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.



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.




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.




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 |



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.

4.8 from 98 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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  1. 186

    mary beth says

    hi robyn, have you ever had trouble with the cupcakes shrinking with this recipe? I have been baking for decades, and cannot figure out what happened with this….followed the recipe to a T–any ideas? feel free to email me privately if you don’t want to put this under the reviews, it’s fine

    • 187


      Hi Mary Beth,
      I haven’t had an issue with them shrinking. I’m sorry it is causing you issues. How much are they shrinking?

  2. 188

    Audrey says

    Please remove my earlier comment (made in frustration). I put them back in for an additional 9 minutes — looks like it might have done the trick.

  3. 190

    Audrey says

    Follow up: I increase the baking time to 23 minutes (for my oven), and these come out great every time. They’re really moist and have a lovely full chocolate taste. I use Droste cocoa and substitute coffee extract for the espresso powder. I’ve brought these to two bake sales — they were the first items gone (they sold out within the first 5 minutes). Thanks again! These will be a mainstay.

  4. 191

    melai says

    hi did you also use dutch-process cocoa? anyway, i love your recipe! ive tried this yesterday and oh so yummy! very moist and soft. my husband and son loves it ♥

  5. 192

    Afton says

    These are awesome!! If I wanted to make these vanilla cupcakes- could I just eliminate the cocoa and expresso and add extra vanilla?

  6. 195

    Joee says

    It says that this makes 12 cupcakes. I am using 2 oz cups. How many can I make with this recipe?

  7. 196

    Elisabeth Ess says

    These cupcakes look so beautiful in your photo! But they look nothing like that for me. I have tried this recipe twice, once with “healthy” ingredients, and another time by the books. Both times they came out…weird. The “healthy” one was very dense and fudgey, and tasted okay. The regular ones were also dense, and to be honest tasted rather bad, and very bland. It seemed as thought the water had also sunk to the bottom of the cupcakes. The cupcakes were also stuck to the inside of the paper.

    I’m just wondering if I did something wrong! I’m worried! Maybe it was my cocoa powder? Or the fact that I used a toaster oven rather than a traditional one (it’s broken)? I want to make yummy, pretty cupcakes! What am I doing?

    • 197

      Lauren says

      I made them the normal way and had the exact same problem. They were too wet, bland and stuck to the paper. I tried them again today though and put in 3/4 cup cocoa and 1/3 (maybe a bit less) of water and they came out a lot better! Still nice and soft and moist and didn’t stick to the paper, with a lot more flavour.

    • 198

      Kesha Chiappinelli says

      If you leave them and let them totally cool they will come out not fudgey and with a fine crumb which I actually prefer. Be sure your baking soda and powder are fresh as these have to be replaced often. I always add a bit more vanilla than called for to almost any recipe and I generally melt good butter and use in place of oil. I did all of that here and they turned out great BUT I had to cook longer. You should be able to lightly press your finger on the center and they should spring back. That’s how I know they are done. Good luck.

  8. 199


    This is the easiest cupcake recipe. I have made it several times and it always comes out perfectly. Although the recipe calls for a half cup of boiling water, I never need to use it all. It all depends on the flour. The batter is extremely thin, very runny, but do not fear, it comes out fine. Fill the liners about three quarters full and you will get a nicely domed cup cake. This recipe makes 12 nice cupcakes, using the regular cupcake liners. If you are going to eliminate the cocoa powder, you will probably have to add more flour. There is no need to add the espresso, but it does give the cupcakes a nice favour. I use a chocolate ganache frosting, and. I have also dropped a few chocolate chips in the batter. Haven’t tried adding any nuts, but I guess you could add some.

    • 201

      Lisa says

      I had to write something after reading this comment. These are by far the best chocolate cup cakes I have ever made. I brought them to work and actually had to co workers get in to an agrument because one of them ate the last one. Thank you do much for sharing this awesome receipe.

  9. 202

    Fairlady says

    Hi Robyn… Thanks for this excellent recipe.
    I’ve baked twice using this recipe by adding chocolates chips, and it turns out awesome.
    My kids and friends are loving it.

