Easy Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Everyone needs an Easy Chocolate Frosting recipe in their pocket. This velvety, melt-in-your-mouth, simple buttercream is packed with rich cocoa powder and warm vanilla for an oh-so-decadent flavor. Ideal for cakes, cupcakes, brownies, and more!

There’s nothing like the perfect frosting with our favorite cakes and cupcakes, if you like this chocolate buttercream you’ll love it on Yellow Cake, Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cupcakes, Raspberry Filled Cupcakes, and The Best Homemade Brownies.

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a bowl of chocolate buttercream frosting

This chocolate buttercream frosting is impressive because it’s delicious and ridiculously easy. Even the most frantic schedule will not keep you from enjoying the pleasure of rich and creamy homemade chocolate icing.

You can quickly create a silky, whipped, and decadent tasting version of a classic American buttercream frosting with dutch-processed cocoa powder. There’s an undeniable difference between this simple chocolate icing and store-bought.

Whip up this delicious chocolate frosting in less time than it takes for the butter to get to room temperature!

easy chocolate buttercream frosting on a cupcake in a blue wrapper

Why You’ll Love This Easy Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

With five simple pantry ingredients, you have a sweet fluffy frosting for any number of your confections.

  • It’s quick and easy to whip up.
  • Perfect for spreading and piping.
  • Turns out perfect every time you’ll never buy one of those white plastic tubs again!
  • It pairs perfectly with my Vanilla Bean Cupcakes!
  • Homemade chocolate frosting has the power to turn even the most ordinary baked goods into special treats! 

a vanilla cupcake with chocolate buttercream frosting with a bite taken out

What’s In Simple Chocolate Icing

  • Powdered Sugar – The sifted powdered sugar adds sweetness and the smooth consistency that creates the cool creaminess in the icing without the grit.
  • Dutch Process Cocoa Powder – High-fat cocoa powder with 20% or higher cocoa butter, is what will give your chocolate frosting a deeper, darker color and smooth chocolate flavor.  Most Dutch-process cocoa powders will have 20-26% cocoa butter, and a softer flavor than natural cocoa powder, which has a slightly acidic tang.
  • Soft Unsalted Butter: Do not substitute the butter for margarine. Additionally, make sure you allow the butter to come to room temperature before using it. Room temp butter is still cool to the touch, yet your finger should be able to make an indent in the butter without sinking.
  • Milk – I recommend using room temperature whole milk or even heavy cream. You will need a little more if using heavy cream
  • Vanilla Extract – for the best flavor, be sure to use pure vanilla extract (you can even make your own vanilla extract) and NOT imitation vanilla. 
  • Salt – helps to keep the buttercream from being overly sweet.

piping easy chocolate buttercream frosting on to a vanilla cupcake

How To Make Easy Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

(full printable recipe at the end of this post)

Making your own chocolate buttercream frosting is so satisfying; you can feel good about serving something that tastes so sinfully decadent and full of velvety chocolate.

All you’ll need for this recipe is a few measuring implements: a sifter, mixing bowl, and electric mixer!

In the bowl of an electric mixer sift together the sugar and cocoa, add the remaining ingredients and beat until smooth and creamy. Viola! 

You see why I keep saying “easy?” 

easy chocolate buttercream frosting on vanilla cupcakes

Chocolate Buttercream Icing Tips and Suggestions

A few tips to keep in mind for your chocolate buttercream frosting:

  • Don’t microwave your butter to warm it up. let the butter sit out to warm up. If your butter is too soft it will result in greasy buttercream frosting, which doesn’t blend with the powdered sugar correctly.
  • If your buttercream isn’t whipped long enough or fast enough you will have grainy frosting. 
  • Add milk a little at a time to get your desired consistency.
  • Depending on how warm your kitchen is, you may need to add a little more or a little less milk. When it’s warmer I often need a little less milk to keep the frosting soft and fluffy and not too thin. 
  • You may also need a little less milk or more powdered sugar for piping the frosting.
  • What can I do if my buttercream is too sweet? Salt will balance the sweetness, so don’t skip the salt in this recipe. If it’s still too sweet for you, add just a pinch more salt, mix it in, and taste. Just be careful not to add too much or the icing will be too salty.
  • Make sure your cake or cupcakes are completely cooled before frosting! The name says it all, and even the slightest residual warmth will cause your buttercream to get melty.
  • Keep the frosting cool enough to remain somewhat firm, especially if you plan to decorate using a piping bag. 

simple chocolate icing piped on to vanilla cupcakes

How Much Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Does This Recipe Make

  • 24 cupcakes
  • One 9×13 cake, brownies, or bar cookies
  • Two 9-inch rounds

NOTE: If you plan to frost and pipe a cake, I recommend doubling the recipe.
 

