Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Recipe

Learn how to make the best chocolate buttercream frosting with this easy recipe! It tastes amazing and is perfect for frosting cakes and piping onto cupcakes! I use it all the time and it’s one of my favorite frosting recipes!

Pinterest Image Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Recipe

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Chocolate buttercream frosting is a true staple. I’ve already shared a recipe for a Fudgy Chocolate Buttercream Frosting that uses melted chocolate, so today I want to share the classic version with you. Creamy, smooth chocolate buttercream made with rich cocoa and loads of butter. Totally to die for and my most used chocolate buttercream!

What to use Chocolate Buttercream With

You can really use chocolate buttercream with just about anything – even a spoon! But some of my favorite recipes that I use it with are these:

Best Moist Chocolate Cake
Moist Yellow Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
Homemade Moist Chocolate Cupcakes
Moist Vanilla Layer Cake
Marble Cake
German Chocolate Cake

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting on paddleChocolate Buttercream Frosting on cupcake

How to make Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Making buttercream is really quite simple, whether it’s vanilla buttercream or chocolate. The steps are fairly similar.

First, add your butter to your mixer and beat until smooth and creamy. Be sure it’s at room temperature so that it will smooth out and not give you lumps.

Next, you’ll add about half of the powdered sugar. It doesn’t have to be exact. Mix it all together until it’s nice and smooth. If you don’t use your powdered sugar often, you might find that it’s a little lumpy. If so, sift it before adding it to the butter.

Then add your cocoa powder and mix it all together.

Next, add the vanilla extract and some water or heavy cream. You want to add some liquid to keep the buttercream from getting super thick as we continue to add the powdered sugar. I usually add about 2 tablespoons of liquid at this point so that I don’t over do it. You can always add more later if it’s too thick, but you once it’s added you can’t remove it.

Add the rest of the powdered sugar and mix until smooth and well combined.

Now you’ll want to add additional liquid as needed. How much you add may depend a little on what you’re using your chocolate buttercream frosting for, but somewhere between 4 and 8 tablespoons is plenty. I leave it a little thicker for a cake and make it a little thinner for cupcakes so that piping goes a little more smoothly. You can refer to my post on frosting consistency for a little more help on how much liquid to add and how much is too much. Also, check out my posts on frosting a smooth cake and how to frost your cupcakes. Both tutorials work great with this buttercream.

Finally, add a little salt for flavor.

How to make black frosting

If you’re looking to make a black buttercream frosting, you’ll want to start with this chocolate buttercream and then add black gel icing color to it. Vanilla buttercream won’t work well. You’d end up with a dark grey frosting, rather than black. So add as much gel icing color as needed to get a full black. Just keep in mind that the frosting color will darken as it sits. So if you’re adding more and more color and it seems like it’s not getting any darker, than it’s probably good enough and it darken as it sits. For this recipe, I’d say you’ll need at least half of an ounce container of gel icing color to get a really full black.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting piped on counterChocolate Buttercream Frosting Recipe on cupcake side view

Make ahead suggestions

You can easily make this buttercream ahead. Make it 2-3 days ahead and refrigerate it until you need it. Let it come to room temperature and stir it well before using. You can even store it in the fridge for 3-4 weeks.

To freeze the buttercream, put it in a container and freeze for 2-3 months. Thaw it in the fridge before using, then bring to room temperature and stir it well before using.

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chocolate buttercream piped onto table

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Recipe

  • Author: Lindsay
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: about 2 1/2 cups
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: No Bake
  • Cuisine: American


Learn to make the best chocolate buttercream frosting with this easy recipe! It tastes amazing and is perfect for frosting cakes and piping onto cupcakes! I use it all the time and it’s always a hit!


  • 1 cup (224g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 1/2 cups (403g) powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup (57g) natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 48 tbsp (60-120ml) heavy whipping cream (or water)
  • 1/4 tsp salt


1. Add the butter to a large mixer bowl and beat until smooth and creamy.
2. Add about half of the powdered sugar and mix until smooth and well combined.
3. Add the cocoa powder and mix until well combined and smooth.
4. Add the vanilla extract and 2 tablespoons of water or cream and mix until smooth and well combined.
4. Add the remaining powdered sugar and mix until smooth and well combined.
5. Add more water or cream until desired consistency is reached, then add salt.


  • Serving Size:
  • Calories: 3393
  • Sugar: 412.4 g
  • Sodium: 625.3 mg
  • Fat: 192.4 g
  • Carbohydrates: 445 g
  • Protein: 9.9 g
  • Cholesterol: 496.5 mg

Keywords: chocolate buttercream frosting

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Recipe rating

  1. Rosemary

    I’m getting ready to make this frosting for the first time. I am curious though..your recipe calls for heavy whipping cream or water…why is milk not alao suggested as an alternative?

    1. Lindsay

      Heavy cream is really the most “ideal” for a creamy frosting because of the high amount of fat. However, some people are uncomfortable leaving buttercream with milk/cream out at room temperature. Water is an alternative. You can certainly use milk, but it’s lower in fat. Cream is ideal, water is an alternative to milk. Anything in between is fine, but not the thing I’m going to list typically.

  2. LIv

    OMG this frosting recipe is the best, I love decorating with it. Its just perfect. Thank you so much!!!!

  3. Usha Arjun

    Thank you so much for the recipe…. Should I add half shortening coz I live in a hot climate…. Pls reply

  4. Liz

    I have been doing this buttercream after I discovered it and it never fail me! Thank you for this recipe! One thing that seems to be the problem is my buttercream is grainy. I beat it for like 5-7 minutes and it is still grainy. How can I fix it? Thank you!!!

  5. Dianne

    Hello Lindsay! I’m planning to use this for my vanilla cake, do you think I can swap half of the butter into shortening?

  6. Poppy

    I just made it top it on vanilla cupcakes and it is AMAZING. I am in love with this recipe. I never rewrite reviews on recipes but this was so good that I just HAD to. Thank you for sharing! 🙂

  7. Nini2008

    Hi! Buttercream is the ONLY frosting I use! I refuse the ‘BETTERcream’ or ‘whipped’. UGH! Guess I’m old school! LOL! I’m making my granddaughter a Nutella Cake for her birthday this weekend & the frosting is Nutella as well, but requires a whisk attachment, but mine bit the dust, so I thought CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM! Yours doesn’t require a whisk & sounds awesome, so here I am! She turns 13 on January 31, 2021 & I told her the cake won’t look like the picture (do they ever?)& she said ‘it will be prettier!’ I KNEW there was a reason I liked this girl! Thank you for a good easy recipe! Can’t wait to try it!

About Lindsay

I'm a wife and mom to twin boys, a baby girl and a sweet black lab with a serious sweets addiction! Bring on the sugar!

Scripture I’m Loving

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12