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Chocolate Cupcakes From Scratch

These chocolate cupcakes from scratch are unbelievably rich and moist, and the best part is they are super easy to make. Baked and topped with a chocolate buttercream frosting in under an hour, this recipe is a keeper!

Chocolate cupcakes from scratch with chocolate frosting.
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Soft, Moist and Easy!

I recently perfected my recipe for vanilla cupcakes from scratch and I just knew the next one I wanted to tackle was a homemade chocolate cupcake recipe from scratch.

Well, here it is. One of the most delicious and easy chocolate cupcake recipes around!

You guys know how much I love chocolate desserts. Chocolate obsession aside, I’m also a total sucker for anything that makes things easy in the kitchen. I love it when we’re able to create recipes to share with all of you that are both quick and taste fantastic!

Why This Recipe Works

  • Texture. This batter uses oil instead of butter, for the best moist cupcake. With the addition of buttermilk it also adds moisture and flavor for a tender cupcake.
  • Flavor. The chocolate flavor comes from natural cocoa powder which makes these cupcakes nice and rich.
  • Versatile. Frost your chocolate cupcakes from scratch how you like and then serve them for birthday parties or whenever you need a chocolate fix!

Ingredients

Chocolate cupcake ingredients on counter.

Find the full printable recipe with detailed measurements below.

  • Cocoa powder: I recommend using natural, unsweetened cocoa powder. It will give the best rise and texture. Dutch-processed cocoa results in a denser cupcake.
  • Hot water: I like to use water from a recently boiled kettle. The hot water awakens the cocoa powder and helps that delicious chocolate flavor shine through.
  • Buttermilk: This milk is great for creating moist and tender cupcakes. You can buy it at the store or make your own buttermilk at home.
  • Vanilla extract: It might seem strange to add vanilla to a chocolate cake, but trust me on this one, you need it! Vanilla enhances the flavor of the cocoa.
  • Espresso powder/coffee: For a more intense chocolate flavor, feel free to add 1 to 2 teaspoons of espresso powder.

Best Frosting for Chocolate Cupcakes

There are so many ways to frost a cupcake! Favorites include classic buttercream frosting and chocolate buttercream frosting but many other cupcake icings can be used!

For step-by-step instructions, check out my guide on how to frost the perfect cupcakes.

How to Make Chocolate Cupcakes from Scratch

I love this easy chocolate cupcake recipe so much but most of all for it’s quick prep! Simply combine the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients and bake.

Showing how to make chocolate cupcake from scratch.
  1. Add dry ingredients. Add the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and baking powder to a large bowl, sifting out any lumps. Then add the sugar. These simple instructions don’t even require the use of a standing mixer, but by all means, use it if you’d like.
  2. Add wet ingredients. Add the boiling water to bloom cocoa powder, buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla, and use a whisk to combine everything until smooth.
  3. Bake. Fill the baking liners 2/3 full and bake on the center rack until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  4. Frost. Wait until the cupcakes have cooled completely before frosting. Use a star tip and piping bag for something a little polished. If you’re not about that, slather it on top with a spoon and it will still be the best chocolate cupcake recipe you’ve ever had!

Expert Tips

  • Start with room temperature ingredients. It will be so much easier to mix your cupcake batter if the eggs and buttermilk are at room temperature.
  • Use a cookie scoop. Divide your batter evenly among the cupcake liners by using a large cookie scoop. This helps with even baking but also that you don’t have some much bigger or smaller than the others.
  • Avoid overfilling. Fill cupcakes liners only 2/3 full so that the batter has some room to rise and expand without overflowing over the top. 
  • Test for doneness. You’ll know your cupcakes from scratch are ready when the tops bounce back after you press them lightly with your finger. You can also insert a toothpick into the center of a cupcake and if it comes away clean, they’re ready!
Piping chocolate frosting onto chocolate cupcake.

Recipe FAQs

Can I use this recipe to make chocolate cake?

