This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

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!

chocolate cupcake with chocolate buttercream and chocolate sprinkles

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.

chocolate cupcakes topped with chocolate buttercream and chocolate sprinkles

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. Chewy brownies
  5. Peanut butter cookies (foundation for 6+ other cookies on my site!)

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?

overhead image of wet ingredients in a glass bowl and dry ingredients in a glass bowl

Chocolate cupcake batter in a glass bowl

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. Like double chocolate muffins, 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 vs. natural cocoa powder. And if you really want to learn today, here is the difference between baking soda vs. baking powder and why I use both 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.

Chocolate cupcake batter in cupcake liners

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!

chocolate cupcakes with chocolate buttercream in a cupcake pan

Now that the cupcakes are baked and your self control is fading quickly, it’s time to frost them. The frosting flavor is completely up to you. We have a plethora of options on this site from chocolate buttercream and rainbow chip frosting to strawberry frosting, vanilla buttercream, salted caramel frosting, and cream cheese frosting. Keeping things even (though highly indulgent) with chocolate buttercream and a friendly dose of chocolate sprinkles.

And layer that buttercream on nice and tall. (I used wilton 1M!)

chocolate cupcakes topped with chocolate buttercream and chocolate sprinkles

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.

clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
chocolate cupcake with chocolate buttercream and chocolate sprinkles

Super Moist Chocolate Cupcakes

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours, 25 minutes
  • Yield: 1214 cupcakes 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


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.


  • 3/4 cup (94g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1/2 cup (41g) 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*



  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.


  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.

Keywords: cupcakes, chocolate, chocolate cupcakes, vanilla frosting

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

vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream and sprinkles

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. These cupcakes are the best! They taste really good and are soft. They are also moist. They are perfect. They are also really easy to make. Would recommend.

  2. Just made this. They tasted great but they were flat on top, with some actually sinking in the middle after cooling. Any suggestions to have a better rise?

    1. Hi Hieu, The cupcakes will sink in the center if (1) there’s too much batter in each cupcake liner and/or (2) if the cupcakes are under-baked. If you make them again, keep a careful eye on how high you fill the liners (only halfway) and how long you bake time– even an extra minute or 2 would help.

  3. I am allergic to grains so I replaced the all-purpose flour with Bob’s Red Mill Paleo Baking flour 1:1 and they turned out divine! Moist & chocolately & delicious! Even the wheat eaters who had them couldn’t tell they were grain free & gluten free 🙂

  4. These cupcakes are amazing. The first time I made them they were a little dry, but Sally’s recipes are awesome so I knew it had to be me. I shortened the baking time to 15 minutes and magic happened. Highly recommend this recipe!

  5. Fabulous flavor! I tried with the suggested chocolate buttercream and while both recipes are wonderful I’d try a vanilla frosting next time as the cupcakes had such amazing flavor but I felt the chocolate frosting overtook it a bit. Definitely keeping both recipes in rotation

  6. Do I need to make any altitude adjustments? I have tried this several times and even filling 1/2 full, they still sink. What should I do differently?

    So frustrating because all your other recipes turn out beautifully for me.

    1. Hi Melinda, sinking can also happen if the cupcakes are under-baked. If you make them again, keep a careful eye on how high you fill the liners (only halfway as you mention) and how long you bake time– even an extra minute or 2 would help. As for high altitude, we wish we could help, but we have no experience baking at high altitude. We know some readers have found this chart helpful: Thank you for trying this recipe!

  7. The cupcakes didnt rise as my usual recipe. They also cracked on top. They were quite fudgey in texture and not dry. Quite nice.

  8. Just made these for the first time tonight. I topped them with a chocolate peanut butter buttercream (which was amazing!!). Problem was that the cupcakes came out a bit dry. Any thoughts on what would have cause that?

  9. I’ve made a handful of your recipes and they’ve always gotten great feedback :’) I’ll be making these cupcakes tonight but I’m all out of cupcake liners— if I butter the tin do you think it’ll turn out the same or should I change the time a bit? Thank you for your yummy recipes

  10. I’m wondering if these would be good with cream cheese frosting? My son is requesting chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese frosting for his birthday. Thanks!

  11. I made these twice and wasn’t impressed. The first time I filled them too full. The 2nd time I still overfilled a few, but the ones that weren’t overfilled were flat. It’s a very small cupcake since it’s flat. The picture here shows that it has a little hump to it like cupcakes usually do. Maybe they are supposed to be flat?? They tasted delicious however. They just didn’t look very appetizing to me.

  12. I have been on the hunt for a scratch-made chocolate cupcake for a while, since my go-to chocolate cupcake is actually a doctored-up cake mix recipe. I’m trying to completely get away from cake mixes altogether 🙂
    Well, these turned out to be absolutely beautiful (nice and uniform-looking – no sinking) and were also amazing flavor wise, in my opinion. I would not say that they were dry at all, but they were noticably not as moist as the doctored up cake mix recipe that I had been using.
    I did a side by side taste test (3 people, with me included) and my other 2 testers still liked the doctored up cake mix recipe better. I voted for yours 🙂
    I’m just wondering if my use of regular cocoa powder messed the moistness up?? I didn’t have dutch processed, and I know that was recommended. Would that have made a difference with the moisture?

