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!

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 sallysbakingaddiction.com

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 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. 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 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!

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 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!

Print
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

Description

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!


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
  • frosting: chocolate buttercream or any of these frostings

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. 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.

Notes

  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 sallysbakingaddiction.com

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

Favorite go-to vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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

859 Comments

  1. 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.

  2. 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?

  3. 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?

  4. 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!)

  5. 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.

  6. Hi there, I really like the look of this recipe but I need to made a bigger batch. Do you think I can just double it or do I need to make 2 separate batches or do you have a recipe for a larger quantity?
    Thank you!!

  7. I’m making these cupcake at at altitude. Should I lower baking soda and powder by half?

    Brenda Moore Boulder CO

    1. Hi Brenda, I wish I could help, but I have no experience baking at high altitude. I know some readers have found this chart helpful: https://www.kingarthurflour.com/learn/high-altitude-baking.html

      1. Thanks Sally. I’m on my way to start baking now. Will let you know how they turn out. This is a trial for Valentines Day.

  8. Just finished making these and put them away in the freezer without icing. Will take them out and make icing for Valentines. They came out perfect and taste delicious too. I used the coconut oil which adds a soft flavor to the chocolate cake. I decreased my baking powder and soda to half the amount due to high altitude.
    Thanks for the recipe Sally.

  9. I’ve just tried this recipe today and the cupcakes were looking super moist and so tempting. Perfect recipe and accurate explanations. Thank you so much! Everyone in my family just loved these cupcakes. Rich in taste and I don’t even want to finish them 🙁

  10. Any suggestions on freezing frosted cupcake minis? And the defrost process if frosted? Does the frosting have a weird texture if frozen already on cupcake? I am planning on using chocolate buttercream and trying Swiss meringue buttercream but wanted to make cupcakes and decorate them as I won’t have time to when I actually need them.

    1. Hi Abby, You can freeze buttercream frosted cupcakes. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before frosting and serving. You can freeze Swiss Meringue Buttercream but I recommend freezing it in an airtight container and re-mixing it it after it thaws before topping cupcakes. You can see my freezing tips in this post.

  11. Never commented on a recipe before but felt I had to with these. They are the loveliest and fluffiest cupcakes I have ever made! I substituted the buttermilk with 7-8ml of lemon juice and then filled up to 120ml of whole milk. Amazing. These are my new go to chocolate cupcakes
    Thank you!

  12. I’m a trained chef and not a baker. However, I love to eat baked goods so I am teaching myself to bake so I can eat delicious sweets. Sally’s baking addiction is my favorite go to for almost every recipe I want to make. This cupcake recipe is perfect and so easy. Your instructions to half fill are spot on and the cupcakes came out perfect, light and airy but full of flavor. I used the chocolate buttercream recipe in the link and was not disappointed. A friend told me it was the best cupcake she had ever eaten! Thanks again Sally ♥️

  13. Your cupcake recipe was so good my niece loved them. Do you think I can use unsweetened applesauce as a substitute for the sugar? My family and I are trying to cut down on your sugar intake.

  14. Unfortunately, I am joining the ranks of those who didn’t love these cupcakes. I found them quite DRY despite only cooking them for 16 minutes (the minimum). The crumb was also very COARSE but not really dense, and the flavor wasn’t spectacular either. All I can think of with the coarse crumb is this: should these be *just* blended in the last step??? Mine were just blended – the batter was thin but there were also many lumps in the batter – similar to what you would see with a muffin batter *just* blended. Did this have anything to do with the coarse crumb result?

    So it’s back to the drawing board for me. I’m looking for a soft delicate fine crumbed cupcake. It’s how they are made at my favorite cupcake store. If I ever bought cupcakes that turned out coarse and dry like mine did, I would return them. Sorry – I really did want to love them.

    1. Hi Terry! I’m concerned about a coarse, hard crumb and am unsure what could be causing it. What brand of cocoa powder did you use? Was it natural or dutched? If you ever try the recipe again, mix the batter a little more to rid the lumps. You can also try replacing the buttermilk with sour cream, too.

      1. I used regular cocoa, not dutched. I wonder if the coarseness is because of mixing until just blended, but that is what I understood should be done from the recipe. I also wonder if they were baked too long. I baked for the minimum time and my oven is not hot, but they sure seemed overdone. I’m at 3400’ altitude. Another factor perhaps?

  15. You know it’s a fantastic recipe when you use cheap cocoa powder, fake buttermilk, and mess up the mixing order but still come out with ULTRA moist and chocolatey cupcakes. This is the best chocolate cupcake recipe I have EVER tried. Even the cheap frosting didn’t distract from the fantastic cake.

  16. These cupcakes came out very moist and super yummy. I didn’t have any buttermilk so i used the milk with vinegar trick and they came out amazing. Im so excited for my brother to try these as a birthday dessert from me. Delicious recipe that i will be using again in the future.

  17. Hi. I can’t seem to find natural cocoa, only dutch process and I’m running out of time to make cupcakes. Can i use the dutch process and reduce the baking soda? Thanks.

  18. Somehow I missed the part about using natural cocoa and ended up making them earlier this week with dutch processed cocoa, topped with vanilla buttercream. They turned out great! The rise was fine. Everyone who tasted them gave compliments.

  19. I loved this recipe, thanks and my cupcakes turned out very moist and soft, what if I don’t add brown sugar, how do i substitute it and what difference will it make?

  20. This looks delectable and we will be making these this week. Could you please tell me why the “time” says that it will take 3 hours and 25 minutes total time? Is this taking into account 3 hours of cooling time? Thanks!

  21. I have to agree with the other reviewer. The flavor was there, but these were very dry. I didn’t use Dutch chocolate and made my own “buttermilk”, per instructions. I redid them, but this time added another egg and took them out right when they were done. That helped, but still not as moist as I expected.

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