Best Chocolate Cupcakes Recipe

4.96 from 431 votes
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This Best Chocolate Cupcakes recipe makes decadent, moist, rich, and delicious cupcakes! They are quick and easy to make and are always a crowd favorite!

Photograph of chocolate cupcakes with white buttercream frosting

Chocolate cupcakes. Not just any cupcakes…but the best chocolate cupcakes. Like my chocolate cake, they are the most moist, rich, and delicious chocolate cupcakes I’ve ever tasted. They practically melt in your mouth. They are the perfect chocolate lover’s cupcakes! Top with chocolate buttercream or vanilla buttercream for the ultimate treat!

How to Make the Best Chocolate Cupcakes

Not only does this recipe make the best chocolate cupcakes in my book, but they are also so quick and easy.

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Ingredients for Moist Chocolate Cupcakes

Be sure to see the recipe card below for the full listing of ingredients, instructions, notes, and estimated nutritional information.

  • Flour – I use all-purpose flour in this recipe. You can also substitute with cake flour if you prefer or your favorite gluten-free flour for baking.
  • Sugar – this recipe was developed using granulated sugar.
  • Cocoa powder – the recipe was developed using unsweetened cocoa powder (natural cocoa powder) see the frequently asked questions for using Dutch-processed cocoa powder.
  • Baking powder – helps the cupcakes to rise.
  • Baking soda – also helps the cupcakes to rise.
  • Salt – enhances the flavor of the cupcakes and balances the sweetness.
  • Espresso powder – Optional, but I highly recommend adding espresso powder to your chocolate recipes. It enhances the chocolate flavor.
  • Milk – this recipe was developed using whole milk. It has been successfully tested using buttermilk, skim, almond, oat, rice, and coconut milk. For a dairy-free cupcake recipe, see my notes below.
  • Oil – this recipe was developed using canola oil, but lately, I have been using extra-virgin olive oil or melted coconut oil more and more. You can use your favorite oil for baking. You can also use melted butter if you like. See my notes below for this information.
  • Eggs – use room-temperature eggs for better blending into the cake batter. For an egg-free recipe, see my notes below.
  • Vanilla extract – Use your favorite high-quality vanilla extract. I love to use my homemade vanilla extract. It makes wonderful gifts to share with friends and family during the holidays. Extracting the vanilla from the beans takes about 5 minutes of upfront hands-on time and at least a month.
  • Boiling water – it is so important in this recipe. Don’t miss it!

A couple of ingredients make my cake – and these cupcakes – different and the best I’ve ever had. One of these is the boiling water. It’s so important to my recipe, so please don’t skip it, even though you may think it sounds strange. It will make the cupcake batter thinner than most other batters, resulting in a very tender and moist cupcake.

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Step-by-Step Instructions

This cupcake recipe is so simple. The batter can easily be mixed in a single bowl without using a mixer.

  1. Prep. Preheat oven to 325º F. Place cupcake liners in muffin pan. Spray lightly with cooking spray.
  2. Whisk dry ingredients. Add flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and espresso powder to a large bowl. Whisk to combine.
  3. Add wet ingredients. Add milk, oil, egg, and vanilla extract to the flour mixture and mix until well combined. Carefully add boiling water to the cupcake batter. Mix until well combined and the batter is smooth. Note that the batter will be very thin but bakes beautifully!
  4. Bake. Evenly distribute the cupcake batter. Each cupcake liner should be about 1/2 full. Place in the oven and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. You can follow my tips for how to tell when your cake is done. Remove from the oven and allow the cupcakes to cool completely.
  5. Frost and serve. While the cupcakes are cooling, prepare the frosting according to the recipe instructions. Note that you’ll need 1/2 of the frosting recipe for a dozen cupcakes. Frost the cupcakes and serve.

How Many Cupcakes Does this Recipe Make?

This recipe is sized to make exactly a dozen cupcakes.

You can easily multiply the recipe to increase it when you are baking for a party or a larger crowd.

Chocolate Cupcake Modifications

Gluten-Free Chocolate Cupcakes:

Substitute with your favorite gluten-free flour that you use for baking.

Dairy-Free Chocolate Cupcakes:

Substitute with your favorite dairy-free milk such as almond, coconut, rice, oat, or soy milk.

Egg-Free Chocolate Cupcakes:

To make this an egg-free chocolate cupcake recipe, use 1/3 cup of unsweetened applesauce in place of the large egg in the recipe. You will note that you may have to bake the cupcakes for just a few minutes more. Be sure to check with the skewer for doneness.

I’ve also used Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer as well as a flax egg with great success.

