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

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. Like double chocolate muffins, 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 them. The frosting flavor is completely up to you. We have a plethora of options on this site from chocolate buttercream and rainbow chip frosting to strawberry frosting, vanilla buttercream, salted caramel frosting, and cream cheese frosting. Keeping things even (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.

Print
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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

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 (94g) 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.

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

1299 Comments

  1. Hi Sally, I’m making the 6 inch chocolate cake… I’m doing a crumb coat then filling and frosting.if I’m making it for Wednesday when can I make the cake?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Kathy! See Make Ahead and Freezing instructions in the recipe notes of this post.

  2. Made these today these are sooo good and tip for others if you don’t have buttermilk use regular milk and add a couple drops of vinegar let it sit for a couple of minutes and let it turn to buttermilk

  3. This recipe is perfection. I’ve been hunting for a chocolate cupcake recipe that delivers a deeply flavored, rich, moist, delicately-crumbed but sturdy cake. This is the one. I went with melted coconut oil and added 2 tsps. of instant espresso powder. Couldn’t be happier with the results.
    TY, Sally’s Baking Addiction, and may you never go to !

  4. Do gas ovens work faster than other ovens? I made two batches of these cupcakes and found that 10 minutes is the perfect amount of time to bake these cupcakes. In fact I think 9 minutes could be even better! Or maybe my oven is just weird like that. ‍♀️ I love the cupcakes! They will be the perfect treat for my son’s first birthday a month from now.

  5. So good! Our company uses this recipe everyday!

  6. Would it be possible to substitute sour cream for the buttermilk? If so, would you use the same amount? Thank you!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Kayti, You can try replacing the buttermilk with the same amount of sour cream for a sturdier cupcake. Happy baking!

  7. Stéphanie Giguère says:

    Can the oil be substituted by melted butter?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Stephanie, When these were tested with butter they tasted pretty dry. For best results, we’d recommend sticking with vegetable, canola or coconut oil.

      1. I’ve substituted with olive oil it’s moist and delicious! I’ve also token away 1/4 of the cupcakes to suit our taste.

      2. I’ve substituted with olive oil. I’ve also taken away 1/4 of the sugar to suit our taste. It’s moist and delicious!

  8. Hii
    Can I use granulated white sugar instead of brown sugar?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Janicia, yes, you can use all granulated white sugar instead of the brown sugar.

  9. Can nondairy milk be used for buttermilk?

  10. When you bake in the oven, where do you put the cupcakes ?? Top or middle tray??

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Vathsala, Position your oven rack in the center of your oven.

  11. Hey Sally… Substituting AP flour for GF flour… thoughts?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Joe, We haven’t tested this recipe with gluten free flour but let us know if you try it!

      1. Hi Sally

        I am now going to try these cupcakes and wanted to know if I can mix batter the day before and refrigerate it?

  12. Hi! Would it be okay to add chocolate chips to this recipe? Would it ruin the consistency or baking process?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Rachel, feel free to add 1 cup of chocolate chips to this batter without changing anything else.

  13. Hi Sally-
    curious as to why you use brown sugar AND white sugar? does it have to do with taste or moisture? great recipe btw! thanks

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Arisha, we like to use brown sugar for a little extra moisture and flavor. That said, you can certainly use all white granulated sugar in a pinch. Glad to hear you enjoy this recipe!

      1. Thanks Lexi! Actually I’ve tried recipes with just white only sugar and prefer it with the brown sugar added. But I was just wondering why it tastes better, from a chemical standpoint. When I use just white sugar it sometimes kind of chalky tasting or maybe I’m doing something wrong! thanks!

  14. Hi Sally, saw the question about adding choc chips. Does it matter what kind of choc-semisweet,
    milk chocolate, etc.?
    Thanks for this recipe.

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Janet, we usually like semi-sweet here, but you can use milk chocolate if you prefer. Enjoy!

  15. Natasha and Sienna says:

    These came out great! Made them with my 8 year old daughter. I think the cake could be a tad sweeter so maybe only granulated sugar next time 🙂 I thought
    I did half full cupcake cases but based on my domes and the fact that I only made 10 cupcakes I don’t think I did lol.
    Would definitely make again! And I baked for 16 mins. Was that temperature at fan btw?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hello, thank you so much for giving these a try! All of the recipes on this site are written for conventional settings, not convection. If you do use convection settings for baking, lower your temperature by 25 degrees F and keep in mind that things may still take less time to bake.

