Perfect Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Recipe

The Perfect Chocolate Buttercream Frosting recipe is essential when it comes to birthday cakes and other celebrations around my house.

Perfect Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Recipe | ©

It compliments so many delicious cakes and cupcakes, but my favorite is when it paired with my favorite chocolate cake recipe, chocolate cupcakes or even my white cake recipe. But seriously, it is pretty delicious on anything it touches. Like a spoon works just fine, too! Ha!

Thankfully, this chocolate buttercream frosting recipe comes together quickly and makes plenty of buttercream frosting to frost a three layer cake or three dozen cupcakes beautifully.

Perfect Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Recipe | ©

Here’s my Perfect Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Recipe. I can’t wait to hear how you love it.

4.8 from 239 reviews
Perfect Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Recipe
Prep time
Total time
Perfect Chocolate Buttercream Frosting is an essential when it comes to birthday cakes and other celebrations. Get this family favorite, perfect chocolate buttercream frosting recipe.
  • 1½ cups butter (3 sticks), softened
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 5 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon espresso powder
  1. Add cocoa to a large bowl or bowl of stand mixer. Whisk through to remove any lumps.
  2. Cream together butter and cocoa powder until well-combined.
  3. Add sugar and milk to cocoa mixture by adding 1 cup of sugar followed by about a tablespoon of milk. After each addition has been combined, turn mixer onto a high speed for about a minute. Repeat until all sugar and milk have been added.
  4. Add vanilla extract and espresso powder and combine well.
  5. If frosting appears too dry, add more milk, a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency. If it appears to wet and does not hold its form, add more confectioner’s sugar, a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency.

Robyn xo

You may also want to try my White Chocolate Buttercream Frosting recipe as well.

1,073 comments on “Perfect Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Recipe”

  1. Made this fabulous chocolate cake with icing last Sunday on my son’s 4th bday and everyone loved it! The chocolate icing is to die for! Thanks for Robyn!

  2. If I don’t want too much frosting to be left over when I use this recipe with your chocolate cake recipe (which is only 2 layers), by how much should I cut down these measurements?

    • I don’t cut down the recipe for my Chocolate Cake. I use all the frosting. Hope you enjoy it! Thanks!

    • These are the measurements I use for frosting a 2 layer cake (including sides) with no frosting left over:  1 stick butter, 1/3 cup cocoa, 2 cups confectioners sugar, 3 oz. milk (I use buttermilk), 3/4 teaspoon vanilla, and 1/6 teaspoon espresso powder.  I love frosting but had too much left over and these are the proportions I came up with and they work for me, and the results are great.  Hope this helps.

  3. Hi I live in Perth WA and this is my go to cake and icing as it is just amazeballs and is loved by everyone who tries it. This weekend i am making the cake for a birthday but it will be held outdoors and it’s going to be pretty hot. I’m covering it in fondant but was just going to ask if you could substitue half butter and half copha (shortening) and add a couple of teaspoons of cornflour to stabilise it for the heat if it would work? Or do you think it will keep unrefrigerated under fondant in 25-27°c heat?

  4. Salted or unsalted butter?

  5. My icing was more whipped than I like. How to prevent it from being whipped?

  6. I don’t have espresso powder. Will it be ok without it? Or does it really make the flavour? Need to ice a cake tonight for my nephew’s birthday party tomorrow.

    • You can omit the espresso powder if you don’t have it. It will still be delicious! Enjoy! Thanks!

      • This was a fabulous and simple butter cream frosting! We were sans milk so I substituted a medium roast 1/2 c of fresh coffee in lieu of the milk and espresso. I let it cool a bit so it wouldn’t melt the butter. Used a whisk (no beaters) and it turned out amazingly creamy and perfect. All loved it.

