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

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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.

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170 Responses to “The Best Chocolate Buttercream for Cupcakes”

  1. Pup Fan on July 26, 2011 at 8:51 am

    This frosting was absolutely delicious! :)

    Reply

  2. Erica on August 24, 2011 at 10:31 am

    Michelle, I made a milk chocolate version and it is very tasty! It was super creamy when I made it but I refrigerated it over night, let it sit, and beat it with a hand mixer briefly. It was as tasty, but not as creamy. Any thoughts or suggestions?

    Thanks!

    Reply

    • Michelle on August 24th, 2011 at 10:36 am

      Hi Erica, I find that frosting that is refrigerated and then beat again never ends up with quite the same consistency. I would recommend making frosting the same day you want to frost cupcakes.

      Reply

  3. Ashley @peaceloveyumminess on October 3, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    MMMMM I just made this and its so simple and sooooo yummy. Im not crazy over chocolate but LOVE THIS!

    Reply

  4. Terri on October 15, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    My 12-year-old daughter just made this frosting using Baker’s semi-sweet baking squares for the chocolate flavor. It is incredibly delicious! I like it much more than the frosting on cupcakes we buy in stores. Thanks for the recipe!

    Reply

  5. sexygaia on November 11, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    hi..if i am going to use chocolate powder instead of the melted chocolate, how much do i need to use in the recipe? thank you! =)

    Reply

  6. sexygaia on November 13, 2011 at 2:03 am

    thank you for the recipe. would try to make them this coming weekend for my cousin’s 2nd birthday. hope the frosting could be piped on cupcakes too =)

    Reply

  7. Heather on December 12, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    Holy Moley! I am a frosting officiando (tasting, not making) and this icing is he beat chocolate buttercream that I have ever had. It piped onto 24 mini cupcakes very nicely ( with a generous amount used in the qc process :). Thanks so much for this recipe!

    Reply

  8. Rubana on January 15, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    Hi Michelle, I came across this recipe when searching for chocolate frosting to,make with chocolate chips. I just made it to go on vanilla cupcakes which are waiting in the oven. All I can say is, OMG. Thank you thank you for posting such an easy recipe! All of your recipes can be made with things I already have on hand- love it! I will be visiting your site often from now on. Thanks again!

    Reply

  9. Jamie on January 31, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    ok one quick question…is it weird that my frosting tasted “buttery” even after putting all the sugar and chocolate in it. Maybe this is how it’s supposed to taste…?
    Also, is there a way to make this frosting with granulated sugar instead of powdered sugar?

    Last question, what determines whether you use the wire whisk attachment or the paddle attachment when mixing buttercream frostings? I have seen it both ways and was wondering what the differences are?

    Thanks!!

    Reply

    • Michelle on January 31st, 2012 at 4:20 pm

      Hi Jamie, The beauty about this particular buttercream is that it does taste buttery and is not overly-sweet and stiff like some frostings with a powdered sugar base can be. You could not substitute granulated sugar for the powdered here because you aren’t cooking down the sugar and would end up with a gritty texture. As far as using the whisk attachment vs. paddle – a couple of years ago I started using the whisk only because I found that really whipping the butter with the whisk attachment allowed a lot more air in and created a softer, lighter texture, which I loved.

      Reply

  10. G on February 4, 2012 at 8:30 am

    hi! sorry im new to baking but im giving it a try :) was wondering whats the best way to measure chopped chocolate to be ezactly 4oz? melt it first and than measure?

    thanks thanks

    Reply

    • Michelle on February 4th, 2012 at 2:44 pm

      I would weigh it before you start to chop it, that would be easiest. I use a Ghiradelli baking bar that is sold in 4 ounces bars, so it’s easy – you just need one!

      Reply

  11. kelly bradley on February 10, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    Thank you! I made a batch just now…and it is absolutely HEAVENLY!

    Reply

  12. Maria on February 10, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    I’ve struggled with finding a good frosting recipe for too long considering how long I have been baking, and this finally solved my problem. It’s light with almost a whipped consistency, the chocolate flavor is undeniably there but it’s not overwhelming, it’s not overly sweet and it stays fresh beautifully. Absolutely perfect frosting, thank you so much!

