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 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

884 Comments

Comments are closed.

  1. Hello Sally:

    Not really a fan of cupcakes or cakes because they always are a little dry to me, however; I made this cupcake recipe and your chocolate frosting recipe, exactly as specified. Absolutely the best cupcakes I have ever eaten. I took pictures of them and sent them to all of my relatives as they are gorgeous when decorated. I not only put the chocolate sprinkles on top, but added a little chunk of bittersweet chocolate.
    Thank you for sharing.
    Dana

  2. Hi Sally, loving your recipes! I have just made a batch of your Super Moist Chocolate cupcakes and wondering if they will successfully freeze as frosted cupcakes. I have only ever frozen un-iced cakes.
    Thanks Sue

    1. Definitely– up to 2-3 months. I like to freeze frosted cupcakes in a cake carrier so the frosting doesn’t get messed up!

  3. Hi there, if I want to make a smaller batch of this (6-8), will halving the recipe be fine, or do I need to change more things in the recipe?

    P.S. I baked full batches of this before, and they were always a hit with family and friends, so thank you for this recipe!!!

    1. Hi Kathy! I think halving the recipe for a smaller batch would be fine. No other changes.

  4. Maryla Gallagher says:

    Hi Sally,
    My daughter is going to have a Baking Party tomorrow with two friends. Chocolate cupcakes with buttercream icing coloured green for SPD!
    I want them to work out but I find that when I bake cupcakes in my Convection Oven, the tops seem to “blow” to the side. Ultimately, we say they look like Elephant Trunks. Any thoughts?

    1. Hi Maryla! Make sure you lower your convection oven temperature. Convection ovens should be lowered (generally) 25 degrees F than what a baking recipe states. Bake on a lower oven rack and only fill the cupcake liners halfway. This will help!

  5. Hi Sally – do you think I could make this recipe dairy free by using your recipe with vinegar/lemon juice and soy milk.

    1. Definitely.

  6. Kaelyn A Seeley says:

    Love the recipe!!!!! Next time I’m going to only let them bake for 16-18 mins because they were a little dry but that was my fault. Overall this is a amazing recipe. I also used your vanilla buttercream cream Icing recipe for the cupcakes as well!

  7. Marion Perera says:

    Hi Sally,

    By doubling the quantity of each ingredient of this recipe I will be able to make around 24 cupcakes ya?

    1. Hi Marion, I always recommend smaller batches of batter instead of doubling. With too much batter you run the risk of over or under mixing which leads to a tough-textured baked good.

  8. Hi Sally,
    I have heaps of self-raising flour at home.
    Could I use self raising flour and not add the the baking soda and powder? If so could u please let me know how much exactly and if I need to make any other changes to the recipe.

    Thanks

    1. Hi Fatima! Unfortunately that would require some testing. I highly recommend following the recipe as written.

  9. lol ok this is my first time making cupcakes from scratch AND the choc buttercream frosting from scratch. This was actually a lot of fun…. though my cupcake frosting kinda looks like poo bc I screwed up the recipe and accidently used reg sugar instead of powered sugar.. .LOL…. and I did in fact make it dairy free using coconut milk and lemon for a “buttermilk”… it is actually pretty good, it just is SUPER sweet… and I got my fav vegan choc sprinkles, overall 8/10…. just don’t screw up the recipe like I did lol!!!!

    1. Yay for baking from scratch for the first time, Dani! Your buttercream would definitely turn out that way if using granulated sugar – haha! But I’m so glad you enjoyed the cupcakes 🙂

  10. Hi Sally! Wanted to possibly make this is a 6 in by 3 in cake pan… could I do all the battler in that or do I need to bake it in 3 separate batches?

    1. Hi Margo! Best to bake the 6 inch cakes separately. Follow my 6 inch cake instructions using this chocolate batter.

  11. I love to cook but have never gotten around to baking. These were super easy and better than most cupcakes I bought from cupcake stores! Super fluffy!!! Also, I did not have an electric mixer which made it a little harder but they still came out magnificent (including the chocolate frosting that is at the bottom of the recipe)

  12. Agree with everyone it’s a great recipe, simple and very light and delicious. I got 12 cup cakes from it but I also reduced the amount of sugar by half because 200g sugar to 95g of flour is maybe an error??!! Can’t imagine how that would taste but 120g was definitely enough for me.
    Thank you, definitely bookmarking this one 🙂

  13. Hi Sally, the stores are temporarily out of eggs. What is a good substitute for this recipe? I have half a banana, buttermilk and applesauce. Thanks!

