These really are the best ever super Moist Chocolate Cupcakes. Made from scratch with cocoa powder, they are deeply chocolatey, perfectly fluffy, and with a slightly domed top. And dare I say it? These homemade, moist chocolate cupcakes are way better than any boxed cake mix, with the same super moist crumb and texture that you know you love.

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 homemade chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting and chocolate sprinkles.

Moist Chocolate Cupcakes Recipe

This is the be all, end all, of chocolate cupcake recipes. Your days of resorting to a cake mix can be a thing of the past.

If you love making desserts from scratch and have been searching for the perfect chocolate cupcake recipe, your search is over.

An image of a moist chocolate cupcake being unwrapped.

I know these are big claims, but honestly, I feel like I have tried every chocolate cupcake recipe on the planet.

And while there are many good chocolate cupcake recipes out there, this one is hands down the best chocolate cupcake recipe ever. I'm pretty confident you will agree.

These cupcakes are the perfect thing to pair with homemade rainbow chip frosting recipe. Or the best chocolate buttercream you've ever tasted (it's the chocolate frosting that is pictured in these photos). And I have a salted caramel frosting recipe that is also amazing with these cupcakes.

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.

What makes these chocolate cupcakes so moist?

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.

How to Make Super Moist Chocolate Cupcakes From Scratch

Start by combining flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla.

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.

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.

Readers have said you can use hot coffee in place of the water, but I haven't tried that myself.

Chocolate cake batter in a bowl with a batter covered beater dripping batter back into the bowl.

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.

Ribbon of chocolate cake batter being poured from the bowl into cupcake liners halfway full before baking.

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.

Domed moist chocolate cupcakes in a cupcake pan before being frosted.

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?

Unfrosted chocolate cupcakes in a cupcake pan and cupcake liners.

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 a chocolate cupcake with a pink birthday candle in it.

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 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.

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Best Ever Moist Chocolate Cupcakes

4.82 from 205 votes
Amy Nash
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 18 mins
Total Time 28 mins
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
  

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 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
  • [Chocolate Buttercream Frosting]

Instructions
 

  • Heat oven to 350 degrees. 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.

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.

Nutrition

Calories: 173kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 2g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 14mg | Sodium: 137mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 14g
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. These cupcakes were truly moist and had a wonderful chocolatey taste. This will be my go-to recipe for sure. Thank you so much for sharing!!!

  2. Thank you very much for sharing this recipe.
    It was indeed the end of all chocolate cupcake recipes when I found and tried this recipe.(hahaha)
    Thank you for explaining on what we have to consider in baking cupcakes..
    It was so informative and simply love it the way you explain.
    Again...thank you...

  3. Made these this evening with gluten free all purpose flour, avocado oil, coconut sugar, and almond milk.Everything else I followed exactly.  The batter wasn’t as thin as yours seemed, but it worked just the same.  First time attempting gluten free baked goods since my eating habits changed to clean eating, free of cane sugar, dairy and gluten. Holy moly, these cupcakes are delicious. Would not know they were gluten free at all!  Thank you for this recipe, I will forever make them.  Just thought you would like to know that the recipe works great with the subs I made.   

    1. I'm so glad these turned out so well for you and that you shared your experiences with the substitutions! Thank you!

    1. If you don't have buttermilk, you can make a really easy substitute by adding 2 teaspoons of vinegar or lemon juice to a 1/2 cup measuring cup, then filling it the rest of the way with milk. Leave it for 5 minutes, then you've got buttermilk to use in the recipe!

  4. Hi Amy,
    I would love to try this recipe,what is the size of the cup you use ?
    I am living in Ireland and I am not sure we use the exactly same measurements.

    1. Hi Szilvia! I have had a lot of requests for measurements in grams lately for this recipe and will work on getting that for you!

  5. WOW WOW WOW these really are the BEST chocolate cupcakes EVER. Super rich and moist.  I’ve made them 2days in a row, big hit with friends and family. Thank you for sharing! 

  6. I made these for my grandson. Absolutely delicious, especially when topped with peanut butter icing. The only change I did was to use coffee in place of the hot water.

  7. OMG these are the bombbbbb you are so talented and thank you for sharing this recipe with us!

  8. This is the BEST recipe ever! I've done these for bridal shower and the bride asked for wedding cupcakes because she loved them. Thank you so much for this recipe!
    Greetings from Czech republic 🙂

    1. I will work on that! I have been trying to add more gram measurements to many of my baking recipes for readers in other countries, but haven't gotten to all of them yet.

  9. These were great! I halfed the receipe to just make a small batch. I also added 1 tbsp decaf instant coffee to the hot water. They are delicious. Can't wait to add the strawberry buttercream to them.

  10. I like using cake flour.
    Can I use cake flour and if so how much would be needed to replace the regular flour?

    1. Sure! You can do a straight substitution with equal amounts of cake flour for all-purpose flour for this recipe.

  11. Thanks it really turned out v moist.Only challenge I had was that they didn't rise ..I filled them half and they stayed half when I took them out of oven..baked them for 15 mins as were done at 350 degree. 

  12. I used this recipe for weed cupcakes and they turned out amazing!! you could barely taste the weed. I subbed the the oil for canna coconut oil and the water with hot coffee

  13. Tried these out... So so good! I used coffee instead of water, mostly because I had some left in my pot. 
    I’ve tried so many chocolate cupcake recipes and was never happy with the outcome. Dry or crumbly and not the chocolate flavor I wanted.  So I kept going back to box mixes just for the consistency. These are going to be my new go to! Thank you!

  14. Hi Amy. Can I use half a cup sugar and half a cup brown sugar instead of a full cup of sugar?
    This recipe sounds delicious! Thank you

  15. Hi Amy, Can I use half a cup of sugar and half a cup brown sugar instead of 1 full cup of sugar? Thanks this recipe sounds delicious!

  16. these are actually the best ever chocolate cupcakes. i made these for a family gathering and everyone absolutely ADORED them!! the secret ingredient is the water; it makes the cupcake light and fluffy, but not so much were you don’t get the flavor. 10 out of 10, would make again and recommend to a friend!!!

  17. Hi! I’m so excited to try making these! I don’t have a stand mixer, do you think it would work ok with a hand mixer? Thanks!

  18. While I liked the recipe in end, I think it should be clearly noted in the recipe that these absolutely will NOT work as written at high altitude!

    I followed the recipe exactly and every one of the 24 cupcakes fell - not just fell a little bit, but completely collapsed in the middle. Using very hot water and adding an egg and a little flour helped, but I don't like modifying recipes on the fly. So for those of us at high altitude (I'm in Denver at 5200 ft), do NOT use this recipe without modifications! It will not come out well.

    For the author, I know there was a link to some high altitude modifications in the text, which I do appreciate! But I think a warning that this absolutely has to be modified to work at high altitude would be useful as well, so that no one else is as disappointed as I was by an otherwise good recipe! I've tried other cupcake recipes that didn't need modifications, but this one does, so I think it deserves a mention.

  19. These was truly the best chocolate cupcake recipe I’ve made. I swapped the veg oil for coconut oil and they were delicious.

  20. Been looking for an ideal chic cake recipe. These were delicious and moist. Good chocolate taste and cakey not fudgey. 

    Well Worth it. 

  21. Thanks for sharing this. Please what is the best preservatives to use for this chocolate cup cake to last for a month without freezer.

    1. I don't have experience adding preservatives to make baked goods like this last for that long without freezing. Sorry!

  22. Hello,
    Can I substitute the all purpose flour for the cake flour? So in this recipe said 1 cup all purpose flour. So how many cup of cake flour do I use? Please advise. Thanks you 

    1. I haven't tried this particular recipe with cake flour, but in general, yes, you can do a straight 1-to-1 substitution of cake flour for all-purpose flour in a cupcake recipe.

  23. All of my cakes fell in the middle. The frosting is too thick and DON’T use a whisk attachment, what a nightmare, everything stuck to the whisk!

    1. I didn't have an issue with my cupcakes. Those turned out beautifully. But I do have to agree with NOT to use a hand held mixer for the frosting! That was rough! I ended up using my stand up mixer and that worked out good.

  24. I made this into 6 layer cake AND IT WAS ABSOLUTELY PERFECT. The cake was so moist and decadent. I used dark cocoa powder cause I’m more into the dark chocolate taste. However, I’m afraid I may have done something wrong because the cake rose too high in the middle and cracked. Any idea why it might have happened? Thanks

    1. Oh dear! I'm so glad you loved this recipe, but that is a bummer that is rose in the middle and cracked! I have two recommendations if you are having this problem. The first is to make sure to use room temperature ingredients so they aren't cold from the fridge. But the other is to consider using "cake strips". I've seen YouTube videos on how to make homemade versions, but you can buy them online or at craft stores in their cake decorating sections. They wrap around your cake pans and help insulate the cakes so they bake more evenly to correct this very problem! Cook's Illustrated did a really helpful write up on how they remedy cakes that are rising high in the middle. They help correct a number of factors outside the recipe that contribute to this problem. I hope this helps!

  25. If I want only 7 cupcakes. What’s the measurement? If I wanted to do for my friend who is vegan. What is the substitute for egg?

  26. This is by far the best chocolate cupcake recipe ever! The others are going away. No need to save them. Thank you!

  27. Hi thanks for the recipe. Theses cupcakes really are the best so soft, fluffy and chocolatey! I baked them in a fan oven at 350° and only half filled the paper liners but they did not dome but rather rose and had a peak in the centre. Any ideas why please?

  28. I just baked these for my daughter's 5th bday and they came out sooo good! I tried another buttermilk chocolate recipe (no hot water) which were good but too crumbly. I love the idea of coffee but these are for little ones so I was happy to see a version with plain hot water. Looking forward to frosting them tomorrow. Thank you again!

  29. Dear Amy, these cupcakes were so good. All the credit goes to your recipe which is so precise and magic. Love it. God bless and happy holidays.

    1. That sounds delicious! I'm not sure how that would turn out since they definitely add weight to a thin batter. I would at least toss the chocolate chips in a little flour to help them not sink so much while the cupcakes bake.

  30. I'm so happy I found this recipe, these cupcakes are delicious. My 5 year old daughter and I wanted to eat them all before icing them, they are so good! I added coffee instead of hot water but otherwise followed the recipe and they turned out beautifully. I made peppermint white chocolate buttercream to make them Christmas cupcakes, next time I'll try your chocolate frosting. 

  31. I baked these in two inch tart pans for a fluted bottom and couldn’t have been happier with the domed tops! They really baked to perfection with so little fuss and effort. Definitely saving this recipe! 

  32. Hi! How long will these last in the fridge or out on the counter? Which is the best place to store these? Thank you - I love this recipe!

    1. They will last on the counter for 4-5 days if they are kept in an airtight container. I'm so glad you love these cupcakes as much as we do!

  33. I wanted to make these but decided not to because I'm unsure of how you measured the flour. Dip and sweep or 1 cup sifted or sifted 1 cup?  I prefer a recipe that uses weight when given a preference. Thank you, Russ