    Reply

  13. Christine M on February 13, 2012 at 6:19 am

    I found this recipe while looking for a chocolate chip muffin recipe on your site and I want to try it for my son’s 1st birthday cake. I wanted chocolate buttercream icing and think I’ve found it! My question is can you use a hand mixer if you have yet to win or buy a stand mixer ;-)? Off to make your Chocolate Chocolate Chunk Muffins for the kids for breakfast before school today =)

    Reply

    • Michelle on February 14th, 2012 at 7:47 pm

      Hi Christine, Yes you could definitely use a hand mixer!

      Reply

  14. Caroline Quillen on February 13, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    Great recipes!

    Reply

  15. Missy on February 13, 2012 at 11:11 pm

    Made this buttercream today~ IT IS THE BEST!

    Reply

  16. Amy on March 10, 2012 at 8:21 am

    I was asked to bake cupcakes for a baby shower I’m attending tomorrow. And I was wondering if, when piped, the frosting stands up nice and keeps it’s shape or if it’s too soft? It looks to die for and would love to try it!!

    Reply

    • Michelle on March 10th, 2012 at 2:46 pm

      Hi Amy, I have had great success piping this frosting, it doesn’t get soft on me. Enjoy!

      Reply

      • Caroline Perez on April 7th, 2012 at 12:05 pm

        Hi, I was hoping to use this frosting to make cupcakes for Easter and i would like to use a whip cream filling but i’m not sure if it would clash with the taste of the chocolate butter cream. Would this idea be a yes or no?

        Reply

        • Michelle on April 9th, 2012 at 1:10 pm

          I don’t think it would clash, at least I can’t think of a reason why it would! Go for it!

          Reply

  17. Chelsea on March 10, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    I just made the frosting for my cupcakes. Its really good. But it was a little light for me so I doubled the chocolate chips. Made it even better!

    Reply

  18. Trinity on March 16, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    I tried this with unsweetened chocolate, and it works just fine! It gives the frosting a very rich, almost mocha note.

    Reply

  19. Kristen Taylor on April 5, 2012 at 12:49 am

    Good golly this was AWESOME!! In 20+ years of home “baking” I’ve tried making buttercream exactly 3 times before this recipe, all were disappointing (hence the reason I’ve been reluctant to try it)… But this was creamy, smooth, fluffy and DELICIOUS!!! 5 Stars! THANK YOU!!!! :)

    Reply

  20. Adrienne on April 9, 2012 at 9:10 am

    I have never once had luck with buttercream, but made this yesterday to frost the sides of a slightly wonky layered german chocolate cake.

    IT. IS. PERFECT. Everyone at our Easter dinner oohed and ahhed over it.

    :) Thank you, Michelle. I have had 100% success with every recipe from your collection.

    Reply

  21. Trimble on April 10, 2012 at 10:15 am

    Will this hold up if left at room temperature for 3-ish hours? Thanks!

    Reply

    • Michelle on April 10th, 2012 at 12:34 pm

      Yes. Enjoy!

      Reply

      • Trimble on April 10th, 2012 at 8:36 pm

        Thank you!

        Reply

  22. L M on April 14, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    This was a complete flop for me. It didn’t have much of a buttery texture nor didn’t have a chocolate taste. Just sugary. My kids liked it, but my husband and I really ddin’t like that at all. I must have done something wrong?! Should we use confectionar sugar, right?

    Reply

    • Sam I am on June 1st, 2012 at 8:33 pm

      confectioners sugar is powdered suger

      Reply

  23. Jennifer on April 19, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    Thank you for posting this recipe. I made a chocolate cake yesterday and was looking for a great icing, so I searched Pinterest and found your recipe. The icing turned out fabulous. I have not been very successful in making buttercream icing prior to this, but it turned out great. When I incorporated the cooled melted chocolate into the icing, I forgot to turn the mixer off so my whisk hit some of the chocolate as I was pouring it into the bowl and caused it to instantley harden, which then made tiny little bitty chocolate chips to be incorporated throughout the icing; talk about serendipity. It turned out wonderful. Thanks again for such a great recipe.

    Reply

  24. Rida on June 4, 2012 at 6:56 am

    I don’t have a stand mixer, I only have a hand electric beater with just a beating attachment, no whisk attachment =(
    Should I whisk the butter by hand using a normal hand whisk instead? Will it come out the same?

