Love and Olive Oil

Buttermilk Chocolate Chip Crumb Cupcakes

Buttermilk Chocolate Chip Crumb Cupcakes

Can you believe it’s been a year and a half since I’ve made a cupcake?

That’s just not right.

I almost called these muffins, because, well, cupcakes without frosting are basically muffins, right? And you could argue that these are completely acceptable to eat for breakfast. I won’t judge.

But they are cake, truly, through and through.

Buttermilk Chocolate Chip Crumb Cupcakes

Further proof that a cupcake doesn’t need a mile-high mound of frosting to be delicious, a simple dusting of powdered sugar is more than satisfying.

Buttermilk Chocolate Chip Crumb Cupcakes

The texture is maybe the most striking part of these cupcakes, incredibly light and delicate with a crunchy, buttery crumb topping. That with the perfect smattering of miniature chocolate chips and a snowy white dusting of powdered sugar, you don’t even notice the lack of frosting.

Cupcake perfection.

Buttermilk Chocolate Chip Crumb Cupcakes

The recipe was inspired by a cake on pinterest, the original source of which took some serious sleuth-work to uncover (thank you, Google Images!) Converting it into cupcakes required a bit more scientific experimentation, but the result is well worth the effort.

Buttermilk Chocolate Chip Crumb Cupcakes

Despite the perfection inside, they are far from perfect in appearance. Weighted down by the crumb topping, they rise flat and even, not domed like most cupcakes, so be sure you do not overfill them. Overflow or not, the sumptuous texture of these cupcakes will make you forget their rustic appearance (rustic is basically a hipster term for ugly anyway, right?)

Buttermilk Chocolate Chip Crumb Cupcakes

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For Crumb Topping:

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cold butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For Cupcakes:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips, divided
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • powdered sugar, for topping


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with paper cupcake liners.
  2. To prepare topping, in a large bowl, whisk together flour and sugar. Add butter, and using two a pastry cutter or two knives, cut the butter into the flour until it forms pea-sized chunks. Sprinkle vanilla extract over top and continue to cut to combine. You can use your hands if needed to incorporate any remaining dry flour until it comes together into moist, clumpy lumps. If the topping gets too dough-like, sprinkle over a tablespoon and break up the topping into chunks. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. To prepare cupcakes, whisk together flour, cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Spoon 1-2 tablespoons of flour mixture into a small bowl; toss with 1/2 cup of chocolate chips until evenly coated.
  4. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in vanilla, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  5. Slowly add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with 2 additions of the buttermilk, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.
  6. Fold in flour-coated chocolate chips.
  7. Divide batter into cupcake liners, about 3 tablespoons per cupcake (a large cookie scoop, slightly underfilled, is the perfect amount of batter). You want each liner just over half full (do not overfill, these cupcakes are delicate and so you want to fill them less than you normally would).
  8. Generously sprinkle the crumb topping evenly over each cupcake, breaking up any large chunks.
  9. Bake cupcakes for 13 to 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  10. Remove from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips over top of cupcakes. Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  11. Just before serving, sprinkle generously with powdered sugar. Cupcakes are best the day they are made, but will keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Adapted from ChocolateChocolate via Piggy’s Cooking Journal.

All images and text © / Love & Olive Oil

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  1. So amazing! This is my favorite go to recipe for muffins! The texture and flavor are great.

  2. Hands down, these have to be the best damn cupcakes I have ever had. Just shared them on our blog and I hope I did them justice. Thanks for a stellar recipe!

  3. Could these be made in a mini loaf pan?

  4. Made these today and they were absolutely amazing! So yummy!!! Thanks! 

  5. I baked these yesterday for my birthday, and they sank in the middle and got hard. like crunchy cookies on top.  I wonder what when wrong.  It’s not the first time that I’ve had homemade cupcakes do this.  Nevertheless, they are DELICIOUS.

    • update: I gave it another whirl tonight, with the following changes:
      1) 1/4c buttermilk
      2) AP flour only
      3) baked on 350 (next time: 375)
      They turned out light and fluffy, instead of wet, and there was more rise.
      Both times, I used regular-size chocolate chips, but I forgot to toss them in flour this time, with no noticeable difference. 

  6. I took these to a party this weekend–awesome–everyone was raving about them. Thanks for the recipe.

  7. I think I said Holy Lord as I took the first bite…so delicious!  But, my crumb topping sank to the bottom :(  I think I will just leave it off next time.

  8. My crumbs completely disappeared into the cups cake.  What did I do wrong.?

    • The crumbs will “melt” somewhat into the top of the cupcake, but they still should give the top of the cupcake a nice crunchy layer.

  9. I just made these, they are WONDERFUL, even without the frosting. Had to let them bake longer – probably half an hour until slightly browned. The dough texture is just perfect, crunchy on the outside and moist (soft, not saggy) on the inside. Thank you for sharing this recipe!

  10. I finally made these & WOW! They certainly lived up to they’re expectations! I will be making these again for sure, my boys loved them.

  11. Hello Lindsay–
    I am a fellow food blogger who just loves your site and my new favorite recipe is this one for your Buttermilk Chocolate Chip Crumb Cupcakes!

    You posted this on my birthday and my daughter Carina and I fell in love with this as we too do eat frosting (find it way too sweet) but love the idea of a dusting of powdered sugar.

