The best, fluffiest chocolate buttercream frosting to spread on cupcakes, cakes, or anything else you can think of! This one is made with cocoa powder, so it's so simple to make with pantry staples. It pipes like a dream, and holds its shape. Read on for tips and tricks to make the most perfect chocolate frosting.
I don't think I've had a dessert look at me the way this cupcake looks at me. That swirly, twirly pile of silky smooth chocolate buttercream with colorful sprinkles on top knows that it can make all my dreams come true. If you're wondering, the cupcake pictured is my eggless chocolate cupcake recipe. But today, we're just talking about the frosting!
I often want chocolate frosting for a various number of desserts, but the thought of chopping and melting fickle chocolate stops me every time. Enter this version, made with cocoa powder! You should absolutely buy the richest, darkest cocoa powder you can find. I like Valrhona brand, and I also like a Dutch processed cocoa powder, for its rich color.
This recipe will frost one dozen cupcakes or one 8-inch two layer cake. Feel free to scale it up or down, as needed. That is why the recipe is listed in metric measurements and U.S. cups and spoons for you.
Ways to Use Chocolate Buttercream:
- Instead of vanilla buttercream, use this recipe to make this small batch of vanilla cupcakes fudge-topped. You won't regret it!
- My small chocolate cake recipe technically has a ganache frosting, but so many of you ask for a standard chocolate buttercream recipe like this.
- Hear me out: the combination of lemon and chocolate is a thing! Use this frosting recipe instead for my lemon cupcakes.
- An amazing birthday cake would be my small vanilla cake recipe topped with this rich chocolate buttercream. Try it!
- Browse all of my 6 inch Cake Recipes to find the perfect cake pairing.
How to Make Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:
The most important thing when making this recipe is to have the butter at room temperature. This means open the wrapper, and let the butter sit, exposed to the air, for about 30-60 minutes. Room temperature means you can press a finger into it and leave an indention, but not so soft that your fingers go all the way through the stick.
You also need a hand mixer to make this recipe. Here is the one I've had for nearly a decade, and it never lets me down. You can make this entirely by hand and use a whisk, but it will be a lot of work.
- Unsalted Butter. One whole stick of unsalted butter, softened at room temperature for 30-60 minutes.
- Powdered Sugar. Also called confectioner's sugar or 10x sugar.
- Vanilla. Yes, chocolate desserts still need vanilla extract to be well-balanced and delicious.
- Cocoa Powder. The richer, the better. Dutch-processed cocoa powder will give you the darkest color frosting.
- Milk or Cream. Technically, you can use any liquid here to smooth things out and bring everything together. Heavy cream makes the absolute fluffiest frosting, but regular milk or even a splash of coconut milk works here, too. I'm not shy to admit that chocolate milk is great here, too!
- Gather all ingredients to make the chocolate buttercream, and ensure your butter is softened. Place the butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla in a mixing bowl.
2. Beat this together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
3. Now, add the cocoa powder and a splash of milk or heavy cream (your choice), and begin to beat everything together. Keep the dairy product nearby, because you may need to add more to make everything smooth and creamy. However, don't add too much, or the frosting won't hold its shape when piped. Start with as little liquid as possible.
4. Can we please just admire how rich and creamy this frosting looks? Scoop it into a piping bag, and get to work decorating cakes, cupcakes, cookies or even brownies.
When buttercream is grainy, it's usually because of 3 reasons: the temperature of the butter, the powdered sugar being lumpy, or the amount of time spent beating the mixture. So, make sure the butter is SOFT, and sift your powdered sugar. If you're reading this with a bowl of grainy buttercream, do not fret--turn the mixer back on and beat for a few more minutes to make it smooth.
You might have added too much cream or milk, or your butter might be overly soft or melted. Place it in the fridge for 10-15 minutes, and then beat again. You can also place ⅓ of the buttercream in the freezer for 5 minutes, and then beat it back into the rest of the buttercream. This is the fastest way to fix melty, runny buttercream.
Thankfully, YES! We can sit on the couch and eat it by the spoonful because it's gluten free. Or, sandwich it between two of my gluten free chocolate chip cookies!
Yes, and I do this so often! I love having buttercream in the freezer, because it saves me so much time! Just scoop it into a freezer bag, squeeze as much air out as possible, and freeze for up to 3 months. To use, defrost overnight in the fridge, and then move it to a bowl to fully defrost before beating and using. Yes, it needs to be beaten again before using.
If you're looking for a version without chocolate, try my vanilla buttercream recipe.
- 8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
- 1 ½ cups (150 grams) powdered sugar, sifted
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 tablespoons (28 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
- splash of heavy cream of milk, as necessary
1. Gather the ingredients for the frosting and ensure the butter is softened. Place the butter, powdered sugar and vanilla in a bowl.
2. Beat this together until light and fluffy.
3. Add the cocoa powder, and beat again, adding small splashes of milk or cream to make it all come together. Don't add too much or the frosting will be too wet and not hold its shape when piped.
Unsalted Butter: One whole stick (4 ounces/ 113 grams) of unsalted butter, softened at room temperature for 30-60 minutes.
Powdered Sugar: Sift for best results; also called confectioner's sugar or 10x sugar.
Vanilla: Pure vanilla extract.
Cocoa Powder: The richer, the darker and the more expnsive, the better. Dutch-processed cocoa powder will give you the darkest color frosting.
Milk or Cream: You can use any liquid here to smooth things out and bring the frosting together. Heavy cream makes the absolute fluffiest frosting. Milk or even coconut milk work well, too.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 183Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 47mgSodium: 142mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 1gSugar: 3gProtein: 2g