A surprisingly simple recipe for Chocolate Buttercream Frosting. This recipe is based off of my classic buttercream frosting, only modified to be a silky, rich, chocolate version! Easy and foolproof, this icing can be ready in under 10 minutes!
Silky smooth. Richly chocolatey. Perfect for decorating. Foolproof and flawless. Ready in under 10 minutes.
What more could you ask for in a chocolate buttercream frosting? Today’s recipe came by request from my mom. She told me that after making my vanilla cake, she found that she didn’t have the chocolate bars to make my existing chocolate frosting. My little sister insisted on chocolate, though, so she went somewhere else on the internet for one.
Oh, no 😅. I just can’t let that happen again. Fortunately, today’s recipe was super simple to whip up, an easy alteration of my classic American buttercream frosting. You only need a handful of ingredients and just as many minutes. I’m working on building up my frosting library so hopefully you (and my mom) can find every variation you need here on Sugar Spun Run.
What You Need (and some notes on substitutes):
Basic buttercream ingredients are all you need to make today’s recipe.
- Butter. I use unsalted and add salt (you can read more about why, or how to substitute salted butter). Make sure it has had some time to soften
- Powdered sugar. This should be weighed with a scale or measured the same way that flour is measured to avoid accidentally over-measuring and making the buttercream too thick.
- Cocoa powder. You can use natural or Dutch processed cocoa for this recipe. My preference is natural cocoa powder. If you have neither on hand but do have chocolate bars or chocolate chips, try my other chocolate frosting recipe instead.
- Vanilla extract. Even though this is a chocolate frosting, you want to add vanilla extract for depth of flavor.
- Salt. See above regarding the butter.
- Heavy cream. This gives the icing a silky smooth consistency. If you don’t have cream you can substitute milk, but you will most likely need less than indicated as milk is thinner.
This recipe may be doubled or tripled, granted your mixing bowl is large enough.
How to Store
Once you frost your cake (or cupcakes), the frosting can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for two days, or in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to seven days.
If you want to make the frosting in advance to use later, I recommend storing in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. Before spreading or piping it over a cake or cupcakes, you will need to allow it to come to room temperature again and then you may need to whip it once more with an electric mixer to help it return to the proper consistency.
Does this Chocolate Buttercream hold up to high temperatures?
As with most frostings, this recipe fares very well at room temperature, but does not hold up well to high temperatures.
Will it work under fondant?
Yes! This recipe is fine to use underneath fondant.
Other Frosting Recipes to Try:
- Cream Cheese Frosting
- Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- Peanut Butter Frosting
- Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
- 1 cup unsalted butter softened to room temperature (226g)
- 3 ½ cups powdered sugar (435g)
- ⅔ cup cocoa powder¹ (65g)
- 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅛-¼ teaspoon salt
- 3-4 Tablespoons heavy cream or milk plus more as needed
- A pinch of espresso powder would also be great in this recipe!
- Place butter in the bowl of a stand mixer (or use a large bowl and an electric mixer) and beat on low-speed until creamy and smooth. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.
- Add 2 cups (250g) of powdered sugar, cocoa power, vanilla extract, ⅛ teaspoon salt, and 3 Tablespoons of heavy cream and turn mixer to low speed. Stir until well-combined,
- Gradually (with mixer on low-speed) add remaining powdered sugar. The icing may appear pretty dry, this is OK.
- Add remaining heavy cream or milk, one tablespoon at a time. Start with mixer on low-speed and gradually increase speed to medium-high, beating on this speed for several seconds to whip each Tablespoon of cream into the batter. Add additional tablespoons of cream until a smooth, pipe-able consistency is reached.
- I recommend piping icing over your cupcakes or frosting your cake immediately. See notes in the post on how to store buttercream and use at a later date.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.
