Best Chocolate Cupcakes Recipe

Chocolate cupcakes. You probably saw this one coming, didn’t you? I can be rather transparent. Especially since I’ve been talking about the best chocolate cake ever so much and all. But, for this recipe, you have Claire to thank.


Best Chocolate Cupcakes Recipe from

A while back, Claire emailed me and said she needed some help.

She wanted to make a special treat for her fiance and wanted to make a dozen cupcakes like the cake.

Now, when someone sends me an email asking for my help, I try to do everything I can to help them. And, sometimes that results in my family eating more chocolate – of which, they really love.

Since I’d only doubled the recipe to make chocolate cupcakes for a crowd, I wasn’t entirely sure I could tell her without a shadow of a doubt that she could only make 12 from the recipe. So I went to work.

As a side note, whenever you can say that testing for the best chocolate cupcakes is work, you know you are one lucky girl.


Anywho, I also wanted to be sure to size a frosting recipe to work perfectly with the amount of chocolate cupcakes.

Although having extra buttercream frosting doesn’t seem like a bad idea, I always try to keep the recipes even when I share them with y’all.


Best Chocolate Cupcakes Recipe from


I didn’t get all fancy when frosting these cupcakes either.

I just put all of my buttercream frosting into a zip top bag, snipped off the corner and went round and round on top for a generous bit of frosting on top.

Of course, you can get fancy, fancy with them if you like, but I know that my family just likes things simple, yet delicious.


Best Chocolate Cupcakes Recipe from


Which really makes these not only the best chocolate cupcake in my book, but also about the easiest one I’ve ever made.

Again, the cake batter is thinner than most, but results in a very tender and moist cupcake.

The batter can easily be mixed in a bowl without the use of heavy duty mixers making it great to throw together after your family has gone to bed or bright and early in the mornings. (Can you tell I’ve done that a time or two?)


Best Chocolate Cupcakes Recipe from



If you love chocolate and are looking for what my family calls the best chocolate cupcakes, this is your recipe.

If you’ve wanted to try my recipe for the best chocolate cake ever and just didn’t want to be tempted by a whole cake, this is your recipe.

If you know someone who needs a little pick-me-up or has some celebrating to do, this is your recipe.

Or, better yet, it’s Thursday. Let’s just declare it chocolate cupcake day and go make ‘em.

You in?

Here’s my best chocolate cupcakes recipe with vanilla buttercream frosting. This recipe yields 12 cupcakes and can easily be doubled.

4.9 from 67 reviews

Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Recipe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Get this easy recipe for Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting.
Serves: 12
  • Chocolate Cupcakes
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon espresso powder
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup boiling water
  1. Preheat oven to 325º F.
  2. Place cupcake liners in muffin tin. Spray lightly with cooking spray.
  3. Add flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk through to combine or, using your paddle attachment, stir through flour mixture until combined well.
  4. Add milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla to flour mixture and mix together on medium speed until well combined. Reduce speed and carefully add boiling water to the cake batter. Beat on high speed for about 1 minute to add air to the batter.
  5. Evenly distribute cake batter. Each cupcake liner should be about ¾ths full.
  6. Place in the oven and bake 12-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Remove from the oven and allow the cupcakes to cool completely.
  8. Prepare Buttercream Frosting according to instructions.


I hope you enjoy these as much as we do and hey, I’m here for ya, man! Err… you know what I mean.

Robyn xoxo


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About Robyn

A seventh generation Southern wife and mom who loves to share simple, fresh, and scrumptious recipes the whole family will enjoy.


  1. 121

    Hi…. I used this recipe yesterday and cupcakes where delicious . Well done will definitely keep this recipe. I didn’t use all the hot water as mixture was too liquidy and instead of espresso I used instant coffee with the warm water….still they turned out super delicious :)

    • 122

      Hi Arlene,
      Glad you loved them. Yes, the batter is very, very thin, but I do recommend adding all of the water as it helps the texture and moisture of the finished product.

  2. 123

    I actually doubled the recipe. They were delicious. Very, very moist and they practically melted in my mouth. It kinda scared me because it was so watery, but they turned out great. Also, I cooked mine for about 18 minutes (but my oven is also very old….).

  3. 124

    This recipe looks delicious and I will be making these for Valentine’s Day. Does the butter in the frosting need to be unsalted butter? Thanks for your help!

  4. 126

    thanks for sharing this receipt. it’s really yummy and moist, even with out butter frosting :)

  5. 127

    6 words… Wow, loved them! These are perfect!

  6. 128

    Hi Robyn,

    I baked these cupcakes tonight and they turned out beautifully! Thank you for the recipe. I have one question. I will be frosting the cupcakes tomorrow, but I realized I only have skim milk. Will this be a problem? I don’t mind going to the store…I just want a tasty treat for my coworkers!

    Thank you,

  7. 130

    I made the cupcakes and frosting last night while snowed in and they came out fantastic! For years I have tried out various butter cream recipes and they have all been awful in their own was. This was perfect. Thank you so much for sharing :).

  8. 131

    I have made these several times and have a last minute VD request from “the baby” – out of milk – can I use buttermilk w/o messing them up?

