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.

Yield: 12

Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Recipe

Total Time 30 minutes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Get this easy recipe for Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting.
4.84 from 272 votes
Did you make this recipe?


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • Vanilla Buttercream Frosting half of full recipe


  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, egg, 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 1/2 full.
  6. Place in the oven and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes
  7. Remove from the oven and allow the cupcakes to cool completely.
  8. Prepare Buttercream Frosting according to instructions.

All images and text © Robyn Stone for Add a Pinch


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


830 comments on “Best Chocolate Cupcakes Recipe”

  1. Can you make mini cupcakes out of this recipe? Any changes need to be made?

  2. I’ve been looking for a great chocolate cupcake recipe for years. So glad I found this one. I topped them with ganache and then decorated with fondant. A big hit, moist and chocolatey.

  3. Can I use buttermilk?

  4. This has been a hit time and time again since I first stumbled upon this recipe about 3 years ago. Thank you for being so brilliant! Always amazing, even a day or two after (on the rare occasion they last that long!).

  5. hi would duched processed powder really work?
    because it uses both baking powder and baking soda
    so if using the wrong cocoa has bad effects on the cupcakes
    do you think it will work

  6. Hello! I have the “cake” version in my oven right now and I was checking out the adjustments you made for cupcakes. Just curious, I noticed that most of the ingredients are half that of the cake recipe except the cocoa powder (and other minor things). I wondered if you found that adding more cocoa powder was a hit and if I should even consider adding more cocoa powder to the cake next time! Thanks!

    • I was also curious about why some ingredients were halved and a few had another ratio applied to them. I would love to know the answer!

  7. This is officially my go to chocolate cake recipe! I’m not a huge chocolate cake fan but the cupcakes I made were sooo yummy I had to eat two of them. Two thumbs way way up. 

  8. I made these the day before yesterday and I seriously have to say they are the best chocolate cupcake I have ever eaten! I put cream cheese frosting on them instead of the buttercream and that with the fudgy chocolate e cupcake was absolutely delicious! I followed the directions of whipping both of frosting and the cupcake recipe on high for one minute after everything was mixed and it made everything so fluffy! I won’t use another recipe again for chocolate cupcakes!

  9. I am thinking of baking these for a party, is the espresso strong? and, can you bake them without?

  10. Hi Robyn,

    The cupcakes always turn out wonderful and has become a huge hit with my family and friends.

    The only problem I have is with the liners pulling away from the cupcakes. I don’t see this happen with the other cupcakes that I bake. I am planning to bake this for a birthday party and wondering Is there a way to prevent the liners from peeling away?

  11. Hi Robyn,
    I am a culinary student and my favorite thing to do is bake. I had an idea to make a salted caramel chocolate cupcake and needed a base chocolate cupcake recipe. This is it. I love how moist this cupcake is and when paired with bacon and caramel? So good. Thank you so much! Xo

  12. This is my go-to chocolate cupcake recipe! It’s fantastic!

  13. This is my go to cupcake recipe, it never fails and everyone loves it!!!

  14. This is my secret cupcake recipe website.  We’ve been making these cupcakes and chocolate cake for years and it’s an amazing recipe.  People who try them think I’ve turned into some sort of baking professional.  

    Any ideas for hot/humid weather and the buttercream icing?  I’ve read shortening is better than butter for cakes sitting in the heat but I don’t want to impact the taste.


    • I’m so glad you enjoy the cupcakes and cake Kyle!
      I’ve not tried changing the frosting recipe for the heat (and mercy has it been hot down south!) so I can’t say, but I am sure it would change the flavor. I hope this helps!
      Thanks so much Kyle!

  15. Love this recipe and so does my fam, but I was hoping to triple or quadruple it. Has anyone tried that and had it turn out well? Or should I stick to two double batches. 

  16. Instead of cocoa powder, can it be substituted with baking chocolate bar? 

  17. Is the espresso powder mandatory?

  18. Can this recipe be made egg free? If so would there be a substitute ingredient?

  19. Our family’s favourite cupcake recipe!!

  20. I never post comments on recipes, but I just had to with this one. These really are THE best chocolate cupcakes I’ve ever had. I’ve been baking cakes for years – these are the easiest, nicest looking, and best tasting cupcakes! Thank you!

