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?

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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.

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170 Responses to “The Best Chocolate Buttercream for Cupcakes”

Comment Pages 1 2
  1. Anh on November 7, 2013 at 3:36 am

    Hi Michelle! Do you think I can use this frosting for macaroons as well? Let me know and thanks for all the wonderful recipes and tips! My family and I have a get-together almost every weekend to bake at least one of your recipes!


    • Michelle on November 7th, 2013 at 12:56 pm

      I’m not a macaroni maker, so I can’t really say. If you just use regular buttercream for the filling, then yes, this would certainly work!


  2. Meghan on December 12, 2013 at 4:32 am

    Does this work as a vanilla buttercream if I leave out the chocolate? I saw the vanilla bean buttercream recipe, but I’m looking for something that’s made without cream or milk.


  3. Shirlee on January 4, 2014 at 8:32 pm

    Hi, Michelle – this frosting looks to be exactly what I am looking for to top my yellow cake, chocolate pudding filled cupcakes for my nephew’s birthday tomorrow. Question – how far in advance can I frost the cupcakes with this frosting before serving?


    • Michelle on January 5th, 2014 at 7:09 pm

      Hi Shirlee, You can frost cupcakes with this frosting up to a day in advance and keep them in an airtight container at room temperature.


      • Shirlee on January 5th, 2014 at 10:31 pm

        Thank you so much! They came out great – wish I could post a picture!


  4. Jane on January 27, 2014 at 9:59 am

    Used this recipe when I didn’t have any cocoa powder in the house. Used Nestles semi-sweet morsels (melted in micro) and the frosting came out great! Got a lot of compliments on how delicious from my family


  5. Anne on January 27, 2014 at 6:49 pm

    Well, this frosting lived up to the hype. Put it on some marble cupcakes and they were a hit. Piped beautifully and tasted perfect right off a spoon :)
    Cream cheese frosting of yours held beautifully as well. Thanks!


  6. Sarah @ RAD Living on February 3, 2014 at 5:16 pm

    Very simple recipe, but it’s a but sweet and a bit thick. Way to thick to pipe. I think next time I’ll cut back the sugar a bit and use the paddle attachment instead of the whisk.


  7. Priti on February 4, 2014 at 10:20 pm

    OMG, I am never using store bought icing ever again. This recipe is amazing and sooo easy! I used this frosting with chocolate caramel pecan cupcakes that I for my husbands birthday and it was perfect. Thank you!


  8. Kimberley on March 1, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    Hi. Can I use a half butter-half shortening ratio in this icing? I know 100% butter tastes much better but I live in Jamaica and full butter frostings get soft and don’t hold piping detail as well once out of the fridge (we don’t tend to use air conditioning throughout our homes either)


    • Michelle on March 2nd, 2014 at 11:25 pm

      Hi Kimberley, Yes, you could do half shortening without an issue. Enjoy!


  9. Betty on March 22, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    I’ve used this before for cupcakes, and it was great (tastes like chocolate ice cream to me). Do you think this icing would hold up as the icing for the middle and outside of a 2-layer cake? I’m planning to make a yellow birthday cake, and I don’t care for the suggested chocolate icing in the recipe. Thanks!


    • Michelle on March 23rd, 2014 at 10:16 pm

      Hi Betty, I think it would be just fine. You might need to double the recipe, I’m not sure. If you find it to be too stiff for icing, just add a tablespoon of cream at a time until it’s the consistency you need.


  10. Bettty on March 23, 2014 at 9:42 am

    I know this recipe is specifically for cupcakes, but do you think it would also work fine with a 3-layer cake (or would a stiffer icing be better)?


  11. Laura on April 18, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    I made this recipe a few days ago… Best frosting I’ve ever made. All my other frostings either turned out too soggy or too hard. But this recipe is so perfect! I minimized the butter amount to 3/4 of a cup. Still delicious! Thank you so much for this recipe!


  12. Casey on August 24, 2014 at 7:05 pm

    Great recipe! Not too sweet, so makes a perfect balance on cake. I used this recipe and it is the ideal amount for a 9×13, so if that helps anyone in determining how much they need for various size cakes – it’s exactly what you need for one 9×13 sheet cake. Thanks for sharing this great recipe!


  13. Steph on September 7, 2014 at 11:38 pm

    I’m torn between this recipe and the icing on the Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes recipe, but I’m guessing that icing goes better with the cupcake base in that particular recipe?


    • Michelle on September 9th, 2014 at 12:35 pm

      Hi Steph, Which recipe in this list are you referring to?


      • Steph on September 11th, 2014 at 4:05 pm

        Hi Michelle,
        Oh sorry, I meant the “The Best Chocolate Buttercream for Cupcakes” recipe vs. the icing from the Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes recipe, to use with the base from the e Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes recipe,.


        • Michelle on September 11th, 2014 at 10:21 pm

          Hi Steph, They are totally different types of frostings, and it really is a matter of personal preference. This one is your standard cupcake frosting, which is primarily sweet. The one from the ultimate chocolate cupcakes is much silkier and smooth, and more buttery tasting. It just depends on what you like! Enjoy!


  14. Laci on September 17, 2014 at 10:06 pm

    This is the perfect buttercream frosting. I’ve been looking for one that all the family would love…and this is it. My granddaughter keeps asking me to make chocolate cupcakes with this frosting. Not too sweet and when kept in fridge it tastes like chocolate ice cream. Definitely a keeper in our house :)


  15. claire k on October 26, 2014 at 8:16 pm

    Just made this to top my vanilla cupcakes. It easily frosted 20 cupcakes. I used 3 oz of semi-sweet chocolate and 1 oz of unsweetened chocolate (both Bakers’ brand). Next time, I would actually go with 2 oz of unsweetened chocolate because I really like a deep chocolate taste. As it was, it was still delicious! This is so simple no one should EVER purchase that horrible frosting in the cans. Thanks for the recipe!


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