    Reply

    • Michelle on June 4th, 2012 at 10:02 pm

      Hi Rida, I would go ahead and beat the butter with your handheld mixer and proceed with the rest of the recipe as indicated. It should come out just fine.

      Reply

  25. frchi on June 19, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    I was excited to try this recipe because it looked super easy for a buttercream. The consistency was very velvety and light, but it was just not chocolatey enough for my taste. I added 1/2 cup of cocoa powder, a few tablespoons of half-and-half, and a pinch of kosher salt and it was perfect! My friends and family couldn’t stop raving about it :)

    Reply

  26. Heather on June 28, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    I am about to attempt this recipe this weekend. Do I need to sift the powdered sugar first? Thanks!!!

    Reply

    • Michelle on June 28th, 2012 at 3:13 pm

      Hi Heather, I usually don’t because it typically gets smoothed out, but if yours is particularly clumpy, it’s not a bad idea – you’ll get a smoother frosting.

      Reply

  27. Kim on July 3, 2012 at 3:38 am

    OMG awesome icing recipe! Just topped some chocolate cuppies off with it and you inspired me to use a fancy piping bag- so yummy, thanks for sharing :-)

    Reply

  28. Debbie on August 19, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    I want to marry this frosting.

    Reply

  29. Lisa on August 26, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    This was soooo decadent! I didn’t even use the full amount of chocolate or butter and it was beyond delicious! Thank you so much for sharing your recipe!

    Reply

  30. Victoria on August 30, 2012 at 4:10 am

    This was so good!! May I share the recipe on my blog for a cupcake post?

    Reply

    • Michelle on September 27th, 2012 at 4:39 pm

      Hi Victoria, Sure, I just ask that you provide a link back to this post. Thanks!

      Reply

  31. Wylene on August 30, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    Oh my goodness! This is the best ever. Thank you!!! I used it to fill a cake and to pipe swirls onto cupcakes. I’m usually not a frosting person (I leave it on my plate) but this one is amazing!!

    Reply

  32. Renee on September 14, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    I’ve made numerous buttercreams, but this one takes the cake! All that whipping of the butter made is so lusciously light and creamy. I will never use another recipe for frosting again! Ty.
    A tip for melted chocolate: preheat oven to 350. Turn oven OFF. Put chocolate in an oven proof bowl then into the oven for 10 min. It will be perfectly melted.

    Reply

  33. Pam on October 29, 2012 at 10:41 am

    Made this icing with vanilla cupcakes last night: it is amazing!!!

    Reply

  34. kim on October 30, 2012 at 9:02 pm

    This is the most amazing chocolate frosting Ive ever had! I made it for a cake and its the perfect amount for a cake…it holds up amazing and the taste is out of the world! Awesome recipe. Thank you for sharing!~Kim

    Reply

  35. Kathleen on January 3, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    This is a lovely frosting, but if you are making cupcakes from a box you will want to double it. It doesn’t make much.

    Reply

  36. Kathleen on January 3, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    Also, if you use unsalted butter, make sure to add a pinch of salt.

    Reply

  37. DeluxuryQueen on January 28, 2013 at 6:48 am

    I never thought you could whip this type, am always beating… I will now whip instead of beating… Alas… thanks Michelle and also thanks for your response on colouring for Red Velvet. Very helpful. All i need now is someone to get me a bottle of McCormicks.

    Reply

  38. Taylor SWift on February 2, 2013 at 6:22 pm

    i have to try these!!!!!!!!!1

    Reply

  39. Michelle on February 25, 2013 at 7:01 pm

    A very good frosting. I was searching for a frosting that used melted chocolate instead of cocoa powder and found this one to be easy and tasty. However, I found that a half batch was more than enough to frost 12 standard cupcakes, if I had made an ordinary batch I would’ve had at least half left over.

    Reply

  40. Barb on April 5, 2013 at 7:31 pm

    OK, I am a little confused. You have Butter at 1 cup (8 oz.). Isn’t 1 cup of butter 16 oz.? Which amount do you use — 1 cup or 1/2 cup (8oz.)??

    Reply

    • Michelle on April 6th, 2013 at 4:37 pm

      Barb, 1 cup of butter is 8 ounces (you can double check the measurements on the butter packaging if you’d like).

      Reply

  41. Jane on May 12, 2013 at 7:46 pm

    This buttercream recipe is the perfect consistency! However, I found it to be overly sweet and I was forced to add sour cream to my frosting to balance out the sweetness, which caused my buttercream to be very thin. I would definately recommend halfing the amount of sugar.

