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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.

Print
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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

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

Scale
  • 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*

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.

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. Hi Jenny, these cupcakes have plenty of flavor, but you can add 1 tsp espresso powder without making any other changes to the recipe. Enjoy!

  1. Some clarification is needed in the number of cups. Line a 12 cup pan with 1 liner, a 12 cup pan with 2 liners, not clear on how to fill these pans, and yield is 14 cupcakes???

    1. Hi! I think you just misunderstood the recipe – one 12 cup pan will be fully filled, each cup having one liner each. There will also be a second 12 cup pan – this time only 2 of the cups will be lined, one liner each. I feel like you lacking basic reading comprehension shouldn’t mean a recipe is only 1 star, but oh well!

  2. Hi, can you use sour cream instead of buttermilk?
    Thanks for all your wonderful recipes

    1. Hi L, You can try replacing the buttermilk with the same amount of sour cream for a sturdier cupcake. Happy baking!

  3. Super yummy and moist cupcakes! Sally, you wouldn’t believe it but it’s my first time baking cupcakes and nothing went wrong. I put vanilla buttercream frosting (your recipe, too) and it was just perfect. I’m still reeling from the happiness of my success.

  4. Great recipe – always a go-to when I’m baking chocolate cupcakes. A little tip for if anyone sees this as well – add around 1 tsp of espresso powder, and around 1 tsp of maple syrup to just add a little extra flavour, you’ll definitely taste the difference! Have fun baking everyone!

  5. These cupcakes are SO yummy!!! I wanted to make these for my sisters baby shower, and they turned out absolutely perfect!! I paired it with a Swiss meringue buttercream as well. 5 stars!!

  6. Love this recipe. It’s an absolute winner with everyone who tastes them.

    Can I ask. How would you adapt them to add orange flavour?

    1. Hi Debs, We haven’t tested it ourselves, but you can try adding orange zest to this cake batter and try replacing *some* of the buttermilk with freshly squeezed orange juice. You could also try adding some orange extract in addition to the vanilla extract (don’t leave out the vanilla completely). Let us know what you try!

  7. It was Flat and crumbled, highly recommend taking it off the internet. Price for food is going up and don’t need to be waisting food

  8. Made these today, great chocolate cupcake recipe! Not crumbly like so many I’ve tried! I think any of the negative comments must have not followed the recipe or left out ingredients.

  9. My first time making this recipe was back in 2017/2018 when I was stationed in Italy. I took the batch to work and everyone loved the cupcakes and the butter cream frosting. I think I will make another batch tomorrow or try your chocolate cake recipe, and yes I’m using the Chocolate Buttercream Frosting!!

  10. I made these cupcakes today and it was a giant mess. Cupcakes did not rise and the smell in my kitchen was not pleasant. I used all fresh ingredients, flour, baking powder, baking soda, etc.. The only thing I changed was not using buttermilk. I followed the instructions for using whole milk and teaspoon of lemon juice. Milk curdled nicely. Cupcakes a complete failure.

    Heading out to the store now to buy a box cupcake mix. They never fail.

    1. Hi Debbie, we haven’t personally tested that, but many readers have reported success using 1:1 gluten free flour swaps in our recipes. We’d love to know if you give it a try!

  11. Question. Do you think this cupcake recipe would work with a chocolate Hershey kiss inserted in the center before baking?

    1. Hi Cathyann, We have not tested it, but you certainly can. This batter is very thin, so if you find that the kiss sinks, you can try baking the cupcakes first and then filling them with a chocolate ganache (similar to how we fill the center of these chocolate covered strawberry cupcakes but use ganache instead of strawberry frosting).

  12. Made these yesterday and they are SOOO good!!! the best chocolate cakes i have ever made. Not many recipes end up handwritten in my recipe book but I have finally found my forever chocolate cake recipe! The search is over ♥️

  13. Made these yesterday in my search for a good recipe for a smaller layer cake, Amazing! The crumb of the cake was so tender and delicate. Definitely the best chocolate cake I’ve made in awhile. When the recipe says the batter will be this, it is! Do not be afraid though because they will rise. Pay attention to the filling suggestions too.

  14. I’m going to make Oreo cupcakes for my brother’s birthday and am trying to figure out the best pairing for an Oreo cream frosting. Should I use this “super moist” recipe, or one of these two instead:
    dark-chocolate-cupcakes
    death-by-chocolate-cupcakes

    I figure those will be a darker chocolate which might be more like an Oreo cookie, but the different might be subtle enough to just use this recipe instead since it’s easier.

    1. Hi Mike! Any of those would be delicious, but I would recommend the dark chocolate cupcakes (with peanut butter frosting) as a base for your cupcakes. They’re a little lighter in texture than the death by chocolate cupcakes. But if you can’t find Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder (like we use in those dark chocolate cupcakes), the super moist chocolate cupcakes are always fantastic, too. Let us know what you try!