    Carina is a Junior in High School and would love your permission to bake these lovelies to sell for her current fundraising project to gain tuition for a trip to Europe this summer.

    We will, of course, share your blog site along with these cupcakes as we are also selling products from my blog site too (

    If you approve, please let us know… to find out more about Carina’s fundraising project visit her website and feel free to contact her directly of you wish:

    grazie tante and I look forward to your response and to future posts from you and your blog.

    Annette Venditti

  12. These cupcakes look delicious! I like the crumb topping idea instead of frosting or icing!

  13. Stunning pictures, especially the second one!! I’m honestly always happy to see “lighter” versions of cupcakes. Although I’m an absolute buttercream frosting fanatic some bakeries tend to over-do a tiny bit. I always hate when you can’t actually taste the cupcake because of all the frosting. And btw, these cupcakes are far away from being ugly!!

  14. These look great. Can you verify the amount of butter? The butter I buy is by the lb & each stick is a 1/4 cup. So for 1/2 a cup I would need two sticks, but you have one stick. Thanks, I can’t wait to make these.

    • Go by the cup measurement, as sticks aren’t always the same size. I think 1/2 cup sticks are pretty standard here in the US. I always include both cups and sticks in my recipes just in case. :)

  15. These look so amazing! They might just happened tomorrow if I have anything to do with it.

  16. Appearance is secondary when something tastes as good as these must. And that action photo of the sifting sugar = perfection.

  17. I am totally obsessed with cupcakes lately , these look awesome

  18. Holy. Freaking. Crap.

  19. These are so pretty, Lindsay!  I love that shot of the confectioner’s sugar being sprinkled over top.

  20. I would even say I like muffins better than cupcakes… those look delicious!

  21. my husband loved these at the pot luck!!!

  22. These are beautiful!! I will definitely eat these for breakfast :)

  23. These are beauties. Cupcake perfection :)

  24. Divine cupcakes. Love the stunning photography!

  25. This reminds me of an Entennmans cake I used to love! Definitely adding to my must-try list!

  26. Every word in your title sounded better and better so I kind of just stopped reading and started drooling at the pictures and then realized they were cupcakes not muffins. I wanted them to be muffins so I could eat one for breakfast. Maybe I’ll just keep telling myself they are muffins!

  27. Fabulous recipe, styling and photography, Lindsay! Really dig that motion shot and will be pinning it to my “motion” food photography board at Pinterest. Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe. I’ve had that very same recipe pinned to my secret Recipe Inspiration board, LOL. Pinning to all applicable group boards! xo

  28. Nope, it’s a muffin.  No frosting = muffin.  Totally making these for breakfast and eating them in the morning :)

  29. Love these! Where did the papers come from and how are they folded? I’d like to make these for work and the presentation is superb!

    • I thought they were pretty too so I researched and found them on Amazon. They are called “tulip baking cups”.   A beautiful presentation which appeals to the Pottery Barn 
      lover  in me! 

  30. Gorgeous photos!  These cupcakes sound amazing, even if they lack frosting :)

  31. These look amazing and I LOVE your mini sifter, But they’re totally muffins. :)

  32. Beautiful styling!! And I love that dusting of powdered sugar over mile-high frosting any day. Really :)

  33. STUNNING pictures. I’m not one for oodles of frosting on a cupcake anyway – Love this! 

  34. That crumb topping looks like heaven!

  35. These look so delicious – and your photos are wonderful!

  36. I went through about an 18 mo period where I posted no muffins or cupcakes either. I actually have not posted a true cupcake in a very long time…maybe 1 year now? I post muffins, many of which could be cupcakes, but I dont frost them. So then…it’s a muffin, right? I never know what to call them. Because my ‘muffins’ aren’t always the healthy things people think of. It’s cake :)  I love love the color and texture of yours! The center, the pale yellow, the fluffiness. Love buttermilk.  And the crunchy, buttery crumb topping. Heaven. Pinned.

  37. Those look delicious.  I love the idea of a frostingless cupcake.

  38. Love your photos today SO much! I had to immediately pin the one with the powdered sugar. 

  39. The ugliest food ALWAYS tastes the best!! Seriously in love with these cupcakes AND the photos!! Gorg!!

  40. These cupcakes sound perfect! Also, I LOVE the second picture in this post – gorgeous!

  41. I feel like I REALLY need to know where those cupcake liners are from, or what they are! These are some gorgeous little cakes.

  42. Lovely! Buttermilk in cakes is just magical, isn’t it? 

  43. Beautiful!  And I love your photo with the powdered sugar raining down!  :)

  44. These look so perfect, so light and fluffy and moist. All that cupcake should ever be.

  45. LOL yes, rustic is totally a fancy word for ugly :)  I love the idea of buttermilk in these, and that photo of the sugar dusting the top of the cupcake is gorgeous.  

  46. I’ve never used buttermilk in cupcakes. I really like the idea of powdered sugar versus icing for a change. These look so good! I really must try.

  47. These are so pretty and I love that there is no frosting. It highlights those awesome chocolate chips and the pretty sprinkling of powdered sugar!

  48. Cupcake perfection indeed! Don’t think I’ll miss the frosting at all – they look delicious :)

  49. No way! they are better with out the topping, you need to see those chips! That sugar crust is so creative too.

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