wire cooling rack with 12 chocolate cupcakes

Chocolate Cupcakes

Indulgent, supremely fluffy, moist, and ultra-chocolatey cupcakes that are so delicious, you won’t even need icing! Among the countless chocolate cupcake recipes available, this one stands out as a favorite. The recipe is simple and yields cupcakes that are not overly greasy, overwhelmingly sweet or dense, but perfectly balanced in flavor, texture and moistness. This recipe is a must-try for chocolate cupcake lover.

chocolate cupcakes
white cake stand topped with three chocolate cupcakes topped with one white vanilla fondant ghost with a frilly skirt and two candy eyes
Chocolate cupcakes decorated with chocolate icing and vanilla fondant ghosts see Halloween Cupcakes for the recipe!

Why This Works

This recipe yields a perfectly balanced batch of chocolate cupcakes that are easy to make and delicious. This recipe is perfect for those who are new to baking and it’s a great way to learn some core baking techniques such as creaming butter and sugar and the proper way of incorporating dry and wet ingredients. The recipe is made with simple, readily available ingredients that can be easily found in any grocery store, making it convenient and accessible for bakers of all levels.

clockwise from bottom left 3 large brown eggs, vanilla extract, cocoa powder, all purpose flour, baking soda, butter, sugar, and buttermilk
clockwise from bottom left large brown eggs, vanilla extract, cocoa powder, all purpose flour, baking soda, butter, sugar, and buttermilk

How to Bake the Perfect Cupcakes

1. Avoid making substitutions

Baking is a science and each ingredient plays an important role in determining the final outcome of the baked good. The right balance of ingredients, such as fat, flour, sugar, and leavening agents, are key to determining the final product’s flavor, texture, moisture, structure and shape. Unless you have experience in baking, it’s best to stick to only making substitutions to flavorings, without changing the volume of the ingredient enough to affect the overall chemistry of the bake. This will ensure that your bake turns out as expected.

Baking can be unforgiving where small variations in ingredients or measurements can have a significant impact on the final result. Unlike cooking where ingredients and methodologies are often more adaptable, when it comes to baking, it’s better to follow a recipe that has been specifically designed to meet your dietary or ingredient needs. For example, if you’re looking to make a non-vegan baking recipe vegan, it’s best to find a recipe that’s already been adapted for that purpose rather than trying to make substitutions on your own. This will help ensure that your finished product turns out as expected.

2. Use Premium Ingredients

What is butter?

Butter is made by churning cream, which causes the fat and milk protein components of the cream to separate. The solids that form are then collected, pressed and shaped into butter.

What is the main purpose of butter?

In baking, butter plays an important role in the final product’s moisture, texture and structure. It is used as an ingredient in cakes, cookies, and pastries, that helps to bind the ingredients together, and adds moisture, flavor and richness to the baked goods. The fat creates a tender crumb and also helps to brown and crisp which contributes to texture.

What type of butter do I need for cupcakes?

When baking cakes or cupcakes, always opt for Grade AA butter. Grade AA butter has a milk fat of 80% while European-style butter has a milk fat ranging from 82-86%. European-style butters are a great option for flakey pastries, pies, or shortbread but tends to be too rich for cupcakes.

There are some cupcake recipes that use oil instead of butter. I find that using softened butter yields bakes that are superior to those that are made with oil. Oil may negatively impact the crumb by creating a bake that is overly greasy, dense, and dry.

What is vanilla extract?

Vanilla extract is created by steeping vanilla bean pods in alcohol and aging the mixture.

What is the main purpose of vanilla extract?

Vanilla extract adds the aroma of the vanilla bean to bakes while also enhancing the other flavors in the recipe. Bakes without vanilla extract are muted and flat.

Do I need to use premium vanilla extract?

Premium vanilla extract is one of the most potent forms of vanilla, second only to vanilla paste. Due to its liquid consistency, it is more versatile and can be used in a wide variety of recipes. Imitation vanilla extract can be used as a substitute in certain recipes where the vanilla flavor is less prominent, such as puddings, pastry cream, and icings.

What is cocoa powder?

