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Best Chocolate Vegan Cupcakes

Chocolate vegan cupcakes are perfect for birthdays, weddings, holidays, and any other special occasion you can think of. Believe it or not, they can even be made completely sugar-free!

vegan chocolate cupcakes on plates

These vegan chocolate cupcakes are a chocolate lover’s dream! Not only is the cake-part chocolate but the frosting is a chocolatey wonder itself.

Even more amazing is that they can be made completely sugar-free if you choose. That makes them one of the most wholesome vegan chocolate desserts you could ever ask for!

You’re going to love these vegan chocolate cupcakes because they’re…

  • Perfectly sweet
  • Completely versatile
  • Terrific for birthdays, parties, or dessert
  • Sugar and oil-free
  • Dairy-free
  • Absolutely DELICIOUS!
chocolate cupcakes with raspberries on pedestal

What are these vegan cupcakes made of?

I know it is hard to believe that these little beauties have absolutely zero sugar in them, but it’s true! Neither the cupcakes or the icing has any refined or even unrefined sugar in it. 

For those who are not sugar-free, unrefined sugar can be substituted for the dates, and measurements are included in the recipe card below.

What’s in the cake-part?

The cake-part ingredients include whole-wheat flour, unsweetened baking cocoa powder, baking soda and powder, applesauce, vanilla, and vinegar. What makes it taste sweet is date paste!

date paste in green bowl with bent spoon

Date Paste is a healthy natural sugar substitute that’s the perfect solution for baking deliciously sweet desserts, and it’s so easy to make with only two ingredients–water and dates!

What’s in the frosting?

The icing for these cupcakes includes wholesome simple ingredients like sweet potatoes (yes, you read that right), cocoa powder, almond butter, whole dates, plant milk, and vanilla. That’s it!

ingredients for sugar free chocolate icing on counter sweet potatoes dates

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The inspiration for this sweet potato icing came from Dreena Burton’s Sweet Potato Cake recipe that I have been making for years because it’s amazing!

Dreena’s recipe calls for coconut sugar or other unrefined sugar, so I decided to see what would happen if I tweaked a few ingredients and substituted dates for the sugar. I have to tell you that I was amazed that the frosting tasted every bit as good as Dreena’s original!

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How to make vegan chocolate cupcakes

A full list of ingredients, measurements, instructions, and a print button can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of the page.

This dairy-free and egg-free chocolate cupcake recipe is so easy, and I know you’re going to be amazed. I think it’s a great opportunity to get those reluctant cooks and even the kids in the kitchen for this.

Preheat the oven to 350°F and make some date paste. If you’re using another sweetener such as sucanat or other less refined sugar, you can skip this part.

Date paste is super simple to make in a blender or food processor. One great thing is that once you make it, any leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.

I have written an entire article–How to Make Date Paste–if you want to take a look, but it is super easy. Just add dates and water to a blender or food processor and mix well. The portions are in the orange box below.

DATE PASTE =1 cup tightly packed dates + 2/3 cup water

Once the date paste is ready, set it to the side to be added to the wet ingredients shortly.

Making the cupcakes

Place all of the dry ingredients–flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cocoa powder–in a large mixing bowl and whisk together well.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine all of the wet ingredients–applesauce, plant milk, vanilla, vinegar, date paste–and whisk together thoroughly.

Next, pour the wet ingredients into the large bowl with the dry ingredients and whisk together well. It should be nice and thick as pictured below.

sugar free chocolate cake batter in bowl with whisk

Line your muffin pans with paper muffin cups, if you are using regular pans. I will say that, because this recipe uses no oil, the paper cups tend to stick to the cupcakes too much for my preference.

vegan chocoate cupcakes in pan without icing

Personally, I like to use non-stick silicone baking pans because they don’t require any oil and work perfectly for baking. Though the muffin tins do make a prettier picture as evidenced by the photo above.

Another thing to note is that this recipe can easily be turned into a cake instead of cupcakes.

You can choose to use a number of different sizes of pans including round 8″ or 9″, or even square or rectangle pans. I love my heart-shaped pan for Valentine’s Day and other special occasions.

sugar free chocolate heart shaped cake in silicone pan

Bake at 350°F for approximately 25 minutes for cupcakes and approximately 30-35 minutes for circular 8-9″ pans.

Oven temperatures vary, so around the 20-minute mark, remove the cupcakes from the oven and test for doneness. To do this, insert a toothpick into the center point. If the toothpick comes out clean, the cake is done, otherwise place back into the oven and test again in a few minutes.

Once the cupcakes and/or cake are done, remove from oven and allow to cool before frosting.

Making the frosting

This frosting is so easy, it doesn’t even require a bowl! While the cupcakes are cooking is the perfect time to make the frosting.

I like to take the easy way out and cook my sweet potato quickly by poking a few holes in it with a knife, wrapping it in a wet paper towel, and placing it in the microwave for about 5-6 minutes depending on the size of the potato.

Once it’s done, I remove the peelings and use the potato flesh in this frosting recipe.

