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!

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chocolate cupcakes

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*



  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.


  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. 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


  1. I am not a huge fan of chocolate cake but this recipe is amazing! Perfectly moist and incredible chocolate flavor without being too rich. This is definitely a keeper!

    1. I’m thrilled that you enjoy it so much, Julia!

  2. Brenda Nelson says:

    Are there specific brands that you feel work best or the generic brands are fine?

    1. Hi Brenda! Some of my favorite brands of ingredients used in this recipe are King Arthur Flour, Hershey’s Natural Cocoa Powder, Crisco oil, and Domino sugars. (I’m not working with any of these brands at the moment, just a genuine fan!)

  3. Hi Sally,
    I was wondering why these cupcakes do not have any butter in them.
    Also, could I just make these cupcakes with milk instead of adding white vinegar or fresh lemon juice to it?

    1. Hi Britney! Oil is the fat in this cupcake batter. You can use the DIY buttermilk alternative listed in the recipe notes. Hope you enjoy!

  4. So I just asked you a question on your chocolate cake recipe about making a stout cake, and read your recommendation for 6″ cakes to be made using this recipe instead. I was asked to make a cake in the shape of a beer stein, so I was thinking about using 6″ pans. Do you think I could sub beer for any of the liquid on this recipe? Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Becca! Just saw your question over on the cake recipe. For a 6 inch cake variation, use this recipe. Half of the buttermilk could probably be substituted with a stout or guinness.

  5. Sally after baking these cupcakes before frosting can we put them in the refridgerator and the do the frosting later and how long can these be in the refrigerator

    1. I recommend storing the cupcakes at room temperature. Cover them tightly for up to 2-3 days, then frost.

  6. Maureen Petru says:

    So you opened a door in my brain by writing “melted coconut oil”. Can other oils be used too? Specifically wondering about olive oil or avocado oil?

    1. Hi Maureen! Avoid using any strong flavors that wouldn’t pair with chocolate. I recommend sticking with vegetable oil or melted coconut oil.

  7. My family of 5 is vegan so I made these for them as a treat. I used coconut flour, coconut oil, flax eggs, ground up cacao nibs, and homemade soymilk for substitutions. We made a little frosting recipe to go with it that’s just as good as the non-vegan one looks. We used soymilk, cacao nibs ground up, bananas, the slightest touch of coconut oil, and some pure cane sugar. My, it was delicious. My three-year-old, who is a very fussy eater, gobbled down three of these! Sure, most of it is my own recipe, but thank you for the inspiration. If you are ever looking for really good vegan recipes, please reach out to me.

    1. Thank you so much for your positive feedback, Marlene! Thrilled you were able to adapt this recipe for your family 🙂

  8. Can I substitute oil for butter?

    1. Hi Danica. When there’s a drying ingredient involved (cocoa powder), oil is necessary. Also, we don’t really need the flavor of butter in chocolate cupcakes since chocolate will overpower it. I recommend oil for these.

  9. Hi Sally, I’m using convection oven. I usually use 2 muffin tins with separate racks (1 at the bottom & 1 at the middle) to save electricity. switching it half of its baking time still gives them uneven dome and doneness.. could you please advise me on this.. thanks

  10. Great recipe, but my batter was thick like a cake batter, is that normal?

  11. Hi Sally, I made this for my son’s birthday 2 weeks ago and I had to make more (again). Even my mom liked them even though she isn’t a chocolate lover like my son and I. They were super moist and delicious. Everyone that tried them loved them. Greetings all the way from the Caribbean, from Curacao! I trying your recipe for the brownies next. Thank you. Rachelle

    1. So glad they get the stamp of approval! Thanks Rachelle!

  12. Sally, do you have any egg free cake recipes? My 2 great nieces have egg allergies.

    1. Hi Rebecca! I don’t at this time, but here’s a delicious chocolate tart that’s made without eggs. One of my favorites.

  13. Tiffany Waters says:

    Thank you for this recipe. I use it all the time for school cupcakes for tuck shop.

    I actually cheat and throw everything in shhh the food processor…I can double easily and pour…and it comes out great!