Storing Chocolate Buttercream Icing

If not frosting a cooled cake or cupcakes immediately, you can refrigerate the frosting for up to 5 days in an airtight container. When you need it, allow it to come to room temperature and beat on low speed until smooth.

Can You Freeze Buttercream?

You can store buttercream icing in a freezer-safe container and it will keep for up to 2-3 months. To thaw, defrost the frosting in the refrigerator overnight. The following day let it come to room temperature before whipping on low speed. 

simple chocolate icing piped on a cupcakes

Easy Chocolate Buttercream Frosting FAQs

Note that Dutch and alkalized are interchangeable, just as natural or non-alkalized mean the same for our purposes.

Does it matter if I use non-alkalized or Dutch 100% cocoa powder in this recipe? 

No, you can use either Dutch or non-alkalized cocoa for this easy chocolate buttercream icing. I recommend using high-fat cocoa powder for the best flavor. (It will usually say on the label that it’s high fat or look for a label with 20-26% fat on the label. Natural cocoa powder will work with this recipe, it will yield a milder chocolate flavor and can have a slightly acidic tang. NOTE: you do NOT want to use sweetened cocoa powder

What is the difference between alkalized and non alkalized cocoa?

Non alkalized cocoa powder will be lighter in color and have the intense nutty-toastiness from roasting, translating to a sharper, citrusy finish. This is natural roasted cocoa beans, ground into a powder, sans the cocoa butter content.

Alkalized cocoa powder is a process that removes the reactivity and acidity from the cocoa. This deepens the color of the cocoa powder and creates softer woodsy chocolate notes, usually described as “old-fashioned” chocolate flavor.

What is “Dutched” or alkalized cocoa powder?

Alkalized, or Dutched, is a process where cocoa beans, nibs, or powder are treated with a common alkaline solution, usually potassium carbonate, sodium bicarbonate, or ammonium bicarbonate.

This process reduces acidity, deepens the color, and removes some of the bitter, more astringent notes from chocolate, creating a softer, more traditional mellow chocolate flavor.

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chocolate buttercream frosting in a bowl and on cupcakes

a bowl of chocolate buttercream frosting

Easy Chocolate Frosting

Yield: 24 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

Everyone needs an Easy Chocolate Frosting recipe in their pocket. This velvety, melt-in-your-mouth, simple buttercream is ideal for cakes, cupcakes, brownies, and more!

Ingredients

  • 3½ cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup Dutch-processed (high-fat) cocoa powder *see notes
  • ¾ cup (1½ sticks) butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup milk, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, sift powdered sugar and cocoa powder.
  2. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on low-speed cream butter until smooth. Start adding the powdered sugar and cocoa powder in 1 cup increments mixing in between each addition. Add the vanilla and salt and mix until combined. Then increase speed to medium-high for 3 minutes until smooth, scraping down sides as needed.
  3. Slowly add milk and continue to beat until light and fluffy for an additional 3-4 minutes. If the frosting is too thick, add a little more milk. If it's too thin, add a little more powdered sugar until desired consistency.
  4. Whip on high for 15 seconds for extra fluffy frosting.

Notes

For best results, use a dutch-process high-fat cocoa powder (contains at least 20% cocoa butter)

If not using frosting immediately, it can be refrigerated up to 5 days in an airtight container. Before using, bring to room temperature, and beat on low speed until smooth again.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 24 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 66Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 3mgCarbohydrates: 16gFiber: 0gSugar: 16gProtein: 0g

Nutrition information is estimated based on the ingredients and cooking instructions as described in each recipe and is intended to be used for informational purposes only. Please note that nutrition details may vary based on methods of preparation, origin, and freshness of ingredients used.

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close up of easy chocolate buttercream frosting