Easy Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

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Homemade chocolate buttercream frosting comes together easily and tastes so much better than the canned variety.

chocolate cupcake with chocolate buttercream and a candle in it

I was a little late to the cupcake craze. But that’s okay. Still tastes just as good.

My littlest one chose cupcakes for her birthday last week. The older kids were astounded: What do you mean? She’s not going to have a cake?! They are used to my themed birthday cakes.

Still tastes just as good.

My sister and the girls baked the cupcakes. I made the frosting. I’ve shared with you my Homemade Buttercream Frosting which is pretty awesome. The Girl wanted chocolate though. So, I did what any smart mama would do: I stuck to my old standby, but mixed in 1/2 cup of cocoa.

Oh my. Heaven on a spoon. That stuff was pretty darn good.

Ingredients needed for this easy chocolate buttercream frosting:

  • Butter (make sure it’s softened to room temperature)
  • Powdered (or confectioners sugar)
  • Cocoa powder
  • Milk or half and half
  • Vanilla extract (or you can switch things up and use mint extract)

How to make this chocolate buttercream:

  1. In large mixing bowl, beat butter until fluffy. Add three cups sugar, cocoa powder, 1 tablespoon milk, and vanilla extract.
  2. Beat until combined and fluffy.
  3. Adjust with more sugar or milk, depending on what consistency you’re looking for.

chocolate cupcakes with chocolate buttercream frosting

This chocolate buttercream comes together very easily — and it’s so much tastier than what comes in a can! Plus, it’s real food.

How many cupcakes will this buttercream frost?

It frosts about 18 cupcakes. Or 2-layer cake as well.

Does buttercream frosting need to be refrigerated?

There is a little bit of milk in this frosting recipe but it will be fine at room temperature for a few days. Any longer and it should be refrigerated. 

How long does chocolate buttercream last? 

It can last in your refrigerator for about 1 week. But it can also be frozen up to 3 months. When ready to use, just thaw in your refrigerator and then re-whip back to its original consistency.

4 from 2 votes
Easy Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
Prep Time
10 mins
Total Time
10 mins
Butter, cocoa powder, and sugar easily combine into a delicious chocolate buttercream frosting.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chocolate buttercream, frosting
Servings: 18 cupcakes
Author: Jessica Fisher
  • 1 cup butter softened
  • 3-4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1-2 Tablespoons milk or half and half
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract you can use mint extract, too, if you'd rather
  1. In large mixing bowl, beat butter until fluffy. Add three cups sugar, cocoa powder, 1 tablespoon milk, and vanilla extract.
  2. Beat until combined and fluffy.
  3. Adjust with more sugar or milk, depending on what consistency you're looking for.

Want to make your cupcakes pretty?

I’m a self-taught cake decorator. I never took a class (obviously), but through trial and error have figured out how to make it work. My kids are thrilled with the themed birthday cakes I’ve made over the years.

Here are some tools and ingredients that I’ve found helpful:

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting | Good Cheap Eats - This is THE BEST RECIPE EVER!

About Jessica Fisher

I believe great meals don't have to be complicated or expensive. There's a better way, and it won't take all afternoon.

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  1. Kathy says

    Yum! Looks so good! I love making my own frosting. I have gotten to the point where I think the stuff out of the can tastes funny.

  2. This and your buttercream frosting are exactly what I grew up on. We always made our frosting and flavored it. I don’t even know if canned frosting existed when I was a kid as I never had it til I grew up.

    This is SO much better than canned.

  3. cwaltz says

    Yummy! They need some Lego Friends on top though. 😉 (You can decorate cupcakes with “goodies” too. As a matter of fact, each year the birthday budget included a $10 decorating budget that could be a simple as a gift card or as elaborate as finding favorite characters and interests. Kids whose birthday it wasn’t were tasked with decorating)

    I miss my second child. She was my baking fiend. The third is kind of like my first(also all grown) and would just as soon not have to cook at all. My “baby”(he’s 14) loves cooking but he rushes so unlike my second more detail oriented kiddo I have to make sure I’ve got time to ensure he follows ALL the steps when we decide to bake.

  4. Palmolivejoy says

    Would this frost a whole cake? Like a two layer cake from a 9 inch circular pan? Would I need to double up the recipe for that?

    • If you want enough to do swirls and that kind of stuff, yes, I’d make more.

      • Matti says

        Question: Can I frost a Buche de Noel cake with this?

        • Yep. Make a double batch if you’re going to use it for filling. Have you seen my recipe?

      • Barb says

        How much would you make to frost a 9 x 13″ cake? Is your original recipe enough for a 9 x 13″?

  5. Dori says

    Hi – this is the best chocolate buttercream frosting, and SO easy to make. Thanks! One thing I will do next time is SIFT the confectioners sugar before mixing, to avoid the lumps.

  6. Anglwngss says

    This is now bookmarked. I halved the recipe and it covered 12 cupcakes with some frosting leftover. This is delicious and so SO easy to make!

    • Glad you like it! Did you pipe your frosting or spread it? I find that the amount of cupcakes it covers varies depending on the method of frosting.

      • Anglwngss says

        I spread it was a fancy butter knife (the kind with the L-bend). I’m just a beginner froster-er, haven’t quite learned to pipe it yet! Lol. It’s delicious no matter the method! 🙂

        • Thanks. It’s helpful for me to know how far the frosting will stretch. Someone got a little upset once when I didn’t know how many it would frost. 🙂

          • Anglwngss says

            Lol. I completely understand!

  7. Natalie says

    Thank u Jessica. ..Your tip n recipe has helped me alot

  8. ASheree says

    I have an allergy to vanilla. Do I need that for the frosting?

