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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 1x
  • 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.

Keywords: favorite chocolate buttercream

And here is my favorite vanilla buttercream recipe!

vanilla buttercream in a glass bowl with wooden spoon

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. So happy I found you Sally! My mom was infamous for her cupcakes & buttercream frosting & yours exactly like hers. Here’s a sweet tip :-). After 30+ years of making hers w-milk , she switched to 1 Tbsp sour cream, everyone went nuts! Everyone tries to duplicate her but no one has, even me!

    1. Love this recipe! Actually didn’t read the instructions until after i put everything into the bowl and it still turned out perfect! Will follow directions next time and see if it makes a difference. Thanks for sharing!

      1. I don’t normally like chocolate, but my daughter requested a chocolate frosting, so I decided to try this one. Everyone loved it, even me!

    2. Oh that sounds interesting did sub out all the cream /milk for sour cream or just some of it

    3. I’m so badly want to make this icing but I only have salted butter, can I just leave out the 1/8 teaspoon salt then? Or won’t it work?

      1. Hi Kayleen, absolutely. You can make the frosting with your salted butter, taste the completed frosting, then add a pinch of salt if you need/want to cut the sweetness. Enjoy!

  2. Wow! I *thought* I had a great, simple chocolate buttercream recipe…yours is LUSCIOUS! My new go-to. Thank you!

  3. This is beyond decadant. Love it! Also made your ‘favourite Vanilla buttercream frosting’ and I can’t decide which i like better .

  4. I tried to make buttercream frosting few times and failed all the time, until I found your recipe. Finally I’ve succeeded. Thank you for sharing.

  5. JUST finished frosting my chocolate cupcakes with this buttercream! It’s EXCELLENT! Definitely not too sweet. Perfect cocoa taste. Your amounts are spot on! Thank you!

    1. Really easy and really delicious. Used this on the sides and to decorate a German chocolate cake with traditional coconut pecan frosting between layers and on top.

  6. I love all your recipes, thank you so much. I am trying lots of different cupcake recipes for my sons wedding. Which tips did you use to decorate the cupcakes in this picture?

    1. Hi Ann! We used a Wilton 1M piping tip in the pictured cupcakes. Our Piping 101 post and video shares all of our favorite piping tips and tricks for cupcakes — hope it helps!

      1. Hi Andrea, you could try adding some espresso powder until it reaches the flavor you’re looking for. Enjoy!

  7. I just made this recipe this evening, and really liked it! so divine! I will say though that instead of using 3 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar, I cut that down to only 3 cups, and it was perfectly balanced. Not too sweet, and will pair VERY well with the Hershey’s chocolate cake, and strawberry filling I prepared. I was worried that the 3 1/2 would be too sweet for the cake and filling, so that is why I cut it back. Tomorrow, I’ll make your vanilla buttercream to ice the outside of the cake, and then wrap it in chocolate lace! Thank you for sharing!

  8. Ooh, the reviews make this sound so good! I plan to make this recipe tomorrow for my daughter’s birthday cupcakes. However, I only have salted butter, and I see that the recipe calls for unsalted. Do you know how this will impact the outcome?

    1. Hi Mandy, salted butter will work here as well. Make the frosting according to the instructions but without salt, give it a taste, and then add salt to you liking if you want to cut the sweetness a bit. Hope you enjoy this one!

  9. The vanilla extract/ alcohol flavor was initially too strong for me. It dissipated after the cake sat frosted at room temperature overnight. Next time I would cut the vanilla extract by half. After that, the frosting was very good.

  10. I found this recipe in the spring of 2019 and I have been making it since!! Now I just need a soft, moist , super chunky chocolate cake recipe oh and easy then I will be happy

  11. I love all your recipes! You have become my go too when I’m searching for something. I have an odd question. Sometimes I like to use both vanilla and chocolate icing on a baked good. Is there a way to separate out some vanilla then add the chocolate or am I stuck making two batches which I don’t need. Thank you so much for sharing your talent with us.

    1. Hi Carla, it’s best to make separate batches in our experience – you can always make smaller batches!

  12. I *love* this frosting, but I feel like I did something wrong this go around (I’ve made it once before). I frosted the cake shortly after the frosting was made but by the time I spread the last bit of frosting and went to add the sprinkles, they wouldn’t stick to the frosting…. I’m not sure what I did wrong. Thoughts?

    1. Hi Stacey! Is the frosting particularly cold? It will harden up if it’s cold/applied to chilled cakes.

    2. That’s because the frosting crusted. American buttercream crusts after a few minutes. To get your toppings to stick, you have to sprinkle them on within a minute or two. Icings like Italian meringue buttercream or Swiss meringue buttercream do not crust.

  13. Hi
    Can this recipe be doubled? I want to frost a 8x8x3 stacked on a 12x12x3. I was worried about the amount of butter if doubled. This recipe sounds amazing! I saw the other recipe but liked this one. Thank you in advance!

    1. Hi Gerbie, yes, you can double this buttercream. Enjoy!

  14. Wow, these were Excellent! The cake is moist and has a good crumb. I got 15 out of my batch. Not sure if I did not use enough frosting but I piped them on and I had plenty left over. If I were younger I may have just eaten the frosting alone.

  15. Hi there, i love your recipes. I have been searching for a white chocolate buttercream recipe, any chance you have one?

    1. Hi Vivianne! We would recommend the white chocolate frosting from these cupcakes. You may want to 1.5x or 2x the recipe, depending on how much you need. Let us know if you give it a try!

  16. I’m learning to bake cakes and I am very happy with this recipe! I followed every step carefully and didn’t need to add extra sugar or cream for the frosting. I ran out of just cocoa powder for the frosting so I used the dark chocolate for half of it and it tastes like heaven

  17. Hi Sally,

    I love this recipe. I have a question about freezing. Do you typically just freeze in a plastic container? Or do you use bags? I am worried about it changing the taste.

    Thank you,

    1. Hi Kelly, the most air tight container will work best! You could even try a bag inside a container for extra protection.

  18. I haven’t had much success with buttercream in the past, but this was the silkiest, most delicious buttercream I’ve ever tasted! Piped beautifully on a big batch of cupcakes for my granddaughter’s birthday. Thank you so much!

  19. How long is this frosting stable at room temperature? Some of the other buttercream recipes say it needs to be refrigerated once put together. I’d like something that can stay room temperature on a cake for a few days. Will this work?

    1. Hi Lori! We usually advise that anything decorated with buttercream is fine for a day at room temperature, but should be stored in the fridge beyond that.

  20. I love this recipe!
    I must confess that I added 100 grams of melted milk chocolate to the cream and it is gorgeous.

  21. I needed a go-to chocolate frosting to put between layers of a german chocolate cake I was making and knew I didn’t have to worry! It fit in perfectly, especially because it’s not so sweet and when you are covering a cake with coconut and pecans in sugar, there’s already enough sweet. I’ve made this recipe a bunch of times and my mom is always asking if there is any left in the fridge afterwards. Thanks!

  22. I made this recipe yesterday (since my daughter wanted us to make my birthday cake) and it was delicious! Thank you for sharing.

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