This easy chocolate buttercream frosting recipe is creamy and delicious. With just a few simple ingredients this homemade chocolate frosting is WAY better than any canned stuff out there.
Here’s the deal. I am a child of the 80’s. Therefore I am a child of Betty Crocker, cake mixes, and tubs of frosting. But even as a child I apparently was bit of a frosting snob.
I was notorious for getting my slice of cake and tipping it over and eating the cake part only. No frosting, thanks. I’ll pass.
That can of frosting always tasted like nothing but chemicals to me. Ok, I probably didn’t use the word chemicals as a kid but I also knew it wasn’t good. So I thought I hate frosting. Boy was I wrong. I don’t hate frosting. I hate that canned stuff masquerading as frosting.
However, when I got older I realize I acutally LOVE buttercream. Real buttercream frosting however. Made with simple ingredients – it is completely another kind of frosting entirely. Homemade = 1000 % better every time.
And when you are making vanilla cupcakes then you need to do them justice and make your own chocolate buttercream frosting to swirl on top.
What Is American Icing?
This chocolate buttercream frosting is a typical ABC – American Buttercream frosting recipe.
American icing or american buttercream (ABC) is probably that buttercream you had at that last kid’s birthday party you went too. Or that kind you grew up on.
Sometimes it gets a bad rep for being too sweet. Or grainy. Ugh. But I promise you this recipe is not. American buttercream is one of the beaten butter types of buttercream. Flour buttercream (ermine buttercream) and German buttercream also fall into this category. This type of buttercream is made by first beating the butter and then adding in a sweet base. In this case, powdered sugar.
What Are The Main Types Of Buttercream Frosting?
There are 6 main types of buttercreams and they fall into two categories – creamed butter and cubed butter. In fact, if you want to learn how to make all 6 buttercreams, and master making frosting once and for all be sure to check out my Buttercream Basics Guide
American buttercream falls into the creamed butter category is by far the easiest of all the buttercreams to make. German buttercream or Flour buttercream (ermine frosting) are two more creamed butter buttercreams similar to American buttercream. A little more involved but less sweet.
You can read more here about the different types of frosting.
Here Is A Breakdown Of American Buttercream:
Taste: This is the sweetest out of all the frostings. Can be a little too sweet for some people, but this is the classic type of buttercream most people are familiar with and grew up on.
Texture: Sometimes can be a bit grainy or greasy if not done properly.
Difficulty Level: The easiest to make out of all the buttercreams.
Pros: Easy to make. Kids (and most adults!) love it. Doesn’t require any special equipment to make. Easy to pipe and color.
Cons: Tends to be a bit too sweet. Doesn’t hold up well in warm conditions.
If you make this frosting for a cake or cupcakes and refrigerate before you are ready to use it you will need to put it back in your mixer again and mix it until the frosting becomes light and fluffy again. The same thing goes once you frosted your baked goods, you want to always bring them to room temperature before serving.
How Do You Make Chocolate Buttercream Frosting?
So simple, you ready? Ok here is a step by step photo tutorial of how to make this chocolate buttercream. I used the The Best Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Recipe for this frosting and added cocoa powder to it to make it perfectly chocolatey.
Step 1: Gather your ingredients.
Be sure to use unsalted softened butter. If you forgot to take your butter out ahead of time, here are 3 quick ways to soften your butter. And always use quality butter and pure vanilla extract.
Just don’t forget your cocoa powder! I used Hershey’s unsweetened cocoa powder for this recipe.
Step 2: Sift Your Powdered Sugar
I have made this plenty of times without sifting, and as long as your butter is softened and you cream it for long enough you will have zero lumps. But to ensure zero lumps, you may want to sift it!
Step 3: Cream your butter
You want to do this first before adding any powdered sugar. You can make this in your stand mixer, or use a hand mixer as shown below. It’ll just take a bit more elbow grease on your part!
Step 4: Add your powdered sugar.
Do this 1/2 cup at a time to avoid a blizzard all over your kitchen. Then mix until incorporated. And be sure to start your mixer on low. I also like to wrap a kitchen towel around the mixer to catch any sugar that is determined to fly out of the bowl.
Step 5: Add in your heavy cream and vanilla extract.
You can use milk, half-n-half, but I prefer the richness of heavy cream. And I highly recommend using PURE vanilla extract, not the imitation. You can sometimes get away with it in a baked good but in a frosting it’s much more easily detected that you used fake.
