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.
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!
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.
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
How to make Chocolate Frosting
- 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.
- 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.
- Add in the vanilla and salt and mix well.
- 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.
- Spread onto cake or cupcakes with a knife or transfer to a piping bag and pipe in decorative swirls.
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.
Homemade Chocolate Frosting FAQs
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.
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.
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.
More Recipes That Are Perfect With Chocolate Frosting
- Thick, Fudgy, Chewy, Ultimate Brownies
- Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie
- One-Bowl Chocolate Cake Recipe
- Devil's Food Cake
- Chocolate Lofthouse Frosted Sugar Cookies
- Vanilla Cupcakes
- or just spread it on graham crackers for an easy treat!
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.
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
- 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.