Super Easy, Super Moist Chocolate Cupcakes

DessertBakingChocolateCupcake

Easy to make, unusually moist chocolate cupcakes and no mixer required! No eggs either, the recipe uses a combo of baking soda and vinegar for leavening.

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!)

A quick note on how to measure flour for this recipe. Scoop flour into your measuring cup with a spoon until the measuring cup is heaping then level it off with a knife. That should give you perfect cupcake batter every time.

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.

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

If you want to make an entirely vegan cupcake, use our vegan chocolate frosting to go with the cupcakes!

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.

Check your olive oil and make sure it is fresh, not rancid. Check your baking soda to make sure it still works (add a little vinegar to a teaspoon, if it bubbles up vigorously, it's fine.)

Ingredients

Cupcakes:

  • 1 1/2 cups (188 g) all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (23 g) natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda (4 g) (make sure it's fresh!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon (1 g) 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 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil

Frosting:

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup (30 g) natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cup (158 g) powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Method

Cupcakes:

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

2 Whisk dry ingredients: 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 Mix wet ingredients: 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. Do not over-beat! 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.

6 Bake: Place in oven and bake at 350°F for 18 to 20 minutes, until a bamboo skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

7 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.

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

Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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215 Comments / Reviews

No ImageSuper Easy, Super Moist Chocolate Cupcakes

Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Dawne

    Made these this morning as a birthday gift. I used a bit less oil but otherwise followed the recipe. I hate coffee so I used plain water. My oven is new and very accurate. These took 20 minutes exactly at 350 degrees.

    These cupcakes are very moist and chocolatey. Be sure to use fresh baking soda if you want to get the lift. I always add the splash of vinegar as the very last step and give the batter a few more stirs. The reaction is instant and you can see all the bubbles that will bring leaven the cupcakes.

    This is easily a one bowl recipe. Very quick to clean up. Also, it’s important not to rush the cooling process. 5 minutes in the pan and then on a rack until completely cool. They pull away from the paper wrapper easily and do not crack.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  2. Anisa

    This was the worst chocolate cupcake recipe I have ever baked. The batter was thick and the cupcakes tasted like nothing and felt like rubber. Everyone in my family was disappointed with this recipe that I made. This is not a good recipe, so don’t use it.

    xxxxxyyyyy

    Show Replies (1)
  3. rivka b

    the batter came out a little thick and after being in the oven over time, it was very dense. we made it in a cake instead of cupcakes so that may have been the problem. when we removed the cake from the pan, it cracked into multiple pieces.
    had i listened to my bff and not added water it would have tasted a little better and more like a cake.
    to conclude, we did not enjoy this cake and we feel it was a wast of time making it!

  4. Eden

    Can I make it without the coffee?

    Show Replies (1)
  5. Diane

    Literally, the only chocolate cake/cupcakes my family will eat and request. I’ve make hundreds of cupcakes throughout the past 4 or more years and EVERYONE loves them! TY

    xxxxxyyyyy

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Super Easy, Super Moist Chocolate Cupcakes