Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

If you think plain cream cheese frosting is the best, wait until you try chocolate cream cheese frosting! It’s silky, undeniably creamy, and the flavor is absolutely delicious.

chocolate cream cheese frosting in a glass bowl and on a whisk attachment

If we think regular cream cheese frosting is the best, we’re definitely backwards. Because this chocolate cream cheese frosting is, in fact, the best in the biz.

  • it’s silky smooth
  • and pipe-able with your favorite piping tips
  • it’s rich and easily spreads
  • and creamier than any chocolate frosting you’ve had before
  • you’ll want to eat it with a spoon!!

Tip for piping cream cheese frosting: Refrigerate the frosting inside the piping bag for at least 30 minutes prior to piping. Cream cheese frosting holds its shape much better when it’s piped cold.

chocolate cream cheese frosting in a glass bowl

Unlike most frostings, chocolate cream cheese frosting is not overly sweet. Rather, its sweet and tangy flavors are perfectly balanced and it tastes much better than buttercream on even the sweetest of cakes!

What Tastes Best with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting?

Besides zebra cake, you’ll also love it with:

overhead image of cake with chocolate cream cheese frosting and sprinkles on a marble cake stand

If you’re in the mood for vanilla, here is my plain cream cheese frosting recipe.

Avoid Runny Cream Cheese Frosting

Make sure you’re using a block of cream cheese, not cream cheese spread.

  • Cream cheese is sold in 8 ounce blocks– and you’ll need 1 and 1/2 blocks of the full-fat stuff. I’ve gotten many questions about cream cheese frosting being too runny and the #1 reason is because bakers have accidentally been using the spread instead of the block.

There’s a HUGE difference!

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chocolate cream cheese frosting in a glass bowl and on a whisk attachment

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 4-5 cups


Chocolate cream cheese frosting is silky, undeniably creamy, and absolutely delicious.


  • 12 ounces (335g) full fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature*
  • 3/4 cup (175g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3 and 1/2 cups (420g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 2/3 cup (55g) unsweetened natural or dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 12 Tablespoons milk or heavy cream
  • pinch salt


  1. In a large bowl using a hand-held or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese for 1 minute on high speed until completely smooth and creamy. Beat in the butter until combined. Add the confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, 1 Tablespoon milk, and salt and beat on medium-high speed until combined and creamy. Add 1 more Tablespoon of milk to slightly thin out, if desired. Taste, then add another pinch of salt if desired.
  2. Cover and store leftover frosting for up to 5 days in the refrigerator or up to 3 months in the freezer. After freezing, thaw in the refrigerator then beat the frosting for a few seconds so it’s creamy again.


  1. Make Ahead Instructions: Cover and store leftover frosting for up to 5 days in the refrigerator or up to 3 months in the freezer. After freezing, thaw in the refrigerator then beat the frosting for a few seconds so it’s creamy again.
  2. Cream Cheese: Make sure you’re using the blocks of cream cheese, not cream cheese spread. They’re typically sold in 8 ounce blocks, so you’ll need 1 and 1/2 blocks.
  3. Tip for Piping Cream Cheese Frosting: Refrigerate the frosting inside the piping bag for at least 30 minutes prior to piping. Cream cheese frosting holds its shape much better when it’s piped cold.
  4. This recipe is enough to frost 18-24 cupcakes, one 9×13-inch sheet cake, or one 3 layer cake.


  1. Tetisya Ragunathan says:

    Will i be able to pipe flowers with that? Based on the proportions of icing sugar to cream cheese, it seems like it might be to soft to pipe anything in fact. Lots of icing sugar is also one of the reasons why cream cheese frosting becomes too loose.

    1. Hi Tetisya! I fins this chocolate cream cheese frosting pipes wonderfully. If you refrigerate it for 30 minutes prior to piping, it holds its shape even better.

