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

1006 Comments

  1. Can I use regular milk as I do not have butter milk?

  2. Yum! While I think I overbaked the cupcakes a minute or two, they turned out really delicious. Instead of the buttercream frosting, I used my leftover ganache and whipped it.

  3. Hi Sally,
    Is it ok if I use dark brown sugar instead of light brown. No specific reason I just have a bag at home I’ve already opened lol.
    Thanks

    1. Sure can!

  4. Hello! Have you tried making these with stevia sugar alternative instead of regular sugar? If so, what’s your recommended amount for stevia sugar? Thanks!

    1. I haven’t. I don’t have very much experience baking with stevia.

  5. Kirstie Rivera says:

    Would I be able to do chocolate chips to the batter?

    1. I don’t see why not!

  6. Thanks, easy to follow, soft and moist and oh so yummy!!!

  7. This is a fantastic recipe. Made them this week – popped a little teaspoonful of Nutella in the middle for some extra squidge and they were very well received. Will definitely be my go-to recipe from now on.

    Also, huge thanks to you for adding the quantities in grams as well as in cups. Us UK types are all about the grams and ounces and my little brain struggles to get my head around cups and sticks!!! Thank you for being so thoughtful. Appreciated.

  8. I found that the mixture stuck to the sides of the cupcake cases and you would lose half of your cupcake, otherwise these taste pretty good

    1. Hi Rachael, I’m glad you enjoyed the taste of these! Be sure you are using a grease proof cupcake liner. I find they work best for all cupcakes and muffins!

  9. Tamar Schoenberg says:

    Is it possible to frost these the night before? Could I leave them out overnight in an airtight container, or refrigerate with the frosting on? I won’t be able to the day of. Thanks!

    1. Hi Tamar! Either way of storing is completely fine. I usually cover & refrigerate overnight (I store them in a cupcake carrier- you can find them at most craft stores and on Amazon), then bring to room temperature before serving.

  10. Could I substitute unsweetened applesauce for half the oil? I used this with your pumpkin cupcakes. Wonder if you’ve tried it on these chocolate ones.

    1. You can certainly try it!

  11. Hi Sally,

    Thanks for the recipe. I just tried it following the recipe to a T and they didn’t quite rise as they were supposed. Should the oven be on 177C standard or fan?

    Thank you,
    Gunnar 🙂

    1. Hi Gunnar, I use a standard conventional oven. Be sure you are only filling your cupcake liners half way full for the best rise!

      1. Hi Sally,
        I did them again and they turned out perfectly – the fan oven must have been too hot for them. Thank you for another great recipe!!! <3
        Gunnar

  12. Sally can I make this batter using a mini Bundt pan? I have your vanilla recipe but want to try chocolate ?

    1. I haven’t tested this recipe in mini bundt pans but you can certainly try it! I’m unsure of the bake time so just keep an eye on them and they will be finished when a toothpick comes out clean.

  13. Hi Sally I am from the Philippines and made your cupcake it is so delicious and moist… Thanks for sharing your wonderful receipe

  14. Hi Sally, these were delicious but slightly dry and the very top was almost crisp. Not sure where I went wrong. I did halve the recipe, so not sure if proportions were off, and I used a convection oven (but I feel like that would only help it bake more evenly). Any ideas of where I went wrong or has this happened to you?

    1. Hi Jen, It sounds like they were over-baked. I love my convection setting on my oven when making something like a roast, but I only use conventional heat for baking. This is a good quick article on what happens when you bake in a convection oven: https://www.thekitchn.com/5-important-things-to-know-about-baking-in-a-convection-oven-226272

  15. Oladara Abrams says:

    Hi Sally I tried this cake last night and my coworkers love it. Thanks for sharing another amazing recipe.

  16. Hi! I just made a batch of these by the sea of Peru. They came out delicious!!!! I used coconut oil which I highly recommend, plain yogurt instead of buttermilk and only brown sugar. They came out at exactly 18 minutes perfectly baked, and delicious in flavour, very delicate and not too sweet, just perfect! Thank you! I do like to keep my desserts as low fat as possible, any ideas for a relatively fat free topping? Thanks for the recipe!

    1. I’m so happy you enjoyed these cupcakes, Maia! You can top with an easy homemade whipped cream if you are looking for a lighter option.

  17. Can I just double the recipe instead of making 2 different batches?

    1. Hi Danielle, While you can certainly try, I always recommend two batches instead of doubling for the best texture. When a recipe is doubled it is very easy to over-mix which can lead to a dense texture and cakes that don’t rise properly.

  18. Have you ever substituted butter for the oil with this recipe?

    1. I have and they taste pretty dry. I recommend sticking to the recipe.

  19. Hi, I’m making them as I write this, but you mentioned that the batter was supposed to be thin? Mine was thick like brownie batter… but I followed everything, even checked it twice… thoughts?

    1. Hi Meghan, If you didn’t make any ingredient substitutions the culprit is likely over-measuring. Make sure you are spooning and leveling your dry ingredients and not scooping!

  20. My favourite cupcake recipe.
    I’ve made this recipe a few times now and it’s been a bit each time.

  21. Is it possible to make these cupcakes without the buttermilk? It is rare for me to have buttermilk in my fridge

    1. Yes. I used regular milk and squeezed a quarter lemon into the milk.

  22. I made this cupcake today. Good flavor but it wasn’t very moist.

  23. Hi Sally, can you tell me why these cupcakes collapse on me pretty much everytime I make this recipe?

    1. Hi Anna, Make sure you are only filling your cupcake liners half way! If you fill them more than that they will collapse.

  24. Just made these cupcakes today! They were really good with hazelnut coffee buttercream and chocolate sprinkles.
    And although the cupcakes weren’t as moist as I thought they would be this is still my favorite recipe so far.

  25. So I was making 2 batches of chocolate and vanilla cupcakes and love this recipe. So I just decided to eliminate the cocoa powder which gave me a thinner batter and they were even more moist than the chocolate. I think the key is not to overmix your wet ingredients because then they lose all the air making em more dense and less moist ( :

    1. Hi there! We are having a Cupcake Wars contest at my children’s school. These sound perfect to make! The only thing I’m wondering is- the cupcakes get dropped off in the morning when the kids go in and the contest isn’t until evening. There’s no refrigerator to put them in- they just sit out at room temp for hours. Do you think the frosting will be okay?

  26. Hi I’ve made this recipe many times and it’s now my families favorite! I was hoping to make this into a cake for my nephews birthday. Do you know how much more I would have to make for it to fill a 10 inch cake pan?

    1. Hi Cynthia, I’m so happy your family enjoys this recipe! For a cake, here’s a chocolate cake that is just as moist and chocolate-y.
      To make a different size here is everything you need to know about Cake Pan Sizes and Conversions.

  27. With your recipe my cupcakes turned out perfect (for the first time ever!), thanks!

  28. Hi Sally! I’m going to make these for a Super Bowl party tomorrow. What size measuring cup did you use when filling the cupcake liners? I want to make sure not to overfill!

    1. Hi Callie! It’s hard to say because some muffin pans have slightly larger or smaller cups– even if it’s a standard 12-count pan. Simply fill with batter about halfway. You can always fill and measure 1 cavity with water to find the exact volume. Halve that volume for the batter. (And empty the water, of course!)

  29. What would you think about baking this without cupcake liners and just greasing and flouring the cupcake pan well?

    1. Generously greasing the pan with nonstick spray would be enough. No need to flour them.

  30. I made these cupcakes, and they were delicious! My family and I ate them in two days! I have to admit, It is more fun to make these with a family member.

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