  7. The best cake ever. It sweetness was just right. My family loved it.

  8. I’ve tried many different recipes of chocolate cake from Barefoot Contessa to Nigella Lawson and then my sister stumbled across this… I have never had a chocolate cake as good as this, NOTHING compares to it. It’s sooo good lol 😃

  9. What should I do if I want to lower the amount of sugar added?

  10. It truly is the best chocolate cake my family and I have ever had! I love having a go-to, tried and true recipe! Thank you for sharing your recipe with us!

  11. I just made the cake in a 9×13 glass pan. It ran over the side of the pan, I lost half of the cake, however it’s still delicious, I wonder why it cooked over the side. I have baked many cakes in this glass pan.

    • I’m sorry that happened Debbie! I’m not sure what happened as my 9×13 Chocolate Cake recipe has never baked over with me. I do hope you can figure out what happened and enjoy it again sometime! Thanks!

  12. How long can it be left in room temperature?

  13. Hi there! Wondering if it’s okay to omit the espresso powder. Not something I have on hand! Thanks!

  14. Hi, is 5 cups of powdered sugar accurate in this frosting recipe. I’ve never made a homemade cake and frosting. It seems like a lot to me. Thank you

  15. Just made it and have a tip – do not spray the pans! I sprayed tons and it still stuck horribly to my pans! Go the distance and use butter and flour. Also, I didn’t have espresso powder, so I used one pkt. instant Hazlenut coffee and half a dark roast via instant coffee, and I don’t taste it in the cake, even though it is amazing, but do taste it in the frosting!

  16. Robyn
    Can I frost the day before and
    Do I have to refridgerate?

  17. Hello,

    Is this the correct amounts for 12 cupcakes too or does it vary?

  18. Hi i wanted to try out the recipe..
    Just wanted to ask u the confectionars sugar should i powder it so as to have sugar chunks in the icing? Coz somethimes after mixing with butter there are still sugar chunks visible..

    • The confectioners sugar I use is the same as powdered sugar. It blends well with the butter. But if you have a problem with lumps in your sugar, be sure to whisk it well before blending with your butter. Thanks!

  19. Will this cake still be good a day or two after it is made? I want to make it for friends whose anniversary is on the 22nd. There will be only 2 of them as he is not well. And then maybe they can share the leftovers with family on Christmas Eve? Or is it the kind of cake that needs to be eaten the day it is made? (I am not a super experienced cake maker) Thank you!

    • Hi Rachel,
      This cake is delicious the day it is made and then for a few days following. Just make sure to keep covered with a cake dome, in a cake carrier or well covered so that it stays fresh! I’ll be thinking of your friends and praying for a speedy recovery! xo

    • Hi Rachel,
      This cake is good on a covered cake plate for a couple of days. If they don’t eat it all then, the cake freezes well and they can enjoy the rest later. Thanks!

  20. Hello,

    Salted or unsalted butter?


  21. Hi, I only want to make half the amount of frosting, so will this recipe work if I just halve all the ingredients? Thanks!

  22. Hi I need to make some frosting which is dairy and egg (vegan) free to go on your the best ever chocolate cake, do you have any suggestions?

    I made the cake for my daughter’s birthday but did full diary version and it was the best ever. Now wanting to do a Christmas cake that my Brice can enjoy also but she is 1 and allergic to diary. Wanting to bake in 2 days time if possible. Any help would be ace.

    • Hi Lorna,
      I’m so glad that you and your family love the cake! For a vegan buttercream frosting, I would use a mixture of margarine and shortening in place of the butter, maybe use 1 cup margarine and 1/2 cup shortening and then use your favorite non-dairy milk (rice, soy, cashew, or almond). For the non-dairy milk, I would start with about 1/4 cup and then add at about 1 tablespoon at a time until it reaches the perfect consistency.

      I hope that helps and they your daughter is able to enjoy it! xo

  23. Thank you so very much. This recipe is simply perfect. On the first try my cake came out divine. Succulent and most chocolate cake. I felt like a professional baker.

