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Semi-Homemade Chocolate Cupcakes

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This doctored up cake mix chocolate cupcake recipe is a perfect way to get great results without too much effort! These semi-homemade chocolate cupcakes come together quickly to make 36 super tasty treats.

chocolate cupcake with wrapper pulled down and green frosting on top.

These semi-homemade chocolate cupcakes start with a cake mix, making them super simple to make. The added ingredients make them feel special and more homemade. 

They are perfect for when you are short on time but still want to go that extra step.  They are fluffy, chocolaty and oh so good.  A healthy dollop of your favorite frosting and they are ready to go!

Little Dude’s birthday party is one of my favorite events to throw each year.  Mostly because he gets so excited about everything.  Last year, we had his train party on Sunday because my grandparents from Florida were coming into town that day and we wanted them to be able to be a part of such a special occasion.

It was nice to have Friday night, all day Saturday and Sunday morning to bake everything.  So the cake was from scratch.

This year, however it made more sense to have his party on Saturday.  It makes getting everything cleaned up and ready to hit the work week easier, but it crams prep a bit. As much as I would love to take a day off work for every party, that wouldn’t leave much time to take an actual vacation.

cupcake cut in half with soft center showing.

So I decided I could give myself a little bit of a break and use a cake mix to get the cupcakes done a little easier.  Honestly, making them from scratch isn’t that difficult.

However, sometimes when you are staring down the barrel of a lot of items on the menu and a compressed timeline, it is worth just not having to mess with it.

While following the instructions from the box gives you some pretty decent cupcakes, I just couldn’t not doctor them up a bit.  I mean, Little Dude’s birthday only comes around once a year and he deserves something special!

As I was adding ingredients, I figured I might be diluting the chocolate flavor a bit.  I knew I wanted to give that a boost as well.  I was worried adding too much cocoa powder might make them a bit too bitter.

So I went with mini chocolate chips.  I was hoping they would kind of melt away into the cupcakes and it worked just as I had planned!

green frosting topped chocolate cupcake.

These would be delicious with chocolate sweetened condensed milk frosting, chocolate buttercream, or cream cheese frosting. However, I needed to be able to have colors for the Grinch cupcake cake and I wanted to be able to pipe it nicely (and have it hold up decently in the warm weather!)

So I went with a version of crusting buttercream I have been working on that forms a crust but allows you to do that without it being quite so sweet.  I hope to share that soon!

chocolate cupcake with wrapper pulled down and green frosting on top.

Semi-Homemade Chocolate Cupcakes

Servings: 36 Cupcakes
Author: Carlee
Super special and chocolaty cupcakes can be yours. This doctored up cake mix cupcake recipe is a perfect way to get great results without too much effort!
5 from 4 ratings
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes


  • 1 box chocolate cake mix
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1⅓ cups water
  • 2 Tablespoons oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon coffee extract optional
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 4 large eggs
  • ½ cup mini chocolate chips


  • Preheat oven to 325°F and place cupcake liners in cupcake tins.
  • Whisk together the cake mix, flour, baking soda, cocoa powder, sugar and salt.
    1 box chocolate cake mix, ¾ cup all-purpose flour, ¼ cup cocoa powder, 1 cup granulated sugar, ¾ teaspoon salt, ¼ tsp baking soda
  • Add wet ingredients and mix on medium speed for two minutes.
    1⅓ cups water, 2 Tablespoons oil, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, ½ teaspoon coffee extract, 1 cup sour cream, 4 large eggs
  • Stir in chocolate chips and spoon into cupcake liners. (I like to use my large cookie scoop for that)
    ½ cup mini chocolate chips
  • Bake 18-20 minutes or until the tops spring back when lightly touched with a finger or a toothpick comes out clean.
  • Cool completely before frosting.



Serving: 1ServingCalories: 76kcalCarbohydrates: 10gProtein: 1gFat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 24mgSodium: 69mgSugar: 7g

Nutritional Disclaimer

“Cooking With Carlee” is not a dietitian or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories and other nutritional values can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.

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Recipe Rating


Wednesday 30th of May 2018

I love using cake mixes when I bake cakes or cupcakes. Your doctored up cupcakes are so delicious!

Colleen - Faith, Hope, Love, & Luck

Tuesday 29th of May 2018

I love that you call using a box mix semi-homemade!!! For the record, I have nothing against a box mix...canned frosting though...that one makes me cringe every time!!!

Big Rigs 'n Lil' Cookies

Sunday 27th of May 2018

With my new job, I am really appreciating semi-homemade recipes more and more! These cupcakes sound great!


Thursday 24th of May 2018

Hi Carlee, as much as I like cooking from scratch sometimes it just makes sense not to. We aren't super human, nor do we need to be (well, not all the time!) and if little man was happy, that was the main thing. I must check out out your crusting buttercream recipe!



Wednesday 23rd of May 2018

We all need a little break sometimes - and cake mixes are great! I love the cupcakes with the green frosting.