  21. I am very impressed with this recipe. Thank you for sharing it! It’s exactly like old fashioned devil’s food cake, plus the recipe is exceptionally quick and easy. One dozen is the perfect amount of cupcakes for my household.

  22. Thank you for your wonderful recipe. I really loved it.

  23. I was so thankful for your recipe and added help when I made The Best Chocolate Cake (9×13) in two layers for my twins’ 5th birthday in May. It was delicious! Everyone crooned over it, and my girls were over the moon their Mommy made a big egg free cake for them instead of cupcakes. It had a blue sky and a huge rainbow and clouds. Giving this gift (they wanted so badly) to them was such joy for me. Now we are getting ready to bake unicorn mini cakes for my birthday with the cupcake recipe (egg free again). They are doing most of the ‘work’ this time. Special memories! Thank You!

    • This absolutely makes me sooo happy to hear, Brooke! After all, sharing memories with loved ones is such a big part of cooking & baking! I hope their birthday was wonderful! Thanks so much for sharing this with me! xo

  24. Hello.. what kind of milk do you use? I want to try this recipe.

  25. This was my very first recipe with my new stand mixer and I’m so happy (and thankful) that it turned out so well! 

    Can’t wait to make these again – thank you for the awesome recipe. 

  26. These cupcakes are amazing!! I didn’t think it was possible to have such a chocolatey, moist cupcake. This recipe will be my go to from now on!! Wow❤️

  27. Made these – and they were a huge hit. I, like some of the other commenters, didn’t have/couldn’t find espresso powder. I subbed strong hot coffee for the boiling water – and the flavor held up well. 

    The other thing I was surprised at was how thin the batter was. I was worried and doubled checked the whole recipe before tossing my hands in the air and going forward. I’m glad I did – texture was light and airy. I will definitely make again. 

    • So glad you liked these Bailey! The boiling water does make the batter thin, but it makes the most amazing cake and cupcakes! You can omit the espresso powder if you wish. I hope you try it sometime with espresso powder and see how you like it. I don’t think there is a coffee taste at all – just rich, delicious chocolate! Thanks so much! xo

  28. I have failed with chocolate cakes with oil before, so I was a little suspicious, but I’m so glad I made these! They were great and so soft. They came out perfect. And thank you so much for the conversion chart, because I live in the very metric Scandinavia. It worked really great and was much appreciated. Thanks for your awesome recipes!

  29. I have made this recipe and the similar cake several times and they are always perfect. In fact this is the only choc cake recipe I use. And I don’t even add the espresso powder, which I imagine would make it even better

  30. Countless chocolate cakes/cupcakes under my belt and this is my new staple. Perfection. I had a professional French baker at my Thanksgiving and he was floored by these cupcakes. Absolutely no alterations necessary.

  31. Oh. My. Gosh. These cupcakes were honestly the best cupcakes me and my family have ever had! Thank you so, so much for this recipe, for I am going to be making it for every occasion and holiday. I absolutely love them! 100% would recommend!!!!  <3

  32. I’m not really one to ever write reviews but I LOVE this recipe! I bake often for friends and family birthdays or special occasions and every time I have made this recipe (which has been between 10-15 times) I get endless compliments about it. Everyone at my husbands work are always asking me to make a chocolate cake and chocolate cupcakes and I use this recipe every single time. I can not give this recipe enough praise!! Simply amazing! I also just recently tried the buttercream frosting recipe and it was just as amazing! You are now my go to place for all my recipes! 

  33. These turned out great. I was worried with how liquid-y the batter was, but put them in and the result was gorgeous fluffy cupcakes with a great depth of flavor.

  34. Hi,

    I was wondering if these could be made in advance and frozen and if yes, how ?

    Thank you for your answer

    • Hi Annalaure,
      You can certainly make these in advance and freeze them. Make sure to let them cool completely according the recipe instructions. You will then need to wrap well in freezer wrap and seal in a freezer safe container/freezer bag. Then when you are ready to serve them, thaw completely before frosting. Enjoy!

