Everyone needs a foolproof and easy chocolate cupcake recipe. These chocolate cupcakes are super moist, simple, and delicious. Use this base chocolate cupcake recipe with your favorite frosting!
I realized the other day that I don’t have any cupcake recipes on the blog, so obviously I rushed to the kitchen and started testing out a few recipes, starting with these super moist and easy chocolate cupcakes. I’ve seen cupcakes made in so many ways, but this one is my absolute favorite! These chocolate cupcakes use buttermilk for extra moisture. And the trick to rich chocolate flavor? Hot water. Yup, hot water.
Anyways…I don’t want to spill all the secrets and tricks in the first paragraph, so let’s get started! I’ll also show you some tips to get the perfect height in your cupcakes, which is super important if you want your frosting to stand out.
Tips for Making the Perfect Chocolate Cupcakes
We’ll go over how to make these step by step, but to start, here is some cupcake wisdom from someone that has tested way too many batches of chocolate cupcakes (yup, that would be me).
- Add hot water to the batter to bring out the chocolate flavors of the cocoa powder. The batter will be thin, and that’s totally okay!
- Use espresso powder in your batter to intensify the chocolate flavors. But, totally optional! Here is more information if you’re interested.
- Important! Fill the cupcakes halfway through! The batter is thin and contains enough leavener (baking soda and baking powder) to achieve the perfect cupcake height. If you fill it 2/3 of the way through, you’ll get those unwanted mushroom tops in your cupcakes.
- Use a measuring cup with a spout to pour the batter into the muffin tin. Because the batter is thin, this method makes it super easy!
- Use cupcake liners to make it easy to remove and serve.
- Remove the cupcakes from the pan and let cool on a cooling rack. You don’t want the residual heat of the pan to cook the cupcakes even more.
Now that you’ve got all the chocolate cupcake tips, let’s go over how to make them!
How to Make these Easy Chocolate Cupcakes
Per usual, you can find the specific ingredient quantities in the recipe card. This recipe makes 18 standard cupcakes.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 12 cup muffin tin with cupcake liners, and another muffin tin with 6 cupcake liners.
- Whisk the dry ingredients in a large bowl: all-purpose flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and espresso powder. Set aside. Note: The espresso powder (totally optional) will enhance the chocolate flavors without making it taste like coffee. I really recommend it! I like to use King Arthur or DeLallo’s brands of espresso powder.
- In another large bowl, combine the vegetable oil, granulated sugar, brown sugar, vanilla extract, eggs, and buttermilk until well combined. Notes: do NOT substitute de buttermilk because it is needed to react with the baking soda and get that perfect cupcake height.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and combine without over-mixing. Add the hot water and combine. The batter will be thin. Tip: the hot water brings out all the chocolate flavors.
- Fill each cupcake liner only halfway through. No more or less than that. For more info, see section above (Tips).
- Bake about 18-20 minutes, until a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Tip: don’t open the oven while baking or the cupcakes could collapse.
- Remove cupcakes from pan and let cool on a cooling rack.
- Decorate your cupcakes with your favorite frosting. Try my dulce de leche (milk caramel) frosting.
How to Achieve the Perfect Cupcake Height
Here are some tips to get that beautiful and subtle dome in cupcakes so that your buttercream frosting or decorations stay in place. With these tips, you can avoid domes that are too high or shaped like a mushroom top.
- For these chocolate cupcakes, since the batter is thin from the hot water, fill each cupcake liner ONLY halfway through. No less or more than that. I tested it, trust me 🙂
- Use the right amount of leavener and measure correctly: this recipe uses 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda.
- Don’t substitute the buttermilk! Buttermilk, which contains acidity, is needed for the baking soda to activate and react to make baked good rise beautifully. Plus, it adds moisture to cupcakes!
- Bake at 350 degrees F. Too much heat will make baked good rise too quickly, causing them to collapse.
- Don’t open and close the oven when baking. Heat changes can cause baked goods to collapse in the middle.
That’s all! This is my trusted classic chocolate cupcake recipe. You can frost and decorate it however you want. I’m coming up with lots of delicious frosting recipes, so stay tuned. My dulce de leche (milk caramel) buttercream frosting is currently my favorite. I even filled these dulce de leche cupcakes with milk caramel inside. Give it a try!
And if you’re looking for some awesome cupcake frosting recipes, be sure to check out Cupcake Project’s collection of frosting recipes!
More decadent chocolate dessert recipes:
Easy Chocolate Cupcakes
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch processed)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon espresso powder (optional) - I like King Arthur or D'Lallo's brands
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 cup very hot water
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake liners (only 6 cupcake liners on the second pan). This recipe makes 18 cupcakes.
- Combine the dry ingredients: onto a large bowl, sift the all-purpose flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and instant espresso powder (optional). After sifting the dry ingredients, give it another whisk until evenly combined. Set aside.
- Wet ingredients: In another large bowl, combine the vegetable oil, granulated sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, eggs, and buttermilk until well combined.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and combine without over-mixing. Add the very hot water, and combine evenly.
- Fill each cupcake liner ONLY halfway full (very important!). The batter will be very thin. Tip: use a measuring cup with a spout to pour the batter easily.
- Bake about 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes back clean and the cupcake springs back. Don't open and close the oven when baking to avoid collapse cupcakes. When ready, remove cupcakes from pan and let cool completely.
- Frost your cupcakes with your favorite buttercream frosting. Try my dulce de leche frosting.