Easy Chocolate Frosting Recipe

4.83 from 162 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!

4.83 from 162 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
Polaroid photo of granola bars

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Recipe Rating

524 Responses
  1. Janhavi

    5 stars
    I’ve tried tons of other frostings, but I always come back to this one. This one is a real keeper, I use it on my chocolate cake for all my kids birthdays.

  2. Meredith B.

    5 stars
    Thank you for this recipe (and all the others!) I used this one for my son’s birthday cupcakes. They were absolutely delicious!

  3. Steve Noakes

    5 stars
    I can barely boil water. But I recently learned hole to mix 4 ingredients to bake chocolate cakes from a box and search the net for frosting. I found this. Simple and really good. So good that my redneck friends tease me and call me Baker Boy. And the cake disappears.

    Thanks! Great recipe.

  4. Diane

    5 stars
    This frosting is so easy and delicious!! I used cacoa organic powder and my hunby didn’t know the difference. This will be my only chocolate frosting that i will be using from now on. Thank you for this wonderful recipe.

  5. Lily

    5 stars
    This is absolutely an absolutely delicious recipe! I found, however, that it really only necessary to use two cups of powdered sugar and no milk.

  6. Heather Moore

    5 stars
    I just made this frosting and it is soooo delicious, it’s ridiculous! I cut the recipe in half, just in case I didn’t need the entire amount. However, I should have made the entire amount. I will make this frosting and never purchase grocery store frosting again, never ever EVER! Thank you Lauren, can’t wait to try some of your other recipes, especially anything with lemon!

  7. Monique curtin

    5 stars
    My son turns 40 on 4/1. His party was rescheduled till he is 40 1/2!

    We may have to shelter in place. I cannot access frosting anywhere so I googled your recipe with 5 star reviews!

    So I will pack up the ingredients and make a delicious frosting ! Thank you!

  8. Anonymous

    5 stars
    Best icing recipe I have ever tried! While stuck in the house cause of the COVID-19 outbreak, I tried to make this and turned out so great! I used this on your Chocolate cake as well which also turned out great with this icing!! Thank you!

  9. Joslyn

    5 stars
    This is so good! I’ve tried so many recipes for chocolate frosting but this is by far the best!!! It’s so delicious and is great for piping. LOVE it so much!!
    Thank you Lauren!! 😊😊😊

  10. Kathleen B

    5 stars
    This frosting is AMAZING!!I cut it in half to frost a 9×9 cake and after frosting it and licking the beater I thought “I’m a moron!: I should have made the full batch and eaten half of it!” Note to self. Thanks for sharing. It made my day!! 💕

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  12. Doug Adams, Temagami, Ontario

    5 stars
    I’m new at this baking dessert stuff since my wife passed from a long battle with cancer. I’ve always been the “meat and potatoes” cook specializing in several species of wild game meats and Marg did the desserts and now I have to do all of it. I’ve got rhubarb and apples pies down to a science from learning from my mom 60 years ago but I thought I’d try cakes for a change. The first one was dry (no icing) so I tried a again with a chocolate cake recipe from my grandmother’s old cook book. I Googled icings and your page came up and WOW is it a good one! Just one question: this icing recipe dries out or goes hard. How did my wife make hers so it stayed gooey/soft for days? You could probably reach me best through my email at [email protected] Thanks for the icing recipe.

  13. At

    3 stars
    Sorry but I’m so disappointed. This frosting was overly sweet so much so that I could barely eat it. . I should have gotten a clue with the 5 cups of powdered sugar. Needs much less powdered sugar, more milk (because was barely spreadable otherwise) and definitely more chocolate.

  14. patronus02

    2 stars
    I ended up only using 4 cups of powdered sugar because that’s all I had on hand and it was still WAY too sweet. Tasted like pure sugar and pure butter without much flavor, so I ended up adding a myriad of things to aid flavor and sweetness such as cream cheese, more vanilla, salt, and lemon juice. These definitely helped but I wouldn’t make this again. I’m sure it’s to some people’s tastes, but I prefer a frosting that has a bit more dimension.

  15. Jasmin Hastrup

    5 stars
    Love love this recipe 😋 I have never made homemade frosting it taste just like the bought one but better in my opinion 🥰 thank you so much for sharing so we can all experience the yum yums😍😍 i made this for my mothers birthday 🎂 she loved it to i do not think it was to sweet I think it was just right😉 i used unsweetened cocoa powder im not sure if that was specified i was in a rush but I could see it being to sweet if it was sweetened cocoa powder. Anyways it was perfect for me and my family thank you LAUREN!!!!!😍😍😍🤩🤩

  16. elle linden

    Hi. Is the recipe accurate? 5 cups of powdered sugar seems excessive. I added three and it was good. 5 was too much. In my opinion. I could even do four. But 5 I think was way too sweet.