  10. 203

    Beth says

    I am pregnant and craving chocolate like mad! I made your chocolate cake recipe with your buttercream frosting about a month ago and it was the best, moist cake I have ever had. I was craving chocolate again today and made these cupcakes (because the entire cake is just too tempting to keep around) and I had to bake for 26 mins before my toothpick came out relatively clean. They’re cooling now, but I’m sure they will be a little underdone in the middle. I used silicon muffin cups lined with paper and I’m thinking this may have been the reason for the longer baking time. Either way, I’m sure they will be amazing just like the cake! Thank you for a wonderful recipe :)

  11. 204

    lauren says

    Hi Robyn,

    Planning on making these for an engagement party and was wondering exactly what type of cocoa you used…there are so many different types! Thank you!!


  12. 206

    Melissa says

    I thought that they were just okay. I had higher expectations for them. I only got 10 cupcakes out of my batch and they just tasted bland. Im hoping with icing they will taste better.

    • 207

      Rachael says

      I’ve read many different blogs over the years and I just have to comment on something. I’m stunned by how blunt people are with their negative comments. What if you were talking to her in person about this? Would you say things the same way? Would you talk to a friend like this about their recipes? She spent time perfecting and writing about these foods, as have other bloggers, and we mustn’t forget this or people’s feelings.

  13. 208

    Ange says

    These are the best chocolate cupcakes ever! I brought them in to work to share with my colleagues and they were really impressed, both with the recipe and my execution! These cupcakes have now become my “thing” to bring to every work event. Can’t say I’m upset by that! Sooooooo good!

  14. 209

    Jacquie Lim says

    Hi Robyn.
    This recipe is awesome. Thank you for sharing. It was moist and fluffy like you said. The only change I had to do was to bake it at 350° for 15mins

  15. 210

    Tiffany Bryant says

    My son’s 1st birthday is this weekend and I would like to try your recipe for his birthday cupcakes. Can I make them in advance, say Thursday, to serve on Saturday? I do not plan to ice them until Saturday. On that note, I also plan to use your buttercream icing recipe. Can that also be made in advance and stored? How would you recommend storing?

    Thanks in advance!

  16. 211

    Sarah says

    Well, these are in the oven, and I am scared. I used pastry flour in place of the all purpose, and they are “leaking” everywhere. Put in for 13 minutes originally, added another 2….and we’re in for another 5 right now to try to get them to actually bake!!

    They are pretty flat, but finally cooked enough through!

    Taste test will see if I add this page to favourites and play with the recipe a little…

    • 212


      Sorry it gave you issues, Sarah. I wouldn’t recommend using pastry flour in this recipe. It was developed for using all-purpose. For substituting pastry flour in place of the all-purpose, you will need a bit more flour. You would want to use 1 cup + 1 tablespoon of pastry flour for each cup of all-purpose flour for the cake to bake properly. Hope that helps!

  17. 213

    Sharon Connor says

    These are the BEST cupcakes ever!!!! Sorry, not very original, but couldn’t come up with anything else. My best friend said she had never had a cupcake so moist that it made the frosting seem dry!! Thanks for this recipe, I can no longer imagine doing cupcakes or cakes from a box anymore!!

  18. 214


    My 4 year old son and I made your cupcakes (and frosting) today and they were delicious! I like that your recipe only makes a dozen. I pinned it so we can make it again. Thank you.

  19. 215

    Tonya Evans says

    Shut the door! These cupcakes are amazing. They taste great and came out looking picture perfect!
    I followed the recipe EXACTLY and they baked to perfection. I did have to bake them for longer than the instructions stated but other than that, no modifications. This one is going in the books as a staple recipe.

  20. 216

    Nicole says

    I wish I’d read the reviews before baking. I’ve added 9 mins so far, and they’re still not cooked through. I might have to taste-test one ahead of time, and I was going to have just enough.

  21. 217

    kristen says

    these turned out AMAZING. I had to cook mine for 22 minutes though >.< thankfully i read the comments first and realized that baking time definitely varies

  22. 218

    Jennifer says

    This recipe is awesome. Robyn, do you think there is a way to make the white cake recipe similar to this one? Meaning using all of the chocolate cake ingredients minus the cocoa? Would that work?

