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

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 🙂

  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.

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