Ditch the box mix and make the Moist Chocolate Cupcakes from scratch in under 30 minutes. Our chocolate cupcake recipe has been carefully tested and has hundreds of 5 star ratings to prove it!

I was skeptical with how thin the batter was, but these are soooooo good!! ~ Crystal

An image of homemade chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting and chocolate sprinkles.


Table of Contents
  1. This is the BEST Chocolate Cupcake Recipe
  2. Moist Chocolate Cupcake Recipe
  3. Chocolate Cupcakes ingredients
  4. How to make Chocolate Cupcakes
  5. Can I Use This Chocolate Cupcake Recipe to Make a Cake?
  6. How to store Chocolate Cupcakes
  7. Chocolate Cupcakes Recipe FAQs
  8. More Cake & Cupcake Recipes You'll Love
  9. Chocolate Cupcakes Recipe

This is the BEST Chocolate Cupcake Recipe

If you want to upgrade your baking skills and graduate to chocolate cupcakes from scratch, you’ve come to the right place. Box mix cupcakes don’t actually even taste like chocolate at all! But my from-scratch moist chocolate cupcake recipe is made with real ingredients like cocoa powder, buttermilk, and sugar so that they taste supremely chocolatey and delicious! These will be the first thing gone at the next party or bake sale!

If you also prefer homemade cakes made from scratch over box cake mixes, you will definitely want to check out my Yellow Cake with Chocolate FrostingHomemade Funfetti Cake, and Best Red Velvet Cake.

An image of a moist chocolate cupcake being unwrapped.

Heck, I have an entire category of frosting recipes that would pretty much all be amazing with these moist chocolate cupcakes! And honestly, the cake part itself is so amazing that I always eat at least one cupcake sans frosting while I wait for them to cool.

An image of a chocolate cupcake with chocolate buttercream frosting sliced in half.

Moist Chocolate Cupcake Recipe

The two biggest players in keeping these chocolate cupcakes moist are using buttermilk and oil in the recipe, as opposed to butter and sour cream, which are both commonly used in chocolate cakes.

If you don't have any buttermilk on hand, you can make an easy substitute by adding ½ tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar to a ½ cup measuring cup, then filling the rest of the way with milk. Stir, then let sit for 5 minutes before adding to the recipe in place of the buttermilk.

And while you technically could replace the oil with butter in this recipe, the cupcakes won't be as moist for some science-y reason that I can't explain. Just go with it - if you want to replicate the moist texture and fluffiness of a box cake mix (with way better flavor because these cupcakes are made from scratch), use the oil instead of melted butter.

Chocolate Cupcakes ingredients

  • Flour
  • Sugar
  • Cocoa Powder
  • Baking Powder
  • Baking Soda
  • Salt
  • Egg
  • Buttermilk
  • Oil
  • Hot Water

How to make Chocolate Cupcakes

  1. Combine dry ingredients in one bowl. Start by combining flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Combine wet ingredients in another bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla.
  3. Combine wet and dry ingredients. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix just until everything is combined.
An image of flour, cocoa powder, sugar, eggs, and buttermilk being mixed together in a stand mixer.
  1. Add hot water. There is one more ingredient, which is very hot water. It's super important to achieving super moist chocolate cupcakes with an intense chocolate flavor. The hot water doesn't have to be boiling, but it needs to be really hot because the heat is going to react with the cocoa powder, causing it to "bloom", which brings out as much chocolate flavor as possible from the cocoa powder. I find that my tap water gets hot enough if I let it run for 10-15 seconds or so, but you could also microwave some water for a minute or boiling some water on the stove.

The hot water is also going to create a pretty thin batter, too. Don't be alarmed! It really is supposed to be like that.

The thin batter is going to allow the baking powder and baking soda in the batter to really do their magic and the cupcakes will rise and dome beautifully, with a wonderful texture thanks to all the scientific magic going on behind the scenes.

You can use hot coffee in place of the water.

Chocolate cake batter in a bowl with a batter covered beater dripping batter back into the bowl.
  1. Fill cupcake liners only ½ full, then bake for 18-21 minutes, until the tops bounce back when you touch them with a finger or a toothpick comes out with only a few moist crumbs when used to test a cupcake.
Ribbon of chocolate cake batter being poured from the bowl into cupcake liners halfway full before baking.
  1. Cool completely before frosting with chocolate frosting or your favorite frosting.
Domed moist chocolate cupcakes in a cupcake pan before being frosted.

