chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting on white plate

Our family loves this recipe for easy chocolate cupcakes! These box mix chocolate cupcakes are super moist and chocolatey because of the added buttermilk and cocoa powder, plus our recipe doesn’t call for pudding mix or coffee! Learn our cake mix hacks for how to make box mix cupcakes taste homemade! 

I love a good cupcake. And a good cupcake, to me, means there’s chocolate.

Do you ever play that game ‘this or that’ where you pin 2 things against each other and you keep going until something knocks out the long standing favorite?

For example: chocolate frosting or vanilla frosting? Chocolate. Chocolate frosting or peanut butter frosting? Chocolate. Chocolate frosting or mint chocolate frosting? Oh, that’s a tough. 

A cupcake with chocolate cake or chocolate frosting will always reign supreme in my book compared to those without.

What are Easy Chocolate Cupcakes?

I consider easy cupcakes to be cupcakes that starts with a box mix. Box cake mixes are great and very handy, plus they can be transformed into bakery style cakes with a few extra ingredients. You are essentially doctoring up a cake mix with a few cake mix hacks. 

chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting on white background

How to Make Box Cupcakes Taste Homemade

It’s all about adding ingredients to the cake mix to give the cake better texture & taste. 

  • Adding additional dry ingredients to the cake mix like flour, sugar and cocoa powder will improve the structure and texture of the cake.
  • Adding buttermilk will ensure your cake turns out incredibly moist. Plus the acid in the buttermilk punches up the chocolate flavor.
  • Adding additional eggs enhances the flavor and fluffiness of the cake.
  • Use butter in place of oil. Butter has more flavor than oil and improves the texture of the cake.

Easy Chocolate Cupcake Ingredients

  • buttermilk: adds moisture & fat 
  • melted butter: adds moisture & fat 
  • eggs: binds the cake together by providing structure 
  • vanilla extract: adds that classic vanilla flavor
  • 1 box of devil’s food cake mix
  • sugar: adds sweetness and flavor
  • all purpose flour: adds structure 
  • cocoa powder: intensifies the chocolate flavor 

How to Make Box Chocolate Cupcake Recipe

For this recipe you’ll want to use a 15.25 oz box of Duncan Hines devil’s food or chocolate cake mix. I know some boxes out there are 18.25 oz, so be sure you’re getting the right size. 

  1. In a large mixing bowl combine the buttermilk, melted butter, eggs, vanilla extract, cake mix, sugar, flour and cocoa powder, beat with an electric mixer until combined, 1-2 minutes.
  2. Line a regular sized muffin pan with liners. Fill the liners 1-2 to 3-4 full. Bake for 18-21 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before adding frosting.

What Brand of Cake Mix to Use

I prefer Duncan Hines cake mixes, as do a lot of food bloggers, plus Wilton recommends Duncan Hines brand and Wilton is a cake powerhouse, so I trust their opinion. 

chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting on white background

How To Make Doctored Up Chocolate Cupcakes Without Pudding or Coffee

The big thing for me when coming up with this recipe was I didn’t want to use pudding mix or coffee as elements to doctor up the cake mix.

Why?

There are already a lot of doctored up cake recipes out there that use those things. Plus, a common thing I saw people asking was “What can I use in place of the pudding/coffee?” So we’re bringing you a recipe that doesn’t use those items.

To make doctored up chocolate cupcakes you need to start with a high quality box of cake mix.

Then we added buttermilk and melted butter to increase the moisture and fat content and additional cocoa powder to amp up the chocolate flavor. 

How Many Cupcakes Can You Make From a Box of Cake Mix

For this specific recipe I was able to make 30 cupcakes with a box of cake mix. I like to fill my cupcake liners 1/2 to 3/4 full.

Frosting to Pair with Chocolate Cupcakes

chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting on white background

How to Freeze Unfrosted Cupcakes

Allow the cupcakes to cool completely. Wrap each cupcake in plastic wrap, then place inside a freezer ziplock bag or freezer storage container.

To thaw: place the bag or container of cupcakes on the counter overnight. Frost once fully thawed. 

Recommended Frosting Piping Supplies

  • Piping bags – I love these bulk piping bags
  • Piping tips – Larger piping tips are better for frosting cupcakes. My go-to tips are the Wilton 1M2D, 12 and 199.

How to Pipe Frosting onto Cupcakes

I showcase 3 different piping methods in the photos, but used the same tip, a wilton 1M, to create each look. I would categorize the 3 different look as the classic swirl, the rosette, and the fluffy/beehive/frilly technique.

Start in the center of the cupcake, applying pressure to the frosting bag, going in a swirling motion until you reach the edge of the cupcake then lift the tip up and tip more frosting onto that base layer you just made, stacking the frosting and continuing in a swirling motion until you reach the center of the cupcake.

More Chocolate Desserts

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For a step-by-step of how to make this chocolate cupcake recipe, watch this short video:
Easy Chocolate Cupcakes

Easy Chocolate Cupcakes

Yield: 30 cupcakes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Active Time: 20 minutes
Additional Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Our family loves this recipe for easy chocolate cupcakes! These box mix chocolate cupcakes are super moist and chocolatey because of the added buttermilk and cocoa powder, plus our recipe doesn’t call for pudding mix or coffee! Learn our cake mix hacks for how to make box mix cupcakes taste homemade!

Ingredients

Cupcakes

  • 1 & 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 box devil’s food cake mix, 15.25 oz
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp natural unsweetened cocoa powder

Chocolate Frosting

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • dash of milk or heavy cream if frosting becomes too thick

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350º F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine the buttermilk, melted butter, eggs, vanilla extract, devil’s food cake mix, sugar, flour, and cocoa powder, beat with an electric mixer until combined, 2-3 minutes. The mixture will be thick.
  3. Line a regular sized muffin pan with liners. Fill the liners 1-2 to 3-4 full. Bake for 18-21 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before adding frosting.

CHOCOLATE Frosting

  1. Place room temperature unsalted butter in a mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer on medium and beat the butter for 1 minute, until whipped and fluffy. 
  2. Add in the cocoa powder, powdered sugar and vanilla extract, beat again on low for 1-2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl, until everything is incorporated. 
  3. If the frosting is too thick, add a tablespoon of milk or heavy cream, and beat until creamy. 
  4. Place frosting inside a piping bag and pipe frosting onto the cupcakes. I used a Wilton 1M piping tip.

Notes

For this recipe you’ll want to use a 15.25 oz box of Duncan Hines devil’s food or chocolate cake mix. I know some boxes out there are 18.25 oz, so be sure you’re getting the right size.