Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

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This is the best chocolate buttercream frosting recipe ever! It’s rich and creamy with a deep chocolate flavor and made in 5 minutes with 6 simple ingredients! Ditch store-bought and make this easy homemade chocolate frosting!

overhead view of chocolate frosting roses


Buttery, creamy, rich, with a hint of sea salt and deep chocolate flavor, this is truly the best chocolate frosting recipe. 

I cannot remember the last time I bought frosting because homemade is so much more delicious (like this vanilla frosting), and it’s easy to make in 5 minutes with minimal ingredients.

This chocolate buttercream is perfect for decorating cakes and cupcakes (like our favorite chocolate cake from scratch, chocolate cupcakes and this chocolate chip cookie cake) or simply slathering frosting onto your favorite baked goods like sheet cakes (this chocolate zucchini cake or banana cake), homemade brownies, cookies, etc. you name it you can’t go wrong with adding some of this chocolate frosting on top, in the middle etc. 

front view of a cake decorated with chocolate buttercream frosting rosettes

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting: Ingredients

Let’s chat about the ingredients in this chocolate buttercream frosting, as well as possible substitutions. 

Room Temperature

Ingredients must be room temperature for easy beating/mixing.

overhead photo of the ingredients in this chocolate frosting recipe
  • Salted butter. I love the sweet and salty aspect of this recipe. However you can use unsalted butter or vegan butter with great results. 
  • Powdered Sugar. There is no substitution for powdered sugar. You can make your own by blending granulated sugar in a high-powered blender (Vitamix) for 10 seconds. 
  • Unsweetened Cocoa Powder. If you want an extra-dark chocolate frosting then use dark cocoa powder. 
  • Sea Salt. This can be omitted, but I don’t recommend it. If using regular iodized salt, cut the amount in half. 
  • Vanilla Extract. Use pure vanilla extract for the best flavor. You can also use a different extract like peppermint, almond, orange, etc. to impart different flavors. 
  • Whole Milk. Half and half or heavy whipping cream can be used in place of whole milk, but nothing else with a lesser fat content. 
overhead photo of a rosette cake frosting with chocolate frosting

How to make Chocolate Frosting

Let’s walk through how to make this chocolate buttercream frosting recipe step-by-step! Also, don’t forget to watch the video. 

Combine Dry Ingredients

In a medium bowl, combine powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and sea salt, then set it aside to use later on in the recipe. Mixing the dry ingredients thoroughly before adding them to the butter ensure that they are evenly distributed. 

two overhead photos showing how to make chocolate frosting

Cream Butter

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand-held mixer, cream butter until it’s light and fluffy, about 60 seconds. 

Add Half of the dry ingredients

Once the butter is creamed, add half of the powdered sugar mixer and slowly beat into the butter until it’s incorporated, then turn the speed to high and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy (about 30 seconds).

two overhead photos showing how to make chocolate frosting

Add remaining ingredients

Finally, add the milk, vanilla, and the rest of the powdered sugar mixture. Beat, starting on low speed (or “stir”). Once all the ingredients are incorporated, turn the speed slowly to high and beat until the mixture is smooth.

Pause, scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, and beat again until the frosting is smooth and homogenous (uniform throughout). Then, use in your favorite recipes. 

two overhead photos showing how to make chocolate frosting

Use in your favorite recipes

This chocolate frosting is perfect to use in just about any and every way frosting can be used. Use to frost your favorite cakes (chocolate cake recipe coming Sunday), etc. Here are some of our favorite ways to enjoy it: 

front view of a cake being frosted with homemade chocolate frosting

How to store chocolate frosting

There are a few different ways you can store this chocolate frosting recipe. It’s important to note that in order to spread it, this frosting needs to be room temperature.

To use the same day

If you are making this chocolate frosting to be used later on in a day, store it in an airtight container at room temperature until you are ready to use. Do not chill it in the refrigerator, it needs to be room temperature to spread easily.

Store

Leftover chocolate buttercream frosting can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Let sit at room temperature before using to soften. 

Freeze

This chocolate buttercream frosting recipe freezes very well. I often freeze it in the piping bag or ziplock bag pressed flat.

To thaw the frosting, remove it from the freezer and let it come to room temperature or thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Do not microwave.

overhead photo of a bowl of chocolate buttercream frosting

How to pipe this chocolate frosting

This chocolate buttercream pipes like a dream and hardens beautifully, making it perfect for cake decorating. I used it to make a Chewbacca cake (ok – Ritch did), for Gabe this year and he loved it. Here are some of my piping must-haves for those of you just starting out your journey to cake decorating: 

a photo of Chocolate Buttercream Frosting being piped onto a chocolate cupcake

Recipe FAQs

What’s the difference between buttercream icing and frosting?

Icing is usually made with just powdered sugar and water or milk. Frosting is made with butter or shortening.

How do you thicken chocolate buttercream frosting?

