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 (41g) 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

1399 Comments

  1. Hi Sally can I double this recipe?

    1. Hi Tania! I recommend making two separate batches instead. Doubling and all the extra batter could lead to overmixing. Best to just make 2 batches.

    2. Helen Humphrey says:

      I tried these last night and they were a little dry.I’ m sure it was one of two things, I left the cupcakes in the pans five minutes longer than I should have and my butter milk was a little cool.
      Also my oven is over baking my cupcake at recipes requiring 350 degress temperatures. So I decrease the time by three minutes. Now I am sure I need to decrease to five minutes.
      One more thing, when I was mixing my batter my choco powder was lumpy is this normal?

  2. Made these TWO DAYS IN A ROW! a total hit!!! Everything is perfect. Sally, what number tip do you use to make such beautiful swirls? 

    1. Thank you thank you!! I used Wilton 1M tip 🙂

    2. I’m very impressed with the swirls too! They make the cakes a hundred times sexier.

  3. Lauren Clark says:

    How long will these keep?

    1. Hi Lauren! See the last step.

  4. Claudia Roitman Santamaria says:

    Hi Sally I was wondering If I could make this batter and bake it in a 8 inch round pan? I need a mini cake for a birthday, I have already made your death by choc cupcakes into a cake and it turned out super delicious!. Thanks for sharing your amazing and easy to follow recipes, I am a huge fan!

    1. Hi Claudia! There is too much batter for an 8-inch pan, but you can fill it halfway and use the rest of the batter for cupcakes. Enjoy!!

  5. I feel like mine came out a tiny bit dry. What can I do to make them more moist??? Once I get that down they’ll be 100%

    1. Overbaked? With so little dry ingredients, I’m surprised they’re dry! Did you substitute anything?

      1. Hi Sally, I’m not really sure what I did. I didn’t substitute anything. I baked them for 18 minutes. When you say so little dry ingredients does that mean I need more dry ingredients?

  6. Hey Sally! All your cake recipes I have made so far have been the best I have ever made. I’m going to be making these cupcakes for my sister’s birthday on Saturday, can’t wait!

    I have one question. I have a bunch of dark chocolate chips that I need to use and was wondering if it would mess up the recipe if I mixed them into the batter. Would the cupcakes still rise OK? What do you think?

    1. You can certainly add chocolate chips to the batter, but remember to only fill the liners halfway 🙂

      1. Will do!! What measurement would you recommend? They’re normal morsel-sized. My best guess is 3/4C.

      2. I’d say 3/4 cup, yes.

  7. Sally, I know you are a big fan of Friends just like me and I thought I would share this: I read your (I KNOW) and in my head, I heard it the way Monica says it. Anyway, thanks so much for always making me laugh and for the wonderful recipes!

  8. Zara Mesley says:

    Wow Sally! You are the m0st amazing cook!

  9. Major hit for my choco obsessed kids! This recipe is definitely a keeper. Thank you!

  10. Yes– see the post! 🙂

  11. Michelle @ Mangiamichelle.com says:

    I can’t wait to make these with my daughter! We LOVE making cupcakes. We are also chocolate lovers so this is a perfect Saturday project for us. Thanks 🙂

  12. Anna Eldridge says:

    Hi Sally,

    I’m looking to make chocolate bourbon cupcakes for a birthday party this weekend and want to use this recipe as my base. How would I adjust to account for the cup of extra liquid (bourbon) I would use?

    Thanks!
    Anna

    1. Hi Anna! I wish I could help– I’m unsure without testing something like this myself. Let me know how it comes out.

  13. Hi Sally,

    I made these cupcakes for a baby shower with your chocolate buttercream frosting and they were amazing, everyone loved them!!! What are your thoughts on using this same recipe for a cake? I want to make my niece a birthday cake and she loved these cupcakes. I wanted to do a layered cake, either two or three layers and use the same chocolate buttercream frosting. Please let me know if you think that will work or if I need to double the recipe or the frosting recipe.

    Thank you!!

    1. Hi Nadine! Make my triple chocolate layer cake instead. You can use hot water instead of coffee if you prefer. The frosting is the exact same, only on a larger scale.

  14. Hi Sally,
    Made these cupcakes today as 15 mini cupcakes and a 4″ square cake. As the titly aptly says it was super moist. I just tried a twist by adding a teaspoon of chilli powder thus making it chilli chocolate cupcakes. I didn’t have the patience for a frosting, still it was out of the world. Planning to bake this again by adding a pinch of cardamom instead of chilli.

