Perfect Chocolate Cupcakes

Whenever I need a recipe for chocolate cupcakes, I usually use the one from this recipe. It is originally from the back of the Hershey’s cocoa can. And listen, I love it, but a few gripes I have with the recipe is that it makes an odd amount (30-32) when usually I want the standard 24, and the tops end up more on the flat side than on the domed, beautiful side of things. Neither of those issues are deal breakers, obviously, especially since the cupcakes are a) delicious and b) usually covered in frosting, but nonetheless, I’ve been on the search for a fool-proof chocolate cupcake recipe that yields 24 cupcakes and acquires the lovely dome shape.

Thankfully, the recipe I found that accomplishes both of these feats also tastes magically delicious. Sturdy yet moist with wonderful chocolate flavor, these cupcakes are definitely my new go-to when I need a chocolate cupcake base. I’m not saying I won’t use my other favorite now and again, but I like knowing I have a perfect, perfect, perfect chocolate cupcake recipe to use for any variety of occasions.

Incidentally, I was making chocolate cupcakes a few weeks ago for an occasion that required them to be egg-free and since I knew I couldn’t fall back on my newfound chocolate cupcake recipe, I modified Jackson’s Wacky Cake recipe into cupcakes and seriously, the result nearly gave these perfect cupcakes a run for their money. Tender and chocolately and yes, beautifully rounded on top! I’ve added a variation to the recipe on the wacky cake post for cupcakes, in case you are interested in an egg-free option.

And finally, in case anyone wonders, to get the flowery swipe of frosting over the tops of the cupcakes, I nearly always use this Quick Vanilla Buttercream recipe or if I have time and am not serving them to oblivious and non-discretionary Kindergarteners, the Magical Frosting recipe. I use the Wilton 1M tip for the decoration (along with a few other classic, large tips). If anyone is interested in a simple cupcake frosting how-to, respond in the comments. I have 2-3 classic designs I use for the tops of the cupcakes that give them the bakery appeal but are super easy to accomplish, and I could whip up a post to demonstrate if there is interest.

Perfect Chocolate Cupcakes

One Year Ago: Homemade Bagels {Step-by-Step}
Two Years Ago: Lemon Poppy Seed Sugar Cookies
Three Years Ago: Perfect Potato Salad

Perfect Chocolate Cupcakes

Yield: Makes 24 cupcakes

Perfect Chocolate Cupcakes

UPDATE: I feel a little silly I haven't tried this before now (5/2016) since this recipe has been on my site a while - if you were familiar with the original recipe it had some wacky measurements (1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon cocoa powder, 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon water and 2 sticks plus 1 tablespoon butter). I made them today (for the millionth time) and decided to just nix all those extra tablespoons. And guess what? They turned out amazing. So I've edited the recipe below but if you still feel strongly about those extra tablespoons, use the info in the parentheses above).


  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) cocoa powder, Dutch-process or regular unsweetened
  • 1/2 cup tablespoon hot water
  • 2 1/4 cups (11.25 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks (16 tablespoons, 8 ounces) butter, at room temperature
  • 1 2/3 cups (12.5 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs (about 5.25 ounces), at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup sour cream


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 standard cupcake pans with paper liners. In a glass liquid measuring cup, combine the cocoa powder and hot water and whisk until smooth. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter and sugar (I often do this in the microwave so I can use the same bowl for mixing). Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is smooth and the butter is completely melted. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer (or to a stand-alone bowl, using a handheld electric mixer) and beat on medium-low speed until the mixture is cool, about 4-5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Blend in the vanilla and then the cocoa mixture until smooth. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three additions alternating with the sour cream, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing each addition just until incorporated. So basically you'll add 1/3 of the flour, mix, then add 1/2 of the sour cream, mix, add another 1/3 of the flour, mix, add the rest of the sour cream, and finish with the last 1/3 of the dry ingredients.
  3. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared liners, filling no more than 2/3 full. If you live at a high altitude or have had overflowing cupcakes in the past, err on the side of filling the liner of one cupcake 1/2 full and baking it alone first to judge how the cupcake will rise in the oven. Bake the cupcakes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 15-18 minutes. Remove the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe Source: classic cupcake recipe adapted slightly from Annie’s Eats, egg-free cupcake recipe adapted from Jackson’s Wacky Cake

135 Responses to Chocolate Cupcakes {Perfected}

  1. Hilary says:

    I would LOVE to see a frosting “how-to”!!! Pretty please? These look delicious and I plan on making them for a business meeting for my husband ~ Thank you for a new wonderful chocolate recipe!!!

