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. Julie Driscoll says:

    My husband loves this recipe because he has a super sweet tooth. But, this recipe is way too sweet for me and ended up tasting like brown colored vanilla buttercream. I ended up adding some coffee and extra cocoa. Just want to add that I love your website. Your carrot cake muffins are my go-to.

  2. Hi Sally! can I cut the choc. buttercream frosting in half to frost a small batch of cupcakes?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Ana, you sure can! Simply halve all ingredients.

  3. This frosting is literally the best frosting I’ve ever tasted. I’ve tried different ones before, and they tasted HORRIBLE. I have a very sweet tooth and this is amazing, I love all your recipes Sally! Whenever I feel like making something yummy I go to your webzite , thank you!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Thank you for the positive feedback, Yasmin — we’re so glad you enjoyed this recipe!

  4. I had to modify this recipe because it was sooooooooooo grainy.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hello! Try sifting your confectioners sugar before using to help make sure there are no large grainy pieces.

    2. Does the cake after frosted need to be refrigerated?

      1. That depends on how warm your kitchen is, how soft your icing is. I prefer to put it in the fridge after frosting and let it set for 20min. Then I add decor (like name writing etc) and put it back in the fridge for another 15-20 min or 30min before I serve it. I’m just a moderately experienced home cook, not professional in any way. hope this helps!!

    3. Sifting is a must!
      Sugar and cocoa.

  5. These are my new go to chocolate cupcakes! Thank you! ❤️

  6. I was disappointed in this recipe. It just didn’t taste as good as I expected =(. I measured out the ingredients on my scale, but it seemed like there was way more than 3.5 cups of powdered sugar.

  7. Such a bad recipe broke my whisk and went all over my house I follwed the recipe exactly

    1. The recipe broke your whisk? What? Went all over the house. Even in the bedroom?

    2. That is not possible. I followed it exactly using a half recipe, which fit my KitchenAid mixer bowl perfectly, whisk is fine, kitchen is clean. Delicious. I’m betting operator error on this one!

      1. If you don’t have a mixing bowl then it can get a little messy…I ended up getting frosting over my counter. Maybe try hand mixing it next time?

    3. Cool story

  8. I definitely recommend adding a little espresso powder or just cold brew coffee to deepen the flavor but overall great frosting

  9. It was good but there was really not enough of it, and I followed the recipe exactly!

  10. Would this recipe be enough to only fill a 3 layer 8” round cake?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sophia, follow these ratios for a 3 or 4 layer cake.

    2. Would cupcakes frosted with this buttercream (or the vanilla buttercream) have to be stored in the refrigerator, or would they be ok at room temperature for a couple of days?

  11. As always, this recipe is so delicious! It’s my favorite go to chocolate buttercream

  12. I tried making this frosting for the first time and it was easy . The frosting was extremely tasty and the texture was perfect. I have left overs and will save for later. I had more then enough for a bundt cake.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      A perfect addition to a Bundt Cake, Joy! So happy you loved it.

  13. Would cupcakes frosted with this buttercream (or the vanilla buttercream) have to be stored in the refrigerator, or would they be ok at room temperature for a couple of days?

    1. Susan glodoski says:

      I always leave my cakes out and have never had a problem.

  14. This frosting went perfectly with the chewy brownie recipe. The frosting is light and fluffy which lends to the insanely rich brownie taste.

  15. I noticed your recipe mentions at the bottom how many cupcakes it will FROST. I’m assuming that is simply frosting them…like spreading a layer on the cupcakes. What is the ratio of this recipe to PIPE cupcakes high, like the ones in your photos?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Pamela! This will be enough frosting to frost with a beautiful swirl like the photos. If you like your cupcakes extra tall you can multiply the recipe by 1.5 to make sure you have enough.

  16. Absolutely delicious! Made with my granddaughter to frost our 9×13 dark chocolate cake. Perfect amount of frosting. This one’s a keeper.

