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!

Print
chocolate cupcake with vanilla frosting and rainbow sprinkles

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*

Vanilla Buttercream

  • 1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 45 cups (480-600g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) heavy cream, half-and-half, or whole milk, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • salt, to taste
  • rainbow sprinkles (optional)

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. 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, the heavy cream, and vanilla extract. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to medium-high speed and beat for 2 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. (I add 1/8 teaspoon salt.) Use frosting immediately or cover tightly and store for up to 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 3 months in the freezer. After freezing, thaw in the refrigerator then beat the frosting on medium speed for a few seconds so it’s creamy again. After thawing or refrigerating, beating in a splash of heavy cream or milk will help thin the frosting out again, if needed.
  6. 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: 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. Heavy Cream in Frosting: I love using heavy cream for the creamiest consistency. You can use half-and-half or whole milk instead if needed. The lower the fat, the less creamy your buttercream will be. Whichever you use, make sure it’s at room temperature. Otherwise your frosting could separate or appear grainy.
  4. Mini Cupcakes: Fill mini liners only halfway and bake for 10-12 minutes at 350°F (177°C). Yields about 3 dozen.
  5. Cake: Here’s a chocolate cake that is just as moist and chocolate-y.
  6. 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

939 Comments

  1. Love the HIMYM reference; and LOVE this decadent chocolate cupcake recipe!

  2. averie @ averie cooks says:

    The Wilton 1M comes through, obviously, and these are gorgeous!!! Wow! Can I have one for a midnight snack!? I wish I had a few sitting in front of me!

    1. Thanks Averie!!

  3. Hina Siddiqui says:

    Hi Sally, the cupcakes look AMAZING!  How would you say these differ from your ‘Death by chocolate cupcakes’? Just curious.

    1. More moist and soft 🙂 Hold their shape better too!

  4. Jenny from jennyisbaking.com says:

    Hi Sally, thank you so much for sharing all you fail-proof basic recipes. Many of them are my go-to recipes. I already knew and tried this one, no exception here.
    And again, you did some magic with the pictures, so pretty!

    1. Thanks Jenny!

  5. 😀 “moist” – I immediately thought of that very HIMYM episode when I first spotted the title of this post!
    And those cupcakes look gorgeous, wonderful pictures!

    1. It really is the best episode 😉

  6. Andrea @ Cooking with a Wallflower says:

    Omg! This cupcake looks soo good. And that sky high frosting. I seriously need this in my life.

  7. Lynn @ Fresh April Flours says:

    BAHA! Perfect timing– I started HIMYM over again and just watched that episode last night! Tooooo funny. Also LOLing at “crispy mushroom.”

  8. Is there a way to make them dairy free? So many cupcakes require milk. 

    1. I’m no pro at dairy free baking, but you can simply use a non-dairy milk alternative here. Unsure about the frosting though.

  9. Patricia @Sweet and Strong says:

    Mmmmm your cupcakes recipes are always my fav.  I love all your baking tips.  And I have thrown out several batches of cupcakes due to overfilling the liner, uh I need an exact pourer because I am ALWAYS messing up this step.  

    1. I’ve been there before too. And it is the MOST important step!

  10. I can speak from experience, more than halfway full is a recipe ruin-er. I used to be the queen of sunken cupcakes. But not anymore! I have learned to follow your recipes to a “T” the first time I make them, and then make adjustments if I see fit. I rarely change the science of your methods, but love switching up flavor profiles. These foundational recipes are so important!

    1. It truly is the difference between a successful batch and ruined batch. And most bakers rush right through that step! Especially with this recipe. It’s so important!

  11. Hi Sally! Is there an ice cream scoop that you’ve used that measures out the batter to halfway full for these cupcakes? I just like the ease of scooping out the batter and plopping it into the cupcake liners.  I’ve made all your chocolate cupcake recipes. Can’t wait to try this one! 

    1. I don’t use an ice cream scoop– I just pour the batter in halfway. The batter is so thin that an ice cream scoop wouldn’t help much at all. Good question, thanks for asking!

  12. Sally , I have a few whims about this cupcake.
    Now, this is my favorite chocolate cupcake recipe, ever. Or was my favorite. The first ten times I made it, they came out CHOCOLATEY (So much flavor!) and ultra moist. I used Hershey’s cocoa powder. . So I come back to the recipe (on the old post). I made it twice with Ghiradelli baking powder, which is supposed to be more pure chocolate flavor and superior to Hershey’s. I followed the instructions to a T and always spooned and leveled it. The cupcakes were so … bland. If I closed my eyes I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the chocolate and a regular flavorless cupcake (seems harsh, but It definitely wasn’t your recipe fault!) Why were they so bland with the “superior” cocoa powder? The texture was a bit off too, and I didn’t overbake it. Your site is the only one I trust, and I’m kind of a novice baker, please help me out?Omg sorry for ranting. I have a bit of a problem with long winded comments.

