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

  2. 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.

  3. Lorraine gloria Callaghan says:

    Thanks it’s an excellent recipe

    1. Can I use this recipe plus black food coloring gel to frost a birthday cake black?

      1. yup.
        the colour doesn’t do anything to the recipe.

  4. I saw your dark chocolate frosting, but I like the “shape”/consistency of this frosting, could I do a direct substitute using the Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder for this recipe?

    1. Yes, you can use your favorite type of cocoa powder here, including Hershey’s Special Dark.

    2. Rosemary Jackson says:

      The taste is perfect might be better than cake With The Reese peanut butter cups inside! Thanks for the yummy topping the kids usually eat just the frosting anyways!

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

  6. Nadine Santerre says:

    Very smooth and creamy I love this! I substituted a couple tablespoons of strong coffee and it has a delicious mocha flavor now Ohmygoodness!!

    1. That sounds delicious, Nadine!

  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 just realized my butter is NOT unsalted, is there something I can to make it less salty?

    1. You can use salted butter here. No changes to the recipe needed. Before adding any salt, taste it, then salt as desired.

  9. Melissa Franzen says:

    This frosting tastes incredible and definitely worked well for decorating! Wish I could post a cute picture of the cake I made!

  10. Such a delicious frosting recipe. How long can I keep it in the fridge for before I can reuse it?

  11. i made this frosting on my wedding cake and it was the best frosting I ever had it’s so creamy and yummy and everyone at my wedding loved it. My wife (the bride of the wedding) said that she rather Mary the frosting
    Instead of me.

    1. HAHA – I’m so glad it was such a hit, Myles!

  12. 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.

  13. Hello, Sally! I just made your super moist chocolate cupcake and it’s incredibly delicious and perfect. My question is, what kind of milk should I use for this frosting if I don’t have a heavy cream? Thank you!

    1. Hi Janine! Whole milk or half-and-half– or a nondairy or lower fat milk if you are in a pinch.

      1. Thank you for your quick response. Do you think using a whipping cream would be a good idea?

  14. Does this recipe make enough frosting to frost a 3 layer 6-inch cake?

    1. Yes, it does.

  15. Hi Sally, I am new to your blog. I made your pumpkin cream cheese filling and it turned out great. I was wondering if I can reduce the amount of powdered sugar 3 cups to 1 cup or can I substitute with a healthy sugar alternative?

    1. Hi Ransford, Welcome to the site! Reducing the amount of sugar in buttercream would leave you with a very thin frosting. For a lower sugar frosting I recommend trying Swiss Meringue Buttercream.

  16. Robin hamilton says:

    I know I saw the tip size for the decorating bag somewhere but can’t find it now. Was it an 8?

    1. Hi Robin! I used a Wilton 1M for the frosting on the pictured chocolate cupcakes 🙂

  17. Colleen Wildenhaus says:

    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!

  18. 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 ‍♀️

  19. 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.

  20. I have heavy whipping cream , but your recipe asked for heavy cream. Is there a difference and should I just use milk since I don’t have regular heavy cream?

    1. Hi Kaniel, You can use the heavy whipping cream. Enjoy!

  21. Hi Sally, this recipe tastes real good. However, after sometime it easily breaks. What’s the problem? How can I fix it? Thanks

    1. Hi Bambi, I’m glad you enjoy the way this frosting tastes! What do you mean when you say it breaks? Is the frosting cracking after you have decorated a cake?

      1. The edges of the frosting aren’t smooth and it looks grainy.

  22. Can I used buttermilk to substitute the milk or heavy cream? Does the quantity need to be adjusted?

    1. You can for a tangier frosting.

  23. My wife had a birthday today and I am not great in the kitchen (baking). She said she wanted yellow cake and chocolate frosting. No cake mix or frosting in the cupboard so from scratch it is. Google is great for everything :). Never made anything before from scratch. This recipe was so simple even I could do it. At first when mixing it didn’t seem like I did i correctly but…. It turned out great after mixing a little more!!!!! Bangin’ as my kids said. Very tasty. I may try to make everything homemade if it is that easy. Thanks!!!

  24. Absolutely delicious. I reduced the sugar to 3 cps and it was perfect. This will be my go-to cupcake frosting recipe from now on. Thank you!!

  25. 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!

  26. How many cupcakes does this do, when using as much as in the pictures?

  27. Trish Rossi says:

    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

  28. Am i able to substitute the milk with almond milk or other alternative milks?

    1. You can use nondairy milk in a pinch, yes.

  29. will there be enough frosting to frost 2 nine inch round cake?

    1. Hi Sophia, See the recipe notes for how much to make for a 2 layer cake.

  30. Kimberly NewtonWalker says:

    I am a Butter Cream fanatic. I like this recipe. I did add a little canned milk along with the heavy cream.

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