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

537 Comments

  1. Jo Ann Baldwin says:

    These cupcakes were delicious and so easy to make. I used the frosting recipe from your swirl cupcake recipe, and while I didn’t swirl, I just made half chocolate and half vanilla frosted batch. I really enjoy you’re recipes.
    Thank you!

  2. I made these for my daughter’s bridal shower yesterday and they were AMAZING! So delicious! Thank you for a great recipe!

  3. I’m not a fan of baking with reg oil- would the coconut oil still make it moist? Also I know you can sub oil for applesauce (I know that might be a stretch). How would those affect the texture? Thanks!

    1. Hi Emily, you can use melted coconut oil as a replacement for the vegetable oil in this recipe. I don’t suggest applesauce.

  4. My youngest food critic told me he didn’t like the chocolate cupcakes I have been making so I took it as a challenge. I topped these with some marshmallows (his favorite food), put them under the broiler for a few minutes then drizzled melted chocolate chips on top. They were a hit with all my food critics (my children)! I now have a new go-to chocolate cupcake recipe. Thank you!!!

  5. Thanks Sally, definitely will make them again. Your measering 101 is very informative.
    Thank you!
    Wanda

  6. So amazing doesn’t do this recipe justice! Very easy to follow and delicious even without any frosting

  7. Sally, thank you for this!! I used this recipe for a last minute heartfelt-baked-good need and the cupcakes were quick to make and absolutely delicious– so light and chocolatey and not overly sweet. I was so skeptical of how much to fill the muffin cups, but holy mackerel you were right!

    I so appreciate that I always know your recipes are tested and perfected before they hit my computer screen; even when making one for the first time, I know I can depend on it to come out beautifully. This is why I so reliably turn to your blog whenever I need a recipe!

  8. Sally, thank you so much for these cupcakes they were amazing, but when they came out in the oven the sank inwards down? What do I need to do for them to puff up, and not sink inwards? Thanks!

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed them! Sinking cupcakes are almost always caused by over-filling the liners. Be sure to only fill them with batter halfway!

  9. Made this recipe today for my anniversary and it was a hit, so delicious and so moist…

  10. Victoria Greenleaf says:

    I made these today for a small outdoor party, and they were FABULOUS. I doubled the recipe and made 2 dozen…they were all devoured!

    I loved the fact that the chocolate had a deep, rich quality that prevented the cupcakes themselves from tasting overly sweet. And that was great advice about filling the cupcake tins only half full — they all rose to the top of the liner beautifully, and not even one sank in the middle!!

    This will always be my go-to recipe for chocolate cupcakes. Thanks again!!

  11. Hi Sally, I prepped this cupcake batter twice for the 6″ cake. Both times they turned out delicious, however, the batter was quite thick. The directions say the batter should be thin. I’m using coconut oil, per the directions, so I’m wondering if that makes it a bit thicker even after being melted. I triple checked all the measurements of ingredients and I measured those right. Our home is also around 65 degrees (cool, crisp mornings here in Western NY), so I’m wondering if that’s a factor. I’m new to baking and these turned out awesome! I’ve saved your website so I can make other flavors in the future!

  12. I used your recipe for your chocolate cupcakes yesterday! My kids wanted cupcakes and I usually use a store bought cake mix but didn’t have one on hand! I know I’m bad! Let me tell you….these we’re the BEST cupcakes EVER! And I will never use a boxed mix again. Thank you so much!!!! This is a keeper recipe that I’ve already shared with 3 people. And I actually mixed up the baking soda so I had to put in less baking powder but they were still PERFECT! I plan to use this recipe for many Occasions to come. Buttermilk Rules!

  13. Ciara Gorglione says:

    Hi Sally! I love your work. I made the mistake of not using one of your recipes for one of my kiddo’s birthdays in the past. Your recipes are bomb! I can’t even…I’m glad I didn’t start baking until we “met”. Haha. Anyway, my daughter would like a princess cake, so I have it all planned out using your buttercream frosting, but she wants chocolate and I am thinking of doing one or two 8″ layers followed up by the 6″ layers on the top adorned with a crown. I LOVE this cupcake recipe, so I’m definitely using it for the 6″ layers, but for the 8″ layers, what do you recommend? The layer cake is a different chocolate and has espresso, etc. Is there a way to make this one into 8″ layers? Thank you!

    1. Hi Ciara, I’m so happy you enjoy this recipe so much! You can certainly try to make it as a 2 layer 8 inch cake and then make it again for a 6 inch cake. One recipe will make 3 6-inch layers. I hope she has a great birthday!

  14. Yummmmm! Such a wonderful recipe thank you SO much! Absolutely delicious

  15. Kerrie-Lynn Webb says:

    Can the batter be premade and kept over night and baked the next day?

