These chocolate banana cupcakes are moist and chocolatey filled with fresh banana puree topped with silky smooth banana buttercream frosting. They're just as delicious as banana bread or banana muffins but are super light and fluffy.
Chocolate banana is a common flavor combination for muffins, but have you ever tried chocolate banana cupcakes? These rich chocolate cupcakes are filled with fresh banana puree and frosted with a super creamy banana buttercream.
Don't be fooled- these cupcakes are nothing like muffins or banana bread, but they are a great way to use up your old browning bananas. Because the cake is made with buttermilk, they're ultra light, moist, and fluffy!
The banana frosting might be the best part of this recipe! It's smooth, creamy, and decadent with flavor from banana extract. Because it's paired with the fresh banana filling, it doesn't taste artificial at all!
You can make these cupcakes for any occasion, like birthday parties, picnics, bridal showers, or just as an after dinner treat. They come together in about 30 minutes with ingredients you probably already have in your pantry.
Here are some notes on the ingredients used. For quantities and full instructions, see the recipe card below.
Ingredients for the Cupcakes
- All purpose flour- I love using all purpose flour in chocolate cupcakes to make them a little more dense and hearty than vanilla cupcakes. Make sure to measure it correctly in grams with a kitchen scale.
- Granulated sugar- White sugar sweetens the cupcakes and helps the batter retain moisture.
- Cocoa powder- Use dutch-processed cocoa powder, which is a type of cocoa powder that is treated with alkali to reduce acidity. It has a darker, richer chocolate flavor and color than natural cocoa powder.
- Baking powder & baking soda- Using both of these leaveners creates a fluffy sponge that rises to perfection. Be careful not to mix up the quantities because baking soda is way stronger than baking powder!
- Salt- Finely ground salt is added so the cupcakes and frosting aren't cloyingly sweet. If your salt is coarse, add another ⅛ teaspoon.
- Egg & egg white- The yolk of a large egg adds more fat and binds the ingredients together while the whites make the cupcakes light, adding extra lift. Make sure these are at room temperature so they mix in evenly.
- Oil- A neutral tasting oil is the perfect fat to make the cupcakes super soft and spongey. You can use vegetable, grapeseed, avocado, or canola oil. I've tested this recipe with canola and vegetable oil and both turned out great!
- Buttermilk- Buttermilk is one of my favorite ingredients to use in cupcakes! It thins the batter and tenderizes the gluten, resulting in a pillowy soft cake!
- Vanilla extract- A little vanilla rounds out the flavor profile. Feel free to use vanilla bean paste instead.
- Brewed coffee- Adding hot coffee allows the cocoa powder to bloom, making the chocolate flavor even more intense. This adds a very small amount of caffeine, so use decaf coffee if you're sensitive to it. Don't worry, you can't taste the coffee at all.
- Banana- One mashed banana is used to fill the cupcakes. If possible, use a banana that is overripe with brown speckles or spots on the skin. The browner the bananas, the softer and sweeter they are. If you buy a bunch, use the leftovers to make chia seed banana bread or honey banana bread!
Ingredients for the Buttercream
- Butter- Use softened unsalted butter for the most flavor control. Make sure it softens for at least 30 minutes on the counter so it's easy to beat.
- Powdered sugar- This sweetens the frosting and adds structure. You don't have to sift it!
- Banana extract- Banana extract is a flavoring made from seeping bananas in alcohol to "extract" their natural flavor. I used McCormick banana extract but I recommend the brands OliveNation and Amoretti.
- Heavy cream- Use this to customize the consistency of the buttercream while keeping it rich and creamy.
- All purpose flour: If you want to make gluten free cupcakes, I recommend using Bob's Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten Free Baking Flour. I've tested gluten free flours from so many brands and this one is definitely my favorite!
- Buttermilk: Substitute plain kefir, plain Greek yogurt, or sour cream for buttermilk at a 1:1 ratio. You can also make your own buttermilk by whisking 1 cup whole milk with 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice. Let the it curdle for 10 minutes and it's ready to use!
- Coffee: You can use boiling water instead, but I highly recommend coffee to deepen the chocolate flavor.
- Heavy cream: You can use half and half or any type of milk instead, dairy or plant-based.
Helpful Equipment and Tools
- You need a 12-well cupcake tin lined with cupcake liners. I don't recommend glass pans since they conduct heat differently than metal, and I always use metal pans when testing my recipes. Don't use a silicone pan because the cupcakes will burn.
- Large mixing bowls are needed for combining the ingredients as well as a whisk and rubber spatula to mix with.
- For making buttercream, I recommend an electric hand mixer or a 5-quart stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. These instructions are specifically for a stand mixer but will work with a hand mixer too.
- To decorate the cupcakes, you need a piping bag and a large piping tip of your choice. I used a Wilton 1M!
Step by Step Instructions
Here's how to make chocolate banana cupcakes and banana buttercream! Before you start, preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C and line a 12-well cupcake pan with paper liners.
STEP 1: Add the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and a pinch of salt to a large mixing bowl. Give the ingredients a good stir until they're well combined.
STEP 2: Next, whisk the eggs, oil, buttermilk, and vanilla together in a separate bowl vigorously until smooth.
STEP 3: Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients using a rubber spatula. The batter will be lumpy at first, but keep folding until it's silky smooth and drips off the spatula in ribbons.
STEP 4: Pour in half of the hot coffee next and fold it in making figure-8 motions. Repeat with the rest of the coffee until a thin batter forms.
