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. This recipe and your “best vanilla buttercream frosting” recipe are my go to recipes. Today is my 3rd child’s birthday and I took a cake in to his class which I had made from the above recipe and the frosting. They were literally licking the plates after finishing their pieces. There was nothing left on their plates!

    I also made cupcakes for my daughters class on her birthday and everyone asked what shop they were from as they were so delicious!

    Can’t go wrong with this recipe!

  2. This recipe went beyond my expectations! I was looking for chocolate cupcakes with buttermilk and oil, plus reasonable amount of eggs, so this is exactly what I need! I was little hesitant because I started to bake with raw sugar through the last few years, and sometimes it’s tricky and change the consistency. I want to tell you that your fantastic recipe turned out just great with raw sugar and whole white flour!

  3. These cupcakes were so light and fluffy and so easy to make. Highly recommend! Also delicious with the chocolate butter cream icing!

  4. Heather M. Whipple says:

    I made these and when I tasted the batter
    it had a chemical taste to it. I did not like it at all. The only thing I can think of is the baking soda in this recipe. I sent the baked cupcakes home with our guests a day later. They tasted too weird to me even baked. The next time I make these I will be leaving out the baking soda entirely and see how these are. And maybe use sour cream instead of butter milk.

    1. Brilliant recipe ! Have made this three times now , this time I’ve used the vanilla frosting but substituted the cream with Baileys liqueur , absolutely delicious ! Definitely a favourite for me .

  5. Delicious and fluffy. I made “buttermilk” with almond milk and a tbsp of lemon juice. Used half olive oil and half grapeseed oil (no obvious flavor from the olive oil at that amount). 18 minutes was perfect cooking time at sea level. They are beautiful. Thanks!

  6. I live at 5500 feet altitude. Any specific adjustments recommended?

    1. Hi Annie! I wish I could help, but I have no experience baking at high altitude. I know some readers have found this chart helpful: https://www.kingarthurflour.com/learn/high-altitude-baking.html

  7. Dianna Poindexter says:

    Full of flavor and very moist

  8. I love the recipe! My family says they love it!!! Thank youuu!

  9. Just made a batch of these, its so yummy!!! Thank you

  10. Yum! While I think I overbaked the cupcakes a minute or two, they turned out really delicious. Instead of the buttercream frosting, I used my leftover ganache and whipped it.

  11. Thanks, easy to follow, soft and moist and oh so yummy!!!

  12. This is a fantastic recipe. Made them this week – popped a little teaspoonful of Nutella in the middle for some extra squidge and they were very well received. Will definitely be my go-to recipe from now on.

    Also, huge thanks to you for adding the quantities in grams as well as in cups. Us UK types are all about the grams and ounces and my little brain struggles to get my head around cups and sticks!!! Thank you for being so thoughtful. Appreciated.

  13. Hi Sally, can you tell me why these cupcakes collapse on me pretty much everytime I make this recipe?

    1. Hi Anna, Make sure you are only filling your cupcake liners half way! If you fill them more than that they will collapse.

  14. Just made these cupcakes today! They were really good with hazelnut coffee buttercream and chocolate sprinkles.
    And although the cupcakes weren’t as moist as I thought they would be this is still my favorite recipe so far.

  15. With your recipe my cupcakes turned out perfect (for the first time ever!), thanks!

  16. Laurel Heisman says:

    Hi there, I really like the look of this recipe but I need to made a bigger batch. Do you think I can just double it or do I need to make 2 separate batches or do you have a recipe for a larger quantity?
    Thank you!!

    1. For best taste and texture, I always recommend making separate batches.

  17. Brenda S Moore says:

    Just finished making these and put them away in the freezer without icing. Will take them out and make icing for Valentines. They came out perfect and taste delicious too. I used the coconut oil which adds a soft flavor to the chocolate cake. I decreased my baking powder and soda to half the amount due to high altitude.
    Thanks for the recipe Sally.

