Favorite Chocolate Buttercream

Chocolate cupcake topped with chocolate buttercream and chocolate sprinkles

Here we go! This is my favorite chocolate buttercream recipe. I’m tempted to call it a “basic” chocolate buttercream, but it’s anything but– it’s incredibly CREAMY, silky, smooth, and rich. Like a decadent brownie in frosting form. Melts in your mouth and is unbelievable on chocolate cupcakes.

Chocolate buttercream in a bowl

Even though it’s a wonderfully creamy chocolate buttercream, it holds its shape beautifully– just as Swiss meringue buttercream does. This is simply perfect for piping even the most intricate and fancy designs.

What Tastes Best with Chocolate Buttercream?

I’ve made this chocolate buttercream more times than I can count, but I love it with:

  1. Cookies and Cream Cupcakes
  2. Yellow Cupcakes
  3. Coconut Cupcakes
  4. Pumpkin Cupcakes
  5. Banana Cupcakes
  6. Chocolate Cupcakes
  7. If you scale it up, you can use it to frost a layered cake, like I do with my chocolate cake and yellow cake

Dive into this chocolate decadence!

chocolate cupcakes in a cupcake pan topped with chocolate buttercream and chocolate sprinkles

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Chocolate cupcake topped with chocolate buttercream and chocolate sprinkles

Favorite Chocolate Buttercream

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 2.5 cups
  • Category: Frosting
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


This is my favorite chocolate buttercream recipe. It’s incredibly rich, creamy, silky, smooth, and easy to work with for decorating cakes and cupcakes!


  • 1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3 and 1/2 cups (420g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 cup (41g) unsweetened natural or dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 3 Tablespoons (45ml) heavy cream or milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract


  1. With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy – about 2 minutes. Add confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, heavy cream, salt, and vanilla extract. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to high speed and beat for 1 full minute. Add 1/4 cup more confectioners’ sugar or cocoa powder if frosting is too thin or another Tablespoon of cream if frosting is too thick. Taste. Beat in another pinch of salt if desired.
  2. Use immediately or cover tightly and store for up to 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 3 months in the freezer. After freezing, thaw in the refrigerator then beat the frosting on medium speed for a few seconds so it’s creamy again. After thawing or refrigerating, beating in a splash of heavy cream or milk will help thin the frosting out again, if needed.


  1. Quantity: This recipe is enough to frost 12-16 cupcakes or a thin layer on a 9×13 inch quarter sheet cake. Follow these ratios for a 2 layer cake and these ratios for a 3 or 4 layer cake.

And here is my favorite vanilla buttercream recipe!

vanilla buttercream in a glass bowl with wooden spoon


  1. I ran out of Vanilla extract, so I substituted Almond extract (halved the amount it called for for the vanilla) and it turned out SO GOOD. Thank you! 🙂

  2. Easy to make and simply delicious! I paired it with Sally’s yellow cupcakes and the combination was perfect! My son specifically asked me to make this frosting for his birthday cake! 🙂

  3. Perfect!!

  4. Absolutely fantastic recipe! I only had salted butter, so I omitted the salt. Went perfectly with the Simply Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes. Thank you for your wonderful recipes!

  5. phyllis Dippert says:

    wow! this was so good! made german chocolate cupcakes stuffed with coconut pecan frosting, then this frosting. everyone loved them!

  6. Can I halve this recipe as I usually don’t put too much buttercream and have leftovers?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Celeste, absolutely! Simply halve all ingredients.

  7. Making this tonight! After frosting the cupcakes, do they need to be refrigerated because of the milk in the frosting? Or can they sit out at room temperature?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Hallie! After decorating anything with buttercream, 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.

  8. hi! this frosting is so great but unfortunately i made too much of it! just wondering if it’s possible to freeze it and use again some other time?

