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!

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.

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 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?

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. 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.

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!

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!

chocolate cupcake with vanilla frosting and rainbow sprinkles

Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting

  • 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


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.


  • 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*

Vanilla Buttercream

  • 1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 45 cups (480-600g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) heavy cream, half-and-half, or whole milk, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • salt, to taste
  • rainbow sprinkles (optional)


  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. Frosting: With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add 4 and 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, the heavy cream, and vanilla extract. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to medium-high speed and beat for 2 full minutes. Add up to 1/2 cup more confectioners’ sugar if frosting is too thin or another Tablespoon of cream if frosting is too thick. Add a pinch of salt if frosting is too sweet. (I add 1/8 teaspoon salt.) Use frosting immediately or cover tightly and store for up to 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 3 months in the freezer. After freezing, thaw in the refrigerator then beat the frosting on medium speed for a few seconds so it’s creamy again. After thawing or refrigerating, beating in a splash of heavy cream or milk will help thin the frosting out again, if needed.
  6. 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: 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. Heavy Cream in Frosting: I love using heavy cream for the creamiest consistency. You can use half-and-half or whole milk instead if needed. The lower the fat, the less creamy your buttercream will be. Whichever you use, make sure it’s at room temperature. Otherwise your frosting could separate or appear grainy.
  4. Mini Cupcakes: Fill mini liners only halfway and bake for 10-12 minutes at 350°F (177°C). Yields about 3 dozen.
  5. Cake: Here’s a chocolate cake that is just as moist and chocolate-y.
  6. 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, vanilla frosting

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

Favorite go-to vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream on


Comments are closed.

  1. hi, making these today for my sister’s birthday, what are your thoughts on applesauce instead of the oil? i do this for my carrot cake, but not sure if it will work for this recipe, please advise, thanks

    1. For best taste and texture, I recommend sticking with oil. If necessary, you could use half oil and half unsweetened applesauce. (This usually works for carrot cake because carrots make the cake so moist!)

  2. It’s been a stressful day so I’m going home to make these cupcakes to bring into work tomorrow. I’d like to make these with your cream cheese frosting. What should I do about overnight refrigeration? I don’t normally put my cupcakes in the fridge, but should I refrigerate them if I’m using your cream cheese frosting? Or should I wait until the morning to icing these cupcakes? Thanks!

    1. Hi Michele! You can either wait until the morning to frost the cupcakes (store them at room temperature overnight) or store the frosted cupcakes in the refrigerator.

  3. hello sally,
    thank’s for the receipe .
    can i make this cupcake with only white sugar?
    waiting to taste it 🙂

    1. Definitely. There will be a slight flavor loss though.

  4. Hello!! I have been searching for a good cupcake recipe and Yours looks/seems amazing. But I have read a lot of articles how to make the perfect cupcakes. Many have said on their websites that they would recommend butter rather than oil. What would you say? Have you tried making them with butter? Works this recipe better with oil? X

    1. I love using butter as the base of cakes and cupcakes, however, when there’s a drying ingredient involved (cocoa powder), oil is necessary. Also, we don’t really need the flavor of butter in chocolate cakes and cupcakes since chocolate will overpower it. I recommend oil for these.

  5. This was always my go-to chocolate cupcake recipe when I lived near sea-level in the southern US; however, I now live in Montana at 5700 ft elevation. I was so saddened to find it fails horribly where I live because I love these cupcakes so much. However, I tried again following the guidelines for high-altitude baking from King Arthur Flour, and it worked great! Here’s what I changed: Temperature at 365°, cook time 12-16 mins, subtract 2 tbsp of white sugar, add 2.5 tbsp of flour, use NO baking soda, same amount of baking powder, add an extra egg, use regular milk instead of buttermilk, and just to be extra safe, I used Dutch-process cocoa powder. Whew, kind of a pain to change (not your fault, Sally!) but I couldn’t find a high-altitude recipe that sounded as good as yours. NOW I have my high-altitude cupcake recipe! Thank you, Sally!