  2. Jan Bullard says:

    Please do the “How To”!!!

  3. Anne says:

    I agree, I would love a frosting tip or two! But seriously? Aren’t you busy having a baby and/or feeling miserable? I love your “whip up a post” comment. It takes me YEARS to add a post to my blog. You go, girl!

  4. I need to find that egg free version! My aunt has a severe allergy to eggs and would LOVE to indulge in a chocolate cupcake! πŸ™‚ I would also love a frosting tip or too-definitely interested! πŸ™‚ Hope you are feeling well!

  5. Tania says:

    Would definitely love the How To

  6. Alyssa O. says:

    I’d love to see some frosting tips! I’m pretty intimidated by frosting bags and tips. πŸ™‚

  7. Crystal says:

    I would love a frosting how-to! Thank you for the great blog. I love the recipe and love to just read your little stories-Thanks!!!!

  8. Mary Jane says:

    Would love the “how to” also. Thanks for the recipes. πŸ™‚

  9. Sarah says:

    This could not have come at a better time! My son’s birthday is next Friday and he has requested chocolate cupcakes. Perfect! I would love a how-to on the frosting too. And good luck with the new baby!

  10. Melissa Bagley says:

    I would love the “how to” on the frosting. I really enjoy your blog!

  11. Beth says:

    I’m chiming in with everyone else and saying, please do the frosting how-to post! I am in the market for purchasing a set of icing tips and I have no idea what I need or don’t need. Would love to get your input!
    I’ll also add these cupcakes to my to-bake list. They look delicious!

  12. Andrea F says:

    I know how to do the frosting you show above, but it’s the only one I know! So I would love to see a couple of variations of a frosting “how to”. Love reading your blog!

  13. Terry A. says:

    This is exactly the recipe I was looking for. I’d love the frosting how-to post!

  14. Aubrey says:

    I would love, love a how-to on frosting cupcakes. I’ve tried several times to give mine “bakery appeal” but it’s always resulted in epic failure and I’ve resorted to just slathering the frosting on with a spatula to get the job done. Please help!

  15. Jennifer says:

    I would LOVE a how-to on frosting cupcakes! I second Aubrey – I can never get it to look right so I just end up using a knife to slather it on. Which was rather disappointing for my third’s 1st birthday party last August. I made such fantastic cupcakes and then the frosting on top just looked, well, like it was done by my 4-year-old. I’d really like my hard work baking to look as fantastic as it tastes!

  16. Megan says:

    Mel, these look awesome. I am a huge cupcake fan. I made a cupcake, pushed junior mints in the batter and baked them. I piped your magical frosting on and made cute little dog faces for my sons birthday….they turned out so cute. That magical frosting is amazing. We all went nuts over it. Mostly, I was commenting to wish you well with your new baby. Having 3 boys, I am a little jealous of the girl, but good luck. I love giving birth and holding that little piece of heaven for the first time. You get to have that soon! I can’t wait to see what you name her, after I saw the name suggestions on Facebook. Beat wishes!

  17. tonya says:

    Yes on the “how-to”!

  18. Alycia says:

    I would LOVE a how-to on frosting the cupcakes!

  19. Teresa R. says:

    We love cupcakes and I’ll be trying these this weekend. Also, I would love the how-to

  20. Loren says:

    I would love to see a how to on these cupcakes. They look so pretty!!

  21. Vicky says:

    You’re making me feel like I need to make chocolate cupcakes today. Not good!

    I often use Pioneer Woman’s chocolate sheet cake recipe, which I think yields about 24 cupcakes. I think they’re pretty tasty (and easy).

  22. Claire says:

    Heck yeah on the how to!

  23. Mona says:

    Demo, please!

  24. Auntiepatch says:

    Love to see your “how to”. What’s wrong with 32 cupcakes???

  25. Krista says:

    I would love frosting tips!

  26. Candice says:

    YES PLEASE on the frosting how-to. I usually use a mini offset spatula and just smear. I would love to know how to use the pastry bag and tips I have but haven’t had the patience to master.

  27. ChinaMama says:

    would love a “how to”. i need all the help i can get!!!!!!

  28. Alison Wonderland says:

    The how-to sounds like a great idea!

  29. Katherine D. says:

    Hi Mel! Thank you so much for my FAVORITE!! website!! I absolutely love your posts and your recipes!! I would love a how to on decorating, I cannot seem to get a cake or cupcake decoration right if my life depended on it and I have found that if I follow your directions for things that they come out beautiful so PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE teach me! πŸ™‚

  30. Sallie Sullivan says:

    Yes, please do. I have some wilton tips but a few pointers would be great

  31. Mel says:

    Ok, major note that a cupcake frosting tutorial would be appreciated. I’ll get on that! Hopefully I’ll get to it this weekend (assuming baby doesn’t arrive before then) but if not, know that I’ll work on it and post it as soon as all the madness (and gloriousness) of newborn baby dies down. Thanks for the response, everyone!

