Dairy Free Chocolate Cupcakes

Five dairy free chocolate cupcakes topped with frosting on a cupcake stand.

Satisfy any chocolate craving with these delicious dairy free chocolate cupcakes! Perfect for birthday parties or other celebrations. These cupcakes are tender with the perfect crumb and full of rich cocoa flavor. Top with the homemade peanut butter frosting included in the recipe, or any frosting of your choice!

Ingredient Notes

Here’s a photo of all the ingredients you’ll need for the chocolate cupcakes themselves, along with a few helpful ingredient notes:

All of the ingredients for chocolate cupcakes laid out on a table.
  • Dairy-free milk – The best options for these cupcakes are oat milk or almond milk, as I find they create the best texture. Almost any dairy-free milk option will do, but I don’t recommend using full-fat canned coconut milk (it can throw off the flavor of the recipe).
  • Vegetable oil – This neutral oil works well for baking. Other options include avocado oil or canola oil (if you cannot use vegetable oil, which contains soy). A light flavored olive oil can also work, though it tends to give a bit of “fruitiness” to the batter.

As far as frosting goes, I’m ob-sessed with this dairy free peanut butter frosting. If you want to make it, the ingredients are pictured below (but feel free to use another frosting flavor if you prefer!).

All of the ingredients for the frosting laid out on a table.


You’ll find the full recipe amounts and instructions in the recipe card below, but here’s a helpful overview with photos and tips.

Start by preheating your oven, and either greasing or adding paper liners to a cupcake tin.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the dairy free milk with the vinegar. Let it sit for a few minutes to create a dairy free “buttermilk” (it might start to separate a bit; this is normal).

Milk and vinegar mixed together in a bowl.

Add the oil, brown sugar, sugar, vanilla, and egg to the bowl with the milk mixture. Whisk until well combined.

Milk, vinegar, eggs, sugar, brown sugar and oil mixed together in a bowl.

In another bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.

Flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt stirred together in a bowl.

Add the dry ingredient to the wet ingredients, stirring a few times, then pouring in the hot water and stir again a few times until combined.

Chocolate cake batter in a bowl.

Portion the batter into the cupcake tin and bake ‘em for about 20 minutes. Be careful not to overfill the cupcake tins or you’ll have a few flow over the edge a la the photo below in the middle. 😉

Just baked dairy free chocolate cupcakes in a cupcake tin.

When they’re done, let them cool in the pan for a few minutes, then remove to a cooling rack to continue cooling.

As they cool, you can make the peanut butter frosting. Combine the softened dairy-free butter, peanut butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and a little dairy-free milk in a mixing bowl. Use a stand mixer or hand mixer to whisk together until super light and fluffy. It usually takes a minute or two to achieve this texture. (If you need to, add another splash of dairy-free milk to get the right consistency.

Dairy free peanut butter frosting in a stand mixer.

After your cupcakes are fully cooled, you can spread the frosting on or pipe it on, and enjoy! Note that the frosting proportions included in the recipe card are enough for spreading on; if you’re piping big swirls onto the cupcakes, you may want to double the batch.

A close up of a dairy free chocolate cupcake topped with peanut butter frosting.

Recipe FAQ

Here are some common questions that may come up as you’re preparing this recipe:

How should you store dairy free chocolate cupcakes?

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days. If keeping longer, freeze the cupcakes.

Can you freeze dairy free vanilla cupcakes?

Yes, you can freeze the unfrosted cupcakes. Use within 2-3 months for best quality. When ready to enjoy, you can leave on the counter until thawed, or pop briefly in the microwave. Frost as desired after thawing.

Why are my cupcakes dry?

If your cupcakes are dry, you may have packed your flour and cocoa powder into the measuring cup. For best results, spoon and level the flour and cocoa powder.

Other Frosting Options

If you don’t want to use the peanut butter frosting included, here are some other frosting options:

Or you can always use a storebought frosting to save time. Surprisingly, many are dairy free! Just be sure to check the labels.

