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

1012 Comments

  1. I just made this. Not really a cupcake fan but i was craving something sweet today. So i decided to give this recipe a try. Omg. I love the result. The cake rise beautifully, chocolatey but not so sweet, moist and spongy and airy. Perfect.

  2. macey myers says:

    I loved the cupcakes they tasted so good .U might want to try them with ice-cream on the side that, tastes good with the cupcakes

  3. Hi, just want to say thank you for sharing this recipe! I made this for our son’s 2nd birthday and dear husband said that the cupcakes were exceptional!!!

  4. For some reason these ones didn’t do it for me , they were dry … wondering if I made a mistake. So I went and use the recipe for tout triple chocolate cake and made my cup cakes !!!! They were amazing !!!!!!!

  5. Would gluten free flour work? I have GF flour with xanthum gum already in it. I have both Cup4Cup and King Arthur flour. Hoping to make tomorrow and bring to my parents, kids and little grandkids in the afternoon.

    1. Marianne, these work great with GF flour I would recommend using the one with xanthum gum. I always bake with GF flour and these turn our really well.

      1. I actually ended up making them before I heard back from you. Everyone LOVED the cupcakes! Thanks so much! I’ll definitely be making these again. P.S. The tip on spooning and leveling was so helpful. I’ll be using this tip in all my baking recipes!

  6. Do you have any recommendations for using this recipe for a cake instead of cupcakes?

    1. SallyBeck says:

      Hi Sally, It’s me Sally. Your chocolate cupcake recipe is a mixing flavor of perfection.
      Again I shall be baking them.

    2. OMGOODNESS! These are the best chocolate cupcakes I have ever made! Thank you Sally, I look forward to baking these cupcakes and chocolate frosting again!!

  7. Moist and delicious chocolate cupcakes.
    First try came out as a professional backer !

  8. Can I add 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder to this recipe without changing the final result too drastically?

    1. Yes you can!

  9. Brenna Nichols says:

    I just made these with no adj at 5280 Feet and they fell in the center-will fill with frosting or whipped cream and try again with the King Arthur ha adj. They will taste good, however.

  10. Sara McDermott says:

    What is the nutritional info for each cupcake?

    1. Hi Sara, I’m unsure of the nutritional info of this recipe, but there are many great online calculators like this one: https://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-calculator.asp

  11. I rarely ever leave positive reviews because I only take the time to write a review if I find a recipe produces sub-par results. This recipe however, is an exception. These cupcakes are moist, flavorful and a delight to bake and consume 🙂 My first batch was gone within 24 hours and I had to make a second one:) Thanks so much Sally!

  12. This is now my go-to recipe for chocolate cupcakes, they were so so good!!! They were so moist yet light and delicious!! I paired them with your strawberry icing which made them over the top! Next time I am going to stuff them with the strawberry icing and then use a ganache on top.

  13. I made these yesterday and they were delicious! I’d advise anyone making them to fill the cups to about 3/4 full IF you’re making them for taste, rather than beauty. Muffin / cupcake tops are the most delicious part, and this way, the batter spills over and makes delightfully enormous tops. I also used Dutch processed cocoa because that’s what I had on hand, and it was fine!

  14. Turned out wonderful!! Thank you! Just curious why you recommend these to be stored in the refrigerator, I have always been told that dries out the cupcake. Thank you again for sharing!!

  15. Aleesha McMullin says:

    Hey Sally,

    If I wanted to convert this to a 6-inch, 3 layer cake, how long should I bake it for and would the temperature remain the same?

    1. Hi Aleesha! I share all of my tips and tricks for converting cupcake recipes into 3 layer 6-inch cakes in this 6 inch cake recipes post!