STEP 5: With a large cookie scoop or spoon, fill each cupcake liner ¾ full so they don't overflow. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean.
STEP 6: Remove the pan from the oven and let the cupcakes cool for 10 minutes before transferring them to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
STEP 7: While the cupcakes cool down, mash a large banana in a large bowl with a fork. It's ok if some lumps are left.
STEP 8: Once the cupcakes are mostly cool, use a cupcake corer, piping tip, or sharp knife to cut a hole in the middle of the cupcakes (about half way down) and toss the tops. Fill each cupcake with a teaspoon of banana puree.
STEP 9: Make the banana buttercream by beating softened butter on high in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for about 5 minutes until creamy.
STEP 10: Next, pour in half of the powdered sugar and mix on low for about 2 minutes. Then beat in the second half, the banana extract, and a pinch of salt until smooth and creamy. Add heavy cream to reach your desired consistency.
STEP 11: Prepare a piping bag with your favorite tip, fill it with frosting, and pipe a swirl on top of each cupcake. Enjoy!
Expert Baking Tips
- Use room temperature ingredients. Room temperature dairy ingredients mix more easily, creating a well blended, uniform batter.
- Use a kitchen scale. Weighing the ingredients in grams instead of using cup measurements is best for accuracy and consistent results. This is especially important for the flour because it's very easy to overmeasure! Metric measurements are in the recipe card below.
- Don't overmix the batter. Overmixing cupcakes makes them tough and gummy. Make sure to only mix the ingredients until they're just combined.
- Don't overbake. Check on the cupcakes a few minutes before the suggested baking time as oven temperatures can vary. They're done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or when the tops bounce back when pressed gently.
Additions and Variations
To take your chocolate banana cupcakes to the next level, consider adding:
- Chopped walnuts or pecans: Sprinkle some chopped nuts on top of the cupcake batter before baking for a delightful crunch and nutty flavor.
- Cinnamon: Add a pinch of cinnamon to the batter for a warm and aromatic twist that complements the chocolate and banana beautifully.
- Chocolate chips: Mix a handful of chocolate chips into the batter to create pockets of melted chocolate in each cupcake.
- Cream cheese frosting: Instead of banana buttercream, frost your cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. You could even use whipped chocolate frosting or Swiss meringue buttercream.
- Chocolate or caramel drizzle: Finish off your cupcakes with a drizzle of caramel sauce or chocolate ganache.
- Peanut butter: Add a spoonful of peanut butter to the center of the cupcakes with the mashed banana or drizzle a little on top.
- Toasted coconut flakes: Sprinkle some toasted coconut flakes on top of the frosting for a tropical, crunchy element.
Storage and Freezing
Store frosted or unfrosted cupcakes in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Let them warm up on the counter for about 30 minutes before serving.
Store leftover buttercream in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 1 week. Make sure to give it a good mix before you use it.
Freeze the cupcakes on a baking sheet for about 2 hours until they're frozen solid. Transfer them to a freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to enjoy, let them thaw on the counter for a few hours or in the refrigerator overnight.
Frequently Asked Questions
This recipe yields 14-16 cupcakes.
These cupcakes are super soft, and cutting a hole in them can be a little difficult. Make sure they're completely cool before you cut into them. If they're still too delicate, refrigerate them for about 20 minutes. This firms them up and makes them much easier to cut.
Yes! This recipe makes enough batter for two 6 inch round cake pans, three 6 inch cake pans, two 8 inch cake pans, or a 9x13 inch cake pan. You'll need to make a little more filling and frosting for a cake though.
More Cupcakes to Make
Chocolate Banana Cupcakes
- 160 grams all purpose flour
- 290 grams granulated sugar
- 75 grams dutch-processed cocoa powder
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg room temperature
- 1 egg white room temperature
- 130 grams oil
- 225 grams buttermilk room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 200 grams hot brewed coffee
- 1 mashed banana
- 226 grams unsalted butter room temperature
- 345 grams powdered sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon banana extract
- 1-2 tablespoon heavy cream
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Line a cupcake pan with 12 liners and set aside.
- Add flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to a large mixing bowl and whisk until combined. Set aside.160 grams all purpose flour, 290 grams granulated sugar, 75 grams dutch-processed cocoa powder, 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder, ¾ teaspoon baking soda, ½ teaspoon salt
- Whisk egg, egg white, oil, buttermilk, and vanilla extract together in a separate bowl until smooth.1 large egg, 1 egg white, 225 grams buttermilk, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until the batter is smooth with few lumps.
- Pour in half of the coffee and fold it in with a rubber spatula. Repeat with the remaining half, folding until the batter is thin and smooth.200 grams hot brewed coffee
- Fill each cupcake liner ¾ full. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and let cool completely on a wire rack.
- Mash a banana in a bowl until smooth like a puree. It's ok if some lumps are left.1 mashed banana
- Using a cupcake corer, paring knife, or piping tip, cut a hole in the middle of each cupcake about half way through. Toss the tops.
- Fill each cupcake with about 1 teaspoon of mashed banana.
- Beat the softened butter on high in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for about 5 minutes until creamy.226 grams unsalted butter
- Add half of the powdered sugar and mix on low for 2 minutes. Beat in the second half, the banana extract, and a pinch of salt on medium speed until smooth.345 grams powdered sugar, ¼ teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon banana extract
- Pour in the heavy cream 1 teaspoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached.1-2 tablespoon heavy cream
- Fill a piping bag fitted with a large tip with the buttercream. Pipe a swirl on top of each cupcake, garnish with a banana chip, and enjoy.