Allergens in this Recipe

Disclaimer:  Always double check ingredients and labels yourself prior to making a recipe.  While I try to check all ingredients for allergens, there’s always the chance I may miss something, or manufacturer formulations can change.

As written, this recipe is dairy free.

This recipe does contain wheat/gluten (flour in the batter), eggs (an egg is used in the batter), and peanuts (peanut butter in the frosting).

If you want to make a gluten-free/wheat-free version, you should be able to substitute 1 for 1 with a gluten-free all purpose flour (be sure it includes xantham gum in the blend).

I don’t recommend substituting the eggs in this particular recipe as they’re very helpful for the structure. If you do try to make an egg-free version, feel free to let us know how it goes in the comments.

This recipe also contains soy in the vegetable oil (used in the batter). While highly refined soy oil is exempt from soy allergen labeling, I do mention it here as those with soy allergies may wish to avoid that. In that case, I recommend using canola oil or avocado oil. Also, be sure your dairy-free butter and dairy-free milk are soy free if needed.

This recipe may contain tree nuts, depending on product selections for dairy-free butter and dairy-free milk. You can easily select choices that fit your needs, like choosing oat milk instead of almond milk, for example.

A dairy free chocolate cupcake with the liner peeled down on a white plate.

More Dairy Free Cakes and Cupcakes

Craving more sweet treats? Be sure to check out these recipes:

I hope you enjoy these dairy free chocolate cupcakes! We quickly devour every batch in our house. If you get a chance to try them, feel free to leave a recipe rating or comment below.

Dairy Free Chocolate Cupcakes

Satisfy any chocolate craving by whipping up a batch of these delectable dairy-free chocolate cupcakes!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting, dairy free chocolate cupcakes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 12 cupcakes
Calories 425 kcal
Author Dairy Free for Baby


For the cupcakes:

  • cup non-dairy milk (recommend oat milk or almond milk)
  • ½ tbsp distilled vinegar
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup hot water

For the frosting (optional; see notes*):

  • ½ cup dairy-free butter, softened (i.e. 1 stick; recommend Country Crock plant butter sticks with avocado oil)
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar (can add extra to taste)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 to 3 tbsp non-dairy milk (enough to achieve preferred consistency)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cupcake tin with cupcake liners (or grease the tin).
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine the non-dairy milk and vinegar. Let sit for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the oil, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, and egg. Mix until well combined.

  4. In another bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Stir a few times, then add the hot water and mix again until well combined.
  6. Portion the batter into the cupcake tin. Bake at 350 degrees for 18 to 21 minutes, or until a toothpick pulls clean from the center. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove and allow to finish cooling on a cooling rack.
  7. While cupcakes are cooling, prepare the frosting (or simply use store-bought frosting of your choice). In a large bowl, combine the softened dairy-free butter, peanut butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and 1 tablespoon of non-dairy milk. Beat using the whisk attachment on a stand mixer or hand mixer until light and fluffy. Add additional non-dairy milk if needed to reach the preferred consistency.

  8. When cupcakes are completely cooled, frost the cupcakes and enjoy.

Recipe Notes

  • *The frosting proportions here are generally enough for a light layer of frosting on each cupcakes. If piping large swirls on your cupcakes, you may need to double the batch size of the frosting.
  • Feel free to use a storebought frosting or another flavor of homemade frosting if you prefer.
  • Butter must be softened – not melted, not straight from the fridge – for the frosting, otherwise you will not achieve the desired texture.


Nutrition analysis for cupcake with peanut butter frosting (approximate): 425 calories, 23 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 260 mg sodium, 52.5 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 39.5 g sugar, 5 g protein, Vitamin D: 1%, Calcium: 3%, Iron: 7%, Potassium: 3%

Nutrition analysis for cupcake alone (approximate): 235 calories, 10 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 140 mg sodium, 35 g carbohydrate, 1.5 g fiber, 23.5 g sugar, 2.5 g protein, Vitamin D: 1%, Calcium: 2%, Iron: 6%, Potassium: 2%

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A dairy free chocolate cupcake on a plate with the liner peeled off.

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