Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes

5 from 1 vote

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These ultimate chocolate cupcakes are light and spongy with a soft, tender crumb and an indulgent chocolate flavor! The only cupcakes you’ll ever need.

Chocolate cupcakes with some topped with strawberry frosting and others topped with chocolate frosting.


Why you’ll love this recipe:

In search of the best chocolate cupcakes, we’ve made 13+ recipes over the last couple of months to land on the ultimate chocolate cupcakes recipe. Finally!!

Let’s define an ultimate chocolate cupcake:

  • Texture: light and spongy soft crumb (no mushy, stick-to-your-teeth fudgy texture)
  • Flavor: rich chocolate flavor
  • Ease: seriously super easy to make with basic pantry ingredients

We’ve tested many variations of this recipe, using milk, buttermilk, etc., and concluded that enriching the chocolate cupcakes with sour cream yields the best texture without muting the chocolate flavor!

Half of an ultimate chocolate cupcake topped with chocolate frosting on a cupcake liner.

Key Ingredient Notes:

  • All-purpose flour – Use the spoon and level method to accurately measure the flour. If you dunk the cup directly into the flour it’ll compress, and you’ll end up with too much! 
  • Cocoa powder – I recommend using unsweetened natural cocoa powder for these ultimate chocolate cupcakes. Dutch-processed cocoa powder will affect the rise and taste of the batter. 
  • Sour cream – This is the secret to a light, moist crumb without thinning the batter!
  • Vegetable oil – This is the best oil for cupcakes because it keeps them extra moist. 
  • Hot coffee – This doesn’t make your cupcakes taste like coffee. Instead, it enhances the chocolate taste. If preferred, decaf coffee can be used. The flavor just won’t be quite as strong. 
Ingredients to make ultimate chocolate cupcakes.

How to make the ultimate chocolate cupcakes:

With minimal prep required, these chocolate cupcakes are not only the most delicious cupcakes you’ll ever taste, but they’re the easiest to make, too! 

Before you begin, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and line a muffin pan with 12 cupcake liners. 

  • Whisk the dry ingredients: Add all the dry ingredients to a medium-sized mixing bowl, and whisk until they’re well combined. 
Two bowls showing the dry ingredients for ultimate chocolate cupcakes being combined.
  • Mix the wet ingredients: In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, whip all of the wet ingredients except for the coffee on medium speed until the mixture is smooth. 
Two images showing the wet ingredients for chocolate cupcakes being combined and cocoa powder added.
  • Combine the wet and dry ingredients: Add the dry ingredients to the bowl of wet ingredients. Start on low, and gradually increase the speed of the stand mixer to medium-high, mixing just until the batter is combined. This step goes quickly! Then, pour in the coffee, and mix again. 
Two process shots showing the process of mixing wet and dry ingredients for ultimate chocolate cupcake batter.
  • Bake: Divide the batter into the muffin pan, and bake until a toothpick can be inserted into the center and comes out clean.
Side by side images of chocolate cupcake batter in muffin cups and baked chocolate cupcakes in a muffin pan.

Frosting Options

If you aren’t a fan of frosting, feel free to enjoy these chocolate cupcakes on their own. However, if you’re like me and can’t get enough sweet topping, try finishing your dessert with a store-bought or homemade frosting. For example, some of my favorite options include: 

Tips for Success:

  • Use room temperature ingredients. Before you begin, let all your ingredients sit out on the counter and come to room temperature. This makes them easier to combine. As a result, it’s easier to avoid overmixing and allows you to blend the ingredients evenly, keeping your cupcakes light and fluffy. 
  • Avoid overmixing. It’s crucial to combine the ingredients just until they are smooth and no streaks remain. Continuing to mix will only overwork the gluten and create dense, tough cupcakes.  
  • Scrape down the edges of the bowl. As you combine the ingredients, stop periodically to scrape down the edges of the bowl and ensure all of the batter is incorporated evenly. 
  • Don’t overfill the cupcake cups. Be careful to only fill each cupcake liner about halfway full. The batter will rise as it bakes. Therefore, if you fill the liners up too much, they’ll overflow and spread out. 
  • Keep a close eye on the oven. Every oven bakes differently. So, be sure to keep a close eye on your cupcakes to avoid overbaking. Begin checking for doneness around the 18-minute mark, and add extra time as needed until they’re done. 
  • Cool the chocolate cupcakes completely. I know it’s tempting to dig in right away, but you’ll want to set your chocolate cupcakes aside to cool completely. This helps ensure the frosting doesn’t melt and that the cupcakes hold their shape. 
Three ultimate chocolate cupcakes topped with piped dollops of chocolate buttercream frosting.

