Easy Chocolate Cupcakes Recipe

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This easy chocolate cupcake recipe makes incredible homemade cupcakes. They’re light and fluffy and stay moist for days. Frost them with chocolate frosting for the ultimate chocolate dessert!

A dark chocolate cupcake is unwrapped sitting on a white board surrounded by sprinkles

Moist Homemade Chocolate Cupcakes

Everyone needs a go-to chocolate cupcake recipe. One that you inhale so fast you hardly stop to take a breath. Right?

Look no further my friends. These this easy recipe makes fluffy, moist cupcakes that are seriously insane. They stay moist for days, plus the chocolate cream cheese frosting just melts in your mouth. Seriously you guys, no other cupcake recipe can compare. 

This recipe is easy to follow. It’s an oil-based chocolate cupcake, so not only is it quick to throw together, but you don’t have to worry about creaming butter and sugar. Plus oil-based cakes tend to be more moist and tender. The chocolate flavors aren’t overly sweet or intense, which is kinda nice because once you add the frosting, it’s a perfect balance.

Three chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting on a white rimmed plate

What You’ll Need

  • Granulated sugar
  • Vegetable oil: oil tends to make cakes more moist than a recipe with butter. It also makes the crumb and texture a bit more tender and tighter.
  • Whole eggs
  • Pure vanilla extract: Use a high-quality REAL vanilla extract for this recipe, it makes all the difference
  • Sour cream: Sour cream helps keeps cupcakes very moist. Don’t skip this!
  • Dry Ingredients: All-purpose flour, baking powder and baking soda, salt. 
  • Cocoa Powder: I use a either natural unsweetened cocoa powder or Hershey’s Special Dark which is a Dutch processed cocoa.
  • Espresso powder (optional): Sometimes I also like to add espresso powder to chocolate cakes, I think it helps intensify the chocolate flavor. The espresso powder is optional, or can be substituted for a fine ground coffee or omitted. 
  • Brewed Coffee: Coffee helps bring out the chocolate flavor, but don’t worry, these don’t taste like coffee at all. 

Substitutions 

I don’t recommend ingredient substitutions whenever possible, but know that sometimes they are necessary. Here are some suggestions:

  • Sour cream: I recommend substituting with either plain or non-fat Greek yogurt. The recipe calls for light sour cream, but you can also use full-fat sour cream.
  • Brewed Coffee: I recommend using milk instead, but only if needed. The coffee truly adds to the flavor and color of these cupcakes.
two unfrosted chocolate cupcakes stacked, the top one has a bite missing

How to Make Chocolate Cupcakes

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners.

Combine wet ingredients: Beat together the sugar, vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla extract until well incorporated. Then add the sour cream

Alternate adding the dry ingredients and coffee: In a separate bowl combine the remaining dry ingredients and sift together. Alternating adding add half the dry ingredients with half of the brewed coffee at a time and mix just until the flour starts to incorporate.

Fill the pan Using a large cookie scoop, divide the batter evenly, filling each liner 2/3 full. 

Bake at 350°F for 14-16 minutes. Test the cupcakes for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cupcake. If the toothpick comes out clean, the cupcakes are done. Cool Completely.

unfrosted chocolate cupcakes in a pan

Decorate with Chocolate Frosting

I don’t know about you but I am ALL about the chocolate frosting. These cupcakes are topped with a Chocolate Cream Cheese frosting. It’s rich and velvety and just melts in your mouth. I

American buttercream can traditionally be very sweet, but cream cheese frosting is more subtle. It doesn’t have an overpowering sweetness or butter flavor. It’s just slightly tangy from the cream cheese.

If you don’t love cream cheese frosting then you might try my chocolate fudge frosting made with melted chocolate or my easy chocolate frosting which is made with just cocoa powder. All good contenders, but the chocolate cream cheese frosting is by far my favorite.

A piping bag fitted with a large piping tip is frosting a dark chocolate cupcake

How to Frost Cupcakes Like a Pro

Want to make beautiful bakery-style frosted cupcakes? A simple trick is to use jumbo piping tips for the frosting. Start from the outside edge of the cupcake, working your way up towards the middle, and only fill your piping bag a maximum of 2/3 full. If you need more help, I have shared tons more tips for decorating cupcakes

A big bite is taken out of a chocolate cupcake showing all the air bubbles inside

How to Store Frosted Cupcakes

If you live in a hot and humid environment then I would suggest that you refrigerate cupcakes that are frosted and allow them to come to room temperature before serving. Otherwise, I store my cupcakes in a cool, dry place in an airtight container for up to 3 days once they are frosted.