To Use Butter and Other Oils:

I have tested the chocolate cake and cupcake recipes with additional oils and butter. I’ve tested using an equal amount of extra-virgin olive oil and melted coconut oil to the oil called for in the recipe. I’ve also tested using the same volume of melted butter in place of the oils in the chocolate cupcakes. While it makes the texture slightly different, it is still delicious and worth trying if you’d prefer to use butter instead of oils in your chocolate cupcakes.

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes

Use the dairy-free and egg-free recommendations above.

Chocolate Cupcake Frosting

You have several delicious options when it comes to frosting for these cupcakes. You’ll notice that I’ve photographed them with my Vanilla Buttercream Frosting. The combination of rich chocolate with creamy vanilla is absolutely amazing.

But you know, it is also incredible with these frosting options as well.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Cream Cheese Frosting

Peanut Butter Frosting

For each of these frosting options, you’ll need 1/2 of the full recipe for a dozen cupcakes.

To decorate the cupcakes, you have a few options as well. You can swirl the frosting on top of the cupcake with a spoon or spatula, place the frosting into a zip-top bag and snip the corner to use as a quick frosting bag, or use a frosting bag fitted with a 1M tip (or open star).

Best Chocolate Cupcakes | addapinch.com

Storage Tips

To make ahead and store. Store the cupcakes at room temperature on the counter. I like to store them under a cake dome or in a cupcake carrier to keep them fresh. I do not recommend storing them in the refrigerator unless you use a frosting that requires refrigeration, such as cream cheese frosting.

To freeze. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely, and place them into an appropriate-sized freezer-safe, airtight container. Freeze the cupcakes for up to one month.

To frost once frozen. To frost the cupcakes, remove them from the freezer and allow them to thaw in the refrigerator. Then, frost once they have completely thawed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I substitute Dutch-processed cocoa powder with this chocolate cupcake recipe?

Since this recipe uses both baking powder and baking soda, you can substitute Dutch-processed cocoa powder for the natural cocoa powder called for in the recipe. I do recommend if you use Dutch-processed and can have dairy, use buttermilk as the milk in the recipe. If you can not use dairy, add 1/2 tablespoon distilled white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or lemon juice to the milk of your choice to add acidity to the recipe.

How many cupcakes does this recipe make?

This chocolate cupcake recipe makes 12 cupcakes. To increase the recipe, I recommend multiplying the recipe in increments of 12 (2x = 24 cupcakes, 3x = 36 cupcakes, 4x = 48 cupcakes, etc…).

Can I omit the espresso powder in the recipe?

While I highly recommend using espresso powder in chocolate recipes as it enhances the flavor of the chocolate, I understand that some people have sensitivities or prefer not to serve it. You can omit the espresso powder from the recipe without having to make any substitutions for it.

Can I substitute instant coffee or hot coffee for the espresso powder in the recipe?

The purpose of the espresso powder in the recipe is to enhance the flavor of the chocolate and not to leave a coffee flavor in the recipe. I tested this recipe using instant coffee (instead of espresso powder) and hot coffee (in place of boiling water and espresso powder) and found that it could leave a bitter aftertaste. I recommend before you make these substitutions for a significant event, to test it in a test batch first.

Here’s my best chocolate cupcakes recipe with vanilla buttercream frosting. I hope you love them as much as we do!

Best Chocolate Cupcakes Recipe

4.96 from 431 votes
This Best Chocolate Cupcakes recipe makes decadent, moist, rich, and delicious cupcakes! They are quick and easy to make and are always a crowd favorite!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 12

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup (120 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (198 g) sugar
  • 1/2 cup (42 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon (4 g) baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (3 g) baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon (1.4 g) kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon (1.15 g) espresso powder, homemade or store-bought
  • 1/2 cup (113.5 g) milk, buttermilk, oat milk, or other favorite plant-based milk
  • 1/4 cup (49.5 g) oil, canola, vegetable, extra-virgin olive oil, melted coconut oil, melted butter *see notes in the recipe post
  • 1 large (50 g) egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.35 g) vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (113.5 g) boiling water
  • Vanilla Buttercream Frosting , half of full recipe (or another favorite frosting)

Instructions 

  • Prep. Preheat oven to 325º F. Place cupcake liners in muffin pan. Spray lightly with cooking spray.
  • Whisk dry ingredients. Add flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and espresso powder to a large bowl. Whisk to combine.
  • Add wet ingredients. Add milk, oil, egg, and vanilla extract to the flour mixture and mix until well combined. Carefully add the boiling water to the cupcake batter. Mix until well combined and the batter is smooth. Note that the batter will be very thin.
  • Bake. Evenly distribute the cupcake batter. Each cupcake liner should be about 1/2 full. Place in the oven and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. You can follow my tips for how to tell when your cake is done. Remove from the oven and allow the cupcakes to cool completely.
  • Frost and serve. While the cupcakes are cooling, prepare the frosting according the recipe instructions. Note that you'll need 1/2 of the frosting recipe for a dozen cupcakes. Frost the cupcakes and serve.

