Homemade Moist Chocolate Cupcakes

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Made completely from scratch, these moist chocolate cupcakes are delicious and a crowd favorite! They are super moist, pack tons of chocolate flavor and are so easy to make! Topped with a rich chocolate buttercream, these are amazing!

The Best Homemade Chocolate Cupcakes

There are certain recipes that every baker needs in their repertoire and an amazing chocolate cupcake is one of them. These cupcakes are insanely moist and so easy to make. They are the perfect starting point for any number of flavor combinations. I have used this chocolate cupcake recipe countless times and not only does it never let me down, it is always a hit.

These chocolate cupcakes are amazing in their cupcake form, but I’ve also shared them as my favorite layered Moist Chocolate Cake, in 6-Inch Chocolate Cake form, and many other ways. It’s easily adaptable and these are so good that after being asked many times for a vanilla version, I created these Moist Vanilla Cupcakes. So if you’re looking for an amazing oil-based vanilla cupcake, those are the way to go.

You may think you already have the perfect chocolate cupcake, but trust me. If you haven’t had these, you haven’t had perfection yet. It’s time to make them.

Moist chocolate cupcakes on a cake stand near a bowl of chocolate chips.

Why You’ll Love This Chocolate Cupcake Recipe

So what sets these chocolate cupcakes apart from all the rest? You’ll see for yourself when you make them, but I’ll let you in on why I think they are so standout here.

  • So moist and tender. These are perhaps the moistest cupcake you’ll ever have. No cracked, dry cupcakes here. Just super tender chocolate goodness straight out of the oven.
  • Great to make ahead. These chocolate cupcakes are so moist that they do really well with making a day or two ahead.
  • Real chocolate frosting. I love that the frosting for these cupcakes uses real chocolate. The base of the frosting is made from semisweet chocolate chips that are melted and mixed into the butter. The real chocolate gives the frosting a fudge-y quality that makes it a chocolate lover’s dream.
  • A wonderfully simple recipe. No fancy mixing methods or complicated steps here. This recipe comes together quickly and is accessible to all skill levels. All you need is a couple bowls and a whisk!

What You’ll Need

Time to grab your ingredients and get started. Here’s what you’ll need to make these chocolate cupcakes from scratch. Have a look at the recipe card below for exact measurements.

Ingredients for moist chocolate cupcakes separated into bowls.

Chocolate cupcakes

  • All-purpose flour – Be sure to measure this properly to get the right result. I always recommend a food scale, but the spoon and level method is fine as well. A quality 1:1 gluten-free flour should work also.
  • Sugar – Regular granulated sugar is used in these.
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder – Regular unsweetened cocoa is used in these cupcakes. You can used Dutch cocoa, but they don’t rise quite as high, so you’d need to fill them a little more and you’d probably get one or two less cupcakes.
  • Baking soda – This leavening gives the cupcakes the most amazingly tender texture.
  • Salt – This enhances the flavors already present in the cupcakes. Without it, your cupcakes would be a bit bland.
  • Egg – Large size eggs, not medium or extra large.
  • Milk – You can use regular milk (whole or 2%) or buttermilk. They all work! Buttermilk will make the cupcakes even more tender, but they don’t need it. They are so darn moist and tender even without it.
  • Vegetable oil – The use of oil in this recipe makes these cupcakes extra moist. It also means we don’t need to cream any butter and therefore don’t need a mixer. Score!
  • Vanilla extract
  • Hot water – The hot water allows the cocoa to “bloom”, which brings out a richer chocolate flavor in the cake. Cooler water will work just fine but the cocoa flavor will not be as strong in the finished product. The water also adds moisture without adding more fat that would weigh the cupcakes down and make them more dense.

Chocolate frosting

  • Unsalted butter – The butter must be at room temperature otherwise you run the risk of a lumpy frosting.
  • Semi-sweet chocolate chips – I used semi-sweet chocolate. It’s my favorite to use in recipes like this. It lends a richer chocolate flavor than milk chocolate but isn’t too bitter.
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder – Regular unsweetened cocoa is what I use, but feel free to use a darker version as well.
  • Powdered sugar – For volume and consistency. Feel free to reduce the amount to your preference, if needed.
  • Salt – You don’t have to add a touch of salt, but I do like the additional flavor it adds. Plus, it cuts down the sweetness a bit.

How to Make Chocolate Cupcakes from Scratch

Here’s a quick look at how to make these moist chocolate cupcakes. For more detailed instructions, scroll to the recipe card below.

For the cupcakes

  • Prep. Preheat oven to 300°F and line a cupcake pan with liners.
  • Combine the dry ingredients. Whisk the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together.
  • Combine the wet ingredients. Whisk together the egg, milk, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract.
  • Put it all together. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
  • Add hot water. Add the hot water to the batter. It will be very thin.
  • Bake. Fill the cupcake liners halfway and bake for 18-23 minutes.
  • Cool. Cool the cupcakes in the pan for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

For the frosting

  • Make the base. Beat the butter until smooth.
  • Add some chocolate. Mix in the melted chocolate followed by the cocoa powder.
  • Pull it all together. Mix in half of the powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons of the heavy cream followed by the remaining powdered sugar and salt. Add more heavy cream if your frosting is too thick.
  • Decorate the cupcakes. Pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes.

Tips for Baking Moist Chocolate Cupcakes

You are about to experience the best homemade chocolate cupcakes you’ve ever tasted. Just follow these simple tips and tricks and you’ll see what I mean.

