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This recipe for Chocolate Cupcakes was my top secret bakery recipe, tested over 100,000 times! Now I’m sharing it with you so you can create your very own simple, easy, moist and delicious creations. This is the ULTIMATE foolproof cupcake recipe.

Moist chocolate cupcakes with milk chocolate icing and sprinkles.

There are some recipes we just NEED to have up our sleeves.

  1. A solid, never-fails Toad In The Hole
  2. Homemade Flapjack
  3. And… this Chocolate Cupcake recipe

These are things we need in life. But our methods and ingredients MUST be simple, so we can whip them up whenever the day calls for it without too much fuss or fanfare. 

Forgive me for seeming dramatic (dramatic? Moi?) but I do believe that this classic bake is a staple that’s just perfect to turn to in many-a situation, from birthdays to bake sales, or just-because days.

This isn’t your standard cupcake recipe though. It’s super easy, takes just 30 minutes and – unlike most UK recipes – you don’t need to do any creaming of butter or sugar.

Simples!


Why you’ll love this Chocolate Cupcake recipe

⭐️ Ready in under 30 minutes

⭐️ All store cupboard ingredients – no butter required

⭐️ By some magic, it manages to be moist AND light and fluffy!


How we came up with this Chocolate Cupcake recipe

You may not know this about me, but in a former life, approximately one million years ago, I ran a business baking wedding cupcakes, and then, later, a cookery school teaching people to bake cupcakes and other cakes.

In the 6 years that I ran that business, I (and later my lovely little team) baked over 100,000 CUPCAKES!!

So I’d like to think I know a bit about what works and what doesn’t with cupcake recipes.

This classic Chocolate Cupcake recipe is the result of all of those years of practice. 

I hope it works for you as well for you as it did for us! With lots of tips and tricks, here’s your foolproof guide to making deliciously moist homemade cupcakes.


Chocolate Cupcake Ingredients

The ingredients for chocolate cupcakes laid out on a counter top.
  • Caster sugar – Be sure to use caster sugar for the chocolate muffins, not granulated. It melts and reacts differently as the grains are larger
  • Self-raising flour – This flour contains a raising agent so there’s no need for baking powder too
  • Cocoa – I feel that one non-negotiable to make these cupcakes amazing is VERY good quality cocoa powder. I use Green & Blacks cocoa, which I love
  • Pinch of salt – This is optional but I love it to add a little extra something to the chocolate cupcakes. If you like a little crunch of salt, use flakes. If not, use fine table salt. I always use this brand of salt
  • Milk –  Full fat or semi-skimmed is fine. Do not use skimmed milk as your cupcakes will be very dry
  • Oil – Any flavourless oil is fine, like vegetable oil or sunflower oil
  • Egg – Free-range and medium or large sized is best
  • Vanilla – Any vanilla extract, NOT essence is good. I like this one available on Amazon (it’s a large bottle but lasts me a while)

Ingredients for chocolate icing

  • Butter – I use unsalted, room temperature butter for the icing. Do not even THINK about using margarine! It tastes grim and just doesn’t behave in the same way
  • Icing sugar – I find that a freshly opened bag of icing sugar gives the best results, so make sure you always seal your icing sugar bags well. Sieving it gives the best result but – honestly? – I don’t usually bother as I never have time!Cocoa – As above, I feel that one non-negotiable to make this icing amazing is VERY good quality cocoa powder

How to make Chocolate Cupcakes

Bowl of flour, sugar and cocoa with a jug of egg, milk and oil for a chocolate cupcakes recipe.

1. Start by mixing the sugar, flour and cocoa powder in a mixer (or mix by hand). In a separate jug, mix together the egg, oil, milk and vanilla. Combine everything until smooth and there you have it, your cake batter!

Chocolate cupcakes scooped into a muffin tin ready to be baked.

2. Scoop the batter into muffin cases in a muffin tin (I use an ice cream scoop to do this, which is super useful as this is a very runny batter). Pop into a preheated oven (180C) and bake for 17-19 minutes or until the tops are domed and springy. While the cupcakes are cooking, make the icing.