Can I Freeze These?

Generally speaking, I don’t love to freeze cupcakes, they’re never quite as good as freshly baked. However, if you need to freeze them ahead of time, I recommend freezing them unfrosted. Bake and cool the cupcakes completely. Flash freeze for 15 minutes then transfer to an airtight container. Thaw to room temperature prior to frosting.

Can I Make a Cake With This Recipe?

If you’re more interested in a traditional 9×13-inch cake, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. My Easy Chocolate Cake recipe is the same recipe, just with a reduced amount of frosting.

If you’d like to make a layer cake, then you’ll want to review my tips for this Chocolate Cake.

three unfrosted chocolate cupcakes stacked

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Three chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting on a white rimmed plate

Easy Chocolate Cupcakes Recipe

  • Author: Beyond Frosting
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 24 cupcakes

Description

This mouthwatering moist chocolate cupcake recipe is a homemade chocolate cupcake topped with a silky chocolate cream cheese frosting.

Ingredients

For the cupcakes:

  • 1 ½ cups (285g) granulated sugar
  • ½ cup (118 ml) vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup (118 ml) light sour cream
  • 2 cups (280g) all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup (55 g) natural cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon (5g) espresso powder (optional)
  • 2 ½ teaspoons (9 g) baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon (2 g) baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon (5 g) salt
  • 1 ¼ cup (355 ml) brewed coffee

For the frosting:

  • ¾ cups (6 oz) unsalted butter
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • ½ cup +2 tablespoons (69g) cocoa powder
  • 6 cups (780 g) powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) milk or heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) pure vanilla extract

Instructions

For the cupcakes: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla extract. Beat on medium speed until the eggs and oil are well incorporated and the batter is lighter in color.
  3. Next mix in the sour cream and beat until well combined.
  4. In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. Then add half the dry ingredients followed by half of the coffee and mix just until the flour starts to incorporate.
  5. Finally add the remaining dry ingredients, mixing on low speed while pouring in the remaining coffee and beating until all of the ingredients are well combined. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl and stir the batter from the bottom to the top to ensure it’s well mixed.
  6. Using a large cookie scoop, divide the batter evenly, filling each liner 2/3 full.
  7. Bake at 350°F for 14-16 minutes. Test the cupcakes for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cupcake. If the toothpick comes out clean, the cupcakes are done. Cool Completely.

For the frosting: 

  1. Cut the butter into 1-inch blocks. Beat the butter for 1-2 minutes until it is slightly softened.
  2. Then add the cream cheese and cream together for 2-3 minutes until they are fluffy and free of lumps, scape down the bowl occasionally.
  3. Add the cocoa powder and vanilla extract and beat until well combined,
  4. Next, add the confectionary sugar 2 cups at a time, followed by one tablespoon of heavy whipping cream and vanilla extract and beat for 60-90 seconds until completely smooth.
  5. Add the remaining powdered sugar and heavy whipping cream and beat until desired consistency, at least 2 minutes.
  6. In a large piping bag fitted with a large open star pipping tip, pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes. Keep in an airtight container.

Notes

  • Sour cream: If you need to substitute the sour cream, use nonfat Greek Yogurt
  • Coffee: If you need to substitute the coffee, use milk
  • To make this as a single layer cake you’ll want to see my Moist Chocolate Cake Recipe
  • To make this as a layer cake, you’ll want to see my Chocolate Cake Recipe
  • Make Ahead of time: These can be prepared up to 2 days in advance and stored in an airtight container. You can freeze the prepared cupcakes, stored in an airtight container, thaw overnight in the fridge, then bring to room temperature before frosting. I recommend frosting the day you’re serving.
  • Frosting options: If you don’t like cream cheese frosting, you can top these with vanilla frosting, or my chocolate buttercream.
Nutrition Information:
1 cupcake
361
42.5g
170mg
15.8g
10.4g
54.8g
1.7g
3.6g
51.2mg
  • Category: Cupcakes
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: chocolate cupcakes, homemade cupcakes, moist chocolate cupcake recipe

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47 Responses
  1. Anna Franklin

    I have made these two times so far and both times the cake was phenomenal. I made the original cupcakes version then a sheet cake version with both the original chocolate cream cheese frosting and german chocolate cake frosting! I also whipped the egg whites and folded them in the batter at the end. The cake is so moist and fluffy…this may be my new go to chocolate cake recipe😊

  2. Danica

    I LOOOOOOVED IT agaiiiiin! I made these and put a Giotto into each muffin form hole and the moist strong chocolate taste together with the Giotto surprise was an absolute hit!