  32. I have tried many chocolate muffin recipes but never has one caught my eye like yours! Definitely need to try and fast πŸ˜€

    Choc Chip Uru

  33. Clarissa Meegan says:

    There is interest! Show us how it’s done Mel!

  34. Liz says:

    Would love a how-to.

  35. These look perfect, like everything else you make πŸ™‚

  36. Katherine says:

    Would love to see how to do the frosting. I can bake but it’s the finishing touches that need some work – I usually slap it on with a butter knife!

  37. Allyson says:

    I need the How-To also! What is probably simple and common sense to some people just doesn’t translate in my brain without some instruction! Thank you!!

  38. Tracey says:

    Yum. Who doesn’t love a good chocolate cupcake?! I would love a frosting tutorial! By the way, good luck with that new baby, it’s always a crazy and wonderful time!! πŸ™‚

  39. Jeanette says:

    these look great! yes, voting on the frosting how-to as well. you can blog while you are taking care of a brand new newborn, right? (ha, kidding, of course!)

  40. DEE says:

    Hi Mel….wow….here it finally is! A chocolate cupcake!!

    I have to say…your schoolyard cupcakes are pretty good for a milder chocolate base for a cupcake as well.

    I would definitely be interested in a frosting “how-to”. Pleaaaasseee???

  41. These chocolate cupcakes do sound and look like the perfect kind! And I am horrible at frosting, and would greatly appreciate a “how-to”! Thanks!

  42. Tiffany says:

    please “how to”!

  43. Karen says:

    I would love to see how you frost cupcakes. I bake a lot, but when I frost cupcakes they look like I just picked up a spatula for the first time yesterday. Thanks.

  44. Amber says:

    Oh, my little man turns 4 this weekend and requested chocolate cupcakes. I’m making these!

  45. Shannon S. in VA says:

    I would love a how-to! Look forward to when you have time!

  46. Jaci says:

    Would love a “How to” cupcake frosting tutorial. Thanks for the gift of this blog….I am a busy mom and a kindergarten teacher, I adore my 10 minutes of “mommy time” that I get right before I make dinner to check my two favorite cooking blogs. You have given me so many great ideas and recipes for my family…thank you for your dedication.

  47. Jami says:

    Would LOVE and demo. I love your recipes. Everything I have made of yours turns out wonderfully and is so delicious. I love that everything is made from scratch. Thanks!

  48. Amy A says:

    Yes please, I would love to know your decorating tips!

  49. Joanna H. says:

    Please absolutely do a decorating post, including tip numbers. The ones above are beautiful!

  50. Ren says:

    I made these cupcakes tonight and the Quick Buttercream Frosting and it was a hit! Definitely a keeper. Thank you!

  51. Kim in MD says:

    These cupcakes look so good, Mel. I am always interested in your tutorials…they are the best!

  52. Leslie says:

    Please show us how you frost cupcakes!!!

  53. Lovely cupcake recipe, Mel. Any excuse I have to bust out my good quality cocoa powder is good enough for me. Would love to see your frosting tips, too. I used to be good at it but lately I’m a total klutz!

  54. Deena says:

    Yes!!! How To!!!!!
    Please and Thank You!

  55. susanne says:

    The cupcakes look delicious and I would love a how to.

  56. Randee Donovan says:

    I would LOVE to see some frosting “how tos”!!! And by the way, YUM!

  57. DeAnna T says:

    Yes!! A how-to is exactly what I need!! Please, pretty please??

  58. Lindsay says:

    I also would love to see your how-to on frosting! πŸ™‚ Thanks!

  59. Ciara says:

    Yes please on the how-to-frosting! πŸ™‚

  60. Rachel says:

    Also would love to know how to pipe icing like you do! HELP! Major thanks for the egg -free cupcake recipe, my son’s BFF is vegan and my last attempt at a cupcake for him for my son’s b-day was … .. . weak. . . .very weak. .. so now I have a new one to try! THANK YOU!!! Any cookie or muffin ideas for the vegan kindergarten boy also very much in need of. . .!! Snack time at our house is sadly pre-packaged or just fruit when he comes over- would love to be able to bake a muffin or cookie that he can eat!

  61. Devona says:

    Yes! “How to” would be awesome! Best wishes with the newest coming addition. You are amazing and I love your blog.

