Chocolate Frosting

4.40 from 438 votes

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With over 2 million views and counting since 2013, this Chocolate Frosting Recipe is my most popular frosting recipe on my website. Using simple ingredients, it’s simple to whip up and the best frosting for any kind of cake, especially birthdays!

A chocolate cupcake with a swirl of chocolate frosting on a plate with a floral pattern.

There are thousands of homemade chocolate frosting recipes out there. This is the one that continues to be requested for every birthday, special occasion or just because! Just take a look at the 600+ reviews in the comment section at the bottom of this post and you’ll see that it’s a favorite for many others as well. Be warned, this frosting is so gosh darn delicious it may disappear before you even get to frost your cake! Move over store-bought frosting because this recipe is about to knock your socks off.

chocolate frosting ingredients on a marble counter top

Homemade Chocolate Frosting ingredients

This Chocolate Frosting recipe is essentially a chocolate buttercream because it’s made with:

  • softened butter – salted or unsalted will be just fine
  • powdered sugar – sifted
  • cocoa powder – sifted
  • vanilla extract
  • milk – amount to be adjusted to your liking. f you’re going to pipe this recipe, you’ll want it more stiff so it holds its shape, if you’re wanting to frost a cake, you’ll want it slightly thinner and more easily spreadable.

Pro Tip: Before you get started, make sure you are using very soft butter, sifted powdered sugar, sifted cocoa powder and be prepared to adjust the thickness of the frosting with a little more milk or a little more powdered sugar.

How to make Chocolate Frosting

I assure you this is one of the easiest recipes in the entire world you can make. I promise you can do it!

  1. Whip butter and cocoa powder together until smooth in large bowl.
  2. Stir in vanilla extract and powdered sugar.
  3. Slowly stream in milk until frosting reaches desired consistency.
  4. Scrape sides and whip again until light, fluffy and smooth, 1-2 minutes. 

Need more chocolate in your life? Try these tasty treats: Actually Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies, Chocolate Cake Extreme, Chocolate Cobbler, Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars.

Can I make this Chocolate Buttercream Frosting ahead of time?

Absolutely! This chocolate frosting will last for one week in the fridge as long as it’s in an airtight container. If you plan on using it to frost a cake, you’ll want to bring it to room temperature for 3-4 hours first and then whip it for a quick 20 seconds to get it light and fluffy again before using.

Chocolate Icing Tips and Tricks

Time and time again, I get comments on this recipe saying it was either way too thick or way too thin to use. Here’s the secret though: not everyone measures cocoa powder or powdered sugar exactly the same. So all the frostings you make using the exact same recipe will vary and you will have to make minor adjustments.

  • If your frosting is too thick, slowly add in milk little by little to get the consistency you want.
  • If your frosting is too thin, add a little extra powdered sugar little by little to get the consistency you want.
  • If you want to use this frosting to cover a whole cake, run a butter knife through the finished frosting. If it holds its shape but is still really easy to spread, it’s perfect. I’d highly recommend using an offset spatula for frosting a cake.
  • For pipeable frosting that holds its shape, you want to make sure the frosting will hold its shape and not fall, so slightly stiffer than for frosting a whole cake. These disposable piping bags are great! Also, this 1M Wilton frosting tip is the one I use to get those gorgeous mountains of frosting on top of cupcakes.
Two chocolate cupcakes with swirled frosting on a decorative plate.

This frosting is too sweet!

Friends, frosting is supposed to be sweet! I know when you see 5 cups of powdered sugar, your eyeballs jump out of their sockets, but trust me, it will be just fine. Especially since this chocolate frosting recipe makes a ton: enough to frost an entire 9-inch cake with leftovers or 24 cupcakes.

If you find that the frosting is too sweet, try to sprinkle in a little salt. If you want to reduce the powdered sugar by 1-2 cups, you are welcome to do so, but know you will have to reduce the milk as well.

How to use Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Besides licking this right from the spoon, I have lots of cakes and cupcakes recipes to make with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting.

Bowl of chocolate frosting with spilled cocoa powder and sieve on a marble countertop.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting FAQ

Do I really have to sift the powdered sugar and cocoa powder?

No, not at all. Cocoa powder is notoriously lumpy and it definitely helps to sift, but not totally necessary. You might not even have a sifter available to you, which is fine! Also, powdered sugar has cornstarch mixed into it to help prevent lumping. As you whip the ingredients for the frosting together, most of the lumps should come out. *Should* come out. They might not, which is all the more reason to sift. But again, don’t lose sleep over this if you can’t sift.

Can I use Salted Butter?

Yes! I actually prefer using salted butter for all my desserts and baked goods. I know, I know, sacrelig! Either unsalted or salted butter is absolutely fine to use interchangeably in this recipe.

Love Cake Decorating? Try these other frosting recipes:

More Favorites from Lauren’s Latest

So, there you have the easiest, tastiest chocolate frosting recipe! Hope you absolutely love it! Be sure to pin, save, bookmark and share this recipe because it’s a good one! Have a great day, friends!

