Update 2022: After posting this recipe four years ago, I found that my one bowl chocolate cake recipe makes the best chocolate cupcakes! It’s what I prefer, and the crowds agree. So, this recipe has been updated with the new (and even easier to make!) recipe.
Oh, chocolate. It’s made me weak in the knees since I was a kid sneaking it into the cart when my mom wasn’t looking. Some people prefer fruity desserts but I tend to lean toward the decadence of something chocolatey. If you’re in the same boat, then this recipe is for you: melt-in-your-mouth chocolate cupcakes with a chocolate buttercream that has been described by a friend as “the kind you need to put in the sink and fill the bowl with water because you can’t stop eating it.”
This recipe is everything you want in a chocolate cupcake – rich and decadent, moist and fudgy, and the perfect chocolatey flavor throughout. It’s a classic flavor pairing that will satisfy any chocolate lover in your life, and I’m a firm believer that every cake maker should have a good chocolate cake and chocolate buttercream recipe up their sleeve. Whether you pair the recipes together or use them separately to pair with other flavors, these are some great staples to add to your recipe box.
You’ll notice that the cupcake recipe calls for hot coffee or hot water. You can absolutely use either, but the hot coffee will really help amplify the chocolate flavor in these cupcakes. It won’t add any coffee flavor in the process. I like to use fresh pour-over coffee, but you can use instant coffee or whatever you’re used to drinking at home.
I’ve kept the decoration simple with these babies by piping a swirl of chocolate buttercream with my Wilton 1M tip, but feel free to get creative with the design. They’re made even more beautiful with these pretty sprinkles from Fancy Sprinkles in the Birthday Balloons mix. I just love the pops of color and texture they add!
Here’s a quick video of how to make these chocolate cupcakes before you read through the recipe below:
PS: If you’re into cake decorating videos like this one, be sure to check out my YouTube Channel! Click the Subscribe button while you’re there so you never miss a new video.
Chocolate Cupcakes With Chocolate Buttercream
One Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes
- 1 Cup (132g) all-purpose flour
- 3/4 Cup (150g) white granulated sugar
- 1/3 Cup (30g) natural unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 Cup (60ml) vegetable oil
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 Cup (120ml) buttermilk, room temperature*
- 1/2 Cup (120ml) hot coffee or hot water**
- 1 Cup (226g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3 Cups (360g) powdered sugar
- 1/2 Cup (45g) natural unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3 Tbsp (45ml) whole milk, room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
Make The Chocolate Cupcakes
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF/177ºC and line a cupcake pan with 12-15 liners.
- Whisk all of the dry ingredients together in a large bowl to fully combine them. Add the vegetable oil, eggs, vanilla, and buttermilk and mix on low with either a hand mixer, the paddle attachment on your stand mixer, or by hand until combined. Add the hot coffee (or hot water) in a slow stream. Continue mixing on low until fully combined and smooth, 1-2 minutes. The batter will be very thin.
- Pour the batter into the prepared cupcake liners (no more than ⅔ full) and bake for 15-18 minutes, until a wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.
Make The Chocolate Buttercream
- In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, whip the butter on high speed until creamy and light in color, about five minutes. Scrape down the bowl and paddle and turn the mixer to low, then add the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, milk, vanilla extract, and salt. Continue mixing on low speed until fully combined and uniform, 2-3 minutes, scraping down the bowl and paddle as needed.
- Let the cupcakes cool thoroughly before frosting with chocolate buttercream. In the images above, I've used Wilton tip 1M to pipe a swirl with the buttercream before adding these sprinkles.
- The chocolate cupcakes can be made ahead and stored at room temperature, covered with plastic wrap, for up to two days. Alternatively, they can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for up to two months.
- The chocolate buttercream recipe can be made ahead and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. When you’re ready to use it, bring it back to room temperature and re-mix with your stand mixer on low speed to bring it back to frosting consistency.
Did you make these chocolate cupcakes? I want to know how it went! Leave a comment below and feel free to tag @sugarandsparrowco on Instagram to show me. I love to see what you create!
Question- after the cupcakes are made and decorated how do you store them and for how long?
Hi Megan! If they’re for an order, I usually frost and deliver them the same day (or night before at the earliest and leave them in a cupcake box at room temp overnight). If they’re for eating, I often leave them out at room temp for 1-3 days and they last just fine. The frosting covers the cake enough to keep it moist/fluffy and the high sugar content in the frosting preserves the dairy and keeps it from going bad. Hope that helps!
Hi Janice! Thanks so much for the kind words about my cakes and blog posts! To turn this recipe into a cake recipe, I add 1/3 cup more white granulated sugar per batch. For a 6″ 3-layer cake, I would double the recipe and add an additional 2/3 cup sugar total. I’ve never tried adding anything like chocolate bits to it but I think that sounds delicious! Try it and let me know how it turns out!
Thank you so much! Maybe this is a silly question, how does the additional sugar transform the batter from cupcake to cake?
I made your vanilla cupcakes last week, and they were the BEST cupcakes I had ever had (retail or homemade). You’re a star!! The details in your blog is just stellar! Can’t wait to see more, and watch all your tutorials.