Simply place all the frosting ingredients–including the cooked sweet potato– in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

I use my Vitamix blender, and it works like a charm because it has a tamper that allows for keeping the ingredients moving in thick recipes like this vegan chocolate icing. However, if you have a less powerful machine, you’ll definitely need to stop, scrape the sides down, and continue to blend until smooth.

chocolate icing in blender with top off

Once the cake and/or cupcakes have fully cooled, it’s time to frost and serve!

I love to add a few strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, or a combination of them to this cake because it makes a beautiful display.

homemade sugar free cake being sliced on silver plate with cupcakes in background

Tips for making vegan cupcakes

This recipe is very versatile and can be made into a cake or cupcakes.

Cooking times will vary with the size of the pan used. Cupcakes should take about 25 minutes and 8″-9″ pans will cook the cake in about 30-35 minutes. Oven temperatures vary.

When making this into cupcakes, an ice cream scoop with a trigger is perfect for scooping into muffin cups without having to scrape a spoon or fingers.

To check for doneness, insert a toothpick into the center of the cake or cupcake and remove. When it comes out clean, the cake is ready.

This cupcake recipe is not gluten-free, but Minimalist Baker has a great GF Baking Guide that can help convert these cupcakes.

The frosting is already gluten-free.

For those not doing sugar-free, an unrefined sugar can be substituted. Measurements are included in the recipe card below.

Other great chocolate desserts

chocolate cupcakes with raspberries on pedestal

Chocolate Vegan Cupcakes

Yield: 15 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

Chocolate vegan cupcakes are perfect for birthdays, weddings, holidays, and any other special occasion you can think of. Believe it or not, they can even be made completely sugar-free if you choose!

Ingredients

Cupcakes

Frosting

Instructions

    Cake

    1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and make some date paste (if using).

    2. Date paste is simply 1 cup pitted dates and 3/4 cup water blended well in a blender or food processor. For more instructions, please see notes in the article above. Once the date paste is ready, set it to the side to be added to the wet ingredients shortly.

    3. Place all of the dry ingredients–flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cocoa powder–in a large mixing bowl and whisk together well. If you're using sugar instead of date paste, add the dry sugar in this step.

    4. In a medium-sized bowl, combine all of the wet ingredients–applesauce, plant milk, vanilla, vinegar, date paste (if using)–and whisk together thoroughly.

    5. Next, pour the wet ingredients into the large bowl with the dry ingredients and whisk together well. 

    6. Pour the cake batter into silicone baking muffin cups (or line regular muffin cups with paper muffin cups to prevent sticking) and bake at 350°F for 25 minutes.

    7. Oven temperatures vary, so around the 20-minute mark, remove the cake from the oven and test for doneness. To do this, insert a toothpick into the highest center point. If the toothpick comes out clean, the cake is done, otherwise place back into the oven and test again in 5-10 minutes.

    8. Once the cake or cupcakes are done, remove from oven and allow to cool before frosting.

    Frosting

    1. I like the take the easy way out and cook my sweet potato quickly by poking a few holes in it with a knife, wrapping it in a wet paper towel, and placing it in the microwave for about 5-6 minutes depending on the size of the potato.

    2. Once it’s done, I simply remove the peelings and use the potato flesh in this frosting recipe.

    3. Simply place all the frosting ingredients–including the cooked sweet potato– in a blender or food processor and mix until smooth. More frosting tips can be found in the article above.

    4. When the cake and/or cupcakes have cooled, frost and serve!

Notes

Detailed instructions, in-process photos, and my personal helpful tips can be found in the article above.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 15 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 236Total Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gSodium: 275mgCarbohydrates: 38gFiber: 6gProtein: 8g

To obtain the most accurate representation of the nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information provided is accurate, complete, and useful.

Did you make this recipe?

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Sandy

Thursday 10th of September 2020

Can you make these gluten free?

Terri Edwards

Thursday 10th of September 2020

Hi Sandy- I haven't made these gluten-free, but I would think using oat flour would be a good option for that. Also, this is a gluten-free baking guide from Minimalist Baker to help convert recipes. https://minimalistbaker.com/guide-to-gluten-free-flours/

Dorothy

Wednesday 1st of July 2020

Hi - I used sucanat (made the cupcakes). If I make them again I’ll add more applesauce. Thanks!

Dorothy

Wednesday 1st of July 2020

Hi Terri - I made these yesterday. The frosting was fabulous but the cake portion was dry; not moist at all. Is that how they are supposed to be? Not sure if I cooked them too long (22 mins but ovens vary!) or if they came out appropriately.

Terri Edwards

Wednesday 1st of July 2020

Hi Dorothy- They shouldn't be dry. Did you use a dry sweetener or date paste? If using sugar or another dry sweetener, adding a little more applesauce should help with keeping them moist.

Diane

Tuesday 12th of May 2020

How much date sugar would I use instead of date paste? Would it be 3/4 cup like unrefined sugar?

Terri Edwards

Tuesday 12th of May 2020

Hi Diane- Yes, I think a 1:1 ratio of date sugar (3/4 cup) would work just fine.