    1. It’s definitely the cocoa you are using then! I only use Hershey’s natural. It tastes far better than any other brand I’ve tried.

  13. I can attest to overfilling = ugly (although still edible :)). These are the BEST chocolate cupcakes.

  14. Sally, your piping has gotten so good!! These are gorgeous! The Wilton 1M is my favorite tip to use. I’m like you and typically don’t go for chocolate desserts if there are other options….but I am definitely going to have to make these!

  15. I usually need 24 cupcakes,  but am always wary about doubling a recipe.  Would you suggest doubling, or making the batter twice?

    1. Make 2 batches. Doubling/working with more batter risks under or over-mixing. Best to just make 2 batches and this batter is so easy anyway!

  16. I love these cupcakes, Sally! Even more so, I love the chocolate buttercream – your frostings are some of the best I’ve ever made. I always feel bad reaching for a chocolate dessert in the middle of summer, when all this summer fruit is at it’s best, but I can’t help it. I’m a chocolate girl (chocolate peanut butter girl). I always get the part about “only filling the batter halfway” wrong because I always think THE MORE YOU FILL MUFFIN CUPS THE MORE THE MUFFINS WILL RISE AND TASTE AMAZING. But cupcakes aren’t muffins, dammit. It’s not as simple as adding a scoop of frosting to a muffin to call it a cupcake – they’re sooo different! 😉

    1. Muffins and cupcakes are SO different in that aspect! That’s because muffin batter is usually much thicker than cupcake batter (dense muffins vs light cupcakes). And they definitely require different amounts of batter per cupcake! Love chatting about this stuff!

  17. Sara @ The Ravenous Housewife says:

    These look even better than they did in IG! Yum!!

  18. Sue Ringsdorf says:

    Oh my! OH MY!! These look crazy good!! So glad I woke up to your lovely post because they make me want to work out extra hard…so I can indulge with one of these cupcakes!! Thanks Sally!! 🙂

    1. Worth every calorie 😉

  19. I just made these this week for my daughter’s birthday party, along with the vanilla cupcakes! I used the raspberry buttercream to frost them and they were amazing!!! It’s taken me forever to find a homemade chocolate cupcake recipe that I like and I’m so glad that I finally found it!!

    1. Yay! So happy you finally found one too! And paired with raspberry buttercream sounds seriously amazing!

  20. Victoria Starkey says:

    Have you read/do you own The Food Lab, by J. Kenji López-Alt? It will fulfill your nerdy cooking side and then some! I’m obsessed with it and literally reading it cover to cover. It’s 900+ pages of cooking science written in the best way, and I just can’t get enough of it.

  21. These look amazing. Thankfully my grandchildren are going to be away the month of July, therefore, no baking. This gives me a month to lose some weight so I can bake these when they return and, of course, eat them. Thanks for another great recipe.

  22. omg the moist maker!! Sally, don’t ever change <3

  23. Paige Flamm says:

    These look insanely delicious! I need to try these for my kid’s birthdays coming up!

    Paige
    http://thehappyflammily.com

  24. Sally, these cupcakes look amazing !!! Cannot wait to try. But I have a question. I have been making your Vanilla Almond granola for several years now & they do contain coconut oil in the wet mixture, The American Heart Association. came out the other day & said you should not be cooking with coconut oil anymore due to the high saturated fat content. Can you recommend a good substitute to use instead of the coconut oil ? I make a double batch of granola every 2 weeks for my family. Much appreciated.

    1. You can use another type of oil in the granola instead– canola, vegetable, olive.

  25. Sally, do you let these cool in the muffin pan or remove after 10 or so minutes to cool completely?

    1. Either way works and makes no difference in the finished cooled cupcakes 🙂

  26. Kelly @ Kelly Lynns Sweets and Treats says:

    Yum!!! Chocolate!!!!!!!!!! You can’t have to much chocolate! I’m sure I have made this recipe of yours at least once before!! I must make it again! 

  27. This has been my go-to chocolate cupcake recipe for about 2 years now – I love it!!
    I was thinking that adding a “Favorites” section on the recipe index would be a great idea. Being able to find your go-to recipes such as a classic chocolate layer cake, brownies, sugar cookies, CCC, etc… in the same place would be far more convenient than looking for them through the pages, considering that many of the classics are from years back. Think about it 😉 

    1. We’re working on something like that with a website redesign. 🙂 Stay tuned!

  28. Raksha Kamat says:

    looks soooo delicious. Love it

  29. Shawnna Griffin says:

    hey girl- this is right up my alley! I love chocolate! Y’all have a great weekend!

  30. These look perfect. I am actually going to be making your triple chocolate cake recipe for my stepdaughter’s birthday in a couple weeks. She is the choc-aholic in the family, I know that she would be just as happy scarfing down 2 or 3 of these though. I love the background these were photographed in. It makes them feel so much more dramatic and intense. Jeez you wouldn’t think I was just talking about cupcakes there. 🙂

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