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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.

Reasons why you NEED to make chocolate buttercream frosting from scratch:

  • 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!

How to make chocolate buttercream 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.

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.

What can you use to thicken buttercream?

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, 1/2 cup at a time, until the frosting is at a good consistency.

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

More Recipes That Are Perfect With Chocolate Frosting

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An image of a Kitchenaid whisk attachment with chocolate frosting on it.
Yield: 4 cups

Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

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. 

Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes


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


  1. Cream butter and cocoa powder together until smooth in the bowl of a stand mixer using the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 390Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 5mgSodium: 13mgCarbohydrates: 94gFiber: 1gSugar: 90gProtein: 1g