Smooth, creamy, and delicious! This is the Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting you’ve ever tasted and is so easy to make. Great on cakes, cupcakes, and brownies!

Closeup two cupcakes frosted with The Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting sitting on a white table in front of a glass bowl filled with cocoa powder.

Our Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting recipe comes from years of trying to make the perfect yellow cake with chocolate frosting, or as we call it … The Laurie Birthday Cake Special. Rich, creamy, and chock full of chocolate flavor, this homemade chocolate buttercream is definitely the best we have ever tasted and we think you’ll agree. In fact, we predict after making this version of the classic, you’ll never use store-bought Chocolate Frosting again.

Step by Step Instructions

Collage image showing how to cream the butter and the vanilla extra together for the best frosting flavor.

Step 1: Add the butter and the vanilla extract to a mixing bowl. The butter should be “slightly softened” which means it is still cold but has warmed up enough so you can press your thumb down into the stick of butter. If the butter is too cold it will bounce around against the paddles of the mixer and won’t mix with the vanilla.  If it is too soft, the butter will start melting during the creaming process and the consistency of your chocolate icing won’t be correct. 
Step 2: Mix the butter and the vanilla together on medium speed until thoroughly combined (about 2 minutes.)  You want to give the butter and vanilla and chance to meld together. Use a spatula to scrape the butter and vanilla mixture down from the sides of the bowl before moving on to the next step.  

Collage image showing the steps for combining the Powdered Sugar with the Cocoa Powder.

Step 3: In a separate bowl, use a food scale to measure 1 Pound of Powdered Sugar.  If you don’t have a food scale, measure 4 cups instead. We normally do not sift the powdered sugar and instead rely on the mixer to do that work for us.
Step 4: Add the Cocoa Powder to the bowl with the Powdered Sugar.
Step 5: Use a fork to whisk the Cocoa Powder and Powdered Sugar. We highly recommend that you do not skip this step because you need to fully incorporate the dry ingredients to maximize the chocolate flavor in your frosting and avoid pockets of pure cocoa powder in the frosting.
Step 6: Pour the Cocoa Powder/Powdered Sugar mixture into the mixing bowl with the butter/vanilla mixture.

Collage image detailing the process for mixing the dry ingredients with the butter/vanilla mixture for the perfect Chocolate Buttercream consistency.

Step 7: Two Sisters Tip – cover the mixer with a towel during this part of the mixing process to keep the powdered sugar from flying out of the mixer.
Step 8: Start your mixer (or electric beater) on the lowest setting and keep it on low until the butter and sugar are incorporated (about 30 seconds). Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl and then increase the speed to medium-high and mix for another 30-45 seconds so the frosting gets light and fluffy.

Collage showing how to add milk to the chocolate icing to get it to be the right consistency for frosting your baked goods.

Steps 9-10: This is the fun part of the recipe where you get to taste your frosting. You are trying to determine if the consistency is correct or if it needs more milk or maybe a little more vanilla extract. If it tastes great, test the consistency.  Too thick? Add some milk and mix again to check to see if it is now the right consistency.  The amount of milk to use depends on the state of your frosting and sometimes the time of year (if it is a hot humid day, you might not need to add any milk.) A good rule of thumb is to add the milk a teaspoon at a time. You can check out our FAQ section below to see some other advice on making the perfect batch of frosting.

How to Serve

A frosting decorating bag filled with Chocolate Frosting sitting next to a batch of unfrosted chocolate cupcakes.

Step 11: How much frosting will you need?  That always depends on how thick or thin you apply the frosting or how much decorating you do but here are a couple of guidelines. Our recipe should make enough Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting to cover a 9″ x 13″ sheet cake or a two-layer 8″ cake.  If you are making cupcakes, you should be able to frost 24 cupcakes if you apply the frosting with a knife.  If you swirl on the frosting with a pastry bag as we have done here, you should be able to frost 15-18 cupcakes depending on the size of the swirl.

Expert Tips and FAQ’s

What type of Cocoa Powder should I use?

We think the classic Hershey’s Unsweetened Cocoa Powder creates the perfect chocolate frosting flavor that everyone loves. But you can use your favorite brand. A Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder has a more intense flavor, we use that in our The Best Dark Chocolate Frosting recipe.

Can you substitute coffee for the milk?

