This is the BEST Chocolate Buttercream Frosting and it's so easy to make with butter, cocoa powder, and powdered sugar! You're going to want to lick the beater. 

This easy chocolate frosting is PERFECT on my Best Ever Moist Chocolate CupcakesThick, Fudgy, Chewy, Ultimate Brownies, or with my One-Bowl Chocolate Cake Recipe.

An image of a Kitchenaid whisk attachment covered in chocolate buttercream frosting.

Can we make a solemn pact to never again eat chocolate frosting that comes from a can? Nothing can beat the taste of a rich and creamy homemade chocolate frosting.

I make this chocolate frosting so often that I have it memorized. You have seen the recipe on other posts like my yellow cake recipe and the last chocolate cupcakes recipe you will ever need. But it's so versatile that I decided the chocolate frosting needed it's own post! Be sure to check out all of my frosting recipes for even more delicious flavors!

An image of chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting.

Why you'll love this Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  • It's incredibly simple
  • It takes less than 10 minutes
  • It only uses ingredients you already have on hand in the pantry and fridge
  • And one batch of this chocolate frosting recipe makes enough frosting to cover a two-layered cake or 12-24 cupcakes, depending on how thick you like your frosting.

Not only is this chocolate buttercream frosting recipe easy, but can also makes a thick enough frosting that you can pipe out lavish, ruffled swirls, fancy borders, or designs if you want to be all extra. I'll admit right up front that I'm terrible at any kind of decorating, but you can make cupcakes that look just like these ones with basically zero skill at all if you have the right piping tip and this chocolate frosting recipe.

My favorite piping tips for cupcakes are the Wilton 1M (this is what I used for frosting the cupcakes in this post), the Wilton 8B and the Ateco 828 and Ateco 808. (<--affiliate links)

Of course, don’t feel like you can only use this recipe only on cakes or cupcakes. It is, after all, the best chocolate buttercream frosting and it is perfect for lots of delicious desserts, including brownies, cookies, and bars!

Chocolate Buttercream Recipe Ingredients

  • Salted butter
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Powdered sugar
  • Vanilla extract
  • Salt

How to make Chocolate Frosting

  1. Beat the butter and cocoa powder: In a large stand mixer or in a bowl with your electric hand mixer, cream the butter and cocoa powder together until smooth, about 4 minutes.
  2. Mix in the powdered sugar: Add in half of the powdered sugar on medium-low speed until it combined with the butter and cocoa powder. Once combined, add the remaining powdered sugar, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
  3. Add in the vanilla and salt and mix well.
  4. Add heavy cream or milk to get a nice spreadable but thick consistency. Don't add the liquid all at once. I recommend just a tablespoon or two at a time and beating well.
  5. Spread onto cake or cupcakes with a knife or transfer to a piping bag and pipe in decorative swirls.
An image of powdered sugar being mixed into a bowl of chocolate frosting.
An image of homemade chocolate frosting in a bowl with beaters.

Tips for the Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Use softened butter. You will want to pull your butter out of the fridge so it can soften before using it in this chocolate frosting recipe. If you are in a rush, try cubing it so it softens faster. You can also soften butter in the microwave by heating it for 8-10 seconds, flipping it over, and heating another 5 seconds. This works great for me on my microwave, but some microwaves are more powerful than others so keep that in mind if you try it.

Don’t be afraid to beat it. For a really silky texture, take the time to really beat the chocolate frosting. This helps incorporate air and makes sure all of the sugar granules are coated in the butterfat.

Knock out air with a spatula or wooden spoon. After beating all that air into the buttercream, it will be full of air pockets, that can make it less pretty for spreading. You can counteract this but stirring it with a sturdy spatula or spoon by hand for a minute or two, which will help remove from of those air bubbles for a smoother finish to your cakes.

How to thicken Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

If your buttercream is too thin, chances are you either added too much liquid, or your butter was too soft to begin with (which can happen on very hot days).

Some tips for making the perfect consistency buttercream frosting are to make sure that you use room temperature butter and not liquid butter! Melted butter (or butter that is so soft that it might as well be melted) won't work for this frosting recipe. If you only have cold butter, I will sometime microwave it for just 10 seconds, which isn't enough to melt it, but does soften it enough so that it can be beaten by the electric mixer.

But if you have frosting that is much too thin, you can add in additional powdered sugar, ½ cup at a time, until the frosting is at a good consistency.

How to serve the Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

This chocolate buttercream frosting is perfect for piping onto cupcakes, swirling onto sugar cookies, decorating layer cakes, frosting brownies, or simply spreading between graham cracker cookies. You can also use it as a filling for whoopie pies or homemade macarons.

How to store Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

A cake frosted with buttercream frosting can typically be left out at room temperature for 2-3 days. Be sure to cover it with plastic wrap or a cake dome, or store the cake slices in an airtight container so it doesn’t dry out.

You can also store any unused buttercream frosting in the refrigerator or freezer. Let it thaw completely and come up to room temperature for 2-3 hours, then beat well so it is smooth again before using.

Does buttercream frosting need to be refrigerated?

Chocolate buttercream frosting doesn’t need to be refrigerated, but you can if you want to. If you want to make the frosting in advance and store in an airtight container, you can safely keep it on the counter for 3 days.

