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Black Frosting

With Halloween just around the corner, I’ve been using black frosting in quite a few of my baking projects. This has led to a bunch of questions from all of you, 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 your 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 works best for black frosting?
  • What’s your trick for making such black frosting??

To make our lives easier, I’m sharing all my secrets for 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 hokey, 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.

image of a cute halloween spider cake made with chocolate cake layers and chocolate buttercream frosting

Tip #1: Use Black or Dark Cocoa

Turning white buttercream black is incredibly hard. Starting off with a naturally darker colored frosting base makes it so much easier.

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

You can probably tell from recipes that I am obsessed with black cocoa. I love its flavor and its color.

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).

This gives it a bittersweet, chocolaty taste like an Oreo cookie! It’s absolutely delicious.

It also 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. My favorite brand of black cocoa is Wincrest. I’ve been using it for years and get it in 2 lb. containers because I use it so frequently.

image of sprinkle fault line cake, frosted with black buttercream

Tip #2: Use 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 coloring frosting, gel food coloring is a must. Especially if you’re after super vibrant or deep shades, like black.

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

I use Americolor super black gel food coloring or chef master coal black, which I purchase in big bottles from Amazon.

Black gel food coloring is the perfect addition to my black cocoa buttercream.

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

Sushi Roll cake frosted with black american buttercream

Alternative Black Food Coloring

Powdered food coloring is less commonly used, but is another wonderful way to make black frosting.

This black powdered food coloring isn’t expensive, and you can order it on Amazon. The biggest benefit to using it is that it has NO bitter aftertaste. The only downside is you need a lot of it to make black frosting.

There also are some great natural black food colorings like squid ink If you’re looking for a natural way to make black buttercream, I suggest trying this.

Some people also like to use activated charcoal, but it can impact the absorption of medications. With that in mind, be careful if you chose to use it.

Tip #3: 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 of the fridge the night before I need it to allow it to come to room temperature. 

As it thaws and sits at room temperature for a few hours it deepens in color.

image of black cocoa buttercream frosting

Tip #4: The Microwave Method

If you follow my tips above and your buttercream STILL doesn’t look as dark as you want, don’t worry.

I have a quick fix that is guaranteed to the leave you with deep black buttercream. I like to call it the microwave method!

Scoop 1/4 cup of the finished buttercream into a microwavable bowl. Add additional gel food coloring and mix until the frosting reaches the the desired color.

Then microwave the frosting for 5-10 seconds. The frosting should be runny but deeper in color. Mix this back into the full bowl of frosting and you should achieve a deep black color.

I like this method because it always works and is a quick way to make dark frosting. The only thing I don’t like about it is that it changes the consistency of your frosting.

If you end up doing using this method, let your frosting sit for about 30 minutes before you use it to allow it to thicken back up.

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 Black 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 with large swirls on top.

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.

You might need more though if want to pipe large swirls on top of your cupcakes though.

Galaxy themed cake frosted with black buttercream

Tips For Making SUPER Black Frosting

  • Use black cocoa and melted dark chocolate to naturally give your frosting a deep base color. If you can’t find black cocoa, you can also use dark cocoa powder.
  • Let the melted chocolate cool for about 10 minutes before adding it into your frosting. This will prevent it from melting the butter in your frosting.
  • Use gel food coloring (preferable Americolor Super black) or powdered food coloring rather than liquid food coloring.
  • If you want to naturally color black buttercream, use 1-2 tsp of squid ink powder or activated charcoal in place of the gel food coloring in this recipe.
  • Make this frosting several days in advance to allow the shade to deepen.
  • If your frosting still isn’t deep enough in color after trying these tips, use the microwave method! Scoop ¼ cup of finished buttercream into a microwavable bowl. Add additional gel color, mix until the frosting reaches the the desired color, and microwave for 5-10 seconds. The frosting should be runny but deeper in color. Mix this back into the full bowl of frosting and you should achieve a true black color.

