Super Moist Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes (Gluten Free)
Based off of my award winning vegan chocolate cake, these vegan chocolate cupcakes are the BEST chocolate cupcakes you will ever have! Super rich, fluffy, and moist, these easy vegan chocolate cupcakes will turn any vanilla lover into a chocolate lover!
Why you’ll love these amazing vegan chocolate cupcakes:
These are truly the ultimate vegan chocolate cupcakes. I might even say they’re the best chocolate cupcakes in general, vegan or not. I used to be such a vanilla cake person, but now after trying these?
Based off my best vegan chocolate cake recipe, these vegan chocolate cupcakes are incredibly rich, yet sweet, light and fluffy yet full of rich chocolate, and topped with the absolute best vegan chocolate buttercream frosting you’ve ever had. Sure, the fun and fancy flavored vegan cupcakes (like the ones in my cookbook!) are super delicious, but nothing beats this classic vegan chocolate cupcake recipe (and they pair great with my vegan vanilla cupcake recipe!).
Not to mention, these chocolate cupcakes are incredibly easy to make. You can make them in a stand mixer or in a bowl, and the ingredients couldn’t be simpler. Oh, and of course, they’re also easily made both nut free and gluten free.
Made in just one bowl, these easy vegan cupcakes are perfect for:
- Holidays (think Christmas, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Fourth of July, etc.)
- Mother’s and Father’s Day
- Graduation parties
- Baby Showers
- Bridal showers
- New Year’s Eve!
I just know that you’re going to absolutely love these undetectably eggless dairy free chocolate cupcakes!
Ingredients you need to make vegan chocolate cupcakes (and substitutions)
For these eggless dairy free chocolate cupcakes, you’ll need:
- Flour: you can use gluten-free 1:1 baking flour blend (make sure it has xanthan gum) or regular all purpose flour
- Coconut sugar: you can definitely use regular sugar if you don’t need to keep it refined sugar free
- Baking powder + soda
- Cocoa powder: While cacao powder is full of wonderful nutrients and antioxidants, cocoa powder is preferred. I mention cacao powder because I know those who are just starting to bake think that cacao powder is the healthier option. For a better chocolate cupcake, you need to use cocoa powder, as it has a higher acidity than cacao powder, which in turns reacts with the baking powder and creates a better rise in your cupcakes (super important when making vegan cupcakes!).
- Vegan buttermilk: a combination of dairy free milk and apple cider vinegar. I recommend using either soy milk or almond milk for the best results. However, you can use oat milk or coconut milk. Please see my full guide on how to make vegan buttermilk here.
- Applesauce or dairy free yogurt: I use unsweetened applesauce or vegan yogurt. This is the egg replacer found in more traditional chocolate cupcakes, and I prefer it much more than flax eggs.
- Vegan butter: I recommend Miyoko’s vegan butter or Flora Plant Butter for the best tasting vegan butter here. Miyoko’s has the best ingredients AND the best flavor. Flora is nut free and soy free, which makes it easy to keep these healthier chocolate cupcakes allergy friendly. If you really want to, you can use coconut oil, but the best results will be with vegan butter.
- Hot coffee: Or you can use warm dairy free milk- more on why you need to use a hot liquid for chocolate cupcakes below!
- Vegan chocolate buttercream frosting: This is my favorite vegan chocolate frosting recipe. I actually do use cacao powder over cocoa powder because the taste alone is amazing. I also use coconut sugar over powdered sugar most of the time, which yields a much more complex and richer taste. The recipe is simply cacao powder, vegan butter, and powdered coconut sugar (or powdered sugar).
How to make vegan chocolate cupcakes from scratch
I’ve outlined how to make these vegan chocolate cupcakes all in the YouTube video and recipe card below. You’ll find the full written instructions there, along with ingredient measurements in both cups and grams.
Please note that the YouTube video linked below in the recipe card and the instruction card are slightly different in method but both yield the same beautiful texture. The written instructions just also outline how to make these cupcakes in a stand mixer.
To make these easy vegan chocolate cupcakes:
- Whisk together the dry ingredients. This is an important step to make sure that the leavening agents are evenly distributed throughout the batter.