Notes

The nutritional values are for one cupcake without frosting.

Make-Ahead and Freezing Instructions: 

To make ahead and store. Store the cupcakes at room temperature on the counter. I like to store them under a cake dome or in a cupcake carrier to keep them fresh. I do not recommend storing them in the refrigerator unless you use a frosting that requires refrigeration, such as cream cheese frosting.
To freeze. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely, and place them into an appropriate-sized freezer-safe, airtight container. Freeze the cupcakes for up to one month.
To frost once frozen. To frost the cupcakes, remove them from the freezer and allow them to thaw in the refrigerator. Then, frost once they have completely thawed.
 
 

Nutrition

Serving: 1cupcake | Calories: 162kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 15mg | Sodium: 154mg | Potassium: 118mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 17g | Vitamin A: 36IU | Calcium: 34mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Enjoy!
Robyn xo

Originally shared in 2013. Updated 2023 to include additional modification options and FAQs.

Welcome to Add A Pinch

About Robyn

Robyn Stone is a cookbook author, wife, mom, and passionate home cook. Her tested and trusted recipes give readers the confidence to cook recipes the whole family will love. Robyn has been featured on Food Network, People, Southern Living, and more.

4.96 from 431 votes (38 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Review




1,360 Comments

  1. Vicky says:

    5 stars
    Really great my whole family loved it!

  2. Sabrina says:

    4 stars
    Doubled the recipe and got 24 cupcakes. Used regular Reynolds cupcake liners filled 2/3 way. Baked @315 in Ninja Grill XL using bake setting for 12-14 min. Also baked a separate batch in traditional oven @300 for 30 min. Both tasted fine but the Ninja formed right leaning peaks that looked strange.

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      Sabrina, I have never made these cupcakes in a Ninja Grill. Usually when a cake or cupcake bakes unevenly on one side, the oven is not heating the same on both sides.

  3. Rebecca says:

    5 stars
    I have made these cupcakes countless times. They’re always a hit. I am just now realizing I used bread flour instead of AP flour when making them today. Still moist and delicious 😂

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      Rebecca, I’m glad these cupcakes were still moist with the bread flour. So glad you like this recipe.

  4. Leah says:

    5 stars
    Omg these are sooooo good! Very easy to make by hand, didn’t need a mixer. Made these chocolate cupcakes and made cream cheese Oreo frosting with crushed Oreos on top. Yum! 😋

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      I’m so glad you made these cupcakes, Leah! This is definitely my go to cupcake recipe. That frosting sounds amazing!

  5. LA says:

    Hello,
    Do you use a blender when you prepare the recipe, for example when you add the wet ingredients?
    Thank you

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      LA, I use a mixer but you can easily mix this cupcake batter by hand. I hope you enjoy.

  6. Melanie says:

    I am revisiting your recipe after a while. It was my star gift to the tv crew I work with during covid shut down. We were doing live programmes and so we were classified essential workers. This recipe with coconut oil and spelt flower with a Russian butter coffee icing was more than a huge hit!!! 😅 Thank you so much ❤️ light and fluffy, delicious!!! Well done!

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      Thank you, Melanie. I’m thrilled that everyone loved these cupcakes.

  7. Sadie says:

    5 stars
    These are excellent cupcakes and well-deserving of all the 5 star reviews. They’re moist, light, tender, and nice and chocolaty. I’ve tried countless “best” chocolate cupcake recipes over the years and most of them fell short. This one delivered! I used the weight measures and didn’t make any changes other than to increase the espresso to 1 tbsp and to add a pinch of cinnamon. Neither would have affected the structure of the cupcakes. It’s important not to fill the liners more than half full. My yield was 13.

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      Thanks so much, Sadie! I’m thrilled that these cupcakes turned out so well for you.

  8. Mikaela says:

    5 stars
    Delicious, but the yield was WAY off! I got 12 full sized cupcakes, plus 24 mini cupcakes (all closer to 2/3 full than half). Maybe my muffin tins are smaller than yours? Mine perfectly fit standard sized supermarket cupcake liners.

    I’d still rate this 5 stars though because I can’t be upset about having extra cupcakes.

  9. Michelle says:

    What’s better buttermilk or 2% milk?

    Also oil or melted butter? Thanks

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      Michelle, I normally use whole milk when making this cake. I haven’t made it with 2% milk. The texture is slightly different with the melted butter but the cake is still delicious if you prefer butter over oil. I hope you enjoy the cake.