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!

Today we’re diving deep into what I like to call a “foundation recipe.” Basic chocolate cupcakes which are, indefinitely, anything but basic.

This is a solid base recipe that serves as a jumping off point for many others. Like my basic vanilla cupcakes 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 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 chocolate sugar cookies
  3. Chocolate cake (try this!!)
  4. 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 impostor and forget about apple pie. That’s some sort of health food, right?

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. 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? Here’s the difference between dutch-process and natural cocoa powder. And if you really want to learn today, here is why I use both baking soda and baking powder in these chocolate cupcakes.

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.

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!

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 frosting, vanilla buttercream, salted caramel frosting, and cream cheese frosting. Keeping things monotone (though highly indulgent) with chocolate buttercream and a friendly dose of chocolate sprinkles.

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 if there’s a fruity one on the menu, but I would gladly unwrap one of these over any other choice.

By the way, this recipe transfers beautifully into cake pans to make a 6 inch cake!

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chocolate cupcakes

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: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Made from simple everyday ingredients, these chocolate cupcakes with vanilla frosting will be your new favorite. For best results, use natural cocoa powder and buttermilk.


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*

Topping


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. Cupcakes: 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 combined. 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.
  4. Bake for 18-21 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting. I usually let them cool in the pan.
  5. Frost cooled cupcakes however you’d like. I used chocolate buttercream and 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: You can 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. Frosting freezing instructions included in step 5.
  2. 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.
  3. Mini Cupcakes: Fill mini liners only halfway and bake for 10-12 minutes at 350°F (177°C). Yields about 3 dozen.
  4. Cake: Here’s a chocolate cake that is just as moist and chocolate-y.
  5. 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, vanilla frosting

More of a vanilla person? Here are my favorite vanilla cupcakes!

Favorite go-to vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream on sallysbakingaddiction.com

1012 Comments

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  1. Excellent recipe and great cupcakes. Thank you!

  2. Great recipe, loved my fluffy chocolate cupcakes but the surface of my cupcakes were hard. Any idea why?

  3. Delicious recipe.

  4. Hi Sally , I love trying your recipes.

    Can I make these cupcakes without the frosting but with semi sweet chocolate chips instead ? We are a dark / intense chocolate flavour loving family

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi R, If you love dark chocolate, I recommend our dark chocolate cupcakes. Feel free to add 1 cup of chocolate chips to this batter without changing anything else. Hope your family loves them!

  5. please help – I have make cupcakes for my niece’s party on Saturday and wanted to make your Moist Chocolate cupcakes but I cant get natural cocoa only Dutch processed cocoa. Do I have to give up on your recipe or is there a way to adapt the recipe?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Dorothy, I wish we could help here but but if using your dutched cocoa, you would need to switch out the baking soda (or some of the baking soda) for baking powder. Increase the amount of baking powder in the substitution since it isn’t quite as strong as baking soda.

  6. Hi. I’d like to make a 9 inch layer cake using this recipe for my daughter’s birthday. Will doubling it suffice?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Ann, Here’s a chocolate cake that is just as moist and chocolate-y.

      1. Thank you Stephanie. I’ll use this one. I’m also going to use Sally’s chocolate mousse recipe for the filling and her ganache recipe. Have a great weekend.

  7. Hi Sally! I’m curious- why is the recipe listed with vanilla buttercream, but the pictures and blog text with chocolate? I’m guessing in an update it could have possibly been mixed up? Just thought I’d let you know.

    1. Hi Lydia! Looks like the recipe was displaying wrong for a couple weeks. I have it all set now. Thank you for letting me know!

  8. Loved these cupcakes, I had never made chocolate cupcakes before even though chocolate is my favourite, the whole family loved them, making more to day, thanks Sally they were yummy.

  9. i have a 9 cupcake pan (since i have a small oven). Once i fill those up and bake, what should i do with the remaining batter till the oven and tin are free again to bake the rest? i dont want to waste the batter. (similary if i use the mini cupcake tin, that batter will still be food for another half of a batch)

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Rashmi, You can leave the remaining batter loosely covered at room temperature until it’s ready to bake. Enjoy!

  10. Hi Sally!! I recently decided to start taking my baking seriously and stumbled across your page.I have not looked back and I will continue to use your recipes to make awesome goodies!! I successfully made perfect chocolate cupcakes last night and even the batter tasted like pure chocolate!Thank you Sally,you are amazing!!

  11. SO light and moist. Absolutely delicious! I never need to search for a chocolate cupcake/cake recipe again. Thanks so much!

  12. I have made this repeatedly. always moist flavor packed and perfect. my go to chocolate cupcake recipe!!

  13. Great recipe! Made this a dozen times when we lived in Singapore and it was always a hit. Now that we live in Helsinki, I’ve made this 3x and the papercups fall off all the time and I wonder why. This doesn’t happen when we were in Singapore. Any idea?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Janine, Any chance you are using a different type of paper cups? If you can, use cupcake liners labeled as “grease proof” which should definitely help. Also, are you at high altitude? If so, some readers have found this chart helpful: https://www.kingarthurflour.com/learn/high-altitude-baking.html

      1. Not in high altitude. I’ve been using Dr. Oetker cupcake liners ever since as it’s the one readily available in the supermarkets. Could it be because I’m using silicon trays this time instead of tin ones? I’ll get a tin tray and see if it changes.

  14. If I use the coconut oil, does it have a very overpowering coconut flavour, or just slight in your experience. (We like coconut, I don’t have the other oils…just wondering).

    I am NOT a baker (or good cook for that matter!). Can I use melted unsalted butter? Thanks!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Carrie, When these were tested with butter they tasted pretty dry. I recommend sticking to the recipe. If using coconut oil you will be able to taste it but it’s not overpowering compared to the chocolate. Let us know if you try them!

  15. This was an AMAZING recipe but I was just wondering what you suggest I bake it in to make petit fours. I was thinking a sheet pan but I don’t know if this is a large enough recipe or how long to bake for.

  16. Hi, Sally.

    I want to try all your recipes but we don’t eat eggs. It would be great if you can provide a substitute for eggs in your recipes.

    Thanks!

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Amudha, I’m happy to read that you are excited to try our recipes! We don’t specialize in egg free baking but do have a selection of naturally egg free recipes. I know some readers have had success using flax eggs in place of eggs, but we haven’t tested it. Happy baking!

  17. Hi Sally,
    I’d like to make this chocolate cupcake recipe today but only have salted butter. Can I substitute the salted butter by eliminating the 1/2 tsp salt listed in the recipe?

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lisa, this cupcake recipe doesn’t call for butter! Just oil. You can certainly use salted butter in the chocolate frosting, though.

  18. I have made this recipe before and love it!
    I’m looking to make the cupcake part of these for a gathering with my SIL, who is milk free these days. Could I sub full fat coconut milk in these?
    Also, have you considered making a milk free icing? I know that seems counterintuitive, but I’ve found that as my friends and I age, more friends have allergies or lifestyle choices (like vegan or gluten free) that I sometimes try to accommodate. Just a thought. Or recommendations appreciated!
    Thanks for any insight!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jenny, For the cupcakes you can use any non-dairy milk to make a DIY sour milk in place of the buttermilk. See the recipe notes for details. This Homemade Marshmallow Creme (Meringue Frosting) is a lovely non-dairy frosting for cupcakes. Or you can use canned coconut milk to make Chocolate Ganache and whip it to a frosting consistency (see recipe notes).

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