- Cream together the vegan butter and coconut sugar. You can do this either in a large bowl with a hand mixer or using a stand mixer. You’ll then add in the applesauce and mix again.
- Add in the dry ingredients and the vegan buttermilk in alternating increments. I add in about half of each at first, mix gently, then add in the remaining. It’s imperative to not over mix the cupcake batter, as then your cupcakes will turn out more rubbery and lose their lift.
- Pour the batter into the cupcake tin and bake! I usually yield between 10-12 cupcakes and aim to fill them up about 2/3 of the way. Use the toothpick test to ensure that your cupcakes are completely done (and not over-baked!).
TIP: How to perfectly frost a cupcake
I totally get it. It might seem intimidating to actually pipe the vegan frosting onto the vegan chocolate cupcakes. But not to worry, it’s actually quite simple!
I go over how to pipe the frosting onto these cupcakes in my YouTube video. Once you’ve made the vegan chocolate buttercream frosting, let’s perfectly frost a cupcake:
- Start by squirting a bit of the vegan chocolate buttercreamfrosting into the middle of the cupcake.
- Then start spiraling out, twirling the cupcake or your piping tip as you go, laying the frosting to create the height of the frosting.
- Slightly dip the frosting tip down as you finish the frosting to create the perfect point.
Then repeat for the remaining cupcakes!
How to store leftover cupcakes
If you have any leftovers from this vegan chocolate cupcake recipe, simply store the cupcakes in a cupcake container or lightly cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Make ahead option: to make these vegan chocolate cupcakes ahead of time, simply make the chocolate cupcakes, and allow them to cool fully. Store them in an airtight container and freeze for 2 days. When ready to serve, allow the cupcakes to sit at room temperature for 4-5 hours, and then prepare the vegan chocolate buttercream frosting. Pipe and frost, then serve!
Cacao Powder vs. Natural Cocoa Powder vs. Dutch-Processed Cocoa Powder
This is a super important distinction to make, as this will take your chocolate cupcakes from good to great to amazing.
For this recipe in particular, please try to use natural cocoa powder. I’ve mentioned which brand I use in the ingredients section above. In general, it’s Equal Exchange Organic Cocoa powder (in the purple tin).
There’s a really big difference in terms of cupcake results when using cacao powder vs. natural cocoa powder vs. dutch-processed.
Cacao powder will give your cupcakes a really rich and deep chocolate taste. Some people prefer this. However, your cupcakes will have a slightly more red/orange tone to them, than deep chocolate.
Dutch-processed cocoa powder will give your cupcakes a much darker look but a more earthy and lighter taste. Dutch-processed cocoa is typically much darker and can be used to make Oreo cookies.
Natural cocoa powder is the best option here. This type of cocoa powder has more acidity than the other two, which means it will create a chemical reaction with the baking soda, causing the batter to rise. It will still give you that deep chocolate color, and yield a super rich chocolatey taste!
Why do I need to add hot water to chocolate cupcake batter?
This is a great question, as it goes against all advice of using “room temperature ingredients.” I totally get it! This is the one ingredient that you’re allowed and able to have not at room temperature.
The reason being is that adding hot water to the cocoa powder helps to bloom the cocoa powder. In other words, the cocoa powder will release more chocolate flavor throughout the cupcakes, yielding a much richer chocolate cupcake.
Can I make these vegan cupcakes gluten free as well?
Absolutely! I’ve only tested this recipe using gluten free 1:1 baking flour, and you’ll use the same amount as you would regular all purpose flour.
Can I make these cupcakes into a vegan chocolate cake?
I actually already have a delicious vegan chocolate cake recipe for you! These cupcakes are heavily based off of that recipe. If you want a true chocolate cake, I would just make my cake recipe. I also have a wonderful small batch chocolate cupcake recipe that uses oat flour, which I’ve linked below in the “more cupcakes” section.
Alternatively, you can try my single layer 6″ small chocolate cake!
However, you can also double this recipe for a 2 layer 8″ cake. The bake time for the cake layers will be about 32-35 minutes.