Cocoa powder that is made by finely grinding roasted cocoa beans until it forms a powder. This powder is used to make chocolate desserts such as cakes, cookies and hot chocolate. It is generally unsweetened. It comes in both natural and Dutch-processed varieties. Natural cocoa powder, has a higher acidity level and a more intense chocolate flavor.

What is the main purpose of cocoa powder?

It adds rich chocolate flavor to baked goods and non-bake deserts and also contributes a rich color to the final product.

What is dutch-process cocoa powder?

Dutch-processed cocoa powder is treated with an alkali which neutralizes its acidity resulting in a milder chocolate taste and yields a darker color, it is often used for baking. This results in a cocoa powder with a reddish hue compared to natural cocoa powder. It has a milder, less acidic flavor compared to the standard cocoa powder.

Do I need to weigh my ingredients?

Weighing ingredients with a scale instead of using volumetric measurements with measuring cups is one of the best ways to improve your baking skills. Although measuring ingredients may seem like an extra step, using a scale is actually more efficient and can save time. You don’t need multiple measuring cups and mixing bowls, instead, you can weigh ingredients directly. Additionally, using a scale guarantees more accurate measurements and helps ensure that the final product comes out perfect. For example, 1 cup of all-purpose flour may weigh anywhere between 120 to 160 grams depending on how packed it is. This small difference in weight can greatly affect the taste, texture, moisture, structure, and shape of the final product.

Invest in a cookie scooper

Achieving consistency in baking, a hallmark of professional baking, requires precise measurements of ingredients. While a kitchen scale can be used, a more efficient method is to use a cookie scooper with a trigger release. This tool not only allows for precise measurements but also keeps your hands clean. Additionally, cookie scoopers are versatile and can be used to measure out cupcake/muffin batter, cookie dough and cake batter.

Patience is key!

It’s important to never put raw dough or batter in the oven until it has fully preheated. An oven typically takes 15 minutes to reach temperatures above 300 F (149 C). Placing raw dough or batter in a cold oven can cause the baked goods to come out thin, flat, and misshapen. The same can happen when you put cold dough on a hot baking tray. To avoid this, it’s important to let the baking tray cool to room temperature before using it, which usually takes around 10 minutes.

white cake stand topped with three chocolate cupcakes topped with one white vanilla fondant ghost with a frilly skirt and two candy eyes

Chocolate Cupcakes

Supremely fluffy ultra-chocolatey cupcakes.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 24 cupcakes


  • 6 or 12 cup non-stick muffin & cupcake pan
  • 24 cupcake liners
  • Stand mixer with paddle attachment or handheld mixer
  • Large cookie scooper with trigger release


  • cup (151 g) unsalted grade AA butter softened
  • cups (315 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup (46 g) Dutch-process Cocoa Rouge Unsweetened Cocoa Powder I prefer Guittard
  • 1 tsp (5 g) baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp (5 g) vanilla extract
  • 3 (150 g) whole large eggs
  • 1 cup (8.5 oz) full fat buttermilk


  • Prep | Leave the butter out on the counter at room temperature until softened, at least 2 hours.
    Prepare the center rack and set the oven to 350 F (177 C). Line a muffin tray with cupcake liners.
  • Batter | Add the softened butter and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high speed for 7 minutes until pale, white, and fluffy. ~ If using a hand mixer, beat at high speed for 14 minutes. Add the vanilla extract, eggs, and buttermilk. Mix until evenly distributed. Add the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and sea salt into a bowl.
    Mix only until the ingredients look uniform, preventing overworking the batter. The visual cues that you are looking for is a thick chocolate pudding-like batter.
  • Bake | Using a large cookie scooper, scoop the cupcake batter and scrape off the excess with a spatula or butter knife. Use the trigger release to drop the batter onto the center of a cupcake liner. Repeat.
    Bake on the center rack until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 20 minutes. The cupcakes should look slightly domed and the surface should not look wet. Remove the tray from the oven and allow the cupcakes to cool at room temperature. Invert the tray over the counter to release and repeat until all the cupcakes are baked. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely if decorating with frosting.


The unfrosted cupcakes can be stored in plastic wrap and foil at room temperature for up to 2 days in a warm climate, 3 days in a cold climates, or frozen for up to one month.
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