Perfect Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Recipe

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4.97 from 767 votes
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Chocolate buttercream frosting is an essential recipe. Rich, soft, creamy, and delicious, my recipe for chocolate buttercream is easy to make and simple to pipe and decorate for cakes, cupcakes, and other desserts. It is the best I’ve ever tasted and pairs perfectly with my favorite chocolate cake recipe.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting frosts Chocolate Cake on white antique cake stand - ©addapinch.com

Why I Love This Recipe

This recipe has a rich chocolate taste and a smooth and creamy texture. Made from just six simple ingredients, this buttercream frosting comes together quickly. This recipe yields enough to frost a three-layer cake or three dozen cupcakes beautifully. It stores well if I need to make it ahead.

Ingredients to Use & Why

You’ll need these ingredients to make this frosting.

  • Butter – Use softened butter for the creamiest frosting. If you use butter that has not been properly softened, the butter will not mix appropriately with the other ingredients for the frosting.
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder—The chocolate flavor in this frosting comes from the cocoa powder. You can use natural or Dutch-processed. You can also use raw cacao powder if you prefer. Cacao powder is pure cacao bean powder and is less processed than either natural or Dutch-processed. You may choose to use a bit less cacao powder, as it can have a richer taste.
  • Confectioner’s sugar (also called powdered sugar and icing sugar) adds sweetness to the finished frosting. Since confectioner’s sugar is a fine-grain sugar, it combines easily with the other ingredients for the creamiest texture.
  • Milk—Whole milk, heavy cream, or half-and-half have a higher fat content than reduced-fat milk. This adds creaminess and stability to the frosting. Make sure that the milk used is at room temperature. Cold milk can separate and cause the frosting to have a grainy texture.
  • Vanilla extract—Use pure vanilla extract rather than vanilla flavoring for the best flavor. I love to use my homemade vanilla extract (such a simple recipe!).
  • Espresso powder – While optional, I highly recommend adding espresso powder to chocolate recipes. Like vanilla extract brings out the flavor in sweet recipes, espresso powder further enhances the chocolate flavor in chocolate recipes. It is easy to make your own and is available in many grocery stores, cooking supply stores, or online.
Fluted edge white heirloom cake stand holds chocolate cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting - ©addapinch.com

How to Make Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting is incredibly easy to make and takes about 10 minutes from start to finish!

  1. Beat the cocoa powder and butter until creamy. Whisk through the cocoa powder in a large bowl to remove any lumps. Add the softened butter and cream together until well combined and creamy.
  2. Add the sugar and milk. Alternately mix in the confectioner’s sugar and the milk. After each addition, mix on HIGH speed for about a minute. This is a key step and makes the frosting fluffy and delicious!
  3. Add vanilla extract and espresso powder. Mix in the vanilla and espresso powder until well combined.

How to Tell When Buttercream Frosting is Done

Swipe a kitchen spoon back and forth through the buttercream frosting. It is ready if it is fluffy, creamy, smooth, and holds shape. If too dry? Add more milk, a tablespoon at a time, until it reaches the desired consistency. If too wet? Add more confectioner’s sugar, a tablespoon at a time, until the frosting holds its form.

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

Storage Tips

Refrigerator: Place frosting in an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 5 days. Once ready to use, remove from the refrigerator and allow to reach room temperature, then whisk well to fluff the frosting.

Freeze: Place frosting in an airtight, freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 3 months. Once ready to use, place in refrigerator overnight to thaw, then remove from fridge for a short time prior to use as described previously and whisk to fluff the frosting.

Best Vanilla Cake Recipe - A one bowl vanilla cake recipe that is quick, easy, and delicious! Made from scratch, this cake is perfect for every occasion!

Vanilla Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

More Favorite Frosting Recipes

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

Perfect Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Recipe

4.97 from 767 votes
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 Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 36 (2 tablespoons) servings

Ingredients 

  • cups (339 g) butter, softened
  • 1 cup (84 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 5 cups (567.5 g) confectioner’s sugar
  • ½ cup (113.5 g) milk, whole, half and half, or heavy cream preferred
  • 2 teaspoons (9 g) vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon (1 g) espresso powder

Instructions 

  • Add cocoa powder 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 confectioner's sugar to a large bowl. Whisk through to remove any lumps. Alternatively, you may sift the confectioner's sugar into the large bowl. Add the confectioner's sugar and milk to the cocoa mixture by adding 1 cup of confectioner's sugar followed by about a tablespoon of milk. After each addition has been combined, turn the 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.