  14. Carrie Sparks says:

    Hi Sally!
    Love your site! We’ll be celebrating a birthday under the CA “stay at home” orders and I’d like to not have to go out to the store to make these. Can I use raw cacao powder that I have on hand and Softasilk cake flour instead of AP? Praying you’ll say yes!

    1. Hi Carrie! For best taste, texture, and success– unfortunately I don’t recommend either substitution. You can certainly try them both but I cannot guarantee results. Here are all my recipes using cake flour.

  15. I tried this recipe and it was amazing! Super moist, chocolatey and delicious!

  16. I’ve tried this recipe twice but both times they’ve come out dry and fall apart. I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong. I’m only filling it halfway and I even reduced the cooking time on the second batch. Any ideas?

  17. Hi sally
    My sugar is not dissolved in the wet ingredients. I mixed it for 40 minutes and it still not smooth. Is it expected? Or how long would it take to whisk until it smooth?

    1. Hi Manda, the sugar doesn’t dissolve until the cupcakes are heated in the oven. Smooth meaning no large lumps. Hope this helps!

  18. love these as cupcakes! Just wondering, is it possible to make this in cake pans? I have 2 8inch cake pans and want to make a cake but love this recipe so much!

  19. stovall estella says:

    I drank 2 margaritas then tried to make these. I preheated the oven, put them in, checked them at 20 minutes, not done. Then realized that I had turned the wrong oven off. Baked them for 10 more minutes and they are fab!

  20. Menchie Horak says:

    This recipe was perfect. We were out of vanilla extract so I used rum extract instead. ❤️

    1. I’m looking to make this as a two layer 6 inch smash cake for my son. Is this recipe for one 6 inch cake? So I would need to make two, correct? Also is the bake time the same?

  21. Came out amazing, thank you!

  22. My 7 year old Granddaughter and I just made these and they were wonderful! Can’t wait to try the other cupcake flavors.

    1. Love this recipe and will use it from now on for cupcakes. Many thanks

  23. I used this for dessert and it was amazing!

  24. I have made this recipe loads of times and it’s been sumptuous and moist. Just made cupcakes with my children and it’s turned out quite dry… cannot work out why. I did accidentally add the buttermilk to the ‘wet’ ingredients and then added the dry to wet. Lockdown frazzled my brain a bit. Could that be why?! X still yummy but not moist.

    1. I made these cupcakes this morning and also made the same mistake by pouring the buttermilk in with the other wet ingredients and whisking it together. Then later pouring them into the dry ingredients, half first then the rest.

      Worked out perfectly for me.

  25. Noelle Davis says:

    Can you use cacao powder for this recipe?

  26. So delicious! I made cupcakes from this recipe multiple times! I just couldn’t get enough of it

  27. They turned out perfectly.
    Easy and quick to whip up- definitely something I’ll make again.

    (Made them with the chocolate buttercream icing)

  28. Hi I was wondering if I could make this with coconut flour (obviously changing the eggs and liquid accordingly)? I’m not sure if you have tried any of your recipes with coconut flour or if you have suggestions for which ones to try with it? Thanks!

    1. Hi Josie, I have not tried making chocolate cupcakes with coconut flour. Let me know if you find a good recipe!

  29. Can’t wait to try this, just wondering: Why does the Total Time say 3 hours and 25 minutes??

    1. The total time includes the cupcakes fully cooling.

  30. Hello!!! can I make this recipe without the cupcake liners? I just noticed I dont have any 🙁

    1. You can if you grease your cupcake pan very well!

    2. Cut a non stick parchment paper into squares, large enough to cover the size of the cupcake pan cavities. Press it down with a cup or your fingers follow the shape of the cavity. Fill in with the batter. And you are good to go.

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