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 basic; it’s incredibly CREAMY, silky, smooth, and rich. Like a decadent brownie in frosting form. Melts in your mouth and tastes unbelievable on chocolate cupcakes.
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:
- Cookies and Cream Cupcakes
- Yellow Cupcakes
- Coconut Cupcakes
- Pumpkin Cupcakes
- Banana Cupcakes
- Chocolate Cupcakes
- Chocolate Raspberry Cake
- 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!
Help! My Chocolate Buttercream is Really Light in Color
After beating so much air into the mixture, chocolate buttercream can lighten up in color. Of course this doesn’t change the flavor at all, but if you want it a little darker, I have a tried-and-true thick.
Take 1 cup of the prepared buttercream (you can just eyeball it, a little less than half). Place it in a heatproof bowl. Microwave it for 10 seconds. This loosens the mixture up and helps the confectioners’ sugar and cocoa powder combo absorb more of the liquid. Place that back into the big bowl of frosting and stir it in by hand. The frosting should be smoother, and darker in color.
More Favorite Frostings
- Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
- Strawberry Buttercream Frosting
- White Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
- Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- Cream Cheese Frosting & Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
Favorite Chocolate Buttercream
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- Special Tools (affiliate links): Electric Mixer (Handheld or Stand Mixer)
- Quantity: This recipe makes 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!
Reader Comments & Reviews
I made this buttercream yesterday for my chocolate orange cupcakes. I added a couple tablespoons of fresh squeezed orange juice to the recipe. This was a great recipe! It was nice and fudgey without being overly rich. This will be my go to chocolate buttercream from now on, thank you!
This frosting is so creamy and not too sweet. Easy to make as well
My granddaughter and I made your super moist chocolate cupcakes with this frosting last weekend. Absolutely delicious. We accidentally ran out of vanilla extract so used peppermint extract in the frosting and wow! We can’t wait to try more of your recipes.
Is there a way to half the chocolate buttercream recipe?
Hi Cat, you can halve all the ingredients to make a smaller batch.
I just made a half recipe to go on a wacky cake I mixed up for RAK day. Absolutely delicious and very easy, thank you so much!
I just made the favorite chocolate buttercream and it’s amazing! Every time I search for a recipe and see that there’s one from Sally’s Baking Addiction is a no brainer for me. Never disappointed with your recipes.
I did this one for chocolate cupcakes with raspberry filling. This frosting was perfect for them!!!!! Thanks!
Hi Sally , I made this buttercream and it was very bitter how can I fix the bitterness? I used Hershey unsweetened cocoa. What am I doing wrong? Also do you have a favorite gel food coloring you would recommend. Thank you
Hi Kristen, is your container of cocoa powder expired by chance or have an off-putting smell? For next time, you can try reducing the cocoa slightly and using a bit more confectioners’ sugar to increase the sweetness. We like to use Americolor brand gel food coloring (not sponsored, just genuine fans!)
I literally weighed everything into a bowl and beat with with the hand held – this frosting recipe is foolproof and delicious! Love your recipes – thanks
This frosting recipe looks very interesting and I would like to try it out, but I have a question first. I am making a double layer cake and I would like to know if I can store the cake once it’s been frosted on the counter under a domed glass lid.
Hi Terry, you can leave a cake covered with this frosting at room temperature for about 24 hours. Much long after that, and we’d recommend storing in the refrigerator.
I want to bake a rosette cake. Will the consistency of this buttercream be okay for that? If not, how can I make it so that I can pipe rose flowers on the cake?
Hi Sara, this frosting is excellent for piping. Enjoy!
Well, bummer. I couldn’t read the recipe because ads were covering most of it – Incoildnonly see the first few letters on a li e.
I x-ed out and sent feedback to Google ads that they stomped on my buttercream buzz!
(This was on mobile – headed to my laptop now to find the recipe. It sounds delicious!)
Hi Molly, thank you for reporting it. Ads should never cover the content on my website; they are filled between the content. We will look into this issue today. Sorry for the trouble and thank you again!
I loved the frosting, although I did find it a bit too sweet and not chocolate-y enough. Is there a way to reduce the amount of sugar without changing the consistency and make it more chocolate-y?
Hi Aurelia! You can try swapping some of the powdered sugar for more cocoa powder – let us know how it goes!
I made this to top brownies for a party using Dutch process cocoa. Everyone loved it – couldn’t stop raving about it!
We used Hersheys cocoa powder (unsweetened) and it was a little bitter…. Guessing that is a cocoa problem…. And recommends on cocoa brands?
We added more sugar, vanilla and cream and seemed to offset most of the bitter- still a great recipe.. just looking for advice!
Hi Mary Ellen, I use Hershey’s brand unsweetened as well (not the Special Dark one). I guess it’s a matter of personal taste. If you want it sweeter, go ahead and add more confectioners’ sugar like you did!
Gorgeous recipe . How is it best to store the iced cupcakes ? In the fridge or at room temperature? Thanks
Hi Joan, some cupcake recipes may have different storing instructions, but in general, you can store cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days and in the refrigerator up to 5.