Yes, you can! The ingredients for my best chocolate cake recipe are the same and I provide the baking instructions in that recipe. It makes a two-layer cake 9” in size or 9”x13” sheet cake.

What’s the difference between natural and Dutch-process cocoa powder?

Natural cocoa powder is acidic, so it works well in recipes that also contain baking soda. Dutch-processed cocoa is alkalized and used in recipes that call for baking powder because the two balance each other out. More often than not, recipes like these chocolate cupcakes will call for natural cocoa powder found in the baking aisle at grocery stores.

Why are my chocolate cupcakes from scratch dry?

Too much flour in your batter will cause dry cupcakes. Make sure you always properly measure flour! Accurate measuring is so important in baking.

Can I substitute the hot water for coffee?

That should work. Coffee enhances the flavor of chocolate and can give it a more complex, rich taste. Replace equal amounts of hot coffee with the water. Use decaf if needed.

How to avoid cupcakes sinking in the middle?

While a sunken middle may be desired for chocolate soufflé, it is not so much desired for homemade chocolate cupcakes! To avoid this, always check that your baking powder is fresh and be careful not to overmix the batter which can incorporate too much air leading to a high rise while baking but then deflating while cooling down.

Storage

  • Storing: Leftover cupcakes that are either unfrosted or have been frosted already can be stored in an airtight container covered for up to 3 days. 
  • Freezing: These chocolate cupcakes from scratch freeze beautifully so you make them ahead and store for up to 3 months in your freezer. Wrap individually then store unfrosted cupcakes in a freezer safe container or bag.
  • To Thaw: Remove the plastic wrap bring the cupcakes to room temperature before decorating and serving.
Chocolate cupcakes with chocolate buttercream.

Looking for more easy cupcakes? Try my chocolate cupcakes from cake mix, chocolate peanut butter cupcakes or vanilla cupcakes next! 

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Chocolate cupcakes from scratch with chocolate frosting.

Chocolate Cupcakes From Scratch

5 from 29 votes
↑ Click stars to rate now!
Author: Jamielyn Nye
These chocolate cupcakes from scratch are easy to make, rich and moist! Top with chocolate buttercream frosting for the ultimate chocolate lovers dessert.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 28 minutes
Cool Time: 1 hour 32 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 24

Video

Ingredients 

  • 2 cups (260 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups (410 grams) granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup (65 grams) natural, unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 cup (225 grams) hot water
  • 1 cup (245 grams) buttermilk , at room temperature
  • ½ cup (100 grams) vegetable or canola oil
  • 2 large large eggs , at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Chocolate or vanilla buttercream frosting , to frost (see notes)

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Center an oven rack in the middle position. Line 2 muffin pans with cupcake liners
  • In a large bowl, sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  • Using a handheld mixer or whisk, mix in the water, buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla until well combined. Use a large cookie scoop to divide the batter evenly between the cups.
  • Bake 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the tops bounce back. Let cool on a cooling rack.
  • While the cupcakes are cooling prepare your desired frosting. Once completely cooled, frost the cupcakes as desired (I prefer to use a 1M frosting tip).

Notes

Storing: Leftover cupcakes can be stored in a covered in the for up to 3 days.
Make Ahead & Freezing: Cover each individually in plastic wrap and freeze up to 3 months. The chocolate buttercream can be made 2 to 3 days in advance (cover and keep in the fridge). Simply thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature to serve.
Espresso Powder/Coffee: For a more intense chocolate flavor, feel free to add 1 to 2 teaspoons espresso powder. 
Cocoa Powder: Natural cocoa powder in the cake will give you the rise and texture that makes this cake so good. Dutch-process cocoa will give you a much denser cupcake. 
 

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 207kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.03g | Cholesterol: 17mg | Sodium: 206mg | Potassium: 82mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 20g | Vitamin A: 39IU | Calcium: 21mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition provided is an estimate. It will vary based on specific ingredients used.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Diet: Vegetarian

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