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
4.92 stars (59 ratings)

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!
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 35 minutes
Servings: 12 cupcakes

Ingredients 
 

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
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Nora Taylor
Did you make this recipe?Mention @nora_cooks_vegan_ or tag #noracooks!

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

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Read my full disclosure here.

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Comments

  1. I made these for the first time last week and took them to a cookout–always an act of faith without a test run! They turned out amazing and people raved about them. I used Nora’s excellent chocolate frosting recipe. As someone else commented, another “Nora hit”!

  2. Hi Nora! These cupcakes taste amazing but every time I make them, they dip down in the middle. The vanilla cupcakes bake up perfectly. What could be the issue? Thanks! ❤️

    1. Hi Becky! The cupcakes could be sinking for a variety of reasons. Are you opening the oven as they bake? Are you filling the cups more than halfway full? Did you overmix the batter? If it isn’t any of these reasons, then your oven could be running a little hot. Try baking the cupcakes at 325ºF (they’ll take longer to bake) and see if that helps!

    2. I tested these several times for wedding cupcakes over the last few days. The first two times they fell. The third time, I took out the baking soda and they didn’t fall. I am also using gluten free flour, so I’m not sure that’s the solution for everyone!

  3. Wow! They came out amazing! My sister’s loved it and it makes a great snack! I hope to make it again soon! Thanks Nora!

    1. You are welcome! Thank you so much for sharing your positive feedback! I’m so glad you loved the cupcakes! Happy cooking!

  4. I made these for a birthday party and they were a big hit! So easy and quick,  yet they look so fancy with the frosting!

    1. I’m so glad these were a hit at your party! These are one of my favorite party cupcakes! Thank you for sharing your wonderful feedback!

  5. Hi nora! I am a huge fan of your recipes but I really struggle to enjoy anything that uses apple sauce, is there something else I can use in place of it? Wondering if aquafaba or any other egg substitute would work?

    1. You can use another egg substitute here, like 2 flax eggs (2 tbs ground flax + 5 tbs water), JUST egg or another egg sub.

  6. These cupcakes are amazing, so delicious – I think my husband’s soul almost left his body when he taste-tested one for me. I used your chocolate frosting recipe with Miyoko’s butter, and it was so smooth and rich. Thank you for the fantastic recipe!

    1. You are welcome! I’m so glad the cupcakes are a hit with your family! Thank you for sharing your wonderful feedback!

  7. I used vegan yogurt in place of apple sauce and it worked well in a pinch. These turned out really fluffy and moist and so so tasty. Great recipe. 

    1. I’m glad the vegan yogurt worked well! Thanks for sharing your feedback! I’m glad you loved the cupcakes!

  8. Hi Nora, We love your regular vegan chocolate cake recipe and I understand the water is omitted here to provide more structure to the cupcakes. Do you think these have enough structure for your vegan ganache frosting on top? I’m trying to make these for an event and I don’t want to use regular vegan chocolate frosting given how temperature sensitive vegan butter is. Thank you!  

  9. Another “Nora” hit at our house. I’m making these for my sister’s birthday today. They’re cooling right now before I frost them. I had to sample one (well, two) out of the oven and they are yummy!!! Thank you for another perfect recipe!

    1. Happy birthday to your sister! Thank you for sharing your great feedback! These are great cupcakes for a birthday! Hope you make wonderful new memories! Happy cooking!

  10. I made this delicious recipe with my 2yr old and substituted the applesauce with mashed banana, same measurement, because we didn’t have applesauce handy. It worked out great and was so yummy. We’ll definitely be making this one again.

  11. Thank you very much for offering vegan recipes  ?????
    I keep making repeated batches of these chocolate cupcakes ??? Thank you for putting this lovely site together. I’ll keep looking through other recipes I am sure will be just as yummy ??‍???

  12. Hi Nora,
    I make your chocolate layer cake often. I was wondering why it calls for boiling water but this recipe for cupcakes does not. Please advise.
    Thanks,
    Pam

    1. Hi Pam! You can add the hot water for cupcakes, but I like my cupcakes to be a bit more sturdy so I omit it. They are still plenty moist, but you can hold them in your hand. Hope that makes sense!