  6. I made two separate batches of these for a dinner and they came out really good. They taste chocolaty and not too sweet for my taste. I made these to the recipe although next time I may add some mini chocolate chips to add a little richer chocolate flavor. The only thing I would add is it seems like the extra batter that sat came out smoother when baked. It was like the sugar melted into the batter whereas the ones I put in the oven right away, they were cracked and not smooth on top. A really good recipe that I will keep.

  7. Hi Sally, those cupcakes look delicious! I will make them next week for a little party with friends. I usually add both cocoa powder and melted dark chocolate to my cupcakes, do you think it is possible to add melted chocolate to this recipe? Thank you in advance!

    1. Hi Daniela! I don’t recommend adding melted chocolate to this chocolate cupcake batter. You can, however, add some chocolate chips. (Not melted.) Perhaps about 1 cup.

      1. Thank you for answering!!! I eill follow your advice

  8. Yet another fantastic recipe! These cupcakes are super light and moist, and the chocolate buttercream adds the perfect richness to it! Will definitely be making again and again and again!

  9. Hi, is it possible to turn this cupcake into a cake?

    1. For a cake with the same flavor and texture I recommend this recipe:

  10. Can I replace the brown sugar with normal sugar?

    1. Sure can! I like using a little brown sugar for extra moisture and flavor. Keep that in mind when subbing it out.

    2. Hi Shreya! I saw your question about subbing regular granulated sugar for the brown sugar and wanted to tell you that you can make your own brown sugar using granulated sugar and molasses (since that’s what brown sugar is made of). I found a post on The Spruce Eats that says to use 1 tablespoon of molasses for every 1 cup of granulated sugar, and combine the two using a hand or stand mixer for best texture (but you can use a wooden spoon if you don’t have either of those). You can adjust the amount of molasses to produce a darker brown sugar, depending on what your recipe calls for. I’ve done this before and it works perfectly fine! I hope this helps! 🙂

  11. Tried half batch for trial and loved it. Moist and chocolaty! Thank you Sally.

  12. What is the best way to store these cupcakes ?

    1. An airtight Tupperware container works great!

  13. Hey !

    Can I make my own buttermilk if I don’t have any ??

    1. Yes! See recipe note #4 🙂

  14. These are one of the best chocolate cupcakes I have ever tried (though I still intend to tackle your Death By Chocolate Cupcakes soon). I was thinking of pairing these cupcakes with an Oreo frosting (do you have any recipe suggestions for that?) and then garnishing with the cutest little mini Oreos I found at the store last week. I’ve been looking for an opportunity to use them, and it seems like such a waste to just crumble such cuteness, so I thought cupcakes would be the perfect option since I can display the mini Oreos atop the frosting 🙂

    1. Cookies and cream frosting would be delicious with these cupcakes! This is my favorite one: (Here I layer it in a brownie, but it’s also fantastic on top of cupcakes!). And I’m adding mini Oreos to my grocery list! 🙂

      1. Great, thanks! I found the mini Oreos at Walmart, in a box of six snack packets. You can also get them in a larger package there, too. Maybe they’ll have them at Target? I’m unsure, but I know they were at Walmart! 🙂

  15. Linda Shurley says:

    Best cupcake. The brown sugar gives it more of a “quick bread” texture. I had to increase to 18 cupcakes in a batch to prevent ”mushrooming”. Baked 14 minutes. Perfect. I made a second batch and made cake pops too.

  16. Nicole Hull says:

    I just wanted to say thank you for your wonderful website! I have tried many of your recipes so much so that, when I have baking to do or want to try something new, you are my only go to baking expert! I am made your vanilla cake for Easter and now I’m making these chocolate cupcakes for my friends birthday. The batter is scrumptious so I KNOW the cupcakes will be too! Thank you from Ottawa, Canada! Xo

    1. Thank YOU, Nicole for trusting my recipes and for the kind comment! I hope your friend has a great birthday!

  17. sandra perez-nievas says:

    how much should we fill Mini cupcakes…halfway? any tips on what scoop to use. These turned out fantastic in my standar cupcakes and now I want to make them into mini cupcakes but they always overflow.

