This post may contain affiliate links. Learn more.

Here’s a nice and easy but totally perfect batch of chocolate cupcakes with buttercream frosting that you can dress up for any theme or occasion.

three chocolate cupcakes with buttercream frosting decorated with a peter pan theme
Want to save this recipe?
Enter your email below and I’ll send it to your inbox. Plus get great new recipes every week!
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Why we love this recipe

A tender, flavorful, and totally reliable batch of chocolate cupcakes with buttercream frosting is a veritable life skill. With this pair of simple recipes and a little bit of creativity, you can create a crowd-pleasing dessert for any celebration.

These cupcakes are:

  • A perennial favorite among kids and adults alike
  • Easy to customize for your theme — just add a bit of gel food coloring and a simple topper
  • Make-ahead friendly
  • Great for baking with kids

I hope they’ll simplify your life in the same rewarding way they’ve done for mine.

What you’ll need

Here’s a glance at the ingredients you’ll need to make this recipe.

ingredients in bowls
  • Dutch-process cocoa powder is processed with alkali. The higher pH makes it react differently in batter than regular cocoa powder, so don’t swap one for the other. It shouldn’t be too hard to find, but if you can’t get it locally, you can order it on Amazon.
  • Safflower oil is my neutral-tasting vegetable oil of choice. You can substitute another oil that has similar properties, such as canola, sunflower, peanut, corn, or vegetable oil blend.
  • Whole milk produces beautifully tender and moist cupcakes. If you’d like to make this recipe dairy-free, it’s okay to substitute your favorite plant-based milk. Unsweetened soy milk (especially Silk brand) works very well in baking.
  • The water doesn’t need to be at an actual boil, but do ensure it’s very hot. Among other functions, it helps to develop the flavor of the cocoa.

How to make it

Here’s an overview of what you’ll do to make a perfect batch of chocolate cupcakes with buttercream frosting. You can see the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post, and get all the details in the recipe card below.

step by step
  1. Mix together the dry ingredients.
  2. Beat in the egg, milk, oil, and, vanilla.
  3. Carefully beat in the hot water.
  4. Bake at 350°F for about 18 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting. (You can see all instructions and a separate video for the easy frosting recipe here.)

Expert tips and FAQs

Got theme ideas?

I’ve pictured two examples here. The first batch is Peter Pan-themed for a middle-school production of Peter Panic, the musical (a bit of green food coloring in the icing, a dusting of green sprinkles, and a simple feather stamped from red fondant with a tiny cookie cutter). The second batch is music-themed for a piano recital (no food coloring since the frosting is already ivory-colored, and tiny flags made with sheet music I printed onto ivory-colored card stock, cut into small strips, and affixed to toothpicks with double-sided tape).

Can I make this recipe in advance? What about leftovers?

Yes! Once cooled, the cupcakes themselves do well in an airtight container at room temperature for about three days or in the fridge for up to a week. Or you can wrap them well in plastic wrap and then foil and freeze them for later use, up to about three months.

You can make the frosting up to a week in advance and store in an airtight container in the fridge (or right in the piping bag if you plan to pipe). I don’t recommend freezing the frosting.

I like to store any leftover frosted cupcakes in an airtight container in the fridge and bring to room temperature before serving.

More favorite cupcake recipes

chocolate cupcakes with buttercream frosting decorated with a music theme

Hungry for more?

Subscribe to Umami Girl’s email updates, and follow along on Instagram.

three chocolate cupcakes with buttercream frosting decorated with a peter pan theme
4.89 from 9 votes

Chocolate Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting

By Carolyn Gratzer Cope
These tender cupcakes have a deep chocolate flavor and the perfect cupcake texture — light, springy, and happy to let go of the wrapper. Paired with our buttercream frosting, they're easy to dress up for any theme or occasion.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 18 minutes
Total: 28 minutes
Servings: 24
Want to save this recipe?
Enter your email and I’ll send it to your inbox. Plus get great new recipes every week!
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Ingredients 

For the cupcakes

  • 2 cups (400 grams) sugar
  • 1 ¾ cups (210 grams) all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup (64 grams) Dutch-processed cocoa
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup (237 ml) whole milk
  • ½ cup (118 ml) vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (237 ml) boiling water

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two standard muffin tins with 24 decorative paper liners to match your theme.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle or a large mixing bowl with electric beaters, mix sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt on low speed until well combined.
  • Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla extract. Mix on medium speed until batter is smooth.
  • Pour in boiling water and carefully mix on low until just incorporated.
  • Divide batter among muffin cups.
  • Bake cupcakes for about 18 minutes, until a tester comes out clean.
  • Cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

Notes

  1. Dutch-process cocoa powder is processed with alkali. The higher pH makes it react differently in batter than regular cocoa powder, so don't swap one for the other. It shouldn't be too hard to find, but if you can't get it locally, you can order it on Amazon.
  2. Safflower oil is my neutral-tasting vegetable oil of choice. You can substitute another oil that has similar properties, such as canola, sunflower, peanut, corn, or vegetable oil blend.
  3. Whole milk produces beautifully tender and moist cupcakes. If you'd like to make this recipe dairy-free, it's okay to substitute your favorite plant-based milk. Unsweetened soy milk (especially Silk brand) works very well in baking.
  4. The water doesn't need to be at an actual boil, but do ensure it's very hot. Among other functions, it helps to develop the flavor of the cocoa.
  5. Once cooled, the cupcakes themselves do well in an airtight container at room temperature for about three days or in the fridge for up to a week. Or you can wrap them well in plastic wrap and then foil and freeze them for later use, up to about three months. You can make the frosting up to a week in advance and store in an airtight container in the fridge (or right in the piping bag if you plan to pipe). I don't recommend freezing the frosting. I like to store any leftover frosted cupcakes in an airtight container in the fridge and bring to room temperature before serving.
  6. Cupcake batter adapted from the fabulous Maria at Two Peas and their Pod.

Nutrition

Calories: 176kcal, Carbohydrates: 25.9g, Protein: 2.3g, Fat: 8g, Fiber: 1.1g

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

Additional Info

Course: Cakes
Cuisine: American
Tried this recipe?Mention @umamigirl or tag #umamigirl!

Hungry for more?

Subscribe to Umami Girl’s email updates, and follow along on Instagram.

Hungry for More?
Subscribe to Umami Girl's email updates, and follow along on Instagram.
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

More Recipes

Carolyn Gratzer Cope Bio Photo

About Carolyn Gratzer Cope

Hi there, I'm Carolyn Gratzer Cope, founder and publisher of Umami Girl. Join me in savoring life, one recipe at a time. I'm a professional recipe developer with training from the French Culinary Institute (now ICE) and a lifetime of studying, appreciating, and sharing food.

4.89 from 9 votes (9 ratings without comment)

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating