Everything you want out of classic vegan chocolate cupcakes – moist, bursting with rich chocolate flavor, and topped with a creamy chocolate frosting. Made fully with pantry staples, you’ll never know they are vegan and gluten free!
Hello, fellow chocolate cupcake fan. I wonder if you are like me – I like all treats, all shapes and sizes and flavor profiles of desserts. I don’t discriminate against fruit based baked goods, or things where the dominant flavor is a nut or a spice. But at the end of the day, all I ever REALLY want, is a perfect chocolate cupcake. I want a cake part that is rich and moist, and of course super chocolatey. I want frosting that is that perfect mix of being creamy but still somehow strong enough to hold a beautiful piped swirl shape. I want to be mentally transported to childhood birthday parties, but skipping straight to the dessert part of the event (well, okay, maybe I also want to play some laser tag or arcade games too).
If this sounds familiar to you, you are in the right place. In addition to absolutely loving the flavor and texture of these vegan chocolate cupcakes, I love that it’s made with all staple ingredients. Feel free to add some chocolate chips to the batter, some sprinkles on top, or anything else your heart desires. Let this be your base recipe for all your chocolate cupcake needs!
And if you want to get extra fun and funky with it, I recommend trying out these Vegan S’mores Cupcakes as well, which uses this exact cupcake base but with a twist!
How To Make Them:
These vegan chocolate cupcakes come together dangerously quickly and in ONE BOWL.
In a large bowl, mix together the gluten-free (or all-purpose) flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, sugar (see the Ingredients Needed section to learn how to make these sugar free!), baking powder, and salt. Then add in non-dairy milk, neutral oil, unsweetened applesauce*, and vanilla extract. Mix with a spatula or spoon until just combined.
*the applesauce helps keep them a little extra moist for a little extra long, but if you don’t have any laying around I promise they will be just as good without it!
Once the batter is ready, I like to pour mine from a bowl into a big measuring cup, as I find the little spout very helpful when filling the cupcake liners. Otherwise I am likely to either fill them unevenly, or make a bit of a batter mess!
Time to bake!
Pop them in the oven at 350 degrees for 20-24 minutes. I find my sweet spot to be between 22 and 23. Once out, let them cool for about 10 minutes in the pan, then move to a cooling rack to cool fully before frosting.
While they are cooling, it’s frosting time!! I use a simple hand mixer here, since the best result is using vegan butter straight from the fridge, which makes it difficult to mix by hand. If you have a fancier mixer then yay for you! I start by mixing just the vegan butter on its own until it’s fluffy, which helps with the texture but mostly helps to reduce the enormous cloud of sugar and cocoa powder dust that will blow up otherwise once you put that in. I add the salt next, and then the other dry ingredients a little bit at a time, combining fully each time before adding more.
I use exactly the amounts I have listed below, but you may need to adjust a little bit based on the moisture content of your butter. If the frosting is too stiff, add a little bit more milk. If it’s too moist, add a little bit more powdered sugar until it’s just right.
Nutritional info can be found in the Notes section below the recipe instructions.
After they have cooled, seal in an air-tight container at room temperature. They will stay good 3-5 days, though the consistency really isn’t as strong after the first day or two. If you know you won’t be eating them immediately, I’d recommend making the frosting closer to use.
Pro Tips & Tools:
- Make sure you are measuring your flour either by weight or using the spoon and level method. Do not scoop directly from the container, as you will wind up with too much! This is so important! If you want to buy a pre-made gluten free flour blend, make sure it’s King Arthur’s Measure for Measure Gluten Free Flour, it is BY FAR the best one for my recipes, NOT Bob’s Red Mills or any others. If you want to make a homemade blend, here is a link to the one I use.
- Make sure you measure your liquid ingredients using liquid measuring cups. This will ensure accuracy! I love this set.
- As I mentioned, using a hand mixer with the frosting is the way to get the best results there. I use this very simple and effective one.
- If you haven’t used piping tools for frosting, or if you just need new ones, this set is my favorite. I love the medium and large sized tips.