    1. Sounds so good! Will have to try them with a little spice!

  15. Hi Sally! Im sofia from Malaysia.

    Thank you, thank you! Just made this cupcakes and yessss its perfect!!!! ❤️❤️❤️❤️ Moist and fluffy. Im overjoyed  

  16. Also, can we serve it with ice cream instead of buttercream?

  17. Hi Sally, a huge fan of yours from India 🙂 <3

    I was wondering if these can be filled with caramel sauce, is the texture too moist and tender for this purpose ? A friend's birthday is coming up, she is crazy for both chocolate and caramel, this is by far the best chocolate cake recipe I have come across and successfully made, would it be okay to put in a bit of caramel sauce in these, thoughts please ?

    P.S your caramel sauce tastes amazing too

    1. You can absolutely fill these with my caramel! The texture is perfect to hold onto a filling like that. Hope everyone enjoys them! (You can see how I filled cupcakes with caramel in this post.)

  18. I just made it. So delicious!!!
    Thank you 🙂

  19. Hi Alicia! I recommend vegetable oil. I’ve never gotten the same results with coconut oil. What brand of cocoa are you using? They flavor in potency and flavor. I recommend Hershey special dark or regular.

    1. Thank you Sally! In that case I will try again sometime without coconut oil and just regular vegetable oil. And yes, I probably need a better brand of cocoa because there wasn’t much chocolate flavour. I used Fry’s Premium Cocoa.. I’m not sure if the Hershey is widely available here in Canada because I don’t think I’ve seen it here in the stores too much but I will check.

  20. Jana @ delectablymine.com says:

    Thanks for your response! That makes sense, you’re doing the reversed creaming method. I’ve done this with butter cakes in the past, but never with oil. I guess I didn’t recognize that this was what you were doing just because you didn’t mix in the oil mixture and then mix in the milk. I’m assuming you’ve found that adding them separately with the oil poured in first is good enough and you don’t need to mix in the oil mixture separately before adding the milk? Thanks again!

  21. This is the best chocolate cupcake recipe out there, I swear! I’m in love!! It came out super moist and rich in flavor, I used Cortés Cocoa and it’s like a burst of chocolate in your mouth, super tasty! Funny think is, I used to hate chocolate cakes. 

  22. Thank you for this recipe! I made it with my 7 y-o and she ate them from the pan, no frosting needed! I loved them too. I was wondering if the recipe would work out if I bake it in a cake pan. Love from Argentina!

  23. Sheila Roldan says:

    These cupcakes are delicious! They work in high altitude, I just had to use less batter in each cupcake, which yielded around 20 (not a complaint at all). Very chocolatey (if that’s a word), and very yummy! I frosted them with a marshmallow buttercream just because I wanted to try a new frosting, but Sally’s buttercream would have been perfect (it’s delicious also!) Were done at 18 minute mark. 

    1. Sheila–from what altitude are you baking?

      1. Hi Amy! I’m at 5280 (Denver) 😉

  24. I tried making them today as my nephew had requested for chocolate cupcakes and I think it’s the best cupcake recipe I’ve tried so far. They were extremely moist & fluffy and had the right amount of sweetness and chocolate. And when you said repeatedly fill your cupcake liners to half…I think i should have listened to you. I filled a few liners a little more than half as I had extra batter and they overflew. The liners in which I had filled half were just perfect. And they were done at exact 18 minutes. I made them with your chocolate buttercream but as I don’t like my buttercream to be very sweet I used only 3 cups powdered sugar. Now I can’t wait for my family to try it. Though I’m sure they’ll love it too. 🙂

  25. My mouth is watering! These look delicious! Thanks for sharing.
    -Gabby
    www.orcuttfamilydentistry.com

  26. MAde these yesterday and they were a hit! Super moist. I followed the directions exactly (only filling half way ). I baked them for 15mins and got 18cupcakes from one batch. Iced them with a marshmallow frosting recipe from another blogger. Needless to say I don’t have any leftovers  

  27. Jennifer Sorger says:

    I made these cupcakes for our local county fair and won first place! Very moist delicious cupcake. Thank you for the recipe.

  28. Ambreen usman says:

    Made these and they were a hit!! Thanks a lot..the kids loved it, and everyone told me they seemed to be store bought

  29. Made these yesterday! A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!!!! Thank you for
    sharing your recipe ❤️

  30. Holy moly best cupcake I’ve ever tasted! Frosted with your cream cheese frosting. Made 2 more than I needed and welp yea those two are in my belly now lol!

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