Easy Chocolate Buttercream
Made with just a few ingredients in under 10 minutes, this Chocolate Buttercream is rich and chocolatey, with a smooth and creamy texture. Perfect for topping cupcakes, cakes, and more. It’s my absolute favorite chocolate buttercream!
The Best Chocolate Frosting
Every person who bakes cakes and cupcakes should have a chocolate buttercream frosting recipe that brings a smile to their face whenever they make it. This Chocolate Buttercream is my absolute favorite, my go-to chocolate frosting. It’s easy to make with just a few ingredients and 10 minutes of time!
This chocolate frosting has rich chocolate flavor from a generous amount of cocoa powder, plus a touch of espresso powder that bumps up that chocolate flavor even more (no, it won’t make your frosting taste like coffee, I promise!).
And the smooth and creamy texture – it’s irresistible. You’ll love how easy it is to spread and pipe, which makes it the perfect topper for all your cakes and cupcakes. It’s the BEST chocolate buttercream!
What You’ll Need
This rich and creamy chocolate buttercream icing requires just a few simple ingredients:
- Butter – I use unsalted butter, so I can control the salt. If you use salted butter, omit adding additional salt, and then taste test to see if the frosting could use a bit more. The butter should be at a softened room temperature for just the right texture. If you can easily press your finger into it, without any resistance and without it being overly soft or melty, it’s perfect!
- Cocoa powder – Be sure to grab “unsweetened” cocoa powder for this recipe. And for the creamiest, lump-free results, sift it before using.
- Powdered sugar – This adds fluffy sweetness. I always aim to add as little as possible to get the consistency, flavor, and volume I’m looking for. If you like a sweeter frosting, go ahead and add more powdered sugar (you might want to add a bit more half & half also). Again, for the creamiest, lump-free results, sift it before using. And do not use granulated sugar, as this will give the frosting a gritty texture.
- Half & half – This helps to loosen up the frosting a bit, making it easier to spread and pipe.
- Vanilla extract – Use only pure vanilla extract (not imitation vanilla extract) for the most beautiful flavor.
- Espresso powder – When it comes to chocolate recipes, this is my secret weapon. Don’t worry, the frosting won’t taste like coffee – the espresso powder simply boosts the chocolate flavor. But if it truly bothers you or if you don’t have any, just leave it out – your frosting will still taste great!
- Kosher salt – Chocolate loves a little bit of salt, and it’s wonderful in this buttercream!
How to Make Chocolate Buttercream
It’s so easy to make buttercream. If you have 10 minutes, you can make a bowl of decadent chocolate frosting!
- Beat the butter & cocoa powder. Beat for a minute to combine.
- Add the remaining ingredients. Add half of the powdered sugar and half of the half & half, along with the vanilla, espresso powder, and salt. Mix on lowest speed just to combine, then scrape down the bowl. Beat on low for 1 minute more.
- Finish beating. Add the remaining half & half and powdered sugar. Beat on low to fully combine.
How Much Frosting Does This Make?
This American chocolate buttercream recipe will make a little over 4 cups of frosting, depending on how much you beat it. That’s enough to very generously frost 18 cupcakes, as I did in the photos, or 24 cupcakes with a more moderate amount of frosting. It’s also enough for a very generous layer of frosting on a 9×13 cake – or a double layer cake, if you use a lesser amount.
Tips for the Best Buttercream Frosting
Here are a few tips to help you achieve that perfect silky smooth texture when making your buttercream frosting.
- Start with properly softened butter. Butter is key to making buttercream frosting. Right?! You want to start with room temperature butter. That means that it’s been on the counter for an hour or more (depending on the temperature in your house) and still feels slightly cool to the touch, but you can also leave an indent with your finger. It shouldn’t be overly soft or melty, and neither should it be cold.
- Sift for lump-free results. I don’t always do this, it just depends on what I’m making. But if you’re wanting the creamiest, lump-free frosting possible, sift the cocoa powder and powdered sugar. Sometimes powdered sugar can get dried out, with harder than normal lumps – in this case, I’d definitely sift it before using.
