Easy Chocolate Frosting Recipe

4.85 from 146 votes

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This easy Chocolate Frosting recipe is the BEST frosting for any kind of cake but especially birthday cakes!! It’s simple to whip up, buttery, sweet and so creamy! 

My children have inherited my husband’s love of chocolate and continue to request chocolate cake with this particular chocolate frosting recipe for every birthday. I prefer vanilla over chocolate but I will say as a bit of a stickler and purist, this chocolate on chocolate situation is a good one. I make (and eat) chocolate cake with chocolate frosting at least five times a year (four kids, one husband) and to be honest, I’m not mad about it because I forget how gosh darn delicious this frosting is. So so good and tastes so much better than store bought. And for all you vanilla lovers, be sure to check out my vanilla cake with buttercream. That combo is also to die for!

Easy Chocolate Frosting is the BEST frosting for cakes, especially birthday cupcakes!! It's simple to whip up and so creamy!

Chocolate Frosting Basics

This Chocolate Frosting recipe is essentially a chocolate buttercream because it’s made with lots of softened butter that is whipped together with powdered sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla and milk.

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. If 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.

How to Make Frosting

I assure you this is one of the easiest recipes in the entire world you can make. I promise you can do it! Just get the right ingredients and you’re golden.

  1. Whip butter and cocoa together until smooth in large bowl.
  2. Stir in vanilla 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.

Chocolate Frosting

You are the master of your frosting domain

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, its 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 everyone uses to get those gorgeous mountains of frosting on top of cupcakes.

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. Most of you making this recipe aren’t professionals and 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.

Easy Chocolate Frosting Homemade

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 a little bit, 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 or use salted butter. 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.

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.

Can I make this ahead?

Absolutely! This chocolate frosting will last for one week in the fridge as long as its 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 Frosting Easy Simple

Love Cake Decorating? Try these other frosting recipes:

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 its a good one! Have a great day, friends!

4.85 from 146 votes

Easy Chocolate Frosting

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

Ingredients

  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder sifted
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3-4 tablespoons milk

Instructions

  • Whip butter and cocoa together until smooth in large bowl. Stir in vanilla 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. Frosts 1-9 or 8 inch round layered cake or 24 cupcakes.

Notes

  • 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. 

Nutrition

Calories: 341kcal | Carbohydrates: 52g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 41mg | Sodium: 138mg | Potassium: 64mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 49g | Vitamin A: 480IU | Calcium: 13mg | Iron: 0.5mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Chocolate Frosting, easy
Polaroid photo of granola bars

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Recipe Rating




496 Responses
  1. Lisa

    5 stars
    Amazing icing recipe!!! The icing was so yummy and delicious! I will never again buy chocolate frosting it was so good thanks!!!

  2. chona /philippines

    hi! you’re pretty , your husband is one lucky guy indeed! your choco cake looks fantastic so is the frosting, the kind of frosting i really like from a cake for me to decorate bt dont you think it’s kinda too sweet?

    1. Lauren

      It is sweet, but in my opinion not overly sweet. Plus the chocolate cake recipe I use makes a nice compliment to this frosting.

      1. Kim

        I just made this but only used three cups of the powdered sugar as I don’t like my frosting to be too sweet. Three cups is just prefect!!

  3. Ann

    5 stars
    Hey I also love making delicious food for my amazing husband!! I just made this chocolate icing for A chocolate cake I made for our Super Bowl party and everyone raved about it…I love the delicious richness in it when paired with my rich chocolate cake. I also enjoy lemon desserts…just today I baked Starbucks lemon loaf recipe from scratch…found the recipe on Pinterest. It is divine & almost as easy as this chocolate cake recipe!! 🙂
    Thank you for sharing this easy chocolate icing recipe!! You saved the day since I didn’t know what recipe to use.

  4. Jill

    I made this frosting for my 3yr olds bday and it is amazing. It almost tastes like fudge. Very dense and chocolatey. I couldn’t stop licking the bowl!

  5. Natalie

    Just made this icing for a Valentines day cake. It tastes AMAZING!!! 10/10 for taste.
    However, after 4 tablespoons I found it much to dry to put on a cake, so I added about another 6 tablespoons of milk so it was more smooth (still think).
    I’m not sure how only 4 tablespoons worked for you, I’d like to know. But I’m surely making this again (with the extra milk, too).
    Thank you so much for the recipe!

    1. Paris

      I forgot to mention that I had a similar experience. I used 1/2 cup less sugar and an extra splash of milk and it was perfect for us.

  6. Stacey Lokovic

    5 stars
    This was really yummy! I added just a little shortening hoping it would not melt sitting out. (Time will tell since they are out waiting for tonight’s dessert.) But this was really yummy and I scraped the bowl clean. 😉 THanks!

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  8. AndreAnne

    Yum! I just tried it (half recipe though). I was surprised how dry the (butter + cocoa powder + vanilla + powdered sugar) mix was/looked… until I added the milk. I thought I might have done something wrong. Thanks for the recipe!

  9. Natalie

    Love, Love, Love this Lauren! This is my first time to your site (popped up while Google – ing). I will def be back for more great suggestions and recipes! Thanks!!!