Important final tips & tricks for this recipe:
- Use natural cocoa powder over dutch-processed: many recipes ask for dutch-processed, but natural cocoa powder is more acidic and will create a better reaction with the baking soda. This gives the cupcakes its rise. I use Equal Exchange Organic Baking Cocoa.
- Use either applesauce or dairy free yogurt- don’t swap in flaxseed: many ask whether you can used ground flaxseed in place of the applesauce. For most recipes, you can, but I highly recommend against it for this particular recipe. The reason being is that the applesauce has a bit more moisture than flaxseed, and will more closely resemble the texture that you would achieve with using real eggs.
- Don’t overfill the cupcake liner: I recommend filling the cupcakes about 3/4 of the way full. Any higher, and you’ll end up with a muffin top. Any lower, and your cupcakes won’t rise to the top of the muffin liner.
- Allow the vegan buttermilk to curdle for 5-7 minutes. Don’t skip this step! Allowing the dairy free milk to sit with the vinegar or lemon juice will create that curdle and the most moist vegan cupcake you’ve ever had- all dairy free!
- Make sure that your wet ingredients are room temperature (except for the warm coffee!): always a good rule of thumb, this makes sure that the batter isn’t compromised and the gluten doesn’t start to form or not fully form while baking.
- The final tip: Let the cupcakes cool in the cupcake tin for 10 minutes before cooling on a cooling rack! This makes sure that the liner comes off cleanly.
You are just going to love these easy vegan chocolate cupcakes! They’re perfect for any party and will be absolutely loved by anyone who tries them, vegan or not! If you make this recipe, please be sure to leave a comment and a rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️. This helps others find the recipes!
As always, I absolutely love to see your beautiful creations on Instagram and Pinterest, so be sure to tag me there.
Happy chocolate cupcake baking!
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If you make this recipe, please be sure to leave a comment and a rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ below. This helps others to find the recipes! As always, I absolutely love to see your beautiful creations on Instagram and Pinterest, so be sure to tag me there as well!Print
Best Easy Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes (Gluten Free option)
- Prep Time: 10
- Cook Time: 24
- Total Time: 34 minutes
- Yield: 12 1x
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: Vegan
These vegan chocolate cupcakes are the BEST chocolate cupcakes you will ever have! Super rich, fluffy, and moist, these easy vegan chocolate cupcakes will turn any vanilla lover into a chocolate lover!
Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes:
- 2/3 cup (150 mL) homemade vegan buttermilk, room temperature*
- 1 1/2 cups (180 g) all purpose flour, sifted *see note for gluten free option
- 5 tbsp (30 g) all natural cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 cup (60 g) salted vegan butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
- 1 cup (200 g) coconut sugar or granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup (83 g) unsweetened applesauce or dairy free yogurt, room temperature
- 2/3 cup (150 mL) hot coffee (caffeinated or decaffeinated*)
Vegan Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:
- 1 cup (226 grams) vegan butter, softened
- 2 cups (260 grams) powdered sugar or coconut sugar
- 1 cup (100 grams) cocoa powder
- 2–3 tbsp dairy free milk
- Please read through all instructions. Measure out all ingredients before beginning.
- Prep: Preheat the oven to 350F and line a cupcake tin with liners. Make sure for the vegan buttermilk, the dairy-free milk and lemon juice/ACV are mixed together and set aside to curdle.
- Prepare the dry ingredients: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.
- Make the chocolate cupcakes batter: In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or a large bowl with a hand mixer or whisk, mix together the melted vegan butter, sugar, and applesauce until combined. Carefully add in about half of the dry mixture to the wet ingredients and half of the vegan buttermilk. Mix again lightly until almost all of the dry ingredients are incorporated, then add in the remaining dry mixture and vegan buttermilk, being careful not to over mix the batter. Finally, pour in the hot coffee and mix to incorporate throughout the batter.
- Bake: Pour the batter into the cupcake liners, filling the liners about 3/4 of the way full. You should get about 10-12 cupcakes. Place the cupcakes into the over and bake for 22-24 minutes, or until the toothpick comes out clean.