    Thank you!
    Kerrie

    1. Hi Kerrie-Lynn, for ideal taste, rise, and texture, it’s best to bake this batter right away.

  16. Hi, why does your triple chocolate cake recipe require hot coffee / water but this cupcake recipe doesn’t?

    1. Hi Stephanie, the ratio of flour to cocoa powder differs AND we’re not using as much cocoa powder here, so blooming it (as we do with the hot liquid in the cake), isn’t totally necessary.

  17. Yolanda Taylor says:

    I made these for my nephew’s birthday party and they were simply delicious!! This is my go to chocolate cupcakes recipe!!

  18. These are amazing!
    So easy so chocolatey, I used your peanut butter butter cream recipe, completely decadent. Very moist!

    It is a keeper.

  19. Great recipe, my daughter loves them so much. Very moist and rich chocolate taste!
    Thank you for sharing the recipe.

  20. Incredible!!!! So easy to make and really the best recipe
    They were yummy

  21. This is now my go to recipe to make chocolate cupcakes and chocolate cake…. Thanks for the recipe.

  22. VICTORIA A ONEAL says:

    Definitely a superior recipe. The cakes were as yummy as acclaimed. Here’s my problem,; frosting. The cake is about 2 inches tall. Add the luscious buttercream frosting (2 inches) and now it’s about a 4 inch bite. My mouth can only open large enough to handle the 2 inches of cake. How do you get each bite of cake into your mouth with the frosting? Usually I have to lick off the frosting off to fit the cake into my mouth. So next time I bake up a batch of these beauties I will try filling the cake with the frosting and put a simple chocolate ganache on top. Hoping the frosting injection won’t compromise the cake – yet still achieving each bite of cake with frosting. Of course, putting the frosting on only about an inch tall would help and maybe I could get a 3 inch bite (1 inch of frosting plus 2 inches of cake) into my mouth. Although so pretty with the huge mound of frosting, actually eating the cake is whole other dilemma. I’m always baking for the end result – for each bite to contain all the flavors; cake and frosting. Of course no frosting and just a dusting of powdered sugar works too.

  23. Delicious! In general I have never been a fan of cake but once in awhile I crave a chocolate cupcake and this recipe was perfect. Easy to make and they turned out beautifully fluffy and moist, very similar to the ones at my favorite bakery. I got 18 cupcakes out of the recipe so I’ll be sharing with friends and family who I am sure will love them too. Thanks sally

  24. I’m not a sweet tooth, and I like to eat pretty healthy so cupcakes aren’t exactly my fave. BUT THIS RECIPE IS HOLY!! So so delish and very chocolatey and soft, hands down the best cupcakes I’ve ever had!

  25. Hi Sally! This recipe looks awesome and I’m going to try it out for my daughters birthday party. Question – I’m going to need 36 cupcakes. Would you recommend tripling the recipe or doing three batches? I know sometimes it’s not as simple for scaling up! Thanks a bunch! Jamie

    1. Hi Jamie! For best taste and texture, it’s best to make 3 separate batches. That way you won’t risk over or under-mixing the batter.

  26. Hi Sally, can I add coffee powder+hot water to this as mentioned in your super moist cake recipe!?
    The only reason I am.referring to this recipe is I am lookimg for a 6 inch cake.

    1. Hi Meghana! There’s no need in this particular recipe, but you can try swapping some of the buttermilk for hot coffee. 🙂

  27. Nichole Marie says:

    We just spent several hours making 3 different recipes for chocolate cupcakes.. this was the clear winner from my tasting panel (the family). Our new go-to chocolate cupcake recipe- thanks so much!

  28. Made these for Thanksgiving and loved them. Delicious flavor and so moist. Only problem was that they fell apart when you tried to eat them. Is that how the texture is supposed to be?

    1. Hi Stephanie, I’m so glad you loved them! They are super moist but shouldn’t completely fall apart (see the last 3 seconds of the video above!). If you would like, next time you can try reducing the buttermilk to only 1/4 cup and adding a 1/4 cup of sour cream for a sturdier texture.

  29. Would this work without muffin cups? I can’t seem to find any and I really want to make these, would I just have to spray the muffin pan or flour them to make them not stick?

    1. Yes, simply grease the muffin pan. I recommend nonstick cooking spray for the best results.

  30. These turned out amazingly soft & tasty. @Sally they sunk a little in the middle though… any idea what i did wrong?

    1. Hi Shaz! Sinking in the middle would be either (1) the cupcakes are a little under-baked or (2) the cupcake liners were a little over-filled. Either way, as long as you enjoy them– just cover it up with frosting. Thank you!

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