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!

The only chocolate cupcake recipe you need! Homemade, moist, rich, super chocolate flavor, and so easy to make with chocolate buttercream! Recipe on

I apologize if the word “moist” freaks you out. But there’s really no other way to describe a chocolate cupcake like this! Also, who watches How I Met Your Mother?! I feel like that clip is only funny to HIMYM fans. That’s my favorite episode!

So today’s the day we are diving deep into what I like to call a “foundation recipe.” Basic chocolate cupcakes which are, indefinitely, anything but basic. See? ↓

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.

The only chocolate cupcake recipe you need! Homemade, moist, rich, super chocolate flavor, and so easy to make with chocolate buttercream! Recipe on

I shared the recipe on my blog 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. Oatmeal cookies
  4. Chocolate cake (try this!!)
  5. 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?

And lucky for you–my chocolate obsessed friends– there’s a double dose of the good stuff today with both a chocolate cupcake base AND a smooth and silky chocolate buttercream. More on that in a sec.

How to make chocolate cupcakes with chocolate buttercream on

How to make chocolate cupcakes with chocolate buttercream on

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. 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. Am I broken record here? There’s a reason I always talk about buttermilk in baking recipes: it’s the moist maker! Gives cupcakes, breads, cakes, and the like an unsurpassable moist texture. Nothing compares. 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. So the batter is thin.

How to make chocolate cupcakes with chocolate buttercream on

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!

One more time: halfway full. 🙂

The only chocolate cupcake recipe you need! Homemade, moist, rich, super chocolate flavor, and so easy to make with chocolate buttercream! Recipe on

Now that the cupcakes are baked and your self control is fading quickly, it’s time to frost these babes. The frosting flavor is completely up to you. I have a plethora of options from chocolate buttercream and rainbow chip frosting to strawberry frosting, vanilla buttercream, salted caramel frosting, and cream cheese frosting. Keeping things monotone (though highly indulgent) with chocolate buttercream and a friendly dose of chocolate sprinkles.

And layer that buttercream on nice and tall. (used wilton 1M!)

The only chocolate cupcake recipe you need! Homemade, moist, rich, super chocolate flavor, and so easy to make with chocolate buttercream! Recipe on

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!

Homemade chocolate cupcakes recipe

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


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!


  • 3/4 cup (95g) 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
  • frosting: chocolate buttercream or any of these frostings


  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. 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 completely smooth. 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. Bake for 18-21 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
  4. Frost cooled cupcakes however you’d like. I used Wilton 1M piping tip for these pictured cupcakes. Top with sprinkles, if desired. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.


  1. Make Ahead Instructions: 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.
  2. Mini Cupcakes: Fill mini liners only halfway and bake for 10-12 minutes at 350°F (177°C). Yields about 3 dozen.
  3. Cake: Here’s a chocolate cake that is just as moist and chocolate-y.
  4. Why Room Temperature? All refrigerated items should be at room temperature so the batter mixes together easily and evenly. Read here for more information. If needed, you can use whole milk mixed with 1/2 teaspoon of white vinegar or fresh lemon juice instead of buttermilk. Fill a measuring cup with the lemon juice/vinegar then the rest with whole milk to reach 1/2 cup.

Keywords: cupcakes, chocolate, chocolate cupcakes, chocolate frosting

The only chocolate cupcake recipe you need! Homemade, moist, rich, super chocolate flavor, and so easy to make with chocolate buttercream! Recipe on

More of a vanilla person? Here are my favorite vanilla cupcakes!

Favorite go-to vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream on

Here are the best homemade chocolate cupcakes! Moist, rich, soft, and so easy to make from scratch with chocolate buttercream frosting! Recipe on


  1. It looks like you respond quickly so I’m crossing my fingers. I’m not sure what I did wrong (I weighed ingredients, didn’t leave anything out, etc) and they turned out dry!! Everyone else seemed to love them so I’m sure it’s just something I did ( maybe my oven was too hot) Anyway my real question is what can I do as a quick fix for these? Can you suggest a filling that would help? I need them for tomorrow! I have caramel I thought about using as a filling with peanuts for Snickers type cupcakes. Any other ideas? Thanks!!