Hello. I wanted to write and thank you for this recipe and your tips. You don’t leave many questions unanswered, like, for example, if the frosting is ok at room temperature – which it is! I appreciate your attention to detail. I made this frosting last night and it turned out well. For some reason, I always mess up frosting, but not this time. I actually made it in a food processor without issue and was able to frost an entire three-layer 8” square cake. Thanks again!
I’m so glad everything has bee so helpful and I’m really happy to hear this turned out so well for you. 🙂
If using espresso powder. Do you still need to add salt?
Making the yellow cake and this frosting for my sons birthday.
Hi Christina! I would still add the salt here. 🙂
This is for sure about to become my all-time-favorite buttercream frosting! Just need to know- I saw in the video that you added additional heavy cream to your frosting to thin it out. However, I am not frosting a cake, instead planning to pipe this frosting on some cupcakes. (using your chocolate cupcake recipe!) So I wanted to know if I make my buttercream the same consistency as yours, will it still be good for piping on cupcakes? (i’m going for that lighter color, but do you think thicker is better for piping?)
Hi Livy! This is great for piping on cupcakes. 🙂
I made this last night and added quite a bit more than 3 T. I actually ended up using a bit more than 1/4 cup AND that’s not with any addition powdered sugar. It’ll depend on the weather, etc. In any case, it was still firm enough to use on cupcakes. It was LUSCIOUS 🙂
So rich and creamy. Absolutely Delicious
I want to make a rosette cake using this chocolate buttercream recipe. Can I pipe this buttercream? I want to make sure it is the right pipable consistency and that the flowers don’t fall off. Thanks
Hi Sara! This frosting pipes very well. 🙂
Made this chocolate frosting recipie for the first time and it is heaven in your mouth! Hoping I didn’t gain 20 lbs sampling it.
🤣 I’m so glad you enjoyed it so much, Lanette! 🙂
This frosting is excellent. My grandson is allergic to milk and I wanted to make a cake he could enjoy. I have made this frosting before as written and it is very good. I made it to go on a chocolate cake with Country Crock Olive Oil plant butter sticks last week and used unsweetened almond milk instead of cream. Everyone loved it and said it was better than the butter version. The olive oil in the plant butter cut the sweetness and it was still super creamy. The frosting still formed a crust. I have tried other Vegan butters and other versions of Country Crock sticks and they were okay. The Olive Oil sticks will be my preference from now on with cream. I did not add the salt or espresso powder.
Emily @ Sugar Spun Run
Hi Alice! Thank you so much for letting us know how this frosting turned out for you with non-dairy ingredients; that’s great to know! We hope your grandson loved the cake as much as everyone else ❤️ Enjoy!
I wanted to try to make both normal vanilla buttercream frosting and chocolate buttercream frosting in the same batch (to save some time!) if I do your normal buttercream recipe, take the portion out i would need for the vanilla frosting, then added the chocolate powder at the end, would it still turn out the same? Thanks!
Hi Julia! That should work just fine. I would add the cocoa powder to taste. 🙂
I just got done making this frosting, my first time ever making homemade, and it is AWESOME!!! I used one stick salted butter and one unsalted and did not add any salt to the frosting, put the heavy cream in a measuring cup and added the vanilla to the cream, I also added some Juan Valdez instant chocolate coffee to the cream and let it sit and dissolve, and added my cocoa to the powdered sugar ahead of time and gave it a stir with a whisk. If you are using a hand mixer, I would take your time adding the powdered sugar/cocoa, I added it in about 1/4 cup at a time and slowly added the cream as needed too. Worked out great! This turned out AMAZING!! I’m glad I stumbled upon this recipe!
Emily @ Sugar Spun Run
We’re so happy it turned out for you, Tina! Enjoy 😊
Hi Sam, this chocolate icing was phenomenal! I only had on hand special dark cocoa and oh my it was scrumptious on top of white cupcakes! A big thank you!
So happy to hear this, Kris! Thank you so much for letting me know how it turned out for you! 🙂