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 sallysbakingaddiction.com

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 sallysbakingaddiction.com

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 sallysbakingaddiction.com

How to make chocolate cupcakes with chocolate buttercream on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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 sallysbakingaddiction.com

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 sallysbakingaddiction.com

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 sallysbakingaddiction.com

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
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

Description

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!


Ingredients

  • 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

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. 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.

Notes

  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 sallysbakingaddiction.com

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

Favorite go-to vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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

603 Comments

  1. I followed the recipe exactly and used silicone baking cups. I filled them half full as recommended. Surprisingly, the cups I placed on a cookie pan turned out much higher than the ones that fit the muffin tin ( there were a couple of extra). Next time I’ll set all the cups on a cookie pan. They were delicious and moist and definitely a go-to recipe for chocolate cupcakes.

  2. Hello,

    If I want to make mini cupcakes from this recipe, how many would this yield? Any advice on mini cupcakes from this recipe?

  3. Is Hershey’s special Dark cocoa considered Dutch processed?
    Your recipes are part of my family – like Mom’s Seasoned Pretzels! They are so addictive. Looking forward to trying this.

    1. Special Dark cocoa is actually a blend of the two. You can use Hershey’s Special Dark in some recipes, but it will always work in recipes calling for just baking powder or no leavening at all. Hope this helps!

  4. I made these cupcakes tonight, kept some unfrosted and some with vanilla chocolate chip frosting. I ate a plain one while it was still very warm with some milk and OH my Goodness! They are moist and so delicious! I filled them half way as suggested and ended up getting 14 nice cupcakes. Thank you Sally, I will be making these again and again!

      1. Thank you! Forgive the duplicate request; I should have gone further reviewing the comments. I just noticed on another string you replied to the same question.
        Thanks again, I’m looking forward to using your recipe for chocolate cupcakes and chocolate buttercream frosting this weekend!

  5. I cooked the recipe but replaced the cupcake cups with 6 medium-sized bundt cake pans, so I didn’t need a topping. It also worked out perfectly and the cocoa taste is amazing. My brother actually said they taste like chocolate pudding! I really love the recipe! Thank you Sally for sharing! Greetings from Germany~ I will definitely make them again!

  6. Hi Sally! This might be a dumb question but could I triple this recipe? I need 3 dozen for a bday party. Or would it be best to make the recipe in 3 seperate batches? Thx so much. Im new to your site but I have made your brownies, zebra cake and cream cheese sugar cookies with buttercream frosting. All came out delicious!!!

      1. Any ratio changes to your favorite vanilla buttercream frosting for 3 dozen cupcakes or should i just double or triple?

  7. I haven’t made this recipe yet, but plan to. I am wondering if you have ever weighed the cupcake liners when 1/2 full? I have a terrible time gauging how full the liners are. Most of the baking I do is by weight. Love your site and your cranberry orange scones are one of my personal addictions!! Thank you.

    1. Hey Sally! i’m planning on making your cupcakes tomorrow, and i was wondering, what are the consequences of doubling mixture? I have seen that you’ve said for better taste & texture, it’s better to do two separate batches but are the consequences of doubling the mixture dire? Thank you so much! 🙂

    2. I made these delicious cupcakes this weekend. I like to have my cupcakes all the same size. I weighed two TBL of batter and then filled each cupcake liner with 30 grams of batter after that. Each cupcake rose just to the top of the liner. Sheer perfection with chocolate cream cheese frosting.

  8. These cupcakes turned out amazing!! We made them with your “Favorite Chocolate Buttercream” frosting, and omg — I truly think these were the best cupcakes I’ve ever had. We used very high-quality organic cacao powder, which I think added to the depth and richness of both the cupcakes and the frosting. So delicious! My daughter now wants these to be her cupcakes for all future birthdays 🙂 Thank you for your delightful recipes!

  9. To make the cupcakes easier to stack in a container, I don’t want to put frosting on top. Do you think it will work if I put a few sprinkles on each cupcake before I bake to give the cakes a little jazz? Is there a type of sprinkle that you suggest? Thanks!

    1. Any sprinkles should work, however, I fear they would sink right down into the cupcake batter. Instead, pull the cupcakes out about halfway through baking, add sprinkles on top, then return to the oven. The tops will be *somewhat* set so the sprinkles should stick nicely.

  10. Hi Sally! I didn’t see a dairy free comment yet so – in case anyone was wondering: I tried this recipe with coconut milk (and added a 1/4 tbsp of vinegar to it – to thicken) as a substitute for the buttermilk and the cupcakes turned out great! Fluffy moist and delicious and good for those of us having to avoid dairy!

  11. Great flavor but the recipe does not work at altitude. I tried two batches exactly as written and both ended up sunken and stuck to the paper. The favor was great but they just do not work as is at 7000 feet. I am planning on playing with the recipe for high altitude baking.

