Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

chocolate buttercream3 Chocolate Buttercream FrostingAmericanButtercream 150x150 Chocolate Buttercream FrostingLast year I posted my recipe for Classic Vanilla Buttercream.  It’s the recipe I use for decorating cupcakes and birthday cakes, especially if I know kids will be the ones eating it.  For wedding cakes I like to use a more silkier type frosting that I’ll share with you in the near future. But for everyday cake frosting, the vanilla buttercream is what I use.  From that post, I received many comments and emails requesting a chocolate buttercream frosting which could also be used to frost cakes and for piping decorations.

ganache3way Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

I often referred readers to my most favorite chocolate frosting I use for glazing, frosting, filling, and piping.  As you can see from the picture above, chocolate ganache is very versatile and best of all it is made with heavy cream and chocolate.  But this frosting is also heavy and very decadent, unless you whip it.  Some people would write me and tell me they didn’t want ganache but wanted  a more true buttercream.  So by popular request I made a batch of American chocolate buttercream over the weekend to share with you.  It is great for frosting cupcakes and cakes.  It can also be used for frosting brownies or cookies.  Like its name suggests, it is more buttery, creamy, and slightly sweeter than ganache. And like ganache, it pipes decorative borders very nicely.

chocolate buttercream8 Chocolate Buttercream FrostingYou will need to make sure your butter is soft enough to cream.  Do not be tempted to softened it in the microwave unless you know how NOT to melt the butter.  Melted butter will not work for this frosting.  But if you do use your microwave, I like to place cold sticks in the microwave for 8 seconds.  If it’s still too firm, I will microwave it for 2 more seconds.

chocolate buttercream4 Chocolate Buttercream FrostingNext, you’ll want to cream the butter and then then add sifted sugar and cocoa.

chocolate buttercream5 Chocolate Buttercream FrostingThis is my daughter Mimi.  She likes to help me in the kitchen whenever chocolate is involved.  I’ve taught both of my daughters about the baker’s reward philosophy.  If you help me in the kitchen, you also get to lick the spoons.  Oddly enough, they  never seem to want to help me when I’m cooking vegetables. Those stinkers.

chocolate buttercream6 Chocolate Buttercream FrostingBe sure to start your mixer on slow speed after adding the dry ingredients.  Otherwise you will have cocoa and sugar fly everywhere landing on everything within a couple feet of you.  Your frosting will look strange like clumps of clay.  Don’t worry.  Once we add some cream it will transform into beautiful chocolate buttercream.

chocolate buttercream7 Chocolate Buttercream FrostingWhen deciding on whether or not to use milk or cream, I prefer cream.  It just makes the frosting… well.. more creamier.  Half and half works too.  But if you do use milk, it is better to use whole milk for the added fat content.  I also prefer to use almond extract when making frosting.  It enhances the flavor so nicely and a little bit goes a long way.  But if you only have vanilla, use it!

chocolate buttercream1 Chocolate Buttercream FrostingAs you can see by these photos, this frosting pipes really nicely.  The frosting can be refrigerated to use later.  Just make sure it’s in a lidded container.  Allow the frosting to warm up to room temperature on the counter before using.  Happy cake decorating!

chocolate buttercream 2 Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

4.7 from 141 reviews
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3 cups
A simple recipe for classic chocolate buttercream frosting. Perfect for frosting cakes, cookies, brownies, or cupcakes.
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks or ½ pound), softened (but not melted!)
  • 3½ cups confectioners (powdered) sugar
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon table salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 4 tablespoons milk or heavy cream
  1. Cream butter for a few minutes in a mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed. Turn off the mixer. Sift 3 cups powdered sugar and cocoa into the mixing bowl. Turn your mixer on the lowest speed (so the dry ingredients do not blow everywhere) until the sugar and cocoa are absorbed by the butter. Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt, and milk/cream and beat for 3 minutes. If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add a little more sugar. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add additional milk 1 tablespoon at a time.

Here’s a great short video tutorial I did for PBS on how to pipe these beautiful frosting flowers using vanilla buttercream on cupcakes, but you could easily do this with the chocolate one from this page. If you enjoy the video, please like it so I’ll be able to do more!

And here’s another short PBS video tutorial I did on how to make Cookie Monster Cupcakes.

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  1. beck says

    why does my frosting never turn out like its supposed to?
    I thought it was just my hand mixer, since whenever I used kitchenaids at school the frosting turned out fine, but at home it was always too watery & adding more sugar never did anything…
    But I now have a kitchen aid mixer & decided to try making frosting with it today and my frosting looks nothing like it does in this picture? =\ it still tastes fine, but it’s nothing like what the picture looks like…
    guess I’m just not aloud to make frosting at home >_<

    • Sara says

      I always had the same issue until a few weeks ago. I made buttercream frosting, but left out the milk/cream until the end. Once everything else was mixed, I added cream to get it to the consistency I wanted. It worked out great. Also, I find can gives it a much better texture than milk. But since it spoils so quick, I usually settle for half and half. Good luck :)

  2. mary says

    I want to know when you say cream what do you mean? There is whipping cream I use that in quiche. So is that the cream you mean ? Please explain or mention a brand. You can email me to my email address you don’t need reply here on site. Thanks and looking forward to making this delicious looking frosting.

    • Elise M. says

      I haven’t tried that before, but I am sure it would be fine. One thing to think about before you make it is that bacon grease melts at a lower temperature. So if your frosting will be in any kind of heat I would be cautious. Also, which I am sure you know, your frosting will have a bacon flavor.

      I hope this helps.

  3. Mike says

    Its a great recipe, and if I realized how easy buttercream frosting was to make, I would never have bought the stuff from the store, and now that I do I won’t be buying anymore.

