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!

Print
clock clock icon cutlery cutlery icon flag flag icon folder folder icon instagram instagram icon pinterest pinterest icon print print icon squares squares icon
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

1006 Comments

  1. These tasted awesome but they still sunk even though I followed receipe.

    Help! Thanks

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Ang, 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.

    2. I want to use this recipe to make s’mores cupcakes. You have to put a graham crust on the bottom. Any suggestions if I should still go halfway with the cupcake mix or a little higher since there will be a bottom layer?
      Thank you in advance!

      1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

        Hi Julie, You can assemble them like these S’mores Brownie Cupcakes but use the cake batter instead. You should still only fill the cupcakes halfway full. Enjoy!

  2. Amisha Mathur says:

    Super moist almost cloud like texture. Thank you Sally, couldn’t stop eating them.

  3. Sheila Calnan says:

    Have a question. I was gifted 7 lbs of dried tart cherries. Could I chop them up and add to the batter? If so, how much do you think would work?
    Or, do you have another cake/cupcake recipe I could do?
    Thanks and hope the family is safe and sound.

    1. Hi Sheila, the batter is quite thin for the addition of tart dried cherries. Replace the buttermilk with sour cream to thicken it. Then I recommend adding about 3/4 – 1 cup of them.

      1. Sheila A. Calnan says:

        Thanks for the response, but think I figured out what I’m going to do, unless you have another suggestion.
        I’m going to make these, then fill them with either pie filling or jam.

  4. Hi Sally! Your recipes are alway super yummy ! Question…I never have light brown sugar…is dark brown an ok swap? Thanks, and congrats on your new babygirl!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Michelle, Dark brown sugar works also!

  5. Made this recipe in two 9″ round pans for 20 minutes at 350°F. Layers were thin and a little over done. Made a second batch but cut cook time to 18 minutes and made a winning 4 layer cake. Used store bought frosting. Definitely will make again maybe try the frosting.

  6. they are amaze my fam loves them i need to make another batch

  7. Help! I noticed that you use different types of decorating tips for your recipes. I’m a novice at baking and want to purchase a set of decorating tips for my cakes and cupcakes. What would you recommend I purchase? Wilton?
    Thank you!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Linda, The post Piping Tips 101 + Video lists the five tips we use most often.

  8. Hi Sally,
    I’m wanting to make a cupcake version of your german chocolate cake, and noticed you suggested using the coconut pecan filling to fill the cupcakes – love this idea. However with your german chocolate cake you use espresso powder which is not in these cupcakes, is this going to make the cupcakes less rich?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Laura, You can add 1 tsp espresso powder to the cupcakes without making any other changes to the recipe. Enjoy!

  9. Hey! I have a question:
    If I have no sort of brown sugar at home, can I use only regular sugar(twice as much)?
    Thanks!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Dan, Yes, you can use all granulated white sugar instead of the brown sugar.

  10. Hi! Can I triple the recipe and it come out the same? I know some recipes are fickle and you cannot do this. Please advise. I need closer to 40 cupcakes. Thanks!
    Jill

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jill, While you can certainly try, we always recommend individual batches instead of tripling for the best texture. When a recipe is tripled it is very easy to over-mix which can lead to a dense texture and cakes that don’t rise properly.

  11. Joan Marie Mccauley says:

    I made these and they tasted great My Alzheimer’s Residents and coworkers are going to love me .

  12. Michael Harper says:

    Made these with my daughter and used your ‘Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting’ recipe halved which I also added peanut butter to. I have a pancake extruder that I like to use to ensure proper filling of the cups. It seriously cuts down on the mess especially when little ones are “helping”. I just want to say that I love this site for any baking I do. I worked as a pastry chef years ago so I still remember much of the technique but just need the recipes and yours never disappoint. They are a perfect balance of what it takes to get solid results without being too complicated or over the top. Keep up the good work!

  13. How can i use my buttermilk powder in this recipe?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Muriel, On the package for your buttermilk powder should be mixing instructions for how much to powder to mix with water. Follow the instructions to make 1/2 cup of liquid buttermilk.