    1. Have you had any luck, Sam? I am at 7400 feet and made a batch of these last week. Same problems as you – sink city and stuck to paper. I’ve read to try less leavening, more liquid, a bit less sugar, a bit more flour and a higher oven temp. Would love to know if you’ve had any success with your adjustments before I attempt these again!

      1. Just made a batch of these — oh my gosh, they are perfect! I used a 1 TBS ice cream scoop and put 2 scoops in each cupcake. Cupcake came out of paper liner without sticking.

        I did make modifications for high altitude – 6350 ft:
        Set oven at 375
        added 3 TBS flour
        reduced baking powder to 1/4
        reduced baking soda to 1/8
        added 3 TBS water
        Baked for 15 mins

  12. Hi! Would it be possible to substitute cake flour for all-purpose flour? I know the general conversion is 1 cup 2 tablespoons cake flour for every 1 cup of all-purpose flour, but I prefer to weigh dry ingredients in grams (thanks for always providing weight measurements!)

    1. Hi Kathrin! Normally yes, but cake flour is much too light for these chocolate cupcakes. Cocoa powder is extremely light and takes the place of some all-purpose flour in this recipe, so we already have very light cupcakes.

  13. Hi Sally,
    I am so excited to stop by your blog. Am excited to try this recipe.
    Is it possible to bake this into 2 x 6 in baking round tin?
    What would be the suggested baking temp and time?

    Thank you. Looking forward.
    Jacqui

    1. Hi Jacqui! This recipe will fit into 3 6-inch round cake pans. The bake time should be around 20 minutes, but use a toothpick to test for doneness.

  14. Hi sally,

    I have the powdered buttermilk instead of whole Buttermilk. Can I use it in this recipe. Should I mix it with the water first then add to batter.
    Could you email me your thoughts as I’m making them tomorrow.
    Thank you

    1. Yes. Powdered buttermilk mixed with water is just fine for this chocolate cupcakes recipe. See instructions on your powdered buttermilk package for best ratio.

      1. Hi Sally,

        The cupcakes were fabulous and a big hit.
        Another ? Could you share an easy chocolate cake recipe please.
        Thank you

  15. Thank you for sharing the recipe. Perfectly moist and the frosting complemented the cupcakes without being overly sweet.

  16. I made these a couple of weeks back and froze half, the firsthalf were so moist, soft and scrumptious. I defrosted the second half yesterday and iced them with a chocolate ganache today. There are only two left, I usually eat a half to one at a time of any cupcake but the recipe for these is perfection, even after being frozen they were amazing. My husband and I couldn’t believe how soft and delicate but full of flavour and moist they were!
    Thank you so much for sharing, this is now my go to recipe for cupcakes!

  17. I’m just amazed at how these turned out, i usually never comment on recipes but this one was a huge huge hit. bakery grade cupcakes, delicious.
    i put a little less sugar and added espresso powder to amplify the chocolate taste. they turned out awesome.
    will be making them again and again and again

  18. I have made these for several events and for family and friends. Every time I get the best compliments on them! They are delicious and super quick and easy to make. Best chocolate cupcake recipe, I don’t think I will ever use a different recipe. THANK YOU SALLY!

  19. Hi Sally,
    The cupcakes were great but not as moist as I thought they would be.
    Should I add a bit more oil or buttermilk?
    I baked them for exactly 18 minutes. The toothpick “said” they were ready. My stove is old (maybe an antique – 1950’s), so maybe they should bake only 15 minutes, instead of 18, but they were not crispy or burnt in any way.
    Thank you very much,
    Clayton

    1. Hi Clayton! I wonder if they are over-baking. The shouldn’t dry out like that. Are you following the recipe exactly? A little more buttermilk will help. I do not recommend more oil.

      1. Thank you Sally!
        Yes, I followed the recipe exactly! (I teach mathematics, so I am used to being very precise and following directions, step-by-step.) I will add a bit more buttermilk and test with a toothpick at 15 minutes, and test minute by minute after that.
        Many thanks for your concern and suggestions.
        Clayton

  20. Hi. Any way to make these a bit healthier? Meaning substituting the sugar for applesauce? What would the equivalent ratio be? Thanks!

  21. Hi Sally! I’ve used this recipe many times and they’ve always been fantastic. Do you think filling them with caramel sauce in the middle would hold up or would the sauce just seep into the rest of the cake? Just wanted to experiment but not ruin them. Thanks!

    1. Hi Shannon! These chocolate cupcakes would be fantastic with caramel inside, though make sure you use a thicker caramel like this salted caramel. (See note about switching from Salted to Regular caramel.) Let the caramel thicken for about 15 minutes, then fill the cupcake.

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