These are the best chocolate cupcakes. They’re moist, fluffy and full of chocolate flavor.
This cupcake recipe is perfect for birthday parties or any other celebration. Add chocolate buttercream and sprinkles to make it even more amazing.
If you’re looking for an easy, go-to chocolate cupcake, then this is it. I love how fluffy and chocolatey they are.
Hey there! Before you scroll, there’s lot’s of important stuff in the post!…including the FAQ section, which may answer any questions you might have about this recipe. Enjoy!
- Ingredient Notes:
- Mixing method notes:
- Tips & FAQs:
- Why does the recipe say not to use Dutch processed cocoa powder?
- Why do I need to add lemon juice or vinegar to the milk and let it sit?
- Should I use dark brown sugar or light brown sugar?
- I don’t have unsalted butter, can I use salted butter instead?
- Do I have to add the hot coffee?
- Can these cupcakes be made ahead of time?
- How do I store these?
- Can I freeze these cupcakes?
- Supplies & tools:
- Other posts you might like:
You can then top them with sprinkles because they make everything fun!
Now, let’s talk a little bit about just some of the ingredients for this recipe. (The entire ingredient list is in the recipe card lower in this post.)
Unsweetened Cocoa powder: This will add a bold chocolate flavor. It’s much stronger than if you were to just use melted chocolate.
Make sure to read the FAQ section below where I talk about what type to use.
Brown sugar: I love brown sugar in chocolate cakes. I think it gives it a deeper flavor.
Unsalted butter & oil: This recipe calls for both butter and oil. Butter gives it a richer flavor and oil gives it a punch of moisture.
Vanilla extract: Yes, you really should add vanilla extract to chocolate cakes and cupcakes. It doesn’t make it taste like vanilla cake, it just gives it a slight flavor boost and brings out all the other flavors.
Milk with lemon juice or vinegar: You’ll mix these things together, so that it will make a homemade buttermilk. This just enhances the flavor. Now, if you already have buttermilk, you can just use that.
Hot coffee or hot water: You’ll add this in for moisture. The cupcakes will NOT taste like coffee. The coffee only enhances the taste of the chocolate. You can always use hot water instead though.
Make sure to read the FAQ section below for more questions you might have about adding the hot coffee or water.
*The recipe card close to the end of this post will go into all the ingredients and amounts.
Mixing method notes:
The mixing method for these cupcake is pretty simple. You’ll just mix up the dry ingredients and whisk well.
Then you’ll mix the milk and lemon juice (or vinegar) together and let it sit for about five minutes.
Once that’s done, you’ll mix up all the liquid ingredients (except for the hot coffee or hot water) and pour into the dry ingredients, then mix.
Last, you’ll add the hot coffee or hot water and mix.
*The recipe card below will show all the steps.
Tips & FAQs:
Why does the recipe say not to use Dutch processed cocoa powder?
Dutch cocoa powder is different than natural unsweetened cocoa powder. If you’re in the US, generally you’ll see the natural unsweetened kind in your grocery stores.
The Dutch type has the acids processed out of it. That means if you use that type, you’d need to make adjustments to the baking soda and baking powder called for in the recipe and you may not get the correct result.
For more info about different cocoa powders and how they work, you’ll want to check out this post: Which Cocoa Powder Should I Use?
Why do I need to add lemon juice or vinegar to the milk and let it sit?
You are essentially making a buttermilk substitute in this step. If you have buttermilk, then you can just substitute with that.
Should I use dark brown sugar or light brown sugar?
You can use either, but most use light brown sugar.
I don’t have unsalted butter, can I use salted butter instead?
You can, however you can’t really predict how much salt will be added with salted butter, but it’s worth a try it that’s all you have. Just omit any salt that the recipe calls for.
Do I have to add the hot coffee?
No, but just know that it won’t make your cupcakes taste like coffee. The coffee just enhances the chocolate taste.
But if you really don’t like the idea of adding hot coffee, or you don’t have any, you can use very hot water instead. Just don’t omit this ingredient whether you use hot coffee or hot water instead.
Can these cupcakes be made ahead of time?
You can make cupcakes ahead of time, but just know that cupcakes in general, can dry out quickly, so it’s best to eat them within a couple days.
You’ll definitely want to keep them covered very well with plastic wrap, in a plastic cupcake container, or a cupcake box.
How do I store these?
These cupcakes can be stored at room temperature covered well or boxed well for several days. The nature of a cupcake is that they will dry out quicker than a cake, so it’s best to eat them within the first couple days.
You can store them in the fridge, well covered, if there is a perishable filling or frosting on them. Sometimes the fridge can dry them out quicker, so it’s not necessary to chill them unless you’ve added perishable filling or frosting.
I do have an entire post all about how to store frosted cupcakes, which you can find here.
Can I freeze these cupcakes?
It is possible to freeze cupcakes. They need to be wrapped well in plastic wrap and then foil, or then put into a freezer bag. You can also freeze them in plastic cupcake containers.
I’ve got a post on how to freeze cake layers and cupcakes without getting freezer burn here.
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Note About Recipe Measurements: I write recipes using volume (cups) measurements because here in the U.S., this is what people are more familiar with and I don’t want anyone to feel intimidated when baking. For metric/weight measurements, click the ‘metric’ button under the ingredients in the recipe card below. The weights are converted by a program, not me, and it’s just a best guess. I can’t guarantee that weighing the ingredients will produce the exact same results, since I test recipes using volume measurements.
Best Chocolate Cupcakes
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- ¾ cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder (not Dutch processed cocoa-see notes)
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- ½ cup unsalted butter (melted)
- ⅓ cup vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup milk (mixed with 1 teaspoon lemon juice or vinegar) (if you have buttermilk, you can use that instead and omit the lemon juice or vinegar)
- 3 large eggs
- ½ cup hot coffee or hot water
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add cupcake liners to two cupcake pans and spray them with non-stick spray.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar). Mix well with a whisk.
- Add the milk and lemon juice (or vinegar) in a measuring cup and mix well. Let it sit for about 5 minutes. (You're basically making a buttermilk substitute by doing this, so if you have buttermilk, you can use that instead and just omit the lemon juice or vinegar.) If the mixture starts looking a little clumpy, it's totally fine.
- Add all the liquid ingredients (except for the coffee) to a mixing bowl and whisk well.
- Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the liquid ingredients. Mix with an electric mixer just until the ingredients are combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again for about 5-10 seconds more.
- Add the hot coffee (or hot water) and mix until well combined.
- Be careful not to over mix. Once it’s combined, stop mixing. You don’t want to mix for several minutes, that’s too long. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again for about 5-10 seconds.
- Fill cupcake liners a little over half way up (about ⅔ of the way full). Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 18-20 minutes.
- Set cupcakes on wire racks to cool for about ten minutes, then take cupcakes out of the pans and let cool completely before adding frosting.
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