Favorite Chocolate Buttercream Recipe

One of my friends described this chocolate buttercream perfectly: it’s the kind you have to put in the sink and cover with water so you don’t eat the whole bowl. I think she’s totally right, because time and time again I find myself eating this stuff by the spoonful. I’m a huge fan of all things chocolate, so it doesn’t surprise my that this is my favorite buttercream of all. Yes, those are strong words, but this is how I feel.

chocolate buttercream recipe by sugar and sparrow

The funny thing is there isn’t anything fancy about the process of making this buttercream or the ingredients involved, but the end result is amazingly tasty! It’s a simple American buttercream with cocoa powder added. I always opt for Hershey’s natural unsweetened cocoa powder for this one, but any unsweetened cocoa powder will do just fine. One thing to note about this recipe is that as soon as you finish whipping it up, the color looks like a light brown at first, but then ends up looking darker as the cocoa powder starts to saturate it. The end result is something more like the medium brown below.

one bowl chocolate cake recipe
chocolate cupcakes by sugar and sparrow
how to frost a sheet cake

You can pair this chocolate buttercream with just about any cake flavor that goes well with chocolate. My all-time favorite cake combination is pairing this chocolate buttercream with this chocolate cake recipe. I am pretty biased because I’m a huge fan of all things chocolate, but trust me on this one – it’s perfect! But beware, whatever cake you top it with, you’re gonna want to eat the extra by the spoonful. Consider yourself warned!

4 from 2 votes

Chocolate Buttercream Recipe

A decadent chocolate buttercream that’s so easy to whip up, but yields amazingly tasty results. Pair it with chocolate cake for the ultimate chocolate-lover’s dessert. 

Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings 2 cups


  • 1 Cup (226g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 1/2 Cups (420g) powdered sugar
  • 1/2 Cup (42g) natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 Tbsp (59ml) whole milk, room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt


  1. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, whip butter on medium speed until creamy and light in color, about four minutes. Scrape down the bowl and paddle and turn the mixer to low, then add powdered sugar, cocoa powder, milk, salt, and vanilla extract. Increase the speed to medium and beat for two full minutes.

Recipe Notes

Make Ahead Tips: this buttercream can be made ahead and stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day. Alternatively, you can store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. When you’re ready to use it, bring it back to room temperature and rewhip with your stand mixer to bring back to frosting consistency. 


  1. marie-anne

    3 stars
    nice consistency but insanely sweet. I usually use Italian buttercream so that might be why.

    • Hi Marie-Anne! Yes, American buttercream is the sweetest of all buttercreams, so if you’re used to Italian buttercream it’s going to seem really sweet. You can try decreasing the amount of powdered sugar by 1/2 cup and adding a little more salt to balance things out if you want to try again!

  2. Jenny Carpentier

    Is 2 cups of buttercream is enough to cream the whole cake? If no, how much do you use for a 6in cake like your picture? Thanks! ☺️

    • Hi Jenny! To frost a 6 inch cake, I double this recipe. That will be enough to fill and frost the cake 🙂

    • Judy Freiman

      What did you use the decorate the cake after frosting it? It looks beautiful and I want to try this!

  3. 5 stars
    Thank you so much for sharing, your cakes are gorgeous and the perfect inspiration!

  4. Happy to have just found your site. Lots I see that I’d like to make!

  5. If I want to make a colored frosting do I just leave out the chocolate? Would I need to replace it with something else?

  6. When making cake flour from all purpose flour do you substitute 2 tablespoons of flour with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch for every cup of flour .

  7. Hi, I’m wanting to cover a cake with chocolate buttercream then doing colourful drip. In you vanilla buttercream you provide options for consistency. Is this a good consistency for covering cakes?

    • Hi Becks! It is a great consistency for covering cakes. I use it for this all the time! And you can always add up to a Tbsp extra milk to thin it out if you prefer a thinner consistency.

  8. Hi I’m looking to make this cake for my sister’s 16th birthday as a surprise! I’ll be making this on Thursday. I just wondered is this recipe enough for the 3 tiered cake that you have linked it with? Just want to make sure that I have everything ready for the big day!

    • Yay, Shannon! To make enough for a triple layer cake (like the chocolate cake recipe linked to this post), I always double this recipe to have enough for filling and frosting. Enjoy!

  9. If i wanted it to be less sweet is it okay to leave half the powdered sugar?

    • Hi Kaiya! The powdered sugar is what builds the frosting consistency, so if you half the frosting, it may end up being too runny to pipe or frost. Instead, I would recommend reducing the powdered sugar by 1/2 Cup and counteracting the sweetness with salt.

  10. Amber Weber

    Love your other recipes! I’m making the chocolate buttercream for the first time and would like to know if I can sub heavy cream for whole milk? Or 1% milk for the whole milk? Or will this change the consistency?

    • Hi Amber! You can use heavy cream or 1% milk as a substitute for the whole milk. It may be a little thicker with the heavy cream, but shouldn’t affect the consistency enough to throw anything off!

  11. Hi,
    It’s baking! I bought some Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa, not seeing that it says Dutched on it. Is that okay to use for the frosting, I still have some regular?
    Thanks for the great instructions and video!

    • Hi Eileen! You can use Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa for the frosting if you want, it will take on the dark cocoa flavor but will work just fine!

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