    1. Even for mini cupcakes you should fill the cupcake liners only halfway full!

  18. sandra perez-nievas says:

    And do you have any tips on how to avoid the cupacke liner from peeling off from one day to another. It only seems to happen when I put them in an airtight container and I always make sure they have completely cooled.

  19. How many does this make for a normal cupcake tin? Cant wait to try these for mothers day!


    1. 12-14 cupcakes

  20. Hi Sally, I love your recipes! I was just wondering, how large is a “large egg”? I think my eggs are pretty small, so should I use 3 instead of 2? Do you have some sort of weight for the eggs?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Rebekah! Large eggs are about 2 ounces per egg.

  21. Hi Sally
    Just wondering is 1/2 a cup cocoa powder 50g or 42g
    As I’ve seen both
    Thanks x

    1. Hi Leema! 1/2 cup of unsweetened natural cocoa powder is about 45g.

  22. Leah Van Dinther says:

    I just made these cupcakes, and they are FANTASTIC! I did not have buttermilk, so I used plain yogurt instead, and I cut down the sugar just a tiny amount… and they are STILL awesome. <3
    New favorite!

  23. Jayati Bali says:

    I tried making these and they were so, so good! So moist and yummy.
    Just, I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. My cakes and cupcakes never seem to rise like they’re supposed to. Like I did as you specified and only filled that disposables half way…. and well they stayed at almost the same level.
    Also, my buttercream never seems to be fluffy enough. and it always turns out to be too sweet.
    Please help.

    1. Hi Linda! You can use that in this recipe.

    2. I’ve not made these yet but I’m at 6500 sf in Colorado and baking is always a challenge for this reason. Try baking at a higher temp with less sugar, more flour and less baking powder or baking soda. That has helped me a bunch.

  24. Hi Maddy, you can try using 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar or fresh lemon juice, plus 1/2 cup whole milk. Stir the two together, let it sit for a few minutes, then use in the recipe.

  25. Wow, these are the best chocolate party cakes I have ever eaten, not dry like they normally are. Thank you So Much for this recipe!

  26. Can I double the recipe on this one. I have a party for 30 kiddies and don’t want to have to do everything twice if I can help it. Thanks

    1. You can definitely double the recipe, but for best taste and texture, I recommend making 2 separate batches.

  27. Vicha Aritonang says:

    super easy, moist and delicious!! made 70 of this and so quick. Thank you for sharing the recipe.

  28. Hi, i am new at baking and still learning alot. I havto bake 70 x chockate cupcakes with caramel frosting or buttercream. I really wanto make a good impression ☺ should i just stick to your recipe and multiply everything x 5 to get about 70 cupcakes out? Ur advise would be much appreciated. Looking forward to hearing from you soon.

    1. You can try to double this recipe but do not work with more batter than that. Working with too much batter at once leads to over or under-mixing. I suggest just making this recipe multiple times. And try this buttercream:

      1. Thankyou so much i am definitely going to try it this weekend already. I love the salted caramel and will be trying that toothanks for all the tips and great recipes

      2. if you double the recipe can you bake them at the same time? will the temp or time change?

  29. Hi! Natural cocoa powder is really hard (?impossible) to find in the UK. Do you have any ideas how to substitute? Or can it just not be done?

    1. Hi Freya! Will you be using dutch-process cocoa instead? If so, you can try to make a baking powder substitution for the baking soda. Increase the amount as baking powder isn’t quite as strong as baking soda.

  30. Hi ,
    I made these today with my boys and they turned out Fantastic!!
    I added a few drops of Orange essential oil and it was Heaven.
    Thank you for sharing your Recipe!!

    1. I love chocolate and orange – yum!

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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