These perfected homemade chocolate cupcakes are sturdy yet moist with wonderful chocolate flavor. This is the perfect chocolate cupcake.

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.

Chocolate cupcakes in blue liners on a cooling rack.

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.

Frosting topped chocolate cupcakes in blue liners on a cooling rack.

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Perfect Chocolate Cupcakes

4.59 stars (46 ratings)


  • ½ cup (43 g) cocoa powder, Dutch-process or regular unsweetened
  • ½ cup hot water
  • 2 ¼ cups (320 g) all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (227 g) butter, at room temperature
  • 1 ⅔ cups (353 g) granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup (170 g) sour cream


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.


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 but if you still feel strongly about those extra tablespoons, use the info in the parentheses above).
Serving: 1 Cupcake, Calories: 193kcal, Carbohydrates: 24g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 10g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Cholesterol: 47mg, Sodium: 179mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 14g

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