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 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. 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. Buttermilk: Buttermilk (an acid) is required for this recipe. If you don’t have any, you can make a DIY sour milk substitute. Measure 1/2 teaspoon of white vinegar or lemon juice in a measuring cup. Then add enough milk (1%, 2%, or whole) to the same measuring cup until it reaches 1/2 cup. Stir it around and let sit for 5 minutes. The homemade “buttermilk” will be somewhat curdled and ready to use in your 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. 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. I filled mine half full and they still domed and some spilled over the top of the cup. They taste AMAZING, but wondering what I’m doing wrong.

  2. This is my new favorite cupcake recipe! My daughter and I made these the other day and they came out absolutely perfect. We also made the chocolate buttercream frosting and almost didn’t have enough to put on the cupcakes because we couldn’t stop eating it straight out of the bowl. We managed to save a couple cupcakes to share with family and they were very impressed with them as well!

  3. I made these quite a while ago, but never left a comment. These cupcakes are very tasty, with a soft and moist texture. I added some peppermint extract to the buttercream, tinted it pale green, and spread on top of the cupcakes. And decorated with sprinkles, of course 😉 The most important thing I wanted to mention is that I used dutch-processed cocoa powder in these (Rodelle brand)and they still turned out fabulous! They rose perfectly, and the flavor and texture was great. After making these, I discovered your post about the difference between natural unsweetened and dutch-process cocoa powders and now I’m curious as to why my cupcakes still turned out. Do you think the acid in the buttermilk was enough to react with the baking soda and give the cupcakes sufficient rise? I’d love to know your thoughts on the matter, as dutch-processed seems to be more commonly found here than natural unsweetened where I live, so it’s the kind I always purchase, and I’d love to use it in other recipes that call for natural unsweetened cocoa powder but have another acidic ingredient to properly react with the baking soda. Does all that make sense? I hope so! Thanks, Sally!

    1. Makes perfect sense! I always find a nicer rise in these cupcakes using natural cocoa which is why I recommend it– however, the buttermilk you used may have had enough acid to perfect the rise in your batch. It’s nothing to worry about and if you feel confident using dutch process from now on, go for it!

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

  4. Hi Sally! I tried this one and it is sooo good! Any tips on how I can make the cupcake just a bit dense or heavier without compromising the taste? I am new with baking so I am still learning. Thank you so much! Love from Philippines 🙂

    1. Hi Mich! For a heavier chocolate cupcake, swap sour cream or full fat plain yogurt for the buttermilk. Works very well!

    2. Hi sally, I’ve baked this recipe quite a few times and I like how fluffy the buns are. Ive just wondering are the metric weights correct on the recipe. I struggle to get the buns to keep their shape and they often sag in the centre. On the cup measurements you use 3/4 cup of flour and 1/2 cup of granulated sugar and 1/2 cup of dark brown sugar. It says to put in 95g of sugar and nearly 200g of both sugars. I’m just wondering should there be more than 95g of flour or less sugar? Thanks for all the tips

      1. Hi Roisin! The cocoa powder takes place of some of the flour. So while it looks like there isn’t enough flour, keep in mind all the cocoa powder as well. 🙂

  5. Hello Sally! These cupcakes are AWESOME. We found our new chocolate cupcakes recipe. I loved the chocolate frosting too.

  6. We love these cupcakes, but are wondering if the recipe can be made as a cake? How would it differ in taste, texture, etc.?
    Thank you

    1. For a cake I recommend using this recipe:
      It’s just as moist and chocolate-y 🙂

  7. Hi Sally!
    First of all, Thank you so much for this amazing chocolate cupcakes recipe.Being a newbie to baking, I was little worried how this would turn out, but to my surprise , this turned out to be the best of all cup cakes I have tried so far. And now, This has been my go to recipe for chocolate cupcakes as well as for cakes. Sending love all the way from India

    1. Hi Teena! You can double this recipe or make separate batches. For best results, I always recommend making 2 batches. Working with extra batter in 1 bowl risks over or under-mixing, which can ruin the cupcake texture.

