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


Comments are closed.

  1. Should I cool these in the tin or take them out after a bit to cool on a wire rack?

    1. I’ve done it both ways with this recipe and many of my cupcake recipes and it makes no difference! Let the cupcakes cool for at least 5 minutes in the pan before removing though.

  2. Hi Sally, can I add nuts to this recipe?

    1. Sure can! I recommend 1/2 – 3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans.

  3. Best chocolate cupcakes ever. Guests were stunned at how fantastic they looked and tasted. No leftovers 🙂

  4. Hi Sally, going to try this recipe but had a question regarding the cocoa powder.. I see not to use Dutch processed but I have raw cacao powder is that the right powder to use or is it different again?

    1. Hi Geri– that substitution would require some testing. You’d likely need to switch to all baking powder and increase the amount of liquid in the recipe. For best results, stick with unsweetened natural cocoa powder.

      1. Hmmm I’m in Australia and all they sell everywhere is Dutch processed or raw cacao after calling about 6 different shops

  5. My attempt actually made 16 cupcakes! I think it’s all about your portions.

  6. Hi sally! Im wondering why dont you use hot coffee in the cupcake recipe as you use in the cake recipe? Any reason to leave it out??

    1. Hi Angie! These cupcakes use less cocoa powder than my chocolate cake. When you use that amount of cocoa powder, you really need a hot liquid to help dissolve the powder. (Or else it will just clump.) That’s not necessary with this amount. Hope that makes sense!

  7. Best chocolate cupcakes! Followed recipe exactly and loved the chocolate frosting, too.

  8. The cupcakes I made using this recipe were not only the best cupcakes I had ever personally made, they were some of the best I’ve ever eaten! They turned even non-chocolate lovers into majors fans. Love love love!

  9. Glenda Blaisdell-Buck says:

    Hi Sally,

    I’m making these and the vanilla cupcakes for my twin granddaughters’ 4th birthday party on Saturday. They live about 2 hours away, so it would be easier if I could ice them the day before. Would this cause any problems? Thanks!

    1. Hi Glenda! You can frost the cupcakes the day before, that’s no problem! Store in the refrigerator overnight, then bring to room temperature before serving.

      1. Hi Sally
        Just wanted to tell you that I made the super moist chocolate cupcakes with the icing and they were fabulous!!! Thank you so much for the recipe!! I will be taking them to my daughter in law’s baby shower!

    2. Melissa Souther says:

      You can use 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice plus enough milk to measure 1 cup. Stir, then let stand for 5 minutes, or you can use 1 cup of plain yogurt or 1-3/4 teaspoons cream of tartar plus 1 cup milk. (from Taste of Home Cookbook)

  10. This recipe is perfect, it produces a nice, sturdy cupcake, but it’s so moist and full of flavour. I use this as my go-to chocolate cupcake recipe! Thanks Sally!

  11. I am making your red velvet cupcakes (only they will be blue velvet instead) for my daughters baby shower coming up. I’ve already practiced the recipe and they are heavenly!! In that recipe I am using cake flour, and was thinking of making some chocolate cupcakes as well for the shower just because everyone loves chocolate. Can I use cake flour with this recipe and if so what is the ratio that I would use? Thank you in advance for your help!!!

    1. Hi Adrienne! What a delicious dessert for your daughter’s baby shower 🙂 I don’t recommend using cake flour in this recipe- it’s simply too light for this batter. Cocoa powder is extremely light and takes the place of some all-purpose flour in this recipe, so we already have very light cupcakes.

  12. Can I add any coffee (freeze dried crystals or brewed coffee) to increase the intensity of the chocolate flavour of these? If so what would you suggest? Thanks!

    1. Absolutely! I recommend 1-2 teaspoons of espresso powder.

      1. Thank you! Can I also ask if your oven temp is fan forced or no fan?

  13. Hi Sally,
    I was browsing through your recipes to find one that was easy and kid proof because my kids are really into baking, any ideas?

    1. Hi Amber! This one is always a hit with kids:

      1. OK thanks Sally, I’ll try this

  14. Jean Enright says:

    I made these today (7-31-19) and it smells like chocolate heaven in my kitchen. These are fantastic cupcakes. Very moist. I made your vanilla icing to go with them. Very, very nice frosting. I’ve been baking for 40 years and both the frosting and cupcakes are exceptional.

