This Easy Chocolate Cupcake recipe is a lower-sugar take on a classic dessert—but it’s filled with chocolate flavor and creamy frosting that the kids will totally love. And: They are so easy to make!
Easy Chocolate Cupcakes
I am a huge fan of easy, one-bowl baked goods, and this one has been a favorite in our house for years. The recipe comes together in a few minutes with basic pantry staples, and I have a few options in case you don’t have one ingredient or another, or need adjustments for food allergies.
We love that this cupcake recipe is easy, lower in sugar than traditional recipes, and that boasts a lot of chocolate flavor!
You can use any type of frosting you like, though I’m partial to Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting or Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting since they are both flavorful and easy. You can also add sprinkles or fresh fruit to make these even more fun.
A standard chocolate cupcake recipe has anywhere from ½-1 cup of sugar, but this one has just ⅓ cup. This means there’s enough sugar to make the right texture and flavor, but they’re less sweet.
(You can find more kids birthday cakes and cupcakes, too.)
Your toddler won’t eat? Help is here!
Sign up for our email updates to get tips and ideas sent to your inbox.
Ingredients You Need
To make this recipe, you’ll need to have the following ingredients on hand and ready to go.
- Butter: I typically use unsalted butter in baking and use that here.
- Sugar: The texture of the cupcakes is best with granulated sugar so that’s why I use a small amount here.
- Eggs: I use large eggs in my baking.
- Plain whole-milk Greek yogurt or sour cream: You can use either of these to add moisture and tenderness to the base of the cupcakes.
- Milk: I bake with whole milk, but you can use the type you usually have.
- Vanilla: You can use pure or artificial vanilla extract in this recipe.
- All-purpose flour: Using all-purpose flour keeps these cupcakes tender and light.
- Cocoa powder: I usually use SACO or Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder and sift it with a small sieve to remove all of the lumps.
- Baking powder and baking soda: Using these together helps the cupcakes rise nicely.
- Frosting: You can use any frosting you prefer. My favorites are listed in the recipe below.
Here’s a look at the process involved in making this Chocolate Cupcake recipe from scratch.
- Mix the dry ingredients in a medium-size bowl
- Mix the wet ingredients.
- Portion into a muffin tin lined with paper cupcake liners.
- Bake until just cooked through and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out cleanly.
TIP: You have two options for sizes when making this recipe—12 modest-size cupcakes or 9 larger ones. See the recipe at the bottom of the post for the information.
Tips to Make Cupcakes Moist
The key to moist and fluffy chocolate cupcakes is to beat air into the eggs, but to not overwork the batter once you add the flour. That would cause the gluten in the flour to toughen up.
Additional moisture in these chocolate cupcakes comes from the sour cream, butter, and eggs.
The easiest way to ice cupcakes with a pretty swirl is to put the frosting into a zip top bag, seal it, then snip off one corner. Use it like a piping bag to make swirls on top of each cupcake. This is also a place where the kids can help! You can also simply spread it on with a butter knife or offset spatula.
Egg-Free Chocolate Cupcake Recipe
I wanted to make sure I gave an egg-free option for these cupcakes in case of a food allergy. You can use 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed and 5 tablespoons water in place of the eggs called for in the recipe. The batter bakes up moist and fluffy and it’s actually hard to tell the difference! (These are egg-free cupcakes shown above.)
How to Store
These cupcakes are best when they are freshly baked, so make them on the day you plan to eat them, if possible, and keep them at room temperature.
Best Tips for Success
- Be sure not to overbake the cupcakes to ensure the best tender texture.
- Let cool completely before frosting.
- Let the cold ingredients from the fridge sit at room temperature a bit so they blend more easily.
- Top with sprinkles or fresh fruit if you’d like.
I’d love to hear your feedback on this recipe if you try it, so please comment below to share.
Easy Chocolate Cupcakes
- Prepare the Fresh Strawberry Frosting and place into the fridge. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a standard muffin tin with paper liners. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, beat the butter and sugar with a handheld electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add the eggs, one at a time, then the sour cream, vanilla, and milk. (You can also use a blender for that part.)
- To make more modest sized cupcakes for younger kids: Fill prepared paper liners about ½ full. Bake for 14-16 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out cleanly.
- To make more standard size cupcakes: Fill 9 cupcake liners with about ¼ cup batter. Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out cleanly.
- Remove from oven. Remove cupcakes from pan and let cool completely on a wire rack.
- Just before serving, remove the frosting from the fridge. Snip off one corner of the bag and pipe onto cooled cupcakes. Garnish with a slice of berry, if desired, and serve immediately.
- Fresh Strawberry Frosting: Place ½ cup chopped strawberries into a . Grind until very smooth, about 20 seconds. Add 2 tablespoons honey, 6 ounces cream cheese, and 2 tablespoons butter, softened at room temperature, and process until very smooth. Spoon into a quart-size zip top bag, seal, and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Standard Cream Cheese Frosting: Add 2 tablespoons honey, 6 ounces cream cheese, softened at room temperature, and 2 tablespoons butter, softened at room temperature, to a medium bowl. Blend with a or hand-held electric mixer until very smooth. Spoon into a quart-size zip top bag, seal, and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- You can use whole-wheat pastry instead of all-purpose if you prefer.
- To make these egg-free, use 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed and 5 tablespoons water in place of the eggs.
- To make these dairy-free, use unsweetened plain non-dairy milk instead of dairy milk and melted in place of the butter.
- If you don’t have yogurt or sour cream, you can use all milk.
- These cupcakes are best when they are freshly baked, so make them on the day you plan to eat them if possible and keep them at room temperature.
- Frost just before serving if possible.
This post was first published January 2018.