Notes

Storage Tips: 
Refrigerator: Place frosting in an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 5 days. Once ready to use, remove from the refrigerator and allow to reach room temperature, then whisk well to fluff the frosting.
Freeze: Place frosting in an airtight, freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 3 months. Once ready to use, place in refrigerator overnight to thaw, then remove from fridge for a short time prior to use as described previously and whisk to fluff the frosting.

Nutrition

Serving: 2 tablespoons | Calories: 141kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 21mg | Sodium: 63mg | Potassium: 45mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 17g | Vitamin A: 242IU | Calcium: 10mg | Iron: 0.3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Enjoy!
Robyn xo

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About Robyn

Robyn Stone is a cookbook author, wife, mom, and passionate home cook. Her tested and trusted recipes give readers the confidence to cook recipes the whole family will love. Robyn has been featured on Food Network, People, Southern Living, and more.

4.97 from 767 votes (146 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Review




2,777 Comments

  1. Lynn says:

    5 stars
    Best chocolate cake and frosting recipe ever. Super quick, I always have these ingredients on hand. Made it for my daughters bday and 2 weeks later, she asked if I’d make her another one!

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      Thanks, Lynn. I hope your daughter had a very happy birthday. I’m so glad she loved the cake.

  2. Sydney Hoffman says:

    5 stars
    I used this recipe for my brother’s birthday party, and he loved it! But I forget one thing: Do I need espresso powder?

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      Sydney, you can omit the espresso powder if you want. The frosting is still delicious without it. The espresso powder just enhances the chocolate flavor without leaving a coffee taste.

  3. Susana De Castro says:

    can i use this frosting for piping?

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      Susana, you can use this frosting for piping. I hope you enjoy1

  4. Joyce Coleman says:

    5 stars
    This is the best chocolate icing recipe ever! I will never buy premade icing again. Make sure to whip it good till light and fluffy, the color will lighten as you whip it. I use WAL-MART salted butter and confectioners sugar. This icing goes great with her delicious moist chocolate cake recipe.

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      Thank you, Joyce. You are right. The tip to the fluffy, light frosting is to add the milk and confectioner’s sugar a little at a time to the cocoa mixture and turn the mixer to high speed for about a minute after each addition. I’m thrilled you love both this frosting and the chocolate cake recipes.

  5. Jackie says:

    does this recipe call for salted or unsalted butter?

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      Jackie, I use salted butter but you can use unsalted if you prefer.

  6. Diane VanDeventer says:

    5 stars
    I made this cake with the frosting for my granddaughters birthday and it was a hit! So moist and delicious. I’m so glad I found this recipe!

  7. Patti says:

    5 stars
    This cake tastes like what a chocolate cake should taste like!! Chocolatey and moist. Absolutely delicious!!

  8. Ellie says:

    Hi! I want to make this but only have 8-inch pans. Do you know how this would affect baking time? Thank you!!

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      Ellie, you can make 3/4 of the chocolate cake recipe to fit in 2 8-inch pans. You can make 1.25 times this recipe for 3 8-inch pans. Fill the cake pans 1/2 full. It takes about 35 to 40 minutes for the cake to bake. Just watch for the edges of the cake to pull away from the pan.

  9. Pauline Bessette says:

    This cake sounds wonderful.

    Have you ever made it in a 13 x 18″ pan. I intend to make a 2 layer 9″ x 13″ cake, does this recipe work well when doubled?

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      Pauline, below the recipe card for the Best Chocolate Cake (Ever) Recipe in my post, there is a link to The Best Chocolate Cake with Fudge Icing that is made in a 13×18-inch pan. I would recommend making a separate recipe for each of the 9×13-inch cakes to make sure all the ingredients mix as they should.