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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. I made the chocolate cupcakes with chocolate buttercream icing for my daughter’s 8th birthday today. I found the icing sweet as per comments and after all it is buttercream icing so it is going to be sweet. I added some blood orange zest and a touch of it’s juice and it turned out fabulously just the bit of ‘zest’ I thought it needed!! Thank you

  2. Cup cake and frosting were so good!
    I made it and kids and my husband loved it!
    This recipe makes a lot of frosting for our taste, so I will try to cut it in half.

  3. I tried this chocolate buttercream recipe with your brownie recipe….amazing!!!

    I also refrigerated the leftover buttercream and then rolled them into little balls of icing. They were a hit! We called them chocolate bombs 🙂

  4. The best chocolate butter cream I have ever had! So amazing!

  5. I doubled the recipe and added extra cream to make it more easily spreadable for a cake with 2 8” rounds. It was absolutely divine in flavor.

  6. Made this frosting to go along with your simple vanilla cupcakes. Absolutely delicious combination!

  7. Absolutely the best frosting I have ever made. Silky does not describe it. Made it to frost cupcakes for the grandkids, but next time I’ll sub Baileys for the cream and call it Grannies Cake!

  8. I really loved this frosting. I am still in the process of making the cake. But this is seriously good frosting. I was looking for a chocolate cake recipe with not to much butter and this was perfect. Sally is a frosting queen.

  9. I just made this icing to go along with the chocolate cupcake recipe. By far the best homemade chocolate icing I have ever tasted…and so easy to make. I highly recommend this cupcake/icing combination!

  10. This frosting was perfect balance – not too sweet at all and very fresh! Way better than the store bought kind and will try the vanilla recipe next week. It did dry really fast and I couldnt get my sprinkles to stick ‍♀️

  11. This made the driest buttercream I’ve ever made. I had to add about twice the amount of heavy cream and double it because it didn’t cover my cake.

  12. This was so good! I used it in your chocolate mousse cake, because I only had two chocolate bars, and it came out amazing! So creamy and tasted perfect with that dark chocolate cake!

  13. Easy chocolate frosting to make. I was happy that I had all the ingredients in my kitchen. I used it for my vanilla cupcakes. Great reviews from my stay at home crew! Thank you! Stay safe

  14. I love the taste of the buttercream but was hoping for a darker color. It came out light brown vs the darker brown shown in pictures. Is there a way for me to fix this? I thought about adding more cocoa powder but since it tasted fine I just went on without any adjustments. Thanks!

    1. Hi Kelly! 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 my 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.

  15. Made this with black cocoa to go on a cake made with black cocoa. It’s fabulous!

    1. Buttercream frosting would be very difficult to cream together by hand. If you try, be prepared to use a lot of arm muscle!

  16. I also added a little bit of cooled melted chocolate for an extra chocolate flavor and it’s delicious!!! But, I’m curious how you get such a rich dark color. Mine seems quite a few shades lighter.

  17. Easy and delicious recipe! Wonderful for piping.

  18. My go to for chocolate buttercrem! Amazing to pipe or cover a cake. Forever receiving compliments. This recipe is so delicious, easy to make and perfect.

  19. The BEST chocolate frosting recipe! I only use this – it’s smooth and delicious.

  20. Just made this recipe and oh WOW it’s so yummy I’m going to have to make 2 batches as dont think the first will make it onto the cake it’s so yummy

  21. I really love this frosting. It’s the best chocolate frosting I ever ate. I used 2% milk instead of heavy cream, no salt and 3/4 dutched hershey’s cocoa.

  22. Very good chocolate frosting! I did decrease confectioners sugar to 2 1/2 cups with slight decrease in heavy cream to get right consistency. We prefer it a little less sweet. Delicious buttercream frosting. Whole family enjoyed. Thank you.

  23. I followed this recipe exactly as printed nd it was fabulous! My husband requested German Chocolate Cake for his birthday, and it was a huge hit! I will definitely save this one.

  24. So thick and creamy it was perfect for my sisters birthday cake thank you and I recommend this!

  25. Love how rich the chocolate taste and creamy this is, goes absolutely well on your chocolate cupcake! One question though, this buttercream has this gritty texture (I used icing sugar but unsure which kind of sugar it is made from), is it supposed to happen? And how do I make it smoother?

    1. Hi Dorothy! So glad you enjoy this. Try sifting the confectioners’ sugar (icing sugar) before using next time– that will help smooth out the texture.

  26. This is such a delicious and easy recipe! Thanks so much!

  27. My favorite secret ingredient in chocolate frosting is to add in Kahlua. So I made this replacing the vanilla essence and some of the cream with Kahlua. Yum Yum Yum!

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