This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, read my disclosure policy.

If you’ve been looking for the BEST Chocolate Cupcake Recipe, you’ve landed in the right place! These chocolate cupcakes are soft, moist, and rich – the only chocolate cupcake recipe you need forever. Skip the box and make this recipe!!

Close up photo of best chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting in a blue cupcake liner

Amazing Easy Chocolate Cupcakes!

As much as I love cake mix, I’m always underwhelmed by chocolate boxed cake mix. The flavor isn’t as rich or deep as I’d like, which is where this from scratch chocolate cupcake recipe comes in!

These cupcakes are incredibly soft with SO MUCH chocolate flavor. The cupcakes themselves also (accidentally on purpose) made without eggs or dairy, which is a great option for birthday parties! You’re never going to want to buy a box again once you taste these – plus the batch makes around 30 cupcakes! No matter what you frost these with – you’re going to love them.

ingredients in cupcakes

Ingredients Needed

  • All-purpose flour, Granulated Sugar, Salt: typical cake ingredients
  • Unsweetened Cocoa Powder: be sure to use regular, NOT dutch-process cocoa (the baking soda can react strangely with it, and I haven’t tested that)
  • Baking soda and white vinegar: these two are what makes the cupcakes rise and stay fluffy and moist without having to add eggs. The acid in the vinegar activates the baking soda for an airy cupcake. Don’t have vinegar? Use lemon juice!
  • Vegetable oil: Instead of butter, I use oil. I find that oil keeps the cupcakes super moist. You can also use canola oil.
  • Hot water: using hot water blooms the cocoa powder. That’s a fancy way to say it releases the cocoa flavor particles, producing an even richer and more intense chocolate flavor.
  • Instant coffee granules (or espresso powder): these are optional, but increase the flavor of the chocolate. The cupcakes don’t taste like coffee, but coffee helps enhance chocolate flavor. I think of this as my secret ingredient for a rich and decadent chocolate cupcake.

How to Make Chocolate Cupcakes

  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.
  • In a large mixing cup, combine the hot water, oil, vinegar, coffee granules, and vanilla.
  • Pour into the dry ingredients and whisk just until the batter comes together. Don’t over mix it – it’s okay if there are a few lumps. That’s right – you don’t even need a stand mixer or hand mixer for this recipe!
  • Fill cupcake liners in a muffin pan about 2/3 full with batter and bake the cupcakes for 12 to 15 minutes. Cool them completely before frosting.
Chocolate cupcake being held in hand that's half eaten to show inside

Cooked Chocolate Frosting

I often make a cooked chocolate sour cream frosting with these cupcakes because it’s so rich and delicious – like chocolate ganache but better.

Tips for making Sour Cream Frosting

  • You cannot substitute the heavy whipping cream – the recipe needs the fat to set up.
  • You can omit the coffee if you want – but again, it’s the secret ingredient that makes the recipe SUPER chocolatey!
  • Just add all the ingredients to a saucepan and stir until completely until all melted together and hot (about 4-8 minutes) but don’t let it boil.
  • The frosting needs time to cool, so make sure to make it a few hours before you plan to frost your cupcakes.

Frosting Options

I have so many options for frosting this easy chocolate cupcake recipe!

Close up photo showing best chocolate cupcakes in blue cupcake liners with fresh frosting on top of one

Tip From Dorothy

Expert Tips

  • You read the recipe correctly – no eggs, no dairy in the cupcakes themselves.
  • You don’t need a mixer – if you want to use one, mix at low speed until the dry ingredients are somewhat incorporated, then switch to high speed until the batter comes together.
  • Cupcakes are done when a toothpick entered in the center comes out clean.
  • Store baked cupcakes in an airtight container for up to 3 days or you can put them in the freezer for up to a month!


Can you make this recipe as a cake?

Yes – it will make a three 8-inch cake layer recipe or you can bake it in a 9×13-inch pan but don’t fill it more than 2/3 full.

