Chocolate Cupcakes


These classic chocolate cupcakes are ready in less than an hour, the perfect dessert for any occasion.

Active Time:
20 mins
Total Time:
45 mins
12 cupcakes

Cupcake mania may ebb and flow, but truly wonderful cupcakes never go out of style. Tender cake baked in pretty fluted cups and mounded with fluffy icing, cupcakes are single servings of saccharin joy that are easy to share and even easier to serve: No fork required. Dress them up or down depending on the occasion, they'll delight crowds of any kind, children and adults alike.

This is the chocolate cupcake recipe to have in your dessert arsenal. It includes both butter and oil, which means these little cakes stay soft and moist even when cold. It's important to note that the recipe calls for unsweetened natural cocoa powder, which is not interchangeable with Dutch-process cocoa in this case. That's because natural cocoa powder is full of bright chocolate flavor that's more acidic than the Dutch-process stuff, which is alkalized. Paired with tangy buttermilk, this recipe depends on that acidity to activate the baking soda, producing light, springy chocolate cupcakes worthy of piling high with frosting.


  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

  • 1/2 cup water

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened natural cocoa powder (not Dutch-process)

  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 large egg

  • 1/4 cup buttermilk

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. Chocolate Cupcakes Recipe

    Julia Hartbeck

    Gather the ingredients.

  2. Chocolate Cupcakes Recipe

    Julia Hartbeck

    Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper or foil liners.

  3. Chocolate Cupcakes Recipe

    Julia Hartbeck

    In a medium saucepan, melt the butter with the vegetable oil and water over low heat.

  4. Chocolate Cupcakes Recipe

    Julia Hartbeck

    In a large bowl, sift the flour with the sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.

  5. Chocolate Cupcakes Recipe

    Julia Hartbeck

    Add the melted butter mixture and beat with a handheld mixer at low speed until smooth. Add the egg and beat until incorporated, then add the buttermilk and vanilla and beat until smooth, scraping the bottom and side of the bowl.

  6. Chocolate Cupcakes Recipe

    Julia Hartbeck

    Pour the batter into the lined muffin tins, filling them about three-fourths full.

  7. Chocolate Cupcakes Recipe

    Julia Hartbeck

    Bake the cupcakes in the center of the oven for about 25 minutes, until springy and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool slightly, then transfer them to a rack to cool completely.

  8. Chocolate Cupcakes
    Photo by Antonis Achilleos / Food Styling by Ruth Blackburn / Prop Styling by Christina Daley

    Frost and top the cupcakes as desired. (See recipes for Chocolate Frosting, Marshmallow Frosting, or White Buttercream Frosting.)

Make ahead

The unfrosted cupcakes can be wrapped in plastic and stored at room temperature for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 1 month.

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