Love and Olive Oil

The Go-To Chocolate Cupcake

The Ultimate Vegan Chocolate Cupcake

If you pay attention to my cupcakes, you probably notice a lot of similarities from one recipe to the next. Why reinvent the wheel with each and every cupcake? I’ve baked a lot of cupcakes in the past few years, and slowly developed what I consider to be the ‘mother’ of all cupcake recipes. It’s my go-to recipe for any chocolate-derived cupcake, and simply by adapting the recipe a wee bit, adding or substituting an ingredient here and there, and pairing it with a different frosting, I create cupcakes like the Chocolate Amaretto Cupcakes, Dark Chocolate Creme de Menthe Cupcakes, or Double Shot Mocha Cupcakes (I have a similar tactic for vanilla-based cupcakes). It’s a vegan cupcake base – with no egg (perfect for those of you who love to lick the bowl) or dairy – and I think it’s absolutely divine. The coconut milk is the kicker. While you can’t taste any distinct coconut flavor in the final cake, the subtle nuttiness adds a depth of flavor that other milks just can’t reproduce. The fact that there is no butter or egg in the cake makes it light and airy, without any of the heaviness that plagues many traditional egg-based recipes. It is, if I do say so myself, the perfect cupcake.

Yet I realized I had never published just this recipe. Only the derivatives of it. I’ve posted something similar, dubbed Rich Chocolate Cupcakes, about a year and a half ago, of which this cupcake a direct descendant. Take those cupcakes, infused with the spirit of the Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes (both recipes originally came from the bible of vegan cupcake baking, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World), and some good ol’ trial and error, and you have yourselves a hybrid cupcake that can be adapted in just about any way imaginable.

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Buttercream

And while I admit I have focused on thinking up new and interesting flavors, you should not underestimate the power of the chocolate cupcake. All by itself, no bells or whistles. Just chocolate. Topped with buttercream in its purest form. That’s all you really need. Even better? Make them mini (as pictured). Though, you have to watch yourself or you’ll have popped three of them without even blinking.

Go-To Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Buttercream

Makes 12 cupcakes (or 48 mini cupcakes).

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1 cup coconut milk
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons almond meal
1/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

For Frosting:
1/2 cup butter or margarine, room temperature
2-3 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons soy creamer or heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin pan with paper liners.

Whisk together the coconut milk, sugar, oil, and vanilla extract until incorporated. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, almond meal, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center of dry ingredients and pour in coconut milk mixture. Stir until just smooth (do not overmix).

Pour into liners, filling each with 3 tablespoons of batter (cups should be no more than 2/3 full). For mini cupcakes, fill each with 1 tablespoon batter. Bake 18-20 minutes (or 10-12 for minis), or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely.

For frosting, cream butter until smooth and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add 1 cup powdered sugar and beat until combined. Mix in vanilla and cream. Continue adding sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition (depending on the temperature of your butter, you may need more or less sugar/cream to achieve the proper consistency). Continue beating until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Spread or pipe onto cooled cupcakes.

All images and text © / Love & Olive Oil

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  1. Can these be made the day before and still be just as fresh the next day?

    • They won’t be just as fresh, but they should still be good a day later. Keep them in an airtight container so they don’t dry out too much. Also: for more than 1 day, the unfrosted cupcakes freeze nicely. :)

  2. Is the coconut milk the same as the stuff in a can I use when I make curry or is it a different type of coconut milk?  Do you use the full fat version?
    Thanks- I’m making cupcakes for my daughter’s 7th birthday and one of her friends is allergic to dairy and eggs so these are perfect!

    • Yep, canned is what I use, both full fat and light should work. I know they sell cartons of it now but I haven’t tried this recipe with that.

  3. Do you use the coconut milk that comes in a can and you cook with, or the coconut milk that you can drink?

  4. I discovered the joys of using coconut milk in vegan baking long ago. I was trying to convert the CakeLove recipe to dairy free. It calls for half and half and I figured that coconut milk would be a good thing to try, and it was! It gives a great moistness and richness. I am excited to try these cupcakes. I have to bake gluten free too, and I usually just sub out the all purpose flour with a pre made all purpose gf flour blend. So recipes that have other flavors like almond flour, or extracts, etc usually help to make up for a sometimes weird taste from the gluten free flour. This one looks great.

  5. Hi. These look awesome. I must be overlooking something as I did not see the measurement for the cocoa powder listed in the recipe. Do u mind posting it?

