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

591 Comments

  1. I’ve tried this recipe twice but both times they’ve come out dry and fall apart. I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong. I’m only filling it halfway and I even reduced the cooking time on the second batch. Any ideas?

  2. Menchie Horak says:

    This recipe was perfect. We were out of vanilla extract so I used rum extract instead. ❤️

  3. Came out amazing, thank you!

  4. My 7 year old Granddaughter and I just made these and they were wonderful! Can’t wait to try the other cupcake flavors.

  5. I used this for dessert and it was amazing!

  6. So delicious! I made cupcakes from this recipe multiple times! I just couldn’t get enough of it

  7. They turned out perfectly.
    Easy and quick to whip up- definitely something I’ll make again.

    (Made them with the chocolate buttercream icing)

  8. I just made this. Not really a cupcake fan but i was craving something sweet today. So i decided to give this recipe a try. Omg. I love the result. The cake rise beautifully, chocolatey but not so sweet, moist and spongy and airy. Perfect.

  9. macey myers says:

    I loved the cupcakes they tasted so good .U might want to try them with ice-cream on the side that, tastes good with the cupcakes

  10. For some reason these ones didn’t do it for me , they were dry … wondering if I made a mistake. So I went and use the recipe for tout triple chocolate cake and made my cup cakes !!!! They were amazing !!!!!!!

  11. I rarely ever leave positive reviews because I only take the time to write a review if I find a recipe produces sub-par results. This recipe however, is an exception. These cupcakes are moist, flavorful and a delight to bake and consume 🙂 My first batch was gone within 24 hours and I had to make a second one:) Thanks so much Sally!

  12. This is now my go-to recipe for chocolate cupcakes, they were so so good!!! They were so moist yet light and delicious!! I paired them with your strawberry icing which made them over the top! Next time I am going to stuff them with the strawberry icing and then use a ganache on top.

  13. I made these yesterday and they were delicious! I’d advise anyone making them to fill the cups to about 3/4 full IF you’re making them for taste, rather than beauty. Muffin / cupcake tops are the most delicious part, and this way, the batter spills over and makes delightfully enormous tops. I also used Dutch processed cocoa because that’s what I had on hand, and it was fine!

  14. Turned out wonderful!! Thank you! Just curious why you recommend these to be stored in the refrigerator, I have always been told that dries out the cupcake. Thank you again for sharing!!

  15. Aleesha McMullin says:

    Hey Sally,

    If I wanted to convert this to a 6-inch, 3 layer cake, how long should I bake it for and would the temperature remain the same?

    1. Hi Aleesha! I share all of my tips and tricks for converting cupcake recipes into 3 layer 6-inch cakes in this 6 inch cake recipes post!

  16. Hi Sally,
    Is it possible to use just normal milk rather than buttermilk?

    1. Hi Jane, If you don’t have any buttermilk, you can make a DIY soured milk. For every 1 cup of buttermilk, add 1 or 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of white vinegar or lemon juice to a liquid measuring cup. Fill with enough regular milk to yield 1 cup. Whisk together, then let sit for 5 minutes before using in the recipe. Whole milk is best, but you can use any fat or nondairy milk. The lower the fat, the less “rich” the baked good will taste.

  17. I loved this recipe the cupcakes tasted divine! 5 stars from me!

  18. Priscilla Katuramu says:

    Another fantastic cupcake recipe that’s bringing me and my family so much joy!! Thank you Sally for your awesome recipes! I hope you know how much joy you bring to homes all around the world!! God bless you.

  19. I am so bummed, I made these for my son’s birthday party and they came out quite dry. I only baked them 17 minutes, so I have no idea why they would be so dry. The flavor was pretty good, but will not make again.

  20. These are amazing! They are so light, fluffy and moist. Will certainly be baking these again. I never leave reviews for anything, but felt I should rave about how great these chocolate cupcakes are! Thank you

  21. So good! Baking this again for my granddaughters birthday
    Thank you

  22. These cupcakes are absolutely amazing!!! Moist yet fluffy, super chocolatey and perfectly sweet! I didn’t even need icing with these, but I did ice them with vanilla icing from a can, and it only made them even better. I 100% recommend this recipe if you want to wow your guests or family with these decadent cupcakes!!

  23. I have always had a problem making chocolate cakes… they always come out too dry. This recipe is the bomb! I was so proud of these cupcakes. They were moist and super tasty. The chocolate buttercream was also a hit!
    I will be making these again and again! Thank you!

  24. These turned out so dry. I made two batches back to back and cooked them for 18 minutes. Your recipes always turn out for me so I’m so disappointed. Do you have any idea why that would be the case?

    1. Hi Lori, First make sure you are measuring the dry ingredients properly. Too much flour could make these dry. Also, your oven might run hot so they could simply be over-baked. If you try them again try shortening the bake time.

  25. Sheri E Gallagher says:

    Best chocolate cupcakes ever and the buttercream icing was spot on. Great recipe!

  26. Made these and they were soo good and moist!! Thank youuu

  27. Hi Sally, I made these cupcakes for a get together yesterday and they were the BEST chocolate cupcakes I have EVER had. Followed the recipe exactly except used milk with 1 tsp vinegar in place of buttermilk, I didn’t have any buttermilk in the house. Used Droste cocoa powder which was the amazing! Topped them off with raspberry buttercream and a fresh raspberry. All were gone in short order. Only thing was the recipe only made 12 cupcakes not 14 but I could have mismeasured something. Otherwise, I was super happy with them and will definitely make again. Thank you!!!!

  28. Perfect recipe!! Must try!

  29. this was my first time baking cupcakes, i have always been intimidated by baking and cakes but your recipe was super easy to follow. i made the most delicious cupcakes i have ever ate. the buttercream frosting was delicious, the cupcake itself was amazing.

    i used monkfruit sugar, and less than how much was recommended, and my cupcakes still came out sweet and yummy!!! but it is dangerous… how easy to make and yummy these are… im going to have to stop myself from baking them every weekend lol

    much love, im so glad i found your blog!

  30. My cupcakes sank in the middle during baking. What can I do? They are too good to taste.

    1. Make sure you only fill the cupcake liners only halfway full! Too much batter causes them to sink.

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