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

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 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

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 chocolate sugar cookies
  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 impostor 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

How to make chocolate cupcakes with chocolate buttercream on

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? 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. So the batter is thin.

How to make chocolate cupcakes with chocolate buttercream on

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

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

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!

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


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!


  • 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


  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.


  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. Buttermilk: Buttermilk (an acid) is required for this recipe. If you don’t have any, you can make a DIY sour milk substitute. Measure 1/2 teaspoon of white vinegar or lemon juice in a measuring cup. Then add enough milk (1%, 2%, or whole) to the same measuring cup until it reaches 1/2 cup. Stir it around and let sit for 5 minutes. The homemade “buttermilk” will be somewhat curdled and ready to use in your 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, 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

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

Favorite go-to vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream on

Here are the best homemade chocolate cupcakes! Moist, rich, soft, and so easy to make from scratch with chocolate buttercream frosting! Recipe on


  1. Hi Sally! I love your work. I made the mistake of not using one of your recipes for one of my kiddo’s birthdays in the past. Your recipes are bomb! I can’t even…I’m glad I didn’t start baking until we “met”. Haha. Anyway, my daughter would like a princess cake, so I have it all planned out using your buttercream frosting, but she wants chocolate and I am thinking of doing one or two 8″ layers followed up by the 6″ layers on the top adorned with a crown. I LOVE this cupcake recipe, so I’m definitely using it for the 6″ layers, but for the 8″ layers, what do you recommend? The layer cake is a different chocolate and has espresso, etc. Is there a way to make this one into 8″ layers? Thank you!

    1. Hi Ciara, I’m so happy you enjoy this recipe so much! You can certainly try to make it as a 2 layer 8 inch cake and then make it again for a 6 inch cake. One recipe will make 3 6-inch layers. I hope she has a great birthday!

  2. Hi Sally,
    These cupcakes are amazing! My only problem is they sunk in the middle and I can’t figure out how to correct that. Should I add a bit more flour?
    I filled the middle with whip cream frosting, but the flavor is so good I like them just plain too!

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed them! If they sunk in the middle there was likely too much batter in each. Remember to fill only half way! 🙂

  3. I made these cupcakes, and they were delicious. (So good a made more than one batch) but I learned on the first batch that 18 minutes (the lowest time) made overdone cupcakes!! Other than that small bump in the road these cupcakes were an absolute hit with my family and friends.

    I paired it with the cream cheese chocolate frosting and it balanced out beautifully!!

    1. I experienced the same thing – 18 minutes burned the bottom of my cupcakes. 17 minutes was better but still slightly too long. Next time I’ll check them at 15 minutes and watch carefully. Yummy flavor though!

  4. Hi, Sally! Have you ever experimented with this recipe WITHOUT the buttermilk? I’m making this for my daughter’s 1st birthday and have a guest with a dairy allergy. Any chance you think almond milk might work? Thanks!

    1. Hi Sara! If needed, you can use almond 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 almond milk to reach 1/2 cup.

  5. I was feeling crummy on Sunday and decided that the only thing that would make me feel better was a super moist chocolate cupcake. Enter this recipe. PHENOMENAL! This satisfied my every craving. This cupcake was moist and light and super chocolatey. It was amazing on its own, but when I topped it with buttercream frosting, I nearly died and went to heaven. Thank you for this recipe, it will be keeper forever!

    1. You can absolutely do this! It turns out almost identical. Cake (particularly chocolate) almost always turns out amazing gluten-free.

  6. I have made this recipe 6 times and while the flavor is great, the cupcakes sink in the middle every single time. I follow the recipe to a T and they still sink. I wish I knew the cause.

    1. The most common reasons for these cupcakes sinking is overfilling the liners. Try adding a bit less batter to each next time (half way full is less than most people think!) and hopefully that does the trick!

  7. First off god bless you for converting to grams for us English (at best I’ve used only one conversion chart for both liquids and solids not even thinking). It was like a scene from George’s marvellous medicine.
    Buttermilk is not usually something we keep in either, and I have milk allergy sufferers so I tweaked the buttermilk to 125g sunflower spread added some espresso powder and 2 table spoons of soya. Turned out amazing, very soft, very rich and no risk of poisoning anyone with dairy

  8. Hi Sally! I am a huge fan of your recipes and do try most of them. Buttermilk is something we usually don’t keep handy. Is it possible to prepare this recipe using soya milk as I have some with me at the moment.

  9. Hi Sally! I used your moist chocolate cupcake recipe for a 6 Inch birthday cake. I made a double recipe. I’m just so happy to share that I got a message from my friend after the party that the cake was so good and they all loved it. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and skills. I’m a fan!!!

  10. I tried these last weekend in a 3-layer 6” cake for a dinner party. There was not a crumb leftover!! It was the best chocolate cake I’ve made and tasted. Everyone loved it!
    One question; would this recipe work doubled or tripled to make a 3-layer 8 inch cake? Thanks!

  11. Question, I doubled the recipe to a tee. I’m not sure why but my batter wasn’t runny at all. I didn’t over mix, I added the right amount of liquid to dry…not sure what happened. They came out okay in the oven, haven’t tasted them yet to see if they might be too dense.