Close up photo of best chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting in a blue cupcake liner

The Best Chocolate Cupcake Recipe

4 from 65 votes
The richest, most decadent chocolate cupcakes ever! You’ll never make another chocolate frosting again once you’ve had these.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Chill Time for Frosting 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours
Yield 30 cupcakes
Serving Size 1 cupcake


For the Cake

  • 3 cups (372g) all purpose flour
  • 2 cups (400g) granulated sugar
  • ½ cup (40g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt not kosher, just regular table salt
  • 2 cups (474ml) hot water
  • ¾ cup (177ml) vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) distilled or white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee granules
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For Sour Cream Frosting

  • ½ cup (113g) unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ cups (300g) granulated sugar
  • 1 ¼ cups (100g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 ¼ cups (297ml) heavy whipping cream (do not substitute with anything else or it won’t set properly)
  • ¼ cup (61g) sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


Make the cupcakes

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line cupcake pans with liners (about 30).
  • Whisk flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Combine water, oil, vinegar, instant coffee, and vanilla in a large mixing cup. Whisk to combine, then add to the dry ingredients and whisk just until the batter comes together. A few lumps are okay.
  • Fill cupcake liners about ⅔ full and bake for about 12-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

Make the frosting

  • While the cupcakes are in the oven, make the frosting. (There is cooling time involved.)
  • Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in sugar, cocoa, and salt. The mixture will be thick and grainy.
  • Whisk heavy cream, sour cream, vanilla and instant coffee in a large measuring cup. Slowly add the cream mixture into your saucepan and whisk until smooth. Cook over medium-low heat until the sugar has dissolved and is hot to the touch, between 4-8 minutes. (Mine cooked in about 4 minutes, but it could take longer.) Do not boil!
  • Transfer frosting to a bowl and let cool 2-3 hours until it’s spreadable. You can also chill it so it will set up faster. If it gets to hard to spread, microwave it on 20 second intervals, stirring in between, until it’s the desired consistency.
  • Frost top of cupcake with chocolate frosting. Store in refrigerator, let come to room temperature before serving.

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes

  • Plan ahead! Since the frosting needs to be cooked and cooled, you will need extra time.
  • You can make the frosting before making the cupcakes since it needs a few hours to set up. By the time the cupcakes are baked and cooled, the frosting will be ready to use.
  • There isn’t a substitute for the heavy cream in the frosting – it’s critical for achieving the right texture and consistency.
  • When you cook the frosting, be sure to cook it long enough to dissolve the sugar. This is the secret for a smooth chocolate frosting that isn’t grainy. But don’t let it boil!

Recipe Nutrition

Serving: 1cupcake | Calories: 258kcal | Carbohydrates: 94g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 23mg | Sodium: 148mg | Fiber: 23g | Sugar: 2g
Nutritional information not guaranteed to be accurate
Course Dessert
Cuisine American

Favorite Cupcake Recipes

Last Updated on February 5, 2024

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.

Learn to Bake in 4 Days!
Get my tips, tricks and recipes to take your baking to the next level for FREE!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating


  1. Can I make these in a pan instead? We are on vacation and don’t have a muffin pan but I have an 8×8 in pan and a 13×9 in pan

    1. This will make a 9×13 and a few cupcakes – only fill the 9×13 pan about half to 2/3 full and then put the remaining batter in the 8×8 or cupcake pans.

  2. I don’t know what happened, but the cupcakes I made with this recipe are inedible.
    I’ve gone over and over the recipe and the only thing I did wrong was inadvertently use baking powder instead of baking soda. I can’t even explain what they taste like, but it seems like I’m tasting the vinegar. Could using the wrong leavening agent have caused this? I don’t like the icing either – it has a bitter, overly strong chocolate taste. I used a brand new can of Great Value cocoa which I know isn’t top of the line cocoa but I’ve never had an issue with it. I’m just flabbergasted. The cupcakes rose beautifully, baked to perfection in 10 minutes but the taste is just off. The sugar in the icing dissolved as described. I’m really sad. I’m not new to baking but somehow something I did went wrong.

    1. The vinegar reacts with the baking soda to help them rise. Baking powder and baking soda are very very different so that was definitely why the taste was off. As for the icing, the coffee gives it a richer chocolate flavor- omitting those would make it less rich.

  3. Hi, I live in UK and receive a lot of recipes via my phone and all seem to be American. Can these websites possibly give people the option to choose imperial or metric measurements for the ingredients. It is a nightmare trying to work out correct conversions for cups to grams or Mls Thank you