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. Is this recipe overly sweet? Does it have a gritty texture? I find that sometimes recipes with coca and powdered sugar they can have a gritty texture and is super sweet and so swiss meringue is my go to but this sounds so easy and delightful!

    1. I love this recipe! It has a really smooth and creamy texture and has the right amount of sweet. I would definitely recommend this recipe!

    2. Highly recommend! I made this recipe just this morning. I don’t typically have an issue with my ABC being gritty but…I sift my powdered sugar always. For this recipe I sifted about 2c of powdered sugar w/the cocoa (I used dark chocolate because that’s all I have), added it to my creamed butter with about 1 T milk and the vanilla. I beat it for a few minutes until it was smooth, added the salt, and another cup ish of sifted powdered sugar. I then added milk to reach the consistency I wanted and beat it again for another minute or so. It is delicious and piped beautifully. I piped generous swirls on 12 cupcakes and have a bit left over so I put it in the freezer. I think because the recipe calls for cocoa powder, which is inherently bitter because it’s unsweetened, you don’t end up with it being cloyingly sweet–which is issue with most ABC recipes. I will for sure make this again.

    3. If you add a smidge more heavy cream, that will help with the texture. I thought it was gritty but it smoothed out with a additional table spoon. It may also be how the powdered sugar was milled.

  2. This is a lovely buttercream! Made it yesterday and it came out with a creamy and beautiful texture. @Carrie, if you find that your buttercream is slightly grainy, have a look at your powdered sugar, some brands add cornflour which will give it a slight grainy texture.

  3. If I added 1/3 cup cocoa instead of 1/2 cup would I need to increase my sugar a bit?? I like a very light chocolate frosting

  4. Can this recipie be used as a macaron filling? If so,would I need to alter the recipe at all?

    1. This chocolate buttercream, as written, would be wonderful as a filling for macarons. Enjoy!

  5. How long could this buttercream be stored in the fridge?

    1. Hi Josie! Cover tightly and store for up to 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 3 months in the freezer.

  6. Could I use regular cocoa powder or is it better with the unsweetened?

    1. Unsweetened is best.

      1. Thank you! Made the buttercream this morning to go on my sons 16th birthday cake.

  7. I need to fill 2 cakes with this buttercream, but i don’t know how much frosting i should have. It is a 2 tier cake. Bottom cake 7 in with 3 tiers, top cake 4.5 in with 4-5 tiers. Can you please let me know how much frosting i should do? I assume that if i make the recipe twice, it will suffice to fill it and dirty ice it…

    1. Hi JoAnn! I would make 2 batches of this chocolate buttercream to ensure you have enough. You can freeze leftover frosting if needed. See step 2 for instruction.

      1. Hi Sally,

        Thank you very much!!! I am sure that it will be perfection!

        Thanks a lot! I will come back with feedback after the party 😀

    2. Making cupcakes and found this recipe. Do i have to refrigerate the cupcakes after I frosted them??

      1. The frosting is OK at room temperature for 1-2 days, but should be refrigerated after that.

  8. This is literally the best frosting I have ever had. I use it for everything. I’ve never messed it up, and it is always the perfect consistency. Thank you so much for sharing!

  9. Is it possible to make this frosting without using an electric mixer? Going to make your cupcakes for my son’s birthday next weekend, but don’t want to spend money on a mixer that I might never use again. Thank you!

    1. It would be very difficult to make frosting by hand! You can definitely use a hand mixer thought – it doesn’t have to be a stand mixer.

  10. I have two dozen cupcakes I need to frost r a baaby shower. Could I just double the recipe or do i need to make two batches?

    1. Hi Dana! You can certainly double it, but I find the texture is better when I work with only 1 batch at a time. But that’s your call!

  11. I only have Nestle Toll House Cocoa. It doesn’t say if it’s natural or Dutch-processed. It just says “perfect for baking 100% pure cocoa” and the only ingredient is cocoa. Is it safe to assume it’s natural process?

    1. Hi Elizabeth! It’s probably natural unsweetened cocoa.

  12. I have usually had problems with frosting in the past. So glad I found this – it is perfect. Used natural cocoa powder; only needed to add a little bit more cream.

  13. What cake part would you recommend for this frosting?

    1. This frosting can go with any cake you want! Marble, white, chocolate, even strawberry!! Enjoy!

  14. My boyfriend loves vanilla cupcakes and chocolate frosting. I tried this buttercream and needless to say they barely lasted a day! I plan on using this recipe much much more in the future! Delicious!