How to make the chocolate icing topping

  1. Beat together the sugar and butter until combined. (This may take a while and look grainy at first, carry on!)
  2. Mix the cocoa with a little boiling water in a mug – just enough water to make a thick paste. Mix it until smooth and there are no lumps.
  3. Beat the cocoa mixture into the icing.
  4. If you want your icing to be moist, soft, fluffy and pipeable, add a teaspoon of boiling water at a time until it’s the texture that you want.

How to pipe the chocolate icing on

  1. When the cupcakes are cool, pop a star nozzle (I almost always use a Wilton 1M nozzle, available on Amazon) in your piping bag and fill the bag with the freshly beaten icing.
  2. Pipe a circle around the edge of the cupcake, continue with another circle on top, slightly smaller, and a finally tiny circle on top.
  3. Give the bag a squeeze, stop squeezing and pull the bag away quickly.
  4. Add sprinkles!

Storing

Store these in an airtight container that ISN’T plastic, somewhere cool (so usually dark too) but not a fridge.

The buttercream icing has butter in, but if you’re old school, you’ll always leave your real butter out of the fridge anyway when in use.

How long do chocolate cupcakes last? 

Answer – in this house, not very long! Really though, you can make these chocolate cupcakes ahead of time.

Because they are so moist, they should last 3-4 days in an airtight tin (although they are better when they are fresh, most people wouldn’t notice the difference.)

You may find that if you store them on a hot day or in a plastic container, the cupcake cases come away a little from the cakes. This won’t affect the taste.

Can Chocolate Cupcakes be frozen?

Yes. Freeze them before icing and wrap them well.

Let them defrost at room temperature. You may find that if they have been frozen and defrosted, the cupcake cases come away a little from the cakes. This won’t affect the taste.

Top secret baking tips!

Tools

As well as the ingredients, you will also need the following baking utensils for this Chocolate Cupcake recipe: 

  • Piping bags –  I still tend to use disposable piping bags sadly. Of course, I realise these are not great for the environment, but using reusable bags takes so much detergent to get them clean. I’m honestly not sure of the best option so I’m still with these piping bags at the moment, but please do let me know if you know of a better alternative!
  • Piping nozzle – I almost always use a Wilton 1M nozzle, which is available on Amazon.
  • Muffin tray – It’s really important to bake these cupcakes in a deep muffin tray like this one: Cupcake Baking Pan.
  • Muffin cases – Having tested HUNDREDS of muffin cases (cupcake cases), I like these: Dr Oetker White Cupcake Cases, which are available at most supermarkets, or Brown Cupcake Cases. (I know – the white ones are a surprise! But I genuinely find them really good value and very sturdy)
  • Ice cream scoop – I ALWAYS use a scoop for these cupcakes as the batter is quite runny.
If your cases are peeling

I’ve always found that cupcakes can peel for a number of reasons. Avoid these, and you’ll be good to go:

  • A recipe very high in butter/fat (which is not so with this recipe)
  • Cupcakes are stored in plastic containers
  • Certain cupcake cases that aren’t as good quality
  • In more traditional recipes, overbeating the mixture can cause this as the sponge contracts and pulls away from the cases
If your cupcakes are not rising 
  • Be sure that your flour isn’t out of date (so the raising agent is still working)
  • Test your oven with an oven thermometer to check it really is as hot as the gauge says
  • Do not open the oven before 17 minutes
  • Check that your eggs are medium or large size. Not enough eggs can cause cakes to rise less
How to make light, fluffy frosting

This is the BEST TIP EVER! Add a teaspoon at a time of boiling hot water and beat in until light and fluffy

If you leave the icing for a while, press cling film down onto the surface so that it doesn’t dry out and then beat very well again before using. Add a little extra water if necessary.

FAQs

How do you make sure your chocolate cupcakes are moist?

Almost always dry cupcakes are down to overbaking. Test your oven with an oven thermometer to check it isn’t TOO hot.

Also, cupcakes will always become dry if they aren’t fresh. If you’re eating them on day 5, they probably will be dry.

Can I serve these cupcakes as wedding cupcakes?

Yes! Wedding cupcakes were my main business and so these were well tested for that purpose. I hope the bride and groom love them!

