{VIDEO} THE BEST Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Light, fluffy chocolatey frosting with a rich, creamy, fudgy flavor. This is the best-ever chocolate buttercream frosting and one of my personal favorite go-to frostings. It is perfect for cakes, cupcakes, brownies, cookies and more!


This classic all-butter American buttercream frosting is one of my absolute favorite go-to frostings ever! It is a traditional, party cake frosting, great for kids and adults alike, with that sweet, buttery, nostalgic flavor.

Unsweetened cocoa powder is added to my classic buttery vanilla buttercream frosting recipe, for an ultra rich chocolate version, of the plain vanilla base.

You can use natural unsweetened cocoa powder, or dutch processed cocoa powder depending on the flavor of chocolate you prefer. 

Natural Unsweetened Cocoa Powder, has a lighter color and a more bitter taste than dutched, with fruity notes. It is really just personal preference on which to use in your baked goods. 

Dutch Processed cocoa powder is usually a little darker, with a reddish-brown tint, and has a more mild flavor than Natural cocoa and is easily dissolved in liquids. 

I prefer dutch processed, yielding a deep dark chocolate taste, rather than the intense chocolate flavor of natural cocoa. 

Even if you are using a box mix dessert, top it with some homemade buttercream and you can transform a store bought cake mix into a gourmet dessert. 

This recipe has only a few basic ingredients. Some softened butter is mixed with sifted powdered sugar to create an ultra smooth, sweet, buttery base of the frosting. Salt cuts the sweetness creating a perfect balance, while the vanilla adds flavor to round out the ingredients. The star of the show is some unsweetened cocoa powder to create that rich chocolatey taste. And lastly, the cream creates the smooth, light, fluffy texture.

You can make this frosting with a hand mixer in a large bowl, or in a stand mixer, so you don't have to do any of the work ;) The frosting is soooo simple to whip together and under the ingredient list below, I give dozens of additions to create tons of fun flavor variations that you can pair with just about any desert to really jazz it up, from creamy mocha fudge, to mint chocolate, dark chocolate orange and more.

 The consistency can be thick and smooth, perfect for piping decorations, perfectly light and airy for frosting your baked goods, or soft and creamy for filling your desserts, depending on the amount of cream added and how long the buttercream is beaten for. For an extra light and airy texture, I like to beat the butter and shortening together for 3-5 minutes before adding the powdered sugar, to really whip some air into it, and then, when all the powdered sugar has been added I like to use heavy whipping cream and beat it again for a few minutes until it is really fluffy and the perfect, smooth, creamy texture, like a little cloud of sweet, chocolatey mouse.

Everyone needs a great frosting recipe in their basic recipe collection, so I hope this becomes one of your favorites too!

THE BEST Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Yield: About 4 cups* (enough to generously frost 2 dozen cupcakes or a two-layer cake)
*recipe halves easily to make 2 cups

  • 1 cup (2 sticks/8oz) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups (1lb) powdered sugar (confectioners' sugar), sifted
  • 6-8 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  • 3/4 cup (60g) unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted (dutch processed or natural)

With an electric mixer, beat the softened butter on medium-high speed until light and creamy, about 2-3 minutes. Beat in vanilla and salt. Add the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, starting on on low and increasing to medium, until fully incorporated, scraping down sides and bottom of bowl as needed. Add 1-2 tablespoons of cream, until smooth. Beat in cocoa powder, followed by remaining cream, 1 tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached. Scrape down bottom and sides of bowl. Increase to medium-high speed and beat for an additional 3-5 minutes until smooth, light and fluffy.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for about 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 2 months. Bring to room temperature and beat until smooth before using.

Flavor Variations
  • Flavor extracts: Add 1/4-1/2 teaspoon flavor extract of your choice (coconut, almond, etc.) 
  • Fudge Supreme: Add 1 tablespoon of light corn syrup in with the vanilla and use 4 oz. melted and cooled unsweetened chocolate instead of the cocoa powder
  • Mocha: dissolve 1-2 tablespoons instant espresso powder or instant coffee granules into the cream
  • Dark Chocolate: Sub cocoa with 4 oz. unsweetened dark chocolate, melted and cooled
  • Chocolate Orange: Add 1-2 teaspoons of orange zest and replace 2 tablespoons of the cream with juice from the fruit
  • Chocolate Cinnamon: Add 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Chocolate Peanut Butter: Add 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • Double Chocolate Cookie Crunch: Add 1 cup crushed Oreo cookie crumbs (about 12 Oreos)
  • Chocolate Marshmallow: Add one 7oz jar marshmallow creme/fluff
  • Mint Chocolate: Add 1/4 teaspoon mint extract 
  • Spiked Chocolate: Replace 2 tablespoons of cream with flavored liquor, such as Chambord, Kahlua, Amaretto or Irish Cream
  • Chocolate Cream Cheese Buttercream: Add an 8oz block of room temperature cream cheese
  • Chocolate Strawberry: Add 1 (1.2oz) package freeze-dried strawberries, that have been turned into powder in a food processor
  • Chocolate Candy Cane: Add 1 tablespoon finely crushed peppermint candies