Step 7: Add Your Cocoa Powder
I add in a 3/4 cup of cocoa powder to turn this into a chocolate buttercream frosting. If you want a darker, richer frosting you could try using a dark cocoa powder, such as Hershey’s Special Dark.
Step 8: Mix until light and fluffy! And then frost away…
You want to do this for 8 minutes. Yup 8! But it’s worth it 🙂
Tips For Making This Chocolate Buttercream
- Soften Your Butter: Make sure your butter is softened before you start. You can soften your butter quickly 3 different ways.
- Use Unsalted Butter: Be sure to use unsalted butter. Different brands have different amounts of salt. So it’s best to use unsalted butter then add a pinch of salt to your own tasting.
- Use A Towel: Wrap a towel around the top of your mixer so you don’t end up with powdered sugar blizzard everywhere. You can also use a damp paper towel.
- Rewhip If Necessary. If you don’t use the buttercream right away and store the buttercream you will need to rewhip it again to the same fluffy consistency before using it on a cake.
Recipes To Use This Chocolate Buttercream Frosting On:
I used my easy vanilla cupcake recipe for these. But my Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes ,works great , or these easy one bowl chocolate cupcakes as well. But it would also be delicious on Peanut Butter Cupcakes,or Banana Cupcakes!
If you need some help baking the perfect cupcakes here are 15 tips to help you bake them a like a pro.
And if you need help frosting, then check out this post on how to frost the perfect cupcake (+ video!).
You can also learn how to master all 6 buttercreams in my Buttercream Basics Guide!
Here are a few more recipes:
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting FAQ’s:
Do I Need To Sift The Powdered Sugar?
You can if you want. I rarely do. I mix this buttercream for 8 minutes so any lumps get mixed right out of it.
How many cupcakes will this frosting cover?
This buttercream frosting recipe will generously cover 12 cupcakes. I like a LOT of frosting. If you don’t use as much as I do then it will probably cover more like 20-24 cupcakes.
How Do I Store This Buttercream?
You can also store this in your fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer as well for up to 3 months. When ready to use, allow it to thaw then re-whip until it’s light and fluffy again! You can read this post on how to store leftover buttercream for more details.
More Buttercream Recipes:
- Chocolate Italian Buttercream
- Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe
- Mint Buttercream
- Coconut buttercream
- Peanut Butter Buttercream
- Cake Batter Buttercream
- Brown Sugar Cinnamon
- Mixed Berry Buttercream
- Strawberry Buttercream Frosting
- Brown Sugar Buttercream
- EASY Caramel Buttercream Frosting
And don’t forget to check out my The Ultimate Guide To Different Types Of Frosting
Tools Needed To Make To This Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Recipe:
- Kitchenaid Mixer– I use my Kitchenaid Mixer to make my frosting because it takes 8 minutes to mix.
- Mixing Bowls- (I have an assortment of mixing bowls but these bowls are my go to)
- Good quality whisk and spatula. These are a must and something you will use all the time!
- Angled spatula (if you do not want to use a piping bag for your frosting)
- Piping Bags- I like to use disposable 18-inch pastry bags
- Piping Tips- I use Atecco tips (for this cupcake I used the closed star tip)
If you love this recipe, then be sure to let me know by leaving a comment and star rating below!
- 1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks, 283 grams) unsalted butter softened
- 2 1/2 cups (313 grams) powdered sugar icing or confectioners sugar
- 3/4 cup (63 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 Tablespoons heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Cream the butter first until light and fluffy.
- Then add in the powdered sugar, with the mixer off 1/2 cup at a time. And the mix on low until combined.
- Then increase the speed for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy.
- Add the vanilla extract and heavy cream. Stir to combine.
- Add in the cocoa powder and mix slowly at first until incorporated.
- Mix for 8 minutes until light and fluffy.
- When ready to use, with a pastry bag and tip attached, pipe the frosting on each cupcake.
- Soften Your Butter. Make sure your butter is softened. You can soften your butter quickly 3 different ways.
- Use unsalted butter. Different brands of butter will use different amounts of salt in their salted butter so it's best to control the amount yourself.
- Add in your powdered sugar a little at a time. So you don't have a powdered sugar blizzard all over you and the rest of your kitchen.
- Cocoa powder: I use natural unsweetened cocoa powder, but dutch process cocoa would also work and would yield a darker, richer frosting.
- Store your buttercream properly. If not using right away, then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. Whip Again. If you store the buttercream in your fridge, then you will need to rewhip the frosting until fluffy again before you use it.