Can I have this recipe in cups please?

No, I’m really sorry I can’t give these measurements.

For general recipes, I try to provide imperial (cups) measurements, but for baking, the science is so exact, I really feel that a small investment in a set of digital scales is SO WORTH IT.

Using the weight of ingredients rather than volume is SO much more reliable. (Of course, you can always use Google to convert if you prefer, but I can’t guarantee the results!)

Let me know how you got on and what you thought of these recipes. Please rate the recipe using the ⭐️ below.

Also I’d LOVE to see your cooking creations. If you’d like to share yours with me, you can tag me on Instagram (@tamingtwins).

4.75 from 77 votes

Chocolate Cupcakes {Easiest EVER Recipe!}

This recipe for Chocolate Cupcakes was my top secret bakery recipe, tested over 100,000 times! Now I’m sharing it with you so you can create your very own simple, easy, moist and delicious creations. This is the ULTIMATE foolproof cupcake recipe.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 12 Cupcakes

Ingredients 

Dry ingredients:

  • 150 g Caster sugar
  • 120 g Self raising flour
  • 25 g Cocoa
  • Pinch of salt, Optional

Wet ingredients:

  • 1 Egg, Free range, medium or large
  • 50 ml Oil
  • 125 ml Milk
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract

For the icing:

  • 300 g Icing sugar
  • 150 g Unsalted butter
  • 30 g Cocoa powder
  • Boiling water
  • Sprinkles

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 180C.
  • Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl.
  • Beat the wet ingredients in another bowl.
  • Combine by adding about two thirds of the wet ingredients and beating until smooth. Then add the rest of the wet ingredients and beat until smooth again.
  • Scoop into muffin cases in a muffin tin and bake for between 17-19 minutes or until domed and springy on top.

To make the icing:

  • While the cupcakes are cooking, make the icing. Beat together the sugar and butter until combined. (This may take a while and look grainy at first, carry on!)
  • Mix the cocoa with a little boiling water in a mug, just enough water to make a thick paste. Mix it until smooth and there are no lumps.
  • Beat the cocoa mixture into the icing.
  • If you want your icing to be most soft, fluffy and pipeable, add a teaspoon of boiling water at a time until it's the texture that you want.

To decorate:

  • To decorate, when the cupcakes are cool, put the icing into a piping bag fitted with a star piping nozzle (see notes).
  • Pipe a circle around the edge of the cupcake, continue with another circle on top, slightly smaller, and a finally tiny circle on top. Give the bag a squeeze, stop squeezing and pull the bag away quickly.
  • Add sprinkles!

Notes

Portions: This recipe makes 12 SMALL cupcakes or 9 LARGE cupcakes (always my preference!) The ones in the photos are LARGE.
Piping nozzle: I almost always use a Wilton 1M nozzle, available on Amazon.
To store: Keep these in an airtight container that ISN’T plastic, somewhere cool (so usually dark too) but not a fridge.
Shelf-life: Because they are so moist, they should last 3-4 days in an airtight tin.
To make your frosting light and fluffy: Add a teaspoon at a time of boiling hot water and beat in until light and fluffy

Nutrition

Calories: 328kcalCarbohydrates: 48gProtein: 3gFat: 15gSaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 41mgSodium: 13mgPotassium: 104mgFiber: 2gSugar: 38gVitamin A: 355IUCalcium: 25mgIron: 0.8mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American, Family Food
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Sarah Rossi founder of TamingTwins.com and author of 'What's for Dinner?' books.

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8 Comments

  1. Just made these after my previous comment and I used 120g sugar instead of 150g and they were still quite sweet to my taste, so as a personal preference I may even reduce the sugar further, BUT!!! I have to say these were magnificent cupcakes and the best I have ever made, so THANK YOU for a really good and workable recipe. They’re fantastic, thank you.

  2. 5 stars
    Delicious! Never tried buttercream icing and its certainly not easy but I’ll just keep practicing! Thank you!

    1. 5 stars
      Added extra cocoa after reading the last comment. Turned out quite good though I think normal chocolate would work a bit better. I think I added a bit too much water to the buttercream as the icing melted really quickly. Great otherwise!