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Small Batch Chocolate Cupcakes are the best because it helps you not stress out about having so many leftovers to eat! This recipe for 6 chocolate cupcakes is the perfect size for you and one other person to indulge in. The best part of making half batch chocolate cupcakes? You don’t have to feel guilty for eating them all. 

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chocolate cupcakes on a counter with chocolate frosting

Easy Small Batch Chocolate Cupcakes

When you make a HUGE batch of cupcakes, you have to share, but when you have a small batch of this easy chocolate cupcake recipe from scratch, you don’t have enough to share or tell anyone that you have them. That’s a huge dessert win! Not only that, but this is one of the best chocolate cupcake recipes I’ve ever tried.

Why you’ll love this recipe

  • The math is all done for you – you don’t have to know fractions to make a small batch of cupcakes.
  • The recipe from a new cookbook I’m OBSESSED with: Simple Small Batch Baking by Mike Johnson. It’s a whole book about, yep, baking small batch desserts! It’s out now and you MUST get a copy.
ingredients in chocolate cupcakes laid out and labeled


  • All-purpose flour – You can sift the flour if you’re worried about lumps. 
  • Unsweetened natural cocoa powder – This hasn’t been tested with Dutch process cocoa.
  • Baking soda – This gives the cupcakes their fluffy texture. 
  • Fine sea salt – Or you can substitute table salt.
  • Bittersweet Baking Chocolate – Chopped finely, you’ll use this in the cupcakes and as the chocolate in the frosting.
  • Unsalted butter – If you only have salted butter, omit adding in the extra salt. You’ll need butter in the frosting as well.
  • Granulated sugar – Helps to sweeten the cupcakes. 
  • Egg – Make sure that the egg is at room temperature. 
  • Vanilla extract – Pure vanilla extract is the best. 
  • Sour cream – The sour cream needs to be at room temperature. 
  • Hot water – Using hot water “blooms” the cocoa and brings out the flavor. You can also add espresso powder or instant coffee to bring the flavor out even more. I prefer using the espresso but you can make cupcakes without coffee if you don’t like it.
  • Powdered sugar – This adds the sweetness and volume to the frosting.
  • Milk – This can help to thin out the frosting. 

How to make 6 chocolate cupcakes

  • Mix the dry ingredients: Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda in a bowl. 
  • Melt the chocolate: Add the butter and chocolate into a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in 30-second increments until melted.
  • Once the chocolate is melted, stir in the sugar. 
  • Add the egg. Add the egg, sour cream, and vanilla and whisk. Add the dry ingredients and mix then whisk the hot water and espresso powder. Add to the batter and mix. 
  • Spoon into the pan. Fill the liners almost full (divide the batter into the 6 cupcake liners) and then bake for 18-20 minutes.
  • Make the frosting: Put the chopped chocolates into a microwave-safe bowl and melt in 30-second increments. Once melted, let it cool slightly. Beat the butter using a stand mixer until creamy. Add the vanilla, sugar, milk, and salt. Beat on low for 30 seconds, then on medium high for 2 minutes. Add the melted chocolate to the mixture and mix for 1-2 minutes until fluffy. If the frosting is thin, add more powdered sugar. If it’s too thick, add milk. 
  • Frost the cupcakes. Once the cupcakes are cooled, frost them with the chocolate buttercream frosting!
chocolate cupcakes on a counter with chocolate frosting

Storing and Freezing Chocolate Cupcakes

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Place the cupcakes on the counter about an hour before you plan to serve them so that they can come to room temperature.

chocolate cupcakes on a counter with chocolate frosting


How full do you fill cupcake liners?

Usually you fill the cupcake liners ¾ the way full. If you overfill them, they’ll overflow while they’re baking and make a huge mess in the oven. For this recipe you can fill them close to full – just divide the batter into 6 liners.

How long to bake chocolate cupcakes?

Once you make the cupcake batter, let them cook in the oven for 18-20 minutes or until they’re done baking. 

Do cupcakes need to be refrigerated?

Once you add the frosting, they need to be kept in the fridge. If you’re not frosting the cupcakes, they can be left out at room temperature. 

