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Several chocolate cupcakes on top of a marble cake stand.
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4.91 from 11 votes

Chocolate Cupcakes

Perfect Chocolate Cupcakes topped with a chocolate buttercream frosting! This chocolate cupcake recipe is easy to make, incredibly soft, light, and moist.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword chocolate, chocolate cupcake recipe, cupcakes
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Total Time 58 minutes
Servings 16 cupcakes
Author Danielle


For the chocolate cupcakes:

  • 1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour (spooned & leveled)
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (30 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) oil
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder optional, but recommended

For the chocolate frosting:

  • 1 cup (230 grams) unsalted butter softened
  • 3 cups (360 grams) powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup (42 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder sifted
  • 3-4 tablespoons (30-45 ml) heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt


To make the chocolate cupcakes:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line two 12-count muffin pans with 16 cupcake liners and set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk in the granulated sugar and brown sugar until well combined. Add the oil, buttermilk, egg, and vanilla extract and mix until just combined.
  • Add the instant espresso powder to the 1/2 cup boiling water and mix until fully dissolved. Add to the mixing bowl and mix until everything is just combined. The batter will be thin, but this is okay.
  • Evenly distribute the batter between all 16 cupcake liners, making sure to just fill each one a little over halfway full. Bake at 350°F (177°C) for 17-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcakes comes out clean.
  • Remove from the oven and remove the cupcakes from the pan. Transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the chocolate frosting:

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl using an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium speed for 1-2 minutes or until smooth.
  • Add the powdered sugar one cup at a time, making sure to mix well after each addition, then add the cocoa powder and mix until fully combined, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the heavy whipping cream, vanilla extract, and salt and mix on medium speed until fully combined.
  • Frost the cooled cupcakes as desired.


Store cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Freezing Instructions: Cupcakes will freeze well for up to 3 months, thaw to room temperature before frosting the cupcakes. The frosting will also freeze well for up to 3 months, thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature and mix well before frosting the cupcakes.
Oil: Vegetable, canola, or melted coconut oil all work fine in this recipe. If using melted coconut oil, I suggest using room temperature ingredients so the oil doesn't solidify when you add the other ingredients.
Buttermilk: If you don't have any buttermilk on hand, you can use my homemade buttermilk substitute.
Instant Espresso Powder: The espresso powder is optional, but recommended because it enhances the chocolate flavor in the cupcakes. You may omit it from the recipe, but if you do, you'll still need to use the 1/2 cup (120 ml) of boiling water.
To make a 9-inch cake: Spray a 9-inch cake pan with nonstick cooking spray and line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. Pour the batter into the pan and bake at 350°F (177°C) for 28-32 minutes.