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. Oh god it’s a beautiful thing, Sally! 🙂

  2. Can’t wait to try!

  3. I love your frostings, Sally and especially how you always use them to decorate cupcakes. I need to hone my frosting skills a little more – huge swirls of frosting atop a little cupcake are the best!

    1. practice makes perfect!

  4. Sally, I don’t like a super sweet buttercream. So instead of adding cocoa powder to a lot of sugar, can I just replace some of the powdered sugar with cocoa powder and add less cream? You’re the frosting expert, please answer! Haha.

    1. That would work, yes, but you’ll have less frosting– and it will be slightly greasy because of all the butter (and not enough dry ingredients).

  5. Debra Rice says:

    I’m going to make this chocolate but was wondering if you mnew a recipe for frosting  that is good to make flowers with! I’m still learning to decorate. Teaching myself would be easier if I could find the right recipe for frosting I can use. Thank you for your time Debra

    1. Try her vanilla buttercream 😀

    2. Hi Debra! I’d try this vanilla buttercream. Holds its shape beautifully. https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2017/05/14/vanilla-buttercream/

  6. Hi Sally,
    Any ideas for less sugary frostings? I.e., less than a cup of powdered sugar? Like Mily I don’t like it super sweet…or the guilty feeling when I eatmore than one frosted treat!

    1. Kathryn Grace says:

      I always halve the sugar in any frosting recipe, which leaves it plenty sweet. Of course, I get a little less frosting that way, but I don’t like them super sweet either.

  7. That looks absolutely amazing! I might have to try this on my Dutch oven cake. 

  8. Malika A. Black says:

    I was looking for a frosting recipe to go with a chocolate birthday cake and cupcakes.
    This is great! I love the texture of it.

  9. Laura | Tutti Dolci says:

    Please pass me a spoon – this buttercream is pure perfection!

  10. Could I replace the vanilla extract with almond extract?

    1. If you like the taste of almond extract and chocolate together, yes!

  11. I just made this frosting, and the taste and texture are perfect!! What are your thoughts about storing it, if I’m making the cupcakes to serve the following day? Refrigerator or room temperature?

    1. Refrigerator 🙂 And cover it tightly!

  12. Hi..i want to know by heavy cream in the buttercream recipe you mean whipping cream??

    1. depending where you live, that product is heavy cream or heavy whipping cream. Similar milk fats. 🙂

    2. Holly Burrows says:

      heavy cream is double cream in the uk

  13. Sharon K (The Farm Chick Bakes) says:

    Sorry if you stated previously Sally, but what Wilton Tip # did you use to frost these delicious looking  chocolate cupcakes? 

    1. Wilton 1M

  14. Hello Sally,

    I have a handheld mixer, and I do not have a paddle attachment. I was wondering if Hamilton Beach’s “soft scrape beaters” would do the job ? I would really appreciate a response (:

    1. That should do the trick.

  15. Made these last night to take to the office – just because I love to bake 🙂 OMG! They are wonderful and were a huge hit! Definitely will make these again. Thank you, Sally!

  16. Hello sally,
    Just checking If I don’t not use heavy milk, normal milk as stated is it going to work out fine too the frosting? 

    1. You can use whole milk instead. Heavy cream will provide the creamiest consistency though.

  17. Would the buttercraem be ok to make and store in a container over night ready for wedding the next day? I don’t want to make everyone ill ?

    1. That’s completely fine. Make sure it is refrigerated.

  18. I don’t have a paddle attachment for my mixer.  Can I still make this icing? What would the difference be if I just used the regular mixer attachments? 

    1. A whisk attachment works too!

  19. Dominique Haddad says:

    Hello, can I still make this butyercream, if I don’t have a paddle attachment. The only thing I have is a Hand Mixer with the regular attachment. Thank you.

    1. Hand mixer works!

  20. Made these with these cupcakes and came out great!  Hit at my 3 year olds birthday.  I just put an M&M on each one.  I whipped by hand.https://www.google.com/amp/www.food.com/amp/recipe/moist-deluxe-dark-chocolate-cake-mix-copycat-duncan-hines-129855

    1. Glad they were a hit! Happy birthday to your little one!

  21. If I want more frosting, can I just double the ingredients?

  22. Hi Kristen! Calorie counting calculators online can often be inaccurate (different brands/products/etc) and I would hate to publish wrong information on my website. Sometimes I share an estimate, but that’s rare– feel free to calculate at your own discretion!

  23. This is an incredible recipe! My husband said it’s the. Eat I’ve made…thanks!

    1. *the best 🙂

  24. I made this as well as your vanilla buttercream to frost some cupcakes we’re taking to a BBQ…I’ve never seen my husband so enthusiastic about licking the frosting bowl!

    1. I love that!!! 🙂

  25. If I only have salted butter to use, can I use it and just not add in the extra salt?

    1. I would taste it before adding salt, then add some if you feel it needs it.

  26. Hi Sally!

    Can I use this recipe and add black frosting gel to turn it into a black frosting?


    1. Absolutely!

  27. If I am using this for a cake how long can the cake be at room temperature after frosted and still be safe for consumption?

    1. Usually a couple days, covered tightly, is fine.

  28. Can I replace the butter with shortening? Because if I use butter will melt easily in here

  29. Hey Sally….does this hold up well in 80 degree weather.  Wedding in a barn this weekend and no AC.  I know my normal frosting will melt.  Thanks. Claire 

    1. Sure does!

  30. Love your recipes…they print out beautifully (for those of us that like a printed copy)…and I own some of your books.  Frosting question (I haven’t made frosting since 4H) – if I frost brownies with this recipe, can I wrap individual frosted brownies?  I’m doing a little fall bazaar at a nursing home.  Wasn’t sure if the frosting will stick to the wrap or brownie.

    1. The frosting will likely stick to the wrappers a little bit. 🙁

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