  4. Karen says

    I’m confused with your directions at the bottom. The ingredients list calls for 3.5 C confectioners sugar and .5 C cocoa powder. But the actual directions only have you add 3 C of sugar & cocoa powder… Sooo… Where is the extra cup going??

    • Carrie says

      Early in the directions it says to add 3 cups of sugar and the cocoa to the mixture. So you need to reserve a 1/2 cup of powered sugar for later. Towards the end of the directions, it says “If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add a little more sugar. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add additional milk 1 tablespoon at a time.” Hope this helps.

  5. Marina says

    I have a question, how long does this frosting last without refrigeration? I have 4 hours class, plus a 2 hour for traveling before I can take cake to destiny, and I wanted to know if it would last long enough.
    I was thinking on moving it on an air tight container and then frost the cake in the destination.
    Thank you very much!

  6. Jennifer says

    You mentioned in this post that you were going to share a silkier type frosting that you use for decorating wedding cakes. Did you ever post that recipe?

  7. says

    Thanks for a great recipe! I made it today and it turned out perfectly and tasted delicious! i made mine with kefir instead of milk which gave it a slightly tangy flavor. I think i’ll stick with milk next time, but it’s still very good. If you like tangy, though, use kefir.

  8. Amy says

    This was the best chocolate buttercream frosting I’ve made in a long time. I used the whipped cream. Thank you!! Time to get back on the diet. :/

  9. Wendy says

    This is the best chocolate buttercream ever! I only use your buttercreams for my cakes and cupcakes. So glad I found your recipes.

  10. Simi says

    Hi there
    I have taken down the chocolate ganache recipe. Its my boy’s birthday on Sunday, so I’d like to do some piping and make it all fancy. The cake weight would work out to two squares of .75kg each. I plan to layer them – so I need icing in between, all around glaze and a square frame of piping. So would your basic recipe suffice? or how much more do you think I would need ?
    Do drop a note ..I would like to hear from you!

  11. Tina says

    This is the most delicious icing I’ve ever made! It does, however, come out much lighter than the photos show (or at least mine did). But really, it tastes almost like chocolate soft serve ice cream but is stiff enough to pipe with. Perfect! Thank you :)

  12. Ginni says

    OMG!!! This recipe is sooo good!!! I also made your regular icing as well, and I am glad I found your website!!! Thank you, you’ve ruined me on store bought icings, and that’s ok! I will never go back to store bought again!!! :-)

    • Hogs'n'Quiches says

      Powdered sugar, icing sugar and confectioner’s sugar (also known as 10xxx) are all the same.

      The other white sugar is sometimes referred to granulated or crystal sugar.

      This is an excellent chocolate buttercream frosting recipe. The only thing I do differently is add either instant espresso granules or coffee extract. It really bumps up the chocolate flavor without any noticeable coffee flavor.

      Thank you, Alice, for a wonderful site! And your daughter, Mimi, is gorgeous!

  13. Laurel says

    I’ve been making this recipe for a few years now. It started as cupcakes for my son’s classroom birthday treat but has now become folklore among the teachers. Since I use a Cake Mix Doctor recipe for the cupcakes I’m pretty sure that the frosting is what people remember.

  14. Katrina Schlachter says

    Just made this icing and it is wonderful – thank-you! Beautiful consistency and delicious flavour. Great chocolate taste without being too sweet. I would highly recommend this recipe!

  15. Brandi says

    This was my first attempt at chocolate buttercream frosting- I make Alice’s vanilla buttercream regularly. Although mine came out much much lighter than the chocolate frosting pictured, the taste was incredible. My 4 kids loved it, and so did the adults. I was in a hurry and did not sift the sugar or cocoa and didn’t have any trouble with lumps. I did use heavy cream and it is SO creamy, but also fluffy. We will never have another tub of store-bought frosting in this house. Thanks Alice!

  16. Alissa Odedra says

    Just made this frosting right now… and OMG, tastes freakin amazing! Never going back to another site/recipe. This one is going in the written recipe box. YUM YUM!! I am one happy happy lady…and my husband is going to be one too when he gets home from work. Happy, that is – not a lady… lol 😉

  17. Joy says

    I just made this for a sheet cake. I made it almost exactly as written, except I used milk instead of cream. I also used vanilla instead of almond flavoring. As far as the directions…I followed those to a tee minus one and was surprised at the outcome. I’ve never made icing before that was so fluffy and creamy…and I’ve made plenty of buttercream frostings. The minus one was using my microwave to soften my butter. I have a setting for softening butter and watched it closely. Before, I always melted my butter for buttercream recipes. I had no idea it made such a huge difference! This will be my go-to frosting recipe from here on out! Thanks so much!

  18. K says

    This is my favorite frosting :) I use earth balance to make it vegan, and I think I’ve made it with every non-dairy milk there is and it always turns out perfect. I think the earth balance sticks are already salted so I omit the salt. Thanks eh!

  19. Lois says

    Hello! I just made this icing….and the almond extract taste is a little over whelming….is there anything I can do to help diminish that?

  20. Leanne says

    LOVE this recipe! Thanks for sharing. And thanks for the addition of the almond extract. I was hesitant to try it on my own but it was reassuring to hear it from someone else. I only added 1/2 tsp of the extract for fear of it overpowering the frosting and it still came out great! I don’t actually like chocolate frosting so Ive never made one… Hence, this was the first chocolate I’ve made and I have to say I actually loved it!! My 2.5 year old said repeatedly, “that’s soooo yummy mommy!” Thanks again – just wanted to express my thanks!

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