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Dark chocolate cupcakes topped with dark chocolate frosting. Chocolate lovers only!

chocolate cupcakes topped with dark chocolate frosting and chocolate chips

This recipe is dedicated to all of you chocoholics.

Pure, unadultered, inexplicable, out-of-this-world love for chocolate.

chocolate cupcakes topped with dark chocolate frosting and chocolate chips on a white plate

I know many of you adore chocolate. My most popular cake recipe is – chocolate! My triple chocolate cake recipe is what inspired me to make these death by chocolate cupcakes. Today’s cupcakes are a different recipe than that cake, but they are just as rich, fudgy, and decadent.

They are dark chocolate cupcakes with a thick dark chocolate frosting on top and sprinkled with chocolate chips. The cupcakes are not overly sweet – they are deep and intense. Pure chocolate. And a lot of it. If you’ve tried my dark chocolate peanut butter cake, you know the type of decadence I’m talking about!

I have made about 7 batches of chocolate cupcakes so far this summer. I am not exaggerating! Some batches ran over the sides and looked more like brown mushrooms, not cupcakes. Others did NOT taste like chocolate. Others were crunchy on top (eww!), dry, bland, and blah. Blah blah blah. I have been searching and testing and testing (and testing some more!) to find that perfect chocolate cupcake recipe. Finally, I took a few things I’ve learned from all my mistakes to come out with the best. I only give you the best of the best!

I’ve brought you chocolate cupcakes before on my website. These chocolate cupcakes are loved by many of you! And these chocolate cupcakes are quick, easy, and ultra moist. Both chocolate cupcake recipes are fantastic! However, I did not develop either of them on my own.

chocolate cupcakes on a colorful serving plate

Today’s new recipe produces rich, moist, and flavorful cupcakes. I use a mix of melted chocolate and cocoa powder to make these cupcakes ultra fudgy. I nearly double the amount of cocoa powder than previous recipes that I’ve tried this summer. 2 eggs, brown sugar, and buttermilk gives each bite a tender, moist texture. They are the complete opposite of dry and bland!

Buttermilk is required for this recipe – the lactic acid present is what will allow the baking soda to react and leaven the cake.

Don’t have buttermilk? You can make your own. Measure 2 teaspoons of white vinegar or lemon juice in a measuring cup. Then, add enough milk (1%, 2%, or whole) to the same measuring cup until it reaches 1/2 cup. Stir it around and let sit for 5 minutes. The homemade “buttermilk” will be somewhat curdled and ready to use in your recipe.

chocolate cupcakes topped with dark chocolate frosting and chocolate chips on a wood board

chocolate cupcakes topped with dark chocolate frosting and chocolate chips on a blue plate

The batter for the cupcakes is very thick. I’m warning you now! Very thick – almost like frosting or chocolate pudding. Just taste it. You KNOW you’ll have amazing cupcakes after you taste the batter. So deliciously fudgy.

The frosting I use for these cupcakes is one of my favorites. It’s the same frosting recipe that I often use to frost my peanut butter cupcakes. The wonderful thing about this frosting is that there is not that much butter in it. It’s not a buttercream frosting. It’s pure, thick chocolate. Like melted fudge, but thicker. You all love it so much.

I could eat this dark chocolate frosting with a spoon and be happy for the rest of my life.

dark chocolate frosting in a pink bowl with a spatula

hand holding a beater with dark chocolate frosting on it

It’s ultra smooth and velvety. One of the best frostings I’ve ever had.

I piped the frosting on with Wilton tip #12. I use this tip almost exclusively on my cupcakes, as well as the Wilton 1M. (See how I swirl frosting here.)

chocolate cupcakes topped with dark chocolate frosting

I am in LOVE with these chocolate cupcakes. By far my favorite chocolate cupcake recipe.

I made a version of them for my cookbook – you will LOVE what I did with them. 🙂  Trust me, you have to try these chocolate cupcakes. Soft, moist, tender, intensely fudgy, chocoholic-heaven! Everything about this recipe is perfection to me and I know you will adore each and every bite, too.

Chocoholics unite!

Follow me on Instagram and tag #sallysbakingaddiction so I can see all the SBA recipes you make. 

Other chocolate desserts to make: chocolate cream cheese Bundt cake, super moist chocolate cupcakes, chocolate buttercream, triple chocolate muffins, chocolate hand pies, salted dark chocolate cookies, chocolate sugar cookies, peanut butter chocolate lava cakes, chocolate crinkle cookies, chocolate zucchini cake, and of course, chocolate chip cookies!

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chocolate cupcakes topped with dark chocolate frosting and chocolate chips on a wood board

Death by Chocolate Cupcakes

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 18 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours
  • Yield: 12 cupcakes 1x
  • Category: Cupcakes
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


Dark chocolate cupcakes topped with dark chocolate frosting. Chocolate lovers only!



Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick or 115g) unsalted butter
  • 2 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate
  • 1/2 cup (41g) unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch processed)
  • 3/4 cup (94g) 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
  • 1/4 cup (50g) packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) buttermilk*

Dark Chocolate Frosting

  • 2 and 3/4 cups (330g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 2/3 cup (55g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 6 Tablespoons (90g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 6 Tablespoons (95ml) heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • optional: 1/3 cup (60g) semi-sweet chocolate chips for decoration


  1. For the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a 12-cup cupcake/muffin pan with cupcake liners. Set aside.
  2. Melt the butter and chocolate together in the microwave. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring between each time. You may also melt the butter and chocolate over low heat on the stovetop. Stir until smooth and set aside to slightly cool.
  3. In a medium sized bowl, toss the cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together until thoroughly combined. Set aside. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla together until smooth. Add the cooled butter/chocolate and whisk until smooth. Add half of the flour mixture, then half of the buttermilk. Repeat until everything is added. Stir until *just* combined; do not overmix. The batter will be very thick like pudding.
  4. Fill the cupcake liners 2/3 of the way full with batter. Bake for 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
  5. For the frosting: Sift together the confectioners’ sugar and cocoa powder to assure there are no lumps. Set aside. With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy – about 2 minutes. Gradually add the sifted sugar/cocoa powder alternately with the heavy cream and vanilla. Beat on low speed after each addition. Once all added, beat on high speed until creamy and combined for at least 2 minutes. Add a pinch of salt if frosting is too sweet.
  6. Frost cooled cupcakes and top with chocolate chips as desired. Cupcakes stay fresh at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Store covered in the refrigerator is desired for up to 1 week.


  1. Flour: Using cake flour instead of all-purpose flour is OK. I find the cupcakes to be slightly softer using cake flour.
  2. Eggs: Room temperature eggs are required for this recipe. To bring eggs to room temperature quickly, put them in a glass of warm water for 5-10 minutes.
  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. Milk Chocolate Frosting: Try my Milk Chocolate Frosting if you’re not a fan of dark chocolate.
  5. Be sure to check out my 10 tips for baking the BEST cupcakes before you begin!

Keywords: death by chocolate cupcakes, chocolate cupcakes

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Hi Sally – I only have dutch processed cocoa powder, and lots of it. I read through all the comments and saw that you said it would make a difference, how so? I’d hate to have to go out and buy regular unsweetened cocoa powder.

    1. Hi Diana – dutched cocoa has been neutralized, removing its acidity. You need the acidity in natural cocoa in order for these cupcakes to bake up properly.

      1. Could I still use the Dutch cocoa powder I don’t have the other one. Would it still work?

      2. Hi Sammy, dutched cocoa has been neutralized, removing its acidity. You need the acidity in natural cocoa in order for these cupcakes to bake up properly.

  2. I JUST made these and they are PERFECT. After eating one (three), I had no desire in mind to alter the recipe in any way! In fact, I want to make this recipe for a cake the next time I need a chocolate fix. This recipe is by far now my official chocolate recipe to go to. I have tried about 8 variations of regular chocolate recipes, and they just didn’t have the the oompf like these do! I am off to look at Sally’s other recipes now 🙂 Thank you Sally 🙂

  3. love your frostings. They whip up so fluffy and frost the cupcakes so beautifully. Of course that would be nothing if the taste wasn’t amazing as well. Thanks!

  4. I made these as a birthday dessert just today and they were amazing! Everybody loved them. I followed all of the instructions and ingredients down to the tee except I had to use unsweetened baking chocolate instead of semi-sweet, but all it did was give them a richer & dark taste. Definitely gonna make these again 😀

  5. These sound amazing!! I need to make mini cupcakes, do you think this recipe will work? how many should i expect and for how long should I cook them?
    can I double the recipe?

    1. I suggest making two separate batches instead of doubling the recipe. And This recipe will yield about 30 mini cupcakes – about 10 minutes bake time.

  6. Hi Sally!

    Instead of semi-sweet baking chocolate can we use dark chocolate? Cause I can’t find any. Or will semi- sweet chocolate chips work too? Thank you 🙂

    1. Don’t use chocolate chips– you can use up dark chocolate, yes.

  7. Hi Sally! 
    For someone who has had more baking disasters disasters than I’d care to share, these cupcakes were a turning point. They turned out to be absolutely perfect!! Thankyou so much for sharing such an amazing receipe and inspiring me to keep baking ❤

  8. Absolutely Amazing recipe! Just tried it out today and it totally satisfied my chocolate craving. I loved it. Thanks for the Recipe Sally 🙂

  9. This was delicious! Absolutely delicious! I was looking for something other than buttercream frosting that is fudge, this was perfect. I added espresso powder to both the cupcake and frosting mix because that’s my favorite. Thank you for sharing this recipe!

  10. Hands down this is probably the best chocolate cupcake and frosting recipe ever! Followed the recipe to the T and they came out amazing! Love LOVE it!

  11. Hi, Sally how do these cupcakes compare to your super moist chocolate cupcakes or classic chocolate cupcakes? I’ve made these ones before and we love the flavour but I just feel like *something* is lacking, if that makes any sense. Would love to try the other ones as I see they’re oil, not butter, based. Thanks!

  12. In my search for a great chocolate cupcake, I came across this recipe and had to try it. I can honestly say they are very moist, not overly sweet, and very delicious. I doubled the recipe and froze it so I can make some another time. So glad I did. My sister is making cupcakes for her friends shower and will be using this. She loved them.

  13. Hi Sally! This is the 2nd recipe of yours I have tried, and I LOVE the results! Some of my friends asked me to make these and they also loved it soo much! Thank you for the recipes! 🙂

  14. I recently made these for my son’s 21st birthday party. He had specifically asked for chocolate cupcakes, so I tried this recipe, doubling it to make sure we had enough. They were a hit. I actually powdered my sugar, so it came out a bit grainy with the frosting but they were still soooo good! I love the balance of the cake’s slight sweetness with the angry sugar fest that is the frosting. It was perfection. Making these from now on! Thank you!

  15. I give the frosting 5 stars but the cupcakes were so-so, could have been more moist, maybe I over cooked them but cooked just until the toothpick came out clean. There was also a lot of batter for 12 cupcakes. There are two sizes of cupcake wrappers, a large muffin size which the recipe may have been better suited for. I used the ones that fit in my regular muffin pan (not mini) and they too full and overflowed (my error for overfilling). Plan on making more than 12 if you use this recipe. I wish the cupcakes were more moist but th frosting was great!

  16. Hi! Can this recipe be used to make a chocolate cake? If so, how long do I bake the cake for? Absolutely loved the cupcakes, but now I need a chocolate cake. Thank you!!

    1. Hi Cristina, You can use this recipe to make a 6 inch cake! Here are the directions on using cupcake batter to make a 6 Inch Cake.

  17. These were AMAZING! I used cake flour because I happened to have it on hand. The cupcakes were so light. I also really wanted chocolate and lemon, so I put some lemon juice into the batter with the other wet ingredients (in addition to using it to make buttermilk), and then gently folded lemon zest when I was almost done mixing in the flour and buttermilk. The flavor was fantastic! There’s enough chocolate in this recipe already to prevent the lemon from overpowering the chocolate, with a good kick of lemon. I couldn’t decide if I wanted a chocolate icing, lemon icing, or lemon chocolate icing, but I ended up going with lemon. It’s spring and I wanted something citrus, and I got it! Thanks for the base recipe, Sally. It goes amazingly well for lemon or orange.

  18. Such a delicious chocolate cupcake!! So easy to make

  19. These are delicious! I opted to top them with chocolate ganache instead of buttercream. The cake is fudgy and amazing! Great recipe! Thanks!

  20. They looked beautiful, but they were crumbly and dry, sadly. I baked them for 15 minutes because I always pull everything under the time to allow for the residual heat. So disappointing! If only they tasted as good as they look. 🙁

  21. If I use cake flour (I like the idea of a softer cupcake) do I use the same amount of cake flour as regular flour as called for in your recipe? Also, I am planning to double this recipe. Any issues with that?
    Thanks so much – I make your recipes all the time.

    1. Hi Marci, Cake flour is too light for this batter. (Cocoa powder already lightens it up considerably!) For the best texture it’s best to make this recipe twice instead of doubling.

  22. I tried this recipe, thank you for sharing it! It was yummy!
    I could probably use a little less sugar in the frosting but still, it was yummy. I also added a bit of coffee to the frosting. I will recommend this recipe ❤️

  23. Hi, what would the temperature be for a fan oven? Also can you double up on the recipe to make more?

    1. Hi Laura! All of the recipes on this site are written for conventional settings. If you have the choice, we recommend conventional settings when baking cakes, breads, etc. If you do use convection settings for baking, lower your temperature by 25 degrees F and keep in mind that things may still take less time to bake. We recommend making the recipe twice instead of doubling. Enjoy!

  24. Best ever! In the UK I used the metric quantities and SR flour, so omitted the baking powder. The baking soda and lemon in the milk make such a difference. The texture is wonderful! I used 160 degrees fan oven, and it made 14. Next time I’ll make 0.6 quantity of icing, I had loads left over. Topped with 3 Cadbury’s mini eggs for an Easter treat.

  25. I made these cupcakes with cake flour for my sister’s birthday. They were a huge hit! She also had a bakery chocolate cake for the celebration, but she declared these much better than the cake! Sally’s recipes do not disappoint. I only wish I could post a picture of my yummy treats!

    1. Hi Kimbo, Unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before frosting and serving. Enjoy!

  26. Where do you get your cupcake liners? A link would be fantastic! Thanks!

  27. My husband is a total chocoholic and it is his birthday tomorrow. I thought I’d give this recipe a try because of all the good reviews I read on here. Sally, you are a GENIUS! These cupcakes are the best my whole family have ever had. The cake is so light and airy, it’s like eating a cloud. As for the topping…it is fudge and delicious. The combination makes for a rich, chocolatey cupcake that isn’t too sweet. I guarantee they won’t last until the end of his birthday tomorrow!

    1. We’re so glad these cupcakes were a hit with your family, Claire — happy birthday to your husband!