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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. My roommate’s girlfriend asked me for a cake for her birthday today. She wanted a chocolate frosting so I came to you. The frosting can not be any simpler to make. I did use 3 cups of powdered sugar and 3 tablespoons of heavy cream. It was enough to frost a 13×9 sheet pan. I’ll be making this one over and over again. Thanks for making the birthday girl even happier!

  2. I have a question. Whenever I’ve tried to make chocolate frosting with cocoa powder (instead of melted chocolate) in the past, it tastes more like hot chocolate than rich frosting, like pure cocoa powder. Do you know why this might be? I’d like to try this recipe because it seems easier than melting chocolate but I’m worried about having this happen again.

    1. Hi Brianna! This chocolate frosting tastes like real chocolate to me, so I encourage you to try it. You can always add a couple ounces of melted (and slightly cool) chocolate too.

  3. This is the best chocolate buttercream in the whole world. Thank you Sally

  4. This is the first time I’ve made frosting from scratch instead of buying pre-made.

    I will never buy store bought again. This is to die for! It’s not even in the same stratosphere. So, so delicious and easy to make! Thanks for the recipe!

  5. This recipe is great! I had 2 dozen cupcakes to frost and I decided to double the recipe. (Too much frosting is always better than too little!) I had enough frosting to make the cupcakes extremely decadent and put some in the freezer for later. Got many compliments from my husband and coworkers 🙂

  6. Perfect as written. 1 1/2 batches (with leftovers) generously frosts 24 cupcakes. A note about pastry bags – for the first time I didn’t use a disposable bag and won’t go back! Frosting no longer melts and I didn’t feel in such a rush. Thank you for a delicious recipe.

  7. Hi could I use this as both a crumb coat and a final all,over frosting for a 9 inch layer cake. I would probably have to double the recipe?

    1. The amount depends on how many layers, but yes this frosting works well as both a crumb coating AND frosting decor.

  8. Can this recipie be used as a macaron filling? If so,would I need to alter the recipe at all?

    1. This chocolate buttercream, as written, would be wonderful as a filling for macarons. Enjoy!

  9. I need to fill 2 cakes with this buttercream, but i don’t know how much frosting i should have. It is a 2 tier cake. Bottom cake 7 in with 3 tiers, top cake 4.5 in with 4-5 tiers. Can you please let me know how much frosting i should do? I assume that if i make the recipe twice, it will suffice to fill it and dirty ice it…

    1. Hi JoAnn! I would make 2 batches of this chocolate buttercream to ensure you have enough. You can freeze leftover frosting if needed. See step 2 for instruction.

  10. Hands down THE BEST chocolate frosting. Never fails and the perfect consistency. Thanks for sharing!!

  11. Hi Sally!
    Thank you for posting this recipe. My buttercream frosting was not as creamy as I would have liked. Should I have sifted my powdered sugar? The butter was took temperature and creamed beautifully prior to the addition of the sugar. What would you suggest?

    1. Hi Huma! Add a little more heavy cream to thin it out so it’s a little more silky smooth.

  12. Made a double batch and it’s SO GOOD. Brownie batter in frosting form is a perfect description! Only thing I didn’t double was vanilla because I don’t like overwhelming flavor. I will never need another chocolate buttercream recipe, this is “the one”

  13. Hi Sally. I made this frosting just now to frost cupcakes with, and while it tastes great, it’s not as dark as yours. I want it to be darker because it just looks more decadent. I used natural unsweetened cocoa. Any suggestions?

    1. If it tastes great then you didn’t do anything wrong! It’s possible it’s just the lighting in the pictures! If you want a super dark chocolate frosting you can try using special dark cocoa.

  14. Do you think I can ice the cupcakes the night before and it will still be good for the next day?

  15. I just made this frosting a few minutes ago for cupcakes which are currently cooling. Oh my goodness this recipe is PERFECTION!! I’d like to note a couple of things since they were just mentioned recently: I only had half-and-half on hand and it worked out great. I also had Special Dark cocoa powder and that worked great as well. That cocoa powder is a blend of natural and “Dutched” cocoa, and it makes the frosting turn out to be a really really dark, nearly grey-black colour.
    I sifted my confectioner’s sugar and cocoa powder together before adding it to the butter, and the result is a frosting smoother than a new-born baby’s soft sweet little face!! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe!!

  16. Hi Sally,

    I’m looking for a white choc frosting recipe to add to your vanilla naked cake – what would you suggest? Hoping to make it for my Grandma’s 80th Birthday!

  17. This is some seriously good icing! Mine turned out a few shades lighter than Sally’s but it’s still delicious (I think the lighter color is because I whipped the butter longer than 2 minutes – until it was super fluffy and white) You know it’s tasty when my hubby, who prefers cool whip icing, says “That icing is GOOD.”

  18. This is the only buttercream recipe that I manage to follow successfully and it taste really good. I used it for cupcakes and also for a two layer cake that got rave reviews.

    I am gonna try your vanilla buttercream next.

  19. Perfect and absolutely delicious. I used dark chocolate cocoa powder. Amazing!! Thanks Sally!

  20. Came out so good! Next time I might use a little less confectioners sugar but it’s so yummy, pretty and easy.

  21. Just absolutely fantastic. Quite literally the best chocolate frosting I have ever tasted, and everyone that tastes this agrees. Thank you for such a great recipe!!!

  22. Sally, I absolutely adore this chocolate frosting, and have made it several times. This time, I need to make ahead and will store in the fridge for 2 days before I need frost my cupcakes. How long should it set out of the fridge before recreating it, I assume it needs to come to room temp.
    Michelle V

    1. Depending on the temperature where you live about an hour on the counter should bring it back to room temperature. Give it a mix before you use it!

  23. Really rich and decadent, goes amazingly well with the super moist chocolate cupcakes! A keeper!

  24. Delicious frosting! Instead of vanilla extract I added a little oil and chocolate sauce because we ran out of the vanilla extract. So good!

  25. I would adore this recipe if I could get that silky texture but mine is granulated and I can taste sugar in spite of processing the sugar. I added half a teaspoon of milk but it didn’t get absorbed into it. Do tell me what to do

    1. Hi Sarah! Are you using icing sugar? It sounds like you are processing the granulated sugar itself. It may not be powdery enough. Can you get your hands on icing sugar/confectioners’ sugar?

  26. Giving credit where credit is due: this is a definite go to recipe. 5 minutes with handy ingredients and you have a silky, delicious, cooperative and freezable buttercream. Thank you!

  27. Super delicious, and so creamy! Due to dairy intolerance, I substituted 1/2 vegan margarine and 1/2 Crisco shortening, and used coconut milk. Worked perfectly, and I’ll use this recipe as my go-to from now on! Thanks!!!

    1. Thank you Cathy, you gave just the information I was looking for. I’m making chocolate cake for our friends for Valentine’s Day!

  28. Just made the buttercream frosting, and my family loved it. Used it to frost a 4 layer marble cake.

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