  6. Wow, These cupcakes are heavenly. Rich chocolate taste, light and airy. I live at 6300′ and made the recipe pretty much as written. They turned out great…I highly recommend this recipe.

  7. I made these cupcakes for a vegan barbeque I attended. The only thing I changed was using pecan meal instead of almond meal (it’s all I had). They were phenomenal! I mean crazy delicious! Better than any other vegan cupcake I have ever had! Thank you a million times over for the recipe! :)

  8. Wow. I am new to baking and made these last night for a little post Christmas treat. My whole family oohed and awed over these delicious cupcakes. I put just a little dollop of frosting on the top, only to have my whole family requesting for more!

  9. I made these last night and although they were really light and fluffy, I think they were too light that it fell apart when I bit into it. I waited at least an hour to let them cool so that couldn’t be it. I didn’t sift the dry ingredients together but instead whisk them all in a bowl. Could that have been it?

  10. I made these last night and was surprised how moist they were, despite having no butter/eggs. I couldn’t taste the coconut in the coconut milk at all. My siblings and coworkers were all surprised to hear that they were vegan, ’cause if I didn’t tell them they wouldn’t have known. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful recipe. I love your site and pictures. -TMB-

  11. I just made these for Easter dinner tomorrow. (My best friend is a vegan) They are absolutely divine. I don’t think I’m going to tell the rest of my family that they’re vegan. We’ll see how they react. :) Thanks for the great recipe!!

  12. Thanks for the update, Melanie! That is fabulous to know the gluten-free substitution worked beautifully! I’m sure all the GF folks who have been oogling these cupcakes will appreciate it very much. :)

  13. I just made a gluten free variation of these (substituted the one cup floor for one cup of bob’s red mill gluten free all purpose baking flour) and they came out great! i also didn’t have any soy creamer (not only will there be celiacs but also vegans at the birthday dinner i’m going to tonight), so i substituted 2 tbs of the coconut milk in the frosting. yum!! great site!

  14. Amy – feel free to substitute another nut meal (hazlenuts would be delicious) nut flour, or finely ground nut. Or if you can’t have any nuts, try simply whole wheat flour. It’ll give a bit of the same texture as the almond meal, although won’t add anything to the flavor.

  15. I am allergic to Almonds. What can I use to substitute it?

  16. What will removing the Almond meal do to the final taste?

  17. Wow, Ashley! Twice in two days is impressive, and definitely says a lot about these cupcakes! :) So glad you enjoy them.

    As far as using this recipe for cake, you can try, but I doubt it’ll rise properly. There isn’t enough ‘structure’ to the batter (because of no egg) to support itself in anything larger than a cupcake. It’d probably still taste great, just might fall a bit flat. But it never hurts to try (and please let me know how it turns out if you do.)

  18. I’ve made these twice in two days!! Lovely cupcakes! Moist yet crumbly, fluffy, yet not dense. If not for the coconut milk they would be made witg stuff I always have stocked up!!! Heck, I’m going to have to stock on it since it’s my new go to chocolate cupcake recipe!!! Would this also work for chocolate cake? Or is it too crumbly without the egg? I’m going try to make these gluten free soon!

  19. LOVELY photo!

    Carli from Velveeta Ain’t Food

  20. Love the way you piped the frosting. These look awesome!

  21. This is a nice recipe! They turn out nice and light not too dense like so many cupcakes do. Your photos are very nice!

  22. So I did make these and they turned out great, and dead easy too! Thanks again!

  23. What fabulous cupcakes!

  24. Thank you for this! I would also love to see your basic vanilla cupcake recipe–it sounds amazing!

  25. Damn I wish I could cook.

  26. Amazing!

    I haven’t baked in a little while so had a real hankering to make some cupcakes, the thing I like making most of all. I thought I’d like to make some chocolate ones as I don’t have a good recipe, so I thought, “I know, Love and Olive oil always has such lovely cupcake recipes” and bingo! On the front page!

    Thanks for this (and all your other fabulous recipes), they look gorgeous and I will definitely be making these tonight. People at work will be pleased tomorrow :D

  27. I agree, sometimes you just bake enough variations of something and figure out you had the right one already, or can piece the right one together. your cupcakes look adorable :)

  28. This looks great! I’ve been meaning to try coconut milk (in your Hot Chocolate Cupcake recipe, as a matter of fact.) Thanks for explaining that it doesn’t have a strong coconut flavor. Half of my family loves coconut, and the other half strongly dislikes it.

    I love the new header on your site – the color is perfect! Please keep the cupcake recipes coming. Good luck in the Foodbuzz awards.

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