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. AWESOMENESS! I love this chocolate buttercream on spice cake. Added a little coffee to it to bump up the chocholateness. Is that a word?
    Anyway, thanks for the awesome recipe. Spice loaf and cupcakes are demanding my attention.

    1. was really good with a pinch of espresso powder

    2. How much coffee did you add?

      1. Maybe a teaspoon of dry roasted coffee, even decaf, top a few teaspoons of warn enough water to dissolve. Some granules left over are okay. Mix in at any stage. Try a tad extra vanilla if desired

  2. Hello Sally,
    This is my first time making this frosting and all I can say is, WOW! This is delicious!!
    Thank you for sharing this recipe!

  3. Hi Sally (and/or others)!
    What would happen if I used salted butter?
    I like less sweet frostings (don’t have cream cheese ) and I kinda want to make cupcakes, so I even have unsalted butter, but I was wondering how it would work?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Emma, You can use salted butter here. No changes to the recipe needed. Before adding any salt, taste it, then salt as desired. If using unsalted butter, feel free to play around with the salt measurement to get your desired level of sweetness. Or, you might like our Swiss meringue buttercream instead — it’s slightly less sweet than a traditional American buttercream like this recipe. Hope this helps!

  4. Love this frosting it super yummy! One question can this frosting be outside?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Reshmi, absolutely. This frosting can be outside, so long as it’s not for an extended period of time / too hot or too humid. Glad it’s a favorite for you!

      1. Awesome!!! Thank you soo much

  5. OMG! This is the best frosting. So easy too!

  6. This chocolate icing was the best ever! Had to keep my grandson & husband from eating with a spoon!
    Thank you so much & will be trying the vanilla, also!

  7. Amazing recipe! I was thinking of batch making for the cakes I have coming up. How long can this be kept in the fridge in an air tight container?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Beth, cover tightly and store for up to 1 week in the refrigerator.

  8. Can i cover this frosting with fondant?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Ken, yes, this buttercream holds up well under fondant.

  9. AMANDA SUZEL says:

    Will this recipe be enough to frost a triple layer cake? I don’t like the frosting super thick.

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Amanda, we’d recommend following the chocolate buttercream ratios from this cake to ensure there is enough for a three layer cake (even if you don’t like a thick layer). Enjoy!

  10. Katie Zupan says:


    I just started baking again in a very long time, and love your recipes and your website, especially your explaining the “hows” and “whys” of certain ingredients and recipes. In your Chocolate Buttercream Recipe, you instruct to use butter at room temperature, but you don’t instruct to use the heavy cream at room temperature. Should the heavy cream be at room temperature, also? My understanding is that all refrigerated ingredients should be at room temperature for baking. Am I wrong? Looking forward to your input to set me straight on this! Thanks so much!

    Katie Z.

    1. Hi Katie, thank you so much for your thoughtful comment! If a recipe calls for room temperature butter, it’s best to bring all other ingredients to room temperature unless otherwise noted. For frosting, you’re really only using a few Tablespoons so it doesn’t matter as much. However, it doesn’t hurt.

  11. Hi there, can’t seem to get unsweetened cocoa powder, could I use normal cocoa powder?

    1. You definitely should not add normal cocoa powder in place of unsweetened.Cocoa powder has more fat and more concentrated cocoa, so you would need to change the mass of all your ingredients to level out the fat in the recipe. You COULD try to use it, but you would want to make sure you used less than the original recipe called for unsweetened cocoa powder. Coming from experience, switching those 2 ingredients is like spelling out trouble for your frosting/cake. Hope this helped! Have a wonderful day!

  12. Fadia Hijazi says:

    Yum, looks so good. I was looking at your “Perfect Swiss Buttercream” recipe and was wondering if you recommend that for vanilla cupcakes more than the “Favorite Vanilla Buttercream”?? Making vanilla and chocolate cupcakes for my husband’s 50th birthday and need the right frosting recipes. Would you recommend a chocolate swiss meringue buttercream or this chocolate frosting? Is it too sweet like typical american buttercream? Whats best for the vanilla cupcake? Swiss meringue looks so light and good but afraid it wont hold to sprinkles?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Fadia, this chocolate buttercream is a sweet American buttercream. Swiss meringue buttercream will be less sweet but both will taste delicious on vanilla cupcakes. We would love to hear what you choose to do – happy baking!