  23. 220

    Janeen says

    These taste best completely cooled… not so much straight out of the oven.
    At first, I thought I would be with the Nay sayers, but if you follow the directions (& cool completely), They’re perfectly yummy!

    I made these for my daughter’s school birthday celebration, along with your vanilla buttercream recipe. YUM!
    Happy to have found your blog.
    Thanks for the good recipe. :)

  24. 221

    Addie says

    I just commented on a Nutella frosting that you posted and I never realized you made this recipe as well! Anyway, these cupcakes where so good and moist! They tasted amazing with the Nutella frosting. I didn’t use the vanilla, but they still tasted great! I also didn’t use all of the boiled water and I’m still amazed at how well they turned out. Great job!

  25. 222

    Tracy says

    Hi Robyn I have made both your Chocolate cake and your cupcake recipes numerous times and found them to be every bit the best ever. Everyone loves them so I’m just wondering if I can make yellow cupcakes same recipe omitting the coco powder and would I replace it with extra flour or something else. I have not found another cupcake that comes close to this one. I would really appreciate your advice.

    Many thanks


  26. 223

    Michelle says

    I thought I already had my favorite chocolate cupcake recipe and then I made these! OH MY WORD!!! The flavor and the crumb and the texture were out of this world! This will now be my go to recipe! THANK YOU!!!!!

  27. 224

    Spencer says

    Overall, I found these cupcakes to be just okay. They really cry for the richness of some butter. Using oil as the only fat makes them somewhat bland and reminiscent of boxed or grocery store cupcakes. If you prefer cake on the lighter side, then these might be up your alley. I personally prefer a richer pastry.

    On the positive side, the cupcakes are very light and moist, and are incredibly easy to make. The frosting is very good, and adds a punch of richness that is missing from the cake itself.

  28. 225

    Paulina says

    I tried your “best chocolate cake” recipe for my husband’s birthday and it came out delicious. I want to eat it again but a whole cake is too much. So i found this recipe that seems to be what i am looking for, the only doubts I have is that I only have pastry flour and a mini cupcake tint. Are there any changes I should make so they came out delicious?
    Thank you…

  29. 226

    Katrina says

    After at least 20 times of using this recipe, singly, doubly, tripling, and getting great results each time, I thought I should say thank you. :) This is now my go-to recipe for cupcakes and cakes: it is simple and superb. Greetings from New Zealand!

  30. 227

    Danielle says

    Hi Robyn

    Thank you for sharing! I used all organic ingredients and half & half for the milk…indeed the best cupcakes ever! Could you suggest cooking temp and time to make into minis? Thanks

  31. 228

    Erin says

    Made these in Germany (where we live), for my son’s birthday party… amazing! In a world without cake mixes (or decent ones for that matter), I was super pleased with how these turned out! Thanks for sharing the recipe!!!!

  32. 229

    Deby says

    Dear Robyn,

    I have tried some of your recipes and they always turn out well but I was just wondering why my chocolate cupcakes (from this recipe) came out a little rubbery? It has large bubble holes inside & tasted a bit baking powder-y :(

  33. 231

    Amber says

    Hello! This recipe is great. I paired these cupcakes with whipped raspberry frosting for a dessert contest and I won the prize!

    I don’t keep espresso powder around the house, so I usually substitute boiling coffee for the water and powder. It works fabulously and this recipe comes out moist and perfect every time. Thank you so much!

  34. 233

    Mayan says

    Thank you so much for this great recipe. It was very easy to do! I made this for our Christmas eve feast yesterday. It was very soft and moist. I just increased baking time to 20 minutes. Again, thanks!

  35. 236

    chimdi says

    tried this last night, very moist,chocolatey,tasty chocolate cupcakes, the best so far. As a professional baker i recommend this recipe. thanks so much and keep them coming.

