Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes

Vegan chocolate cupcakes with white frosting

The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Total: 30 mins
Servings: 12 servings
Yield: 12 cupcakes
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
359 Calories
18g Fat
48g Carbs
3g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving
Calories 359
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 18g 23%
Saturated Fat 6g 29%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 246mg 11%
Total Carbohydrate 48g 17%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Total Sugars 33g
Protein 3g
Vitamin C 0mg 1%
Calcium 8mg 1%
Iron 3mg 14%
Potassium 115mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

You'd never guess these moist, chocolatey cupcakes are vegan. They're as fluffy and light as a cupcake can dream of being, yet they contain no dairy or eggs. They're the perfect choice when looking to accommodate vegans for dessert without everyone else feeling like their dessert was different than a standard cupcake.

The secret to the texture is the combination of apple cider vinegar and baking soda, which provides lift without any egg replacer necessary. If you remember grade school science projects and how students used to create a "volcano" by combining baking soda and vinegar, then you'll understand why that combo is so powerful.

What's even better is how easy these cupcakes are to make. Put away that mixer, because you need only a mixing bowl and about 10 minutes to prep. From there, it's just a few minutes to pour the batter into cupcake tins, bake, and they're ready to eat. We love serving them with vegan chocolate, vanilla frosting, or even a simple vegan whipped cream.

"These vegan chocolate cupcakes were excellent. They rose well in the oven and stayed moist, and they were extremely easy to make. There was no need for an electric mixer or unusual ingredients, and all the mixing was done in one bowl with a whisk. Delicious!" —Diana Rattray

vegan chocolate cupcakes/tester image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

  • 1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk, such as coconut milk

  • 1/2 cup canola or olive oil

  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

  • Vegan frosting

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Vegan chocolate cupcake ingredients in bowls

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  2. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 350 F. Line 12 cups in a muffin or cupcake pan with liners.

    Lined muffin tin

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt until smooth.

    Flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  4. Add the non-dairy milk, oil, and vanilla. Mix well until smooth. Fold the apple cider vinegar into the mixture with a rubber spatula.

    Vegan cupcake batter in a glass bowl with a spatula

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  5. Portion the batter into the prepared cupcake tins, filling each about two-thirds to three-quarters full.

    Vegan chocolate cupcake batter in lined cupcake tins

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  6. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the centers of the cupcakes comes out clean, about 20 minutes.

    Baked vegan chocolate cupcakes in cupcake tins

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  7. Allow cupcakes to cool completely on a wire cooling rack. Top with frosting before serving.

    Vegan chocolate cupcakes on a cooling rack with white frosting, next to a piping bag

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

Recipe Tips

  • The apple cider vinegar here is key. Do not whisk it in and do not let the batter sit. You want as much of the reaction between vinegar and baking soda to take place in the oven, creating lift and aeration in the crumb.
  • Unless your flour and cocoa powder are old or otherwise lumpy, you don't need to sift them first. A quick whisk should break up any tiny lumps.
  • Be sure not to overfill your cupcake liners because these will rise. Three-quarters full is the max you want to go to.

Recipe Variations

Love this recipe and want to make it bigger or smaller?

  • The quantity of batter this recipe yields will fill a 9-inch cake round pan. Bake at 375 F for 28 to 30 minutes.
  • To make a standard-size birthday cake, double the recipe and bake it in 2 (9-inch) cake pans. Let the cake cool for at least 10 minutes before removing from the pan, then let cool completely before frosting.
  • If you want to head in the opposite direction and make mini cupcakes, this recipe will make 24 half-sized cupcakes.

Flavors

  • Mocha: Substitute the non-dairy milk for 1 cup of brewed coffee. For for just a hint of mocha flavor, substitute 1 teaspoon of the vanilla extract for 1 teaspoon coffee extract.
  • Blackout chocolate cupcakes: Use Dutch-processed cocoa powder or "black cocoa" instead of natural-processed.
  • In lieu of frosting, you can top cupcakes with a dairy free chocolate glaze instead.

How to Store and Freeze

  • Store any leftover cupcakes in a tightly-sealed container at room temperature. These cupcakes do not need to be refrigerated.
  • They will stay moist and fluffy for up to 3 days. If you have a cupcake carrier you can store them in, that's the ideal choice.
  • If you frosted the cupcakes with a more delicate finish, then you should store them in the fridge. They will keep in the fridge for at least 1 week.
  • To freeze unfrosted, cooled cupcakes, place them on a baking sheet or tray and put them in the freezer. When frozen solid, transfer them to an airtight container, separated by sheets of wax paper. Freeze for up to 3 months.

What kinds of cake can vegans eat?

Vegans can eat any cake that does not contain dairy or eggs. Making a cake vegan with plant-based butter and a cup-for-cup egg replacer will work for recipes that don't rely heavily on those ingredients. You should avoid trying to veganize cakes that do, such as sponge or angel food.