  24. Can I make this without the espresso?

  25. This is my favorite chocolate frosting recipe, I could eat it by itself it is that good! I usually halve the recipe for a 9×13 pan, but the full recipe is great for a stacked cake or even cupcakes. If you have leftover you could just eat it by the spoonful 😀

  26. Should the butter be salted or unsalted?

  27. I made this recipe yesterday. It was my first time making frosting and I just love it!
    It’s delicious!!!!

  28. Hi there wondering if I could use Nutella in it so I can use this icing for the filling before I do buttercream coating? I’ve been trying to find a good Nutella cake filling but no luck! If I could, how much Nutella would I add and would I do anything different in preparing it? 

  29. Thank you very much. It looks easy and delicious. 

    Can I substitute cocoa with melted chocolate? 

  30. I make this frosting all the time. Looking for an espresso chocolate buttercream… Can I add more espresso powder to have a stronger coffee flavor? 

    Rating: 5

    • Hi Mandy!
      I’m glad you enjoy the frosting! I think the espresso powder gives it a richer, more intense chocolate flavor and don’t taste a “coffee flavor”. I’ve not made it with more espresso than I have in the recipe, so I can’t say if it’s going to be like what you are looking for or not. Thanks! xo

  31. Please if I want to frost just one cake (9″ cake pan) will I have the recipe?

  32. Hi, Can I use instant coffee instead of espresso powder?

    • Hi Atika,
      I always use espresso powder. The espresso powder enhances the richness of the chocolate, but does not add a coffee flavor. If you can’t find espresso powder, you can omit it and the cake will still be delicious. I’ve never used instant coffee. Thanks! I hope you enjoy the cake!

  33. Hello. Do I you have to use butter for the icing or can I use margarine instead?

    • Hi Asha,
      I always use butter in this buttercream recipe, but I do understand that you can use margarine in place of the butter if needed.

  34. Can I use icing sugar instead of confectioner’s sugar ?

  35. I did not see the comment about not using buttermilk for frosting and I did! Taking to work for a friends birthday. Will it still be ok do you think??

    • Hi Miriam,
      It should still be just fine. The flavor will have a bit more of a tang to it than if you had used milk, but should still be delicious. xo

  36. Made this the other day with cacao powder and it was delicious. Even doubtful husband was won over. I have a question; if I reduce the sugar by about a third, will the icing taste too buttery? Could I add more cacao experience a richer chocolate taste?

    • I’m so glad you and your husband both loved it, Dani. I would recommend just reducing the entire amount of frosting for the buttercream instead of reducing the sugar only. xo

  37. Would it be okay if I made it without the espresso powder? It’s the only ingredient I do not have readily available in my kitchen.

  38. Can I make this buttercream 3 days in advance? If so, do I need to freeze or refrigerate or just leave on the counter?


    Rating: 5

  40. Hi! I came here from the cupcake recipe. If I use this frosting for the cupcakes, is it firm enough to hold it’s form when I pipe it?


  41. Should I keep the frosted cake refrigerated so the buttercream doesn’t melt?

  42. I have made this cake several time and really want to thank you for this incredible recipe!
    It is amazing and I get praise every time I made it, people are becoming addicted and made 3 full cakes last time I made a batch just because people love it so much! My entire house was covered in chocolate though 😉

  43. This is the most delicious chocolate frosting I have ever tasted! So glad I found your recipe.

    Rating: 5

  44. Can I freeze leftover frosting?

  45. Thanks alot for sharing your amazing recipie…its amazing…i just have a question…Should i keep frosted cake in refrigerator?!

  46. Hi, I loved the cake! I just made an addtion to the dry ingredients, of about a cup of powdered roasted hazelnuts, and oh my was it yum!!!

    Rating: 4
  47. Was making this for a birthday cake for my wife.  When I opened the milk,it had soured and I needed a quick substitute.  Grabbed her amaretto coffee cream and it worked great! Left out the espresso for fear there would be too many flavors.

    Rating: 5

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