Smooth, fluffy wonderful Chocolate Buttercream Frosting elevates any cake or cupcake! Homemade Chocolate Frosting comes together in minutes with only a few ingredients.
This frosting is amazing on our Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake!
Easy Homemade Chocolate Frosting
Smooth, creamy, decadent, irresistible chocolate buttercream frosting. YES! Who can resist a chocolate cake coated in it, or a cupcake piled high, or even swiping your finger through that velvety goodness? Sweet, rich, chocolatey, and amazing.
Better yet, did you know it’s incredibly quick and easy to make? Homemade chocolate frosting only requires a few ingredients and 5 minutes of your time…and it beats the pants off of anything store-bought. Once you make this chocolate frosting recipe, there’s no going back to pre-made.
Chocolate Frosting Recipe
Here are the ingredients you’ll need for our easy chocolate frosting recipe:
(Scroll below to the printable recipe card for details and measurements.)
- Unsalted Butter: Butter is the base in buttercream frosting, thus the name. Do not substitute with margarine or shortening. We really prefer unsalted butter for frosting and then add in a bit of salt separately, so we can control the saltiness. If salted is all you have, it will still work. Omit the additional salt. Either way, it must be at room temperature. Not cold, not melted.
- Powdered Sugar: This type of sugar is the other critical ingredient. Do not replace it with granulated sugar or your frosting will be gritty.
- Cocoa Powder: Unsweetened cocoa powder is what turns buttercream frosting into chocolate buttercream frosting. We prefer Ghirardelli or Hershey’s.
- Heavy Cream: Cream balances out the dry ingredients and helps the texture be perfectly spreadable. Heavy cream makes the frosting nice and rich. You can substitute half-n-half or whole milk if preferred, but keep in mind those contain less fat, which will make the frosting thinner, so use less.
- Salt: Since we use unsalted butter, we add in a pinch of salt to balance out the flavors.
- Vanilla: A touch of vanilla extract for flavor.
- Espresso Powder (optional): We highly recommend adding in some espresso powder. It adds depth of flavor and enhances the chocolate taste. The frosting will not taste like coffee.
- Make it lighter or darker: Use more or less cocoa powder to lighten or darken the color.
- Try a different flavor: Instead of vanilla extract, try peppermint extract or a splash of rum or brandy.
- Make Mexican Hot Chocolate Frosting: Add in a bit of cinnamon and a pinch of cayenne pepper!
How to Make Chocolate Frosting
To make this easy chocolate frosting recipe, follow the steps at the end of the article included in the detailed printable recipe card. Make sure to read all the helpful tips below:
Tips for Success
Room temperature butter and cream are a must! For buttercream frosting to turn out properly, the butter must be softened to room temperature. This is a non-negotiable. Do not heat it, steam it, melt it, or put it in the microwave. It also cannot be cold or stiff at all. Take a finger and press on it – if it easily makes an impression, but doesn’t push all the way through, you are good to go.
The heavy cream also needs to be at room temperature. If your buttercream isn’t fluffy or seems to separate, it’s probably because the butter and/or cream weren’t at room temperature.
Desired consistency will depend on what you’re using the frosting for.
For frosting a cake: You’ll want the consistency slightly softer for spreading. Run a butter knife through it – if it holds its shape, but still easy to spread, it’s good.
For piping: The consistency for piping on cupcakes with a 1M decorator’s tip should be a little stiffer and does not fall.
If the frosting is too thick, very slowly add in a bit more milk at a time to loosen it. Alternatively, if the frosting is too thin, add in a little extra powdered sugar to get it thicker.
How Much Frosting Does This Recipe Make?
This chocolate frosting recipe is enough to pipe tall on 12-16 cupcakes, a thin layer on 24 cupcakes, 9-inch round 2-layer cake, or a layer on a 9×13 inch cake like our Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake.
How to Store Homemade Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
If using right away: A frosted cake can sit out at room temperature, tightly covered, for a couple days (unless your kitchen is too warm, then you should refrigerate or freeze it.)
Store for later: Transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Bring to room temperature before using.
To freeze: You can freeze this frosting for up to a month. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight and bring to room temperature before using.
Freshen it up after storing: After storing in the fridge or freezer, add a bit of cream and beat briefly to freshen it up.
More Chocolate Recipes:
- Chocolate Mousse Pie
- Easy Chocolate Pie
- Homemade Chocolate Pudding
- Homemade Chocolate Sauce
- Texas Sheet Cake
Homemade Chocolate Frosting
- 1 cup unsalted butter , softened to room temperature
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon espresso powder , optional but recommended
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 3-5 tablespoons heavy whipping cream , room temperature
- With a handheld mixer (or stand mixer fitted with a whisk or paddle attachment), beat butter on medium speed for about 2 minutes or until creamy and lightened in color, scraping down the bowl as needed.
- Add cocoa powder, vanilla extract, salt, and espresso powder (if using) until combined and smooth.
- Add in powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, until sugar is incorporated, scraping down the bowl several times to ensure everything is well blended.
- Slowly beat in 3 tablespoons heavy cream, increasing speed to high and beating for 1 more minute until frosting reaches desired consistency.
- Add in more heavy cream, 1 tablespoon at a time, only if necessary. Frosting should be light and fluffy, and easily spreadable, but hold its shape if spreading, or a little stiffer and does not fall if piping.
- Use as desired for cupcakes or cake right away or store for later.
- NOTE: For more information, variations, ways to use it, and storage, please refer to the full article.