  15. Omg, I had to comment because these were absolutely amazing! Moist, not too sweet, and just fantastic. Thanks a lot for the great recipe!

  16. Glennis Byron says:

    Hello, I just adapted this for high altitude – I made adjustments as recommended for around 5000 feet (I’m at around 4500 feet) and it worked brilliantly. First time I’ve managed to do a decent chocolate cupcake.

    In case anyone else is interested, these were the adjustments:
    To the dry ingredients: add 1 tablespoon extra flour, use a bit under 3/4 tsp of baking powder, and only 1/8 tsp of soda.
    Remove 1 Tbsp of sugar
    To the wet ingredients: add 1 egg white and 1 Tablespoon extra buttermilk.
    I baked them at 365 for 15 minutes.
    Absolutely lovely!

  17. Thank you! 🙂

  18. Do you happen to know the lifespan of these baked cupcakes?

    1. Yep! Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

  19. Hi Sally, I made these delicious cupcakes 2 days in advance. Is it best to keep them at room temp or put them in the refrigerator?

    1. Hi Monica! For freshest taste, cover them and store them in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature prior to serving.

  20. I made these cupcakes for the office and they were a hit! Thank you for sharing. I wish I could show you how beautiful they came out.

  21. Hi! This really seems like an awesome cupcake recipe and i really want to try it but i don’t have any brown sugar, so what can i use to substitute it? More white sugar? Thanks!!

    1. You can use granulated white sugar instead of the brown sugar.

  22. Hello! Can I halve this recipe or would this call issues?

    1. Yes, you can halve this recipe.

  23. Can I use Hershey’s “special dark” 100% cocoa?

    1. You can, yes. Hershey’s Special Dark is a mix of natural and dutch-process cocoa, but it still works wonderfully in this cupcake batter.

  24. I have made these a few times now and they are superb.. I also made them into a 6 inch layer cake and it was perfect.. the white chocolate frosting on top is my favourite!!!

    1. Hi! May I know how many 6 inch layers does this batch make? I also want to try it for a 3 layer cake. 🙂

      1. Hi Regine, Cupcake batter that produces about 12-15 cupcakes is the perfect amount for a 3 layer 6 inch cake!

  25. I found these way too moist. I don’t use cupcake liners, I just butter the cups of the cupcake tin, and these were so soft that they wouldn’t come out in one piece even when completely cooled. I ended up eating them out of the tin with a fork (they were still delicious), but had to make another batch to frost and serve to guests.

  26. Catherine Wivina says:

    Hi Sally, I baked these yesterday, it is the best chocolate cupcakes recipe! How can I double the recipe? Is it safe just to double all the ingredients? Thanks

    1. Hi Catherine! For the best taste and texture, I highly recommend making the batter twice (separately) instead of doubling at once.

  27. Vanessa Ramirez says:

    I am a home baker, I’ve been baking for years. So far this has been the best chocolate cupcake recipe I’ve ever made. Ever!! And I’ve tried quite a few. They’re moist, yet super fluffy. And not too sweet, literally just right. I yielded exactly 28 cupcakes, I made the recipe in 2 separate batches and they came out perfect. 18 mins did it in my oven. Follow directions people and you will get it right. Thankyou for this wonderful recipe! It’s a keeper in my books. I’m topping mine with Oreo cream cheese frosting

  28. WOW! Incredibly moist, scrumptious cupcakes! I used 1 cup of plain yogurt rather than buttermilk. Just divine!

    1. I’m so happy you enjoyed them!

  29. I’ve been baking for years! This is by far the best cupcake recipe EVER! Unfortunately I’m in Europe, they don’t have a packet brown sugar anywhere, just regular btwn sugar. I really wanted to make them for y family! Can I use regular ( dry ) brown sugar or replace it with regular suger and he much of it? Thank you in advance ❣️

    1. You can use all brown sugar instead of the white sugar/brown sugar mix. 🙂

  30. If I were to make mini cupcakes would I need to adjust the time?

    1. Yep! See recipe notes.

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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