- Get the perfect consistency. If your frosting appears too dry, add more half and half, a tablespoon at a time. If it appears too wet, add extra powdered sugar, a 1/4 cup at a time.
- Start the mixer on the lowest speed! After adding the powdered sugar, be sure to start the mixer on the lowest possible speed, as the movement will cause the powdered sugar to fluff up out of the bowl. This can leave your kitchen in a fine layer of sugary whiteness. I often lay a kitchen towel over the mixer for a few seconds until the powdered sugar is incorporated – just be careful to not let the beaters grab hold of the towel!
- Make it fluffier. The longer you beat the buttercream, the fluffier it will be. If you prefer it more fluffy than silky smooth, beat for an extra 3 to 5 minutes at the end on a high speed, to incorporate more air bubbles.
How to Get Rid of Air Bubbles
While beating the buttercream longer and at a higher speed makes it light and fluffy (so FUN!!), it also increases the volume by adding air bubbles. These pockets of air don’t affect the flavor, but they do affect the texture. So you’ll want to think about what kind of consistency you’re trying to achieve.
I’m a huge fan of airy, fluffy frosting, and I use it most often when spreading it onto cakes and cupcakes. But when I’m piping frosting, I want a smoother, creamier consistency. So I beat the buttercream at a low speed and for less time, to minimize the air bubbles.
If your buttercream has a lot of air bubbles, and you want to get rid of them, here’s what I do. Once the buttercream is finished, fold it with a wooden spoon or stiff spatula, working the frosting around by hand. Push it back and forth, and press the frosting against the side of the bowl to “pop” the air bubbles.
And once the frosting is in the piping bag, I give the piping bag a few quick, downward shakes to force the buttercream down into the bag, toward the piping tip. Then I gently and briefly massage the piping bag to pop any more air bubbles. Just be careful to not massage it too much, as the heat from your hands can change the consistency of the buttercream, essentially “melting” the butter.
Best Ways to Use Chocolate Buttercream
This chocolate buttercream frosting pairs well with so many baked goods! Here are a few of my favorites:
- my family’s favorite Brownies
- Chocolate Cupcakes
- Vanilla Cupcakes
- Marble Cake
- Any chocolate or vanilla cake
How to Store
This chocolate frosting can be stored in both the fridge and freezer. Either way, you’ll want to beat it to return it to the right consistency before using it. Also, be sure not to store it next to fish or other foods with a strong flavor/smell as the buttercream can absorb the taste.
- Store in the refrigerator. Chocolate buttercream frosting can be stored in the fridge for up to a week, either in an airtight container or ziploc baggie. I like to press some plastic wrap onto the frosting when storing in a container. And when using a baggie, press out any extra air in the bag before sealing.
- Store in the freezer. Chocolate buttercream can be frozen for up to 3 months in a freezer-safe ziploc baggie or container. Let it thaw in the refrigerator before using. Same as when refrigerating, I like to press some plastic wrap onto the frosting when storing in a container. And when using a baggie, press out any extra air in the bag before sealing.
- To use: If frozen, first thaw the buttercream in the refrigerator. Beat the frosting on low speed for a few seconds, until it’s creamy again. You might need to add a splash of half & half or milk to thin the frosting out a bit.
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- 1.5 cups unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder sifted if especially lumpy
- 4.5 cups powdered sugar sifted if especially lumpy
- ¼ cup half & half
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon espresso powder
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- Add the butter and cocoa powder to the bowl of a stand mixer that's fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on lowest speed for a few seconds, just to combine, and then scrape down the bowl. Beat on low speed for 1 minute. Scrape down the bowl very well.
- Add half the powdered sugar and half of the half & half, plus the vanilla, espresso powder, and salt. Mix on lowest speed for a few seconds to incorporate. Then beat on low speed for 1 minute more.
- Add remaining powdered sugar and half & half. Mix on lowest speed for a few seconds to incorporate. Then beat on low speed for 1 minute more. If you like a fluffy buttercream, then beat on high for 3 to 5 minutes more.