The Best Chocolate Buttercream for Cupcakes

Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream

I know that saying anything is the best is a bold statement, but I stand completely behind this one. There’s nothing I love more than buttery, satiny smooth and sublime frosting. And few things are worse than an absolutely subpar frosting. This chocolate buttercream certainly ranks among the sublime. The combination of butter that is substantionally whipped, just enough powdered sugar, and a moderate amount of chocolate makes this positively dreamy. It makes me want to lick the frosting off of the cupcakes and pass on the cupcakes themselves. It’s really that good.

You can easily play around with this basic recipe to make a milk chocolate frosting, straight up dark chocolate frosting, white chocolate too. I just love everything about the texture and flavor ratios of this frosting. The key is giving the butter a good whipping before adding any other ingredients – it creates a fabulously soft and melt-in-your-mouth frosting.

Looking for some chocolate cupcakes to put under this frosting? The Dark Chocolate Cupcakes are my favorite – rich and moist. They work well with this chocolate frosting or the peanut butter frosting that they are featured with!

What’s your favorite cupcake/frosting combination?

One year ago: How to Roast Garlic

Chocolate Buttercream

Yield: Enough to frost 12 cupcakes

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes


1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2½ cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled


1. Using the wire whisk attachment of your stand mixer, whip the butter on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, stopping to scrape the bowl once or twice.

2. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the powdered sugar. Once all of the powdered sugar is incorporated, increase the speed to medium-high and add the vanilla, mixing until incorporated. Add the melted chocolate and whip at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed to incorporate all of the chocolate.

You can store any unused buttercream in the refrigerator in an airtight container; let it come to room temperature and then give it a quick whip in the mixer before using.


171 Responses to “The Best Chocolate Buttercream for Cupcakes”

Comment Pages 1 2 3
  1. Apicius' Apprentice on October 22, 2010 at 12:28 am

    First of all, the buttercream sounds delicious!!! Second of all, the photo is unreal… I’m drooling just looking at those! I am adding this to my “attempt” list. Thank you for sharing the recipe!


  2. Dionne Baldwin on October 22, 2010 at 12:50 am

    MMM buttercream…I have a wickedly sweet tooth and you may not get rid of me after today. Chocolate buttercream? Yes PLEASE! Oh I bet these just melt. I have to try to make these.

    My favorite combo was a chocolate cupcake with a coffee frosting that was so light and rich I actually ate it slowly to really enjoy it. I would jump up and down if I could find a recipe like that so I could make something like that for myself.


  3. Amalia on October 22, 2010 at 6:26 am

    I dont know what is it with me and fronstings but I havent been able to make one that works for me. And to this day, I think I don’t like buttercream. Maybe I havent tasted the right one…


    • Cindy on February 14th, 2014 at 12:41 am

      Amalia, This Kittencal is the best chocolate buttercream frosting I’ve had. It’s very smooth and doesn’t even taste like buttercream. I usually make the medium level. I could eat that all day!


  4. Maria63303 on October 22, 2010 at 8:15 am

    These look fantastic and I’m going to have to give them a try


  5. Lisa & Maria on October 22, 2010 at 9:22 am

    We use this recipe for our cupcakes and we LOVE it! It has the perfect amount of chocolate and still tastes buttery at the same time! Great job!


  6. Tabitha (From Single to Married) on October 22, 2010 at 9:55 am

    I how I love buttercream and those cupcakes look fantastic!


  7. Katrina on October 22, 2010 at 10:35 am

    This certainly does look like a good buttercream recipe! Mmmm.


  8. Maggie on October 22, 2010 at 10:49 am

    This looks amazing! I made your chocolate peanut butter cupcakes last month and was just thinking the other day how I wanted to find a good chocolate frosting to pair with the cake portion (not that the PB frosting wasn’t awesome!) I’ll probably try this soon!


  9. Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking on October 22, 2010 at 11:28 am

    These are stunning, Michelle, and so rich looking! If I stop by your neighborhood with a pumpkin pail in hand this Halloween, will you give me a few of these? 😉


    • Michelle on October 24th, 2010 at 7:00 pm

      Absolutely! Come on by!