  16. Hi sally,
    In the current crisis I can’t find plain flour ANYWHERE! Just self raising flour – could I use that instead and omit the other raising agents?
    Thank you

  17. Hi Sally,
    Is it possible to use just normal milk rather than buttermilk?

    1. Hi Jane, If you don’t have any buttermilk, you can make a DIY soured milk. For every 1 cup of buttermilk, add 1 or 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of white vinegar or lemon juice to a liquid measuring cup. Fill with enough regular milk to yield 1 cup. Whisk together, then let sit for 5 minutes before using in the recipe. Whole milk is best, but you can use any fat or nondairy milk. The lower the fat, the less “rich” the baked good will taste.

  18. I loved this recipe the cupcakes tasted divine! 5 stars from me!

  19. Priscilla Katuramu says:

    Another fantastic cupcake recipe that’s bringing me and my family so much joy!! Thank you Sally for your awesome recipes! I hope you know how much joy you bring to homes all around the world!! God bless you.

  20. Can I put chocolate chips in the batter?

  21. I am so bummed, I made these for my son’s birthday party and they came out quite dry. I only baked them 17 minutes, so I have no idea why they would be so dry. The flavor was pretty good, but will not make again.

    1. Mine came out so dry not moist followed recipe exactly

  22. These are amazing! They are so light, fluffy and moist. Will certainly be baking these again. I never leave reviews for anything, but felt I should rave about how great these chocolate cupcakes are! Thank you

  23. Could I bake these in heart-shaped silicone baking cups? I bought some on sale at Michael’s a few days ago, and I’m excited to use them 🙂

  24. So good! Baking this again for my granddaughters birthday
    Thank you

  25. I made your chocolate cake yesterday and it was so incredible! I want to try this recipe out as well but I don’t have brown sugar. Is it possible to mix regular sugar with maple syrup or will that drastically change the flavor?! Thank you! Huge fan of your recipes

    1. Hi Krystin, I have never personally tried it but there are many recipes online for how to make brown sugar using white sugar and molasses like this one: https://www.food.com/recipe/homemade-brown-sugar-65271

  26. Hello! I want to make these but don’ have any mini cupcake pans. If I use medium or large size, what changes to baking time and how much filling would you recommend?

    1. Hi Victoria, This recipe is written for standard size cupcakes. It makes 12-14 standard size cupcakes so just follow the directions as written.

  27. These cupcakes are absolutely amazing!!! Moist yet fluffy, super chocolatey and perfectly sweet! I didn’t even need icing with these, but I did ice them with vanilla icing from a can, and it only made them even better. I 100% recommend this recipe if you want to wow your guests or family with these decadent cupcakes!!

  28. Priscilla Katuramu says:

    Hi Sally. These were a huge hit and then I baked your orange Bundt cake as cupcakes and they were an even bigger hit. Thank you so much for your fantastic recipes.

    Family have now requested chocolate orange cupcakes 🙂 would you recommend adding orange to this recipe or would you recommend adding cocoa to the orange Bundt cake recipe?

    1. Hi Priscilla, I don’t have an orange chocolate cupcakes recipe but you can certainly experiment with adding orange zest and/or orange extract to these chocolate cupcakes. I don’t recommend adding cocoa powder to the orange bundt cake recipe.
      If you love this flavor combination you might also enjoy my Orange Butter Cookies with Chocolate Ganache or my Dark Chocolate Orange Slice & Bake Cookies.

      1. Priscilla Katuramu says:

        Thank you so much for quick response. I’ll try experimenting with adding orange to this recipe

      2. Priscilla Katuramu says:

        Hi Sally.
        I went with your suggestion of adding orange zest/juice to this recipe and they turned out awesome!! Thank you so much!!

  29. This is my go-to recipe for chocolate cupcakes! Always a big hit. I like the suggestion of the orange chocolate variation above. We love them with your vanilla frosting too!

    1. Isabella Morrill says:

      I just made these and let me tell you, they are perfection. I filled them with a raspberry compote, and the rich flavors of the fruit with dark chocolate blended very well together. These cupcakes are incredibly easy to make and I 100% recommend.

  30. Hi Sally!

    Can I add 1/4c of hot coffee as last ingredient?

    Thanks,
    Teresa

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