    2. I just made homemade creampuffs stuffed with homemade Bavarian Cream ..
      I am going to use this frosting on top of my cream puffs ✨
      Baking Magic

  2. Hi Sally, may I add another tip about the cream cheese frosting? I’m in Australia and for some reason cream cheese frostings work much better when the cream cheese is used straight from the fridge. Everything else I use is at room temperature. The frosting does not become too thin when does this way. I’ve made your chocolate cake recipe for the first time for my Church Home Group tonight, hopefully I’ve done everything right and they will enjoy it

  3. Hi! I am that person who puts a lot of cream cheese on my bagel, so if you can’t tell, I really like cream cheese. I also love chocolate. Like, the really dark, “fancy” kind, so I think this is the perfect frosting for me. I can’t wait to try it! Thanks so much for making this recipe!
    Madeleine, the cream cheese girl

  4. Hi, will this frosting hold up to hot weather? i wanted to take to the beach.


    1. I don’t recommend leaving it in the heat for too long!

  5. Dyveke Nielsen says:

    Hi Sally,
    A big fan of your blog is wondering if you could recommend a chocolate cream for a number cake in two layers of rich chocolate cake with raspberries and macarons topping.
    Would you go for butter cream, creme cheese or a mousse?
    It has to be transported in a car for about 30-40 minutes and I would love that it stayed in shape.
    Thank you in advance!
    Kindly Dyveke

    1. If you are worried about stability I would recommend sticking with a chocolate buttercream such as this one:

  6. Dyveke Nielsen says:

    Thank you for your answer. I’ll give it a try (-:

  7. May I know can I reduce the sugar?

    1. If you reduce the sugar you will have a much thinner frosting. Feel free to add enough until you are satisfied with the consistency.

  8. I’m not typically a huge chocolate fan but the mix of chocolate and cream cheese is perfect. A few weeks ago I baked some of your brownies and topped them with this frosting and took them to my mother’s work. One of her coworkers said they were the best brownies he has ever had.

  9. Hi. Do you think I can use this Red velvet cake recipe to make a rainbow cake and use whipped cream and butter cream

    1. Do you mean change the color of the cake batter? I’m sure some colors would work besides red, but due to the cocoa in the batter some of the lighter colors might not. Let me know if you try it!

  10. Any idea if this would work with dairy free cream cheese?

    1. Hi Esther! I’m really not sure. I’ve never had luck using nondairy cream cheese in my baking, but I haven’t tried it with frosting. Let me know if you do!

      1. I made it with non dairy cream cheese and margarine, it was delicious on a peanut butter cake for my 2 yr old’s birthday!

  11. Hi Sally,

    I’d like to make this chocolate cream cheese frosting for my son’s birthday cake. Do you think it would go better with the favorite white layer cake or the best vanilla cake?

    Thank you for your wonderful recipes!

    1. Either cake would be absolutely delicious with this frosting!! I hope he has a great birthday!

  12. Sally,
    I just made the Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting to top your Super Moist Chocolate Cupcakes. Oh My Goodness! This is hands down the most creamy, smooth, delicious chocolate frosting I have ever tasted! And the cupcakes are the best! These will now be my “go to” favorites. Thank you for sharing your fabulous recipes!

    1. You are welcome, Anne! I’m thrilled you enjoyed them so much!

  13. Hi Sally! I love all of your recipes, and this one seems just perfect to me! What layer cake would be your first choice with this frosting? I’m thinking of making your triple chocolate cake and adding pecans to the frosting, but I’m not sure which cream cheese frosting (chocolate or vanilla) would be best for this. Any ideas on how to perfect such a cake? Would these flavors work with the pecans? Thank you for your wonderful blog!

    1. Hi Kelsey! This chocolate cream cheese frosting is absolutely fantastic with chocolate cake. I use this frosting on my zebra cake, which is a marble cake. Chopped pecans would be a great addition to any chocolate cake!

