Perfect Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Recipe

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4.97 from 762 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

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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 762 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.

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Recipe Review




2,759 Comments

  1. Mandi says:

    5 stars
    Been making the best chocolate cake for years. I’ve made it with this chocolate frosting twice now, (I usually make a strawberry frosting for it,) and goodness… if eating this is bad, I never want to be good! ❤️

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      Thanks so much, Mandi. The chocolate cake sounds amazing with strawberry frosting, too.

  2. Eve says:

    Hi there, just want to confirm you use salted butter for this?

    Thank you!

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      Eve, I do use salted butter. However, you can use unsalted if you prefer.

  3. Thelma Campbell says:

    Thank You Robyn
    You are absolutely right, I just finished making the best ever chocolate frosting. This is the only chocolate frosting that I will use from now on. It taste sooo good. I am about to make the chocolate cake. Will get back to you shortly.

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      Thank you, Thelma. I hope you enjoy the cake as much as the frosting.

  4. C says:

    Can I use coconut cream as a replacement to the milk? Thanks!

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      I haven’t used coconut cream in this frosting but I don’t see why you couldn’t.

  5. Naren says:

    5 stars
    The frosting came out great! Any tips on how to make adjustments for a person who likes dark chocolate, so less sweet? Can I substitute some dark cocoa?

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      Naren, you can make the frosting with dark cocoa if you prefer a dark chocolate flavor.

  6. Vilma Carter says:

    Hi and thank you for this scrumptious chocolate cake recipe! I have made this several times now! I make this in small 10cm springform tins and frost them and decorate with Maltesers and then freeze them and after 3 days package them up in insulated bag well wrapped and mail them to my grandson who is in the Army Australia 🇦🇺
    He absolutely loves receiving them 🤎🤎🤎🤎
    Can you tell me how long they might stay good to eat as he can’t always get parcels quickly thanks 🙏

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      Vilma, the frosted cake can stay frozen up to 3 months and thawed and at room temperature for 3 to 4 days. I’m sure your grandson loves that the cakes are made by you.

  7. Katy Tetta says:

    Hi, I love your choc/frosting recipe and have made it many times. I had a request for a raspberry filling. Do you think I could put that in the middle instead of frosting and do you have a recipe for it?
    Thanks, Katy

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      Katy, a raspberry filling would be delicious with this cake. I’m sorry but I don’t have a recipe for the raspberry filling.

    2. Deniza says:

      I am going to bake a raspberry filling for my son’s cake. I’ll mix cream cheese with powdered sugar and raspberry jam and I’ll also probably use a little bit of gelatine to make sure it stays put. I’ll spread the raspberry filling between the layers, and I’ll use frozen raspberries which I will simply ‘stick’ into the filling (less on the bottom, more on the top since you don’t want the weight of the cake to push out the lower filling). I am sure it will be delicious.

    3. Robyn Stone says:

      The raspberry filling sounds great, Deniza.

  8. Faith says:

    5 stars
    Love this recipe have made many times. Just a question thought after I’ve frosted my cake and put in covered dish does it need to be placed in fridge or can it stay on counter top? Thanks

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      Faith, you don’t need to refrigerate your cake with this buttercream frosting. I leave mine under a covered dome on my countertop at room temperature. I hope you enjoy your cake.

  9. Sandy says:

    4 stars
    The frosting turned out great! This is the 2nd time I have made the recipe. Some feedback: I think this time, it was better when I added about 1/4 tsp Diamond Crystal Kosher salt to balance out the sweetness and bring out the cocoa flavor. I did not use as much milk this time and only added the tablespoons after every cup of confectioner’s sugar. I added maybe 2 more tablespoons after to achieve the fluffy consistency. I would say I might have used only 1/4 cup of whole milk for the whole batch of frosting. As my room temperature was warm, I also put the bowl in the fridge in-between mixes to keep the butter cooler to incorporate more air into the frosting.

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Sandy, and love that you shared your tips!