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 basic; it’s incredibly CREAMY, silky, smooth, and rich. Like a decadent brownie in frosting form. Melts in your mouth and tastes unbelievable on chocolate cupcakes.
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:
- Cookies and Cream Cupcakes
- Yellow Cupcakes
- Coconut Cupcakes
- Pumpkin Cupcakes
- Banana Cupcakes
- Chocolate Cupcakes
- Chocolate Raspberry Cake
- 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!
Help! My Chocolate Buttercream is Really Light in Color
After beating so much air into the mixture, chocolate buttercream can lighten up in color. Of course this doesn’t change the flavor at all, but if you want it a little darker, I have a tried-and-true thick.
Take 1 cup of the prepared buttercream (you can just eyeball it, a little less than half). Place it in a heatproof bowl. Microwave it for 10 seconds. This loosens the mixture up and helps the confectioners’ sugar and cocoa powder combo absorb more of the liquid. Place that back into the big bowl of frosting and stir it in by hand. The frosting should be smoother, and darker in color.
More Favorite Frostings
- Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
- Strawberry Buttercream Frosting
- White Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
- Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- Cream Cheese Frosting & Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
Favorite Chocolate Buttercream
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- Special Tools (affiliate links): Electric Mixer (Handheld or Stand Mixer)
- Quantity: This recipe makes 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!
Reader Comments & Reviews
This is my new go-to chocolate buttercream recipe! I am not an experienced baker and I still get amazing results with this recipe. I would highly recommend this recipe!
I’m usually not someone who enjoys buttercream, but this recipe is sooooo good!
Hi may I know if we can halve the icing sugar in this buttercream recipe? I have made this and my family finds it too sweet Thanks for your advise Sally!
Hi Candy, Reducing the sugar would make this very thin. While you can try that you can also add a bit extra salt to help offset the sweetness.
Is this buttercream suitable for filling, crumb coating and icing a 3 layer cake before applying fondant? I’m struggling to find a firm chocolate buttercream that doesn’t result in bulging fondant
Hi Alisha, this buttercream is firm enough to hold up under fondant. See recipe note to yield enough for a 3 layer cake. You may have enough for filling and a thin crumb coat, but if you want extra to be safe– use the ratio via the link provided in the notes.
Thank you so much! I made a batch last night, covered and chilled my cake overnight then covered it this fondant morning – it held beautifully and was so easy to get sharp clean edges on the cake 🙂 x
Sally, I would like to use this for piping roses. Is this stiff enough? If not, how do i adjust it?
Hi Karen, this buttercream is firm enough for piping roses.
Will adding some peanut butter to a portion of the frosting (to use between layers) work? The person I’m gifting this mini mini cake to loves chocolate and peanut butter combos.
Hi Maria, Yes you can! You can see the proportions we use in the recipe for Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting.
OMG this is the BEST chocolate frosting I’ve ever made! As with all things chocolate, I added a smidge of instant espresso powder….not enough to taste “coffee”, just enough to make the chocolate more chocolatey! I may have to make a second batch because I just might eat the bowlful before the cupcakes cool!
The best frosting recipe I’ve tried! My kids and I are swooning. I printed it so I won’t lose track.
I just made your recipe for chocolate butter frosting, OMG this is the best frosting. The only thing I did different was to add a teaspoon of instant coffee to the 3 T of International Delight French Vanilla coffee creamer I used in place of the cream or milk. I frosted a white french vanilla flavored Duncan Hines box cake mix.
WOW! Followed the recipe exactly, and it was delicious and had the perfect consistency! Also made a batch with vegan butter/soy milk for my lactose intolerant brother in law, and it came out equally delicious (consistency was a bit different, as expected, but still worked great!)
Tried this one with your chocolate cupcakes! Though they’re marvelous, I wonder how I can adjust the sweetness??
Hi Marie, Is it the frosting that tastes too sweet? If so, and extra pinch of salt next time can help!
Hi Sally, I followed your recipe almost exactly (I was 1/2 c short of powdered sugar) and it came out delicious! Thank you so much for sharing! 🙂
This is perfect!!
Hi Sally, I made this for one of your chocolate cake recipes and it was really yuumy, but a bit too “buttery-tasting” for me — just a personal preference. Could I use part margarine and part butter for this recipe instead? If so, would I use the same weight measurements? I usually weigh my butter for accuracy, but with margarine, I’d just fill a half cup. Any tips? Thank you! I want to try this with your pumpkin cake recipe 🙂
Hi Jill, We don’t recommend using margarine for frostings. You can certainly try to use a bit less butter or try increasing the amount of cocoa powder to give it more chocolate flavor.
My frosting came out salty, it was so weird I followed the recipe exactly as shown and the salty after taste was the worst! I don’t know what I did wrong
This buttercream is perfect! I put in a little less sugar but it always comes out perfectly! Thanks for sharing this recipe!
So delicious and easy I couldn’t stop tasting it. Will use anytime I need chocolate frosting.
Really good recipe. So soft and creamy. Buy the best cocoa and you’ll love it.
This butter cream frosting is by far the best tasting chocolate and so easy to spread. It will be my go to #1 frosting In the future, thank you.
My mom and I made this to pipe onto cupcakes, and it took a few tries to get the right consistency. It was at too thick, so we had to keep adding more cream. Overall it was pretty good tho. One note is that is was SUPER rich.
Perfect recipe, just what I needed! Thanks a ton <3
This recipe was absolutely delicious! I did find that making it with half the butter makes it taste fabulous. But other than that it was amazing!
This is the best and easiest chocolate frosting I have tried. I have tried a few recipes from my cookbooks that were less than perfect (too chocolatey, too sweet, melted off the cake), so I looked online. I saw this recipe and another one that used the same ingredients but 5 cups of confectioner’s sugar and decided to try this one. Three and a half cups of sugar were plenty to make the frosting sweet and the right consistency. I frosted a 9-inch two-layer cake and had about 1 and 1/2 cups of the frosting leftover. I will make this again!
Hi Sally, I love your site and recipes. Quick question, have you ever made a buttercream with chocolate ganache? I just have some left over american buttercream and I’m wondering if I can combine it with a chocolate ganache, any thoughts?
I haven’t, actually! Adding a little shouldn’t be a problem. Make sure it’s cool before beating into the buttercream.
Is it possible to use almond milk as a substitute here or will it change the consistency too much? Thanks!
You can use almond milk in a pinch, yes.
UGH!! So good!!! My first time making home made frosting and it came out WONDERFUL with this recipe!! I’ll be sure to use this from now on, thank you so much!
It is sooo good!!!! This recipe is the best!!!!!
I made this and the chocolate chip cookie cake with my daughter. It was all fabulous. This buttercream tastes like eating fudge!
This icing was amazing!!!!! I doubled the recipe and had plenty for a 3-layer, 9” round cake for my son’s birthday as well as had plenty left over to freeze. As far as taste, it was delicious! This will be my go-to recipe from now on.
Thanks so much for sharing your recipes, I have been following them for years with wonderful results. Just a question it possible to use double cream instead of heavy cream in the frosting? I know the fat content of double cream is higher, just wondering if that would ruin the frosting
Hi Sarah, That should be fine for this frosting.