  14. Dashundra Kelly says:

    I love how my chocolate frosting turned out…

    1. So happy you enjoyed this recipe, Kelly! 🙂

  15. How many cupcakes will this frost? I just made your Super Moist Chocolate Cupcakes and it turned out the expected 14 cupcakes. This looks like a good amount of frosting so wondering if this is meant for 2 batches of cupcakes (or a full cake?) Even if it just makes enough for one and a half batches of cupcakes, that may work fine. I’ll just eat the few that don’t get frosted, lol! There are always a couple cupcakes that must get taste tested! This frosting sounds good, and I love cream cheese icing. I’m not usually a frosting person (too sweet, just love plain moist cake) unless it’s cream cheese or the lightly sweet whipped cream variety. I’m not sure if this recipe is easily “halved” for testing purposes- maybe just to frost about half dozen cupcakes? I was looking at your Favorite Cream Cheese Frosting and wondering if I halved that and just added some cocoa powder, how much it would take? I’m thinking maybe half cup? I’m not great with ratios when adjusting recipes for “half batch trial runs”. I’m thinking of making these for some coworkers next week and not sure if may need to make 2 batches of cupcakes and this one batch of frosting . 🙂

    1. Hi Nita! You can use this recipe for the cupcakes– see recipe notes about quantities.

  16. I don’t usually write reviews, but this frosting is AMAZING! Everyone loved it. It’s my go-to now.

  17. Can I make this frosting a day ahead of time?

    1. Nevermind. Found the answer in the notes.

  18. I just piped this onto your Death by Chocolate Cupcakes for my partner’s belated birthday. It piped beautifully, but does soften up quickly. It’s pretty warm out today and my hands are very warm, so the last few were especially soft! Lots of extra left since I just did a bit on each cupcake, so now I’ll have to make more cupcakes tomorrow and bring ’em to work! Too bad. 🙂

    I can’t wait for desert!

  19. Hi Sally

    I see that this should be enough for a three layer cake – does this mean just frosting the top and sides or will it be enough for the layers inbetween as well?

    1. Hi Tahne– plenty for filling the layer cake too.

  20. Hi Sally, does this frosting go well with red velvet cake?

    1. Yes, definitely!

  21. Great Recipe and this is my Girlfriend favorite cake. Many times we order online from Winni now this time made by my girlfriend. Thanks for sharing this recipe and now this time we save the money.

  22. Just made this yesterday and it was awesome! Had leftover choc cake and frosting so I’m making cake balls…dipped in more chocolate (-:

  23. Would this be good with your banana cake recipe?

    1. YES!! So good!!

  24. Sally i really like it

  25. Hi Sally,

    I want to use this recipe for a 2 layer, 9 inch chocolate cake. Would like to avoid making too much. Can you tell me roughly how much should I reduce the ingredients?

    Thank you

    1. Hi Liz, you can try cutting the recipe in half if you don’t want the frosting super thick (or use 2/3 of the recipe if you want to do the math) 🙂 If there is leftover frosting it does freeze well – just thaw it overnight in the refrigerator before using it!

  26. Thank you for this recipe! I simply love this cake. It has a meaning to me like no other cake. I’ve used your recipe every year on Dec. 13th for four years now, I make it for my wedding anniversary, since this was the cake we had for our wedding. Now, every december I look forward to bake it and celebrate another year of marriage with my loving husband and our kids.

  27. Rebecca Goodwin says:

    I’ve made this frosting twice now and it is absolutely wonderful!! This has quickly become a staple for frosting for birthday cakes in our family. Thank you!

  28. This is not a comment for the icing you have here, but a question I have about icing/frosting. My family doesn’t like sweet icing. I have tried to find one that is not so sweet but keep failing. Can you help me? I would love to make birthday cake for my grandsons that they would eat. Most of the time they scrape the icing off. In fact my oldest grandson now request cookie cakes.
    I love your blog and your recipes are amazing.
    Thank you so much!!

    1. Hi Glenda, I understand – buttercream is very sweet! I recommend using a Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipe as it’s still a beautiful texture to work with but is much less sweet. Check back on the blog very very soon for a recipe 😉

      1. Glenda G Brown says:

        Sally, thank you so much for you reply!!! I will give the Swiss Meringue a try…I will be looking for your recipe, soon!!
        Again, Sally, thank you!!
        Happy Baking
        My passion, also!!!!

  29. Hello,

    I was wondering if I can freeze frosted cupcakes with this icing? I’ve tried doing that with regular buttercream and they do ok. I was just wondering if the cream cheese portion will make a difference when freezing? Thanks!

    1. Hi Jasmine, You should be able to freeze this frosting. Thaw in the refrigerator before serving.

  30. Tammy Nordick says:

    This frosting was amazing. Not to sweet. Very creamy!

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