  16. Hi! Can I use Dutch process cocoa instead of natural cocoa? TIA

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Mary, you need natural for this recipe. Here’s the difference between dutch-process and natural cocoa powder if you’re interested!

  17. When making buttermilk from whole milk, do you add the vinegar/lemon juice to room temp milk? Or when it’s cold and let the whole thing come to room temp?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Caitlin, You can add the vinegar/lemon juice after the milk comes to room temp. Happy baking!

  18. Easy good tasting cupcakes, but 18 to 21 minutes at 350 in my oven dries them out. 15 minutes is all they need. Especially when filling the cups only half way. Thanks.

  19. I am so sad. These bombed TWICE. I normally never have problem with any of your recipes. These sunk both times. Everything was measured properly and the baking powder was not expired. I have no idea what went wrong.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Caitlin! It could be a few different things but the culprit for cupcakes with sinking middles is often over-filling your cupcake liners. Hopefully this post can help you troubleshoot!

      1. Hi Trina,
        I reviewed the article and none of these apply to my situation. I baked these cupcakes twice and had to toss them. I baked the triple chocolate cake to replace them and still had some sinking. I also baked my daughter’s strawberry birthday cake from here today and that came out PERFECT. I have no idea why these didn’t work. 🙁

  20. Krystal Faugeaux says:

    how do you prepare the cupcakes to be frozen? i see you say up to two months mine will be frozen about two weeks

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Krystal, we’d recommend following a similar method as described in our How to Freeze Cakes blog post. Then thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before frosting and serving. Enjoy!

  21. These were absolutely delicious when I first made them a few weeks ago! Making them again in about an hour. 10/10 would reccomend

  22. Emily Hochevar says:

    Could this also be used for vanilla cupcakes but subtract the coco powder and brown sugar?? I love this recipe but I can’t find a good vanilla one to match it.

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Emily, have you tried our vanilla cupcakes recipe? We’d recommend that instead! Cocoa powder is a finicky ingredient so unfortunately it wouldn’t be as simple as removing it from this recipe without making additional changes.

  23. Pat Cammarata says:

    I’ve never made a cupcake and frosting from scratch. Tried the moist chocolate cupcake for Valentines day and they were absolutely delicious!!! Now I have confidence to make more desserts from scratch. Thank you!

  24. Hey Sally! I enjoyed this recipe a lot, but my cupcakes ended up having a lot of air bubbles on the top when I took them out. Any thoughts on why this happened?

    Thank you!

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Morgan, thank you so much for making these cupcakes! Small bubbles in cakes are normal, but if you have larger bubbles or holes in your cupcakes it could be from any number of reasons. Some common causes of air bubbles are over-mixing the batter, not having all of your ingredients at room temperature, using too much leaveners, or adding the eggs all at once instead of one at a time. Hope this helps for next time!

  25. These are NOT moist in the least. Quite possibly the driest cupcakes I’ve made.

  26. Hey Sally !
    I tried these yesterday and they came out so fluffy , light and moist.
    I added a tsp of coffee to bring out the flavour a bit more and topped them up with chocolate ganache.
    They were an absolute hit with my friends !

  27. Karen P Quackenbush says:

    My cupcakes sank in the middle and even though I followed the recipe exactly, I had enough batter for 18 cupcakes. Any idea what went wrong? They taste great and are light and spongy.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Karen, we’re glad you enjoyed them! Sinking cupcakes are almost always caused by over-filling the liners. Be sure to only fill them with batter halfway!

  28. Made these and only filled the muffin tin 1/2 way as recommended and they rose perfectly. I have a convection oven so the cupcakes cooked in just 11 mins at 350. Thanks again Sally for another delightful recipe.

  29. Hi Sally,

    Always love your recipes!! Is cupcake recipe different than cake recipe?
    also can I use cake flour instead of AP flour for cupcakes? I noticed a lot of your cupcake recipes uses AP flour, is there a reason? 🙂

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Karen! This cupcake recipe is slightly different than our triple chocolate cake. We 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.

  30. Hey Sally,

    this recipe looks amazing. I really want to try if. But if I wanted to make them like muffins – so with a Dome – what would I have to do?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Merve, if you’re looking for more of a muffin texture and look, we’d recommend trying our Triple Chocolate Muffins recipe instead. Just as chocolatey and delicious!

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