This is my all-time favorite chocolate frosting recipe, and I think that once you try it it’ll be yours, too! Just 6 ingredients needed and it will easily frost a 2 layer 8″ or 9″ cake or generously ice a dozen cupcakes!
The Best Chocolate Frosting
Maybe you’ve seen this chocolate frosting recipe around here before. It’s made quite a few appearances, on my chocolate cake, vanilla cupcakes (pictured above), and my vanilla cake (just to name a few), and finally it’s getting its own place on the blog.
Use it to top off your favorite cake or cupcake recipe, or just enjoy by the spoonful (you’ll get no judgement from me!).
What makes this the best chocolate frosting:
Well, you’re going to love it because it:
- Is richly chocolatey, without being too rich. The chocolate flavor complements whatever you put it on without being overwhelming!
- Is soft, smooth, and creamy.
- Uses less sugar than classic buttercream frosting or chocolate buttercream, perfect if you think most frosting recipes are too sugary or sweet!
- Absolutely melts in your mouth.
- Pipes beautifully, or frosts a cake smoothly.
What You Need
Here’s what you need:
- Chocolate. Real melted chocolate gives my chocolate frosting its incredible flavor and firm but fudgy consistency once it’s cooled. Chocolate bars (my preference) or chocolate chips will work fine.
- Powdered Sugar. This thickens and sweetens the frosting. One thing I love about this frosting is that it uses less sugar than your average frosting recipe.
- Butter. I use unsalted then add a pinch of salt for best flavor. Your butter should be at room temperature. If it’s too cold, small bits of the chocolate may harden as your ingredients are being combined and you will have chocolate bits in the mix rather than a smooth chocolate frosting.
- Vanilla Extract. Added for flavor! Any good chocolate is enhanced with a splash of vanilla to add depth of flavor.
- Heavy Cream. The small amount of heavy cream is the other part of what gives this chocolate frosting its smooth texture and rich flavor.
SAM’S TIP: You can use dark chocolate, semisweet, or milk chocolate for this frosting. If you want to use white chocolate, see my white chocolate buttercream recipe instead
Remember, this is just an overview of the ingredients I used and why. For the full recipe and all details, please scroll down to the bottom of the post!
How to Make Chocolate Frosting
- Chop chocolate into small pieces (only if you’re using a bar, no need to chop if you’re using chips) and melt in 15-30 second increments, stirring in-between, until completely melted. semi-sweet chocolate into same-sized pieces and place in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat the chocolate in the microwave for 30 seconds and stir. Let the chocolate cool until it’s no longer warm to the touch (but not re-solidifying) before continuing.
- Beat butter until creamy, then drizzle in melted (cooled) chocolate. Make sure the chocolate’s cooled, or the butter will melt and you’ll have a greasy chocolate frosting!
- Add the sugar in small amounts, stirring after each addition. Thoroughly stir in salt and vanilla.
- Drizzle in heavy cream and gradually turn up your mixer speed to high. Beat for 30 seconds for a light, silky smooth frosting!
Frequently Asked Questions
Make sure that your chocolate hasn’t begun to re-solidify before you add it to the butter. If this happens, small pieces may harden and you’ll have flecks of chocolate throughout the frosting. This will make piping the icing especially difficult.
If you heat the chocolate too quickly in the microwave, it could seize, giving it a grainy, rather than smooth, appearance. If this happens, toss out the chocolate and start over or your frosting will be pebbly.
While heat can make a frosting soft, melt-y, and even runny, with this recipe the culprit is usually that your chocolate was too hot. Stir it occasionally as it cools and make sure if you touch the melted chocolate or the bottom of the bowl it doesn’t feel warm to the touch.
Unfortunately I don’t recommend using cocoa powder for this recipe. If you’d like to use cocoa powder, see my chocolate buttercream instead.
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Let’s bake together! Make sure to check out the how-to VIDEO in the recipe card!
Chocolate Frosting Recipe
- Place your chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. Stir well. Return chocolate to microwave and heat for another 15 seconds and stir again. Continue heating chocolate for 15 seconds, stirring after each, until chocolate is completely melted and smooth.
- Allow chocolate to cool for at least 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. You want chocolate to cool so that it is not hot to the touch, otherwise it will melt your butter and sugar and the frosting will not turn out.
- While the chocolate is cooling, place butter in a separate bowl and use a stand mixer or electric mixer to beat until creamy.
- Add melted, cooled chocolate and stir well.
- Gradually add sugar, scraping down the sides and bottom of bowl occasionally so that ingredients are well combined.
- Sprinkle in salt and vanilla extract, stir well.
- With mixer on low, gradually add heavy cream to frosting. Gradually increase speed to high and beat for 30 seconds.
- Pipe or spread frosting onto prepared, cooled baked good.
¹How many cupcakes/how much cake will this frost?This recipe will modestly cover 24 cupcakes or generously (as seen in the photos above) cover 12 cupcakes. You can also cover an 8″ or 9″ cake or a 9×13″ sheet cake. If you want to use the frosting for decorative borders around the cake, increase the recipe by 50%.
²ChocolateIf you don’t have semisweet chocolate bars you can use 1 cup (170g) of semisweet chocolate chips instead.
³ButterI recommend using unsalted butter, but if you only have salted on hand you can use that, just leave out the salt in this recipe.
Making in AdvanceThis frosting may be made in advance. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator with a piece of plastic wrap pressed firmly against the surface. When ready to use, let it come to room temperature then remove the plastic wrap and stir again to regain that smooth consistency before using.
Piping TipI used an Ateco 848 piping tip to pipe the cupcakes seen in the photos above.
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.
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This recipe was originally published January 8th, 2018. While the recipe remains unchanged, I’ve updated the text of the post photos and added a how-to video.