    1. Haha – is that a good or bad thing? 😉 I’m thrilled that they were such a hit!

  15. Hi Sally…Can i added melted chocolate like Callebaut dark chocolate chip inside the batter ? Thanks so much Sally !

    1. Hi Natalia! Adding real melted (and cooled!) chocolate to this chocolate buttercream recipe would require a little extra confectioners’ sugar to ensure the frosting holds its shape. Let me know if you try anything!

      Alternatively, I have a white chocolate frosting made with real white chocolate if you want to try that. You can replace the white chocolate with semi-sweet (or other variety) real chocolate.

  16. Hands down THE BEST chocolate frosting. Never fails and the perfect consistency. Thanks for sharing!!

    1. You are welcome, Karen!

  17. I tried this recipe because I already had all the ingredients except cocoa powder. This chocolate buttercream frosting was a big hit for a family
    birthday celebration. It was easy to prepare light, creamy deliciousness, even for those who regularly forego dessert.

  18. This recipe is delicious! I whipped it a bit more as I incorporated each addition of powdered sugar in small increments to keep it from being too gritty. I also added a bit more heavy cream than the recipe called for. It was just enough to get a crumb coat and add on a second layer, although it peeked through in spots. I also think that’s because I used the frosting to repair a chunk of the cake that had fallen apart in the center. This is my go-to chocolate frosting recipe!

    1. So glad you tried and love it! Thank you so much for sharing.

  19. I love your recipes I tried the chocolate cake it was a hit and the frosting was spot on…..thank you soo much

  20. Hi Sally!
    Thank you for posting this recipe. My buttercream frosting was not as creamy as I would have liked. Should I have sifted my powdered sugar? The butter was took temperature and creamed beautifully prior to the addition of the sugar. What would you suggest?

    1. Hi Huma! Add a little more heavy cream to thin it out so it’s a little more silky smooth.

  21. Excellent Frosting. Much better than the Hershey’s Cocoa Powder recipe I had been using for the past 20+ years.

  22. Hi! Can you use half and half or is heavy cream best? Thank you, Sally!

    1. Half and half also works wonderfully, yes!

  23. Made a double batch and it’s SO GOOD. Brownie batter in frosting form is a perfect description! Only thing I didn’t double was vanilla because I don’t like overwhelming flavor. I will never need another chocolate buttercream recipe, this is “the one”

    1. I’m thrilled that you like it so much, Liz!

  24. Hi Sally. I made this frosting just now to frost cupcakes with, and while it tastes great, it’s not as dark as yours. I want it to be darker because it just looks more decadent. I used natural unsweetened cocoa. Any suggestions?

    1. If it tastes great then you didn’t do anything wrong! It’s possible it’s just the lighting in the pictures! If you want a super dark chocolate frosting you can try using special dark cocoa.

      1. Thanks. I’ll try that next time

  25. Do you think I can ice the cupcakes the night before and it will still be good for the next day?

    1. Yes, they should be fine overnight! Enjoy 🙂

  26. I just made this frosting a few minutes ago for cupcakes which are currently cooling. Oh my goodness this recipe is PERFECTION!! I’d like to note a couple of things since they were just mentioned recently: I only had half-and-half on hand and it worked out great. I also had Special Dark cocoa powder and that worked great as well. That cocoa powder is a blend of natural and “Dutched” cocoa, and it makes the frosting turn out to be a really really dark, nearly grey-black colour.
    I sifted my confectioner’s sugar and cocoa powder together before adding it to the butter, and the result is a frosting smoother than a new-born baby’s soft sweet little face!! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe!!

  27. Hi Sally..beautiful frosting recipes..if I want to avoid making this much amount of frosting. CAN I MAKE IT EXACTLY HALF OF THE MEASUREMENTS written or if u can help me on them. Would be appreciated. Thanks

    1. Sure can! Simply cut the ingredients in half.

  28. Hi Sally,

    I’m looking for a white choc frosting recipe to add to your vanilla naked cake – what would you suggest? Hoping to make it for my Grandma’s 80th Birthday!

    1. Hi Holly! Here is my white chocolate frosting recipe. I recommend that you 1.5x the recipe to guarantee you have enough for the vanilla naked cake. What a wonderful celebratory cake!

  29. This is some seriously good icing! Mine turned out a few shades lighter than Sally’s but it’s still delicious (I think the lighter color is because I whipped the butter longer than 2 minutes – until it was super fluffy and white) You know it’s tasty when my hubby, who prefers cool whip icing, says “That icing is GOOD.”

  30. This is the only buttercream recipe that I manage to follow successfully and it taste really good. I used it for cupcakes and also for a two layer cake that got rave reviews.

    I am gonna try your vanilla buttercream next.

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