Best Chocolate Cupcake frosting

  1. Cream butter and cocoa powder together until smooth in the bowl of a stand mixer using the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer.
  2. Add half of the powdered sugar mixing on medium speed until combined. Add remaining powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt, mixing well, and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  3. Add heavy cream or milk, 1-2 tablespoons at a time, mixing between each addition until you reach the desired consistency that is easily spreadable or pipeable, but will still hold its shape.
  4. Transfer to a decorative piping bag and pipe swirls onto cooled cupcakes.
Unfrosted chocolate cupcakes in a cupcake pan and cupcake liners.

Can I Use This Chocolate Cupcake Recipe to Make a Cake?

Yes, you can absolutely use this recipe to make a super moist chocolate cake instead of cupcakes. Just keep the following in mind if that's the route you decide to go:

  • This recipe only makes 14-16 cupcakes which is the same as one square baking dish or 9-inch round cake layer. If you are trying to make a cake in a large rectangular baking dish or create a two layer cake, just double the recipe or use my One-Bowl Chocolate Cake Recipe!
  • The oven temperature stays the same, but the baking time will change since individual cupcakes cook faster than cakes cooked in larger pans. Cakes cooked in 9-inch baking pans should take about 30-35 minutes to fully bake, but just be sure to test the center of each cake with a toothpick or sharp knife to test for doneness before taking your cake layers out of the oven.
An image of a chocolate cupcake with a pink birthday candle in it.

How to store Chocolate Cupcakes

Once the cupcakes are cooled, store them in an airtight container until ready to frost. The frosted cupcakes will keep at room temperature in an airtight container for 4-5 days. You can also freeze the cupcakes before or after frosting for 2-3 months. Thaw on the counter for a few hours before enjoying.

Chocolate Cupcakes Recipe FAQs

How much do you fill cupcakes?

Be sure to only fill the cupcake liners halfway full! Not ¾ or even ⅔ full, which are common amounts for other cupcake recipes. Just half.
It is going to seem strange and like there is not nearly enough batter in each cupcake liner, but just trust me on this one. There is so much lift to the thin batter that if the cupcake liners are too full, the cupcakes will overflow and you won't get that beautiful, domed cupcake shape that is the hallmark of perfect cupcakes.
Plus, the top edges will get crisp and stick to the pan and the cupcake centers are probably going to sink. So just halfway full, m'kay?
If you find that your cupcakes aren't doming on top, try filling your liners a little less next time. Or if you are baking at a high altitude, you might want to use this helpful guide to high-altitude baking and see if that helps, since I'm in California near sea level.

How do you tell if cupcakes are done without a toothpick?

I never use the toothpick test on cupcakes. For one, I hate digging around the back of my spice cupboard to find them. But also, I feel like it isn't as accurate as simply touching the tops of the cupcakes.
The best way to tell if cupcakes are done is to lightly tap the top of a cupcake. If it bounces right back, they are done. If a little indentation from your finger remains, the cupcakes need to bake a little bit longer. 

What kind of cocoa powder do I prefer?

I have a few chocolate brands that I think make really great cocoa powder, like Rodelle and Ghiradelli, but I don't have any problems with good old Hershey's unsweetened cocoa powder, which is available at any grocery store. 

An image of homemade chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting and sprinkles on top.

More Cake & Cupcake Recipes You'll Love

Did you make this recipe?

Let me know what you thought with a comment and rating below. You can also take a picture and tag me on Instagram @houseofnasheats or share it on the Pinterest pin so I can see.

Stay in the know

Chocolate Cupcakes

4.86 from 277 votes
Amy Nash
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Total Time 28 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 14 cupcakes
These really are the best, super moist chocolate cupcakes ever. Made from scratch with cocoa powder, they are deeply chocolatey, perfectly fluffy, and with a domed top. These homemade chocolate cupcakes are way better than any boxed cake mix, with the same moist crumb and texture that you know and love.

Ingredients
  

Cupcakes

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (141g)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (200g)
  • ½ cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (50g)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • ½ cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup very hot water

Frosting

  • 1 cup salted butter, softened
  • cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 4-6 Tablespoons heavy cream or whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt

Instructions
 

Cupcakes

  • Heat oven to 350°F. Line a cupcake pan with paper liners.
  • Combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl and whisk together.
  • Combine the egg, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla in another bowl and whisk together.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix using a stand mixer until combined.
  • Add the hot water to the batter and mix again, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary, until combined. Batter will be thin.
  • Fill cupcake liners only ½ full, then bake for 18-21 minutes, until the tops bounce back when you touch them with a finger or a toothpick comes out with only a few moist crumbs when used to test a cupcake.
  • Cool completely before frosting with chocolate frosting or your favorite frosting.