  9. 133

    I just made these and they came out perfect! I didn’t have the expresso powder but substituted Folgers cappuccino powder that I had. I was worried about the thinness of the batter, although I shouldn’t have worried the cupcakes came out very light and fluffy. Delicious treat for Valentine’s Day!

  10. 134

    I had to cook mine for about 18 minutes also, very very yummy. I threw a couple of cinnamon hearts in each cupcake while cooking, They were a hit. I crushed some cinnamon hearts and put it in the frosting. Very yummy!!!

  11. 135

    I haven’t made the cupckaes yet but i have a question. My friend hates coffee and anything like that. So will the cupcakes turn out all rite if i dont add the espresso?

  12. 136

    Just made it exactly and it is the best! Thank you forever :)

  13. 137

    I made these cupcakes for my son’s birthday last weekend. They were very tasty– moist and flavorful. I got a lot of compliments on them. For anyone else who is considering making this recipe, I wanted to leave a little feedback. The bake time is much longer than stated in the recipe. It took mine 20-25 minutes to be fully baked. Perhaps because of all the extra water and how runny the batter is? At any rate, give yourself extra time and be patient. I was very, very skeptical about this recipe after adding all that boiling water and seeing the batter thin out so dramatically, but the cupcakes did taste wonderful in the end. I’ll make them again!

    • 138

      Yes Erin…..I agree with you. Mine were in for the first 13 minutes…then I added an extra 5…just checked them…and still not cooked. Waiting an additional 10 minutes now…. Yay! Cooked perfectly! Took exactly 28 minutes. Can’t wait to try one. They look yummy!

  14. 139

    Hello! I am looking for a buttercream frosting that is easy to decorate with (piping around the edges of a cake). Is this an easy decorating frosting? Also if I were to make a cake instead of cupcakes for this recipe what would you recommend for a cook time? My daughter wants a princess castle cake for her birthday and I am going to try give her the best cake I can! ;) Have you tried this recipe to make cone cupcakes? Is the batter too thin for that? Thank you!

  15. 140

    Hi Robyn!

    I’m a self-taught baker here in the Philippines and I’ve been looking at your baking recipes for months now. I tend try out different recipes and adapt them to suit our tastes and I did the same with these chocolate cupcakes. I used a combination of granulated sugar and brown sugar to get a caramel-ly hint, plus I used freshly brewed coffee instead of the espresso powder. I sliced some cheesecake into small chunks and added them to the cupcakes too.

    Everyone loved how perfectly they turned out!

    My wife posted it on her blog website, and we’d appreciate it if you can swing by too.

    • 141

      I saw the photo and they look AWESOME! I will have to try a few batches of those too as I don’t care for icing myself but LOVE white cheesecake. Thanks for the tip! :-)

  16. 142

    I made these cupcakes into a giant cake and it’s amazing! The cake by itself is moist and chocolate rich. I’ll definitely be using this recipe again but with dark chocolate cocoa powder. Great recipe, make them!

  17. 143

    This truly is the most delicious chocolate cake I have ever had. I used the buttercream frosting but found that I had barely enough to frost the cake. I’m making it again for my sister’s birthday and I’m going to double the ingredients for the frosting which was the best I’ve ever tasted. I tried to give this recipe 4 stars ***** but the system would not allow it.

  18. 144

    best cupcakes ever!!!!!

  19. 145

    Just made these cupcakes and they were absolutely delicious! Can I use this recipe to make an 8″ cake? Would it bake through evenly? I’m just afraid it might end up being too wet in the middle.

  20. 146

    This is a wonderful and delicious recipe. Thank you sharing it. I baked chocolate cupcakes for my hubby’s birthday today and they turned out perfect. And he loved his birthday surprise a lot! This is a very easy recipe for a beginning baker like me and it has motivated me to bake more!

  21. 147
    Jeannine says:

    great recipe, but these took WAAAAY longer than 18 minutes. By the time these were fully baked it took 35-40 minutes! My oven is accurate on temp so I’m not sure what happened. Maybe the recipe should bake at a higher temp?

  22. 148

    Hi I want to do this recipe but I realized that I do not have cocoa but unsweetened chocolate. Can I still try and if yes, with how much ?

  23. 149

    I’ve been looking for exceptional cupcake recipe for years now. Finally!!!! Great recipe.

  24. 150

    thank you so much!!! My cupcake is perfect!!!

  25. 151

    Good evening Robyn,
    I made this recipe exactly as written and they were the best cupcakes I’ve ever had.
    I made them for my 7yr olds b-day party and I caught one little girl using her fingernail to
    scrape the cupcake liner clean. Her mom let me give her a second one….
    I’m making them again tonight for my 4 yr old’s party and I’ll make them for a dinner the night before my brother gets married.
    Thanks for taking your time to share and using ingredients that I have at the house. (I did use instant coffee though).
    I appreciate it.

  26. 152

    I only have vanilla extract and no expresso. Could I use the extract and do without the expresso?