- Cool: Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes in the cupcake tin. After 10 minutes, transfer the cupcakes to the cooling rack until they are fully cooled.
- Make the vegan chocolate buttercream: Once the cupcakes are fully cooled, begin making the vegan chocolate buttercream frosting. To make the vegan chocolate buttercream frosting, beat the vegan butter until creamy. Sift in the cocoa powder and the powdered sugar (or coconut sugar). Continue to beat the frosting, adding in 2-3 tbsp of dairy free milk to help combine the sugar into the butter. The buttercream should be fluffy.
- Top the cupcakes: Fill a piping bag with a tip and pipe the vegan buttercream frosting onto the cool cupcakes. Serve and enjoy!
Gluten free: Swap in gluten-free 1:1 baking flour, such as Bob’s Red Mill in the blue bag, for gluten free vegan chocolate cupcakes.
Vegan Buttermilk: this is definitely a necessity for these cupcakes! Simply combine the dairy free milk and the apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice if you don’t have vinegar) and let the mixture sit for 5-7 minutes to curdle. Then use immediately in the recipe.
Hot coffee: If you don’t want to use coffee, you can simply use warm dairy free milk or sub in an herbal coffee, like Anima Mundi Herbals Happiness Powder.
- Serving Size: 1 cupcake
- Calories: 280
- Sugar: 36.7 g
- Sodium: 225.4 mg
- Fat: 9.2 g
- Saturated Fat: 2.2 g
- Carbohydrates: 52.2 g
- Fiber: 3.6 g
- Protein: 3.4 g
- Cholesterol: 0 mg
Keywords: vegan chocolate cupcakes, vegan chocolate cupcake recipe, best chocolate cupcakes, vegan chocolate buttercream frosting, vegan cupcakes
any tip on getting the coconut yogurt to mix in the batter? I had some little chunks of it after I mixed it by hand and some showed when the cupcakes came out of the oven.
Hi Heather! This sounds like the brand of coconut yogurt you’re using- some are really really thick, more like coconut cream, and others are more like regular yogurt. If you want to keep using the brand you’re using, I would actually put the yogurt in a separate bowl and use a hand mixer (just one of the mixing attachments!) and on low speed, whip the yogurt in the bowl for a minute until it’s smooth! Then use the yogurt in the recipe!
I really want to try this, but wondering if I use coconut sugar in the buttercream, will the texture be gritty? Thanks!
Hi Kelly! It really depends on the brand, but there’s an easy fix for it- if the coconut sugar brand you use is rather granulated and gritty, pulse the coconut sugar in a food processor or high speed blender for 30 seconds. It’ll be just like powdered sugar then!
These were absolutely delicious. I used cacao powder instead of cocoa powder because I prefer the taste, and they were incredible. Best chocolate cupcake I’ve had, and so easy. Will be making again, thank you!
Aw I’m so glad to hear it!! Yes, love the taste of cacao powder too 🙂 Enjoy!
Best flour to use if avoiding white flour and almond flour?
Hi Christina! I do have a gluten free vegan chocolate cupcake recipe that uses oat flour exclusively. It could be possible to use the oat flour here as well, but it won’t be the same weight, and I haven’t personally tried it so I can’t guarantee the result! GF 1:1 flour DOES work here, such as Bob’s Red Mill in the blue bag.
There were the best I have made yet what a great recipe . I made mine GF using 1:1 ratio and coconut milk. I had to add approximately 55 extra Ml’s of coconut milk as the batter was too thick (I think almond or a thinner milk would work better). It also could have been thicker due to GF flour. But the end result was perfect. They didn’t go hard after one hour (often the case with egg free/Gf baked goods. I am going to give other recipes a try now 😍.
These turned out beautiful!!
So happy to hear it!!
You never say how to make vegan buttermilk. This would be helpful in the recipe itself! I had to look it up on another website.
Hi Lynne! I’m so sorry for that! That was a glitch in the recipe card- it should be linked now with the recipe from my site. Apologies for that inconvenience!
Hi! Can I replace the vegan butter with olive oil in this recipe? Thank you
You absolutely can!