Perfect Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Recipe

Perfect Chocolate Buttercream Frosting is essential when it comes to birthday cakes and celebrations. It’s a favorite chocolate buttercream frosting recipe!

The Perfect Chocolate Buttercream Frosting is definitely a must  in my house!  This Chocolate Buttercream is by far the best I’ve ever tasted and is frequently requested for birthday cakes and more!

Perfect Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Recipe | ©

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

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!

How to Make Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

To make this delicious frosting, first add cocoa to a large bowl or bowl of stand mixer. Whisk through the cocoa well to remove any lumps.

Then, cream together the butter and cocoa powder until well-combined. Then, add sugar and milk to the 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. Please make sure  you mix it like this – it makes the frosting into fluffy, delicious perfection!
You’ll then add your vanilla extract and espresso powder and combine well.
If your frosting appears too dry, add more milk, only one 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, only one tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency.

Thankfully, this chocolate buttercream comes together quickly and makes plenty 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.

Perfect Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Recipe

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.
Prep Time15 mins
Total Time15 mins
Author: Robyn Stone | Add a Pinch


  • 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


  • Add cocoa to a large bowl or bowl of stand mixer. Whisk through to remove any lumps.
  • Cream together butter and cocoa powder until well-combined.
  • 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.
  • Add vanilla extract and espresso powder and combine well.
  • 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.
Tried this recipe?Share a photo on Instagram and tag me with @addapinch and #addapinch!

Robyn xo

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

1,430 comments on “Perfect Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Recipe”

  1. I am planning to make the chocolate cake and this frosting for my son’s 2nd birthday but i have some questions plz … can i add fondant on top of the cake ?
    May i get both recipes measurements in grams please?
    I always fail to measure right cups for ingredients.. thanks a lot

  2. Holy wow, this is SOOOO GOOD. I made your cake and the frosting dairy free and oh my gosh were they amazing. For the frosting, I used Earth Balance vegan butter and creamed it a little before adding the cocoa. And I used cashew milk. It all worked out well and is a dream to eat.
    Thank you for this amazing recipe!!

  3. Hello, I would love to do this cake for Thanksgiving as my family is pretty non-traditional. I have 2 questions, can I skip the espresso powder for the cake and buttercream. Second, for the buttercream instead of 5 cups of confectioner’s sugar, I’d like to use only 3, 5 cups sound way too sweet for me!
    Thank you!

    • You can omit the espresso if you wish. Using less sugar may impact the consistency of the frosting. I’ve not made it with that amount. I hope you enjoy the frosting. Thanks!

    • Mine is dairy free so it may not be a 1:1 exchange, but I made it with about 3.5 c powdered sugar and then only needed about 1/4 c almond milk. It turned out wonderful.

  4. Boy was this a life saver! I have never in my life tasted a better chock cake and frosting.
    Perfect fir that snooty old lady that is impossible to please. Then again, it was hard to share it with her!

  5. I have made this recipe now multiple times but my frosting is almost too runny.  I’ve tried adding more confectioners sugar but still doesn’t want to thicken and look like the pictures you have.  Any tips or ideas on how I can fix this?  I’m making it for Thanksgiving this week!!!  Thanks in advance!

    • Hi Lindsie –
      It sounds like your butter may be getting too warm when you are making it. Also, make sure to add the milk a bit at a time and mix according to the recipe instructions in step 3. I hope this helps! Thanks!

  6. Does the espresso powder make the cake and or frosting taste like coffee at all? My husband  a Chocolate cake LOVER but NOT a coffee drinker. ; )

  7. About to make this but dont see Salted vs Unsalted specified in the Ingredients list. Could you specify which you use. Thanks!

  8. Hi, Robyn.

    I have a silly question, the milk you used is regular milk and not buttermilk, correct?

    • Yes, regular milk for the frosting. Not buttermilk.

      • I used buttermilk once thinking I’d make a nice tangy frosting and it broke instantly…couldn’t fix it. There are cream cheese chocolate frosting recipes I’d use if I tried it again. This frosting btw is THE BEST! It’s so light and fluffy and has the nicest mouth feel! I followed the recipe exact and I lasso live at 9000 ft altitude. My cake fell and was weird but I didn’t care, this frosting is that good!

      • Hi Heather!
        I am so happy to hear that you enjoyed the frosting! You will have to make adjustments for baking in a high altitude – you should be able to find info for your area online.
        I hope this helps! Thanks so much! xo

  9. Thank you SO much for the most amazing chocolate cake and frosting! I have never tasted frosting so deliciously chocolaty and smooth. We felt like chocolate today so I thankfully stumbled upon your recipe I had saved long ago, boy I’m glad I did, we have now sorted out all our chocolate cravings until Christmas time! 
    I’m excited to explore the rest of your blog 😀

  10. Hi Robyn 

    I would like to use this recipe. However, I want to make a tiered cake using x3 7inch cake tins. Do I still follow the recipe, will that be enough mixture? 

