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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. Absolutely delicious buttercream! Not too sweet and perfect chocolate flavor, and it’s beautifully thick for piping. I’m putting it on your super moist chocolate cupcakes for a neighbor. She’s going to love them!

  2. Quick question, which specific brand did you use for the cocoa? Also did you use the Dutch processed cocoa or unsweetened natural cocoa

    1. Hi Chelsea! I usually use Hershey’s unsweetened natural cocoa powder. Sometimes I add a little Hershey’s Special Dark in there too!

  3. Best ever chocolate frosting I’ve made! I used a few and this was so creamy and easily piped. Loved it and I’ll use again that’s for sure. Thanks for sharing

  4. I’ve made this buttercream a few times and, while it is delicious and pipes well, I have been unable to achieve the nice deep color as seen in your photographs. I have weighed all the ingredients, tried a dark cocoa (Hershey’s Special Dark) and the icing always comes out a lighter almost mocha shade. What brand of cocoa do you use? Or could you make any other suggestions? Thanks!

    1. Hi Pam! I always use Hershey’s regular unsweetened natural cocoa powder. I find the Special Dark variety tints the buttercream a grayish brown color. The longer you whip chocolate buttercream, the lighter in texture AND color it will become. Try not to over-mix. Here’s a tip, though. Allow your butter to get extra soft– even softer than normal room temperature butter. “Greasy” (not melted!) butter as the base of chocolate buttercream yields a darker hue.

  5. Delish, delish, delish!!!!! Using it on my husbands vanilla birthday cake! YUMMMM!!!!

  6. Absolutely perfect for what I was making! Light fluffy and delish! Thank you for sharing!

  7. First of all……I have used so many of your recipes. I need a chocolate buttercream and am anxious to give this a try. I have been reading way too many recipes and should just know to follow you. Can you tell me why some say to use 1/2 crisco and 1/2 butter for buttercream? Perhaps it is in the crusting? Does this recipe crust at all? Our weather may be a little warm when these are needed. These would be for a morning meeting and I would really need to do the night before. Would that be a really bad thing? I really appreciate your help……….

    1. Hi Sue, You are correct! Usually crusting buttercream use shortening. This recipe does not crust but it does hold it’s shape beautifully when piped. If it’s very warm where you live you can cover your cake or cupcakes and store them in the refrigerator if you make them the night before. Enjoy!

  8. This frosting, paired with the Super Moist Chocolate Cupcakes was PHENOMENAL!

    1. Absolutely. You can prep it a few days ahead of time and refrigerate. Let it come to room temperature, then beat it for about 1 minute. You may need to add a little milk if it’s still too stiff. You can also freeze it for up to 3 months. See step 2.

  9. YUM! My mom just moved in with me, and she wanted cake with frosting first, and 3 dozen cookies (yes, she was that specific) next. Even though I goofed and added a whole teaspoon of salt, the frosting is delicious. Salted chocolate frosting…happy accident? Next, trying to decide which cookies to make, although I think we need to finish the cake first.

  10. Would this be too much to frost a two-layer 6 inch cake? I have been trying to determine how many cups of frosting this makes (maybe this is a dumb question) but do you literally just sum all the ingredients measurements to get the amount in cups of frosting? The website says to use 3 cups of frosting for a two-layer 6 inch round cake. I am trying to avoid having leftover frosting or else I’ll eat it alllllllllll 😀

    1. Hi Colleen, This recipe yields 2.5 cups of frosting. I think it would work for a 6 inch cake – I scale it up for larger cakes!

  11. Hey Sally, do you think this buttercream recipe would work well with a half naked cake?

  12. I love this frosting! I like to add about a tablespoon of black cocoa to give an even darker frosting for Halloween decorations. Great recipe!!!!

  13. I made a batch of white mini cupcakes, just because we love them. I made your chocolate frosting. It is by far the best I have ever made. It is to die for. The only change I made was that I used Navitas Organic Cacao. I also made orange and cherry frosting. I made some plain, but others I used chocolate/orange and chocolate/cherry. I had to freeze the extra, otherwise I would have kept eating it until
    I made myself sick. Will never use another chocolate frosting recipe.