  62. Hannah E. says:

    I would love to see the how to on cupcakes!!

  63. Laura miller says:

    I can never get my frosting thick enough to stand up and look fluffy and beautiful! Please do a how-to on frosting and how to frost!!

  64. Kendall says:

    I’d LOVE a how-to on frosting!

  65. Rebecca says:

    Yes, please post a how-to for frosting beautiful cupcakes like yours!

  66. Jackie says:

    yes please!

  67. grace says:

    one should always have a good chocolate cupcake recipe in her arsenal!

  68. Tammi L says:

    Please post the how to’s!!

  69. Amy says:

    I would also love a frosting how to!

  70. Allison says:

    My boys love chocolate cupcakes, but I’d prefer a brownie, so I can’t wait to try these out! And yes, please Mel, share your frosting wisdom with us!!

  71. Andrea W says:

    well, I haven’t tried the cupcake yet, but the batter is Delicious!! πŸ™‚ Congrats on your chubby lovely lady!!

  72. DEE says:

    These cupcakes were WONDERFUL! Thank you for sharing this with us!
    Hope you are doing well after the birth of the little angel!

  73. Melanie Miller says:

    You will probably never know how much I appreciate you. I’ve struggled with cupcakes lately. I’m helping a friend by making 1/3 of the cupcakes for her nephews wedding rehearsal dinner. Twice I made Martha Stewarts recipe in the last two weeks (with success before but not when it really counts)! They were flat and ran over and into each other so trying to take them out of the pan was ugly. This morning, after another failed attempt, I found your recipe. I just took them out of the oven and they are picture perfect and I am so happy!! You are awesome, thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

  74. Jenny says:

    I made these and I must say they are the best chocolate cupcake ever. Indeed PERFECT!

    With this recipe, I made 6 regular cupcakes and a 9-inch regular cake. I did not bother to frost or ice either πŸ˜› I felt that the cake tastes better than the cupcakes…more chocolatey, more fudgey, more dense. But that doesn’t mean the cupcakes were not great….they were indeed the best chocolate cupcake I had ever tasted.

    And yeah, for a twist in the recipe, I added some pistachio and almond in the middle and they had that perfect crunch in the middle which obviously, I love in cupcakes! πŸ˜€

    One more thing, how should I modify the recipe to make 12 regular cupcakes?

    Thanks a lot for this recipe!

  75. Pania says:

    I can’t see anything?

  76. Mary D says:

    Have you ever made these as mini cupcakes? If so, how long did you bake them for?

    P.S. I found your blog a couple of weeks ago and have made quite a few of your recipes. Everything has turned out great! You’re my new go-to when I’m looking for a recipe. Thanks!

  77. Mel says:

    Mary – I’ve never made them as minis but usually when I do bake mini cupcakes, I check them after 8 minutes. Glad you are enjoying the recipes!

  78. Deb says:

    As I was making these, I thought the method was really different, but it sure worked! Great results, thanks Mel!

  79. Michelle says:

    I have made and loved many of the recipes from your blog, but I think this one (with the Quick Vanilla Buttercream) is the one that I am MOST GRATEFUL for! πŸ™‚ I needed to bring mini chocolate cupcakes to my SIL’s baby shower, and these are the recipes I went with. Even people who don’t like cake liked them!! I previously did not have a go-to chocolate cupcake or vanilla buttercream recipe- and now I do!! I will stop looking, and make these over & over again! And if anyone’s wondering, I used 1 tbsp. of batter for the mini’s, and they took 10 minutes to bake.

  80. Selma says:

    These are, by far, the best cupcakes I’ve ever made! Real perfection!

  81. Katie says:

    So, I’m looking for a new chocolate cupcake to make this weekend and noticed a few different ones deemed “best” or “favorite” on your site. Would you say this one or schoolyard was better? Did you ever figure out the issue with the schoolyard frosting…I’d love to try it but am nervous. Thanks so much!

    • Mel says:

      Hi Katie – I definitely prefer these cupcakes (or the ones from the Andes Mint cupcake recipe). I haven’t made that schoolyard frosting in a couple of years. It worked the last time I made it, but honestly, it’s been so long, I don’t think I can guarantee the results. Sorry!

