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!

chocolate cupcake with chocolate buttercream and chocolate sprinkles

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.

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. 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?

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. 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.

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 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!)

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!

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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: 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!

vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream and sprinkles


  1. Michelle Chetlain says:

    Sally , I love your recipes ! I made the cupcakes today and My husband said omg Michelle this is like a orgasm in my mouth !!!

  2. Can I use cake flour or will that make them too light?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Liz, I 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.

  3. Hi Sally, I’ve already tried this recipe twice before and they were devoured within minutes! Everyone loved them. I was hoping to put mini cake hearts inside of each cupcake as a surprise. Do you think it would work with this batter? How many tablespoons of batter do you think I would fill each liner with? I usually fill my liners with about 2 tbsp for the perfect height but I’m afraid with the hearts it would overflow? Thank you so much 🙂

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sara, How fun! We have not tested these cupcakes that way so I can’t say for certain. Let us know if you try it!

  4. Am I able to make the batter a day ahead and bake next day after refrigerating?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Kate, I don’t recommend it. Any cake or cupcake batter which uses leaveners should be baked as soon as possible. As soon as the batter is mixed together the leaveners are activated and won’t rise if it sits too long.

  5. Im wanting to make a cake version of this the night before, but the frosting would be made in the following morning. How would you store it so it doesn’t dry out.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Chelsea, You can tightly cover your cake in plastic wrap and leave at room temperature until you are ready to frost the next day. Enjoy!

  6. These are the best cupcakes, so moist. They are the new birthday cupcakes at my house. Howeve r, we love cream cheese frosting so we swap it for buttercream.

  7. I havent made theese but they look REAAALLL good

  8. they were very moist and yummy like the recipe says!

    I recommend these!

  9. Hiya i dont have buttermilk could i use normal milk instead eg semi skimmed?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Cyan, You can make your own DIY version of buttermilk if needed. See recipe notes for details!

    2. Melissa Downie says:

      We love these cupcakes. It’s my go to chocolate cupcake and everyone else agrees that they are super moist and delicious! Thanks for always having the perfect recipes, Sally!

  10. Can I do mini cupcakes with this recipe and if so what temperature and time would you say.

  11. Jackie Wooten says:

    Cupcakes looks great. Planning to make these for my sons 16 birthday. How many tablespoons is half full or what size ice cream scooper do I use. In your video you use an ice cream scooper.

  12. Made these for my sons daycare group for his birthday and they were so good and gobbled. Am going to use this for a cake size for his birthday party. Thank you!

  13. Easy and tasty

  14. Hi Sally. How can I make these eggless ?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Meera, We haven’t tested these with any egg substitutes but let us know if you try!

  15. Thank you for this awesome recipe, Sally!

  16. Hi Sally! Can I replace the Chocolate frosting with Salted Caramel using your Homemade Salted Caramel Recipe. Hoping for your response. Thank you!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Yes, absolutely!

  17. Kent Johnson says:

    Hi Sally,

    great recipe. I subbed melted butter for oil; and (it’s been a while) put all my dry ingredients in together! Lime for lemon in the milk, self raising flour and the baking soda. Some hard folding then liberal work with a whisk and I hoped I was good to go. Came out of the oven on time, as close to perfect as I could hope. Thank you, lovely; very tasty. Did not worry about the icing.

  18. Hi, Sally! Thank you for these delicious recipes. I’m baking more in quarantine! Do you prefer paper or foil cups when baking cupcakes and muffins in a muffin pan?? Thx

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Cindy, I’m so happy you’ve been baking more! We primarily use paper baking liners for our muffin/cupcake recipes. Hope you enjoy these cupcakes!

      1. Thank you! I should have noticed them in your pictures (too busy looking at the insides)! I’m trying to find good ones online to purchase. 🙂

  19. Thanks Sally! My girls and I tried baking and we had great fun. And not only that, the cupcakes turned out delicious. How long can we store them in the fridge?

  20. These cupcakes were a total hit!! Thanks!

  21. Hiba Bishayer says:

    Can I half this recipe to make about 16 mini cupcakes?

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Hiba, half of this recipe yields about 18 mini cupcakes. Fill mini liners only halfway and bake for 10-12 minutes at 350°F (177°C).

  22. Will cacao powder work with this recipe?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Susan, That substitution would require some testing. You’d likely need to switch to all baking powder and increase the amount of liquid in the recipe. For best results, stick with unsweetened natural cocoa powder.

  23. Hi Sally, I followed your recipe to a T and they still sunk.I live in Denver,CO and am wondering if the elevation prevented them from rising too much.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Andrea, It could be your altitude. I wish I could help, but we have no experience baking at high altitude. I know some readers have found this chart helpful:

  24. Sally,
    Thank you for sharing this easy recipe. I had to use Specially Dark cocoa as it was the only one I ever buy and they turned out great. However, I baked them in a silicone pan and 2 in my small metal cupcake pan and the metal cooked in exactly 18 min, while the silicone pan needed an extra 6 min. It makes a bit of a difference what the pan is made of. Again, thanks for this recipe!

  25. Sarah Franks says:

    Hi Sally
    I’m from the UK and not sure what all purpose flour is. It is plain?
    Thank you!

    1. Robin Alvelo says:

      Hi, yes all purpose is plain flour in the UK

  26. Can you use this “cake” recipe for cake pops? Or will they be too moist?

    1. They’d be pretty moist, but you can always adjust the amount of frosting you add. Instead, I recommend my chocolate cake pops recipe.

  27. Hi Sally, If I double this recipe to make about 24 cupcakes, will it alter the consistency? I know some recipes don’t do well when doubled/tripled.



    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Shon-Ann, we always recommend making 2 individual batches to ensure best results. Happy baking!

  28. Hi! So I was wondering if I could add chocolate chips to the recipe. If so, what quantity would you recommend?

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Tara, you can certainly add chocolate chips to the batter, but remember to only fill the liners halfway! I recommend about 1 cup. Enjoy!

  29. This recipe is simply amazing, I’ve tried a few other chocolate cake recipes but this is the best. Thank you so much I totally enjoy them

  30. Just perfect, amazing and super easy. Thank you!!

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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