This is the best vegan chocolate cupcakes recipe ever! They're perfectly chocolate-y, delicious, and moist, topped with an easy homemade vegan chocolate frosting. And they can be ready in less than 30 minutes!
Why this recipe works
You'd never guess these chocolate cupcakes are vegan. They are a classic chocolate cupcake, incredibly moist and delicious! And they're a crowd-pleaser, so if you need a vegan chocolate cupcake for your next party or event, this is it!
First off, I love that this vegan chocolate cupcake recipe can be made in one bowl for easy clean-up. No need for a separate bowl!
These cupcakes are also gluten-free, made with rolled oats similar to my popular Vegan Carrot Cake recipe. These can also be made with all-purpose flour or all-purpose gluten-free flour (see recipe notes for details on this!).
I promise you won't be able to tell that they're gluten free—they're that good! These chocolate vegan cupcakes really are the best and can be enjoyed by everyone! Chocolate lovers will not be disappointed!
You only need simple ingredients that you probably already have on hand! Exact measurements are available in the recipe card found at the bottom of the post.
For the vegan chocolate cupcakes:
Rolled oats—I used this as my gluten-free substitute. An all-purpose flour or all-purpose gluten-free flour works too (see recipe notes for details).
Coconut sugar—or any granulated sweetener you prefer. Find more sugar options in this coconut sugar substitute article.
Cocoa powder—for the chocolate flavor. Either Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder or regular works. Dutch Processed will be less bitter.
Unsweetened non-dairy milk—I used almond milk but soy milk or oat milk are also good options.
Unsweetened applesauce—this is the egg replacement. It also adds a touch of sweetness. For more egg alternatives check out these vegan egg substitutes.
For the chocolate frosting:
Cashews—this provides the creaminess and fat. The result is between a ganache and a chocolate buttercream frosting.
Canned coconut milk—Adds to the creaminess. Make sure to use canned and not coconut milk from a carton or it will be too thin.
How to make this vegan chocolate cupcake recipe
This step-by-step tutorial shows the process of making these vegan chocolate cupcakes. Scroll down to the recipe card for a printable version below.
1) Start by preheating the oven to 350°F (180°C) and line a cupcake/muffin tray with cupcake liners.
2) Next, prepare the gluten-free flour if using rolled oats. If using pre-made flour, skip this step. Blend the oats in a blender or food processor until a powder forms.
3) Transfer flour to a large bowl and add the dry ingredients including the coconut sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk well or sift if needed to remove lumps.
4) Next, add the wet ingredients and mix well. Use an electric mixer if you have one to mix well until smooth. Don't worry if it's a little grainy from the homemade oat flour.
5) Divide the batter evenly between liners (about ¾ full with batter). Tap the pan on the counter a few times (lift and tap down lightly) to remove any excess air bubbles before baking.
6) Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
7) Meanwhile, prepare the Chocolate Cashew Cream Frosting by adding all of the ingredients to a high-speed blender and processing until smooth.
8) When cupcakes are done, let them cool for a few minutes in the pan and then remove the cupcakes and transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool completely to room temperature. Once cooled, pipe on the frosting and sprinkle with grated vegan chocolate shavings.
You can either frost the cupcakes by piping or spreading the frosting on top. Enjoy!
For best results, make sure when grinding the oats into a powder that you reach as close to flour-like consistency as possible. This can take 5 minutes or more.
If using a pre-made oat flour or all-purpose gluten-free flour instead, keep in mind that the cupcake will rise more than pictured since those flours are typically finer and less dense than the coarser homemade oat flour.
Make sure not to over mix the batter. Stir until everything is just combined.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days if frosted or at room temperature for up to 5 days if unfrosted. This works great if you want to make them ahead of time. Just simply hold off frosting them until the day of!
You can also freeze the cupcakes, although this can change the texture after thawing. Store them in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months.
Frequently Asked Questions
You'll be pleased to find out that no one served these cupcakes could detect that they're vegan! However, using oats does change the texture a bit so detecting gluten-free is easier than detecting that it's vegan. Regardless, these gluten free chocolate cupcakes are a crowd pleaser!
Vegan cake is still cake, high in sugars and fats. Although I have tried to make this version healthier by omitting coconut oil or vegetable oil which are common ingredients in cakes and cupcakes. The Chocolate Cashew Cream Frosting is slightly healthier than vegan chocolate buttercream frosting by using less sweetener and no powdered sugar.
I am an advocate for a whole food plant based diet but I also believe in balance and these vegan chocolate cupcakes are just that! I like to indulge in these for special occasions.
Yes, this chocolate cupcake recipe can be used to make a chocolate cake instead. Use a 9-inch round cake pan and bake for 35-45 minutes. Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cake for wet batter. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing and place on a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.
More vegan dessert recipes
Best Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes (Gluten-Free!)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and line a cupcake/muffin tray with liners. Set aside.
- Blend the oats in a blender or food processor until a powder forms. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and add the coconut sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk well or sift if needed to remove lumps.1 ¾ cup rolled oats, ¾ cup coconut sugar, ½ cup cocoa powder unsweetened, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, ½ teaspoon salt
- Add the milk, applesauce, vinegar, vanilla and mix well. Use an electric mixer if you have one to mix well until smooth.1 ⅓ cup unsweetened non-dairy milk, ½ cup unsweetened applesauce, 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Divide the batter evenly between liners (about ¾ full with batter). Tap the pan on the counter a few times (lift and tap down slightly) to remove any excess air bubbles before baking.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Meanwhile, prepare the Chocolate Cashew Cream Frosting by adding all of the ingredients to a high-speed blender and processing until smooth.⅓ cup cocoa powder, ⅓ cup canned coconut milk, ¼ cup maple syrup, ½ teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 ½ cups raw cashews
- When cupcakes are done, let cool for a few minutes in the pan and then remove the cupcakes and transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
- Once your cupcakes are cooled, pipe on the frosting. Frost the cupcakes by piping or spreading the frosting on top. Enjoy!