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    […] and I’m going to try making it again in the future. In the meantime I settled on using this chocolate frosting recipe I found online. It went well with the cupcakes but when I make it next time I’ll probably put […]

  11. Bridget

    5 stars
    Thank you for this wonderful recipe! My poor sick husband requested frosted brownies for dessert tonight, and I often use a boxed chocolate frosting mix from Trader Joe’s. My mix was expired, and they really aren’t kidding about that expiration date because the completed frosting was vile. Luckily I found your recipe and had all of the ingredients on hand. I made a half batch and it was enough for an 8×8 pan of brownies with about 1/2 a cup extra. And this frosting is about a million times better than the mix!

  12. Scarlet of Family Focus Blog

    Sounds great. I’ll be making this tonight to go with the strawberry cake my son requested for his birthday!

  13. Ashley

    5 stars
    I found your recipe by searching for cake icing on google – it’s AWESOME!!! I’m using it every time I need chocolate icing on…..ANYTHING!!! lol

  14. cathy

    5 stars
    thank you so much for this recipe. Totally helped a pregnancy craving be fulfilled! I’m going to use this recipe from here on out 🙂

  15. Monica

    5 stars
    WOW!! I just made this frosting for my chocoholic husband’s birthday! I normally can pass on buttercream frosting but this is the BEST frosting I have ever had! And so easy! I will definitely be keeping this in the recipe file thank you!

  16. Lainey

    5 stars
    I found your recipe through a random internet search for “easy chocolate frosting” and wow, you don’t mess around! This frosting was so easy that even a non-chef like myself couldn’t mess it up and then, on top of that, it was surprisingly delicious. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    -Lainey

  17. Brianna Smith

    This seriously sounds so good! I can’t wait to try it. My boyfriend’s birthday is coming up in June, and he LOVES chocolate. Thanks for the recipe!

  18. Zoe Lee

    Instead of using butter and milk, i switched it to vegan margarine and soy milk, and I’ve got to say this is the BEST chocolate frosting I’ve ever tried! It’s absolutely delicious and super light and fluffy! Thank you so much for posting this!

  19. Ani

    Hi, thanks for the recipie definitly easy to make.. but i have a few questions.. cause it didnt turn out as delicious as I thought it would be.

    1. When you say vanila, u mean vanila essense? – Because that is what i used.
    2. Powdered Sugar – do u mean icing sugar or regualr powdered sugar? – cause I used regular.
    3. Also, I halved all the ingrediants.

    The problem with the icing i made was – it wasn’t as fluffy and the minute i put it on the cake the ingredients started seperating out.

    Would appreciate if you could shed some light on what i did wrong.

    Thanks for sharing.

  20. Cynthia

    I need help making it so fluffy! I am in Ukraine volunteering, so I don’t know if I’ll make it to getting a whisk 🙂

    It tastes pretty good though!

  21. Karen

    5 stars
    This was such a great find. It was good on the cupcakes that I made, but just grabbing a spoon and doing quality control on it was so good, too! The ladies at work were all asking for my recipe after just a bite or two!

  22. P Hall

    Great frosting — but far too much for two dozen cupcakes. I have almost half the batch in my freezer. But that’s OK. I’ll use it for another cake soon.

  23. Sophia Hussain

    How long can the cupcakes be frosted and at room temp. I’d like to frost a day before, but don’t have room in my fridge.

    1. Lauren

      I think 24 hours should be fine as long as they are at 70 degrees. A cake stand with a dome would be perfect! The outside of the frosting will dry out a little but the inside should still be fine.

  24. Heather

    I’m new to baking and I know some batters differ from others. So I was wondering how long you would cook this for in a cake form?? dumb question sry

  25. Arlette

    5 stars
    I literally could smell the frosting!! lol. I’m looking for one for my husband’s B-day cake too…I may just try it! Thanks! Arlette

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  27. Jennifer Waite

    5 stars
    This was amazing. So fluffy and not overly sweet. I used whipping cream instead of milk because I had it. I also add 2 tsp or capfuls of Kaluah for added depth. My husband loved the texture and that is very hard to do! Thanks for posting this recipe.

  28. Carol KileI'll

    What if I wanted to double this recipe ? Is there anything that I would do different ? Or just double it ? Thank you so much ! I’m making this today. Can’t wait !

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  30. Kimberly Hunt

    I just made this icing recipe for the first time. It was INCREDIBLE!!! Thank you for sharing. It will be a staple for me now.

  31. Jeanine marcucci

    Excellent buttercream. Only had few minutes to literally whip together chocolate frosting for vanilla cupcakes hubby took for buddy football game party. Halved recipe which worked out beautifully. Used combo milk and heavy cream and added espresso powder. Awesome consistency and taste. Hint: use really good cocoa powder and a stand mixer with whisk attachment. First recipe from this site. Will be back!

  32. Anna Marie

    5 stars
    I just made this for the first time & it was INCREDIBLY easy! It took me less than 10 minutes to get this made & to ice the cake. It is delicious! I will definitely make this my go-to recipe for chocolate icing.

  33. Cheryl

    4 stars
    I made this and it was good, but I doubled the amount of cocoa powder and then I dumped in extra for good measure. More chocolate=better icing.