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Easy Chocolate Frosting Recipe

4.78 from 214 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!

4.78 from 214 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


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


  • 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.


  • 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: 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

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Recipe Rating

608 Responses
  1. xtina

    Thanks again for the recipe! How far in advance can I frost cupcakes with this recipe? Do they need to be stored in the fridge? I’m thinking of frosting the night before a party but still unsure! I’m new to baking! Thanks 🙂

  2. t edwards

    Icing from the supermarket tastes like it’s made with petroleum by-products, so I use my Mom’s recipe that I grew up with and matches this one.Wonderful!!!!!!

  3. Jenny

    Just made this for my son’s 4th birthday. I halved the recipe, and used it to frost 2 stacked 9 inch round cakes. Perfect amount of frosting and so delicious! Thanks for sharing a recipe that calls for pantry and fridge staples!

  4. Pamela Pace

    Made this icing, and was better at 3 to 3-1/2 cups of confectioners sugar. I added the milk alternately with the confectioners sugar, and it whip very nicely together. Great taste and consistency.

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  7. LG

    Will this frosting hold a layered cake well between the layers? Like I’ve noticed with some icings as soon as the cake comes to room temperature, the icing doesn’t hold any more and becomes too soft.

  8. Danielle

    Does this refridgerate well? I mean would I be able to make it the night before and frost my cupcakes the next day?

  9. Alanna

    I just made this icing using Earth Balance dairy free butter to go on a homemade gluten and dairy free cake for my husband. It is smooth, creamy, and SO delicious. I am never using store-bought icing again. Thanks so much for sharing! Those of us with food allergies rarely get such a treat.

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    1. Sherri Harnock

      I made this tonight. Had to add double the milk to make it spreadable but it tasted good. I also only put 4 cups of sugar in. I like it a little less sweet. But I would make it again! I used it to ice a double layer banana cream cake.

  12. Kimberly

    5 stars
    I’m not sure it was necessary but I added 4 squares (4 oz) of semi-sweet chocolate (melted) that I had on hand and a bit more vanilla and I have to say this is the best chocolate frosting I’ve ever tasted! It has a hot chocolate kind of flavor. It’s amazing! It’s going in my coveted write-in cookbook. Thanks Lauren!

  13. Kristen

    Made this tonight. Tastes amazing! Just like fudge. However, could NOT get it to thin out at all, even increased milk a little. I have to struggle to frost the cake by putting thick clumps on it. Any ideas what I did wrong?

    1. Lauren

      You probably didn’t do anything wrong! I would have added in a splash more milk to make the consistency what you want it. Should be light and fluffy 🙂

  14. Pahlavi

    5 stars
    I’m Married 25 years to my high school sweetheart and watching football and making a pot roast. I decided to make a quick cake and had no icing. Searched on the web and found yours. It truly was to topping on the cake… Delish. Thanks for an easy recipe.

  15. Michelle

    5 stars
    Thank you for this recipe. I needed to make frosting quickly to celebrate 2 birthdays in which I made cupcakes for. Like many others, I googled “easy chocolate frosting” and chose your recipe. It was a winner. Easy and fast to prepare, and it was delicious and enjoyed by all. Thanks again!

  16. Angela

    5 stars
    Hi Lauren! We loved the frosting and used it for my daughter’s 4th birthday cake! I wrote about it on my new blog and provided a link to your site/the recipe. Thank you for helping to make a birthday girl happy.

  17. Petula Bert

    I made the frosting, yesterday, to frost a three layer cake – 8 inch layers – plenty to cover and fill. Thanks for the recipe.

    I’d like to ask that you kill the pop-up ads that deceive us into thinking that we are clicking on something related to the recipe and instead a mcdonalds and lactaid ads pop up. Example from you post – the words 5 ingredients and chocolate frosting : “Mmmm…..and there are only 5 ingredients needed! Seriously! Take a peek a the recipe below!” & “Then I made you a chocolate cake and slathered the whole thing with chocolate frosting and angels sang praises.” I understand the need for revenue from ads along the side, but the misleading pop-ups are distracting and detract from your page. Thanks for the recipe and for listening to the concern.

    1. Lauren

      There shouldn’t be any pop-up ads on my site if visiting from a computer. Are you on a mobile device {phone, iPad, etc.}? I’m trying to figure out how to get rid of those ads cause I know how annoying they are. Sorry they’re so hard to deal with 🙁

  18. Heather O

    5 stars
    I was looking for a great chocolate frosting recipe and this was it! Made it for my fiance’s birthday cake and though he said it was overly sweet but amazing. I knew I had saved it, but couldn’t find it anywhere on my computer, but couldn’t find it when I needed it today. Luckily I just searched Chocolate Frosting and YOU WERE IN THE TOP 3 RESULTS!!! I was so excited that it was so easy to find again. Will be using it in cake balls!! Thanks for sharing this wonderful chocolaty delight with the world!