Frosting

  • Cream butter and cocoa powder together until smooth in the bowl of a stand mixer using the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer.
  • Add half of the powdered sugar mixing on medium speed until combined. Add remaining powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt, mixing well, and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  • Add heavy cream or milk, 1-2 tablespoons at a time, mixing between each addition until you reach the desired consistency that is easily spreadable or pipeable, but will still hold its shape.
  • Transfer to a decorative piping bag and pipe swirls onto cooled cupcakes.

Video

Notes

  • This recipe calls for buttermilk, but if you don't have any on hand, you can make an easy substitute by adding ½ tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar to a ½ cup measuring cup, then filling the rest of the way with milk. Stir, then let sit for 5 minutes before adding to the recipe in place of the buttermilk.
  • Unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen for up to 3 months.
  • You can use the chocolate buttercream frosting recipe listed above or another frosting recipe.

Nutrition

Calories: 381kcal | Carbohydrates: 60g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 54mg | Sodium: 275mg | Potassium: 145mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 49g | Vitamin A: 502IU | Vitamin C: 0.03mg | Calcium: 47mg | Iron: 2mg
Tried this recipe? Show me on Instagram!Mention @HouseOfNashEats or tag #houseofnasheats!

When I first posted these chocolate cupcakes, I made them with my salted caramel frosting, which is a super scrumptious combination! Here is one of the original images below.

A chocolate cupcake with salted caramel frosting with a bite taken out of it.

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About the author

Hi, I'm Amy

I enjoy exploring the world through food, culture, and travel and sharing the adventure with mostly from-scratch, family friendly recipes that I think of as modern comfort cooking.

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Reader questions and reviews

  1. 5 stars
    I made this tonight for my new partners family and they were blown away. Perfect recipe. For the extra few (it made 17 for me) I threw in some toasted pecan bits. Wow, super yummy! Toooed with cream cheese frosting. What a combo! Highly recommended!!

  2. 5 stars
    Best chocolate cupcake recipe I have ever made. Topped with homemade cream cheese frosting. It was a huge hit and will be my “go to” for chocolate cupcakes in future!

    Thank you!!!
    Terri B

  3. 5 stars
    I doubled this recipe and after reading other comments, I used coffee instead of water. The batter really is runny, and messy pooring in to the liners. I used foil cupcakes liners, and some of the cupcakes completely separated from the liners while I was decorating them. It was a little frustrating. They taste amazing, though.

  4. I don’t leave recipe comments, but I have to for this one. these are the best chocolate cupcake. ever. so moist. so good. i have made them 3 times in the last month, with your chocolate buttercream frosting and with your cream cheese frosting. both dynamite. my husband who usually just inhales things, actually paused and said, “woah, these are good.” thanks for great recipes and great explanations!!!

  5. 5 stars
    Omg these are so good! The cupcake is so light and fluffy and the chocolate buttercream is delicious. I filled mine with a chocolate ganache as well. These will be demolished in no time!

  6. I havnt made these yet but am in the UK and when using a conversion chart for cup measurements it says that 1cup of flour is 240 g yet this recipe says
    1 cup of flour is 141g . So bit confused as to how these will work?

    1. Hi Pat! I'm not sure what conversion chart you have looked at, but typically 1 cup of flour is between 125 and 141 grams in my experience. It can depend on how the individual baker measures the flour (scooping versus spooning into the cup, etc.) which is why I try to specify the weight for more consistent results for bakers who have switched to weighing ingredients. If you use 240 grams for 1 cup, this recipe will not work as well for you.

  7. Unfortunately when I chose to 2X the ingredients please notice it does not double the ingredients in grams so mine turned out sunken in the middle instead of domed because those items didn’t get doubled!

    1. Shoot! I know, I wish there was a way to add that feature to the recipe card. I think a lot of creators have mentioned this to the recipe card plug-in developers that we would like that feature.

  8. 5 stars
    I made these cupcakes for my mom's birthday, and oh my gosh!!! So fluffy and light and chocolatey and PERFECT!!! Will totally be making these again. Thank you so much Amy for the ingenious recipe!

  9. Hi toooo fluffy and soooo Devine an toooo light so im just wondering Wil I be able to turn this into vinalla

  10. 5 stars
    I absolutely loved this recipe, delicious!
    My brother prefers Vanilla cupcakes, can I keep this recipe but make it Vanilla?