    • 153

      Hi Mary! Sure, you can omit the espresso and just use the vanilla extract. It will still be delicious. If you do get the chance to use espresso at some point, it just makes it even better. Hope you enjoy it!

  27. 154

    Hi there.
    I’m really looking forward to try and make this cupcake recipe.
    Can I substitute half of the veg. oil with applesauce?

  28. 155

    We made these last night and they were delicious! I didn’t have instant coffee/expresso so I just left it out but they were still amazing.

  29. 156

    Hello Robyn

    I live in Sweden and we don’t have buttermilk here. How can I make the vanilla buttercream frosting, is there any substitute or is it OK to omit it in the recipe? I would really love to try it out…

    Best regards

    • 157
      Kristin says:

      Funny I was just thinking of this earlier today!

      All that you have to do is put 4.5 teaspoons of white vinegar or fresh lemon juice in a glass measuring cup and add regular milk* to make 1 cup of total liquid. Stir gently and let sit about 10 minutes. Use as needed for the recipe or cover and store in the fridge.

      *You should be able to use whatever milk you have on hand (skim, 2%, whatever!)

  30. 158
    Alexandra Millman says:

    Oh my gosh….of all the cupcakes I’ve made, this one truly is a pinnacle of achievement. it is perfectly moist and the frosting is AMAZING. To me, this is a Georgetown + level cupcake. It’s just that good. I followed all the directions correctly & added the boiling water and it was TERRIFIC. My family loved them and the serving size is great,too! Anyone who says so otherwise is completely wrong. I just don’t understand how not to make a perfect cupcake from this recipe! thanks so much for making a little bit of my day sweeter :)

  31. 159
    Michelle G says:

    Hi. Just wanted to say thank you for this wonderful recipe first!! But also to say, for the sake of others, that I made it without the espresso powder, as I didn’t have any, and they were still absolutely delicious. I can’t wait to pick up some powder so I can make them with it, too. Thanks again for sharing your talents with us.

  32. 160
    Jennifer Clemente says:

    The best cupcakes I’ve ever made! Thanks Robyn, I’m glad I found you!

  33. 161
    Stephanie says:

    These look wonderful! Can’t wait to try them! I’m going to give 5 stars for desire to try, but I’m posting to ask a question. Would these cupcakes hold up for filling? I want to make raspberry filled cupcakes for my daughters bridal shower.

  34. 162
    Kristin says:

    Hi Robyn! These sound absolutely delicious and have rave reviews! I can’t wait to try these for my sister’s baby shower!

    For the cocoa do you recommend sweetened or unsweetened? Or can unsweetened be used maybe with more sugar?


  35. 164

    I made the cupcakes exactly as written and they were fabulous. I made them for my momma’s birthday and topped with peanut butter frosting.

  36. 165

    I don’t often comment – but I just had to say, these are AMAZING… I am getting the oven replaced tomorrow morning – so wanted to make some chocolatey goodness as a last hoorah for it… It cant cope with a full sized cake anymore so cupcakes it was…

    I must have super tiny muffin tins – as there was a heap of mixture left after 12 – so i popped some in a coffee cup and zapped it for 1.5minutes in the microwave (just to see!) – OMG – Not plasticy at all – the texture is JUST as good as when baked – MOST AMAZING RECIPE EVER!

  37. 166

    I’ve made your recipe several times and always turns out great! I recently tried them for a friend who likes black forest anything. I used kirsch instead of vanilla and added a single cherry (from thawed frozen)to each cupcake just before popping in the oven. Decided to use sweetened whipped cream instead of buttercream to lighten it up a bit. A little shaved chocolate on top. A fresh cherry on top would have been perfect, but it isn’t the season and none were to be found. Everyone thought they were delicious. Thanks for the wonderful easy, quick recipe that never fails.

  38. 167

    Great recipe! I was surprised it turned out so good! I didn’t used coffee because of my 2 year-old son. But I loved it because it wasn’t too sweet. He ate it without frosting or anything.

  39. 168

    Seriously.. best recipe ever! I usually cook with healthy vegan recipes and different flours, but i thought I would make a treat for my husband’s work crew… and honestly they are so moist almost like a lava cake. I bake a lot and these are terrific!!!! I didn’t’ have espresso powder but i made a really good strong italian coffee and just put in a couple tablespoons of the liquid! Amazing!!

    • 169

      Also forgot to say.. I used vegan butter for the icing and it was still amazing and a nice white icing!

  40. 170

    These were great cupcakes. Very easy recipe, though I think the time stated is for mini cupcakes because I too had to bake for 25 minutes.

  41. 171


    Quick question–If I am going to replace the espresso powder with Fresh brewed espresso–how much should I add?


  42. 172

    Just made these and the buttercream frosting, they are TERRIFIC!! Thanks so much again!

  43. 173

    Love the flavor! And have made your awesome chocolate cake.
    Quick question: when I made these the tops shrunk down after I took them out of the oven. Any tips on how to make the domes nice and round? (I too found that 3/4 filled made them too big, and needed 22 minutes so will try less batter per cup next time). Thanks!

  44. 174

    The best cupcakes I have ever made! … Just perfect!!! Thanks Robyn! :-)


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