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

Description

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


Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  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.

Notes

  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.

151 Comments

  1. Hi, Sally. This is my favourite frosting. I love it! But I can’t find block cream cheese where a live (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil). Do you have any tip to try do avoid a runny cream?I thought about increase the amount of sugar but I don’t want a too sweet frosting. Thanks a lot!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Claudia! A few options for you…as you mention, adding more confectioners’ sugar will help thicken the frosting. You could also play around with slightly reducing the milk / heavy cream just a bit (although you don’t want to eliminate it completely). You can also try subbing some of the cream cheese with more butter — the cream cheese flavor may not be as pronounced but will still be there, and the butter will help thicken it some more. Placing the frosting into the fridge before using will also help make it easier to decorate your cake / cupcakes. Hope these tips are helpful for next time!

      1. Claudia Oliveira says:

        Thanks a lot, Lexi! I will try these suggestions. Best, Claudia

    2. Same here Claudia, but this frosting wasn’t runny at all! I think it’s because of the cocoa. With normal cream cheese frosting I add the cream cheese at the end, and instead of mixing it in I use a rubber spatula. I’ve never had frosting soup since 🙂
      But because the cocoa/sugar didn’t dissolve in the butter, I mixed in half of the cream cheese. Because it stayed thick I also mixed in the other halve. And it was perfect! (no need for milk)
      What helps for normal frosting is to look for cream cheese with a high percentage of fat, and to get as much liquid out of it as possible. If you want to mix it instead of folding it in at the end, put the cream cheese in a cheesecloth (or something similar) for about half an hour. That will leave you with much firmer cream cheese. Hope this helps! 

      1. Claudia Oliveira says:

        Thanks a lot, Tina! I have tried increasing the butter and reducing the milk. It worked well. I will try now with your tips! Best!

      2. @Claudia
        I just made another batch by mixing the butter for about 1.5 minute, added the cream cheese for about 30 seconds and then added the rest. Perfect frosting again! Next time I’ll cream butter and cream cheese together.
        What I forgot to mention: make sure you have powdered sugar that contains cornstarch (or something similar) because that absorbs liquid. 
        I make my own powdered sugar and add about 2 tbsp on 2 cups/400 grams of sugar (which is 2 tbsp on 3.3 cups of powdered sugar).
        More butter definitively works better than more sugar, I’ve seen recipes with three times as much butter so I guess that still tastes good. But if it’s too soupy the best solution seems to be to add cold heavy cream and mix that with the frosting until it becomes firm. I haven’t tried that myself yet, but since I read about that solution I always have heavy cream on hand when making cream cheese icing 🙂

  2. How long can the frosting sit out. Like on a wedding cake?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Irene, this frosting should be okay to sit out for a few hours at a wedding. For longevity, we recommend keeping the cake + frosting refrigerated as long as possible before putting on display, and keeping it out of direct sunlight / heat. Hope this helps!

  3. Hi Sally,

    Can I replace cocoa power with Nutella ?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      We recommend using this Nutella frosting recipe instead. Hope you enjoy it!

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