  11. Love this recipe.  Have made it multiple times for family and friends.  It is always a hit

  12. Would the cake taste fine with another coloured butter cream frosting ? I wanted to make it for my daughter birthday with a green coloured frosting ?

  13. I just made this and the frosting is good but very grainy I don’t know how to fix it and I used the correct amounts

    • I’m sorry yours was grainy, Jorja. I’ve never had that problem.
      After each addition of the powdered sugar, turn the mixer on high for at least a minute until all of the powdered sugar is completely incorporated and fluffy.

    • don’t use sugar , use Icing Sugar( as we in NZ call confectionary /powder sugar)

  14. This makes a ton of frosting, or did I do something wrong? I also used buttermilk in the frosting. Will it be ok?

  15. I’ve made this recipe several times before and everyone loves it.😍😍😍😍❤️❤️❤️❤️

  16. I made this and it was hands down the best chocolate frosting I have ever had.  since it made more than I needed, I put it in the refrigerator because of the milk in it. It’s set up pretty hard so I was wondering if you could leave it on the counter? If not, how long would you recommend leaving it out or how would you recommend bringing it to room temperature? 

  17. Thank you so much for sharing your recipe, I’m excited to try it.

    What kind of cocoa powder do you use? Is it cocoa processed with alkali (Dutch-process) or the more acidic”natural” cocoa powder? I know it makes a big difference in how the cake comes out and I didn’t see it noted!

    And what kind of pan do you use? Dark metal? Shiny/light colored metal? Ceramic? Cook time and temp vary a lot with different baking materials but no one every mentions what they use 🙁

    I appreciate your advice (and thank you for sharing your so clearly well-loved recipe!)

  18. Hi Robyn
    I made the chocolate cake and the frosting. I melted dairymilk chocolate and stirred it into the frosting to make it extra rich and also smashed up two daim bars and stirred that into the frosting. It was soooooooo good. The Daim gave it a surprise twist. Cake recipe is so good too!

  19. Made the chocalate cake but tweaked it a little, instead of the hot water I did hot milk and I also added chocalate chips on top of the batter. It was rich and chocolatety just how I like it, thanks so much for the recipe so easy to make and delicious, also worka well as cupcakes even better!!!!!

  20. Hi I would love to use your recipe!! Do you use powder sugar for your frosting and can I make it in advance and keep it in the fridge for a couple of days?

  21. Hi, can I use chocolate instead of cocoa powder? If so, What kind of chocolate would I use and how much? Does no name cocoa powder work?

  22. Is this frosting thick enough to decorate a cake using a bag and tip?

  23. Hi –
    I really love your chocolate recipes! I have a question though…..Which type of cocoa do you use? Dutch process cocoa or baking cocoa powder? I have Ghirardelli dutch and baking cocoa.

  24. Hi! I’m making this frosting for a Christmas cake, and have a quick question; for the frosting what butter would be preferred, salted, or unsalted? I know typically unsalted is used more in baking, but I just want some clarification.

  25. Ok, don’t cringe. I’m young(12 years), and I can’t use the mixer(too powerful) so I mixed it by hand… I used a spatula thing. By hand.. it took way longer than 15 min I would say 30min-1 hr but it turned out amazing and I would make it again.. if I knew how to use the mixer. 😅 I love this recipe and I recommend it to anyone

    • I’m just so excited to see your sweet comment, Shea!!!
      I love that you made this and enjoyed it! I hope you keep having fun cooking and baking for years and years to come! Happy to have you here! Thanks! xo

  26. This frosting is absolutely amazing! Came out perfectly and had everyone scraping their plates! 

  27. How many cups does this make?

  28. A generous recipe to accompany the double-layered chocolate cake. Truly tasty as well. Thanks xxx

  29. I made this cake for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and my my my! It was a Cake worth eating! My sister wanted to know if I would make her one. I did. Her daughters wanted me to make them one. Nope, didn’t do it, gave them the recipe! I like to make my cakes in a bundt pan, just add 10 minutes to the time and stick a toothpick in to make sure it is done. I will definitely make this cake for Christmas this year. Again my my my!

  30. I have a question! I live in Japan and I want to make this frosting (and the cake that goes with it) but we don’t have instant espresso powder in Japan. Can I use instant coffee powder instead??

    • Hi Jennifer,
      It’s not instant espresso powder, but the espresso powder using in baking. I can find it online or in the baking section of some grocery stores or stores with baking tools and supplies.
      I don’t use coffee in the cake or frosting. If you can’t find the espresso powder, you can omit it and it will still be delicious. It enhances the richness of the chocolate but doesn’t give it a coffee flavor. Thanks! Enjoy it! xo

  31. very very good!!
    I tried the chocolate cake and chocolate frosting exactly as per the recipe and it came out so good!!!
    Thank you for sharing!!!

  32. Best chocolate frosting I’ve ever made! WOWZA! 

    • What a thought! I was wondering what it would be like with buttermilk too!. I can not for the life of me fugue out how anyone could possibly mess this recipe up somehow. It’s pretty darn full proof. When I can let the teens, do a stay to finish without a second thought, I love it!

