Moist Chocolate Cupcake Recipe

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This mouthwatering moist chocolate cupcake recipe makes incredible homemade chocolate cupcakes topped with silky chocolate cream cheese frosting. These light and fluffy cupcakes stay moist for days. This will be your new go-to chocolate cupcake recipe – it’s so easy to make! 

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

My Favorite Chocolate Cupcakes

Everyone needs a go-to chocolate cupcake recipe. One that makes your mouth water, one that you inhale so fast you hardly stop to take a breath. Right?

Look no further my friends. These this easy chocolate cupcake 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. 

Three chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting on a white rimmed plate

This recipe is easy to follow. It’s an oil-based chocolate cupcake, so it’s also very quick to put together. There’s no waiting for butter to soften and no creaming butter and sugar together either.

It reminds me of my favorite doctored cake mix. The chocolate flavors isn’t overly sweet or intense, which is kinda of nice because once you add the frosting, it’s the perfect balance.

Recipe Ingredients

  • Granulated sugar: The ratio of sugar to flour is very important in baked goods, so be sure to follow the recipe.
  • 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: This is a dense and spongy cupcake, so we’re using the whole egg. 
  • Pure vanilla extract: Be sure you get a high-quality REAL vanilla extract for this recipe, it makes all the difference
  • Sour cream: Sour cream helps keeps these cupcakes very moist.
  • Dry Ingredients: All-purpose flour, baking powder and baking soda, salt. 
  • Cocoa Powder: I use a natural, unsweetened cocoa powder 
  • 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. 

Ingredient Substitutions 

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

  • Sour cream is essential for keeping the cupcakes moist. If you don’t have sour cream. I recommend substituting with 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. 

two unfrosted chocolate cupcakes stacked, the top one has a bite missing

What kind of cocoa powder should I use?

I recommend using a natural, unsweetened cocoa powder such as Hersheys. I also tend to use Hersheys Special Dark which is my favorite and gives these cupcakes a dark and rich color.

How to make moist chocolate cupcakes

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners.
  • Beat together the sugar, vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla extract until well incorporated.
  • Next mix in the sour cream and beat until well combined.two side by side images showing the process of making chocolate cupcakes
  • In a separate bowl combine the remaining dry ingredients and sift together. Add half the dry ingredients and half of the brewed coffee and mix just until the flour starts to incorporate.two side by side images showing the process of making chocolate cupcakes
  • Finally add the remaining dry ingredients, and the remaining coffee. Beat on low speed until all of the ingredients are well combined. two side by side images showing the process of making chocolate cupcakes
  • 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

How much batter do you use for each cupcake?

It’s easiest to use a large cookie scoop or a measuring cup to fill your cupcake liners. This ensures they’re evenly filled, which means they will bake evenly as well. A large cookie scoop is approximately 3 tablespoons. 

You might find my post how to bake cupcakes to be helpful.

chocolate cupcake batter in a pan

Make the Chocolate Cupcake 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 love that it doesn’t have an over powering butter flavor and it’s a little bit tangy from the cream cheese. 

If you don’t love cream cheese frosting (I mean really though), then you might try my chocolate fudge frosting or my best chocolate frosting. 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 Chocolate Cupcakes

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. I have shared tons more tips and information in this post about how to decorate 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use this chocolate cupcake recipe to make a cake?

If you’re more interested in a traditional 9×13-inch cake, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. My Super Moist 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.

What Makes these Cupcakes so Moist?

I find the simplest way to by adding sour cream or Greek yogurt. That is why you’ll find that my cake and cupcake recipes usually contain this ingredient.

Other factors that can make your cupcakes dry is incorrectly measuring ingredients, over mix the batter or over baking the cupcakes.

I also suggest storing them in an airtight container to maintain the moisture.

three unfrosted chocolate cupcakes stacked

Use this recipes to make more chocolate cupcakes

Looking for more cupcake recipes? Here are all my best cupcake recipes.


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If you love no-bake recipes, be sure to check out my cookbook, No-Bake Treats!



Three chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting on a white rimmed plate

Moist Chocolate Cupcake Recipe

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


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


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


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.


  • 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
  • Category: Cupcakes
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American

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


43 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?

  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!

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