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 Frosting, Homemade Funfetti Cake, and Best Red Velvet Cake.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
More Cake & Cupcake Recipes You'll Love
- Key Lime Cupcakes
- Dulce de Leche Cupcakes
- Gingerbread Cupcakes with Eggnog Buttercream
- S'mores Cupcakes with Graham Cracker Frosting
- Red Velvet Cupcakes
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.
Best Ever Moist Chocolate 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
- 1 cup salted butter, softened
- ⅔ cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 4-6 Tablespoons heavy cream or whole milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
Reader questions and reviews
Very good and easy to make. I didn’t get the domed top because I guess I didn’t put enough batter in the cupcake liners and made extra cupcakes.
I added 2 T brewed coffee to the wet ingredients—made a big difference. You can’t taste the coffee, but the chocolate flavor was definitely enriched. Delish.
If I want to make these ahead of time for my daughter’s party on Sunday, what’s the rec for freezing and unfreezing so they keep their moistness?
Cupcakes freeze great! I would freeze them unfrosted on a baking sheet for 2 hours, then throw them into a ziploc freezer-safe bag. You could even frost them while they are frozen and they will thaw within an hour sitting out on the counter.
I will never use another chocolate cupcake recipe again because this is the recipe to end all recipes. So incredibly moist and rich! I paired the cupcake with a simple raspberry filling, topped with a chocolate Italian buttercream, and then drizzled with semi-sweet chocolate ganache -creating what I think is the best cupcake I've ever made. I followed the recipe exactly, with the exception of substituting fresh-brewed Nespresso for the hot water.
Okay, that sounds amazing. I have to make chocolate Italian buttercream and raspberry filling for these ASAP!
How many cupcakes does this make?
Thes are light airy not too sweet and absolutely delicious. Easy to make although I didn’t make the icing....yet and ate a few. Switch the hot water with coffee and yum!
Hi! What would you suggest for mini cupcakes, as far as bake time?
I would recommend checking them starting around the 10 minute mark, but they shouldn't take longer than 15 minutes.
Do you use natural cocoa powder, or Dutch processed?
You can use either, although I typically just use natural cocoa powder.
These were amazing! My family loved them. Thank you for sharing it.
I made these for Easter with thee chocolate buttercream frosting. They turned out well but I would suggest using a good quality chocolate. The cupcakes are very chocolatey.
These are the most moist cupcakes ever!! Thank you for sharing this recipe ❤️ And you were so right not to overfill the liners. Half full will do it perfectly, thank you!!!
Hi there, I have already tried this amazing cupcakes recipes for a few birthday surprises and they were absolutely fabulous. Can this recipe be used in cake tins, for like 6 inch or 7 inch and can it be doubled?
Yes, absolutely! You will just need to adjust your baking time and you might end up with a little extra batter, which you can always use to make a couple of cupcakes.
Can I use lime juice instead of lemon juice withe the milk?
Hi Amy, I would like to know what to do if I want to bake these into two 8” cake tins and if I can bake these into cake tins.
Yes, you can use 8" cake pans! I think the cooking time might be close to around 30 minutes, but I can't remember exactly from the last time I made them that way. Looks like I need to make chocolate cake again and pay attention so I can include that in my notes here!
Can they be baked into a 10 inch cake tin as well. Thank You very much for getting back to me Amy, I’m going to use your recipe to make cake pops for Eid. Every time I use your cake recipes everyone loves them.
Hi there,so glad I found this recipe,,I need to make some cupcakes for a birthday party and came across your recipe,so just did a tes5 run and omg this is a keeper so nice and moist ,,just wondering can I double the recipe ,,iam also going to try your vanilla ones I see you can double or triple that one
Thanks for sharing
Yes, you can double these easily!
Sugar is not mentioned in your steps
Thank you for sharing this recipe. They truly are the best chocolate cup cakes I have ever made. They are so moist, not overly sweet and the chocolate flavour is just right. I am making a second batch tonight after making my first batch yesterday which disappeared by the end of the day. This will be my go to chocolate cup cake recipe from now on.
the recipe must be very good, I'll try to make it at home
Can I use cake flour instead of all purpose flour? Thanks!
Yes, you can!
These were so yummy! I made peanut butter frosting to go with mine. The only thing was my cupcakes were a little crumbly. What could I do different.
That's strange that they would be a little crumbly. I mean, crumbs are normal, but if they were crumbly, I'm wondering if that's because they were slightly overbaked?
I am planning on making these on Friday for a Sunday morning birthday party. Do you think they'll still be fresh? How should I store them? Thank you!