If you make this recipe, I would really appreciate it if you would give it a star rating and leave your review in the comments! If you have a picture of your finished dish, post it on Instagram using the hashtag #laurenslatest and tagging me @laurens_latest.

A chocolate cupcake with a swirl of chocolate frosting on a plate with a floral pattern.
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4.40 from 438 votes

Chocolate Frosting Recipe

My EASY Chocolate Frosting is the BEST frosting for cakes, especially birthday cupcakes!! It's simple to whip up and oh so creamy!
servings 12
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes



  • Whip butter and cocoa together until smooth in large bowl. Stir in vanilla extract and powdered sugar.
  • Slowly stream in milk until frosting reaches desired consistency. Scrape sides and whip again until light, fluffy and smooth, 1-2 minutes.
  • Frost your cake or cupcakes*!



*Frosts one 9 or 8 inch round layered cake or about 24 cupcakes, depending on how much frosting you put on each one.
  • If your frosting is too thick, slowly add in milk little by little to get the consistency you want.
  • If your frosting is too thin, add a little extra powdered sugar little by little to get the consistency you want. 


Calories: 342kcal | Carbohydrates: 52g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 41mg | Sodium: 125mg | Potassium: 66mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 49g | Vitamin A: 479IU | Calcium: 14mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Chocolate Frosting, easy

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Recipe Rating

668 Responses
  1. Jacki

    5 stars
    DELICIOUS!! Thank you Lauren! I googled “chocolate frosting” the other night as I wanted something new and different. (Did you know you’re the third option that pops up?!)

    I read many of the reviews and most of them were about looking forward to trying it – so I wanted to come back and say that I tried it and YES it is AWESOME! Quick, easy and yummy. It was perfect for the treats made in a mini cupcake maker that my daughter got for Christmas!

    1. JoAnn

      Thank you for this easy chocolate frosting recipe first time making it! I only made a quarter of the recipe it is fantastic didn’t know it was this easy ty ty

  2. May

    Sorry, but I’m from Brazil and I’m having some trouble understanding the recipe. :/ Should I use a mixer to whip the frosting? Or should I do it with a spoon?
    Thanks. ;D

      1. Catherine Wright

        4 stars
        It was great. Thank you. I did use unsalted butter but I added Bailey’s at the end and it was delicious! (Water too)

  3. Nita

    I plan on making a three layer cake; should i double all the ingredients? Any help you can give will be appreciated.. Thanking you in advance… Nita

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  5. Tamara

    Thanks for this great receipe. I used the frosting on top of my Orange Velvet Cake for Thanksgiving and boy, did my family devour the cake.


  6. Ani

    This is the second time this week I make this frosting for my cakes.
    It is absolutely delicious! The kids love it and its soooo easy to make.
    Thank you!!

  7. Sherah

    I love the recipe!! I had some rasberries, and put them in a few at a time instead of milk and it also turned out amazing! And I put just mushed up rasberries in the middle instead of frosting! Thank you for posting this recipe!

    1. Lauren

      Powdered sugar is just from the grocery store in the baking aisle. I use the kind with a blue label….don’t remember what the brand is. Any brand is fine though!

  8. Gourmet Sartorialist

    Hi! Lovely post!

    In fact, this inspired me to do a blog post of my own featuring this dish that I have matched with an outfit! I’ve just started my food/fashion blog called Gourmet Sartorialist and It’s a pretty random concept, but i’d love for you to have a look! 🙂

    Anyway, keep up the great work! I’ll be watching.

  9. Frozen Blueberry Lemonade / Creamy Chocolate Frosting / Broken Glass Jello «

    […] And now let’s talk frosting. What I was going for with this particular match was the colour combo. I love that little flash of blue shirt collar peeking out from beneath the sweater. I don’t know about you, but I take cupcake decorating seriously, probably too seriously. I like to buy 100s and 1000s that have been separated by colour – this way you can create your own colour combinations that match your frosting. In this case, who would’ve thought light blue, dark blue and green would look so special with brown? I also chose this food match because I thought the half-moon detail on the sweater was reminiscent of the perfectly coiled buttercream swirls. Get this recipe! […]

  10. Meg

    I love to cook, but am not much of a baker. Not awful, just not great. I took Rhee’s chocolate cake recipe and your frosting recipe and made it into a 9×13″ cake. It was so seriously good! I made it for my mom’s 76th birthday and it was gobbled up in minutes. So, I guess I can now say that I am a baker!

    Many, many thanks for the recipe and laughs! 🙂

  11. Amy J.

    That sounds like great frosting! Instead of the milk, you could also try an equal amount of Godiva white chocolate liqueur. SO GOOD.

        1. Sandy

          I just made it and it’s absolutely delicious! PSA, on the thick icing (I’m from the south), let the cake cool to room temperature and then it will glide on easily. Also, instead of expensive liqueur, just use left over coffee, in place of the milk. Thank you for sharing, I Pinned it. 😊

      1. Joanne Colt

        Hi Lauren,
        When you say “whip” is that by hand or a mixer? Going to try it today for my Daughter’s 50th Birthday!
        Very cute statement…you made a batch ate it..then made another batch…sounds like my kind of chocolate lover. !!