  35. Okay, I don’t normally post comments about recipes espec. cupcakes nor do I normally bake and I decided I really had to post a comment in relation to this Best Chocolate Cupcake recipe – give credit where credit is due! These were so easy to make, the flavor was so rich and, I believe, using the espresso powder (which I almost skipped thinking it would taste like coffee) gives the chocolate in these cupcakes a wonderful depth. Beautiful recipe, thank you, Robyn! I can’t wait for my niece to taste these at her baby shower! :^D

    • I’m so glad you tried these and enjoyed them, Brigitte! And glad you didn’t skip the espresso powder – doesn’t it make the chocolate taste even better?!
      Thanks so much for your kind comment Brigitte – It means so much to me!
      I hope your niece has a great shower. Best of luck on her new baby! xo

  36. Can I add a 8 oz container of sour cream to make it moister?

  37. Love them! I substituted the oil (I’ve used coconut oil & olive oil), both worked great! 

  38. I feel as if I am always searching for the “perfect” vanilla and chocolate cupcake/cake recipes. I have a pretty nice vanilla cupcake recipe, but the “perfect” chocolate cupcake recipe has alluded me – until now!!! Made these exactly as written this morning – oh my goodness! They are wonderful. Perfect. They are nice and moist, have the perfect crumb – dense enough to support frosting but not so dense that they are heavy. They are PERFECT!!! I am thrilled to have stumbled upon this recipe – thank you so much! I am certainly going to keep this one as my chocolate cupcake recipe – no more searching, hallelujah! – and I am going to try some other recipes of yours. You are brilliant and these cupcakes are IT! Thanks a million!

  39. Hi! Love this recipe. I know it can be easily doubled – do you know if it can be tripled? Thanks!

  40. I’ve tried this recipe 4 times now and it’s my go to chocolate cupcake recipe. I’m making them into Andes Mint cupcakes for a bake sale this weekend and they are just delicious! Thanks Robyn!

  41. Is the Batter supposed to be super watery!!??? Did I do something wrong?

  42. Absolutely loved this recipe. Such good feedback!! Found that mine were cooked in half the time though!

  43. Well I didn’t have expresso powder but had Kaluah.  I also added some baileys Irish cream cause…..why not?  Fabulous. 

  44. Can I substitute the vegetable oil with melted or softened butter instead? Or will it not make the difference? I don’t usually like using oil in cake recipes. Thanks so much!

    • The oil helps to make the chocolate cupcakes moist and tender. Using melted butter in place of the oil did not give the same results when I tested.

  45. Hi,

    Unfortunately, the cupcakes i made didnt rise and it was dense. Could it be due to the fact that i used muffin tin instead of cupcakes tin?

    I’m really new in baking.

    Thanks. Esther.

    • Hi Esther,
      The tins you used are probably not the issue – sometimes they are used interchangeably.
      It could be a difference in the type of flour or other ingredients used. I’ve never had a problem with them being too dense or being flat. I hope this helps. Thanks!

  46. These are the BEST cupcakes I have ever made or eaten! I made them for my daughter’s birthday and will definitely do so again. I topped mine with the chocolate buttercream frosting in the links above, because there’s no such thing as too much chocolate. I didn’t have espresso powder, so subbed 1/4 cup strong coffee for the boiling water, which worked perfectly. Highly recommended! Thanks!

  47. Tried these today….and they were yum!!!! Thank you so much for the recipe 🙂

  48. Hi! I want to try this recipe, with all the nice feedbacks 😊 can I use cake flour instead of all purpose & will it be in the same measurement? Thanks in advance 😊

  49. Finally! Its my turn to give thanks to you. Its been a year since I used this recipe of yours and Ive earned a lot (..of money haha! 😉)  by using this recipe. So so sooo thankful! 😘

  50. Its my turn to give thanks to you. Its been years since I used this recipe of yours and Ive earned a lot (..of money haha! 😉)  by using this recipe. So so sooo thankful! My deepest appreciation for your kindness! 😘

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