Super Easy, Super Moist Chocolate Cupcakes

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Have you ever encountered a chocolate cake recipe that used neither eggs nor butter, but relied on vinegar and baking soda for leavening?

Apparently, the recipe has been around for ages. We first discovered a version of it in a magazine called Cuisine at Home, but you can find other versions at Epicurious and other places online.

The thing about this cake recipe is not only is it incredibly easy to make, with ingredients that you likely already have in your pantry, but it produces a surprisingly moist and delicious cake (and cupcakes).

All without eggs or butter. (There’s butter in the frosting I’m using, but we’re talking about the cake.) I even tried adding an egg to the recipe and it wasn’t nearly as good as the batch without it.

Over the last week I’ve made several batches of cupcakes following this method, including a couple for my mom’s book club. (Waving hi to mom’s friends!)

I used a frosting recipe from Hershey’s, and instead of loading the cupcakes with frosting, decided instead to just simply drizzle frosting in patterns on the top.

But do what you will with the frosting. I think the cupcakes are perfectly delicious without any frosting at all.

Super Easy, Super Moist Chocolate Cupcakes Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 12 cupcakes

The coffee (and the salt) help intensify the flavor of the chocolate. If you don't have or don't want to use coffee, just skip it and use water instead. If you do use coffee, just use what would be considered regular strength coffee (or slightly weak coffee) in America, not something super concentrated like espresso. If caffeine is an issue, use decaf.

If you want to make a cake instead of cupcakes, double the recipe and use two 8-inch round cake pans and cook for 35-40 minutes.



  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup brewed coffee (or 1 cup of warm water mixed with 1 1/2 teaspoons of espresso powder or instant coffee granules)
  • 1 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 6 Tbsp (1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp) olive oil


  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract



1 Preheat oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle position. Prepare a muffin tin with cupcake liners.

2 In a large bowl, vigorously whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt until there are no visible clumps (cocoa tends to clump up).

3 In a separate bowl, mix together the coffee (or water plus coffee granules), vinegar, vanilla extract, and olive oil.

4 Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir only until they just come together. The mixture should be thin and rather lumpy.

5 Ladle the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about two-thirds of the way full. Place in oven and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until a bamboo skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

6 Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove from pan and let cool on a rack. Once cool, you can eat plain, sprinkle with powdered sugar, or drizzle or coat with frosting.


While the cupcakes are cooking, make the frosting. Melt butter in a small saucepan and remove from heat. Stir in the cocoa until smooth. Sprinkle in about a third of the powdered sugar, stir, then sprinkle in about a half of the milk. Keep alternating with the powdered sugar and either milk or vanilla, stirring after each addition, until the frosting is the consistency you want, and smooth. If it's too runny, add more powdered sugar. If too stiff, add a little more milk or vanilla extract.

To pipe in a decorative pattern, scoop the frosting into the corner of a ziplock freezer bag. Use scissors to cut away 1/4-inch or so from the tip of the corner. Then just squeeze the frosting out of the bag onto the cupcakes in any design you like.

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Super Easy Super Moist Chocolate Cupcakes

Showing 4 of 146 Comments

  • Juliet

    I made these by following the EXACT instructions and quantities of the recipe, step by step. The cakes turned out … GROSS. Waaaay too soft, more like a wet sponge than a cake.. I didn’t use anything different to the recipe, everything was respected to the letter. The texture was awful and didn’t even come out of the mold properly (I tried putting them back in for another 5 min of baking but same result!) and the taste… well…. honestly it wasn’t even nice! Chocolate didn’t come out much at all .. All round : YUK and what a waste of time and ingredients.
    There is no secret, guys. If you really want GOOD cakes, you need to use ingredients that have been proven to work for decades/centuries. Eggs are essential. I agree butter isn’t necessary, it can easily be replaced.. but those cakes without eggs are just plain gross.
    Sorry but I will at least have tried and done it exactly like it said on the recipe.

    For those who are fortunate enough to not have an egg intolerance or allergy: definitely avoid these and choose a regular recipe including eggs.
    I’m half French, so I know what I’m talking about when it comes to cooking and food – I’m a chef. This is not a good recipe. Sorry, mate.

  • Futhi

    Wow! I was trying my hand at baking and these turned out very well…even for me! The second time I made these I topped them with whipped cream frosting and they are too good. Thank you so much for this recipe!

  • Sarai

    Hello, i want to use a silicone round mold to make this into a cake. What do you suggest should the oven temperature be? And for how long ? Thank you

  • Anjalee

    I made these cupcakes today, they turned out great. So happy with the recipe, thanks for sharing such lovely and easy recipe.

  • James Duffey

    My mother made this cake for us. We call it Crazy Cake. She found the recipe in a Childcraft magazine in the 50s. It was ideal for our family as I was allergic to milk and my dad was allergic to eggs. Later my daughter at college found it ideal to take to potlucks that vegans attend. My mom made it without the coffee, and it turns out fine. You can substitute an equal amount of your favorite liquor for the vanilla; Kahlua goes well if you use coffee, the same with Bailey’s, and Cointreau or Triple Sec if you want a citrus flavor. I have substituted a dark beer like stout for half of the coffee and it turned out fine, but one could not taste much of the beer. It is hard to fail with this recipe.

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