  12. Lauren @ Part Time House Wife

    Such an easy recipe for awesome frosting!!! Totally remembering this for my next chocolate frosting craving 😉

  13. Jessie

    Always great to have an awesome chocolate cake recipe. And that frosting looks amazing, I do want to lick the screen! I think I’m going to ….. Thank you for posting!

  14. Martyna @ Wholesome Cook

    Ha! Just spotted this and thought I’d check against a quick throw together icing I made this morning for the little girl and her friend as they made banana cupcakes last night. I used the same ingredients, but only added 1/2 cup powdered sugar to 3/4 cup butter – we are used to eating little sugar. It was yum!

  15. Donna

    You write the best and funniest blog posts ever! I love this recipe and want to go make and eat some right now. Every time I pin your recipes to my pinterest page, they get repinned really quickly! Thanks for creating and sharing so many yummy recipes.

    1. Alicia Morris

      Does the icing not have a gritty sugary taste since you are not beating the sugar as much? Please, I need to know today so I can use it for a meeting tomorrow.

      1. Lauren

        If you are using powdered (icing) sugar, there should be no gritty taste. The only reason it would be gritty is if you used granulated sugar.

          1. Lauren

            electric hand mixer, stand mixer or spoon can all work. It’ll be much smoother and easier if you’re using something electric.

    1. Jason

      Yes it is! When I was a teen I’d always ask lemon cake with chocolate frosting. I’ve since upgraded to brownies topped with lemon squares.

  16. Vera Zecevic

    Hello Lauren, beautiful recipe as always! I showcased some birthday cupcakes on my blog , it’s to pity i didn’t find your recipe earlier! Regards

  17. Megan

    When people tell me they don’t like frosting, I never trust a word that comes out of their mouths for the rest of their lives. And I try to avoid them. hahaha I’ve saved your recipe to my dessert folder. Thanks for posting! One drawback of being known as the baker – nobody ever makes me a cake! Does anyone else find that to be the case? Oh well:)

    1. Dee

      I know what you mean! I’m known to many as the “cupcake queen” but when it comes to my birthday I get a store bought cake from the grocery store! I’d be happy with a simple home made cake.

  18. Desiree McCarthy

    THANK YOU SO MUCH!! I needed a chocolate icing recipe for a chocolate cake I’m making tonight and was thinking “Hmmm, I wonder if Lauren has anything I can use…” and low and behold a post! Right front and center! Thank you so much! 🙂 Your the best!

      1. Carolyn

        Sherri- In a Better Homes and Gardens article, I read that you can add 1/4 tsp salt for each stick of butter used. For one cup of butter, add 1/2 tsp.

        1. Teri

          I’m on a low sodium diet so I can’t use salted butter.
          I see the nutritional facts say 138mg of sodium per serving. How much is considered one serving? 1 tbsp, 3/4 tbsp?

      2. Haley

        My icing turned out like crap and so did the cake! I followed the directions everything the same and the cake is so dense and the icing is runny not firm enough for anything!

        1. Lauren

          In the directions it says to drizzle the milk in until it reaches the desired consistency. Sounds like there was a little too much milk. If it ended up too runny, you should have added in more powdered sugar!

  19. Anna @ hiddenponies

    Your husband is a lucky man, I’m glad you remind him 🙂 This looks like my kind of birthday cake…chocolate on chocolate with sprinkles?? Yessss please!

  20. Averie @ Averie Cooks

    Gotta love chocolate buttercream! People who say they don’t really like frosting all that much – I do not understand them!

    1. Jen Checki

      There are people who don’t like frosting? They are sick. Perhaps we should start a fund to get them the help the so desperately need?

  21. Tina {My Life as a Mrs}

    this looks FUH-REAKING amazing! I’m the chocoholic in our house so this has my name all over it! PS- You guys a freaking adorable… like make me sick adorable! 😉 PPS- You. Me. October. SOOO EXCITED.

  22. Jenny @ BAKE

    haha! I keep trying to tell my other half that I’m the best thing that happened to him – he just laughs! The consistency of this icing looks perfect, soft and fluffy but strong enough to hold shape.

  23. Kathryn

    I told my boyfriend the other day that he didn’t know what it was like to be happy until he met me. I think we have similar attitudes towards our significant others 😉

    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe, it’s always good to have a perfect chocolate cake in the bag and this really does look perfect.

      1. Jesseca M Suede

        5 stars
        I was looking for a recipe to make for my husband since he loves Vanilla cake. I think this is a super easy and delicious cake. Thank you for sharing.

      1. Heather

        I refrigerated it after we iced the caked just so it would stay cool and it worked just fine! But I had to smoothie it out before hand

    1. Billy in Blair, OK

      5 stars
      Second time I have used this recipe, and both times have produced a lovely and chocolate deliciousness that my dad and non rave about! My dad’s favorite is chocolate cake and chocolate frosting. We have a winner! Thank you for sharing.

        1. Melissa Whittaker

          If you’re using fresh milk and butter then it’ll last about a week in the fridge in an airtight container.