I tried it and its great! I used brewed coffee instead of water to highten the flavour. I just noticed that it's a bit crumbly. What can I do to make it less or what might have caused it to be a bit crumbly? It's not dry; it's moist, but it crumbles a bit. Is it cuz if needed more mixing for gluten?
That's a great question. Yes, mixing more increases the gluten, which could help the cupcakes be less crumbly.
My friend made these for me for my birthday what a hit & so moist and such a wonderful treat to not have at least 5 in a row lol
I'm so glad you enjoyed them! And happy belated birthday (I know it was a few weeks ago but I've been really behind on comments!).
Thank you soooo much!!!! I made choco cupcakes this morning and my 2 year old loooovvvvve it!!!! Thanks for this recipe. I did not have buttermilk at hand but your suggested substitute of lemon and milk still made my cupcake moist and fluffy!!! I will check your other recipe and make 'em!! Thank you!!!!
First time to use this recipe and they turned out better than expected. Moist and fluffy.
I'm glad you enjoyed the recipe!
Hi there Great cupcakes. Sorry if this has been asked before but if doubling the recipe to make a layer cake then what is the baking time? I couldn’t see that part. Thanks.
It will depend on the size of your pan, but usually 25-30 minutes.
What should be baking time and oven temperature for mini cup cakes
Same oven temp but the bake time will be between 14-16 minutes.
Instead of the hot water, could I add the same amount of hot coffee instead?
Can I use coconut oil in place of vegetable oil?
I haven't tried it, but yes, I think it would work.
I made this recipe last night and followed the directions exactly and placed it in a 9” cake pan. It turned out very moist, but something tasted really off. It almost tasted like baking soda even though I put in the correct amount. Pretty darn disappointed.
How long do you recommend if I bake in a muffin pan?
18-21 minutes for a regular-sized muffin pan.
Beautiful chocolate cupcakes!
These are my favorite cupcakes!! So moist and delicious!!! I was wondering if I can half this recipe? Thank you!
Sooo freaking moist and delicious! I’ll never leave this recipe!
These cupcakes tasted amazing! I made them for my son's birthday and they were a hit!! I also made the frosting from this recipe and it was hands down, the best chocolate frosting I have ever had. I will definetly be making these again!
Sounds like a great recipe will be trying it my cupcakes have been a little dryer then I like lately
Made these this weekend, I was disappointed. My cupcakes came almost like a chewy brownie. I followed the recipe exactly as it was posted. I don’t know what happened.
Bummer! It sounds like possibly the batter was overmixed after adding the flour. This creates gluten which could make baked goods more chewy, which is what I'm guessing happened here because they should have been light and fluffy!
I tried this recipe and I fell in LOVE!!! It was so moist!!! YUMMY!!!
gorgeous!! thank you
Hi i was thinking if its possible to turn this into vinalla cupcakes?
Hmm, I would just use this Moist Vanilla Cupcakes recipe instead rather than trying to omit and reconfigure these chocolate cupcakes. 🙂
How can i make these gluten free please
Hi Kay! I'm not a gluten-free baker so I really can't say. I'm sorry!
These taste great, but definitely need to fill them more than 1/2 way next time.
I'm glad you liked them! Yes, everybody's ovens cook a little differently! Sometimes I fill them up more and sometimes I fill it up less. I'm glad you found what works for you!
I like your food
Looks so easy to combine the recipe together. I have a chocolate cupcake order. This recipe will be perfect!
It really is so good! I hope you like it!
This recipe is fantastic!! I usually am not a fan of chocolate cake, always seems too dry and crumbly for my taste. That has all changed with this recipe!!! The only change I’ve made is adding 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon for a little extra flavor. This recipe is a keeper!
I made this recipe yesterday and it’s AMAZING! I loved how smooth the bread is and it felt like it was melting, the best chocolate cupcake I’ve had! I’m definitely saving this recipe for the future. 💯
Thank you! It is a good one! Now I want a chocolate cupcake. You made it sound so good!
My family loves this recipe. Comes out amazing every time!
These are amazing... Mine came out flat topped though. How do i get the dome?
If they aren't doming, my suggestions would be to make sure your ingredients are at room temperature and don't fill the cupcake liners quite as much next time. A little less batter actually helps them rise a little bit better. Also, I think that altitude can affection things and if you are at a higher altitude you might add a smidge less sugar and a tablespoon more flour, I think.
I made these cupcakes for my Grandmother in law's 80th birthday last year and they were a huge hit! Making them for another party. Can I make Friday and serve Sunday? If so, store in an air tight container? Thank you for an amazing recipe!
I'm so glad this is a go-to recipe for you! Yes, they will still taste fresh on Sunday if you store them in an airtight container.