    1. Hi Becky! Thanks so much for giving these cupcakes a try. The recipe actually calls for natural unsweetened cocoa powder, so you’re all set there. If they were noticeably dry, it sounds like your cupcakes simply may have been over baked. Did you spoon and level your flour, too? Both are easy fixes for next time! We also have a handy blog post on how to prevent dry & dense cakes that you might find helpful.

  13. I just made this recipe and I’m wondering where did it go wrong. The cupcakes were very dry. Not what I expected. The batter tasted delicious prior to baking, but the result was very dry. I did the recipe exactly how the directions suggested.

    1. Hi Lee, If they were noticeably dry, it sounds like your cupcakes simply may have been over baked. Did you spoon and level your flour, too? Both are easy fixes for next time! We also have a handy blog post on how to prevent dry & dense cakes that you might find helpful.

  14. I bake a lot and make a lot of cupcakes for my coworkers. I found this recipe and had a lot of hope. So of course I jumped right in and made enough batter for 4 dozen. Biggest mistake of my week. They are inedible. After the first batch came out burnt I decreased the cooking time by 4 minutes. The new batch somehow is both burnt and raw. Disgusting. Don’t waste your time

  15. HI Sally, planning to make this for a bake sale. I am used to using coffee for chocolate cupcakes, so could I add some? Or are these flavourful enough without it?

    1. Hi Emma! These cupcakes have plenty of flavor, but you can add 1 tsp espresso powder without making any other changes to the recipe. If you wish you use liquid coffee you can try swapping some in for some of the the buttermilk. Let us know what you try!

  16. Made these for a birthday so good and right amount of chocolate! Wasn’t sure about the icing while making it but when they are on the cupcake they just pair so well!!

  17. Great taste, however, made these twice and both times they fell, leaving troughs for frosting.
    Will not be saving this recipe.

    1. Hi Gammy, we’re so sorry you haven’t had success with this recipe. Make sure you are only filling your cupcake liners half way! If you fill them more than that they will collapse.

  18. This was super delicious and soft. Can this recipe be made as a chocolate cake as well?

  19. This is the second time I’ve made these and they have been perfect every time. My granddaughter was given the decision of what to bake today and this is what she chose. We got 16 cupcakes out of this batch. They are waiting for frosting right now. But I’m sure they will be just as perfect as last time.

  20. These were perfect for my event but I usually need at least 2 dozen! Has anyone tried doubling the recipe?

    1. Hi Max! For the best taste and texture, we highly recommend making the batter twice (separately) instead of doubling at once. Doubling risks over-mixing or under-mixing.

    1. We love to use Hershey’s and Ghirardelli brands!

  21. Hi there, am holding a baking class for kids, and these look like a great choice for a simple, but great recipe! I’m wondering though, I think some kids will be fasting which means vegan. Is there a vegan alternative to this recipe? I see coconut oil instead of vegetable oil, but what about eggs? If you have a vegan recipe for chocolate cupcakes that would be simple enough for kids to make with supervision, I would like a recommendation, please. Thank You!

    1. Hi Bella, we don’t specialize in vegan desserts and haven’t tested a vegan version of these cupcakes, but we do have a selection of naturally vegan recipes here if you’d like to take a look. Hopefully you can find one for your class to enjoy!

  22. The flavor was good but unfortunately, they sunk in the middle. I followed the recipe exactly and did not change a thing. Disappointing.

  23. Does this recipe double well or should I make 2 batches?

  24. I accidentally mixed all dry I gradients together and added egg, oil, and vanilla at once and then buttermilk. Will this ruin the texture?

    1. Hi Jane, your cake may be a bit more dense, and be sure not to over mix (which could add to the denseness). Hope you enjoy the cupcakes!

  25. The best, most DELICIOUS recipe! We are a gf house and this recipe translates perfect with gf flour! Thankyou:)

  26. This was a hit. Great recipe, great texture cake and awesome flavour.

  27. Taste was good but cupcakes completely collapsed into themselves. Moist crumb but impossible to eat. Very unfortunate, wanted to love it!

    1. Hi Elise, we’re so sorry you haven’t had success with this recipe. Make sure you are only filling your cupcake liners half way! If you fill them more than that they will collapse.

  28. I was so disappointed in this recipe. I was very excited to make chocolate cupcakes but they didn’t turn out the way I expected. They were not spongey and moist as advertised. In fact, the opposite. I followed every direction and did everything correct. I’m a perfectionist, so I read through everything about 10 times. I have made chocolate cupcakes many many times; this wasn’t anything new to me therefore it’d be hard for me to finally make a mistake. The chocolate cupcakes were dry and didn’t have any flavor it was really thick, almost like a brownie consistency. I’m upset with this recipe and will not be trying this again.

  29. I have never had a problem with cupcakes sinking but these sank. I made 14 cupcakes like she said so I’m not sure how I would have over filled them. No matter who makes the batter it’s going to make the same amount so I just evenly filled 14 cupcakes. Even when I’ve overfilled in the past my cupcakes have never fallen

    1. Hi Alex! We always recommend filling the cupcake liners only half way with this batter. Could they have been filled more than that in your pans? Thanks so much for giving them a try!