  15. This recipe was a complete fail!!! Both of your chocolate recipes are a complete fail!!!
    Too liquid…. Too thin. And I followed every step!!
    I don’t know why I always run for your website not knowing I can actually try other recipes!!
    What a waste of time, money and my cup cake liners!!!
    No wonder you switch off comments from your you tube channel. Why??? What makes you special??!?!!!!
    The only recipes of yours I’ve succeeded in are vanilla cupcakes, pizza dough and coconut cake.
    Enough!!!!!
    Let me guess my comment will not be moderated!!
    Bakers are many!!!

    1. Wow! Why are you so mean? Anyone can have a fail in the kitchen, although I can’t really see how you can fail with this, it is virtually a packet cake method. I’m sorry you are so mad, whip up another batch, and all will be right with the world!

  16. I’ve tried making this twice today, and both times it flopped. Now nothing i ever baked flopped. Sorry. But i still like a lit of your other recipes. <3

  17. Sadly i did this to the letter, checked and dbl checked and filled each as exact to halfway and most of mine are either sunken or over flowing and they looked perfectly even going in. Im not a baker, maybe my oven is tilted?

    1. Hi Emily, Sinking is often due to the cupcakes being 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.

    2. Hi Sally, these looked so good I had to try them and I love a lot of your other recipes. But I followed the recipe exact and they overflowed and sank both…? Any ideas why? Thanks so much!

      1. Hi Tyanne! Over-filling the cupcake liners with too much batter will cause both of those issues – an easy fix for next time! Make sure to only fill liners half way.

  18. I’ve made these many times before and they’ve always turned out perfect! This time around a lot of them fell in in the center. Do you know why that might be? Always so delicious though!

    1. Hi Esther, Sinking is often due to the cupcakes being 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 – even an extra minute or 2 would help.

  19. Great recipe. The tips were crucial to making perfect cupcakes!

  20. This has become my go-to chocolate cup cake recipe! I make it with my 4 year old and we have fun every time. I also want to tell some people who are being negative in their comments that baking is not rocket science but there is some science definitely involved a lot of factors can make or break a dish and I’m saying this from my own experience! So before coming and typing hate msgs know that anyone can have a bad day even if you are an expert cook! Correct your mindset and may be the positivity will send the right vibes to your oven sorry Sally I don’t understand why people have to be mean! I have tried so many of your recipes and they have never failed me and even if some did go wrong I know it’s probably my mistake or that I or some factor would have been off. More power to you. Baking this right now AGAIN!!! ✨

    1. Hi Zhane, We don’t recommend using cake flour in this recipe- it’s simply too light for this batter. Cocoa powder is extremely light and takes the place of some all-purpose flour in this recipe, so we already have very light cupcakes.

  21. Can you use self raising flour instead of all purpose flour? All purpose is really hard to find for those of us not in the US.
    (Love your baked oats recipe btw x)

    1. So glad you love our recipes! We don’t recommend using self rising flour in this recipe. It would take additional recipe testing to ensure accurate results.

  22. One of the best chocolate cupcakes i’ve ever tested so far!!!

  23. Hi Sally! I was also looking at your Triple Chocolate Cake recipe with the espresso powder and coffee but would like to make it a 6-inch 3-tier cake. Can I add the espresso powder and coffee to this recipe? The 6-inch cakes are such a great size!

    1. Hi Ashley, 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!

  24. These cupcakes are amazing- worked every time I’ve made them. So moist and fluffy. The flavour is spot on, but I love to add a little bit of coffee in all my chocolate cakes…
    Instead of buttermilk I add 1/3 a cup of Greek yoghurt and milk to make up to 1/2 cup… and just a habit I add the dry ingredients to the wet, alternating with the yoghurt
    Milk, and finishing with dry- mixing until just combined
    My recipe book is my pride and joy, it takes a lot of happiness to get in there, and these definitely made the cut!

  25. Hi. I like these muffins, and I was specifically looking for a recipe that has white sugar and brown sugar, but I for some reason I taste a slightly bitter taste. Do you know why that is?
    Thanks

    1. Hi Rachel! A bitter flavor could come from the brand of cocoa powder used or even expired baking powder or soda. We’ve never had an issue with a bitter flavor in these cupcakes, but those are the ingredients I would investigate first!

  26. I’m sad to say I’ve never had cupcakes fail so miserably! The flavor is nice, but the cupcakes ballooned about a half inch around the outside of the cups and collapsed in the middle. They’re stuck to the pan, and I can’t get them out in one piece. I would appreciate any words of wisdom anyone has!

    1. Hi Pamela, make sure you only fill the cupcake liners only halfway full! Too much batter causes them overflow and sink.

    2. This was my experience as well. I made sure to only fill them halfway, even made 15, instead of 14. Terrible mess and I threw them all out! I am an experienced baker as well and have never had this problem with other recipes.

  27. Hi Sally I’ve just made a dozen cakes an there absolutely beautiful there light fluffy, I’ll be making these again they only took 18mins, how much ingredients would I need to make 3 teir 8 inch cake plz

    1. Hi Dee, We’d recommend using this chocolate cake recipe for a 3 tier, 8 inch cake. It’s just as moist and chocolate-y! See the recipe notes for directions on making it a 3 layer cake.