Chocolate cupcake recipe

(2514 ratings)

Our easy chocolate cupcake recipe takes 20 minutes to bake and have a rich chocolate buttercream topping.

chocolate cupcake recipe
(Image credit: Future)
  • healthy
Preparation Time30 mins
Cooking Time20 mins
Total Time50 mins
Cost RangeCheap
Nutrition Per PortionRDA
Calories471 Kcal24%
Sugar62.8 g70%
Fat19.3 g28%
Saturated Fat12 g60%
Protein3.7 g7%
Carbohydrates69.5 g27%

This chocolate cupcake recipe makes 12 standard cupcakes with a delicious chocolate buttercream. 

This cupcake recipe is easy to follow and will quickly become a family favourite. The buttercream icing is a simple and effective decoration but the cupcakes are also delicious on their own. If you don’t like icing but want an extra chocolatey hit, try adding a handful of chocolate chips to the cake batter before baking. 


For the chocolate cupcakes:

  • 100g plain flour
  • 20g cocoa powder
  • 140g caster sugar
  • 1.5tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 40g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 120ml whole milk
  • 1 egg
  • ¼tsp of vanilla extract

For the chocolate buttercream:

  • 600g icing sugar sifted
  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 80g cocoa powder
  • 80ml whole milk




  1. Heat the oven to 170C (150C fan, Gas 3). Line a 12 hole cupcake tin with paper or silicone cupcake cases.
  2. Put flour, cocoa, sugar and baking powder, salt and butter in the bowl of a free-standing mixer. Using the paddle attachment, mix the ingredients together until you have a sandy consistency.
  3. Whisk the milk, egg and vanilla in a jug. Slowly pour half into the mixture, beat to combine and then turn the mixer up to high speed to get rid of any lumps.
  4. Turn the mixer down to a slower speed and pour in the remaining mixture. Continue to mix for a couple of mins.
  5. Divide the mixture evenly between the cases and base in the centre of the oven for 20 minutes or until risen and spring back when lightly pressed on top.
  6. Once baked, transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool while you make the buttercream.
  7. Beat the icing sugar, butter and cocoa powder together in a free-standing mixer on a medium speed. Turn down to a low speed and add milk gradually, once mixed turn up to a high speed again and beat for approx 5 mins and mixture is light and fluffy.
  8. Use a piping bag and metal nozzle to pipe onto top of cooled cupcakes.

Watch how to make our chocolate cupcake recipe

Top tips for making this chocolate cupcake recipe

Try adding some additional decorations to the top of the cakes. You could add chocolate chips, roughly chop your favourite chocolate bar or use chocolate buttons. 

Food writer Jessica Ransom says: ‘I like to scatter over some roughly chopped honeycomb or a chopped Crunchie bar over the cupcakes for a little pop of golden colour and a delicious crunchy texture.’

If you prefer, fresh fruit like raspberries, strawberries or blueberries all work nicely. For more helpful tips and tricks, continue reading below. 

What cocoa powder is best for chocolate cupcakes?

Supermarket brands such as Asda's own brand cocoa powder are great for making cupcakes on a budget. If you're looking for a richer, darker flavour we'd choose Bournville cocoa powder - it's a little more pricey than supermarket brands but is perfect if you're looking for a rich chocolate sponge each time. 

Food writer Jessica Ransom says: 'I would choose the best quality cocoa powder you can afford. Dark cocoa powders will generally deliver a more intense, rich chocolate flavour and likely have less added sugar too. Don't worry if you don't like the flavour of dark chocolate.

The flavour of the cocoa powder will be diluted and softened when it is combined with the other cupcake ingredients. This is why it's good to start with a dark option as the flavour of milk or plain cocoa powders can fade drastically once baked.'

Are chocolate cupcakes better made with butter or oil?

In our opinion, we would recommend making chocolate cupcakes with butter rather than oil. Butter makes the chocolate sponge extra soft, moist and spongey. We find that using oil can give the cupcakes a sheen, glossy appearance along with a lightly greased texture. If you're looking for a healthier alternative to butter, choose nut butter or dairy-free options.

What is the difference between a chocolate muffin and a chocolate cupcake recipe?

In our chocolate muffin recipe and many others, there is generally more flour compared to a cupcake recipe. There is also usually less sugar in a muffin recipe. Cupcakes have a wonderful light fluffy texture thanks to the creaming of butter and sugar.

Muffins on the other hand tend to have a moist, dense texture. Muffin recipes often include some oil in the ingredients too which helps give a shiny appearance and keep the sponge moist. 

In this recipe we recommend using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Read food editor Jessica Dady’s KitchenAid stand mixer review here.

KitchenAid Mixer Design Series 4.7l Blossom Artisan - View at KitchenAid

KitchenAid Mixer Design Series 4.7l Blossom Artisan - View at KitchenAid 

A KitchenAid is an iconic mixer that looks great on any kitchen counter. The large bowl is great for cake batters and bread doughs but can also be useful when you need something to toss together a big salad. The mixer has 10 different speed settings and comes with four stainless steel mixing accessories including a paddle attachment, which we recommend using to make our chocolate cupcake recipe. 

Once you’ve mastered this recipe give our vanilla cupcake recipe a try. You could decorate them with any leftover chocolate buttercream you have. Alternatively, our mini cupcakes and rainbow cupcakes both make fun options for parties. 

Rosie Conroy
Food Writer

Rosie is an experienced food and drinks journalist who has spent over a decade writing about restaurants, cookery, and foodie products. Previously Content Editor at and Digital Food Editor on Woman&Home, Rosie is well used to covering everything from food news through to taste tests. Now, as well as heading up the team at SquareMeal - the UK's leading guide to restaurants and bars - she also runs a wedding floristry business in Scotland called Lavender and Rose.