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!

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

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

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. 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

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

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!

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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


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.


  • 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*



  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.


  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


Comments are closed.

  1. I have always had a problem making chocolate cakes… they always come out too dry. This recipe is the bomb! I was so proud of these cupcakes. They were moist and super tasty. The chocolate buttercream was also a hit!
    I will be making these again and again! Thank you!

    1. Hi! Is it okay if I use sweetened cocoa powder because that’s all I have?

  2. Emily Dougherty says:

    Hi Sally, I have just made these cupcakes and they were delicious! I was wondering a friend would like me to make her some gluten free ones is it okay if I just swap the all purpose flour with the gluten free?

    1. Hi Emily, I’m sorry, I don’t have much experience baking with gluten free flour and haven’t tested this recipe that way. Let me know if you try anything.

  3. These turned out so dry. I made two batches back to back and cooked them for 18 minutes. Your recipes always turn out for me so I’m so disappointed. Do you have any idea why that would be the case?

    1. Hi Lori, First make sure you are measuring the dry ingredients properly. Too much flour could make these dry. Also, your oven might run hot so they could simply be over-baked. If you try them again try shortening the bake time.

  4. Sonal Bansal says:

    Can this be made without buttermilk?

    1. Hi Sonal, You can make your own DIY version of buttermilk if needed – see recipe notes.

    2. We just made these yesterday with regular milk instead of buttermilk as we did not have buttermilk and they were still so moist and delicious!! We used the same measurements.

  5. Best chocolate cupcakes ever and the buttercream icing was spot on. Great recipe!

  6. Hi, I don’t have packed light brown sugar, can I substitute for brown sugar?

  7. Hi Sally,

    Would these freeze well? I would like to make ahead of time for a birthday. If I freeze and then defrost and ice will they still be moist?

    1. Hi Talia, Unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before frosting and serving.

  8. Lovely cupcakes – could i omit the cocoa and use just flour – my son is not keen on chocolate cakes?

  9. Made these and they were soo good and moist!! Thank youuu

  10. Hey Sally! I just baked these cupcakes and followed all of the instructions as well as filled them halfway, however they all still have very small craters. Is this normal and just due to the moistness? Thank you!

    1. I have the same issue. Currently baking my third try. First two were super tasty but just caved so much… On second and now third try I tried to filled even less than before, but they just cave.
      On this third try is less than half and I have my thermometer to make sure the oven temperature is ok.

      Looking for any ideas on how to fix it as well

  11. Thank you for sharing this amazing recipe I tried it and it was a blast

  12. Hi Sally, I made these cupcakes for a get together yesterday and they were the BEST chocolate cupcakes I have EVER had. Followed the recipe exactly except used milk with 1 tsp vinegar in place of buttermilk, I didn’t have any buttermilk in the house. Used Droste cocoa powder which was the amazing! Topped them off with raspberry buttercream and a fresh raspberry. All were gone in short order. Only thing was the recipe only made 12 cupcakes not 14 but I could have mismeasured something. Otherwise, I was super happy with them and will definitely make again. Thank you!!!!

  13. Perfect recipe!! Must try!

  14. Made these with some chocolate milk that had “gone bad” (but not too bad!) . They were perfect and yummy. Don’t overtake.

  15. Absolutely great recipe – I didn’t have another muffin tray so instead of making the 2 last cupcakes with the leftover batter, I poured it into a ramekin and microwaved it for 40 seconds – it made THE MOST delicious chocolate lava cake ever!!

  16. Felechia Justice says:

    Hi Sally. I want to make these in a jumbo cupcake tin. Can you give me an estimate of the baking time? Thank you

    1. I’ve never tried this recipe with jumbo cupcakes, so I can’t say for sure. Will be a little longer and you can use a toothpick to test for doneness.

  17. this was my first time baking cupcakes, i have always been intimidated by baking and cakes but your recipe was super easy to follow. i made the most delicious cupcakes i have ever ate. the buttercream frosting was delicious, the cupcake itself was amazing.

    i used monkfruit sugar, and less than how much was recommended, and my cupcakes still came out sweet and yummy!!! but it is dangerous… how easy to make and yummy these are… im going to have to stop myself from baking them every weekend lol

    much love, im so glad i found your blog!