- Missing any of the basics? Here is my go-to muffin tin, and my go-to cupcake liners.
- Granulated sugar – If you want to make these sugar free, I love using this Monkfruit Sweetener in place of granulated sugar.
- Flour – Make sure you are measuring your flour either by weight or using the spoon and level method. Do not scoop directly from the container, as you will wind up with too much! This is so important! If you want to buy a pre-made gluten free flour blend, make sure it’s King Arthur’s Measure for Measure Gluten Free Flour, it is BY FAR the best one for my recipes, NOT Bob’s Red Mills or any others. If you want to make a homemade blend, here is a link to the one I use.
- Cocoa powder
- Baking powder – I recommend using baking powder that has no added aluminum. This one is my go-to.
- Non-dairy milk – any should work here, I tend to use soy or almond. This will be used in the cupcake and in the frosting.
- Neutral oil – any should work here, I tend to use grapeseed.
- Unsweetened applesauce – helps keep them a bit more moist, but if you don’t have any laying around it’s fine to leave this out.
- Vanilla extract
- Powdered sugar – for the frosting. If you want this part to be sugar free, you can use this Monkfruit Powdered Sweetener in place of powdered sugar.
- Vegan butter – for the frosting. I use Earth Balance sticks.
What To Bake Next:
- Want a fun variation of these? Try these Vegan S’mores Cupcakes, or make them acceptable for breakfast with these Vegan Double Chocolate Chip Muffins.
- Want more chocolate on chocolate? Try these Vegan Copycat Thin Mint Cookies, or this Vegan Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Frosting, or these Vegan Chocolate Chocolate Donuts.
- Need just a bit more chocolate? Try these Vegan Fudgy Brownies, or these Vegan Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies.
Classic Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes (Gluten Free option)
- 1¼ cups gluten free flour can sub all-purpose if desired. This links to my favorite store bought gluten free flour blend that works best with all of my recipes, or see "Ingredients Needed" section for further info.
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- ¾ cup + 2 tbsp granulated sugar *if you want a sugar free option, this links to my favorite sweetener, you can substitute it 1:1 in place of regular granulated sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 cup non-dairy milk
- ¼ cup + 3 tbsp neutral oil
- 2 tbsp unsweetened applesauce optional. If you don't have any it's fine to leave out!
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
Chocolate Frosting Ingredients
- 1 cup vegan butter cold from the fridge
- 2½ cups powdered sugar *if you want a sugar free option, this links to my favorite powdered sweetener, you can substitute it 1:1 in place of regular powdered sugar
- 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2-4 tbsp non-dairy milk
- Preheat the oven to 350°F, and line a muffin pan with cupcake liners.
- Mix together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking power, and salt in a large bowl. Then add in the non-dairy milk, neutral oil, applesauce (if using it), and vanilla extract and mix until just combined. I like to add all the batter into a large measuring cup to help pour it evenly into the cupcake tin.
- Fill each cupcake liner evenly with the batter. They should fill around 3/4 of the way up.
- Bake at 350°F for 20-24 minutes. I find my sweet spot is 22/22.5 minutes. You want a toothpick inserted into the cupcake to come out with crumbs, but no wet batter.
- Remove the pan from the oven and let cool for 10-15 minutes in the pan before moving cupcakes to a cooling rack.
- While cooling, make the frosting by mixing the cold vegan butter, powdered sugar, cocoa powder and salt using a mixer of some sort. You will want to add the non-dairy milk towards the end depending on how your consistency comes out. I find 1-2 tbsp to work perfectly, but if your frosting is still too stiff, add some more milk. If it's too loose, add more powdered sugar.
- When the cupcakes are fully cooled, generously frost them.
- Eat and enjoy!
Total amount: 12 cupcakes
Serving size: 1 cupcake ** nutritional info does not include frostingPer serving amounts:
- Calories – 211
- Grams of fat – 9.7
- Grams of carbs – 28.6
- Grams of protein – 4.1