The Best Chocolate Cupcake Recipe EVER

4.91 from 11 votes
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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 with the most amazing chocolate sour cream frosting. Plus, they are eggless cupcakes that are easy to make.

I’m sharing all of my secrets and showing you how to make perfect chocolate cupcakes from scratch – you are going to love them!

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

Amazing Chocolate Cupcakes!

  • They are incredibly soft! How you make cupcakes moist is always a question I get, and with this recipe, it’s an easy answer: use oil. I always find that oil produces such a softer and more tender cupcake recipe.
  • These are chocolate cupcakes without eggs and dairy. The leavening is done with baking soda and vinegar. The reaction between the two and the use of oil makes the most tender crumb. Instead of milk, these cupcakes use hot boiling water as the liquid component.
  • As if the chocolate cupcakes weren’t good enough, the chocolate frosting is one of the best. It’s gooey and super chocolatey. If you’ve never tried cooking your frosting, you must. It’s even better than a chocolate ganache on top of these fantastic cupcakes.

This is such an easy chocolate cupcake recipe from scratch; you’ll never ask how to make chocolate cupcakes again!

Four photos showing the process of making chocolate cupcake batter

Ingredients in Chocolate Cupcakes

  • All-purpose flour, Sugar, Salt: typical cake ingredients
  • Unsweetened Cocoa Powder: be sure to use regular, NOT dutch process
  • Baking soda and white vinegar: these two are what makes the cupcakes rise and stay fluffy and moist
  • Vegetable oil and Hot water
  • Instant coffee granules: optional, but increase the flavor of the chocolate. The cupcakes don’t taste like coffee, but coffee helps enhance chocolate flavor.
  • Vanilla extract

When I first made these, I wondered what the hot water does to the batter and, according to the ktchn, it 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. More chocolate > less, don’t you think?

And, yes, these are chocolate cupcakes with vinegar. The small amount in the batter activates the baking soda – they work together to help the cupcakes rise and puff up when they bake. 

Four photos showing the process of making chocolate cupcake frosting

How to Make Chocolate Cupcakes

This is a straightforward recipe and makes dense chocolate cupcakes!

1. Whisk: 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 overmix it – it’s okay if there are a few lumps.

2. Bake: Fill cupcake liners about 2/3 full with batter and bake the cupcakes for 12 to 15 minutes. Cool them completely before frosting.

Plan to make the frosting while the cupcakes are baking. You need time for it to cool before you frost the cupcakes.

Chocolate cupcake being held in hand that's half eaten to show inside

Ingredients for Sour Cream Chocolate Frosting

  • Unsalted butter: typical for frosting
  • Granulated sugar: yes – granulated – this is a COOKED frosting that uses regular sugar
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder and salt: needed for chocolate frosting
  • Heavy whipping cream – there is no substitute for this! You need it for the frosting to set properly
  • Sour cream – low-fat is fine.
  • Instant coffee granules: again, not required but makes the chocolate more chocolatey.
  • Vanilla extract

How to Make Sour Cream Frosting

This is not the kind of frosting you would pipe or use for a layer cake. It has a thinner consistency that is perfect for cupcakes or for pouring over a sheet cake. It’s so rich and decadent – the best chocolate frosting for the cupcakes!

1: Heat and Mix: This is a cooked chocolate frosting that starts on the stovetop. So, first, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar, cocoa powder, salt, and stir. At this point, the mixture will be thick and grainy.

2. Whisk the wet ingredients: In a large measuring cup, whisk the heavy cream, sour cream, and instant coffee. Slowly pour the mixture into the saucepan and whisk until smooth.

3. Cook: Cook the chocolate mixture for four to eight minutes or until the sugar has dissolved and the frosting is hot to the touch. It’s crucial to keep it from boiling while it cooks. Mine usually takes about four minutes, but it could take longer.

4. Cool: Transfer the cooked frosting to a bowl and let it cool for two to three hours or until it’s spreadable. You can also chill it to speed up the cooling, but it might harden. To soften it, microwave it in 20-second increments, stirring in between until it reaches a spreadable consistency.

5. Frost: Spread it on the cooled cupcakes. If you aren’t serving them right away, store them in the refrigerator. Let them come to room temperature before serving.

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

Helpful Tips & Tricks!

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!

This moist chocolate cupcake recipe is the only one I need, and I bet it will be your favorite, too! The frosting takes them to a whole new level – perfect for all the chocolate lovers in your life. I know you will love them!

Other Cupcake Recipes

The Best Chocolate Cupcake Recipe

The richest, most decadent chocolate cupcakes ever! You’ll never make another chocolate frosting again once you’ve had these.
4.91 from 11 votes
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

Ingredients

For the Cake

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt not kosher, just regular table salt
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons distilled vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee granules
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For the Frosting

  • 1/2 cup 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream do not substitute with anything else or it won’t set properly
  • 1/4 cup sour cream low-fat is fine
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Instructions

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 2/3 full and bake for about 12-15 minutes. (Mine baked in 14 minutes.) 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 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!

Nutrition Information

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
Keyword chocolate, cupcake
The best chocolate cupcake cut in half to show the fluffy inside with recipe title on top of image

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 with the most amazing chocolate sour cream frosting.

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  1. 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