Classic Chocolate Buttercream



2 sticks (226g) unsalted butter, softened    (do not soften butter in the microwave)

6 c. confectioners sugar (icing sugar)  (796 grams) ** For cupcakes, I like to use 5 c. (675g) for a softer frosting

1 c. cocoa, sifted  (86 grams) measure then sift

1/3 c. milk  (75 grams)

2 teaspoons vanilla  (8 grams)

Add butter and  beat for approxiamtely 1 min. on medium speed.  Add vanilla and blend into the butter.  Add powdered sugar and cocoa powder.  Add most of the milk.  Begin beating at low speed so you won’t have a cloud of powdered sugar in your kitchen.  Beat at medium speed 1 minute.  Reduce speed to low and  beat an additional two to three minutes, adding remaining milk as needed.

This is my favorite chocolate frosting!  Recipe can easily be doubled or halved.

This recipe makes approximately 4 cups of frosting.


**Pictured is our chocolate buttercream frosting which I combed around the sides and ruffled the top with a Wilton 104 tip.  The cake is our “Classic Chocolate Cake”, a scratch recipe in our Recipes section.

Category: Frostings and Glazes, Recipes


  1. Nisreen Naser says: #1

    Hi Melissa
    With the butter when you say stick is it the 200g or 125g. Thanks

  2. BeBe says: #2

    Hi Nisreen, 1 stick of butter is 113 g,

  3. shayla says: #3

    Is this a crusting buttercream?

  4. BeBe says: #4

    Yes, it is a crusting buttercream

  5. Nisreen Naser says: #5

    Thank you BeBe!

  6. Irenegalizia says: #6

    do you know how many cups I would need for a full sheet cake ..thank you for your help ….Irene

  7. marenda says: #7

    Does this freeze well?

  8. Melissa Diamond says: #8

    Hi Irene–I’m sorry, you can click on the “Helpful Links” section in the right side bar and pull up Wilton’s charts. They include approx. amounts for various cake sizes. We always have a stockpile of icing and so it’s hard for me to say–I would just use their estimate as a jumping off point.

    Marenda—yes, it freezes very well in an airtight container :0)!

  9. Sadia Wasim says: #9

    Is it one cup cocoa as it is not equal to 2 1/2 oz. It should be 8 oz. Am i confused or what?

  10. Melissa Diamond says: #10

    Hi Sadia–1 cup= 8oz. for liquid measurements. However, when going by weight of dry ingredients, 8 oz= 2 .5 oz (72 grams).

  11. Jayne King says: #11

    Thx for clarifying. Living in Canada, I’m still getting used to the metric system, and my conversion rates are a bit off at times.

  12. toostieroll69 says: #12

    can you tell me what am doing wrong with this buttercream. i have mAde it twice and it still come out so thick and dry not even spreadable. also can i ask what is the easiest way to spell out happy birthday on 12 cup cakes. thank you.

  13. BeBe says: #13

    Hi tootsieroll :0) — Just add some more milk if it seems too thick (just a little at a time) until you get a more workable consistency. Also, just in case this applies to you…when you measure out your powdered sugar, just spoon it into the measuring cup (rather than scooping it) — this will give you a more accurate measurement.

    As for spelling out happy birthday onto 12 cupcakes, any chance that you can bump it to 13 or 14? That way you could write a letter on each cupcake. — If working with 12, you could still probably make this work- you would just need to adjust the spacing of the letters. Another idea is to group them tightly together and frost them all as one surface as a “cupcake cake” and write happy birthday on top. :0)

  14. lacibeles says: #14

    I used this buttercream recipe today. It was absolutely delicious!!!!
    Thank you so much!

  15. Melissa Diamond says: #15

    So glad that you like it!! ;0)

  16. Cindy Christensen says: #16

    Used this on my gluten-free vanilla cake for a customer! They loved it and I thought it tasted amazing! had to use a lot more milk that it asked for though

  17. anna- maria diaz says: #17

    hi could you please help me by telling me what can i do to unstiff my chocolate buttercream?It doesn’t come out fluffy as it should or as i see it on video .Do i have to add more milk ?and how many gr. exactely are 6 cups sugar please?

