The BEST Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes! Moist, light, fluffy cupcakes with a mouthwatering chocolate frosting. Plus they’re made in 1 bowl!

close up of a chocolate cupcake, liner pulled down

Get ready to try the best moist chocolate cupcake you’ve ever tasted! No one will ever guess they’re vegan. They are the perfect thing to pair with Vegan Chocolate Frosting, Vegan Vanilla Frosting or Vegan Chocolate Ganache.

I adapted these cupcakes from my popular Vegan Chocolate Cake recipe. And sure, you could just make cupcakes instead of cake from that recipe, but you’ll end up with a ton of cupcakes!

This recipe makes a smaller batch (about 12 cupcakes) and I’ve made them so easy to make in just 1 bowl. Plus you can make the cupcakes with just a whisk and a spoon, no hand mixer required. You will need a mixer for the frosting, unless you go with the ganache. Of course, feel free to double or triple the recipe as needed for birthday parties and other occasions that call for a lot of cupcakes.

looking down on lots of chocolate cupcakes

Ingredients needed (with substitutions)

  • Soy milk – May use any kind of non-dairy milk, such as almond, oat, coconut or hemp milk. Use unsweetened if possible, but sweetened is okay if it’s all you have.
  • Apple cider vinegar – This is to make vegan buttermilk. Sub white vinegar or lemon juice.
  • All purpose flour – For gluten free, may use a gluten free all purpose mix, such as King Arthur or Bob’s Red Mill.
  • Sugar
  • Cocoa powder – I used natural cocoa powder, but dutch processed works as well. The cupcakes will be darker in color.
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Salt
  • Oil – I used canola oil here, but you could sub melted coconut oil or another neutral flavored oil.
  • Unsweetened applesauce – This is your egg replacer. You could substitute one flax egg (1 tablespoon ground flax + 2.5 tablespoons water) if needed, or probably another egg substitute.
  • Vanilla extract

How to make vegan chocolate cupcakes

First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. I also like to lightly spray the liners with oil for easy cupcake removal. Next, measure your soy milk in a glass measuring cup, then add the apple cider vinegar to it and let that sit for a few minutes to curdle. This is your “buttermilk”.

In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients, then add the oil, applesauce, vanilla and “buttermilk” and stir well to combine. The batter should be fairly runny, and not too thick.

chocolate batter in a bowl with a green spatula

Fill the paper liners 1/2 full. ONLY HALF FULL! You do not need to fill more than that, they will rise to the top but not over the top this way, which is perfect. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. That’s it!

Make a batch of Vegan Chocolate Frosting while they cool, or whatever frosting you want to use. Once cooled completely and not before, frost generously. I used a Wilton 1M tip and a piping bag for these cupcakes; so pretty right?

If you only want a little spread of frosting on the cupcakes, you can cut the chocolate frosting recipe in half. But if you want to pipe it on thick, you will probably need the entire recipe.

How to store leftover cupcakes

If you have leftover, frosted cupcakes, store them in the refrigerator for about 5 days. A covered container of some kind is preferred, or a plate covered with plastic wrap would work. You can also freeze frosted cupcakes to enjoy later.

Make ahead: You can also make the cupcakes in advance and then frost the day of serving. Cupcakes can be frozen, then thawed and frosted, or made a day or two ahead of time and store in the refrigerator until ready to frost and serve.

close up of chocolate cupcake with white liner

Can I use this cupcake recipe to make a cake?

Yes, you can turn this into a cake easily. The batter will translate to one 8-inch square cake, or a 9-inch round cake. If you want more than that, I suggest just making the Best Vegan Chocolate Cake instead.

If you make the recipe as a cake, it will need to bake longer in the oven, 30-35 minutes. Watch it carefully, and check with a toothpick or sharp knife you make sure it’s done in the middle.

Can I make mini cupcakes?

Sure! Use a mini cupcake/muffin pan with liners or simply grease the pan well. Fill half full and bake for 10-12 minutes.

a chocolate cupcake that is sliced in half with more cupcakes behind it.

More cupcake and cake recipes you will love!

square image of a close up chocolate cupcake with a lot of swirled frosting on top

The Best Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes

The BEST Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes! Moist, light, fluffy cupcakes with a mouthwatering chocolate frosting. Plus they're made in 1 bowl!
4.89 from 9 votes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 Recipe Vegan Chocolate Frosting

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. Spray the liners with a little oil to prevent sticking.
  • In a measuring cup, combine the soy milk and apple cider vinegar. Let sit a few minutes until it curdles (this is your vegan buttermilk).
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt until well combined.
  • To the bowl with the mixed dry ingredients, add the oil, applesauce, vanilla and milk/vinegar mixture. Stir well with a large spoon or spatula until smooth and well combined. The batter should be fairly thin and smooth, not too thick. (see photos in post above for reference)
  • Fill the liners only half full. Do not overfill or the cupcakes will rise out of the liners and spill over. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out mostly clean.
  • Cool completely, then pipe or spread on frosting as desired with Vegan Chocolate Frosting.

Notes

  1. Feel free to substitute almond, cashew, coconut or hemp milk for the soy milk. Any plant based milk will work here.
  2. You can substitute coconut oil or even melted vegan butter for the canola oil if you want. 
  3. If you only want a little bit of frosting on each cupcake, you can cut the frosting recipe in half. But if you want it piped on like I did, you will need the full recipe.
  4. Calories are an estimate only, and will vary greatly on how much frosting you put on each cupcake. 
  5. Cupcakes can be frozen, unfrosted, for up to 2 months. When ready to serve, thaw at room temperature and then frost. Leftover frosted cupcakes are best stored in the refrigerator in a covered container for up to 5 days.
  6. Gluten free - Use a quality all purpose gluten free flour.
  7. Mini cupcakes - Use a mini muffin pan, fill half full and bake for 10-12 minutes.
  8. Can also make one 8-inch square or a round 9 inch cake out of this recipe. Bake for 30-35 minutes.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving, Calories: 399kcal, Carbohydrates: 59g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 20g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Sodium: 273mg, Potassium: 114mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 47g, Vitamin A: 21IU, Calcium: 33mg, Iron: 1mg

*This recipe was first published in July 2019, and has been updated with improved writing, instructions and substitutions.

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