  2. These came out amazing for me!! Thank you, thank you!! My first ever homemade cupcakes and they were winners!!! I was a bit worried because I live at a high altitude, but they came out just right! I ended up with 16 cupcakes! I made your chocolate buttercream frosting that is to die for… and added chocolate sprinkles just like you did, and funny, it’s what my 9 year old birthday boy requested! This recipe goes in my book for sure! Death by chocolate!! Yum!

  3. Do you suggest using one cupcake liner or two? I am a little confused by the directions of filling one muffin pan with one liner each and a second one with two liners?
    Also, do you spray the liners with cooking spray so the cupcake doesn’t stick to it?

    1. This recipe makes about 14 cupcakes and most pans hold 12. So fill the first one with 12 liners and you will need a second pan for #13 and #14. Does that make sense? And I do not spray them, but I always recommend a grease proof liner so that they don’t stick or get greasy!

  4. I really hate to ask this but our supermarket only have the dutch cocoa powder which is nestle and Cadbury, is there anyway at all i can still use those and tweak a little with the recipe? 🙁

    I read the difference and the acid needed..but any other way i can replace that acidic?

  5. Hello!

    I will be making these cupcakes for a graduation party tonight! About how many tablespoons should I add to each cupcake liner? I really want to be sure I don’t add to much. About 2 tablespoons? And if I want to add chocolate chips, should I add it to the entire batter or add a few to each cupcake liner? Thank you so much! I really appreciate your recipes!

    1. You want the liners to be only half way full so about 2 TBS sounds right. You can add chocolate chips to the batter. Enjoy!

  6. Made the cake for cupcakes, almost exactly as written (just a little more white sugar than brown) and it’s SUCH a good chocolate cake recipe. Thank you! Perfect proportions.

  7. I felt really badly for Julie that first lady because I love the way you describe things and write. I’ve been a fan since you started almost. Anyway, maybe you could mention things in your instructions generally about checking the oven temperature. My oven is EXTREMELY difficult when it comes to temperature, so I keep a thermometer inside it all the time. Also, placement of the pan or pans in the oven and on what rack. Doesn’t all that make a difference?

    1. Hi Karen! 350°F (177°C) for these chocolate cupcakes. I’ve never tried this recipe with jumbo cupcakes, so I can’t say for sure. Will be a little longer and you can use a toothpick to test for doneness.

  8. Sally…I’m new to baking and I’m sorry if you’ve already answered this question, but why don’t you use cake flour in this recipe? What the difference?

    1. Hi Stephanie! Great question and I’m happy to answer. Cake flour is too light; the chocolate cupcakes will fall apart. Cocoa powder, which takes the place of some of the all-purpose flour is just as light (if not lighter) than cake flour and the mix of cocoa + cake flour would create a flimsy cupcake.

  9. I really wanted to make these cupcakes and then realized I’m out of cocoa powder. I melted some dark chocolate and incorporated to the eggs batter. I also added at the end mini chocolate chips and a piece of white chocolate in each one. It turned out so moist and chocolatey!! I also used melted chocolate in your chocolate buttercream recipe and just used less powder sugar and more cream to get the better consistency. This turned our so wonderful! Can’t wait to share them with my family.

  10. I made a triple batch of these and they were exceptional. So light and fluffy yet chocolatey, moist and rich. I had a hard time getting the amount *juuuust* right. Because this is a moist batter, it is difficult to gauge how much it rises, and boy does it rise! I have a 1.5 tbsp cookie scoop and found that one and a half scoops of that made cupcakes that just barely rose above the liner, kind of like the pics in Sally’s post; so about 2 tbsp. But hey, trust me, you CANNOT go wrong with this recipe!!! I also happened to make a triple batch of the chocolate buttercream and have some leftover stored in the freezer! Oh gosh, I had to go and mention that! Someone get me a spoon!

    1. As a quick update, I posted a picture on my Instagram page showing results of filling the liners using the 1.5 tbsp cookie scoop in three different ways. One level scoop was too little, more like a mini cupcake. A rounded scoopful was perfect but hard to be consistent — rose just over the liner (probably equivalent to one and a quarter scoop). One and a half scoops was good — rose just above the liner but not too much and had a little dent but nothing that couldn’t be hidden with buttercream and much easier to get consistent than the rounded scoopful. I’m not a perfectionist but I am picky about my baking! Enjoy!