If you find yourself with frosting that is too thin it could be a result of two things: 1) The ingredients were too warm (e.g. you melted the butter). If this is the case, chill the frosting and it should thicken as it cools.
2) You added too much milk or not enough powdered sugar. This is remedied by adding more powdered sugar until you reach a thicker consistency.

Should I chill buttercream before piping?

No, this chocolate buttercream should not be chilled before piping or it will get hard and will not flow smoothly. This frosting needs to be room temperature to pipe well, then chill it after the decorating is finished to set the design.

Will buttercream icing harden in fridge?

Yes, since this frosting’s base is butter which is solid at cold temperatures, the buttercream will harden in the fridge.

overhead photo of a cake frosting with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting roses

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Homemade Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Laura
This is the best chocolate buttercream frosting recipe ever! It's rich and creamy with a deep chocolate flavor and made in 5 minutes with 6 simple ingredients! Ditch store-bought frosting and make this easy homemade chocolate frosting!
5 from 30 votes
Course condiment, Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 16 servings
Calories 243
Prep Time5 minutes
Total Time5 minutes

Ingredients 
 

Instructions 

  • In a medium bowl, combine powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and sea salt. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand-held mixer, cream butter until light and fluffy.
  • Add half of the powdered sugar mixer and slowly beat into the butter until it’s incorporated, then turn the speed to high and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy (about 30 seconds).
  • Add milk, vanilla, and the rest of the powdered sugar mixture. Beat, starting on low speed (or “stir”). Once all the ingredients are incorporated, turn the speed slowly to high and beat until the mixture is smooth.
  • Pause, scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, and beat again until the frosting is smooth and homogenous (uniform throughout).
  • Use to frost your favorite cake, brownies, etc.

Video

Notes

Ingredient Substitutions 

  • Salted butter. I love the sweet and salty aspect of this chocolate frosting recipe. However you can use unsalted butter or vegan butter with great results. 
  • Powdered Sugar. There is no substitution for powdered sugar. You can make your own by blending granulated sugar in a high-powered blender (Vitamix) for 10 seconds. 
  • Unsweetened Cocoa Powder. If you want an extra-dark chocolate frosting then use dark cocoa powder. 
  • Sea Salt. This can be omitted, but I don’t recommend it. If using regular iodized salt, cut the amount in half. 
  • Vanilla Extract. Use pure vanilla extract for the best flavor. You can also use a different extract like peppermint, almond, orange, etc. to impart different flavors. 
  • Whole Milk. Half and half or heavy whipping cream can be used in place of whole milk, but nothing else with a lesser fat content. 

How to store chocolate frosting:

  • To use the same day: Store it in an airtight container at room temperature until you are ready to use. Do not chill.
  • Refrigerate. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week. To use: remove from the refrigerator and let the frosting come to room temperature before spreading or piping. 
  • To freeze: Freeze it in a piping bag used to decorate or transfer it to a freezer-friendly zip log bag, press it flat and freeze it that way.
    • To thaw the chocolate buttercream frosting remove it from the freezer and let it come to room temperature. Do not microwave or it will ruin the frosting. 

Nutrition

Serving: 0.25cup | Calories: 243kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 31mg | Sodium: 141mg | Potassium: 51mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 33g | Vitamin A: 363IU | Calcium: 13mg | Iron: 1mg

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

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Recipe Rating




26 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Made it with my 9 Year old granddaughter for father’s day dessert. Easy and yummy. Thank you!

  2. 5 stars
    It was my first time making a chocolate buttercream and this recipe exceeded my expectations!! Instead of using vanilla extract I used a tsp on Dr Pepper and was so happy I did! This recipe was perfect for last minute cupcakes that my son asked for. Thank you for sharing!

  3. 5 stars
    This is an excellent frosting! Spreads evenly without tearing cake surface but still sturdy. I used dark chocolate cocoa.
    One recipe (x1) covers amply (with some left over) the top and sides of a 9 x 13 sheet cake.
    One recommendation is sift the powdered sugar and cocoa together to ensure no lumpy frosting.

  4. 5 stars
    So, so good! I can just eat it out of the bowl! I had to lessen the amount of milk in order to keep it stiff enough to pipe rosettes. I also used half salted and half unsalted butter. I also used half dark chocolate cocoa. Yummo!!

  5. 5 stars
    Seriously this is the best frosting ever! I had to hold myself back from eating it before frosting the cake. Thank you!

  6. 5 stars
    This frosting is delicious! The only issue I had was my rosettes did not hold their shape because the frosting was a little too soft. (No one complained!!) Next time I will use a little less milk or more powdered sugar.

  7. Can I ask you if the powdered sugar is equal to 504 grams as in the recipe , it says 4 and a half cups , is this correct or there is a mistake , because i think 4 and a half cups is more than 500 grams

    1. Powdered sugar weighs significantly less than granulated sugar. 1 cup of powdered sugar weighs around 110 grams.

  8. Will this recipe frost a doubled layer cake and make the pretty design like yours or do I need to double the recipe?

    1. This recipe frosts a double layer 6″ cake. If making a 9″ cake you will want to double the recipe.