  19. April

    I found this frosting to be disappointing very gritty and sweet, I added whipped cream to it, to lighten it up made it somewhat better:(

  20. Maheen

    I tried the recipe and the cake and frosting was delicious! However, my cake fell from the centre when I took it out of the oven. Also, it was not poked all the way through. Any suggestions??

  21. Rashana

    I made this frosting yesterday for chocolate cupcakes and it was delicious. I used half of the sugar in the recipe and it was perfect for us!

  22. Ananta

    Thanks a lot for the recipe. It tastes fantastic! The only problem I faced is that it was a bit grainy. Should I use icing sugar the next time?

  23. Rachel

    This recipe looks so good! I plan on using it for a Christmas present. I have a concern though, because of the milk, does this frosting need to be refrigerated even after its on the pastry?? HELP PLEASE!

  24. Charlotte D.

    5 stars
    Hi Lauren! Thanks for this recipe! It worked out great for me – simply wonderful. How would you modify to make vanilla frosting? Thanks – I’ll try some experimenting.

  25. Heather

    5 stars
    LOVE LOVE your frosting!! I have had a lot of bad experiences with frosting in the past and to be honest I never thought I would get it “right” I just made this recipe for my two younger daughter’s thanksgiving turkey cupcakes for school and it was amazing!

  26. Katie Martin

    Hey. I saw this and was like oooh yum! 🙂 can you use margarine or does it have to be the salted butter? if so, what’s the exchange thing? or could I use the same amount? 🙂

    1. Lauren

      Margarine would change the flavor, so I wouldn’t recommend using it. Unsalted butter will work well too, or even half butter half coconut oil.

  27. Peronah

    Today I decided to make cupcakes and I could swear I had frosting, but I didnt have any. I thought, sure I can go to tthestore wait in line go out in the cold….idts( I don’t think so) then I was like eh what the heck im gonna try my hand at homemade iceing. This is what I love so cross ur fingers ladies…im gonna do it!
    Oh, and might I remind u I have never made this before except once before but it doesn’t count because it was a disaster!

  28. Martha

    Just made this for a last minute holiday party dessert and love it! Substituted cream bouquet flavor (slightly citrusy) to make it chocolate orange frosting.

  29. Kelsey Jones

    Hi Lauren! This was a great recipe!! One of the best I have ever had!! Just wondering how well does it last over night?? I have a party tomorrow and I want to make the frosting tonight and frost the cake too. Will it turn hard over night or will it be ok??

  30. Kim

    I just made your frosting and it taste more like powdered sugar than anything, is there something I done wrong or something i can add to it maybe? I did exactly as the recipe said

    1. Steph

      2 stars
      Definitely didn’t taste right more sweet and powdered sugar tasting fixed it by melting about a half cup of chocolate chips with a little bit of milk and mixing that in.

      1. Liam

        Notice that the only comments that got a response were positive? I’m calling you out Lauren!

        If that even is your real name… lies from a liar

        1. Lauren

          Hello Liam,

          Thanks for the comment! I get over 500 comments a week on my blog and sometimes its hard to keep up. I try to reply to as many as I can but when people say “It didn’t work..tell me why!” I usually don’t know how to respond because I don’t know why…especially when this recipe has such high ratings from over 100 people. Could be ingredients, could be technique, could be incompetence. Who knows. I do my best to provide amazing recipes so people have success in the kitchen and hope the trolls don’t come after me with knives and pitch forks because I didn’t reply to one bad comment.

          Hope you have a great day!

          Lauren (which is my real name)

          1. Kelly

            5 stars
            So awesome! Your comment and your recipe! The best part about this recipe is it tastes like chocolate frosting!!

  31. Who Dat Nation

    5 stars
    Super SINFULLY chocolate frosting. Milk is definitely needed if you eat the whole batch with a spoon! Terrific birthday cupcakes for MY husband, too.

  32. Who Dat Nation

    I made the frosting and you are SO right about eating one batch with a spoon! Milk needed if you do, but it is SINFULLY chocolate. MY husband was a lucky dude this birthday

  33. Riddhi

    Hey Lauren!
    Thanks for sharing this recipe. . It looks yum! 🙂
    I was wondering if I could blend it without a mixer; I actually don’t have one! 🙁
    Is it possible?

    1. Lauren

      Do you have a food processor, hand mixer or stand mixer? It’s much easier getting it light and fluffy using a machine versus by hand. If you don’t have ANYTHING, then mix everything together as best as you can slowly being sure to get any and all lumps out. Using really soft butter will help! And once everything is incorporated, then you can go crazy with the mixing and whipping to get it light and fluffy!

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  35. Rebecca

    Just made this and found it to be overly sweet and severely lacking in chocolate flavor. Doubled the cocoa powder and the taste still wasn’t what I was looking for.

    I’m disappointed because I had been looking forward to trying this recipe for weeks and the comments from people who have made the recipe have been positive.

    1. Marie

      I should’ve read your comment first before making it.
      I found myself in the same situation.
      Had to add a lot more soft butter.