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

Print
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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

Description

This is my favorite chocolate buttercream recipe. It’s incredibly rich, creamy, silky, smooth, and easy to work with for decorating cakes and cupcakes!


Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  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.

Notes

  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

283 Comments

  1. This is amazing frosting! I only had special dark cocoa on hand and it turned out delicious! I could eat it by the spoonful!

    My second favorite part is that there’s no sifting involved. Sifting powdered sugar is my least favorite part of making cakes.

    As always, thank you for a great recipe.

  2. Julie Driscoll says:

    My husband loves this recipe because he has a super sweet tooth. But, this recipe is way too sweet for me and ended up tasting like brown colored vanilla buttercream. I ended up adding some coffee and extra cocoa. Just want to add that I love your website. Your carrot cake muffins are my go-to.

  3. I definitely recommend adding a little espresso powder or just cold brew coffee to deepen the flavor but overall great frosting

  4. Would this recipe be enough to only fill a 3 layer 8” round cake?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sophia, follow these ratios for a 3 or 4 layer cake.

  5. As always, this recipe is so delicious! It’s my favorite go to chocolate buttercream

  6. I tried making this frosting for the first time and it was easy . The frosting was extremely tasty and the texture was perfect. I have left overs and will save for later. I had more then enough for a bundt cake.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      A perfect addition to a Bundt Cake, Joy! So happy you loved it.

  7. This frosting went perfectly with the chewy brownie recipe. The frosting is light and fluffy which lends to the insanely rich brownie taste.

  8. Absolutely delicious! Made with my granddaughter to frost our 9×13 dark chocolate cake. Perfect amount of frosting. This one’s a keeper.

  9. This icing is super easy to make and delicious!!! I did think that it tasted better the next day though. This will be my go to icing from now on, and I’ll make it a day ahead. Thank you for the amazing recipe 🙂

  10. This recipe is great–my coworkers love the vanilla buttercream I made with your recipe and I’m hoping they’ll like the chocolate version too! I added a little espresso powder into my cream and used a bit more cocoa powder per some of the comments; it tastes wonderful with a bit of adjustment, as I personally don’t like my frosting too sweet. If I wanted to frost double the amount of cupcakes (I was able to stretch this quantity to 20 cupcakes) should I double the recipe or just make it twice? Does it matter?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Skye, you can simply double the recipe — so glad to hear you enjoyed this one!

  11. Simply the BEST buttercream EVER. Do NOT change a THNIG !!!

  12. Followed the recipe exactly (even triple checked that I did it correctly) and it did not taste good at all. Almost had a coffee flavor to it. Tossed the whole thing out.

  13. Sally,

    This buttercream is perfection. It’s ridiculously delish!!!

    Thank you for sharing alllll your wisdom!!

  14. This is delicious. I had to add an extra table spoon of heavy cream but I think that’s because my kitchen is super cold today. I only had salted butter but it still needed the full 1/4 teaspoon of salt to balance. It’s smooth, a little fluffy and just the right chocolate level. If others found it lacking in flavor my suggestion would be to use really good butter and vanilla. That where all the interest comes from for the chocolate to shine.

  15. I know going into any recipe that things like time of year, house temperature, even brands can all cause fluctuations in the outcome. So here we are, dead of winter (Valentine’s Day 2021 during a polar vortex snowstorm, as it were) and I opted for whole cream but ended up needing it a bit thinner so I added a tbsp milk and 2 tbsp crisco and it was PERFECTION! The perfect all purpose chocolate frosting! I loved the fluffy but rich consistency & it was the perfect addition to my black magic bundt cake! Five star eats, without question!

  16. Any reason why mine didn’t turn anywhere near as dark as yours even though I followed directions to a “T ?”

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Tonya, 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 our 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. Hope this helps!

  17. 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!

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

  19. 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!

  20. 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.

  21. Can i cover this frosting with fondant?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

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

  22. Katie Zupan says:

    Sally,

    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.

  23. 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!

  24. 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.

  25. 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!

  26. 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!

  27. 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.

  28. 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.

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

  30. 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.

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