    1. Hi Elizabeth! There is no hot liquid in the cupcakes- not necessary for the smaller size bite. I also use a little brown sugar for extra moisture (since there is no extra liquid besides the buttermilk).

  11. I am planning on making these today, but wonder what the difference is between regular brown sugar, which I have on hand, versus the light brown sugar. If I use what I have will it mess up the batter?

    1. Hi Stephanie! Regular brown sugar is light brown sugar. “Light” refers to the color/how much molasses is added. Dark brown sugar is darker with a little more molasses.

  12. Hi Sally,

    I was wondering if you have a chocolate cupcake recipe without having to use buttermilk and regular milk. My family is dairy free and I am looking for a recipe where I can use almond milk. Thanks:)

  13. Sally – I remember your post about the pretty 6″ layer cake you made for your birthday, and want to confirm that a cupcake recipe which yields 12-14 cupcakes would make a nice 3-layer 6″ cake? I think this will be great for Valentine’s Day with your raspberry buttercream. Thank you!

    1. Yes! Any cupcake recipe yielding about 12-14 cupcakes (this chocolate cupcake recipe included) fits perfectly into 3 6-inch cake pans. Let me know how you like it!

  14. Love it. The most moist cupcakes I have ever had. Followed the recipe to the tee. Fantastic. This is a must keep recipe. Flavor wad perfect. So easy to follow. My family loved them. I will use this recipe again and again. Thank you for sharing.

  15. How would I adjust this recipe for vanilla yellow cupcakes? I know I’d drop out the cocoa. I looked at your vanilla cupcakes which calls for butter (not oil) and regular milk (not buttermilk). Can I just swap it out at equal measurements? Please help as I am infatuated with finding the perfect moist vanilla cupcake!

  16. I made these yesterday for Super Bowl, and they can out dry. I measured all ingredients on the scale, and followed directions precisely, so not sure why. Was a disappointment.

  17. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

    Hi Sally. Just baked these chocolatey yummy-ness beauties. I made sure not to over fill. I have a little cup with a spout that measures to 4 tbsps. I used that to make sure I didn’t overfill. Worked out great. My batter made 16. I’m using these to make your chocolate covered strawberry AND raspberry cupcakes (yes, using your freeze dried berry recipe). Can’t wait till I get to eat the full treat. Thanks again for yet another great recipe….

  18. Sally, I have started baking and started out with a couple of your recipes. This cupcake recipe was PERFECT. After baking your recipes I know I can count on you for delicious recipes and this is my go-to site! I keep finding myself coming back to find what to bake next. Love all of your helpful tips along the way. So glad I found this resource. Thanks for sharing.

  19. Question already asked but not answered: can these be made GF. If so what flour would you recommend. many thanks.

    1. Hi Margaret! I’m sorry, I don’t have much experience baking with gluten free flour. I wish I had a recommendation for you! Let me know if you try anything.

  20. Sally…I tried these cupcakes and they turned out to be the best chocolate cupcakes I ever ate!!! My kids loved them too!!! Only issue was ever cupcake rose more in the center than the sides. I don’t think this is an issue with the recipe but something wrong that I am doing as every cake I bake rises more at the center than at the side. What could be the reason for that?

    1. Hi Charu, I’m glad you all loved them! One possibility is that you are overfilling your cupcake liners. Be sure to only fill them half way up!! If your cakes are doming it can be that your oven is too hot or your pans are not insulated causing the edges to bake first, and the center keeps rising after the edges are set. You can try using baking strips to insulate your pans and definitely check your oven temperature with an oven thermometer!

  21. The advice to only fill halfway was right on, game-changer! Unfortunately mine came out dry. Maybe next time I’ll take them out a minute or two earlier, but…the dryness kind of ruined it. Frosting helped a little.

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I’m Sally, a cookbook author, photographer, and blogger. My goal is to give you the confidence and knowledge to cook and bake from scratch while providing quality recipes and plenty of pictures. Grab a cookie, take a seat, and have fun exploring! more about Sally