  13. Delicious recipe! Thank you so much. One issue I keep having is that my cupcakes raise and they fall flat once they cook down, any idea as to why?

    1. Over mixing the batter is a common reason for flat cakes and cupcakes. That may be the issue. I’m glad that you found the cupcakes delicious! Thank you or sharing your review and comments!

  14. These tasted delicious, but were extremely crumbly, although I measured everything carefully. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks!

    1. Make sure you truly didn’t add too much flour or sugar. Often cupcakes crumble because a little too much flour was added on accident. I suggest spooning flour into a measuring cup, then leveling off with a knife. Don’t pat it or shake it down. Better yet, try weighing it. And finally, be careful not to over bake the cupcakes. Hope that helps!

    2. I’ve made these using the Hershey’s cocoa and love them! However, this time  out of that cocoa, but I have Navitas organic cacao powder. Can I use that instead? I’m making them for a party and want them to be perfect, should I just stick w/the Hershey’s cocoa? Thank you?

      1. I think the organic cacao should work well, but I haven’t personally tried it to know for sure, sorry!

  15. I’ve been making your chocolate cake and cupcake recipe for a few years now. Both my kids have severe dairy and egg allergies, and was really lost as to what to do on their birthdays (how do you make cake without eggs?????) well,  my daughter turns 5 tomorrow and this will be her 5th noracooks birthday cake!!!! Egg free 🙂  The guests always ask me for the recipe. Huge THANK YOU from my family and our party guests!  This cupcake recipe and the chocolate cake are absolutely the best. 

    1. Hi Amanda. Thank you for your heartfelt comments! I love that my recipes provide a delicious and wonderful birthday cake memory for your kids! Thank you for taking your time to share your wonderful review and beautiful comments! Happy birthday to your daughter!

  16. Hello Nora, thank you so  much for all your recipes, especially those for the desserts, I have not had any failures with your recipes and that excites me a lot besides that they are delicious! My question is, could this cupcake be turned into a volcano cake? adding a piece of chocolate in the center and heating it before serving?

    1. I’m so glad you are enjoying my recipes, especially the desserts (my favorite). 🙂 I bet that would work, but I haven’t tried it. Sounds amazing though!

  17. Hi Nora! Thank you so much for all your amazing recipes! I have made the chocolate cake/cupcakes numerous times in addition to your other recipes and absolutely love it. I appreciate you sharing your wonderful recipes and I do not know what I would do without them. 🙂

    1. Hi Jess. Thanks so much for your kind words! I’m thrilled that you are loving my recipes – thank your for using them! I appreciate you taking your time to share your wonderful review and comments.

  18. Hi Nora,

    Thanks for your generous and amazing collection of recipes. I have trouble with the chocolate cupcake turning crumbly. It tasted great but despite trying the recipe a few different times this and other vegan chocolate cakes just fall apart. I did not have this issue with the one- bowl lemon cake so not sure what I am doing wrong. Any advice is appreciated and thanks again for your lovely recipes!

    1. Hi there! I’m not sure why you are having trouble with the cupcake turning crumbly. Make sure you are measuring everything accurately and generously grease (spray with oil) the cupcake liners, so they don’t stick and then crumble. They are a bit delicate, that’s why they are so moist and soft, so do handle them carefully. If you really want them to be more sturdy, you could try adding an extra 1/4 cup of flour but the cupcakes will then be rather dry. Hope that helps!

  19. These are the best chocolate cupcakes!!!! I wouldn’t change a thing. Light and fluffy, perfectly chocolatey. (I add mini chocolate chips to mine ☺️)

  20. Thanks for the recipe! The cupcakes were yummy and my family enjoyed them. However I ended up using 1 cup of oat milk instead since the batter was not runny at all with 1/2 cup, it was almost like cookie dough with just 1/2 cup of oat milk.

  21. These were incredible! I stuffed them with your chocolate ganache and topped them with your Swiss meringue buttercream. Incredibly decadent and tasty. They were the perfect texture and very flavorful.

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