  17. Addie Hall

    5 stars
    I cut this recipe in half and it turned out a-maz-ing! It has nice smooth texture and consistency and tastes absolutely delicious! I have had so much trouble with consistency with other recipes, especially cutting them in half, but not this one. Thank you so much! 5 stars!

    1. Lauren

      Yes, absolutely you can! You’ll have to adjust the milk, but its no big deal. I would measure the smaller amount of the powdered sugar into the bowl with the other ingredients and then put your mixer on low, slowly drizzling in the milk until you get the frosting to the consistency you want.

  18. Jamie

    Hi! I’m going to try this recipe tomorrow, and just wanted to make sure I understood – does this cover a two layer 9″ cake, or just a single layer? I plan to make a two-layer cake and am not sure whether I need to 1.5 or 2x this, or if it will be good as-is. I’ll be using a raspberry jam between the layers so just need enough for top and sides.

  19. Elizabeth

    5 stars
    At this very moment, there is a yellow layer cake in my refrigerator covered in this frosting, and it is delicious. (Full disclosure: I have always been a vanilla frosting person. This frosting might have changed that.)

  20. Faith

    5 stars
    Great recipe! Very sweet but very tasty with the white cake I made! May cut down the sugar or increase the cocoa next time for a little more dark chocolate flavor. Definitely saving for next time!

  21. Elaine Lopez

    5 stars
    Truly easy to make and so good! I only used 2 cups of sugar and it was already perfect. Thanks for sharing this!

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  23. Allen

    4 stars
    Awesome icing – I thing just a bit too sweet, maybe 4 cups of sugar and 1 cup of cocoa powder. But all in all a great icing especially on a chocolate cake 😋

  24. Ester

    This is the very first recipe from Pinterest that I have tried, and absolutely WORKS !!! Thanks for sharing!! Will be my go to frosting from now on !!

  25. Nicole B Sutton

    5 stars
    I just made this frosting and it is DELICIOUS! I didn’t change a thing & it came out perfect! It’s not too sweet like store bought frostings…it’s just right. I highly recommend this. Thank you, Lauren!!

  26. Peter Griggs

    4 stars
    I have more time than I usually do, because I am at home more. So I have decided to try baking cakes and pies from scratch.
    I only wish that I could make a sugar free version of this frosting. Some things taste fine with Splenda, others terrible.
    I will let you know if Splenda can be used instead.

  27. Jasmin

    3 stars
    It’s a little too sweet and too bland for me. I added a little extra cocoa then what is called for, and some salt, oh and a dash of cinnamon. That helped. (If I had cream cheese or **********, I would have been tempted to experiment with those as well.) Maybe next time. 😉 If I do, I’ll let you know how it goes!

  28. Suzanne Stewart

    5 stars
    Texture is very easy to spread and taste great!! It is very very sweet if you eat it out of the bowl. I learned a lesson about sifting today.

  29. Judy

    5 stars
    I needed a simple chocolate frosting for the cake that I made for my husbands birthday today and this frosting was perfect plus the frosting was easy to make! Today I couldn’t find the beaters for my handheld electric mixer so I had to whip up the frosting by hand and it still came out perfect! For mixing in the future I’m going to tear my kitchen apart and find my beaters because when a family member (my husband) emptied my dishwasher they weren’t put back in the right spot but once I do find them I want to make this frosting again, hopefully real soon. I saved this recipe in Pinterest so it will be easy to find when I need it. Thank you for sharing this wonderful chocolate recipe with us Pinterest fans to make!

  30. Renee

    3 stars
    Just made this frosting tonight 9/18/2020 exactly as the recipe and notes stated. Stirring this dry mess into frosting called for twice the amount of milk. It’s not anywhere near the color in the photo, more like a light brown. It was gritty until we added the extra milk. It’s very sweet but the cocoa powder taste is there. Makes your brain think, “Hmm, do I like it or not?” Leaves a butter film in your mouth. I mean, it’s chocolate buttercream. Meh.

  31. Marilyn S. Burt

    5 stars
    Excellent frosting…but I have to tell you what I did. I made this for my son who needed chocolate frosting for a cake he made his wife. I was tired, but I wanted to do this. Didn’t realize that my lemon extract bottle looked just like my vanilla extract bottle until the teaspoon had been dumped into the bowl. Oh well, I added the vanilla and just made it anyway. So I had lemon tinged chocolate frosting and it was quite tasty. Next time I might use orange extract. Mistakes are always learning experiences.

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