  10. Mandie on October 22, 2010 at 11:41 am

    This sounds divine — and because I can’t help myself…I think instead of vanilla, I’ll add a bit of strong brewed coffee , and a teeny bit of salt, just to amp it up. :)


  11. Melissa on October 22, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    You read my mind! I’ve tried a couple chocolate buttercream recipes but none of them were good enough to make again, I can’t wait to try this one out! Quick question, how can you make this milk chocolate instead? Just use milk chocolate chips?


    • Michelle on October 24th, 2010 at 7:01 pm

      Hi Melissa, Yep! Use milk chocolate chips or a milk chocolate baking bar like Ghiradelli or Lindt.


  12. Maria on October 22, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    The frosting looks perfect! Thanks for sharing the recipe!


  13. Annalise on October 22, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    Sounds fabulous! I’ll definitely be trying this recipe!


  14. Melanie on October 22, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    You just may be my frosting savior! I have a great classic vanilla frosting but have failed so many times at the perfect chocolate frosting that is as delicious as it is the perfect consistency to pipe with. Without a doubt, I will be trying this…and very soon!


  15. Barbara | VinoLuciStyle on October 22, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    Looks wonderful…and one of my favs too; heck if we’re in the mood, frosting on a graham cracker works for me!

    My most favorite frosting is an espresso mocha buttercream with mascarpone cheese. The espresso cake I make it for is really good too; but it’s really just a vessel for that frosting which you could, and I have…eaten with a spoon.


  16. Annie on October 22, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    I always love a good and simple frosting recipe. I will be trying this one.


  17. Amanda @ bakingwithoutabox on October 22, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    Love chocolate buttercream. Such a simple elegant recipe.


  18. Jen @ How To: Simplify on October 22, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    I’ve never made buttercream frosting but I absolutely love the taste of it. I usually just stick to cream cheese frosting. I’ll have to give this a try!


  19. Lisa on October 22, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    My sister always makes cupcakes, so this recipe would be perfect for her and so much tastier than the canned frosting we’ve been using all this time. By the way, I just made your pumpkin pie bars and loved them. They’re just what I’ve been looking for in a pumpkin blondie and I will save the recipe to make time and time again. Thank you for sharing such a winner.


    • Michelle on October 24th, 2010 at 7:02 pm

      Oooh yes Lisa, much tastier than the canned frosting! So happy you enjoyed the pumpkin pie pars!


  20. Morgan on October 22, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    My favorite combination is definitely peanut butter and chocolate! This recipe looks delish, but I just wanted to point out that it’s not technically a buttercream. I don’t mean to be all nerdy and OCD about it, but “buttercream” tends to scare a lot of people off since they don’t like the taste of it. A true buttercream has either a base of an Italian meringue or pate a bomb with butter (and flavorings) added. It makes for a super sweet, buttery frosting that isn’t always everyone’s cup of tea (or cupcake with frosting). I wouldn’t want anyone to write off this recipe just because it’s called a “buttercream” because it looks like the perfect, classic chocolate confectioner’s icing!


    • Michelle on October 24th, 2010 at 7:04 pm

      Hi Morgan, I have definitely seen (and made a couple of times) Swiss and Italian style buttercreams, but I have many cookbooks that also refer to recipes such as this one (butter + powdered sugar and flavorings) as buttercream as well.


      • Anja on February 13th, 2013 at 7:27 am

        Hello from frosty Germany,
        I totally love this blog and I just wanted to give you my point of view on the Buttercream topic. German buttercream is a mixture of butter and vanilla/chocolate pudding. I was more than surprised when I first encountred american buttercream and american frostings because they both are different from the ones we make here in Germany!



    • Holly on March 20th, 2014 at 11:02 pm

      This is an American Buttercream.


  21. foodlvr on October 22, 2010 at 6:21 pm

    OMG does this look delicious. I love buttercream frosting. There used to be this cake at Ebinger’s Bakery when I was little that was Strawberry Buttercream. My mom would buy one every once in awhile and we would all be in heaven. They also had a Maple Buttercream, if I’m not mistaken, too.

    Thanks for the recipe. Next time I need a buttercream frosting, I know where to go. Making me so hungry. Dinner isn’t until 8!


  22. letizia golosa on October 22, 2010 at 7:10 pm

    Lovely cupcakes!!!!!
    They look decadent!


  23. Paula on October 22, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    I love that your buttercream has no shortening in it. Great looking frosting.


