Homemade Chocolate Cupcakes are easier than you think to whip up from scratch. These cupcakes are soft, moist, filled with chocolate flavor, and topped with a velvety chocolate buttercream frosting.
If you're looking for a homemade chocolate cupcake recipe, this is it. You'll love these chocolate cupcakes because they are surprisingly easy to make, and turn out soft and moist.
Not to mention they're filled to the brim with chocolate. The Chocolate Buttercream Frosting on top is velvety and smooth, with rich chocolate flavor.
This cupcake is definitely intended for the chocolate fanatic in your life!
Ingredients and substitutions
For this recipe, you'll make 18 cupcakes, so you'll want to use a 24-cup baking pan - this is the pan I use.
Since baking is an exact science, I do not recommend substituting any of the ingredients. Each ingredient serves a purpose, and substitutions can cause a change in texture and flavor.
I've made this recipe with all-purpose flour and cake flour, either will work in this recipe. Cake flour will make a more tender cupcake with a tighter crumb.
You'll need baking soda and baking powder for this recipe - one cannot be substituted with more of the other.
The reason natural cocoa powder can't be substituted with dutch process cocoa powder is that they have different levels of acidity.
Each one will work differently with the rest of the ingredients in the recipe. I have formulated this recipe to work with natural cocoa powder, so this is the type of cocoa you will need.
If you only have dutch process cocoa powder on hand, I suggest searching for a dutch process cupcake recipe, so that you can guarantee your cupcakes will turn out.
This recipe requires buttermilk, and it can't be substituted with regular milk. The buttermilk is acidic, and works with the baking powder and baking soda, as well as other acidic ingredients in this recipe (like cocoa powder) to create the perfect balance.
If you don't have buttermilk on hand, it's easy to make a substitute in your own kitchen.
Add 1 and ½ teaspoons of lemon juice or vinegar (whichever you have on hand) to a liquid measuring cup. Then, fill the measuring cup to the ½ cup mark with milk.
Allow it to sit for 5 minutes. This will cause the milk to curdle and create a homemade buttermilk.
Batter tips and tricks
Mixing cupcake batter is pretty straightforward. First, you'll mix your wet ingredients. In a separate bowl, you'll combine your dry ingredients, then you'll slowly mix them together.
You don't want to over-mix or beat your batter because this will add excess air to the batter. When you bake your cupcakes, this will cause them to rise quickly, then sink in the middle.
To prevent this, stir your ingredients with a spoon instead of using a hand mixer. Or, use the lowest setting on your hand mixer and stop as soon as the ingredients are incorporated.
Cupcake tips and tricks
These tips are taken from reader questions and reviews!
- Do not unwrap your cupcakes while they’re still warm. Your cupcakes will stick to the liners until they are fully cooled throughout. Once cooled, your cupcakes will easily unwrap.
- Are your cupcakes sticky on top? This can be caused by humidity in your home or storing cupcakes while they’re still warm. This can’t really be fixed, but can easily be covered with frosting.
- Do not frost warm cupcakes! Buttercream is sensitive to heat and will melt between 90 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
Homemade Chocolate Cupcakes
- 1 cup (120 g) all-purpose flour
- ½ cup (42 g) natural cocoa powder, (NOT dutch process)
- 1 teaspoon (6 g) baking soda
- ½ teaspoon (2 g) baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon (1.5 g) salt
- 1 cup (198 g) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup (113 g) buttermilk
- ½ cup (113 g) warm water
- ¼ cup (50 g) vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon (5 g) vanilla extract
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
- 1 ½ cups (339 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 4 cups (454 g) confectioner's sugar
- 6 tablespoons (32 g) cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon (5 g) vanilla extract
- ¼ cup (57 g) heavy cream, or milk
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a cupcake pan with liners and set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk or sift together dry ingredients : flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl, add your wet ingredients: granulated sugar, eggs, buttermilk, warm water, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract. Mix until combined.
- Add half of dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Add remaining dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
- Divide cupcake batter between 18 cupcake liners, filling about halfway full. Bake in preheated oven for about 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out crumbs, not wet batter.
- Remove pan from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before transferring cupcakes to a wire rack to finish cooling.
Chocolate buttercream frosting
- In a large bowl, whisk or sift together the confectioner's sugar and cocoa powder.
- In a separate bowl, add butter. Beat until creamy. Add confectioner's sugar and cocoa powder and starting slowly, mix until ingredients are fully combined. Then, whip at high speed for 2-3 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add vanilla extract and heavy cream, then beat for another minute until fluffy.
- Pipe or spread frosting with a knife onto cupcakes and serve.
- Cupcakes are best served the same day of baking, but will remain moist for up to 48 hours when covered in a sealed container.
- Amount of frosting is enough to frost generously with a knife, or to pipe a moderate amount of frosting (as shown in the photos). For very tall, dramatic frosting, I recommend adjusting the servings to make enough frosting for 24 cupcakes, to frost 18 cupcakes.
- Be sure to check out my 10 tips for baking cake, based on reader comments and questions!
can i use coconut oil rather than vegetable oil?
Yes, vegetable oil can be substituted with melted coconut oil.
Can you freeze these cupcakes and your white ones?
Yes, these cupcakes and the white cupcakes can all be frozen!
I made these and they were so moist and chocolatey.
I adjusted the frosting amounts and found there was still enough for 3 rounds of icing. My heavy cream was out of date so used skimmed milk as this was all I had, it was still creamy and light. Also only had canola oil as was told you can interchange these with sunflower, and vegetable oil... Results very tasty chocolate cakes.
Can I use this recipe for a layer cake??
Hi Caroline, I am working on turning all of my cupcake recipes into cake recipes, but haven't tested this one yet. As written, I think this recipe would make a thin 8 or 9 inch 2-layer cake. If you want to give it a try, I'd guess that about 1.5x this recipe would make a standard size 8 or 9 inch 2-layer cake.
Can I use cake flour for this recipe?
Yes, you can! I've used cake flour and all-purpose successfully with this recipe.
why I can't use dutch processed cocoa?
Hi Ann, dutch cocoa has much less acidity than natural cocoa powder. I developed this recipe with natural cocoa powder, which will work perfectly with the amounts of baking powder, baking soda, and buttermilk listed. When substituting natural cocoa powder for dutch cocoa, you'd also need to change the amounts of leavening agents in the recipe, which can get tricky. I haven't tested this recipe with dutch cocoa, so it technically could work with some adjustments, but I don't want you to waste your ingredients if it doesn't work out. I'd suggest searching for a cupcake recipe that specifically asks for dutch cocoa if that is what you have on hand. Hope this helps!
Literally just made these today. Unfortunately I overbaked them just a tad. His was my first time making homemade cupcakes. I didn't make the buttercream icing since I did not have heavy cream. But next time I make these I may put mini chocolate chips in the batter to give it that extra chocolatey tast ☺️😋
Sounds like a great idea to add chocolate chips! Let us know how the next batch goes.
You can use milk in the frosting instead of heavy cream, it just won't be quite as creamy 😊
Kunal Pahuja- Handmade Chocolates
I have just printed the recipe and added what I need to a grocery list! My kids are going to love them!
I hope your family enjoys them! Come back and let us know how they turn out 😊