    1. Same here, I just doubled the recipe and the batter was not runny, it was quite thick. They still turned out fine but they were a bit dry, I wonder if it is because the recipe was doubled? I have made them before without doubling and they were better than today.

      1. Well I also made my own vegan buttermilk by blending soaked raw cashews with water and lemon juice…but the consistency looked like the standard buttermilk consistency. I thought maybe that had something to do with the issue.

  12. Hi Sally, this recipe is hands down the best chocolate cupcake recipe I’ve tried. I Absolutely loved how fluffy and moist they turned out even though I used only white sugar. Definitely going to try out with the brown sugar next time.

  13. I would like to try your receipt Sally for my daughters birthday, she’ll be 2 in November. My question is if I can somehow use less sugar? Or what can I replace it with?
    Thank you

    1. Hi Ana, before cutting the sugar keep in mind that while sugar does make things taste sweeter it is also necessary for the proper texture and moisture in a cake recipe. So if you want to reduce the sugar it will likely change the texture of your baked goods. I have not tested this recipe with any sugar alternatives but let me know if you try.

  14. I just want to know if you use fanforce or conventional for your oven, I have seen both used in other recipes and just want to check. Is this the same with all your cupcake recipes? I am making a few different flavours for a friends wedding and just want to double check before I make them.

    1. All of my recipes are written for conventional ovens. For fan-forced convection ovens, it’s best practice to lower the baking temperature by 25 degrees F.

  15. Hi Sally,

    First, thank you so much for your wonderful recipes! I’m brand new to baking and love your detailed explanation as well as accurate recipes. I followed your banana muffin recipe and the family loves it!

    I want to bake a simple chocolate cake without layers (like a pound cake) in a bread loaf pan, and so chanced upon this recipe. But I note that this batter is to make 3 6-inch cake. Can I use this batter for a loaf pan and if so, how long do you think the bake time will be? Or would you recommend a different recipe?


    1. Hi Jas, I fear this cupcake base won’t be strong enough to support itself in a loaf pan. However, try replacing the buttermilk with sour cream so the batter is thicker and more sturdy. I’m unsure of the bake time.

      1. Thanks for replying! I will try out the cupcakes first before attempting a full cake with your suggested change

  16. I love it this is now my only go to cupcake recipe. Thank you so much. Lots of love from the Philippines

  17. I am ABOUT to make this recipe, because it looks absolutely AMAZING but have a question — can I swap out the flour for the Gluten-Free flour mixture sold at Trader Joe’s? I have to make 2 dozen cupcakes for my kid’s school…thank you in advance!

    1. Hi Stephanie, the ratio of flour to cocoa powder differs AND we’re not using as much cocoa powder here, so blooming it (as we do with the hot liquid in the cake), isn’t totally necessary.

      1. Thank you for the reply. Another question – can I substitute the oil with melted butter? My daughter likes the cake except the flavour – she said the cake tastes like vegetable! Sorry!


  18. I was very surprised how consistently good the cupcakes turn out. A welcome change from the usual victoria, or square mix I have always sworn by. Equal weights of the eggs in butter flour and sugar. Thank you!

  19. I like to try this recipe and want to use cake flour or is all-purpose flour best for chocolate cupcakes? If I can use cake flour instead how much I should I used?

    1. Hi Teresa, when paired with ultra light cocoa powder, cake flour is too light for these cupcakes. I recommend sticking with the recipe.

  20. I made the cupcakes for my kids Halloween party. They came out amazing except they seemed to be a little dry. I followed the recipe to a T. Any idea what I could or should add?

    1. Hi Amy, Make sure you are measuring all of the ingredients correctly (i.e. spoon and level vs scoop) and you can also try removing them from the oven a minute or two earlier next time.

  21. Hi Sally,
    I’m really excited to try your recipe! I live in CO and was wondering if I need to add anything else (like extra flour) for a high altitude recipe? And how much?
    Thank you

    1. I wish I could help, but I have no experience baking at high altitude. I know some readers have found this chart helpful:

  22. I made these for my nephew’s birthday party and they were simply delicious!! This is my go to chocolate cupcakes recipe!!

  23. I baked 4 dozen cupcakes today and I will add a Swiss buttercream tomorrow. This is for the neighborhoods kids for Halloween. I love how easy the recipe! However, the first dozen, I used Bob’s Red Mill superfine cake flower and they came out beautiful. The second dozen I followed the recipe exactly and used regular all purpose flour. Those were flat and the chocolate color was quite a bit lighter and not a dark and rich and the other. The remaining cupcakes I used the cake flower and they all came out uniform with. beautiful peek dome top.

  24. These are amazing!
    So easy so chocolatey, I used your peanut butter butter cream recipe, completely decadent. Very moist!

    It is a keeper.

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I’m Sally, a cookbook author, photographer, and blogger. My goal is to give you the confidence and knowledge to cook and bake from scratch while providing quality recipes and plenty of pictures. Grab a cookie, take a seat, and have fun exploring! more about Sally