This is my second time using this recipe, and both times for German Chocolate cake. I had a recipe very close to it if not exactly the same. Anyway since I lost that recipe I have felt lost making chocolate buttercream. I adore this frosting. I added a bit more salt as I have a salty palate and I noticed that the Milk Bar frostings all have much more salt than one would expect and are amazing. Also Paula Dean says she always adds a bit more salt. I also added a bit of high ratio shortening (probably 2 or 3 tablespoons) for the emulsifiers and creaminess it adds. I still used a full cup/two sticks of butter though. I also added the cocoa to the whipped butter before the sugar. The first time I made it earlier the 45ml of cream was plenty but now the weather is dry and I needed more. The changes are minor and more about my quirks than anything else but I adore this recipe and give you all the credit. If I had a site I wouldn’t change a thing because not everyone keep high ratio shortening in their pantry or has a salty palette. Next time I might heat the cream and dissolve the cocoa in it to see if it releases the chocolate flavor more. It might not make a difference. Anyway, thank you. I love your recipes.
I made exactly as said and it was too thin. I keep adding confectioners sugar but it never would thicken up. I am at high attitude. I don’t know if that makes a difference or not. I put in fridge hoping it will thicken as it gets colder. We shall see. Taste great though.
This is my first time making a real frosting. (I usually make whipped topping) I was a little apprehensive, but it turned out beautifully! I sifted all the dry ingredients per your response to someone’s comment about graininess. I ended up adding 2 extra tablespoons of heavy cream in total, after all the initial ingredients. Patience is definitely key. Will make again. 🙂
Perfect chocolate buttercream recipe – just the right consistency for piping and covering a cake. It also tastes great.
Can I make this orange chocolate flavoured? Do you have a chocolate orange buttercream recipe? And could I use this frosting for the chocolate peanut butter cake instead of the on frosting under the ganache?
Hi Justine, we can’t see why not! You can try adding a touch of orange extract/orange juice and even some orange zest for flavor. Amount will depend on how prominent you want the taste — we’d start small, taste, and adjust as needed. You can use this frosting on the chocolate peanut butter cake instead of the peanut butter frosting, yes.
This is amazing? How far in advance can I make it?
You can store for up to 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 3 months in the freezer. See the recipe instructions for details.
I love this recipe! I use it every time I bake a chocolate cake or cupcakes. Sometimes I add a little more heavy cream and some peanut butter! Everyone goes crazy for my cakes now!! Thank you Sally!!
Hi there – thank you so much for your recipes. I love baking everything on your site.
I have a question; I want to make the yellow cupcake recipe in 3 6inch pans.
I would like to use this as the frosting.
Is the frosting recipe for cupcakes enough for the cake I am making or should I make one of the other portions at the end of the recipe? Thank you for any help!
Hi Becky, this recipe yields about 2.5 cups of chocolate buttercream, so we would recommend 1.5x the recipe for a 3 layer, 6 inch cake. Or if you plan on doing substantial decorating/frosting, you could even double it. Hope you enjoy it!
Could we sub half of the butter for hi ratio shortening? I need stability in this heat.
Hi Kasey, yes, you can substitute half of the butter with shortening for a “crustier” buttercream.
Can I use half and half instead of heavy cream?
Half and half will work!
Yup, the best chocolate frosting I have ever had! Followed recipe to a T. Wouldn’t change a thing. Excited to have my guest enjoy it for my daughter’s birthday party!
Just made this. Turned out grainy and lacked shine or silkiness. Not sure what I did wrong. Very disappointed. Not blaming the recipe because I love Sally’s recipes normally. Just will have to keep looking for something that works. I am a very proficient baker but don’t work with chocolate that often. Have to figure it out.
Hi Laura, how strange. Sometimes frosting texture can depend on the brand of confectioners sugar you are using. If you find yours is gritty try sifting the sugar after measuring it next time. That should help!
Did you accidentally put a drop of water in it? I’ve had chocolate mixtures ‘seize’ before when I accidentally put water in it. They turn grainy and stiff. Only way to rescue it is to add more liquid
Not too sweet, creamy and stiff enough for piping. I did get air bubbles when trying to frost the cakes, but I was able to get them out with repeat smoothing. Would hand whip next time to try to prevent bubbles
I had grand plans to make a cake for my daughter’s 5th birthday and I had a disaster of a first go using a ganache instead of buttercream, thank goodness I found this recipe, so easy and amazingly delicious! Thank you!!
I made this to use on a gluten free chocolate cupcake. It was perfect. I used Hersheys special dark chocolate cocoa powder. I followed the recipe exactly. I didn’t need to add more cream or sugar. This will replace my “go to” chocolate frosting recipe. Thank you
This icing was delicious on chocolate cupcakes! I added 3 cups of powdered sugar instead of 3 and a half because I like the icing a little less sweet.
I am astonished at the thought but I don’t think I’ve ever made chocolate buttercream before. So good! I had some Dutch process cocoa lingering in my cabinet and used that. So good! Now I’m curious what the difference in taste is compared to regular cocoa. Going to have to make another cake, I guess! So good!
My granddaughter and I made this to frost chocolate cupcakes (your chocolate cupcake recipe). She and her sisters (10 to 15) then took turns piping the frosting (like in the cupcakes recipe video). Everyone had a good time. The recipe is easy to follow and seemingly foolproof. We’ll make this again.