    1. Yes, you can. You can make the frosting a week in advance and refrigerate it, then let it come to room temperature on the counter for a few hours before beating it again to fluff it up and use it, if that helps too.

  11. Excellent cupcakes, big success for my grandson's 4th birthday. I doubled the cupcake recipe, but not the frosting part, and it was more than enough for all cupcakes.
    Thank you for the recipe.
    Rivi

  12. The printed recipe for the frosting says 1 cup of salted butter. The video says 1 1/2 cups of salted butter. Which is correct?

    1. Hi! Honestly, sometimes I switch it up with the amounts of ingredients in the frosting and when I am making it at home I don't even measure anymore. I just taste test to see I need to add anything else. But if you are ever in doubt, just stick to the recipe card! It's a guaranteed delicious chocolate buttercream frosting!

    1. Hi! Yes you can use olive oil in place of vegetable oil but I would make sure to use just regular olive oil and not extra virgin olive oil. Sometimes extra virgin olive oil can change the flavor slightly, although some people like the added flavor.

    1. This recipe only makes 14-16 cupcakes which is the same as one square baking dish or 9-inch round cake layer. If you are trying to make a cake in a large rectangular baking dish or create a two layer cake, just double the recipe or use my One Bowl chocolate cake recipe https://houseofnasheats.com/one-bowl-chocolate-cake-recipe/! The oven temperature stays the same, but the baking time will change since individual cupcakes cook faster than cakes cooked in larger pans. Cakes cooked in 9-inch baking pans should take about 30-35 minutes to fully bake, but just be sure to test the center of each cake with a toothpick or sharp knife to test for doneness before taking your cake layers out of the oven.

  13. 5 stars
    Old dog, new tricks. This is a phenomenal, quick recipe. Delicious. I used 1/4c oil w 1/4c applesauce to reduce fat & it's certainly not noticeable. I always add either espresso powder or coffee to anything chocolate that I bake & the addition of hot coffee is perfect in this edition. A keeper! I immediately pinned it! (And, I've been cooking & baking longer than many of you have been alive...so trust me on this one!)

  14. 4 stars
    All my ingredients was at room temp and I only filled them half full and I did not get them to raise like you show. Any ideas to why ?
    Taste great and I used hot coffee to really bring it the chocolate flavor.

    1. Hmmm I don't know? Some factors that can affect the rising could be oven temperature or old or expired ingredients like baking soda or baking powder. Sometimes over mixing can make cupcakes deflate. I have also seen some people have success with putting the oven at 400 for 5 minutes then bring it back down to 350. Hope that helps! Let me know if you have any more questions!

  15. 4 stars
    I think I’ve made your One Bowl Chocolate Cake recipe for years now; just came across this cupcake recipe and tried it a few separate times (not doubling it). Unfortunately, each time there was no dome. Do you know possibly what could have happened? I followed the recipe exactly. They’re delicious just a little low & flat because I filled them low.

    1. These seem particularly susceptible to either overfilling (doesn't sound like that's your issue), altitude (I'm at sea level) or baking powder or baking soda that isn't super fresh. It could be any of those things. I will say that they don't dome a ton, but they should be slightly rounded and not flat on top. I hope that helps!

  16. 5 stars
    I’ve never enjoyed cupcakes much because the cake is usually dry and the icing too sweet but these were perfect! Very moist and I used the chocolate cream cheese icing which paired wonderfully with it! Thank you very much, best cupcakes I’ve ever made!

  17. 5 stars
    These turned out PERFECT! I think the buttermilk made such a big difference. Everyone at my party loved them!

  18. 5 stars
    I made these for my kiddos Birthday Party. SO GOOD! I used cacao powder instead of cocoa powder, and replaced vanilla with maple syrup. Still turned out perfectly moist, rich, and fluffy! Thank you for the the fantastic recipe 😊

  19. 5 stars
    I bake quite often and try new recipes and this really is the best chocolate cupcake recipe I've tried, so far. It stayed moist and fluffy for days!
    Definitely a new favorite!

  20. 5 stars
    I just made these and they are pretty great! Nice crumb and moist.
    I made caramel buttercream and sprinkled with a bit of seasalt flakes.
    So yum!

  21. 5 stars
    Easy to follow recipe. Very good flavor and moist! Came out of the oven with a dome and it did not sink. I used hot coffee for the liquid and it worked perfectly. Will make this again.