Black Frosting

With Halloween just around the corner, I’ve been using black frosting on quite a few of my baking projects. This has led to a bunch of questions on social media, including:

  • Why does my black frosting look grey??
  • How can I make black buttercream that doesn’t turn my mouth black?
  • Is there a way to make black frosting without loads of food coloring?
  • How do you get you black buttercream such a deep shade?
  • What’s the best way to make super black buttercream that actually tastes good?
  • Which type and brand food coloring is best to use for black frosting?
  • What’s your trick for making such black frosting??

To make our lives easier, I’m sharing my secrets to making super black buttercream frosting here!

I start off using my classic American buttercream as a base, which is insanely easy to make.

Next, I add my two secret ingredients: black cocoa, and black gel food coloring.

The finishing touch to my black frosting recipe is the magic of time!!

That last line sounds hoaky, I know. As I typed it I couldn’t help but chuckle!! But I swear, letting this frosting sit is a sure fire way to deepen its color.

Piping black buttercream onto a halloween cupcake

Secret Ingredient #1: Black Cocoa

Turning white buttercream black is incredibly hard. Starting off with a naturally deeper colored frosting base makes it about a million times easier.

How do I like to naturally color my buttercream before adding in the gel food coloring?! Black cocoa and dark chocolate, my friends.

I only recently discovered black cocoa, and I’m obsessed.

Black cocoa has a slightly higher pH than dutch-processed cocoa (8 vs.7), and is much less acidic than natural baking cocoa (5-6).

The best comparison is to think of the bittersweet, chocolaty taste of an Oreo cookie! It’s absolutely delicious.

It has a beautiful dark color, which helps build the perfect chocolaty base for this black frosting.

It can be hard to find in grocery stores, so I order mine on amazon! I like to use Wincrest black cocoa.

image of sprinkle fault line cake, frosted with black buttercream

Secret Ingredient #2: Black Gel Food Coloring

Next comes the necessary evil, some food coloring. But I’m not talking about generic, black liquid food coloring.

Liquid food coloring can also throw off the consistency of your frosting if you add too much.

When it comes to coloring frosting, gel food coloring is a must. Especially when you’re after super vibrant or deep shades, like black.

Gel food coloring is much more concentrated than liquid food coloring, so you can add less and still get the dark color you’re after!

I always use Americolor super black gel food coloring, which I purchase in big bottles from Amazon.

When combining this small amount of black gel food coloring with my black cocoa buttercream, the result it amazing.

You get a frosting that is a wonderfully deep shade of black, that tastes like Oreos and chocolate. 

Sushi Roll cake frosted with black american buttercream

Final Tip For Making Black Frosting: Make It In Advance

My final trick to making black frosting is to make it ahead of time. Yes, time is my biggest secret!!

If you make the frosting a couple days (or more) in advance, the color of the frosting will get darker over time! I swear it’s magic.

This buttercream can be made over a week in advance, and stored in the fridge until it needs to be used.

I take the frosting out a few hours before I need it, to allow it to come to room temperature. 

Once it’s thawed, it always is a darker color than when I initially made it.

MVI_0498_Moment (2)

Give Your Frosting a Good Stir

I have one important piece of advice around making frosting in advance.

As buttercream sits and/or thaws, it usually gets tons of tiny air bubbles in it! Don’t worry, you’ll be able to make your buttercream smooth again. All you need to do is give the frosting a really good stir with a rubber spatula.

Work the frosting slowly from side to side. Focus on spreading it across the sides of your bowl for a few minutes.

It’s definitely an arm workout. But after working the frosting around the bowl and pushing out the excess air, you’ll be left with silky smooth frosting.

How Much Frosting Do I Need For A Cake? Or Cupcakes?

When using this to frost my chocolate layer cake recipe, I usually make 1.5 batches of  black buttercream to cover a 7-inch or 8-inch layer cake.

However, this can vary based on how I’m decorating the cake, and the size of my cake layers.

If you were to use one batch of frosting to pipe buttercream swirls on top of cupcakes, it frosts about three dozen (36) cupcakes.

Again, this cake also drastically vary if you’re making massive frosting swirls, or simply piping buttercream rosettes on top of each cupcake.

Galaxy themed cake frosted with black buttercream

Tips For Making SUPER Black Frosting:

  • Use gel food coloring (preferable Americolor Super black)
  • Make this frosting several days in advance to allow the shade to deepen
  • Start with a naturally dark frosting base (like chocolate) to allow you to add less food coloring
  • Use black cocoa to naturally color and flavor your black frosting

Making This Black Frosting in Advance and Storage Tips:

  • Make your frosting ahead of time, or save any leftover frosting! It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • Be sure to give it a good stir once it thaws to get the consistency nice and smooth again.
  • A frosted cake can last in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to a month. The buttercream locks in all the moisture, keeping the cake fresh and delicious!
  • If you cut into the cake and have leftovers, use any remaining frosting to cover the cut section to keep it moist and store in the fridge for up to a week.
  • If you can’t find black cocoa, you can also use dark cocoa powder.

Share Your Creations With Me!

If you try this black frosting recipe, please tag me @chelsweets. Also use the #chelsweets so that I can see your amazing creations!

