Chocolate Mayonnaise Cupcakes

Because of its high fork rating on Epicurious and because I love chocolate cake, I was really looking forward to trying the Chocolate Mayonnaise cake from the April issue of Bon Appetit. Normally I’d make it as a cake, but because I’m still in throes of this strange cupcake obsession, I made a half batch of the cake and baked 18 handsome cupcakes. Now for the review…

Chocolate Mayonnaise Cupcakes

I’ve been making mayonnaise cakes for years and have tried lots of variations. Never once did I taste the mayonnaise. Today, for some reason I thought I did. Maybe my sinuses are particularly clear or maybe it’s just one of those days when I have a heightened sense of taste and smell or maybe it’s the brand of mayonnaise (I used H.E.B. brand, not Hellman’s), but I think could taste the mayonnaise. Not that it was unpleasant or overwhelming, and maybe it WAS all my imagination. Either way, the cupcakes were moist, flavorful and easy to whip up.

— Because so many reviewers said the frosting was too sweet, I skipped the frosting recipe and used sour cream frosting.

— Also, I used natural cocoa powder rather than Dutch.  Natural worked fine, but I’m definitely going to try these again with some Dutch cocoa for a darker cake.

— Final note, and this one is based on some of the reviews I read on Epicurious. “It might be a good idea not to use your electric mixer when adding in the flour. If you over-mix this batter, it the cupcakes might not be as tender. Also, make sure you fluff up your flour or weigh it, or your cupcakes may be dry.”.

Half batch cupcake version below, full version of Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake is on Epicurious.

Chocolate Mayonnaise Cupcakes
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Easy chocolate cupcakes with mayonnaise in the batter.
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 18
  • 1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used natural)
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons boiling water
  • 1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour (6.1 oz)
  • 3/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 2/3 cups regular mayonnaise (mine was room temp)
  • 1 large egg, room temp
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Sour Cream Frosting:
  • 8 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder, unsweetened (used natural)
  • 3 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup room temperature sour cream
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 18 cupcake tins with paper liners.
  2. Combine chocolate and cocoa powder in medium metal bowl. Add the boiling water and stir until melted.
  3. Mix flour, baking soda, and baking powder into another medium bowl.
  4. Using electric mixer, beat both sugars and mayonnaise in large bowl until well blended, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in egg and vanilla. Put down electric mixer and use a spoon for this next step. Add flour mixture in 4 additions alternately with chocolate mixture in 3 additions, mixing just until blended and being very careful not to overbeat. Divide batter evenly between cups, filling about 2/3 full.
  5. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on racks 20 minutes. Remove from tin and frost when completely cool.
  6. To make the frosting, mix the butter and cocoa powder together in a large mixing bowl. Mix in as much powdered sugar as you can and beat it with the mixer. When creamy, add remaining powdered sugar, sour cream and vanilla and beat until light and creamy. Adjust if necessary by using more or less sugar or stirring in a few teaspoons of coffee, water, milk, or more sour cream if necessary.
Yield might vary depending on how much you fill the cupcake cups and the size of your pan. I got 18, but you may get as many as 24.

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  1. says

    I’ve never made a mayo cake or cupcakes. Do you really think it made a difference that you didn’t use Hellman’s?
    Really would love to try this.

  2. Anonymous says

    I rarely have Helmann’s on hand so I use Miracle Whip for the glaze. Or at least i did before Micah complained. Someone I knew in my early years made a mayo cake that was delicious. You could never detect the mayo in it but it was very moist and good. I expect she used real mayo though and not Miracle Whip.

  3. says

    I made a mayo cake YEARS ago. And don’t remember tasting the mayo.
    Esther, I’m anxious to hear Anna’s reply as well, but I say butter is healthier because you know exactly what’s in it. Look on the ingredients list for mayo, it often has a lot more than just eggs and oil. That’s just my worthless opinion. ‘Sides, butta tastes betta! 😉

  4. says

    Barbara, I’m really not sure. I did notice the mayonnaise flavor was gone after the cupcakes had sat around for a while.

    Esther, I don’t know. I think it depends on how much of any given fat one uses and where. They’re both fats. Butter has more saturated fat.

  5. says

    I’ve never made mayo cake before. I don’t like mayo by itself so I assumed I wouldn’t like it in a cake. What’s your favorite mayo cake (one where you really CAN’T taste the mayo)?

  6. ciara says

    Hi Anna,
    I would love to try these. Do you think mayo made with olive oil would be okay? It’s the only kind I have in the house. Thanks!

  7. carolina says

    mayo cakes have always caused me great couriosity but i have never tried it. guess it’s about time to give it a try..this recipe looks great!

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