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a chocolate orange cupcake on a plate with orange slices scattered around it

Chocolate Orange Cupcakes

These chocolate orange cupcakes are soft, fluffy, and full of natural orange flavor, and topped with a decadent fudgy chocolate orange buttercream.
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time 25 mins
Bake 15 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 15 cupcakes
Calories 320 kcal



Chocolate Orange Cupcakes

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (125 g)
  • cup unsweetened cocoa powder (33 g)
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (200 g)
  • cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 2 egg whites
  • ½ cup milk (regular or vegan) (120 ml)
  • 2 tbsp orange zest (around 2 medium oranges)
  • 2 tbsp orange juice

Chocolate Orange Buttercream

  • ¾ cup butter (regular or vegan), softened
  • ¼ cup + 2 tbsp vegetable shortening
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (75 g)
  • 2½-2¾ cup powdered sugar (312 g) SEE NOTES
  • ¾ tsp vanilla extract
  • tbsp orange zest
  • ½ tbsp orange juice
  • ½-1 tbsp milk (regular or vegan), if needed* SEE NOTES

Chocolate Drizzle (optional)


Chocolate Orange Cupcakes

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a cupcake/muffin tin with 12 liners. Line a second one with 3 more and set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and baking soda and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the oil and granulated sugar. Whisk in the egg, egg whites, vanilla extract, orange zest, orange juice, then add milk.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing until they are just combined.
  • Pour the batter into the cupcake liners, filling ⅔ full (NOT to the top, or the batter will spill over!).
  • Bake for 12-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Leave them in the pan for 5 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Chocolate Orange Buttercream

  • In the bowl of a standing mixer or handheld mixer, beat butter and vegetable shortening together. Add in the orange zest and orange juice.
  • Add in the powdered sugar, ½ cup at a time. Start with 2½ cups, then add in the cocoa powder. If the buttercream is too thin, you can add in more powdered sugar. If it's too thick, add in ½ tbsp of milk or orange juice until desired consistency is reached.
  • Decorate the cooled cupcakes however you'd like! I added a chocolate drizzle over the buttercream, sprinkled them with orange zest, then added a slice of orange. To make the chocolate drizzle, melt ½ cup of semisweet or dark chocolate chips with 1½ tsp of coconut oil (or other oil) in the microwave for 30 seconds, stirring after 15 seconds.


POWDERED SUGAR: When making the buttercream, start with 2 ½ cups of powdered sugar. Only once you've added in the cocoa powder, add in more powdered sugar if the buttercream is too thin. 
MILK: For the buttercream, you can add in ½ tbsp to 1 tbsp if the buttercream is too thick. The cocoa powder thickens the buttercream quite a bit, so it is naturally thicker, but you can add the milk a little at a time until you've reached your desired consistency.
ORANGE EXTRACT: This recipe doesn't have any orange extract, but gets a ton of orange flavor from orange zest and orange juice. If you don't have enough oranges for the amount of zest required, or if you want a really strong orange flavor, add ¼ - ½ tsp of orange zest into the cupcakes.
VEGETABLE SHORTENING: Vegetable shortening helps the buttercream to hold its shape at room temperature. It can be replaced at 1:1 ratio with more butter.
MEASURING FLOUR: Please, please, please properly measure your flour and cocoa powder using either a kitchen scale or using the scoop and level method
Storage and Freezing Instructions: The frosted cupcakes should be covered and stored at room temperature for 3-4 days, but will be freshest the day it's assembled. They can be frozen for up to 2 months (unfrosted) in a freezer safe ziploc bag, then thawed at room temperature.
The buttercream can be made a few days in advance and stored covered in a container in the fridge. Let it soften a bit at room temperature when you're ready to use it and then you can give it a stir or add in a little bit of milk if it's still too thick.
Leftover buttercream can be frozen in an airtight container for around 2 months. When ready to use, just thaw it in the fridge and re-whip it.


Calories: 320kcal
Keyword Chocolate, Cupcakes, Dairy Free
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