  13. Thank you for this recipe. I have tried other butter cream recipes before and they just didn’t turn out. This was so easy and it is delicious. I was so proud. It’s very decadent.

  14. Hi Sally, can I use chocolate essence instead of cocoa powder in the icing? My cocoa powder is a bit short.

    1. Hi Leanne, we don’t recommend it. Stick with cocoa powder here.

  15. This looks a great recipe! I’m struggling to find a simple chocolate recipe but this one sounds good! Is it okay to use normal cocoa powder as I can’t seem to find unsweetened ones? Also will this be enough to cover a 3 layered cake? Or will I have to make up a few batches of it? 🙂

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Megan, unsweetened is best for this recipe. See recipe notes for quantities for layer cakes. Enjoy!

  16. Ayesha Tariq says:

    Hi, Sally if I wanted to ice 24 cupcakes, can I double the recipe of buttercream.

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Absolutely. Enjoy!

  17. LaWanda Williams says:

    Hello Sally! I dont have heavy whip can i sub for milk instead?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi LeWanda, Yes, you can use milk for frostings – It’s not as thick as heavy cream so just add it slowly until you reach your desired consistency.

  18. Shirley Bridges says:

    Off the charts DELICIOUS! And SO incredibly CREAMY! Independent of one another, everyone in my family said the exact same thing…”This tastes like and is as creamy as the best ice cream, ever”. I couldn’t make that up! After saying that, my 91 year old Mother said, “Please don’t ever lose that recipe”! I used to make cakes for people and wished I had this recipe then! I know this isn’t a crusting buttercream, but I wondered if you’ve tried adding Meringue Powder to it…I wonder if it would crust enough to smooth using the paper towel technique? Thank you again and again. Since I’ve made so many of your recipes now (and every one is a winner), I’m certain I’m now an addict of Sally’s Baking Addiction!

  19. Can the frosting be frozen?

  20. How would I adjust this recipe for 1 cup of buttercream?

  21. Faryn MacMillan says:

    My mom begs me to make this frosting on cupcakes for her once a month. It is delicious and the only chocolate frosting I’ll use now.

  22. Totes Maggots says:

    For anyone that is not a baker and for some reason you’re here trying to frost things this is the one! Super easy. I didn’t even have a hand mixer I had to use a whisk! This was perfect and my partner loved it.

  23. Simple ingredients, great tasting, easy to make and a crowd pleaser! This recipe is a staple in every moms kitchen.

  24. I whipped salted butter but it never got creamy. Added cream and conf sugar and whipped and whipped. Looked grainy. Added cocoa. Looked grainy. White lumps from conf sugar. So took a can of frosting and put it over grainy frosting.

  25. Paula Fitch says:

    I am ADDICTED to Sallys Baking Addiction!

    Question…can I substitute shortening for the butter?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Paula, we don’t recommend replacing all of the butter with shortening, but you can use half butter and half shortening (so 1/2 cup of each) for a crusting buttercream. Enjoy!

  26. Christine Peters says:

    Sorry – it must be the European in me but I thought it was way too sweet. I’ll try to make it again but will cut the sugar in half 🙂

  27. Delicious!!! One question…does the cake or cupcakes need to be refrigerated with this frosting? Or is refrigeration just needed if wanting to store extra frosting?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Suzanne! The frosting (on a cake or cupcakes) is OK at room temperature for 1-2 days, but should be refrigerated after that. Use your best judgement here — during particularly hot months, it should be stored in the fridge right after serving.

  28. Lisa Creuzer says:

    We have to stop meeting like this. My family is convinced I am a baker. I used this on your cupcakes. TBH they looked like s*it emojis. Delicious!

  29. Sharon Servaty says:

    It turned out perfect for my grandson’s birthday cake! Now we’re just waiting for him to arrive to see what he thinks

  30. Is there a way to make this buttercream entirely by hand without a mixer?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jess, you can, it will just take a bit of arm muscle!

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