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. Hey Sally (and Sally’s baking team :D) Quick question; I’d like to use this chocolate cream cheese frosting on your Pinata Cake for my birthday and I was wondering if a double recipe would suffice as a substitute for the buttercream in the recipe?

    Also, I would just like to say that this is by far my favorite frosting recipe and I use it or the original cream cheese frosting on nearly every cake I make 🙂 I never suspected that tangy cream cheese and decadent chocolate could compliment each other so well, but it’s absolutley delicous!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sarah, We are so glad you enjoy this frosting! As written this frosting is enough for a three layer cake, doubling it should be plenty for the pinata cake! If you have leftovers, it freezes well 🙂

      1. Hi Sally!
        I just made it last week for my little one and we loved it!
        For how long can i keep it freeze?
        Thank you so much!

  2. Is this enough for a 9” 2 layer cake?

  3. Do you think this could be made with coconut milk instead of half and half?

  4. Martha Blakely says:

    I love this recipe- decadent chocolate meets creamy, tangy cream cheese (most of it didn’t make it onto the cake)

  5. Hi Sally! Will this frosting “set” as a crumb coat and then a final layer of frosting? I’m assuming yes because it does have butter, but I’m planning to use it to make a striped cake (using a frosting comb), so I would need it to almost harden a bit in the fridge to achieve the look I’m going for. Thanks!!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Laura, Cream cheese frosting won’t crust or get as hard as a buttercream. You can definitely try to refrigerate or even freeze it to help it harden before making your stripes. Let us know if you try it!

  6. David Hamilton says:

    I made this frosting this morning. I had no unsalted butter and was too lazy to go get some. I used the salted butter I had but did not add the pinch of salt. It worked for me.

    I also put it in the fridge for a few minutes before using it. Again, it worked for me.

  7. Will this frosting hold up if I pour a chocolate ganache over the top?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Priscilla, Yes it will! Yuu will want to make sure the frosting on the cake is cold, so place your frosted cake in the refrigerator to cool it, and then make sure you let your ganache cool down a bit after making so it’s not too hot that it melts the frosting. Enjoy!

  8. Gretchen Cristobal says:

    Hi Sally. Can I use brown butter in this recipe?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      No, you need to use confectioners’ or powdered sugar for this frosting.

      1. That doesn’t make sense… yes, you can use brown butter, I just did and it came out great. Of course you still use powdered sugar, but that wasn’t the question

  9. Hey I just made this and added all the correct amount of ingredients and sugar but i feel like it was too much sugar bc it is not blended in well and its very crunchy what can i do? Please respond fast

    1. Hi Ale, is it possible that you used cane sugar? You’ll want to use confectioners’ sugar here so you don’t have the crunchy crystals of cane sugar.

      1. Yeah I just realized after it was supposed to be confectioners sugar, is there something I can do to fix it?

  10. Mom of Two Type 1 Diabetics says:

    5 stars! I used salted butter (skipped the pinch of salt) and to make it low carb, I used 1 and 1/2 cups stevia confectioner’s sugar. It tastes amazing, great consistency, and I printed out your recipe to use in the future. SO much better than a tub of store-bought frosting AND it only took about 5 minutes to make. Thank you!!

  11. Does it have to be unsweetened cocoa powder?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Kendra, Dutch-process cocoa powder or even special dark will work for frosting. Enjoy!

  12. Can I use salted butter instead?

  13. Another Sally frosting winner! This tastes tangy and delicious and pipes beautifully. I will use this in place of regular chocolate buttercream anytime!

  14. Absolutely love this frosting I had a problem with cream cheese specs in it I did leave it and the butter out on the counter for 4 hours, any idea how I can avoid this problem next time? I had some colorful sprinkles on it so as not to show to much.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Cathy, make sure to beat the cream cheese until completely smooth and creamy before adding the next ingredients. So happy you loved it!

  15. Can I use melted chocolate instead of cocoa powder

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Melanie, we haven’t tested it but would start with at least 6 ounces of melted and cooled pure baking chocolate. Not sure if the flavor will be strong enough, but that’s where we would start. We would also add more confectioners’ sugar to make up for the loss of cocoa powder. Hope this is helpful!

  16. I found this recipe to be very bitter. Like the tang of cream cheese frosting but without enough sugar and too much cocoa powder. It spread/piped nicely but I wouldn’t make it again.

  17. This is THE best chocolate frosting I have ever tasted … it’s not sickish sweet like a buttercream frosting can be. Perfection!

  18. Hi Sally, I’m excited about making the chocolate cream cheese icing I’m in a hurry and only have a 8oz block of cream cheese. What are my options?
    Thank you!!!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Eileen, you can just use extra butter to make up for the 4 ounces of cream cheese. Enjoy!

  19. Seriously the best icing. Has a really rich flavor without being too sweet. Thank you!

  20. Judy Halverson says:

    Excellent chocolate frosting. The batch was a little too big for me, so the next time I cut it down to 2/3rds of the recipe. Wonderful flavor and perfect consistency.

  21. So good!

  22. Amazing frosting! Thank you for sharing! I just made it for my son’s birthday cake and it was a huge hit.

  23. An absolutely perfect icing. I’m not sure I’ll ever make chocolate icing without cream cheese again. This was the smoothest icing ever, and I loved the rich flavour. Thank you for sharing this recipe.

  24. Hi Sally, quick question, I’m making a chocolate cake for a birthday and I wanted to have chocolate cream cheese in the layers and then on the top I wanted to use just plain cream chess icing. Would the flavours work well together. Cause I was going for a white top look with pink flowers. But I want to have choclate cake with choclate icing in between.


    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Shams, sounds delicious!

  25. Hello! Is it possible to replace some of the powdered sugar with more cocoa? How might that affect the consistency? I’m going for a darker chocolate, less sweet frosting. Thanks!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Anne, Definitely! Simply replace an equal amount of the sugar with the extra cocoa powder and the consistency shouldn’t change. Enjoy!

  26. I want to know how I can reduce this to make frosting for cupcakes. Yielding 12 so I just need enough frosting for that. Also, does this go well with chocolate ganache drizzle?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Hira! The recipe as written will make enough to frost 18-24 cupcakes, so you could halve it or reduce it by 1/3. It would go great with a ganache drizzle, enjoy!

  27. Hi. Can I add the purée strawberry to this frosting?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Ruth, we wouldn’t recommend it — it would add too much liquid to the frosting making it very hard to pipe or spread on the cake. You could try replacing some of the confectioners’ sugar with freeze dried strawberry powder, but the strawberry taste still might be a bit diluted under the chocolate flavor. If you give anything a try, we’d love to know how it goes for you.

  28. Hello,
    I was wondering after putting the icing in the cake . Should it be refrigerated until all consumed because of the cream cheese?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jasmine! After decorating anything with cream cheese frosting, it’s fine for 1 day at room temperature. After that, we would refrigerate it. But, use your best judgment and whatever you are comfortable with- we’ve never had any problems leaving frosted desserts at room temperature for a day. We would refrigerate leftovers after that. Enjoy!

  29. I don’t like a lot of icing on my cake, with the extra frosted, I put it in between gram crackers like a sandwich so good

  30. Hello bakers,
    Can I make this frosting using Philadelphia cheese?

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