Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
This post may contain affiliate links, meaning that I may receive a commission at no cost to you if you use a link provided. All opinions shared are my own. You can review my full disclosure policy here.
This homemade chocolate buttercream frosting is simple and classic. Perfectly creamy and full of rich chocolate flavor. Great for spreading or piping onto cakes and cupcakes.
Homemade chocolate buttercream frosting is easy, creamy, and tastes way better than anything you find in the store. Real butter and basic pantry ingredients whip up in no time to make this birthday cake staple.
After being a buttercream frosting hater for most of my life, I’ve finally figured out my favorite combination of butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and cream/milk to make classic vanilla buttercream frosting.
Traditional buttercream always seemed too sweet to me, even as a kid who LOVED sugar.
My favorite frosting has been, and always be, Cream Cheese Frosting. I even have a chocolate and lemon version of that. But now I can actually enjoy a regular buttercream frosting without gaining a sugar high.
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
Since I’ve mastered basic vanilla buttercream, I’ve adjusted the recipe with cocoa powder to create this chocolate version.
To make this chocolate buttercream frosting, you will need:
- Softened Butter – Using salted or unsalted butter is up to your personal salt tolerance. You can always add a 1/8-1/4 tsp of salt to unsalted butter to help bring out the flavors.
- Powdered Sugar – Also known as Confectioners’ Sugar.
- Cocoa Powder – I use Hershey’s special Dark. Regular is great too.
- Vanilla – My favorite is this pure Mexican Vanilla.
- Heavy Cream or Milk – Both work about the same using equal portions. The biggest difference is that heavy cream will give the frosting a thicker and slightly creamier consistency.
- NOTE: If using heavy cream instead of milk, be sure to mix it in at a slow-to-medium speed. This keeps the whipping cream from expanding and adding too much air into your buttercream.
How much frosting will I need?
Depending on how thick or thin you prefer your frosting will determine how much is needed. This recipe makes approximately 3 cups of frosting.
As a general rule of thumb, three cups of frosting will cover a 9×13-inch sheet cake or a two layer, 8-inch round cake.
You should be able to frost 24 cupcakes if you apply the frosting by hand with a knife or spatula.
If piping frosting on top, you should be able to frost 12-18 cupcakes depending on the size of the swirl.
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened to room temperature
- 1/4 tsp salt*
- 3-4 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3-4 Tbsp heavy cream (or milk**)
- With an electric mixer and the paddle attachment, beat the butter with the salt until creamy.
- Whisk or sift the powdered sugar and cocoa powder together. (Sifting helps remove any lumps.) Add the powdered sugar mixture, 1 cup at a time, mixing completely before adding more. Repeat until all powdered sugar is added.
- Add vanilla and mix until incorporated. Then add heavy cream 1 Tablespoon at a time, and mix at low speed, until the desired consistency is reached. (*Can mix at medium-high speed if using milk.)
- Spread or pipe frosting onto cakes, cupcakes, or cookies.
YIELD: This recipe makes approximately 3 cups of frosting. Enough to cover a 13x9-inch sheet cake, two-layer, 8-inch round cake, OR pipe onto 12-18 cupcakes, depending on how much is piped on top. If frosting is spread on top of cupcakes with a knife or spatula, it should be enough for 24 cupcakes.
*Adjust or omit salt, as needed, if using salted butter.
**Milk (preferably whole) or half & half can be used in place of heavy cream. As always, add in small increments.
***Use the smaller amounts of powdered sugar and cream for a less sweet frosting.