  14. I made this to the exact recipe except instead of adding the 3 TBS of cream or milk, I added 3 TBS of French vanilla coffee creamer and it came out perfect! Excellent fudgey chocolate flavor, spreading and piping consistency and all around perfect. Thank You so much

  15. Sally, thank you so much for perfecting and posting this recipe. It really is the best chocolate frosting I’ve ever tasted. I’ve tried your cream cheese frosting too and it’s just as delicious. It’s so nice to just follow the recipe and not need to tweak anything! 🙂

  16. I just found your website about three weeks ago and I tried this recipe along with the vanilla buttercream frosting recipe last night, I made it into the cake version and it was my first time making a homemade cake and frosting, it turned out perfect! Thank you so much for sharing your recipes, I’ll definitely be making this again and trying other ones.

    I also took your suggestion and bought the pans you recommended, love them!

    I do have a question about the vanilla buttercream recipe, do you think if I reduced the amount of confection sugar to 3.5 cups, it wouldn’t be sweet enough or it would have more of a buttery taste? 4.5 cups was just a little sweet for me and I added some salt as you suggested to make it less sweet but it was still a little sweet for me but the frosting was absolutely delicious.

    1. Hi Giselle, I’m so happy to hear that you baked a homemade cake and frosting for the first time! Yay! Buttercream frosting is very sweet and if you reduce the sugar that much it would be pretty thin. You can certainly try it, but if you want it to hold up well or pipe anything you will need the full 4.5 cups. You an also try cream cheese frosting as it’s a bit more tangy:

  17. Worked perfect! I normally don’t care for buttercream and opt for cream cheese or ganache but the picture looked so nice that I tried it and it was delicious. Easy to pipe too! Thank you!

  18. I’m not a huge fan of buttercream – I prefer ganache or whipped cream, but I had a craving for a good old-fashioned chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream yesterday. I found this recipe for your favorite chocolate buttercream and whipped it up and I can honestly say it was perfect with my favorite chocolate cake recipe! Thank you so much, I’m definitely using this buttercream recipe again!

  19. Hi Sally can I replace cocoa powder with unsweetened cacao powder? If yes, any tweaks required ? Thank you !

    1. You can, yes, but cacao powder tastes more bitter. That might be exactly what you crave in a sweet chocolate buttercream, though. Enjoy!

  20. SO GOOD! this is a delicious and super pipeable icing. I replaced 20 g of icing sugar with cocoa to make it extra chocolatey and dark (it was still plenty sweet), and followed the mixing times closely and it made a very beautiful dark rich icing. I also blitzed the cocoa powder and some of the icing sugar in a food processor before adding them to get rid of any lumps. Good reviews from everyone at the birthday party I brought the cupcakes to!

  21. I made the chocolate butter cream frosting and a 2 layer cake today!! My first time Ever doing everything homemade and it was a huge success!! I’m so happy and it looked beautiful!! Thank you for sharing this recipe! I will definitely try your other recipes! It was AWESOME!

  22. Sweet Success! Made this the morning of my 6 year olds party and it was delicious! Even better the next day. The kids loved it too! Followed the recipe completely. I’m the worst cook on earth and you make me look like I have talent. Thanks Sally!

  23. Incredible recipe for basic but delicious chocolate frosting. I just used it on another batch of cupcakes last night. Thanks Sally>!

  24. Super easy to make and a delicious frosting! Licking the bowl clean and fighting over the last bits with my 14-year old daughter!

  25. Does this butter cream recipe crust at all after sitting on the cake? Or is it still going to be super soft like store-bought Frosting?

    1. Hi Regina, It does not crust, but unlike store bought frosting it will hold it’s shape beautifully when piped!

  26. Delicious. Thick. Holds its shape. Doesn’t crack. My go-to icing hands down.

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