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. 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.

      1. Perfect Chocolate Buttercream! Smooth & creamy so yummy. thank you!

      2. Jeanne-Marie Morson says:

        Just made this amazing chocolate butter cream tonight. So decadent! If you have access, try Cocoa Barry /Callebaut products (French/Belgian). The quality of their cocoa powder makes this icing taste like a French butter cream fondant from a Chocolatier! Bon goût!

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

  3. Tina Rutkowski says:

    I am going to sub black cocoa on a chocolate stout cake

    1. Janet Elman says:

      Add some brown gel paste food coloring for a darker brown.

  4. Chantelle Adkins-Head says:

    Great recipe!

  5. Can I use this recipe without hand or stand mixer?

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

  6. Hello! I have made buttercream icings in the past with milk. I noticed your recipe says you can use heavy cream. What is the difference between using heavy cream vs. milk?

    1. Hi Martha, Heavy cream produces a richer, creamier frosting. Lower fat milk will work also but your frosting will not be quite as creamy.

  7. Alejandra Herman says:

    Hi I don’t have confectioners sugar. I used a mortar to make it smaller. Any tips? Also do you heat butter cream at all? TIA

    1. I have never made my own confectioners sugar, but you should be able to make it in a high powered blender with a little corn starch: https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/242092/confectioners-sugar/
      I don’t heat buttercream frosting.

  8. 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.

  9. Easy and delicious recipe! Wonderful for piping.

  10. Can you use coconut milk or cream rather than heavy cream or milk ?

  11. I love the taste. However, I made this using blended granulated sugar and it didn’t turn out smooth and silky. I could still feel and see the sugar granules even though I grounded the hell out of it. So I really do recommend using store bought confectioner’s sugar. Nonetheless, my kid and I love it.

    1. Can you use icing sugar to make buttercream as I haven’t heard of confectioners sugar, only icing granulated and caster sugars!

      1. Hi Sandra,
        Confectioners sugar, powdered sugar and icing sugar are the same thing. Different countries have different names for it.

  12. 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.

  13. This was perfection! Taste and consistency were spot on. During this pandemic I’ve been baking cakes for others and trying out new icing techniques. Your icing recipe was super easy to work with. Thanks so much!

  14. I made this today as a macaron filling (swirled it with your homemade salted caramel- delicious!) Because the macarons were quite sweet I didn’t want too much of a sweet-buttercream taste, so I added 150g melted dark chocolate, lots of cocoa powder and just a little icing sugar. Turned out great!

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

  16. How many cupcakes can iced by this recipe?

  17. Laura Jackson says:

    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

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. Hi sally,
    I have icing sugar. Is that the same as confectioners sugar ?

    1. Hi! Yes, it’s the same.

      1. As a beginner I want to know which rack should I keep my tin as my oven is a basic electric freestanding model. Usually the base and sides burn before the centre is cooked. What is going wrong?

  21. Sarah Brown says:

    This is terrific! Just curious, I used unsalted butter and added salt as directed. I noticed the flavor of the frosting has a pop of salt. It’s not unpleasant at all, but I was surprised that I could taste it. Did I not mix it properly? Is it supposed to be like this?

    1. Hi Sarah! You prepared the recipe correctly. What kind of salt did you use? I recommend regular table salt for frostings. If you decide to try it again, feel free to taste the frosting, then add salt to fit your tastes.

  22. once piped onto cupcakes will it hold 24 hours at room temp?

    1. Hi Marilyn, After decorating anything with buttercream it’s fine for 1 day at room temperature. After that, I would definitely refrigerate it. But, use your best judgment and whatever you are comfortable with- I’ve never had any problems leaving frosted desserts at room temperature for a day

      1. Thanks, yes I just covered the box they were in. Big hit at early bday party outside, distanced, in the woods!!
        Again, another fantastic recipe thank you.

  23. Looking forward to trying this recipe. I’m curious why you use unsalted butter and then add salt? Could you use salted butter with no added salt? Is the concern that would be too salty or not salty enough using that method?

    1. Hi Heidi, When you use unsalted butter in a recipe, you can control the exact amount of salt in your baked good. When you use salted butter, you have no idea how much salt you’re using because it varies between each brand you see at the store. This is my full post on salted butter vs unsalted butter if you wish to read more about it!

  24. If I want to half your recipes what should I do? Since quantity will reduce, how will it affect the baking time? Will baking time reduce too?

    1. Hi Hana, Which specific recipe are you asking about? In general you can cut most recipes in half. For things like cookies and cupcakes the bake time wouldn’t change as they will still be the same size, just less of each. For a smaller cake size the bake time would decrease.

  25. I love this recipe it is so good and creamy!

  26. This turned out so good! So many icing recipes out there turn out runny or too sweet but this one is perfect. I made it for my dads birthday cake! Thank you 🙂

  27. Hi there. Can I add food colouring to this recipe to get coloured frosting or would that not work with chocolate? Looking for pinks and purples.

    1. Hi Sarah, For pink and purple you will have better luck tinting vanilla buttercream.

      1. Thanks Sally. Would vanilla go well with a chocolate cake? Or any other lighter frostings you can recommend? Or should I just stick with the chocolate?

  28. 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.

  29. Natalia Martinez says:

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

  30. 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.

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