Homemade chocolate cupcakes are made from scratch with ingredients that yield delightfully moist and rich cupcakes.

chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting on wire rack with glass bottle of milk behind cupcakes

Chocolate cupcakes are rich, moist and full of intense chocolate flavor. Between the fudgy chocolate cake and the velvety chocolate buttercream, you will surely have your chocolate fix after one of these cupcakes.

Why this recipe works: The cupcake batter includes sour cream, which gives these cupcakes a fudgy texture without being too heavy. There is a whole cup of cocoa powder as well as a teaspoon of espresso, which increases the intensity of the chocolate flavor.

chocolate cupcake ingredients in bowls

Overview: How to make chocolate cupcakes

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F and line two muffin tins with paper liners.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. Whisk together cocoa powder and espresso, then pour in boil water. Mix until smooth and cool to room temperature. Mix in sour cream and vanilla and set aside.
  4. Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then mix in eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Alternate adding flour mixture and chocolate mixture and mix until combined.
  5. Transfer batter to prepared pan (this recipe makes 20 cupcakes). Bake cupcakes for 18 to 22 minutes. Cool cupcakes in pan for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Make chocolate buttercream frosting by beating butter until light in color. Add sifted confectioners’ sugar and cocoa powder and mix until combined. Add vanilla and milk and mix until smooth.
  7. Transfer frosting to a piping bag with desired tip and frost cupcakes.

Small batch chocolate cupcakes: This recipe can be halved easily to make only 10 cupcakes! Just half all the ingredients and bake according to the instructions.

photo collage demonstrating how to make chocolate mixture for chocolate cupcakes
photo collage demonstrating how to make batter for chocolate cupcakes

Helpful tips

Cake and cupcakes are more delicate than other baking recipes. It’s important to weigh your ingredients for accurate measurements. I own this kitchen scale and use it almost every day! Another good tip is to use room temperature ingredients. This will ensure that everything mixes together evenly for a smooth cupcake batter.

Use good quality cocoa powder. This makes all the difference in the taste (both the cupcakes and the frosting)! I prefer Ghirardelli unsweetened cocoa powder. Cool the cupcakes completely before frosting other wise the frosting will melt.

chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting cut in half on top of paper liner

Frequently Asked Questions

How to make chocolate cupcakes moist

The addition of sour cream makes chocolate cupcakes moist, but you can also use plain yogurt (I prefer Greek yogurt) for this recipe.

Which frosting goes with chocolate cupcakes?

Chocolate buttercream frosting goes best with chocolate cupcakes in my opinion, but you can also make vanilla buttercream frosting or cookie dough frosting for these cupcakes.

How to make mini chocolate cupcakes:

Line a mini muffin pan with paper liners and fill each cup two-thirds full. Bake for only 12 to 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with little to no crumbs.

Chocolate cupcakes are so fun to make. I highly suggest you try my chocolate cupcakes with cookie dough frosting next! If you’re looking for a cake recipe, try my chocolate sheet cake, which also features this chocolate buttercream frosting.

Other popular chocolate cake recipes include my German chocolate cake with coconut pecan filling. if you’re gluten-free, try this flourless chocolate cake, which is dense and rich!

chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting on open paper cupcake liner on wire cooling rack with more cupcakes

Chocolate cupcakes are my favorite way to enjoy chocolate cake. It’s the perfect amount of cake and each bite has intense chocolate flavor. This is the perfect cupcake recipe for a chocoholic if you ask me. If you tried this recipe, please leave a review and let me know how it turned out!

chocolate cupcakes topped with chocolate buttercream frosting

Chocolate Cupcakes

Homemade chocolate cupcakes are made from scratch with ingredients that yield delightfully moist and rich cupcakes.

Ingredients

Chocolate Cupcakes

  • 1 ¼ cup (156 g) all purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (96 g) unsweetened cocoa powder, (nonalkalized)
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder, (or coffee powder)
  • 1 cup (240 mL) boiling water
  • ½ cup (120 g) sour cream or plain greek yogurt,, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (226 g or 2 sticks) unsalted butter,, room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups (300 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs,, room temperature

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 ¼ cups (282 g or 2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 ½ cups (300 g) confectioners' sugar,, sifted
  • cup (64 g) unsweetened cocoa powder,, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2-3 Tablespoons milk

Instructions 

Chocolate Cupcakes

  • Preheat oven to 350° F. Line two standard muffin tins with paper liners and set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  • In a separate medium bowl, whisk together cocoa powder and espresso powder. Add the boiling water and whisk until smooth. Allow mixture to sit until room temperature, then whisk in sour cream and vanilla. Set aside.
  • In a the bowl of a stand mixer (or using a hand mixer), combine butter and sugar. Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time beating until combined after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  • Add one-third of the flour mixture to the large mixing bowl and mix on low speed just until combined. Add half the chocolate mixture and mix until combined. Repeat process, then end with remaining third flour mixture. Use a silicone spatula to scrape the bottoms and sides of the bowl. Mix once more for 10 seconds to ensure all ingredients are incorporated.
  • Transfer batter to prepared muffin tins and fill each cup two-thirds full (I like to use an ice cream scoop for this step). Bake cupcakes 18 to 22 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted in the center comes out with little to no crumbs. Allow cupcakes to cool for 5 minutes in the pan before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer (or using a hand mixer), beat butter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low, add sifted confectioners' sugar and cocoa powder. Mix on low until combined, then turn speed on high for 20 seconds to mix thoroughly. Add vanilla and 2 Tablespoons milk. Mix until combined and scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. If a thinner frosting consistency is desired, add more milk 1 teaspoon at a time.
  • Transfer frosting to a piping bag with desired tip (I used Wilton 1E). Pipe frosting over cooled cupcakes and serve.

Notes

Store chocolate cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 days or in the refrigerator for 5 days.
Chocolate cupcakes (unfrosted) can be individually wrapped and frozen for up to 1 month. Defrost in the refrigerator before bringing to room temperature and frosting.
Half this recipe to yield only 10 cupcakes.
High altitude adjustments (Denver, CO; 5,380 ft):
  • Use a high-protein flour such as King Arthur All Purpose Flour.
  • Decrease baking soda to 1/2 teaspoon.
  • Use 1 teaspoon freshly brewed coffee instead of espresso powder.
  • Decrease sugar to 1 1/4 cups.
  • Increase oven temperature to 365 F and bake for 18 minutes.
Recommended tools: Kitchen scale, hand mixer or stand mixer, muffin tin, frosting bag and tips.
Serving: 1cupcake, Calories: 364kcal, Carbohydrates: 40g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 23g, Saturated Fat: 15g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 74mg, Sodium: 116mg, Potassium: 143mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 30g, Vitamin A: 700IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 28mg, Iron: 1mg

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