How do you know when cupcakes are done baking?

The toothpick test is the best way to check the doneness. Just insert a clean toothpick into the center of a cupcake and take it out. If the toothpick is clean, the cupcakes are done baking. 

Other Small Batch Recipes:

If you’re a fan of small batch recipes like I am, here are some others that I love! 

chocolate cupcakes on a counter with chocolate frosting

Small Batch Chocolate Cupcakes

5 from 21 votes
Delicious chocolate cupcakes topped with amazing chocolate frosting!
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 17 minutes
Total Time 47 minutes
Yield 6 servings
Serving Size 1 serving


For the Cupcakes:

  • ½ cup (62g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons (10g) unsweetened natural cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 oz (28g) bittersweet baking chocolate, finely chopped (I used 70% cacao dark chocolate)
  • 2 tablespoons (28g) unsalted butter
  • ½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg (room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup (60g) sour cream, room temperature
  • ¼ cup (60ml) hot water
  • teaspoon espresso powder or instant coffee (optional)

For the frosting:

  • oz (42g) 70% cacao dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 6 tablespoons (85g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup (120g) powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 tbsp (15ml) milk
  • Chocolate syrup for topping, optional
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  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a 6-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners, then set it aside.

Make the Cupcakes:

  • Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt, in a small bowl, then set aside.
  • Place the chocolate and butter in a large heat-safe bowl. Melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave, heating in 30-second intervals and mixing thoroughly between each interval. Once the chocolate is fully melted, remove the bowl from the heat, and stir in the sugar.
  • Add the egg, vanilla, and sour cream, and whisk until the mixture is well combined, scraping down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed.
  • Add in the dry ingredients and whisk until they are just incorporated.
  • In a small cup, whisk together the hot water and espresso powder (if using), then add that mixture into the batter and whisk until completely combined and smooth, about 1 minute. (Do this carefully as the water will splash around at first!)
  • Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, filling each liner until almost full; you’ll use about 4 tablespoons (62 g) of batter per cup. Bake the cupcakes for 18 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out relatively clean with a few moist crumbs. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting them.

Make the frosting:

  • Begin by melting the chocolate. Place the chopped chocolate in a heat-safe bowl and melt the chocolate in the microwave, heating it in 30-second intervals and mixing thoroughly between each interval. Once the chocolate is fully melted, remove the bowl from the heat and set it aside to cool slightly.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a handheld mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Add the sugar, vanilla, milk, and salt. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase speed to medium-high, and beat for 2 full minutes.
  • Add the melted chocolate, and beat the mixture on high speed for another 1 to 2 minutes, until the frosting is fluffy and the ingredients are completely combined. Add more powdered sugar if the frosting is too thin, more milk if the frosting is too thick, or an extra pinch of salt if the frosting is too sweet. The frosting should be soft and creamy, but not runny.
  • Frost the cooled cupcakes however you’d like and garnish them with the chocolate syrup, if using. I used a large open star piping tip (Wilton 1M) for the cupcakes pictured.
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Place the cupcakes on the counter about an hour before you plan to serve them, so they can come to room temperature.

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes

Recipe from Simple Small Batch Baking by Mike Johnson. Reprinted with permission.

Recipe Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 559kcal | Carbohydrates: 83g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 76mg | Sodium: 164mg | Potassium: 215mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 62g | Vitamin A: 602IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 41mg | Iron: 3mg
Nutritional information not guaranteed to be accurate
Course Dessert
Cuisine American

Small Batch Chocolate Cupcakes makes 6 perfect rich chocolate cupcakes with a creamy chocolate buttercream. These are death by chocolate cupcakes!

Dorothy Kern

Welcome to Crazy for Crust, where I share recipes that are sometimes crazy, often with a crust, and always served with a slice of life.

5 from 21 votes (20 ratings without comment)

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  1. These are absolutely perfect. I skimmed through the directions and accidentally just added the finely chopped chocolate to my dry ingredients and we loved it! The small bits of chocolate that didn’t completely melt added a nice extra bit of chocolate flavor that I didn’t even make frosting. They were gone almost immediately.