But if you want to make it farther in advance, just stick the frosting in the fridge for up to one week. When you are ready to use the frosting, remove it from the fridge and let it come to room temperature, usually about 1-2 hours, before using to frost a cake or cupcakes. You may even want to beat it again with a mixture to make it nice and fluffy and easily spreadable after it has been refrigerated.

If you have already frosted a cake or cupcakes with your chocolate buttercream frosting, you can leave it out on the counter for up to three days, although it may get a little crust around the edges, which is totally normal for frosting unless you cover it with plastic wrap or a lid. This actually helps the cake to retain some of the moisture inside, much like how the side of the cake slice that touches the air develops a harder crumb.

How long does buttercream frosting last in the fridge?

Unused buttercream frosting will last for 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator if it is stored in an airtight container so it doesn’t dry out.

An image of two layers of yellow cake with chocolate frosting on top of each layer.

Homemade Chocolate Frosting FAQs

Can I just add cocoa powder to vanilla buttercream frosting?

Generally speaking, yes, you can just add cocoa powder to vanilla buttercream frosting to get chocolate buttercream. However, you will likely need to add additional heavy cream or milk to thin out the consistency of the frosting until it is smooth and spreadable.

What is the difference between chocolate buttercream and chocolate frosting?

There’s no real difference in these terms, as far as I’m concerned, although you could technically make a chocolate frosting using cream cheese instead of butter, so then it wouldn’t be a chocolate buttercream frosting and instead be a chocolate cream cheese frosting. But for all intents and purposes, the terms are used interchangeably by most people.

What is the best cocoa powder to use for this chocolate buttercream recipe?

You want an unsweetened natural cocoa powder like Hershey’s, Ghirardelli, or Rodelle for this recipe. I like all three brands and use them all often, depending on what is available and priced the best at the time.
You could also use a dark chocolate or dutch processed cocoa powder in this recipe for more of a dark chocolate buttercream flavor.

An image of a cake frosted with chocolate frosting.

More Recipes That Are Perfect With Chocolate Frosting

Did you make this recipe?

Let me know what you thought with a comment and rating below. You can also take a picture and tag me on Instagram @houseofnasheats or share it on the Pinterest pin so I can see.

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Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

4.88 from 24 votes
Amy Nash
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 16 cups
This is the BEST Chocolate Buttercream Frosting and it's so easy to make with butter, cocoa powder, and powdered sugar! You're going to want to lick the beater. 


  • 1 ½ cups butter, softened 3 sticks
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4-5 cups powdered sugar
  • 4-6 Tablespoons heavy cream or whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • Pinch of salt


  • Cream butter and cocoa powder together until smooth in the bowl of a stand mixer using the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer.
  • Add half of the powdered sugar mixing on medium speed until combined. Add remaining powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt, mixing well, and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  • Add heavy cream or milk, 1-2 tablespoons at a time, mixing between each addition until you reach the desired consistency that is easily spreadable or pipeable, but will still hold its shape.


Serving: 0.25cup | Calories: 296kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 51mg | Sodium: 155mg | Potassium: 91mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 30g | Vitamin A: 587IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 15mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe? Show me on Instagram!Mention @HouseOfNashEats or tag #houseofnasheats!

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About the author

Hi, I'm Amy

I enjoy exploring the world through food, culture, and travel and sharing the adventure with mostly from-scratch, family friendly recipes that I think of as modern comfort cooking.

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Reader questions and reviews

  1. Patty says:

    Which cocoa powder do you prefer?

    1. Amy says:

      That's a great question! My favorite is Rodelle cocoa powder, but I also like Ghiradelli. But to be completely honest, I used Hershey's in this particular batch because that's what I happened to have on hand.

  2. Rebecca says:

    Can you freeze this icing?

    1. Amy says:

      Yes! You can freeze it for up to about 3 months. Just thaw it completely in the fridge, then let it sit on the counter for 1-2 hours to come up to room temperature. I like to beat it again to make sure it is creamy and smooth before using it.

  3. Roaa says:

    Can I use sour cream instead of the heavy cream ?

    1. Amy says:

      I would think it might be a little thick, but you could try. Or just use regular milk.

  4. Farhana says:


    Could you give these measurements in grams please?

    1. Amy says:

      I will work on that for readers in other countries!

  5. Avery says:

    How many cupcakes does it frost?

    1. Amy says:

      That depends on how thick you like to frost your cupcakes! If I'm piping big swirls, sometimes I can only get about 15 of them. But if I'm frosting with a knife then I can often get 2-3 dozen cupcakes covered.

  6. Natalija says:

    First time to make frosting and loved it! I did use half of those of icing sugar but still ended up with nice consistency! Once again thank you 🙂

  7. Emma says:

    Do you use salted or unsalted butter?

    1. Amy says:

      I use salted butter. If you use unsalted, just add an extra pinch of salt.

  8. Charlene says:

    5 stars
    Chocolate icing turn out perfect.

  9. Elaine says:

    Can you substitute shortening for butter? Or can this handle being on the counter for a day or two? I am making a cake that will be covered in fondant for a party but have to decorate the day before.

    1. Amy says:

      Yes this will be fine sitting out for a couple of days!