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Anabel, you can freeze this buttercream for up to 3 months. After freezing, thaw in the refrigerator then beat the frosting on medium speed for a few seconds so it’s creamy again. After thawing or refrigerating, beating in a splash of heavy cream or milk will help thin the frosting out again, if needed.

  9. I’ve never been able to replicate a bakery buttercream— but this is it! Thank you so much, Sally!

  10. I loved this frosting accept its much to salty. Is there a reason for that?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Cass, Be sure you are using unsalted butter. If you use salted butter try skipping the added salt.

  11. Can I double this recipe or do the ratios change? I have 26 cupcakes to ice! Thanks

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:


  12. I made this icing for the first time and loved it. I didn’t change a thing to the recipe. It’s definitely the only chocolate icing I will make now. My husband said it was the best chocolate icing he has had since his mom passed away 15 years ago. Thanks so much for sharing your recipe!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lisa, thank you so much for your kind note and feedback. We’re thrilled you and your husband enjoyed this frosting recipe!

  13. I just made this icing for a chocolate cake and it was absolutely delightful! Scrumdidiumptious indeed! Didn’t even need to make the cake. Gimme a spoon and I’m goin to town! It was very much bussin. Finna make me act up. 😉

  14. can margarine be substituted for the butter?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Ida, we don’t recommend using margarine for frostings. Best to stick with butter here!

  15. Hi, I was wondering , can I use almond milk insted of cow milk for this recipe ?
    Thank you!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      You can use almond milk in a pinch, yes.

  16. Hi there! As I am making your chocolate cake, I was going to by some buttermilk. Would it be acceptable to use the rest of the buttermilk in place of the heavy cream in this recipe?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jamie! We haven’t tested it, but don’t see why not! Some bakers prefer to use buttermilk since the tang offsets some of the sweetness of the buttercream.

  17. Geri Silber says:

    Hi. Is this a crusting buttercream?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Geri, it does not crust as written, but you can try half butter and half shortening (so 1/2 cup of each) for a crusting buttercream if desired. Enjoy!

  18. This has a lovely texture but isn’t very chocolatey

  19. Hey Sally,
    I wanted to ask can we use regular sugar instead of confectionery sugar??

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Simran, we don’t recommend it. Regular granulated sugar will not incorporate the same way and will leave your buttercream tasting gritty because the granules will not dissolve. Confectioners’ sugar is best here.

  20. Shirley Bridges says:

    Hands down, this is the only chocolate buttercream I’ll ever make!! Silky and smooth! I’ve used this to fill macarons but wondered if you could use white chocolate. I’d like to tint it Christmas colors for Christmas Macarons. Thanks so much for tour thoughts.

    1. Michelle @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Shirley, we’re so glad you like the chocolate buttercream! I would try our White Chocolate Frosting! Enjoy!

  21. Assuming this was for cupcakes, how many does cupcakes can you frost with this? Thanks!

    1. Charlotte Andrew says:

      The recipe says enough to frost 12-16 cupcakes, or a thin layer on a 9×13

  22. Ama Sirimanna says:

    Your recipes are perfect!!!! Thank you so much!

  23. Constance Holland says:

    Excellent and easy, and foolproof

  24. Hi! I was wondering what top you use to decorate your cupcakes and any advice? Thanks

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Angela, our Piping 101 post shares all of our favorite piping tips and tricks for cupcakes — hope it helps!

  25. Barbara Bushrod says:

    Hi Sally Love your recipes. The chai Cinammon Bundt cake was fabulous. Is it possible to put a chocolate filling into the center of your yellow or chocolate cupcakes? I do not want to upset the texture of the cupcake.
    Thank you

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Barbara, you certainly can! Just with a cupcake corer, spoon, or back of a piping tip and fill.

  26. Nancy S Van De Pol says:

    Oh this is my families favorite chocolate buttercream! We have one with dairy allergies so i use plant butter and oat milk instead of the dairy products, and it is still delicious! Thanks for the recipe!

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