  18. Melissa Diamond says: #18

    Hi Anna-Maria—Yes, just add a little bit more milk at a time until you get the desired consistency.

    I used the link below to tell me that 6 cups powdered sugar= 750 grams

    — You can also find this conversion website in our “Member Resources” section under “Helpful Links”

    link to

  19. anna- maria diaz says: #19

    thank’s Melissa for you answer could you also please clarify me why buttercream some times come out fine and other it’s a complet failure? I spended 3 hours yesterday making a bunch of chocolate buttercream and it when stiff I had to threw it away ,I can not use it .I added milk but no great difference .
    Could it be because the weather is a bit cold ? could it be because i beat it in the mixer for a long time? does it get stiffer if you beat it more than 5 minutes . What are the causes that can make a buttercream turn wrong ?
    Thanks anyway for your help .

  20. anna- maria diaz says: #20

    Sorry to insist Melissa for an answer but i have to prepare 200 cupcakes for a christening and it seems i can not get control of my buttercream

  21. BeBe says: #21

    Hi Anna- Maria, sorry for the delay but we were asleep when your question came in. We are on the east coast of the US.

    The weather being a bit cold should not have made your buttercream too stiff to use, also I always beat mine 6 to 8 minutes so that is not the problem.

    Possibly some brands of cocoa powder might need more milk added. I can’t think of a reason why adding more milk would not not solve the problelm……just keep adding milk 1 tablespoon at a time until you get the consistency you need. If your buttercream has the look of popped bubbles, it needs more milk and that will disappear. If your butter is softened and the milk is added as needed, I can’t think of what would make it too stiff to use. Let us know…….because you should not be having this problem.

  22. anna- maria diaz says: #22

    No problem I can understand the reason of your delay I new the problem with the difference of hours . I just started all over again this morning by making my buttercream with 180gr of butter and 50 gr of Crisco instead of doing the hole bunch with fresh butter . I also used a bit less sugar and it came out much smoother. I hope I will have no problem piping it on my cupcakes.
    Any way thank’s so much for your concern both of you . I will send you the photos when they will be ready

  23. laurenh1204 says: #23

    Made this tonight and it is absolutely delicious! It was the perfect ratio of chocolate and sweetness.

  24. loida says: #24

    Hi melissa

    I’m jz a newby in cake decorating even in baking ..can I used salted butter instead of unsalted? Would the result be the same? Here in our area , unsalted butter is expensive than salted one..tnx in advance!more power!

  25. Melissa Diamond says: #25

    Hi Loida, yes, you can use unsalted butter and get a good result. The buttercream will be a little less sweet but many people look at that as a plus.

  26. Nicole Smith says: #26

    I just made this and I literally licked the bowl clean. What diet?! This is a
    great recipe!

  27. yessenia benavides says: #27

    Hello! Will this recipe work well with the viva or roller method to smooth out the frosting?

  28. BeBe says: #28

    Hi Yessenia, yes, it works well with both viva and roller method

  29. Ursela Sultan says: #29

    I have made the chocolate version before and it’s fab! but just now I added like 4-5 (didn’t really count! ) TBS of instant coffee to my milk and added to the mixture and it’s just divine mocha buttercream. oh and I changed coco amount to like half ( didn’t really measure!) I will be using it in WASC mocha cake with chopped heath bars in between…mmmmm heaven!

  30. BeBe says: #30

    Hi Ursela, thanks for the tip. Your cake sounds delicious!

  31. Heather Peterson says: #31

    Hi! Love your website!!
    I just tried this recipe last night, and while it was DELISH, it came out very gritty..hmm.. not sure what happened. I halved the recipe just because i didn’t want to make too much the first time. I used Ghiradelli cocoa, and can’t think of any other reason it was so gritty. Do you know what I could be doing wrong?

  32. BeBe says: #32

    Hi Heather, did you soften your butter in the microwave? That can cause your buttercream to be gritty. If that is not the case, some members have said that changing brands of confectioners sugar solved their problem. Hope this helps.

  33. sally baxby says: #33

    hi when you put powdered sugar is this icing sugar or ordinary sugar?
    cheers x

  34. BeBe says: #34

    Hi Sally, it would be icing sugar

  35. Gracie Garza says: #35

    Is this 1 cup of cocoa before or after sifting or does it matter?

  36. BeBe says: #36

    Hi Gracie, I measure the 1 cup of cocoa and then sift. I added that to the recipe in case someone else had this question.

  37. jan dunlevy says: #37

    I have made this once before and it was awesome. I need to make it again and the end result needs to be black icing. Would this work okay with Hershey’s dark chocolate cocoa do you think.? I really want to keep the amount of black food coloring to a minimum?

  38. BeBe says: #38

    Hi Jan, yes, I think that would be fine.

  39. KakesbyKimberly says: #39

    Does this need to be refrigerated after making or can it be kept in an airtight container in a cool place?

  40. BeBe says: #40

    Hi Kimberly, you can keep your frosted buttercream cake out for 2 days (depending on heat and humidity). Your buttercream will be good in the refrigerator 2 weeks if the expiration dates of your milk and butter are good….or you can freeze for 2 to 3 months

  41. KakesbyKimberly says: #41

    Thank you BeBe.

  42. Madri Mahtani says: #42

    Hi Bebe

    Will this frosting fare well in the summer? I have a chocolate wedding cake to do and do not want in melting on me! ~Thanks so much!

  43. BeBe says: #43

    Hi Madri, the Fluffy Chocolate Buttercream will fare better in summer heat.

  44. Elena Suarez says: #44

    Hello.. I need to make black icing tomorrow for a mickey mouse cake, quite nervous may I

    Anyway, how many drops on black fodd coloring would I need to add to this recipe, to get a nice dark mickey mouse black color… also, some with your vanilla icing recipe, what can I do to get it a nice mickey red… please help.. thanks!!! elena

  45. Elena Suarez says: #45

    also one more question about my mickey cake i’m making.. i’m making a mickey shape face.. 2 8in round cake and one 14 in cake, any tips on how to attach the ears to the face?? thanks!

  46. BeBe says: #46

    Hi Elena, I can’t say definitely. It always takes a lot of food coloring to achieve black and the other deep colors such as red. The color will intensify as time goes by. At first your red will not look dark enough, but after several hours your color will deepen.

  47. amber rowland says: #47

    Does it matter if I use unsweetened or sweetened cocoa?

  48. BeBe says: #48

    Hi Amber, I use unsweetened cocoa powder.

  49. Anne says: #49

    Hi Melissa
    I saw in one of your blogs that you make batches of vanilla and chocolate buttercream and leave them in the freezer. Another comment says you can leave in freezer for 2 to 3 months. Are you wrapping the container in a special way? Should you thaw the buttercream in the fridge or room temperature? How long does it take to thaw out?
    Your site is fabulous!!!!!
    Thank you for your help.

  50. BeBe says: #50

    Hi Anne, Melissa and I freeze the buttercream in plastic containers. We usually let it thaw in the refrigerator but on the countertop is fine also. We never thaw it in the microwave, that could cause it to become grainy.
    After it thaws you may need to remix a bit and sometimes a small amount of milk will need to be added to get to the right consistency.

  51. Ali Colon says: #51

    Wow I did this frosting for the first time n wow omg it taste so daughter is loving it too..yum..thanks so much..

  52. Melissa Diamond says: #52

    Ali– so glad that you & your daughter like it! I love it too ;0)

  53. Cynthia Steiner says: #53

    This is the BEST chocolate frosting I’ve ever made…I only used 5 cups of powder sugar that I sifted…it’s perfect! I can’t wait until the guests eat this cake!! THANK YOU

  54. BeBe says: #54

    Hi Cynthia, I’m glad that you like it. Thanks for posting.

  55. Joan says: #55

    I made this frosting yesterday and it was very good. I did need to add a bit more milk but it tastes delish!! I weighed my dry ingredients because it’s easier and more accurate for me. It crusted enough where I could use VIVA on it and it piped borders nicely. Thanks for the recipe.

  56. BeBe says: #56

    Hi Joan, I’m happy you like the recipe. Thank you for making your post.

  57. Joelma says: #57

    Can I use this recipe under fondant?

  58. BeBe says: #58

    Hi Joelma, Yes, this can be used under fondant. After you have frosted your cake, you will want to firm up the chocolate frosting by putting it in the refrigerator approximately 10 minutes. In case you need to reposition the fondant when you are laying it on, this will make it easier to do so.

  59. Joelma says: #60

    Feedback: It worked okay, not great. I should probably have added more powedered sugar to the recipe to make the icing stiffer under the fondant. It firms up in the fridge but it softens when brought to room temp (actually 66 degrees with the AC running). I had a few bulging spots under the fondant, which was textured and painted like wood, and that helped the final look :)
    Thanks for our school. Keep up the good work. I believe I’ve been a member for almost 3 years now. Always learning from everyone on this website. I would love to see more fondant work and hand modeling tutorials for figures (people, animals) on video.

  60. Carmen Mendez says: #61

    Hi! A question from Spain! Would you recommend this frosting for your train spiral cake? In the video you mention you use your stiff buttercream, but I do not find the recipie. Thanks!/Gracias!

  61. Melissa Diamond says: #62

    Hi Carmen– Yes, it would be fine! In the train spiral cake, I may have used a stiff dam of buttercream. I used to use stiff buttercream dams often but I don’t do this anymore. (Making stiff buttercream is just a matter of stirring in enough powdered sugar until the buttercream is very thick and firm.)

    Now, rather than relying on stiff buttercream dams to prevent bulging & settling, I skip that step and just make sure to thoroughly settle my tiers before adding the final coat of frosting (or fondant). Let me know if you have any more questions!

  62. Carmen Mendez says: #63

    Thank you so much!

  63. Lenylia Haq says: #64

    Hi, would this buttercream is suitable for high temp weather?

  64. Melissa Diamond says: #65

    Hi Lenylia–I’m sorry that I missed this. This frosting as well as any other butter based frostings are going to become soft in hot conditions. Shortening based frostings don’t have as much flavor (you need to add more flavoring to compensate), but it does hold up a bit better in high temperatures.

  65. Lisa Smith says: #66


    Could you add heavy cream to this instead of milk, to make it fluffy?

    Thank you!

  66. BeBe says: #67

    Yes, you could add heavy cream instead of milk. It takes a bit longer to crust when using cream but that is no problem.

  67. Mae says: #68

    Has anyone come back to you on how long can the frosting hold in room temperature about 30degree celcius? Tropical country ….
    If I add ganache in it will it make it stand longer in room temperature?

  68. BeBe says: #69

    Hi Mae, Adding ganache will not add to the time it can be at room temperature. Depending on which ganache recipe you use, ganache will be more perishable than buttercream. We think a buttercream cake should be eaten within 3 days if it is going to be left at room temperature. If you are in high temperatures, such as 30 degrees celsius, I would be on the safe side and keep refrigerated until party time and take out an hour before serving.

  69. Vanessa Baca says: #70

    Hello, I was wondering if you sift the powder sugar? Also on your mixer do you use the paddle, dough hook or whisk, thanks for the recipe so excited to make it!

  70. BeBe says: #71

    Hi Vanessa, If it is a new bag I sometimes don’t sift, but to be on the safe side you should sift your powdered sugar. Measure the powdered sugar then sift. I use the paddle attachment to made this frosting.

  71. Karla Bertling says: #72

    What brand of cocoa powder do you use?

  72. BeBe says: #73

    Hi Karla, We use Ghirardelli unsweetened most often.

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