and venturing into professional baking and I recently stumbled upon one of your recipes and since then I have atleast tried three and just yesterday I tried this one ans it turned out amazing…. I also wanna say that I love how you explain everything and every step that I don’t even feel like watching a video rather I look foreard to the whole thing before I try your recipe … it kinda prepares me ☺️ Thank you so much once again and I look forward to trying more recipe of yours

  21. I really love this cupcake recipe of yours! I’m glad I found your blog, I made this last night and it’s so delicious! Thank you! ^^

    1. Know what? I made this recipe and left it on the table for more than 24 hours now and its still soft and moist…i cant believe it…

  22. I have used this recipe yesterday for a 7th bday party..too bad i cannot share the picture of the cupcake here…i made a christmas tree chocolate cupcake. thanks for sharing your recipes…youre my go to website for my baking requirements.

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