    I used the vanilla frosting instead, as I wanted to try colouring my frosting. Btw, is there a trick to colour chocolate frosting?

    Thank you a thousand times for sharing the recipe!

    1. Beyond Frosting

      Hi Danica- YEAH! So glad you liked these! For the chocolate frosting, what color are you looking to achieve. Usually I only add brown or black food coloring if I am trying to get a black frosting. Otherwise the color naturally comes from the cocoa powder.

    1. Beyond Frosting

      Rita, yes I have tested these will melted butter and it does bake fine, the consistency of the cake is a little different. I prefer the oil, it makes for a more delicate crumb.

  3. Melissa Deen

    Just made this recipe. Cake was moist and delicious. My only issue was the coffee gave a slightly bitter aftertaste. Can I opt the coffee and use something else?

    1. Beyond Frosting

      Hi Melissa, I am not sure it was the coffee as much as the cocoa powder you used perhaps. I recommend hot water or milk, or a combination of the two. Milk will produce a denser cupcake and not quite as fluffy

      1. Liz

        I’ve been making these for a couple of years now and the recipe never lets me down. Always moist, always reliable, always a hit. My son wants coloured frosting this year: bright colours so I guess I’ll do something with vanilla, icing sugar and butter and perhaps a little white chocolate though I know the fat content is different so I don’t know if it’ll work?

          1. Debora Guile

            These are my NOW new favorite cupcakes!!!! I can’t wait to try the vanilla ones!!! Easy and delish!!!

  4. Faith

    Great post! I just came across your page and I have to get some baking done. I don’t have light sour cream only the original one would it affect my cake and if yes how do I tweak it so I can bake and get the same results you got? Thank you

  5. Marta @ Foodaciously

    Hi Julianne, thanks for sharing this recipe! I usually use just cocoa in the batter and this was the first time I made them also with coffee; they were so delicious 😀 I will definitely bake more soon. Thanks!

  6. Cyndi

    Hello I made your chocolate cake and homemade cream cheese frosting . First the Cake was extremely thick and dense and not light and fluffy like you suggested. Therefore I tweaked you’re recipe and omitted the egg yolks and only used the egg whites . Complete perfection after I made that little change . I highly recommend everyone to omit egg yolks when baking a cake . If you’re looking for a very light fluffy and airy cake this is the way to go I promise you

    1. Beyond Frosting

      Hi Cyndi, I can’t imagine this cake as dense and thick, is it perhaps over mixing of the batter or over baking? You are correct that egg whites will make the ultimate light and airy cake such as a white cake or angle food. I have not prepared this recipe with egg whites only but I am glad it worked out for you!

  7. Evelynmaria

    Instead of Hot Coffee, can I swap it out for hot chocolate? I have never tried this but I saw a post from, The cake blog and they did a Hot chocolate cake and used hot chocolate instead of water or coffee. Do you think this would dry out the cake, and if I can should I do it with water or Milk????

  8. Nichaud Munday

    These look amazing!! So excited to make them! Is there a way of adjusting it to make 12 cupcakes, or are 24 the best amount?

    1. Beyond Frosting

      Personally I prefer 24 for the BEST results, but for 12 cupcake, you can half the ingredients and use 2 eggs and 2/3 cup of milk. It makes about 14 cupcakes.

  9. Anne Marie

    I’m really looking forward to making this and will surely update once I do. Just curious though (and trying to save myself a trip to the grocery), can I substitute regular sour cream for light sour cream or will this adversely affect the overall results?

  10. Kakeladi

    Thanks for this recipe. I can’t wait to try it. I don’t have a coffee maker. Will the old fashioned way of making coffee…. boiling water work for the recipe?

    1. Beyond Frosting

      Yep! I actually don’t have a coffee maker either, I use a French press, This will be fine. You can also purchase cold brew or already prepared coffee as well.

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