That’s not a silly question at all! The additional sugar helps make the cake more moist and tender. When you spread batter over a wider surface (like a cake pan vs. a cupcake tin) I have found that in this recipe in particular, adding a little extra sugar helps yields a softer cake.
I’m so happy to hear you loved the vanilla cupcakes!! Thanks so much and let me know how the chocolate cake turns out!
Hi Whitney, can this recipe be transformed to a vegan recipe? I know we can directly replace the butter and milk with other alternatives, but what about the eggs?
Hi there! I have never made vegan cake before (someday!), so I don’t know all the substitution rules, nor do I know how my recipes will turn out when made with vegan ingredients. There’s a lot of science to baking and for now I can only recommend finding a chocolate cupcake recipe that’s already vegan. I hope to make some vegan versions of these recipes someday though (after lots of research and testing!) and I’ll let you know when I do!
Morgan Mueller says
Hi Whitney, I’m making a Halloween cake this year for a party and I want to make the chocolate buttercream black. How much black food coloring would you recommend I use? And should I use liquid or gel food coloring? Thanks!
Hi Morgan! Here’s a post I wrote on how to make black buttercream with my favorite food color gel for the job (Americolor Super Black!). You can use any black food color gel, but Americolor is so concentrated that you don’t need as much to get a deep black color: https://sugarandsparrow.com/halloween-cake/
Hi Whitney! I just made this cupcake recipe today and they are really good! I have tried A TON of recipes, looking for the one that I can consider my “go to”, and this one may be it!! Question (and I may already know the answer)…in the place of boiling water, can I use hot coffee like I always do for chocolate cake? The coffee isn’t boiling, but freshly made and very hot. Thanks very much. And….I did post a comment a while back on an Instagram post of yours. You are very skilled at presentation and instruction. Your photos are the bomb, as well as your designs!!! Very happy to have found you.
Thanks so much, Paula! I’m so happy to hear that this recipe has become your go-to! Yes, you can totally use hot coffee in place of the boiling water for an even richer result 🙂
Caitlin Perales says
I made these tonight with my two girls. They are amazing!!! So perfect. I’m not sure I will make them any other way… no more boxed recipes for us!
Yay, Caitlin! So happy the recipe was a hit with you and your girls!
Hello, a question, what vetable oil do you use?
Hi Sara! I just use a generic brand from Kroger.
Hi, thank you so much, I too tried your vanilla cupcake recipe and it is perfect. So you are my favourite recipe person now and I am keen to try this recipe.
This might sound crazy but I have to smash out 50 cupcakes, can you triple this recipe? Or would you recommend just making them batch by batch?
Hi Fleur! So happy you enjoyed my vanilla cupcake recipe and thank you so much for the kind words! You can certainly triple this recipe instead of baking them batch by batch. Enjoy!
I haven’t tried this but it sounds yummy. So yummy the hubs has offered to go to the grocery store and pick up anything I don’t have in our pantry.
Question… what does the buttermilk do? Could I use regular milk? I really don’t like the taste. (I don’t even use it for fried chicken because it really stands out to me.)
Hi Ellen! The buttermilk makes the cake extra moist. The cake itself doesn’t end up tasting like it. What I usually do is make the DIY buttermilk substitute that I have in the notes (1 Tbsp white vinegar + 1 Cup whole milk) and it works great. That’s what I’d recommend!
Just made these tonight – so delicious! Very moist cupcakes and the buttercream is so good! This will be our go-to chocolate cupcake recipe for sure!
Yay, Lauren! I’m so happy to hear that!
I just made these for my daughter’s first birthday party and holy wow they are the best chocolate cupcakes I’ve ever had! Thank you for this recipe! The hot coffee is a game changer!
Yay! I’m so happy these cupcakes were a hit, Tiffany! Thanks so much for letting me know 🙂
Hi Whitney! After 9 years of stress when I was preparing my daughter’s birthday cakes because I was improvising, I discovered your site! What luck! The stress has just fallen by half now. Thank you for all these precious advices.
I had a question for you. This year, I’m going to make the lemon cake with the vanilla buttercream as well as the chocolate cupcakes. I would like to make the cupcakes by adding the little geodes to them. I think it would look prettier with white icing to place the geodes in. Do you think it would be good with vanilla buttercream or do you have another suggestion for me? Thanks in advance!
Hi Marie-Laure! I’m so happy you’ve found my tutorials and recipes so helpful! I’m really excited for you to make the geode cupcakes and know that vanilla buttercream would taste amazing. Other great pairings for chocolate cupcakes would be white chocolate buttercream: https://sugarandsparrow.com/white-chocolate-buttercream-recipe/ or cream cheese buttercream: https://sugarandsparrow.com/cream-cheese-buttercream-recipe/ enjoy!
Perfect cupcakes. I made them for my granddaughter’s birthday party and they were devoured! Beautifully fluffy and light with a buttercream that’s chocolatey but not too sweet. Thank you!
Yay, Anneliese! That makes me so happy!