  14. Can I put in honey instead of sugar

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Shirley, we don’t recommend using honey in place of sugar. For best results, use sugar!

  15. I’ve made these sooo many times over the last year or so and they are sooo fluffy! I will never trade these for any other basic chocolate cupcake recipe. Like I said above, fluffy, moist, not too rich, and they have the best chocolaty taste ever! soooo good, especially w/ whipped cream. Nice job, Sally!

    1. Hi Sally! I only have dutch processed cocoa powder. Can I still make this recipe without putting baking soda in it? Or should I still put it because of the buttermilk?

      1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

        Hi Gel, For the best cupcakes we recommend sticking with natural unsweetened cocoa powder, not dutched cocoa. 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.

  16. A bit dry, but good overall.

  17. MICHELLE CATHERINE TUBAY says:

    love these recipe! I’ve made this for a while now and it always yields perfect cupcakes!

  18. Sally Kemppainen says:

    Hi just wondering if you could freeze the cupcakes?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Sure can! See the make ahead instructions in the recipe notes.

  19. Hi Sally,I was wondering of what I can use instead of buttermilk as a substitute as I’m not sure I can find buttermilk in my area

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Alina, See recipe note #2 for how to make your own DIY version of buttermilk. Happy baking!

  20. HI Sally,
    Can I make these chocolate cupcakes into a cake? If so, should i change the time or the temp?
    Thanks!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Haley, Here’s a chocolate cake that is just as moist and chocolate-y.

  21. Hi Sally!
    I’m 13 years old and at first i was intimidated to try cupcakes. I’m so glad i did! These are PERFECT! I can’t thank you enough for all of your recipes! I’ve never found one that was unclear or did not turn out beautifully! I’ve started to do more advanced things as I’ve become a better baker. I actually joined the August Baking Challenge for the first time! It was so much fun! I definitely will be doing the September Challenge! Thanks Again!

  22. These sound delicious and I’m going to try to make tonight for company. I am trying to stay away from vegetable oils. I know you mention coconut oil but wanted to make sure I can still use that and it won’t change the taste? Also, I love when cupcakes have whole chocolate chips in them. If I add chocolate chips do I do anything different or still cook the same? Thank you!

    1. Hi Karly, if you used coconut oil labeled as refined, you shouldn’t taste any coconut flavor. Feel free to add 1 cup of chocolate chips to this batter without changing anything else.

  23. This recipe was great, and I finally had cupcakes that weren’t dense and a buttercream that had actual form. Thank you so much!

  24. I don’t know where I made the mistake. My cupcakes sink in the middle.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jigu, 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.

  25. Hi Sally , if I want to use sour cream instead of buttermilk, what is the quantity of sour cream that I would require to use?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jodie, You can try replacing the buttermilk with the same amount of sour cream for a sturdier cupcake.

  26. I’ve heard of a lot of chocolate recipes using coffee to enrich the chocolate flavor

    Would you recommend and how would you substitute it?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Cortney, 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 us know what you try!

  27. Hi, would I be able to divide the batter up into 3 6inch pans and bake as a cake?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Yes! You can see the instructions for doing just that in this post on 6 inch cakes. 🙂

  28. Can you substitute the oil for melted butter

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Courtney, When these were tested with butter they tasted pretty dry. I recommend sticking to the recipe.

  29. Great recipe! Easy and quick and came out moist and chocolatey. And the buttercream was nice and fluffy.

  30. These were so light and fluffy. I made 2 batches (separately) and only 1 batch of icing. Turned out perfectly. I will def be using again and will be recommending to everyone!!

1 18 19 20 21

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

With kitchen-tested quality recipes and step-by-step tutorials, my goal is to give you the confidence to bake and cook from scratch.

Sally's signature

Recipes You’ll Love

Archives

Categories

Join the community on the 1st of every month as we tackle a new challenge recipe. Review Sally's Baking Challenge FAQ page if you have any questions.

View More

A tradition since 2013, every December we countdown to Christmas with 10 new cookie recipes in a row!

View More

The first week of every November is all about Thanksgiving Pies.

View More

My Cookbooks

Sally's Cookbooks

About Sally

Welcome to my Kitchen!

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

×