  8. although this was a quick and easy recipe, I had a few things I would change. these cupcakes were nice and light, but the texture was a bit too spongy for me. (not necessarily a bad thing, just a personal preference.) the other thing I would like to note is that it was super SWEEEEEEEEEET. again as I was saying this is not a bad thing, but I would have liked for other flavors to stand out other than the sweetness from ALL THE SUGAR.

  9. I’ve made these four times in the last two weeks and I have finally mastered them. The first batch came out dry and this is because the cooking time is wrong. 18-21 minutes for half-filled cupcakes is too long. Either you have to fill them more or cook them less. I prefer to fill them to 3/4 full and cook for 17-18 minutes. This will give you exactly 12 cupcakes. I know this is not advised, but I like my cupcakes a bit larger. The flavour of these is phenomenal. These cupcakes are moist, rich in chocolate, not too sweet and have so much depth. This will be my go to recipe for chocolate cupcakes from here on out!

  10. Love this recipe❤ It’s my go-to cupcake – so super moist and delicious……and the bonus is that there’s no butter!!! Thank you Sally!

    1. Hi Sally, I want to make these for Easter but I have two questions I hope you can help with. First, I want to add a mini peanut butter cup to each, do you think they will rise properly? And secondly, I see so many recipes that call for hot water or coffee, yet your recipe does not. Just curious what difference the hot water makes?

      1. Hi Diane! Hot water is added to chocolate cakes to help the cocoa powder “bloom.” When used in a high quantity, you want to give the cocoa powder extra help dissolving into the cake batter. For these cupcakes, it’s not really an issue since we’re using less. You can definitely add a mini PB cup to each. Make sure you still only fill the cupcake liners halfway. You’ll have many more cupcakes from this batter since there will be less batter per cupcake.

  11. I followed your recipe exactly, using safflower oil. I did add some chocolate baking chips at the end, which extended the batter to give me 15 cupcakes. They definitely rose better than other chocolate cupcakes I have made. They are also absolutely delicious. This is a great recipe and I am definitely going to keep it, so thank you for sharing it.

  12. I put the batter in a measuring cup and poured it in the wrappers. It actually worked great! The first few spilled way over the top, but the others were great. Not sure if I’m an idiot or a genius, lol

  13. I’m going to be using this recipe to make Easter cupcakes this year! I was thinking of decorating them with a chocolate frosting “bird’s nest” and then placing some mini chocolate eggs in the “nest”. I’ll also sprinkle some of my new chocolate flakes over the nest so it looks more…nesty? I purchased the chocolate flakes at Gourmet Warehouse in Vancouver, and while I haven’t used them yet, I just LOVE how they look! Anyways, I might do some green frosting “grass” beneath the nests as well. And I would like to fill them, maybe with a mixture of frosting and crushed easter eggs. That would be tasty! I’m also planning on making your Coconut Carrot Cake Cupcakes, and decorating them with carrots I’ll make out of white chocolate that is tinted orange and green 🙂 Thanks for all the fabulous recipes, Sally! You’ve made my Easter 😉

    1. Sounds like such a festive treat for Easter weekend! Love your creativity. I also love those carrot cake cupcakes, too.

  14. 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!)

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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!

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. Mine came out dry. I followed recipe exactly. I agree with one of the comments. I poured cupcake liner 1/2 full for 20 minutes. I had to toss them. Sooo dry! I tried another batch for 17 minutes. Better but still too dry for me. I love the flavor! Next time I’m going to bake 15 minutes. My sister shared never bake cupcakes more than 15 minutes with cheap retail cupcake liners because they are so little. I’m going to purchase hi end cupcake liners for the future. I’m taking my cupcakes to Easter gathering today. I used your cream cheese frosting and it is delicious. Hopefully the frosting will mask the slightly dry cupcakes.

  21. 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!

    1. 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! 🙂

  22. 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! 🙂

  23. 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.

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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