    Reply

  42. Sarah on May 16, 2013 at 7:37 am

    Hi Michelle,
    Greetings from Malaysia :). I just finished baking your dark chocolate cupcakes (but I baked it as a whole cake in an 8″ round pan). It turned out great and I’ve just frosted it with this buttercream recipe. I hope I got the measurements correct because we use the metric system here. Is the buttercream supposed to be slightly on the thick side? In any case, it tastes fantastic !

    Reply

    • Michelle on May 16th, 2013 at 11:38 pm

      Hi Sarah, Yes, the buttercream should be a little thick; still spreadable, but not “loose”. I hope that makes sense; enjoy the cake!

      Reply

  43. Annebelle on May 27, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    Could I use half semisweet and half bittersweet?

    Reply

  44. SugarFix on July 3, 2013 at 8:19 am

    This recipe is perfection..love it!!

    Reply

  45. Nur Ain on July 4, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    Hi! I may be so late to leave a comment here but I came across this post while looking for the best chocolate buttercream and I made this yesterday. Seriously they are good! But I have some problem though : I can still tasted the icing sugar in them. It always happened to me whenever I made buttercream like this. Do I need to keep beating it or is it normal? Please help! Thanks!

    Reply

    • Michelle on July 5th, 2013 at 10:47 am

      Make sure you are using confectioners or powdered sugar; I’m not sure how close icing sugar is to either of those. If it’s more like white granulated sugar, it will not dissolve completely in the other ingredients. If you are using confectioners/powdered sugar and it still tastes gritty, try sifting it before using it.

      Reply

      • Nur Ain on July 5th, 2013 at 1:04 pm

        I live in Malaysia and “Icing (Confectioner’s) Sugar” (that’s what on the bag’s label) is the finest sugar available here. I did sifting them for few times but didn’t work either so I’m sooo curious! Maybe I should throw them into the food processor for a few minutes? What do you think? Thanks for your reply Michelle!

        Reply

        • Michelle on July 5th, 2013 at 4:23 pm

          If sifting it didn’t help, I’m really at a loss as to what else you could do. You could try the food processor.

          Reply

  46. Lauren on July 14, 2013 at 1:28 am

    This is freaking incredible. I’ve and so many icing failures in the past, but this turned out perfectly, thanks in part to your specific instructions.

    I’ve found that I like the texture when it’s fresh, AND refrigerated… The thick, cool smoothness is something else.

    Once I’m done basking in the creamy, chocolatey glory, I’m going to use this recipe as a base, and play with some different flavors next time, just for kicks. I’m sold!

    Reply

  47. Madison on August 9, 2013 at 9:26 pm

    Do you have the recipe for the chocolate cupcakes? The frosting looks really good but the cupcake makes me even more hungry. I’m trying these new recipes and I hope I can add this one to my collections!

    Reply

  48. Shey on August 12, 2013 at 4:44 am

    This recipe is soooo easy! It came out fine ü how can onemake it smoother?
    Thank you for sharing!

    Reply

  49. Sarah on August 15, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    Hi Michelle – I’m making this frosting recipe tomorrow night to frost a 2 layer round chocolate cake. Very excited! Will the measurements in this recipe yield enough to frost a whole cake? Or is it enough just for cupcakes? Thanks!

    Reply

    • Michelle on August 19th, 2013 at 5:27 pm

      Hi Sarah, I think you’ll need to double it to have enough.

      Reply

  50. Shalena on October 7, 2013 at 11:39 am

    Have you ever tried this buttercream on the outside of a German chocolate cake? plan to use your recipe for the German chocolate cake this weekend, but I wanted to frost the outside with something other than the chocolate frosting so I was thinking of maybe a chocolate buttercream, I’m looking for it to be like and fluffy not overly sweet with just the right amount of chocolate flavor. Do you suggest this recipe for what I’m looking for, if not do you have any other recipe similar to what I’m looking for?

    Reply

    • Michelle on October 10th, 2013 at 1:14 pm

      Hi Shalena, I think the chocolate ganache that goes along with the German chocolate cake would be your best bet – it’s a fabulous match for that cake. I have not used this frosting with that cake, so I can’t say for sure how well it pairs.

      Reply

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