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 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. 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

909 Comments

  1. Hi Sally,

    I was curious if adding a tsp of espresso powder to the batter would make an difference in the texture? Should I omit a tsp of the cocoa powder if I do that?

    Thanks!

      1. Hi Sally,

        After a disastrous day in the kitchen attempting to bake I have resolved to trying again tomorrow. I have found your recipe which I would like to use for the 6″ tin, I just wonder if I can divide the wet and dry ingredients by half before combining them, so I can mix and bake the batter one at a time (only have one tin and a conventional gas oven) also will dutched cocoa not work at all as that’s all I could find (uk) please any response would be appreciated

  2. Joining many other reviewers here. Best chocolate cupcakes we’ve ever had. I’ve made them with so many different types of frosting but always come back to this chocolate buttercream. Sally, thanks for a great recipe.

    1. Yep, add another praiser. These are great and very light. Do use the extra mix in a small cupcake pan for they come out just as tasty and they are small enough for one bite as you walk through the kitchen. And frequent walks through the kitchen means no tiny cupcakes left by end of day.

  3. Delicious cupcakes! Easy recipe. Turned out light and moist. I used the tip on making buttermilk since I didn’t have any on hand. Made a chocolate cream cheese frosting to top them with! Will definitely make again.

  4. Love this recipe.
    In response to the question about what size scoop…I used #24 and it made exactly 14 cupcakes.

  5. Hi Sally,
    If I wanted to make these cupcakes with less carbs, what would you recommend: Almond flour or coconut flour? do I need to adjust the moisture with almond flour?

    1. Hi Kathy! Unfortunately I don’t recommend either– I recommend finding a recipe formulated for either flour you’d like to use.

  6. Hi Sally,
    This is an amazing recipe!
    I was just wondering if I could put coffee powder in the cupcake batter to make the chocolate taste more rich, how much coffee powder would you recommend putting?

    1. Hi Sarah, 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 me know what you try!

  7. I love this recipe. I have made it according to your recipe and I have made if gluten and lactose free and it was amazing both times. I just made my own buttermilk with lactose free milk and lemon juice. I opt for the cream cheese frosting which you can get lactose free and gluten free. I am loving your recipes as they are perfect every time

  8. 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

  9. 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!

    1. Hi Faliha, See the recipe notes for a sour milk substitute for the buttermilk. If you only have dark brown sugar you should be able to use it in this recipe.

  10. 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!!!

  11. 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!

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

  13. 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!

  14. 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.

  15. 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

  16. 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 🙂

  17. 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?

  18. 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)

  19. 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 🙂

  20. 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!

  21. 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!

  22. 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?

  23. 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!

  24. 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!

  25. 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!

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