  33. Hey robyn
    Can i do 1 cup butter.
    But could u tell me what. The measurements of the other ingrediants would be,Thanks

  34. The cake is amazing!
    The only change I would make for the frosting is use half the butter and half creme cheese.
    It may keep it from getting so solid when put in the frig.
    I’m trying it next time.

    • Hi Judie,
      I’m so glad to hear that you enjoy the cake!
      You don’t have to refrigerate the cake – it will be ok under a cake dome on the counter for a couple of days.
      If you are craving a Cream Cheese Frosting, this recipe is delicious too.
      However, I’ve not substituted cream cheese in my buttercream frosting recipe.
      Both frostings are delish and taste great on my Best Chocolate Cake. Enjoy – Thanks! xo

  35. We used this on both of my kids chocolate birthday cakes last year and loved it. My daughter wants chocolate buttercream frosting on her cupcakes this year (We love your chocolate cupcake recipe!). Would you cut this recipe in half for each dozen cupcakes? 

    • I’m so glad you enjoy it for such special times, Anne! I always make the whole recipe as I’m pretty generous with frosting. You can always refrigerate any extra if you don’t use it all. When ready to use, allow to come to room temperature out of the fridge and whip it again until smooth and fluffy. Hope this helps! xo

  36. I would like to use this recipe to make one 9″ round cake and use the rest of the batter to make cupcakes. What temperature should I set the oven at if I am going to bake them at the same time?

    • Hi Heddy,
      If you are talking about the Best Chocolate Cake, I would not bake together. Cupcakes bake at 325 for 20 minutes, the cake would bake at 350 for 30 – 35 minutes. You would not want to open the oven to take cupcakes out while cake is baking even if baked at same temperature, which they don’t. You’ll have better results baking each at its own suggested temperature and time. I hope you enjoy them both! xo

  37. I will be making a groom’s sheet cake for a wedding. I would like to know if this is a very sweet frosting, and I will also be piping rosette’s on the side and piping on the top so can I use it for the icing on cake and for piping? Thanks in advance for your response.

  38. I am making this for an 93 year old Charlie a sweet very gentleman not hard to please and has liver cancer so we are celebrating !!!! Hallalujah!!!

  39. This sounds delicious! Do you think it would hold up for piping rosettes? 

  40. hiya, how do I get the butter quantity into grams or oz please?

  41. This is the best buttercream I have ever made. I used black cocoa instead of regular unsweetened which I highly recommend.  I am not an icing person but this icing is like crack I can’t stop sampling it!

  42. Hi! I’m thinking of attempting this for my son’s birthday cake! Can I prepare the chocolate cake and frosting ahead of time, like the day before, and leave it out at room temperature?

  43. Thank you sweetie for sharing your recipes , my husband [{Mel} is a true fan 🍥🎂🍰❣️❣️❣️❣️ “keep on kookin'”…… Love the great ideas, in the south here, if ya don’t deep fry something,well it just doesn’t have THAT taste, GIGGLE-GIGGLE!!!!.. ALWAYS appreciate a decedent recipe. “””👀🌎✌️””” As ALWAYS, Michele Park

  44. Hi! Can I substitute the milk for heavy cream?

  45. Wow!! Soooooo good! I am vegan so I used earth balance and almond milk and this is the best tasting buttercream I’ve ever had – vegan or nonvegan. Everyone was amazed by both the flavor and consistency. 
    I made your strawberry syrup and strawberry buttercream and was equally impressed. 
    I can’t thank you enough! My son (who has a severe dairy allergy) would also thank you but he is too busy licking the mixing bowl clean 🙂
    Looking forward to trying other veganizable recipes you have on your site!! 

  46. Okay. I will be 69 next month, and I have been baking cakes since I was a teenager. A sweet-a-holic, I am always looking for a better cake recipe, and over the years I have found a few favorites. As a skeptic, I usually trend with recipes from the well-known cooks on the television programs, but their recipes generally entail hard to find ingredients, and they are labor intensive. Now that I have reached my “senior” years, I still want more of the best in recipes, but without all the effort. Valentine’s Day is day after tomorrow, and I wanted to prepare a cake for my wife. She loves chocolate! I quickly found your “best ever chocolate cake” while browsing the internet, and I baked one this afternoon while my wife was out doing her “Meals On Wheels.” She was so happy to see the cake when she came home. We just had a slice after dinner, and WE have to agree, IT IS THE BEST! Thank you for the work you put into making this recipe available through your “add a pinch.”

    • Ken,
      You have no idea how much your kind comment means to me! I love that you baked the cake for your sweet wife and that you both enjoyed it! I hope that you and your wife have a special Valentine’s Day. I am so happy to have you here! Thanks again! 🙂

  47. Hi, do you think this would make enough for 24 cupcakes?

  48. Can I use instant coffee instead, since I can’t find powdered espresso?

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