Storing Tips:

  • Store your unfrosted chocolate cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2-3 days
  • You can also freeze unfrosted cupcakes! Arrange them on a plate or a small sheet pan, and place them in the freezer for 2 hours or until they’re hard. Then, transfer them to a sealable bag, and keep them frozen for up to 3 months. 
  • To enjoy, let your cupcakes thaw in the fridge or on the counter. 


If you frost your chocolate cupcakes, store them in the fridge to keep the frosting fresh. They’ll last for up to 2-4 days, depending on the type of frosting.


What is the secret to super moist cupcakes? 

The use of sour cream is what contributes to the moist texture of these chocolate cupcakes. Also, avoiding overmixing the batter ensures that air pockets form, allowing the cupcakes to rise and retain their moisture as they bake. 

What’s the difference between chocolate muffins and cupcakes? 

The primary difference between chocolate muffins and chocolate cupcakes is that cupcakes are softer and fluffier than muffins which tend to be moist and dense. Cupcakes also contain more sugar, meaning they’re sweeter, too. 

Why did my cupcakes stick to the liner? 

The sugar in the batter can sometimes caramelize and stick to the liners. Or, the delicate texture of these ultimate chocolate cupcakes can sometimes cause them to cling to the liner. To prevent this, try spraying your cupcake liner with cooking oil spray. Or, opt for special non-stick liners. 

Can I make these ultimate chocolate cupcakes gluten-free? 

I haven’t tested it, but this recipe should work with a 1:1 all-purpose gluten-free flour! 

Chocolate cupcakes with some topped with strawberry frosting and others topped with chocolate frosting.
5 from 1 vote

Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes

These ultimate chocolate cupcakes use staple ingredients to create the softest, richest cupcakes you’ll ever taste in 30 minutes or less!
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 18 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 12 cupcakes


  • 1 cup (125 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
  • ½ cup (40 g) unsweetened natural cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) sour cream
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup (120 ml) hot coffee


  • 1 muffin pan
  • 1 medium bowl
  • 1 stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (175° C). Line a muffin pan with 12 cupcake liners.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  • In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, whip the egg, sour cream, oil, and vanilla extract on medium speed until well combined, about 1 minute.
  • Add the dry ingredients and mix the batter until just combined, starting on low and gradually increasing the speed to medium-high, about 30 seconds.
  • Scrape the sides of the bowl, add hot coffee, and mix again until just combined.
  • Divide the batter into the prepared cupcake cups halfway full.
  • Bake for 15-18 minutes or until the inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely.

Tips & Notes

Note 1: If needed, a 1:1 gluten-free all-purpose flour can be substituted. 
Note 2: Be sure to use natural cocoa powder. Dutch-processed cocoa powder will affect the rise and flavor of the cupcakes.
Note 3: If you’re sensitive to caffeine, decaf can be used.
Storing Tips:
– Store the unfrosted cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two to three days.
– You can freeze chocolate cupcakes! Place the unfrosted cupcakes on a plate or quarter shet pan, and freeze for at least 2 hours. Transfer the frozen cupcakes to a container or bag, and freeze for up to three months. 


Servings: 1 serving
Calories: 138kcal
Carbohydrates: 19g
Protein: 2g
Fat: 7g
Sugar: 9g
Sodium: 166mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American

Hi, I’m Shinee!

Welcome! I’m so happy you’re here! I believe anyone can cook restaurant-quality food at home! And my goal is to help you to become a confident cook with my easy-to-follow recipes with lots of tips and step-by-step photos.

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