Super Moist Chocolate Cupcakes

These super moist chocolate cupcakes pack TONS of chocolate flavor in each cupcake wrapper! Made from simple everyday ingredients, this easy cupcake recipe will be your new favorite. For best results, use natural cocoa powder and buttermilk. These chocolate cupcakes taste completely over-the-top with chocolate buttercream!

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!

Print
Homemade chocolate cupcakes recipe

Super Moist Chocolate Cupcakes

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

Description

These super moist chocolate cupcakes pack TONS of chocolate flavor in each cupcake wrapper! Made from simple everyday ingredients, this easy cupcake recipe will be your new favorite. For best results, use natural cocoa powder and buttermilk. These chocolate cupcakes taste completely over-the-top with chocolate buttercream!


Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup (95g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1/2 cup (45g) 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

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. 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.


Notes

  1. Make Ahead 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. Mini Cupcakes: Fill mini liners only halfway and bake for 10-12 minutes at 350°F (177°C). Yields about 3 dozen.
  3. Cake: Here’s a triple chocolate layer cake that is just as moist and chocolate-y.
  4. 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.

Keywords: cupcakes, chocolate, chocolate cupcakes, chocolate frosting

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

530 Comments

  1. Thank you for this recipe. I use it all the time for school cupcakes for tuck shop.

    I actually cheat and throw everything in shhh the food processor…I can double easily and pour…and it comes out great!

  2. Love this recipe . Can I make it eggless? If yes what should I use instead of eggs ? Normally I use 1/4 cup of Greek yogurt for every egg but since there’s already buttermilk in there, I’m not sure

  3. Hello Sally!

    Wanted to confirm whether it’s possible to double the ingredients to make a bigger batch?
    Thanks and hugs from a huge French fan!

    1. Hi Feirouz! I recommend making the batter twice instead of doubling. Doubling risks over-mixing or under-mixing.

  4. This recipe is awesome, I love it !
    Now, I just wanted to make a white cupcake with vanilla.
    So, I thought I could just exchange the cocoa powder with flour and remove the baking soda. Then I saw all your other receipts, but they are so different.
    Why is only the chocolate recipe with vegetable oil and buttermilk and the other receipts are with butter and whole milk and sour cream ?

    1. Happy to help! Chocolate is an overpowering flavor, so we don’t need butter (flavor) in the recipe. Oil keeps these extra moist as the fat. Butter flavor is imperative in vanilla cake and vanilla cupcakes. It’s not as moist as oil, so I typically add sour cream to keep the cupcakes light and moist. All-purpose flour is pretty heavy, but when paired with cocoa powder– it makes for a light dry ingredient base. (That’s why I use AP flour in these chocolate cupcakes.) There is no cocoa powder in the vanilla cupcakes, so that’s why I use cake flour.
      Hope this all makes sense!

  5. Hi Sally,

    I love reading through your recipes, so thoroughly explained. Do you have any posts on half batches?

  6. Love love love this recipe. I use it all the time. The very best. Looking for your vanilla one now.

  7. Hi! Is it possible to use the same batter to make a mini cake? Need to make mini-cupcakes but also wanted to make a mini cake for the birthday girl to blow out candles… was hoping to not have to make a full-sized cake.

  8. I made these last night with the same chocolate frosting and they turned out nicely. First batch was little over half full and they did go up a bit too high then off to one side (but didnt sink or get a cracked top), second batch was half full or even a little under and they came out to perfect height. My suggestion is if you’re not sure when filling them up, a little less is probably better :). These cupcakes paired well with the frosting, which tasted like whipped hot chocolate. I put them in the fridge for 10-15 minutes before serving and that light cooling really made them super. Thank you for another great recipe!

  9. Hi Sally, my cupcakes didn’t come out moist, I’m not sure why. I followed the recipe and only baked 18 minutes. Do you have any ideas why?

    1. Hi Julie! Happy to help. Did you sub any ingredients? Make sure you are spooning and leveling the flour– don’t pack it into the measuring cup.

      1. Thanks Sally. Are you supposed to spoon and level the cocoa powder too? or is there more flexibility around that?

        thanks again!

      2. I recommend spooning and leveling the cocoa powder as well. Never pack down those dry ingredients. Are you weighing them?

  10. Followed the recipe exactly and the cupcakes were fantastic – moist and crumbly and perfect. My kids and their friends LOVED them. Also made the Favorite Chocolate Buttercream frosting (just mixed everything by hand) and it turned out wonderfully. Thanks for such great recipes!

  11. Cannot wait to try this recipe in my mile high kitchen in Quito. Any high altitude adjustments I should consider??

  12. I was wondering how many calories is in the cupcakes itself and the frosting itself. I would love to try this recipe out.

  13. How can I frost the cupcakes if I don’t have the frosting thingamajig?
    By the way, recipe’s amazing!!

  14. What would you change to bake these as mini cupcakes. I am hoping to make around 36 mini cupcakes. Shorter baking time maybe?

  15. Thanks for your great recipes Sally. I was wondering if you thought it would be ok to make these two days in advance. Is there a way to keep them fresh for that long? Thanks a lot

    1. Hi Valeria- for best results, I recommend baking the cupcakes one day in advance and keeping them very tightly covered until you frost them. Frost the day of serving!

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