Easy Chocolate Buttercream Recipe

My classic american buttercream recipe is my top blog post, and is also my most frequently requested recipe!

While I feel comfortable swapping in and out ingredients to make different flavors using this base recipe, I realize that you guys might want to know the recipe for my frequently used variations.

When it comes to buttercream (and baking in general), I always like to keep things simple!

While there are tons of delicious types of buttercream out there (Swiss, German, Italian, French…), I prefer American Buttercream!

The Best!! I love my moist chocolate cupcake recipe!!

Why? I don’t like to mess with eggs when it comes to frosting, and I enjoy the way American buttercream tastes.

I find I’m disappointing when bite into a cake with Swiss meringue buttercream (SMBC).

SMBC is much lighter and less sweet, and it leaves me feeling unsatisfied. This is just my personal opinion!

It’s definitely the sweetest type of buttercream (Duff Goldman calls it sweetened butter :P), but I grew up eating sweet icing.

I have always had a huge sweet tooth!! I grew up loving pop tarts,  cans of sugary frosting, and fruity candies!

If you didn’t grow up eating American sweets, or if you don’t have a big sweet tooth, this frosting recipe might be too sweet for you.

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However, I do find that my chocolate buttercream tastes a bit less sweet than my vanilla buttercream.

If you’re looking for a rich chocolaty cake filling, or a something that is chocolaty but a bit less sweet, I highly recommend trying ganache!

The cake below is covered in milk chocolate ganache, and it is a really great alternative to chocolate buttercream.

mother's day adding exterior

So here you have it, the recipe for my second most popular flavor of buttercream-CHOCOLATE!

It takes  my vanilla buttercream recipe, and adds in baking cocoa, and a touch more heavy cream to balance out the thickening effect of the cocoa!

You can also add more cocoa if desired, to get a stronger chocolate taste. Just be sure to add in more heavy cream as well, to maintain the consistency of the frosting.

This frosting is just as easy to make as my vanilla buttercream, and is a dream to frost cakes and cupcakes with.


When using this to frost my favorite vanilla layer cake recipe (which can be used to make four 7 inch or 8 inch cake layers), I usually make 1.5 – 2 batches, depending on how I’m decorating the cake.

NOTE: If you are making frosting for a cake, it is important to mix the buttercream on low 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.

This will make it easier to get super smooth sides on your cake!

Easy Chocolate Buttercream

This chocolate buttercream recipe is so easy, you’ll never buy store bought frosting again!! It’s made with only 6 ingredients, and takes less than 10 minutes to make!!

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword chelsweets, chocolate american buttercream, chocolate buttercream, chocolate cake icing, chocolate frosting recipe, easy choclate frosting recipe
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 1 seven inch layer cake


  • 2 cups (or 4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature (434 grams)
  • 8 cups powdered sugar (907 grams)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened baking cocoa (40 grams)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (3 grams)
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream (80 grams)
  • 1 tsp vanilla (4 grams)


  1. Beat the butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until smooth. 

  2. Add in the cocoa, and mix on low until the cocoa is fully incorporated, and no clumps remain.

  3. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Alternate with small splashes of cream.

  4. Once fully mixed, add in the vanilla and salt.

  5. Beat on low until the ingredients are fully incorporated, and the desired consistency is reached.

Recipe Notes

If the frosting is too thick, add in additional cream (1 teaspoon at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time).

37 thoughts on “Easy Chocolate Buttercream Recipe

  1. I was wondering if this will taste like an Oreo like your black buttercream does? I tried it this past weekend and it was amazing! I was looking for a similar taste but not black. Thank you!

    1. haha yes! if you use black cocoa in this recipe, it will taste like an oreo, similar to my black frosting recipe 🙂

  2. Hey Chels! I’m making your frosting for my daughters birthday! Do you bake your cakes the freeze or chill them over night then frost next day? Or do you make,bake, and frost all same day? Also do you chill your frosting at all before applying to cake? THANKS!

    1. Definitely don’t do it all in one day! it’s way too much work! I like to make my cake layers in advance, then chill them in the freezer! I also make my buttercream in advance, and refrigerate it. my buttercream is pretty thick , so it doesn’t need to be chilled! however, when I frost my cake, I only let me layers thaw for about 20 minutes, so they’re still chilled when I assemble the cake! this just makes the process so much easier 🙂

  3. I’m trying to make Black Buttercream to decorate 200 mini cupcakes and saw you ganache information. After trying to make different buttercream recipes black and being disappointed with either texture or flavor I’ve become very stressed. Now I think after reading your article on ganache I could make dark ganache and add Americolor Super Black gel and keep it at a soft consistency for decorating the mini cupcakes. I live in a hot climate so I don’t leave anything on the counter over night. Do you think the soft consistency will pipe well on the tops of a mini cupcake and hold under refrigeration over night without any problems. Since I’m doing 200 I mini cupcakes I need to know what’s going to work and what’s not. I plan on leaving the ganache sit for about 3 hours on counter til it becomes pudding like consistency and then start piping.
    Thanks for any advice.

  4. Hey girl. I see you say use a paddle attachment but in your videos you use the whisk. Is the whisk better? The paddle attachment never works right for me

    1. it depends on what it’s for! I like that paddle attachment for cake frosting, but the whisk for cupcakes! the paddle is great for making smooth buttercream, but I like light and fluffy buttercream to pipe onto cupcakes! You can use either though, both should work, and will just produce slightly different textures. hope that helps, happy baking <3

  5. Hi Chelsea, I am looking to alter your classic American buttercream to a Strawberry buttercream to use on the Chocolate Dipped Strawberry cake. Any ideas???? Jeanne

  6. Hi Chelsea! I made the Bailey’s cake for St. Patrick’s Day. My chocolate buttercream was a little darker than yours and I didn’t get the nice contrast between the butercream and ganache. What brand of cocoa do you use?

    1. Hi Sam! You can use almond milk, but keep in mind it’s a lot thinner than cream! So just watch how much you add, and adjust as needed to get the right consistency <3

  7. On the vanilla buttercream recipe you have 1 tbsp vanilla (12 grams). On this recipe you have 1 tsp but it’s the same amount in grams. Is it 1 tbsp or 1 tsp?

    1. So sorry for the confusion Cristina! It should be 1 tsp. I’ve updated the grams to reflect this. Thank you for catching this!

      It will still turn out if you add more vanilla, but I find that you don’t really need to since you’re adding in the cocoa! And vanilla is so expensive these days, I like to use less when I can. Happy baking!!

  8. Can you make this a white chocolate buttercream by just adding the melted chocolate or does the base recipe need to be altered? It is for a wedding cake

    1. Hi Seth,

      You can add in slightly cooled melted white chocolate into this base and it should work great! Just be sure your bowl isn’t cold if it’s metal, because sometimes that can cause the melted chocolate to harden into chunks. I’ve never had it happen, but I’ve heard from other people it can.

      Hope that helps, and that your wedding cake turns out great!

    1. Hi Kayla,

      if you whip it up a lot it will get lighter in color! If you want it to be darker, you can add in more cocoa powder or use a dark cocoa powder <3

  9. I making my son a monster cake and one of the icing I doing needs to be black. Is this a good recipe for that or what buttercream would you use to make black icing?

  10. Hi. I making my son a monster jam cake. And I need black icing would this be a good one if so how much black gel should I use or what other butter cream recipes should I use

Let me know what you think!