  82. Angela says:

    I’m Angela from Australia and have been following your blog for a while now. I must say that you seem such a delightful person, which explains why I think your blog is so special. A very big thank you for all your hard work…particularly raising a family as well.
    I always use grams etc in my cooking so could you please tell me how many grams are in the cup of flour you use?
    Thanks again.
    Regards from Australia,

  83. […] Chocolate Cupcakes adapted fromΒ Mel’s Kitchen Cafe. […]

  84. Ami says:

    Hi Mel,
    They look so amazing! I’ve been looking at this for months, and I want to make a chocolate cake for an upcoming birthday, but I’m torn between this recipe and your “Unbelievable Chocolate Cake” one from some years ago. I want to make a moist, rich cake that I can frost with mint buttercream and pour a bit of ganache over. But I just can’t pick one! Would you say one of the two recipes is your favorite?

  85. Ami says:

    Thanks for the quick reply! That’s one less thing to worry about. Really, thanks a lot! πŸ˜€

  86. Debbie says:

    I just took these cupcakes out of the oven and they are perfect! You promised a perfectly rounded little cake and that’s exactly what I got. Thanks! Love you’re recipes and appreciate all your hard work!!!

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  88. Raffy Wolfe says:


    Thanks for the recipe quick question though, on melting butter, can i not put that on top of the stove and melt with sugar, rather cream the butter with sugar?

    Also, can i substitute sour cream with buttermilk instead? Many tanks and hoping to hear from you πŸ™‚

  89. Mel says:

    Raffie – you can definitely experiment with different methods and ingredients but I’ve only made the recipe as is.

  90. Rebecca says:

    I need a frosting tutorial for sure! Your cakes all look beautiful. I am frosting challenged in every way! That is usually over looked because they taste good. I would love for my creations to taste good and LOOK beautiful!

  91. tom masterson says:

    will be making these choc. cupcakes tomorrow. would I use cake flour instead of AP?
    I tried to make some last week and they were like hockey pucks and looked like muffins.
    also, do you have a recipe for vanilla cupcaskes? I am not that fond of choc. but these sound wonderful.
    thank you for your response.
    tom masterson

    • Mel says:

      Hi Tom, I’ve always used all-purpose flour and it works great! I have a recipe for vanilla buttermilk cupcakes in the Recipe Index if you’d like to try it out.

  92. Nicole Higginbotham says:

    Made big ones and minis of these. They were very good and moist. The bigger ones a bit moister naturally but still very good. Wondering if I could freeze these unfrosted….?

    • Mel says:

      Nicole – yes, these can definitely be frozen unfrosted. I’ve done it many times but I will warn you, if you are using grease-proof cupcake liners, they tend to peel away from the cupcakes during freezing/defrosting.

  93. Hira says:

    Hey Mel!!

    I’ve made your Unbelievable Chocolate Cake recipe MANY MANY times. Needless to say, I am obsessed with it. However, do you find that as a cupcake that recipe seems a bit dry? I dont know… I really want to make that cake in cupcake form but I’m afraid of it tasting different than it does as a cake. Would you say this cupcake recipe is close to the flavor and crumb of that one? If not, how does this recipe differ?

    I appreciate your awesome recipes! πŸ™‚

    • Mel says:

      Hira – I think both this recipe (the Perfect Chocolate Cupcakes) and the Unbelievable Chocolate Cake are delicious as cupcakes. The Unbelievable Chocolate Cake (when made as cupcakes) is slightly lighter in texture and just a bit more chocolatey, in my opinion.

  94. Hira says:

    Hmm..ok will adding a tablespoons more of cocoa make these more chocolatey? Thanks for the quick reply!

  95. Erin Ginos says:

    Just made these today and these ARE perfect! They’re light, fluffy, and taste good too! Thanks, I will make these again for sure!!!

  96. Angie says:

    I made these cupcakes last night. They were wonderful. First from scratch cupcake that doesn’t fall apart or cook up over the muffin cup and fall flat! Thank you for the recipe!!!

  97. Sophie says:

    Do you have to use the sour cream in the mix?

  98. Reham says:

    Hey Mel. I LOVE YOUR RECIPES, I SWEEAARR!! Can I omit ‘sour cream’ from this recipe? Pls reply soon cause I can’t wait to give these cupcakes a try.

  99. Bonnie says:

    Omigosh- just made these and the batter is DE-vine! Can’t wait till they’re done cooking πŸ™‚ I have to share our family’s favorite cupcake tweak: I mix a block of softened cream cheese, 1 egg and 1/3 c sugar until well blended. Then I mix in 1 cup of chocolate chips and dollop about a tbsp or so of this cream cheese/choc chip mixture into the middle of each raw cupcake and bake as usual. Soooo yummy! A delectable, tangy, chocolatey gooey center and they are my kids’ (and my husband’s) favorite! Thanks for the great recipe so I don’t have to use a boxed mix anymore πŸ™‚

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