  17. Hi, I only have buttermilk on hand; could I use it for the frosting?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Emma, the frosting should be delicious with the buttermilk, but we haven’t tested it ourselves.

  18. This icing is super easy to make and delicious!!! I did think that it tasted better the next day though. This will be my go to icing from now on, and I’ll make it a day ahead. Thank you for the amazing recipe 🙂

  19. This might be a stupid question, but how would i mix it if I don’t have an electric mixer? In other words, how long would i have to whisk everything and would the texture of the mixture be different?

  20. This might be a stupid question, but how would i mix everything if i don’t have an electric mixer? In other words, how long would i have to “whisk” everything, and would the texture of the mixture be different?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Rebecca! It can be done but it takes a lot of arm muscle to make any frosting by hand!

  21. This recipe is great–my coworkers love the vanilla buttercream I made with your recipe and I’m hoping they’ll like the chocolate version too! I added a little espresso powder into my cream and used a bit more cocoa powder per some of the comments; it tastes wonderful with a bit of adjustment, as I personally don’t like my frosting too sweet. If I wanted to frost double the amount of cupcakes (I was able to stretch this quantity to 20 cupcakes) should I double the recipe or just make it twice? Does it matter?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Skye, you can simply double the recipe — so glad to hear you enjoyed this one!

  22. Simply the BEST buttercream EVER. Do NOT change a THNIG !!!

  23. Followed the recipe exactly (even triple checked that I did it correctly) and it did not taste good at all. Almost had a coffee flavor to it. Tossed the whole thing out.

  24. Sally, I made this recipe with Swerve confectioner’s sugar since I needed a no sugar added version. Tastes great! I measured instead of weighed the Swerve since it weighs differently from real sugar. I also made sure to sift the Swerve since it is a little clumpy. A little thicker using Swerve so I added a splash of extra cream. Thanks again for a great recipe that I was able to convert.

  25. Sally,

    This buttercream is perfection. It’s ridiculously delish!!!

    Thank you for sharing alllll your wisdom!!

  26. This is delicious. I had to add an extra table spoon of heavy cream but I think that’s because my kitchen is super cold today. I only had salted butter but it still needed the full 1/4 teaspoon of salt to balance. It’s smooth, a little fluffy and just the right chocolate level. If others found it lacking in flavor my suggestion would be to use really good butter and vanilla. That where all the interest comes from for the chocolate to shine.

  27. How long am I supposed to let the cake cool before putting the frosting on it ?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Nasiaj, it’s best to let any cake completely cool before frosting. If the cake is too warm, it may start to crumble on the outside as you try to spread or pipe the frosting.

  28. I love the taste of this buttercream is lovely. I just wondered I couldn’t pipe it very easily , could this have needed more cream or was the butter too cold? I left it out over night but was a very cold night and heating wasn’t on.

    1. Beckie- add a few tsp milk (better for thinning than cream) or a tbsp crisco vegetable shortening- repeat a dollop at a time until it’s where you want it. Winter is brutal on buttercream frostings! Enjoy!

  29. I know going into any recipe that things like time of year, house temperature, even brands can all cause fluctuations in the outcome. So here we are, dead of winter (Valentine’s Day 2021 during a polar vortex snowstorm, as it were) and I opted for whole cream but ended up needing it a bit thinner so I added a tbsp milk and 2 tbsp crisco and it was PERFECTION! The perfect all purpose chocolate frosting! I loved the fluffy but rich consistency & it was the perfect addition to my black magic bundt cake! Five star eats, without question!

  30. Any reason why mine didn’t turn anywhere near as dark as yours even though I followed directions to a “T ?”

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Tonya, Over-whipping adds more air to the buttercream which lightens up the color as well. Feel free to add more cocoa powder to darken (and milk/heavy cream to offset that dry ingredient). Or try one of our favorite tricks– place the frosting in a microwave safe bowl and heat for a quick 10 seconds. Stir with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. This helps pop any air bubbles and the warmer butter creates a darker looking frosting. Hope this helps!

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