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 the frosting 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.

image of black macarons made using the french technique and filled with black cocoa buttercream

Share Your Creations With Me!

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

If you have any questions about black frosting that I didn’t cover or if you have any tips of your own, please share them in the comments section below.

Other Recipes You Might Like:

Yield: 7

Black Buttercream Frosting

image of a cute and easy spider cake made for halloween

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

Instructions

  1. Beat the butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment until smooth.
  2. Mix in the black cocoa, vanilla extract, and salt on a low speed.
  3. Slowly add in the powdered sugar on a low speed. Add the heavy cream in halfway through to make the frosting easier to mix.
  4. Add in the melted and cooled dark chocolate and the black gel food coloring (roughly 1 tsp) 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. Mix the frosting by hand with a rubber spatula at the end to make sure the frosting is evenly colored and smooth.
  7. To allow the shade to deepen, place in sealed piping bags or an airtight container and leave out at room temperature for a few hours or overnight. Then use as desired or place in the fridge until you're ready to use.

Notes

This recipe makes about 7 cups of frosting, which is enough to fill and frost an 8-inch layer cake.

Tips For Making Black Frosting

  • Use black cocoa and melted dark chocolate to naturally give your frosting a deep base color. If you can't find black cocoa, you can also use dark cocoa powder.
  • Let the melted chocolate cool for about 10 minutes before adding it into your frosting. This will prevent it from melting the butter in your frosting.

    Use gel food coloring (preferable Americolor Super black) or powdered food coloring rather than liquid food coloring.

    If you want to naturally color black buttercream, use 1-2 tsp of squid ink powder or activated charcoal in place of the gel food coloring in this recipe.

  • 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 and melted dark chocolate to naturally color and flavor your black frosting. If you can't find black cocoa, you can also use dark cocoa powder.
  • If your frosting still isn't deep enough in color after trying these tips, use the microwave method! Scoop ¼ cup of finished buttercream into a microwavable bowl. Add additional gel color, mix until the frosting reaches the the desired color, and microwave for 5-10 seconds. The frosting should be runny but deeper in color. Mix this back into the full bowl of frosting and you should achieve a true black color.

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 the frosting 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.

Nutrition Information

Yield

7

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 1161Total Fat 63gSaturated Fat 39gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 20gCholesterol 160mgSodium 199mgCarbohydrates 152gFiber 2gSugar 144gProtein 3g

Heidi

Thursday 29th of September 2022

My new favorite! This frosting is amazing. I ordered the dark cocoa and the color with the black food coloring was so dark it was perfect!

Porcher Martin

Sunday 25th of September 2022

How do I make Crusting Black frosting for decorating cookies?

Lillian

Monday 29th of August 2022

Any change this is heat stable?

Chelsweets

Saturday 3rd of September 2022

Hi Lillian,

Sadly no buttercream is really heat stable :/ But if you want this to hold up better in high heat / high humidity you can swap out half the butter for hi-lo shortening and that should help. Happy baking!

Porcher Martin

Wednesday 10th of August 2022

How can I make BLACK CRUSTING BUTTERCREAM? - I have a dear friend that has two standard poodles; one black and one white. I’d really like to make her some cookies that look like her pups! - I don’t want to frost my poodle cookies with Royal Icing. I like the flavor and consistency of CRUSTING buttercream. - I am a beginning beginner and don’t know how to combine recipes for Crusting Buttercream with Black buttercream. - Your help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

Chelsweets

Sunday 14th of August 2022

Hi Porcher,

This recipe is a crusting buttercream (it also uses an American buttercream as the base so the high sugar content causes it to crust), but it won't set as firmly as royal icing. It will keep its shape well, but I wouldn't recommend stacking frosted cookies on top of each other. Hope that helps, happy baking!

Black Velvet Cupcakes: Delicious, Naturally Colored Recipe

Thursday 21st of July 2022

[…] around New Year’s and wanted to match the frosting to the color of the cupcakes. I used my deep black frosting recipe to give these cupcake a cohesive […]

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