Yes. You can replace the liquid for brewed coffee if you want to really enhance the chocolate flavor. You won’t taste the coffee flavor in the final frosting but it will definitely intensify the chocolate flavor. You can also use Half n’ Half or Whipping Cream or even almond milk instead of the milk.

Does the frosting need to be refrigerated?

No, the frosting does not need to be refrigerated. For example, brownies frosted with this Chocolate Buttercream would be fine left out on the counter for 2-3 days if the pan was tightly covered with aluminum foil. That said, we usually refrigerate our frosted desserts to keep the baked good from going stale even if the frosting would be fine. We think frosting tastes best at room temperature so we will then remove the item from the refrigerator a couple of hours before we will serve them.

How do I store any leftover frosting?

Frosting stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator should be good for up to a week. If you carefully wrap the frosting in order to avoid freezer burn, the frosting should be fine in the freezer for 3-4 months.

What should I do if my frosting turned out too thin?

Temperature plays a big part in the consistency of frosting. A thin frosting could mean that the butter has gotten overworked and is too melted. The first thing to do is refrigerate the frosting for an hour and then check to see if the frosting has set back up again. If not, the next step is to add more powdered sugar or cornstarch. Start with either 1/2 cup of Powdered Sugar or 1 tablespoon of Cornstarch. Mix again and see if the consistency is better.

What should I do if my frosting turned out too thick?

Add another teaspoon of milk and mix again. Continue to add the milk, a teaspoon at a time, until the frosting is the consistency that you like it.

IIf you are looking for other Chocolate Frosting Recipes, don’t miss these yummy variations on this class recipeic that also taste amazing: Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting, Dark Chocolate Buttercream Frosting, Chocolate Whipped Cream Frosting, Mocha Buttercream Frosting.

Closeup on a chocolate cupcake topped with a swirl of The Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting sitting in front of a glass bowl filled with cocoa powder.

Other Classic Frosting Recipes You Will Love

The Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

The Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Yield 2 1/2 cups
Prep Time 10 minutes
Additional Time 5 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes

Smooth, creamy, and delicious! This is the Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting we have ever tasted and is so easy to make. Great on cakes, cupcakes, and brownies!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Butter, slightly softened (we use Salted, Sweet Cream Butter)
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
  • 1 pound Powdered Sugar (or 4 cups)
  • ¾ cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 1-2 tablespoons of milk

Instructions

    1. Add the butter and the vanilla extract to a mixing bowl. The butter should be “slightly softened” which means it is still cold but has warmed up enough so you can press your thumb down into the stick of butter.
    2. Mix the butter and the vanilla together on medium speed until thoroughly combined (about 2 minutes.) Use a spatula to scrape the butter and vanilla mixture down from the sides of the bowl before moving on to the next step.
    3. In a separate bowl, use a food scale to measure 1 Pound of Powdered Sugar.  If you don’t have a food scale, measure 4 cups instead.
    4. Add the Cocoa Powder to the bowl with the Powdered Sugar.
    5. Use a fork to whisk the Cocoa Powder and Powdered Sugar.
    6. Pour the Cocoa Powder/Powdered Sugar mixture into the mixing bowl with the butter/vanilla mixture.
    7. Start your mixer (or electric beater) on the lowest setting and keep it on low until the butter and sugar are incorporated (about 30 seconds).
    8. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl and then increase the speed to medium-high and mix for another 30-45 seconds so the frosting gets light and fluffy.
    9. Taste your frosting to determine if the consistency is correct or if it needs more milk or maybe a little more vanilla extract. If it tastes great, test the consistency.  Too thick? Add milk a teaspoon at a time and mix again to check to see if it is now the right consistency. 

Notes

How much frosting will you need?
That always depends on how thick or thin you apply the frosting or how much decorating you do but here are a couple of guidelines. Our recipe should make enough Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting to cover a 9" x 13" sheet cake or a two-layer 8" cake.  If you are making cupcakes, you should be able to frost 24 cupcakes if you apply the frosting with a knife.  If you swirl on the frosting with a pastry bag as we have done here, you should be able to frost 15-18 cupcakes depending on the size of the swirl.

Did you Make this Recipe? Leave a review below, then snap a picture and tag @twosisterscrafting on Instagram so we can see it!

If you are looking for more tips and tricks for making that perfect batch of homemade frosting we have a few other posts you might want to check out: