Dark Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Recipe

This Dark Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Recipe is one wonderful frosting perfect for many baked goods, especially cake!

When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better in my personal opinion. Recently I made Dark Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cake that just screamed to be topped with a decadent Dark Chocolate Buttercream. I immediately remembered that unforgettable buttercream atop a cupcake I enjoyed at Magnolia Bakery in Chicago a couple of years ago. I tried the vanilla and the chocolate. Oh my word. Talk about decadent.

chocolate buttercream recipe

Since then, that Magnolia Bakery cupcake has become my measure for all other cupcakes, mostly because of the buttercream: light and fluffy and smooth. A buttercream worth the calories. I always think if you’re going to eat sweets, make it worth it. Eat the real stuff—not all of the time, of course, but in moderation. I really have found that once I learned what real fantastic food tastes like, especially when it comes to treats, I can easily pass on the fake, over-processed stuff. So I say, make it, don’t fake it. And when it comes to buttercream, it’s easy to make so there’s no need to fake.

This Dark Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Recipe is truly bad to the bone, but totally real. Really. See for yourself how a fantastic buttercream can take a cake to the next level.

how to make buttercream

A few notes:

– An electric mixer is really a must for a smooth and fluffy buttercream. It doesn’t have to be a fancy stand mixer, but definitely use an electric mixer over trying to make it by mixing by hand.

– If making ahead and refrigerating, cover tightly with plastic wrap touching frosting. Remove from refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature. Re-whip, adding more milk if needed to achieve smoothness and spreadability.

– To make this Dark Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Recipe even darker, you’ll see I added some 100% dark cocoa powder. Hershey’s Special Dark 100% cacao is my favorite because I can find it stocked in just about most grocery stores.

– I know if I said “scrape down sides” once I said it ten times in the recipe below. It really makes a difference in the overall smoothness. Really. Take the time. No hurry, right. We’re making buttercream dreams come true. And that’s not something that needs to be rushed.

– The times stated for beating are based on a heavy-duty stand mixer on low-medium speeds. Depending on your mixer, you may need to adjust your beating times. Basically look for (a taste test) smoother and fluffier textures at each stage. It won’t hurt to beat it a tad longer than you think is necessary.

– The recipe below covers a 3 layer 9-inch round cake with a fairly light frosting applied with plenty leftover if wanting thicker layers of frosting.

dark chocolate buttercream recipe

Dark Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Recipe
A decadent dark chocolate frosting great for any cake.
Recipe type: Dessert
  • 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (chips are fine too!)
  • 3 tablespoons dark cocoa powder (like Hershey's Special Dark 100% cacao)
  • 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened (not melted, just soft, like a slightly ripe peach)
  • 4+ tablespoons whole milk, divided
  • 1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups sifted confectioners powdered sugar (10x)
  1. Melt chocolate according to package instructions. Once melted remove from heat, add dark cocoa powder one tablespoon at a time, mixing well until totally smooth after each addition. Set aside to cool slightly to lukewarm.
  2. Beat the butter at medium in a large mixing bowl for about 3 minutes, until creamy. Take time to scrape down sides of bowl and beater a few times.
  3. Slowly add 4 tablespoons of milk and continue to beat until smooth.
  4. Turn off mixer to add melted chocolate, beat well for 2 minutes. Turn off mixer, scrape down sides and beater.
  5. Add vanilla, beat for 3 minutes. Turn off mixer, scrape down sides and beater.
  6. Add powdered sugar about a half cup at a time, once all sugar has been added, scrape down sides and beater one more time. Beat on low until creamy, or to preference.
  7. If needed to adjust consistency, add either more milk or more sugar a smidge at a time.
If making ahead and refrigerating, cover tightly with plastic wrap touching frosting. Remove from refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature. Re-whip, adding more milk if needed to achieve smoothness and spreadability.

Inspired by the buttercream frosting recipe from Magnolia Bakery.


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  1. 1


    This is heavenly, Amy! Who even needs the cake! Ok, well I do love cake, but this frosting could totally be eaten with a spoon!

  2. 2

    Abbie @ Needs Salt says

    This frosting looks just awesome. I think it would be pretty dangerous to leave me alone with a bowl of this and a spoon.

  3. 4

    yani says

    3 cups sifted confectioners powdered sugar (10x), what does the (10x) stands for please & thank you.

    • 5


      10x, when speaking of sugar, refers to the number of times it is processed to make a very fine powdered texture. 10x is not listed on some packages of confectioners sugar, so don’t worry about that. I added that for those that are used to purchasing confectioners sugar that way. A very fine confectioners/powdered sugar should work.

      • 6

        Shannon says

        Oh dear. I thought it meant to sift it 10 times… I made a lot of extra work for myself! It is delish though!

  4. 8


    I don’t think I will ever get tired of looking at pictures of frosting – especially dark chocolate.

  5. 9

    Erika says

    Instead of semi-sweet chocolate chips/chunks, could they be substituted with dark chocolate chunks/chips and omit the dark cocoa powder?

  6. 11

    Karishma Ahmed says

    hey! what percentage of chocolate should semi-sweet chocolate contain? will 50% do? and can cocoa powder be used instead or dark cocoa?

    • 12


      Yes, 50% will be fine. You may use regular cocoa powder, but it may not be considered a dark chocolate buttercream depending on the type of cocoa powder. But it will still be mighty tasty!

  7. 13

    Deanne says

    I HATE butter cream frosting. I’m a lover of whipped cream and cream cheese frosting & I make good frosting. BUT my closest friends love butter cream in a way that I just can’t understand. So, as a surprise for our ugly Christmas sweater party tomorrow night, I made this frosting this morning…OMG!!! I will not say how many times I snuck a spoonful throughout the morning…..this is sinfully good!!!

    So now the question I have for you is this: when I MUST make vanilla butter cream (a request I get all too often, I’m afraid), how can I use this recipe? Because I’ve made lots of vanilla butter cream recipes that are runny if you don’t add a TON of powdered sugar, which makes it sickly sweet, which is why I hate it. But this recipe is so good and the texture is so perfect. I know I can just omit all things chocolate to get the vanilla flavor, but i’m wondering what value the chocolate and cocoa add to making this texture so divine?

    Do you have any thoughts on the matter?

    Seriously, you have made me a believe that it’s possible to make good butter cream frosting. Who knew?!

    • 14


      I love your honesty! But am happy to hear you’re a fan of this buttercream. As far as making a vanilla version … hmmmm … you’re right to avoid it being overly sweet but not runny is a tough one. You could add a bit of melted white chocolate, which is essentially sweetened cocoa butter, so it wouldn’t be truly just vanilla but it would be white and should help the texture firm up a bit. I really should play with a vanilla version sometime soon.

  8. 15

    Anu says

    Hi! This recipe looks amazing and I’m planning on using it this Valentine’s day. Two questions though –
    1. Is it ok if I use granulated sugar that I’ve powdered? Or do I need icing sugar (which contains corn starch)? Will this affect the consistency of the frosting?
    2. Will half a batch of frosting be enough for a naked two-layer cake?


    • 16


      1) I think you’ll be fine with granulated sugar that you have powdered. It may need to be beaten a bit longer, but it should be fin.
      2) Do you mean to frost in between the layers and on the top? If so, yes, half should be enough.

      • 17

        Anu says

        Thanks for the prompt reply!
        Yes, that’s what I meant by ‘naked cake’ – should”email specified. Can’t wait to try this out!

  9. 18

    Kasey5 says

    I know this post is a little old, but I’m wondering how well this would freeze? My sister wants an ice cream cake for her birthday and this frosting sounds perfect. Hope to hear from you!

    • 19


      Buttercream frosting freezes well, but I’m not 100% sure how it would be on an ice cream cake as the frosting will be pretty firm when served right out of the freezer. Let me know how it goes!

  10. 20

    Melissa says

    This is honestly the BEST chocolate buttercream I’ve ever made. I will never need another chocolate frosting recipe, this one is IT! Thank you!

  11. 22

    MARIAH says

    This is, by far, the best chocolate frosting recipe I have ever made. I added about a cup extra of the confectioner’s sugar to thicken it up, and it was AMAZING. 5 stars. I 100% recommend.

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