  18. I’ve just tried this recipe today and the cupcakes were looking super moist and so tempting. Perfect recipe and accurate explanations. Thank you so much! Everyone in my family just loved these cupcakes. Rich in taste and I don’t even want to finish them 🙁

  19. Any suggestions on freezing frosted cupcake minis? And the defrost process if frosted? Does the frosting have a weird texture if frozen already on cupcake? I am planning on using chocolate buttercream and trying Swiss meringue buttercream but wanted to make cupcakes and decorate them as I won’t have time to when I actually need them.

    1. Hi Abby, You can freeze buttercream frosted cupcakes. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before frosting and serving. You can freeze Swiss Meringue Buttercream but I recommend freezing it in an airtight container and re-mixing it it after it thaws before topping cupcakes. You can see my freezing tips in this post.

  20. Never commented on a recipe before but felt I had to with these. They are the loveliest and fluffiest cupcakes I have ever made! I substituted the buttermilk with 7-8ml of lemon juice and then filled up to 120ml of whole milk. Amazing. These are my new go to chocolate cupcakes
    Thank you!

  21. I’m a trained chef and not a baker. However, I love to eat baked goods so I am teaching myself to bake so I can eat delicious sweets. Sally’s baking addiction is my favorite go to for almost every recipe I want to make. This cupcake recipe is perfect and so easy. Your instructions to half fill are spot on and the cupcakes came out perfect, light and airy but full of flavor. I used the chocolate buttercream recipe in the link and was not disappointed. A friend told me it was the best cupcake she had ever eaten! Thanks again Sally ♥️

  22. Hi. I can’t seem to find natural cocoa, only dutch process and I’m running out of time to make cupcakes. Can i use the dutch process and reduce the baking soda? Thanks.

    1. For the best cupcakes I recommend sticking with natural unsweetened cocoa powder, not dutched cocoa. Here’s the difference between dutch-process and natural cocoa powder

  23. Somehow I missed the part about using natural cocoa and ended up making them earlier this week with dutch processed cocoa, topped with vanilla buttercream. They turned out great! The rise was fine. Everyone who tasted them gave compliments.

  24. This looks delectable and we will be making these this week. Could you please tell me why the “time” says that it will take 3 hours and 25 minutes total time? Is this taking into account 3 hours of cooling time? Thanks!

    1. Hi Penny, Yes that includes the cooling time! The prep time is about 25 minutes and then they will bake for about 20 minutes.

  25. I have to agree with the other reviewer. The flavor was there, but these were very dry. I didn’t use Dutch chocolate and made my own “buttermilk”, per instructions. I redid them, but this time added another egg and took them out right when they were done. That helped, but still not as moist as I expected.

  26. Joining many other reviewers here. Best chocolate cupcakes we’ve ever had. I’ve made them with so many different types of frosting but always come back to this chocolate buttercream. Sally, thanks for a great recipe.

    1. Yep, add another praiser. These are great and very light. Do use the extra mix in a small cupcake pan for they come out just as tasty and they are small enough for one bite as you walk through the kitchen. And frequent walks through the kitchen means no tiny cupcakes left by end of day.

  27. Delicious cupcakes! Easy recipe. Turned out light and moist. I used the tip on making buttermilk since I didn’t have any on hand. Made a chocolate cream cheese frosting to top them with! Will definitely make again.

  28. Hi Sally,
    This is an amazing recipe!
    I was just wondering if I could put coffee powder in the cupcake batter to make the chocolate taste more rich, how much coffee powder would you recommend putting?

    1. Hi Sarah, 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 me know what you try!

  29. I love to cook but have never gotten around to baking. These were super easy and better than most cupcakes I bought from cupcake stores! Super fluffy!!! Also, I did not have an electric mixer which made it a little harder but they still came out magnificent (including the chocolate frosting that is at the bottom of the recipe)

  30. I tried this recipe and it was amazing! Super moist, chocolatey and delicious!

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