  18. My cupcakes sank in the middle during baking. What can I do? They are too good to taste.

    1. Make sure you only fill the cupcake liners only halfway full! Too much batter causes them to sink.

      1. I’m only fill the cupcake liners only halfway full ): I don’t understand ):

  19. Rachel Sloan says:

    Sally, I am nervous now about making these, I don’t have time to go back to the store and I see as I got the ingredients out that I accidentally purchased the Dutched Cocoa Powder. UGH! I am making these for my daughter’s bday party today! Should I bail on this recipe and find another? 🙁

    1. Hi Rachel, I wish I could help here but if using your dutched cocoa, you would need to switch out the baking soda (or some of the baking soda) for baking powder. Increase the amount of baking powder in the substitution since it isn’t quite as strong as baking soda.

  20. Made this for my B’day and instead of cup cake I made a single cake since this was the exact measurement for a single cake I needed. Topped it with chocolate ganache and scraped chocolate and it was a perfect cake and yummy. Thanks for ur recipes they have turned out great always. Since k don’t have a electric beater I end up trying only the chocolate cakes. I wish I could upload the pic here 🙂

    1. Happy birthday, Steffi! You can email me a picture to [email protected] or post to social media and tag me.

  21. I haven’t made this yet but it’s on this weeks schedule. Love chocolate, love cupcakes. What could be better. But what I am so, so, so glad to see is the grams for your ingredients. I had gotten leery of making items from some blogs due to some flops. Tried a bread with their 3 cups per their recipe and had soup. So I’m so much more confident when I can make with the measurements you did.

  22. These were the bomb! And the chocolate buttercream frosting too! I wanted to let you know that you are my baking hero! From crinkles to cookies to cupcakes! All your tips and recipes are spot on! Thank you!!!!

  23. I accidentally bought light buttermilk from the store. Will it change the flavor drastically? Love your recipes! The cranberry whites chocolate chip cookies have always been a hit during the holidays.

    1. Low fat buttermilk will be just fine!

  24. Delicious! Unfortunately this “micro-batch” did not produce any cupcakes that survived long enough to be frosted 🙁

    Can this recipe be doubled successfully?

    1. Hi Doreen, While you can certainly try, I always recommend two batches instead of doubling for the best texture. When a recipe is doubled it is very easy to over-mix which can lead to a dense texture and cakes that don’t rise properly.

  25. Hi Sally,

    What are your thoughts on using this cupcake mix with the Nutella icing you posted?

    1. Delicious with nutella frosting— highly recommend.

      1. Hello Sally, I must say this recipe is a hit with my family- all age groups but especially my 5 year-old. Her name is Noor and she absolutely loves those cupcakes. My only problem (and this is recurring) is that the cupcakes tend to deflate sometime after they get out of the oven. What could I possibly be doing wrong? Would appreciate your insight on that. Thank you!

      2. Hi Fatma! I’m so glad that these cupcakes were such a big hit. The cupcakes will sink in the center if (1) there’s too much batter in each cupcake liner and/or (2) if the cupcakes are under-baked. Keep a careful eye on how high you fill the liners and how long you bake time– even an extra minute or 2 would help.

  26. Hi Sally,
    Can I use only 1/2 cup of brown sugar and not add more sugar to reduce sweetnes? Will that impact the texture of the cake? Also can use the the chocolate ganache for frosting?

    1. Hi Suzie, Sugar is used for texture and moisture as well as taste. If you experiment with reducing the sugar you should keep in mind that your baked goods won’t yield the same results. You can absolutely frost these with Chocoalte Ganache!

  27. Hi Sally!
    I’d like to double the recipe for more cupcakes! Should I just double all the measurements and make one big batch or should I make two separate batches? (because I know baking soda/powder measurements have to be very precise most times)

    1. Hi Mailei, While you can certainly try, I always recommend two batches instead of doubling for the best texture. When a recipe is doubled it is very easy to over-mix which can lead to a dense texture and cakes that don’t rise properly.

      1. Hi Sally,

        Thank you for sharing the recipe for moist chocolate cupcake. I used black cocoa powder instead of regular cocoa powder and they were superb.

  28. I love all your recipes but this came out super dry and I’m not sure why! Any ideas?

  29. Hi, not sure if this has been asked before, but if I use this recipe for a 6 inch cake, do you also suggest filling in the cake pans halfway?

    Thanks so much, your recipes are fantastic!

    1. Hi Mary, This batter works perfect if you evenly divide it between three 6-inch pans. They will be about halfway full, yes.

  30. Hi Sally,

    thanks so much for this recipe! I made it EXACTLY as you said, and even under baked it a bit at 15 minutes since all ovens are different. Unfortunately, mine came out a bit dry! Almost like a muffin texture…any suggestions? more buttermilk perhaps?

    thank you!

    1. Hi Alysia, First make sure you are measuring the dry ingredients properly. Too much flour could make these dry. You can also see my post 10 Tips for Baking the BEST Cupcakes for more troubleshooting help.

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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