    • Nope. You could omit it or use a different flavored extract like mint, coffee, or orange.

  9. Crystabel says

    How many cupcakes will these cover if I use the piping method?

    • I think I made 18 this way?

      • Cara says

        Hi I’m just wondering do you have to use coca powder for this recipe? Could you use melted chocolate? If so how much melted chocolate would you add?

        • I’ve never used anything but cocoa powder, so I can’t give you a good answer. I know there are recipes out there that use melted chocolate, but that’s not a method I’m familiar with. Sorry I can’t be more help.

      • Crystabel says

        May I know if you used salted.or unsalted and how is is one cup in grams?

        • Crystabel says

          Salted or unsalted butter?

          • Crystabel says

            How much is one cup in grams

          • Whatever you have. I’ve used both. I have no idea how many grams in a cup, but google will tell you. 🙂

    • Anne says

      I just piped 24, although I didn’t make a very thick layer, just circular swirls. Tastes great! Thanks for the simple recipe!

  10. Rebecca says

    I really don’t want to make a frosting with melted chocolate, this is the closest recipe that I’ve found that my Mom made[back in the day…] Thanks!!!

  11. Colleen says

    Does this frosting keep in the refrigerator overnight? Thanks for posting!

    • I have stored leftovers in the fridge, but it gets really hard. You’ll need to allow it to warm/soften before it will be spreadable again.

      • Colleen says

        Thank you! I’m bringing it to school tomorrow so I wanted it to keep overnight. I’ll plan on leaving it out for a while before spreading it on the cupcakes.

  12. Michelle says

    That awkward moment when you realize the recipe called for 3 to 4 cups of powered sugar, NOT 3/4 cup powered sugar. Derp.

  13. Grace says

    I was so close to saying this recipe was bad but… I forgot to add the powdered sugar. And it’s SOOOOO good!

    • Oh my! I did that once with chocolate cream cheese frosting once. It was horrible. Glad you added the sugar so I can save face. LOL! 🙂

  14. Dawn says

    I’m fairly new at making home made frostings. I’m pleased to say that this came out tasting very good. Because my son likes orange, I added orange extract and a teaspoon of orange zest to the recipe for his birthday cake. I just have a question. The frosting color came out looking like milk chocolate. I would have preferred a darker color. For future reference, what would I need to do to make the frosting more of a dark chocolate color?


    • I’m going to guess that it may have to do with the cocoa powder. My sister buys the dark cocoa powder and that makes a darker frosting.

      • Dawn says

        Ahh! I’ll make sure to pick that up next time. Thanks!

  15. Shay shay says

    Hi I loved the recipie. What cakes would you suggest using this with and can you use it as a filling?

    THANKS SO MUCH!!!:) just really hyper(sugar rush!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

  16. Sherol says

    Can u use this to decorate roses? Will the shape hold? Trying to make a rose cake with not as much sugar.

    • You mean to pipe roses? I think if it’s cold enough and has enough sugar, it should be fine. But, a hot day is a hard call.

  17. Karen says

    Can I use water instead of milk?

  18. Can I use chocolate frosting on a cookies?

  19. Julie says

    Can you use skim milk?

  20. Kathy S says

    I had to make frosting on the fly after I found the can I bought had been “taste tested” in the store. It was the best thing that could’ve happened though! The recipe is perfect. I sifted my sugar & cocoa too. I found I made the most delicious tasting stuff I’ve had since I was a kid. I’ll never use stkore bought ever gain THANKS!

  21. Robin says

    Delicious!!! Just the right combination of ingredients. I could have eaten the whole bowl of it by itself. What cake!? LOL! Definitely going in with favorite recipes.

  22. SLibby says

    hello, did you use sweetened or unsweetened cocoa powder? All I have is unsweetened, or I have hot chocolate mix. Just wondering what you think? Thank you!

  23. jodi says

    can I substitute water for milk when making frosting?

  24. Jacqui says

    This turned out delicious. I have used it a few times and this last modified it a bit. I added orange zest and instead of milk I added orange juice. It tasted just like a chocolate orange!

  25. Chloe says

    I used this recipe to pipe frost 16 cupcakes. It covered them but bare minimum, using 3C of powder sugar. Any more sugar and I think the frosting might have been ruined as it was quite dry and gummy even with the addition of 3T of milk.
    I would also suggest sifting the powder sugar as it was lumpy. Mix by hand first before using electric mixer as it makes a huge sugar dust cloud that even with a deep bowl, bursts up and outwards.
    I used Hershey’s Cocoa Powder and real vanilla extract but even still the taste was off and I don’t know why. I will use this recipe again just to make sure it wasn’t beginner’s error. I think I’ll try a darker cocoa as suggested above with a raspberry extract or keep the same cocoa and use a maple extract with candied bacon. 😀

  26. Deb says

    Can you store a frosted cake with this frosting at room temperature, or does it have to be refrigerated?

    • Depends on how long and how hot it is. I don’t recommend it for the middle of summer, but just as it’s okay to have butter at room temperature for a time, this will be fine for a few hours.

      • Deb says

        Thanks for the reply! Is this different than regular buttercream frostings then? I’ve read that those can be kept at room temperature for several days.

        • Well, room temperature in summer is different than room temp in winter. You know? I’ve read conflicting information about how long buttercream is good sitting out. I’ve never tested it past a day in a cooler kitchen.

  27. Ritu says

    Hey Jessica…how much do we need for 72 cupcakes?

    • With fancy tops? Probably 4x the recipe. But, it’s easy to make more in the same bowl, so I’d underestimate and then make another batch if you need more.

  28. Kenny says

    Can this frosting be kept at room temperature for a day or to?


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