Super Moist Chocolate Cupcakes

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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. Some of the links above are affiliate links, which pay me a small commission for my referral at no extra cost to you! Thank you for supporting Sally’s Baking Addiction.

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

272 Comments

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  1. It looks like you respond quickly so I’m crossing my fingers. I’m not sure what I did wrong (I weighed ingredients, didn’t leave anything out, etc) and they turned out dry!! Everyone else seemed to love them so I’m sure it’s just something I did ( maybe my oven was too hot) Anyway my real question is what can I do as a quick fix for these? Can you suggest a filling that would help? I need them for tomorrow! I have caramel I thought about using as a filling with peanuts for Snickers type cupcakes. Any other ideas? Thanks!!

  2. These came out amazing for me!! Thank you, thank you!! My first ever homemade cupcakes and they were winners!!! I was a bit worried because I live at a high altitude, but they came out just right! I ended up with 16 cupcakes! I made your chocolate buttercream frosting that is to die for… and added chocolate sprinkles just like you did, and funny, it’s what my 9 year old birthday boy requested! This recipe goes in my book for sure! Death by chocolate!! Yum!

  3. Do you suggest using one cupcake liner or two? I am a little confused by the directions of filling one muffin pan with one liner each and a second one with two liners?
    Also, do you spray the liners with cooking spray so the cupcake doesn’t stick to it?

    1. This recipe makes about 14 cupcakes and most pans hold 12. So fill the first one with 12 liners and you will need a second pan for #13 and #14. Does that make sense? And I do not spray them, but I always recommend a grease proof liner so that they don’t stick or get greasy!

  4. I really hate to ask this but our supermarket only have the dutch cocoa powder which is nestle and Cadbury, is there anyway at all i can still use those and tweak a little with the recipe? 🙁

    I read the difference and the acid needed..but any other way i can replace that acidic?

  5. Hello!

    I will be making these cupcakes for a graduation party tonight! About how many tablespoons should I add to each cupcake liner? I really want to be sure I don’t add to much. About 2 tablespoons? And if I want to add chocolate chips, should I add it to the entire batter or add a few to each cupcake liner? Thank you so much! I really appreciate your recipes!

    1. You want the liners to be only half way full so about 2 TBS sounds right. You can add chocolate chips to the batter. Enjoy!

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Reviews

  1. These came out amazing for me!! Thank you, thank you!! My first ever homemade cupcakes and they were winners!!! I was a bit worried because I live at a high altitude, but they came out just right! I ended up with 16 cupcakes! I made your chocolate buttercream frosting that is to die for… and added chocolate sprinkles just like you did, and funny, it’s what my 9 year old birthday boy requested! This recipe goes in my book for sure! Death by chocolate!! Yum!

Questions

  1. It looks like you respond quickly so I’m crossing my fingers. I’m not sure what I did wrong (I weighed ingredients, didn’t leave anything out, etc) and they turned out dry!! Everyone else seemed to love them so I’m sure it’s just something I did ( maybe my oven was too hot) Anyway my real question is what can I do as a quick fix for these? Can you suggest a filling that would help? I need them for tomorrow! I have caramel I thought about using as a filling with peanuts for Snickers type cupcakes. Any other ideas? Thanks!!

  2. Do you suggest using one cupcake liner or two? I am a little confused by the directions of filling one muffin pan with one liner each and a second one with two liners?
    Also, do you spray the liners with cooking spray so the cupcake doesn’t stick to it?

    1. This recipe makes about 14 cupcakes and most pans hold 12. So fill the first one with 12 liners and you will need a second pan for #13 and #14. Does that make sense? And I do not spray them, but I always recommend a grease proof liner so that they don’t stick or get greasy!

  3. I really hate to ask this but our supermarket only have the dutch cocoa powder which is nestle and Cadbury, is there anyway at all i can still use those and tweak a little with the recipe? 🙁

    I read the difference and the acid needed..but any other way i can replace that acidic?

  4. Hello!

    I will be making these cupcakes for a graduation party tonight! About how many tablespoons should I add to each cupcake liner? I really want to be sure I don’t add to much. About 2 tablespoons? And if I want to add chocolate chips, should I add it to the entire batter or add a few to each cupcake liner? Thank you so much! I really appreciate your recipes!

    1. You want the liners to be only half way full so about 2 TBS sounds right. You can add chocolate chips to the batter. Enjoy!

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