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These Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes are moist, rich, and incredibly decadent! Paired together with a silky-smooth chocolate frosting, they are a chocolate lover's dream come true.
These classic Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes are a crowd pleaser and are seriously addictive! Fluffy, tender, and perfectly sweetened, no one will guess that they are vegan.
Plus, they are easy to make and only require pantry staples that you might already have on hand.
Table of contents
Ingredients, notes, and substitutions
️🌟 This is a quick overview with step-by-step photos. For the complete ingredient amounts and instructions, scroll down to the recipe card below.
- Soy Milk – it yields a consistency that is very similar to dairy buttermilk when an acid is added. If you can't have soy, you can use any non-dairy milk. It won't thicken or curdle much, but that's ok and the recipe will still work.
- Apple Cider Vinegar – Lemon juice can be used instead.
- Granulated Sugar – To keep these chocolate cupcakes vegan, use organic or unrefined sugar. Non-organic or refined sugar might be filtered using bone char.
- Canola Oil – Any other neutral-tasting oil like sunflower seed or avocado oil will work, too. You can use coconut oil, but make sure it's measured in its liquid state. Also, it's imperative that all the ingredients are room temp or the oil will solidify when mixing.
- Dutch Process Cocoa Powder - It provides an intense dark chocolate flavor that is just heavenly. However, you can also use regular cocoa powder if you want and it'll still turn out chocolatey and delicious!
How to make Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes
The batter will come together in just 4 easy steps. This is how it's done:
- In a mixing bowl, combine the soy milk and apple cider vinegar to make vegan buttermilk. Let it rest for 10 minutes until it has thickened and curdled.
- Whisk the buttermilk with the oil, applesauce, sugar, and vanilla.
- In a separate mixing bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to combine.
- Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and whisk until just combined. Fill each cupcake liner about ⅔ of the way full. Bake for 20-24 minutes.
Helpful baking tips
These vegan chocolate cupcakes will come out perfect every time as long as you follow the recipe very closely. Any small changes can alter the results. Here are some helpful tips for a successful experience.
- For best results, avoid scooping flour directly from the container using a measuring cup. Instead, use a spoon to scoop flour into the measuring cup, then level excess off using a butter knife. Avoid packing or tapping flour into the cup.
- Do not omit the apple cider vinegar. It helps to curdle soy milk to make vegan buttermilk and also reacts with baking soda to aid the rise of cupcakes. As mentioned above, lemon juice can be used in its place.
- Be careful not to overmix the batter. The longer you mix it, the more the gluten will develop, resulting in dense and chewy cupcakes.
- Avoid overfilling liners to prevent the batter from spilling over while baking. Fill each hole to no more than ⅔ of the way full.
- Let cupcakes cool down for at least 30 minutes before frosting them. If your cupcakes are still warm, the frosting might melt and slip off.
If you would like to learn even more baking tips, here is a great article with 10 Tips for Baking the Best Cupcakes.
Although these vegan chocolate cupcakes are best enjoyed fresh, they store well and can even be frozen.
- Room temperature – Unfrosted cupcakes will stay good at room temp. for 2-3 days in an airtight container. To prevent excess moisture, place a layer of paper towel on the bottom of the container, and another layer on the cupcakes before placing the lid on.
- Frosted - although they can stay outside for quite a while, the frosting might soften if the weather is too warm. I recommend that you store decorated cupcakes in the fridge and take them out about an hour before serving.
- Fridge – Both frosted and unfrosted cupcakes can be refrigerated for 3-5 days in an airtight container.
- Freezer – they can be frozen for up to 3 months. For cupcakes without frosting, wrap them individually in wax paper and place them in an airtight container or Ziploc. For frosted cupcakes, place them on a tray and place them in the freezer, uncovered for at least an hour, or until the frosting has frozen. Then wrap them and store them the same way as the unfrosted cupcakes.
More Cupcake Recipes to try
Want more recipes like this one? Here are some reader favorites to try out:
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Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes
- 1 cup soy milk (see note)
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (sub lemon juice)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup grapeseed oil , or any neutral flavored oil
- ¼ cup applesauce
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour (*see note about measuring)
- ½ cup dutch processed cocoa powder (sub unsweetened cocoa powder)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1 batch Vegan Chocolate Frosting (see notes for alternative options)
- Cupcake Liners
- 2 Mixing Bowls
- Preheat your oven to 350 °F (177 °C). Fill a 12-Slot Cupcake Pan with cupcake liners.
- In a medium Mixing Bowl, add the soy milk and apple cider vinegar. Combine and let it sit for 10 minutes to create vegan buttermilk. It will thicken and curdle slightly. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl with a Mesh Strainer on top (or use a Flour Sifter), sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Now whisk to combine well. Set aside.
- In the medium bowl with the buttermilk, add the oil, applesauce, sugar, and vanilla. Whisk to combine well.
- Now slowly pour the wet ingredients into the large bowl of dry ingredients. Whisk together until just combined. Small lumps are fine. (*Don't over mix or it can create a dense and chewy cupcake)
- Divide batter evenly into each slot about ⅔ full (an ice cream scoop works great for this). Bake them in the oven for 20-24 minutes. To check for doneness, lightly press the surface - It should spring back (You can also use a toothpick and push it through the center - it should come out clean).
- Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing. Then let them cool on a rack for at least 30 minutes before frosting.
- Soy Milk - it yields a consistency that is very similar to dairy buttermilk when an acid is added. If you can't have soy, you can use any non-dairy milk. It won't thicken much, but that's ok and the recipe will still work.
- Measuring Flour - don’t scoop the flour with a measuring cup directly from the container. Instead, Aerate the flour first, then scoop it out of your container with a spoon and then into a measuring cup. Don’t pack or tap the cup. After filling, lightly sweep a butter knife across the top to remove the excess flour.
- Use room-temperature ingredients for the best results. If some are cold, leave them out while you pre-heat the oven and prep. At least 20 minutes.
- It's important to maintain the right oven temperature for successful results. An oven thermometer is the best way to detect the accuracy of your oven.
- Frosting - these cupcakes will also go well with my Vegan Buttercream Frosting or Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting.
- Yields 12 cupcakes
- Nutritional info doesn't include the frosting. This will vary depending on which one you choose.