Nothing makes me happier than when I get emails or DMs with photos of your amazing cakes. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with your triumphs, or questions <3

Other Recipes You Might Like:

Yield: 6 cups

Black Buttercream Frosting

Black Buttercream Frosting

Struggle to make truly black frosting?? Learn my tips for making the deepest black buttercream, with a simple recipe that comes together in minutes.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes


  1. Beat the butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until smooth.
  2. Mix in the vanilla extract, salt, and sifted black cocoa on a low speed.
  3. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Alternate with small splashes of cream.
  4. Add in the melted dark chocolate, and beat on low until the ingredients are fully incorporated, and the desired consistency is reached. 
  5. If the frosting is too thick, add in additional cream (1 Tbsp at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time).
  6. Add in a generous squirt of black gel food coloring (roughly 1 tsp) once the frosting is fully made, and mix by hand with a rubber spatula until the frosting is evenly colored.
  7. To allow the shade to deepen, place in sealed piping bags or an airtight container. Leave out overnight at room temperature, or place in the fridge for several days.


A frosted cake can last in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to a month. The buttercream locks in all the moisture, keeping the cake fresh and delicious!

If you cut into the cake and have leftovers, use any remaining frosting to cover the cut section to keep it moist and store in the fridge for up to a week.

If you are making frosting for a cake, mix the buttercream on the lowest speed at the end of the process for a couple minutes, to get out any extra air that might have be incorporated during the mixing process.

I usually make 1 1/2 batches of frosting to stack and frost a seven or eight inch cake.

Nutrition Information


6 cups

Serving Size


Amount Per Serving Calories 1255Total Fat 67gSaturated Fat 41gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 21gCholesterol 177mgSodium 227mgCarbohydrates 169gFiber 2gSugar 161gProtein 3g

101 thoughts on “Black Frosting

  1. What if I wanted to make one of my cake layers black? Do I have to start with chocolate cake batter or just add black gel to the vanilla cake batter?

    1. Hi Susan! I let my frosting sit out overnight, which really deepens the color! My kitchen also gets pretty warm when I’m baking, and I think that’s why it looks the way it does. Hope that helps!! <3

  2. Hi! Can I use this recipe to make navy frosting and just use navy food coloring instead of black? Or will that not work?

    1. Hi Amanda,

      You can! The black cocoa makes the frosting a dark grey, but it would still be a great base for a navy frosting. You should be able to swap out the black gel food coloring for navy, and get a nice deep color 🙂 Hope that helps, happy baking!

  3. Maybe you can advise? I love your site and am planning to use one of your buttercream recipes for a cake that I have been asked to make. It is a disco/70’s theme, so I was going to make a dancefloor shaped cake. I have purchased your fav brand of black cocoa, Wincrest. So, my ideal would be to make a very dark, near black, chocolate buttercream frosting, not having to use any black gel color. My customer didn’t specify that they want “black”, but I am going off the invite and other colors and black would be a good decor choice. Today she “reminded” me, but I already thought of, that it’s important to her that her guests teeth/mouths don’t turn black or show black on teeth. I haven’t used this black cocoa before, but I think using cocoa only, that would not happen? I am worried about adding any black gel color at this point. What would you advise? Your black buttercream recipe w/o gel color or another recipe? Thank you!!

    1. Hi Paula,

      If you use just the black cocoa and dark chocolate to color the frosting, it shouldn’t change the color of anyone’s teeth / mouth! If you use a very dark chocolate, you should be able to get a naturally deep shape. However, I usually also add a touch of black gel food coloring to make truly black frosting.

      Since that’s not necessarily what you’re after for this cake, I think your game plan for this frosting sounds great. Please let me know how it goes <3

  4. I used Wilton gel and after so much almost twice what you call for it’s still just a dark grey. Worried about adding too much more. Is this not the same kinda gel coloring? 🙁

    1. Hi Lindsey! I hate to say it, but I don’t think Wilton black colors as well as Americolor. I think americolor works a lot better! You also can try adding in some melted dark chocolate or more black cocoa, to try to help it naturally deepen as well!

  5. Another thing is, if you haven’t, give it time to develop. Mine looked dark grey after mixing all together, but after putting in the fridge for the night and letting it come to room temp in morning and whipping again, it’s nearly black. A couple more hours at room temp it will be a nice rich black. If I whip it again it will lighten, but the darken again as it sets. Hope that helps!

  6. Hi Chels,

    I am making a Black and Gold cake for an 80th birthday. My client requested Chocolate cake and Chocolate frosting…easy enough. I have been looking at a ton of tutorials and your is the only one that is truly black.

    My question is, because the frosting needs to taste like chocolate, should I start with a classic Chocolate Buttercream base and then add additional black cocoa and gel food coloring so it tastes like ‘chocolate? I do realize that the black cocoa will intensify the chocolate flavor.

    I love that you ditched your corporate gig for this…good choice!! I admire your work!!



    1. Hi Wendi,

      That is a great question. I love the way my chocolate buttercream tastes, and you can definitely use that a base. If possible, use melted dark chocolate and dark cocoa powder, to make the base as dark as possible naturally before adding in the food coloring. As long as you make in advance and use wilton black gel food coloring, it should still turn out black and taste chocolatey and delicious 🙂

      I hope that helps, and thank you!!! <3

  7. Hello! I am going to be making a Batman cake for my son’s birthday next week, and am honestly trying to avoid the hassle of making the buttercream frosting, since I’m going to have so much going on. Would I be able to buy premade buttercream from the bakery and just add the black gel food coloring? Also, do you know if Wilton gel work as well as the brand you use? Or does it come out more grey? Your black frosting looks AMAZING

    1. Hi Rachael,

      I’ve never tried doing this before, so I’m not really sure!! I would think it should, but the ingredients could be a lot different than mine and it might end up coloring differently! I’d just say try to pick a chocolate frosting base. If you just add black gel food coloring to white frosting, you’ll have to add a ton and you’ll be able to taste it!!

      I hope whatever you end up doing works out great for your son’s cake! <3

Let me know what you think!