  36. 237

    Nathalia Cozzolino says

    I know this post is not recent, but I really hope you see my comment.
    I’m from Brazil, and I just discovered your blog some days ago. I made this cupcakes today and OMG!!!! It’s true, It’s literally the best chocolate cupcake!! My dad said it was the best cupcake he ever ate! For real!!!
    The only thing I did differently is that I didn’t use espresso powder, cause I don’t think we have this espresso powder for baking here in Brazil, so I used instant coffee instead. But I don’t think it made too much difference. But, anyway, I’ll try to find the espresso powder here, or try to buy it online.
    Well, the thing is.. I really just wanted to say I loved the recipe, and I love that I found your blog! Congratulations, it’s amazing!

  37. 238

    karen says

    We just made these for an 8 year old’s bday and they were definitely a hit. The cupcakes were moist and very fluffy. We used the buttercream frosting recipe but used Peppermint extract instead of vanilla, and that worked really well. They smelled good, too! We doubled the recipe, filled the paper cups probably 7/8 full, and ended up with 25 good-sized cupcakes. We might add chocolate chips next time, but they were good as-is.

    I had worried about relying on a recipe that I had never tried before, so I read all the comments first, and I was glad to have a heads up about the baking time. After 12 minutes they were still soupy. At 17 minutes, they were still too wet. We found 22 minutes to be perfect.

    I don’t usually write reviews, but these were worth it. We are going to keep this recipe! thank you!!

  38. 239

    MJ says

    I have made these cupcakes several times and they are truly delicious! They always receive many compliments :)…like many others who have responded, I also use a little less boiling water and bake the cupcakes a few minutes longer than the recipe calls for. The only ingredient change I have made is to use buttermilk instead of regular milk in the cupcakes. I use regular milk in the frosting. Theanks for sharing such a wonderful recipe…they certainly are the best chocolate cupcakes I have ever tasted!

  39. 242

    Sylvia says

    THIS RECIPE. *standing ovation*

    I made these last night and was utterly terrified because the batter was very thin, almost like crepe batter. I went ahead anyway and poured the mixture into the liners — not without a huge mess, I must say — and put them into the oven, then spent several minutes biting my nails and pacing for fear that they would be a complete flop. (It was late at night, I was sorely craving cupcakes, and that was my last cup of flour; so they HAD to come out well. Haha)
    Halfway through the prescribed baking time, I opened the oven for a peek…and to my surprise, they had the highest domes I had ever seen!
    HOWEVER: 15 minutes simply wasn’t enough. While they had domed very nicely, their insides were still liquid. So I added another 7 minutes to the bake — as Kristen and Karen above suggested — and that turned out to be the perfect duration of time that the cakes needed.

    These are THE moistest, HIGHEST-domed cupcakes I have ever seen, eaten, or made. I topped mine with a vanilla buttercream icing: my husband took one bite, and his eyes rolled back in sheer pleasure. He said they were the best I had ever made, and gave me a high five. I am *still* surprised at how such a thin batter produced cakes that held up!

    Thank you very much for this, Robyn! <3

  40. 243

    Rosalie says

    Thanks so much for sharing this recipe. My family loved it, my friends at the party loved it and I’m actually having my third one right now. Your recipe saved the day!

  41. 244

    Liz says

    I would love to make this cake but am afraid of the espresso taste for the children (the cake is for a birthday party in less than a week). Would it be diluted with the boiling water?

  42. 246

    Wendy says

    I made this recipe using Hersheys Special Dark Cocoa – and baked the in Twinkie pans. Filled them with typical twinkie filling and topped with bittersweet chocolate ganache. To say they were good is a gross understatement. Fantastic recipe, thank you for sharing!

  43. 247

    Claire says

    Having made these a few times, they’ve become my ‘go to’ recipe for chocolate cupcakes. We run social events for international students from around the world – and they’ve all loved them. The only change I make is to mix a little instant coffee powder with the boiling water, instead of the espresso powder. Have made the butter icing before – yum! But often just dust with icing sugar. Thanks so much for posting the recipe. :)

  44. 249

    Tracy Miller says

    These were fantastic! I used King Arthur cake flour. They turned out great. Very moist and tender. Thank you for a great recipe.


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