  24. the blissful baker on October 22, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    mmm that frosting looks so rich and chocolatey! yummm


  25. Baking Serendipity on October 22, 2010 at 10:44 pm

    I’m all about frostings people are ready to call the best of :) I totally want to make a chocolate chip cupcake and top it with this frosting! Yum!


  26. Island Vittles on October 23, 2010 at 2:11 am

    This was delicious! I saw the recipe this morning, thought about it all day, then made the icing to top your mocha cupcakes…and indulgent treat for Friday night…everyone loved them. Thanks! Theresa


  27. Baking In Brooklyn on October 23, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    I will HAVE to try this! It looks so delicious!


  28. marla {family fresh cooking} on October 23, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    You and I both have chocolate on the brain today. I just posted my favorite chocolate ganache recipe. Heck both the frosting & ganache would go great on your cupcakes!


  29. bridget {bake at 350} on October 23, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    I totally trust your judgment! Bookmarking this for future use! Thank you!


  30. Tracy on October 23, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    This sounds wonderful! I’m definitely going to give it a try!


  31. The Chocolate Priestess on October 24, 2010 at 8:38 am

    Oh, melts chocolate for the recipe, excellent. Usually I see cocoa for such recipes and frankly I find that can be a bit gritty.


  32. Kelsey on October 24, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    There are a lot of frosting recipes from your blog that I want to try and this is certainly one of them. I have a good buttercream frosting but I’ve never tried chocolate. I also want to try your peanut butter frosting on the dark chocolate cupcakes!


  33. Marlene on October 24, 2010 at 11:29 pm

    Thank you for posting. I am so looking forward to making these cupcakes, they look absolutely stunning!!!! Beautiful! Thanks again!!


  34. Cookin' Canuck on October 25, 2010 at 11:04 pm

    This is a great easy version of buttercream and if it tastes as good as it looks, then you have a winner here!


  35. pearse on October 30, 2010 at 7:18 pm

    looks Gorgeous! How do you make the color dark brown? I tried adding wilton brown color gel. it didn’t work. shouls I be adding black or is there any other trick to this?


    • Michelle on October 30th, 2010 at 8:38 pm

      Pearse – The melted chocolate gives it the dark brown color!


  36. Melanie on October 30, 2010 at 10:29 pm

    I made this divine chocolate buttercream for some Halloween cupcakes I was making for a friend’s dinner party – so I was really counting on it to come through for me since I didn’t have time for a trial run before making them. It was unbelievable! I’ve been searching for a great go-to chocolate buttercream and this has become the one. I love that it is simple and comes together quickly. The taste is creamy and chocolate-y and exactly what I was looking for. Thanks, Michelle!


    • Michelle on November 1st, 2010 at 9:47 pm

      Yay so happy you loved this Melanie!


  37. Poppy on March 4, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    Just a quick question on how you pipped the buttercream so it looks so thin? Is there a special writing nossle or a special technique. Sorry to be a pain but I need advice soon as i’m making them in 2 days time.


    • Michelle on March 4th, 2011 at 2:44 pm

      Hi Poppy, Not sure what you mean? I didn’t alter the recipe at all for the piping you see above. If you mean you need it to be thin to pipe writing or something like that, I would use a Wilton #1 or #2 tip and if you find the frosting to be too thick, you can thin it a bit at a time with a few drops of cream.


  38. Kerry Linklater on March 4, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    There are two main types of buttercreams. The European buttercreams start with some sort of meringue and then LOTS of butter. The American buttercreams are a mixture of butter creamed with confectioners’ sugar. Flavorings are added then to both types. Technically they are both buttercreams.


  39. Poppy on March 6, 2011 at 11:40 am

    Thanks, what i meant was if there was a special technique to pipe it so neatly, sorry if it was a bit confuzzling. But thank you, i’m going to make this gorgeous looking buttercream today, so wish me luck!


  40. Heidi Lynn on April 28, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    So excited to try out this Chocolate buttercream recipe..I have a hard time with chocolate frostings from scratch, I find they don’t taste “Chocolatey” enough or something just not right..So this looks fab and can’t wait to see if hits the mark! Love your blog by the way one of my favs to follow!


  41. Claire on April 29, 2011 at 9:17 pm

    Love your cupcakes they taste amazing!!! The chocolate icing and vanilla cupcakes rock!!
    I love to bake!