  • Don’t overmix. When mixing together the wet and dry ingredients, be careful not to overmix. This can cause the glutens in the flour to overdevelop, leaving you with a tough, dense cupcake.
  • Use hot water. Trust me. While you can use cooler water in the batter for this recipe, I highly suggest using hot water. It allows the cocoa to bloom, bringing out its full, rich, fudgy flavor.
  • Thin batter? Keep it that way. The cupcake batter should be very thin. They are loaded with moisture. Trust me. They will turn out just fine. Better than fine. Fluffy, moist, and delicious.
  • Bake at a low temperature. 300 degrees F to be exact. It is necessary to bake at a low temperature here because it gives the thin cupcake batter time to fluff up and cook evenly all the way through.
  • Let the cupcakes cool. Wait to frost the cupcakes until they have cooled completely. Otherwise, the frosting will slide right off!
A moist chocolate cupcake with a bite taken out of it alongside other chocolate cupcakes on a cake stand.

Serving Suggestions

Looking to add a little extra flair? Here are some fun ways to serve these moist chocolate cupcakes that will take them from amazing to heavenly.

How to Store Cupcakes

Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before arranging them in a single layer in an airtight container (you can use an airtight cupcake carrier if you have one). Close the container and store the cupcakes at room temperature for up to 24 hours. Past that, store them in the refrigerator. They should be good for up to 5 days.

Moist chocolate cupcakes on a cake stand.

Can I Freeze These?

You can! Once cooled, arrange these moist chocolate cupcakes (frosted or unfrosted) in a single layer in an airtight container. Close the container and store it in the freezer for up to 3 months. Allow the cupcakes to thaw in the refrigerator before frosting (if applicable) and serving.

More Chocolate Cupcake Recipes

I have done a lot of playing with chocolate cupcake recipes. This one is definitely my favorite and is used as the base of some of the ones below. But here are a variety of other chocolatey options.

Watch How to Make Moist Chocolate Cupcakes

Read Transcript

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Pealing back the cupcake liner on a moist chocolate cupcake.
Recipe

Homemade Moist Chocolate Cupcakes

  • Author: Lindsay Conchar
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Yield: 14-16 Cupcakes
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Made completely from scratch, these moist chocolate cupcakes are delicious and a crowd favorite! They are super moist, pack tons of chocolate flavor and are so easy to make! Topped with a rich chocolate buttercream, these are amazing!


Ingredients

Chocolate cupcakes

  • 1 cup (130g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (207g) sugar
  • 6 tbsp (43g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) milk or buttermilk*
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) vegetable oil
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) hot water*

Chocolate buttercream

  • 1 1/4 cups (280g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
  • 3 tbsp (22g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 5 cups (575g) powdered sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 24 tbsp heavy cream

Instructions

For the cupcakes

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F (148°C) and prepare a cupcake pan with liners.
  2. Add the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt to a large mixing bowl and combine. Set aside.
  3. Add the egg, milk, vegetable oil and vanilla extract to another medium sized bowl and whisk together to combine.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until well combined.
  5. Add the water to the batter and mix until well combined. The batter will be very thin.
  6. Fill the cupcake liners about half way and bake for 18-23 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.
  7. Remove the cupcakes from oven and allow to cool for 2 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack to finish cooling.

For the buttercream

  1. To make the frosting, beat the butter in a large mixer bowl until smooth.
  2. Add the melted chocolate and mix until well combined and smooth.
  3. Add the cocoa powder and mix until well combined and smooth.
  4. Add about half of powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons of heavy cream and mix until well combined and smooth.
  5. Add remaining powdered sugar and salt and mix until well combined and smooth.
  6. Add remaining heavy cream as needed to get the right consistency of frosting.
  7. Pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes. I used Ateco tip 847.
  8. Store cupcakes at room temperature for up to 24 hours, then refrigerate. Cupcakes are best served at room temperature. Best eaten within 4-5 days.

Notes

  • I have previously used Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa powder for these cupcakes, but Hershey’s has changed it and it doesn’t work quite the same in these. They don’t rise as well. I recommend regular unsweetened cocoa powder, but you can technically use either.
  • This recipe calls for hot water. You don’t have to use hot water – the cake will still bake fine – but the hot water allows the cocoa to “bloom”, which brings out a richer chocolate flavor in the cake.
  • Milk and buttermilk both work great in these cupcakes. I don’t notice much difference between the two, other than that the buttermilk makes them even more tender (and they are already super tender).

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 Cupcake
  • Calories: 520
  • Sugar: 55.8 g
  • Sodium: 168.3 mg
  • Fat: 29.7 g
  • Carbohydrates: 65.6 g
  • Protein: 3.8 g
  • Cholesterol: 54.8 mg

Keywords: moist chocolate cupcakes, chocolate cupcakes from scratch, homemade chocolate cupcakes

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916 Comments
  1. Holly

    Can I use hot coffee instead of hot water. Hot coffee really brings out the chocolate flavor more than water. Let me know

  2. Donna N

    Made these last night after work for co-workers’ anniversary/birthday. They came together SOOO quickly and were AMAZING! I modified slightly doubling the recipe and using hot coffee instead of water in the cupcakes. Also felt as though there might be too much frosting as I was not going to pipe it. Halved most of the listed frosting ingredients, eyeballed the butter and added a touch of heavy cream. Truly, one of the best cupcake recipes that I have ever baked…and I don’t even like chocolate!

Lindsay
About Lindsay

I'm a wife and a mom to twin boys and a baby girl! And I've got a serious sweets addiction! Bring on the treats!

Scripture I’m Loving

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29