  14. Hi Vandy! I’m not the best one to ask about egg free baking– I have every little experience. Sorry!

  15. lois garrison says:

    can you double this recipe?

    1. For best texture and flavor results, I recommend making the recipe twice instead of doubling.

  16. I love this recipe, I make it all the time for my classmates and for parties.

  17. Hello Sally!

    Wanted to confirm whether it’s possible to double the ingredients to make a bigger batch?
    Thanks and hugs from a huge French fan!

    1. Hi Feirouz! I recommend making the batter twice instead of doubling. Doubling risks over-mixing or under-mixing.

  18. This recipe is awesome, I love it !
    Now, I just wanted to make a white cupcake with vanilla.
    So, I thought I could just exchange the cocoa powder with flour and remove the baking soda. Then I saw all your other receipts, but they are so different.
    Why is only the chocolate recipe with vegetable oil and buttermilk and the other receipts are with butter and whole milk and sour cream ?

    1. Happy to help! Chocolate is an overpowering flavor, so we don’t need butter (flavor) in the recipe. Oil keeps these extra moist as the fat. Butter flavor is imperative in vanilla cake and vanilla cupcakes. It’s not as moist as oil, so I typically add sour cream to keep the cupcakes light and moist. All-purpose flour is pretty heavy, but when paired with cocoa powder– it makes for a light dry ingredient base. (That’s why I use AP flour in these chocolate cupcakes.) There is no cocoa powder in the vanilla cupcakes, so that’s why I use cake flour.
      Hope this all makes sense!

  19. Hi Sally,

    I love reading through your recipes, so thoroughly explained. Do you have any posts on half batches?

    1. Thanks so much! I don’t at this time.

  20. You can substitute applesauce for eggs.

  21. Love love love this recipe. I use it all the time. The very best. Looking for your vanilla one now.

  22. Will I be able to substitute cake flour instead of all purpose flour?

    1. I don’t recommend it. Cake flour is too light for this batter.

  23. Hi! Is it possible to use the same batter to make a mini cake? Need to make mini-cupcakes but also wanted to make a mini cake for the birthday girl to blow out candles… was hoping to not have to make a full-sized cake.

    1. Yep! You can use this batter to make a 3 layer 6 inch cake. Use this chocolate batter, but follow the baking instructions for this 6 inch layer cake.

  24. I made these last night with the same chocolate frosting and they turned out nicely. First batch was little over half full and they did go up a bit too high then off to one side (but didnt sink or get a cracked top), second batch was half full or even a little under and they came out to perfect height. My suggestion is if you’re not sure when filling them up, a little less is probably better :). These cupcakes paired well with the frosting, which tasted like whipped hot chocolate. I put them in the fridge for 10-15 minutes before serving and that light cooling really made them super. Thank you for another great recipe!

  25. Followed the recipe exactly and the cupcakes were fantastic – moist and crumbly and perfect. My kids and their friends LOVED them. Also made the Favorite Chocolate Buttercream frosting (just mixed everything by hand) and it turned out wonderfully. Thanks for such great recipes!

  26. I was wondering how many calories is in the cupcakes itself and the frosting itself. I would love to try this recipe out.

    1. Hi Angela! I’m unsure of the nutritional info of this recipe, but there are many great online calculators like this one:

  27. How can I frost the cupcakes if I don’t have the frosting thingamajig?
    By the way, recipe’s amazing!!

    1. Thanks Sara! A simple knife works for frosting the cupcakes.

  28. What would you change to bake these as mini cupcakes. I am hoping to make around 36 mini cupcakes. Shorter baking time maybe?

    1. Hi Valeria! See recipe note.

      1. Thank you. I noticed the comments after I sent you the message. Very helpful

  29. Wonderfully delicious, moist and easy!! Thank you for this recipe.

  30. Thanks for your great recipes Sally. I was wondering if you thought it would be ok to make these two days in advance. Is there a way to keep them fresh for that long? Thanks a lot

    1. Hi Valeria- for best results, I recommend baking the cupcakes one day in advance and keeping them very tightly covered until you frost them. Frost the day of serving!

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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