  42. Rachel on May 14, 2011 at 10:49 pm

    I love your entire blog and turn to it regularly when looking for recipes. I bake at least 3 to 4 times a week, and have made many, many recipes of yours. Could you tell me what size star tip you use? It’s an open star tip, no? I just love how it looks like ribbons of frosting, piled on top of each other. Mmmm. Thanks for all your recipes!


    • Michelle on May 16th, 2011 at 3:57 pm

      Hi Rachel, I use a Wilton 1M for all of my “swirly” looking cupcakes.


      • Rachel on May 20th, 2011 at 9:52 pm

        Tks a mil. I’ll be sure to get one soon. Made your PB Cup RK Treats today. Lordy. Good stuff.


  43. Jennifer on May 16, 2011 at 11:11 am

    I absolutely looooved your website! I made this and your peanut butter frosting this weekend and put both on your dark chocolate cup cake (not together :) ). This buttercream is delicious!!! But with both frosting, I did something wrong. They were super thick and I couldn’t pipe them – I could hardly spread them! Lol! I guess I beat them too long??? I’ll just have to try again! And I’ll be making your Oreo look-a-like cake for my oldest son’s birthday this weekend. Thanks for sharing your recipes!


    • Michelle on May 16th, 2011 at 4:00 pm

      Hi Jennifer, Hmm both of these, especially the peanut butter frosting, should spread and pipe really easily. I’m wondering if maybe your butter was still too cold, or if you refrigerated the frosting after you made it?


  44. RL on May 30, 2011 at 12:40 am

    I love all your recipes! thank you for sharing them, will try them out soon esp. the cupcakes and lemon bar. =)


  45. Lauren on June 12, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    I made these cupcakes & frosting for my best friends bridal shower…let me tell you-best frosting I’ve ever had! People are still talking about those cupcakes 5 weeks later :) I’d say they were a hit, Thank You!


  46. Beth on June 17, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    I love this icing!! I have done it with both white and semisweet chocolate so far, and they were both hits! Thank you for sharing!


  47. Cydney on June 24, 2011 at 11:08 am

    I want to make this icing for my son’s wedding cake. He’s a choco-holic. I’m making 2 10in layers that are 3in in depth. First, I need to know how much I should ‘double’ up the recipe. I don’t mind having too much. I can be a bit heavy handed when I ice. Secondly, I wanted to make sure that I would be able to pipe this icing… This is my first time to your website and I LOVE it… Thanks so much!!


    • Michelle on June 24th, 2011 at 12:24 pm

      Hi Cydney, Welcome! I would at least triple this recipe, maybe even go 4’s on it if you don’t mind having leftover and if you’re heavy handed. It can definitely be piped. Congratulations to your son; have fun!


  48. Tammy on June 28, 2011 at 10:54 pm

    This looks absolutely divine and I will certainly be trying it out as soon as my grocery store opens. (It’s currently 10 pm.) Question, how does this frosting hold up in high temps? Has anyone had any issues with melting? I’m wondering how this will behave for an outdoor event in Dallas TX during the summer. So delicious looking though, I don’t think I can wait till tomorrow morning. I’m on my way to an all night grocer right now!


    • Michelle on June 30th, 2011 at 12:11 pm

      Tammy, I honestly don’t know for sure. I have air conditioning and have never set these outside for long periods of time in the mid-summer heat and humidity. My guess is that they would start to sweat or melt a bit, just like any other buttercream. Could you maybe make a small batch, and do a trial run w/them outside?


  49. Julia F on June 30, 2011 at 9:08 am

    Wow! I have just iced my first 12 cupcakes with this frosting and it’s amazing.
    For Brits, I halved quantity and this was more than adequate (not piled quite as high, but beautiful with some spare).
    Metric measure for half quantity, 110gm butter, 170 gm icing sugar, 1/2 tsp vanilla ext, 60 gm of dark choc. I used wooden spoon not whisk, still worked a treat.
    I think my cakes will sell out first at the school fair!


  50. Doreen H. on July 6, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    This was the best buttercream frosting I ever had and was so simple to make. Just made it tonite and frosted 12 cupcakes but still had some left over. So creamy and tasty. Thanks for the recipe :)


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