Rich Chocolate Buttercream

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This rich and creamy chocolate buttercream tastes like a chocolate bar in frosting form.

Cake coasted in rich chocolate buttercream.

Photo by Alexandra Grablewski (Chronicle Books, 2018)

Adapted from Cooks Illustrated, this rich and creamy chocolate buttercream tastes like a chocolate bar in frosting form. Unlike most chocolate buttercreams, it’s made with real chocolate in addition to cocoa powder, which makes all the difference in flavor. Not only is the recipe quick and easy but it’s also foolproof – a welcome change from most homemade chocolate buttercreams, which are temperamental. Using a food processor ensures that the buttercream turns out smooth, creamy, and glossy. If you don’t have one, an electric mixer will work too, but you’ll need to sift the cocoa powder before adding it to prevent lumps and allow a little extra time for mixing at every step. The recipe makes about 3 cups, which is enough for 24 cupcakes, one 8 or 9-inch layer cake, or one 9×13 sheet cake.

What You’ll Need To Make Rich Chocolate Buttercream
chocolate buttercream ingredients

Step-by-Step Instructions

Place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Cook in the microwave in 20-second intervals, stirring in between, until about three-quarters of the way melted. Stir, allowing the residual heat in the bowl to melt the remaining chocolate completely. (If necessary, place the chocolate back in microwave for a few seconds.) Set aside to cool.

Bowl of melted chocolate.

Combine the butter, confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder and salt in the bowl of a food processor.

butter, confectioners sugar, and cocoa powder in food processor

Blitz for about 30 seconds until well combined.

butter, confectioners sugar, and cocoa powder mixture combinedAdd the corn syrup and the vanilla.

adding the corn syrup and vanilla

Process until smooth, and then add the melted chocolate.

adding the melted milk chocolate to the buttercream

Process briefly, until the frosting is creamy, silky, and shiny.

finished chocolate buttercream

Use a butter knife or small offset spatula to swirl the frosting over the top of the cake or cupcakes.

Knife on a bowl of rich chocolate buttercream.

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Rich Chocolate Buttercream

This rich and creamy chocolate buttercream tastes like a chocolate bar in frosting form.

Servings: 3 cups
Total Time: 15 Minutes


  • 8 ounces semi-sweet or milk chocolate melting wafers (or bars, broken into small pieces) (see note)
  • 2½ sticks (20 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened but still cool
  • 1¼ cups confectioners' sugar
  • ½ cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder, such as Hershey’s
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and cook in the microwave in 20-second intervals, stirring in between, until it's about three-quarters of the way melted. Stir, allowing the residual heat in the bowl to melt the remaining chocolate completely. (If necessary, place the chocolate back in microwave for a few seconds.) Set aside to cool.
  2. In a food processor, process the butter, confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder and salt until smooth, about 30 seconds, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the corn syrup and vanilla and process until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the lukewarm melted chocolate and pulse until smooth and creamy, 10 to 15 seconds. Do not overmix.
  3. The frosting can be used immediately or held at room temperature for 3 to 4 hours. It may lose its shine as it sits—to bring the shine back, run a metal spoon under hot water, then wipe dry with a towel; stir the frosting with the hot spoon and it should shine right up.
  4. Note: If frosting a vanilla/yellow cake, milk chocolate is recommended for a creamier, smoother chocolate flavor. If frosting a chocolate cake, semi-sweet, milk chocolate, or a combination will work well.

Nutrition Information

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  • Per serving (24 servings)
  • Calories: 189
  • Fat: 12 g
  • Saturated fat: 7 g
  • Carbohydrates: 22 g
  • Sugar: 14 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Protein: 1 g
  • Sodium: 49 mg
  • Cholesterol: 25 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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  • This is possibly my favorite frosting ever. I have to fight my family off to keep them from eating it all with a spoon before I get the cake frosted. FYI, after making the frosting recipe multiple times with a food processor, I somehow managed to crack my food processor bowl so had to make the frosting with my stand mixer, using the flat beater/paddle, and can report that it worked fine. I just had to beat the butter, confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder and salt mixture *very slowly* at first so that the sugar and cocoa didn’t fly everywhere.

    • — M on November 10, 2023
    • Reply
  • I don’t know why but I have always been intimidated by making my own frosting. Thanks to Jenn’s clear instructions I have now made my own frosting. With a little time you can have better than store bought frosting. I had more than enough to frost my cake and put a dollop of frosting on some mini bundt cakes and cupcakes that I made. Wonderful taste and silky texture.

    • — Gina G on October 4, 2023
    • Reply
  • I’ve just filled and dressed my son’s birthday cake with this cream and it’s so easy to make and so so yummy!!
    Thank you so much for the recipe!

    • — ildi on September 16, 2023
    • Reply
  • Question: if I make the cake the day before does it need to be refrigerated on account of the frosting?

    • — Jodi Chen on June 23, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Jodi, It’s fine to let it sit covered at room temperature.

      • — Jenn on June 26, 2023
      • Reply
  • I love your recipes , Jenn, but I refuse to consume corn syrup any more. It is one of the worst things you can put in your body. I’d love to see you develop a chocolate frosting recipe without it.

    • — Mary on April 16, 2023
    • Reply
    • I agree! Yes, please!

      • — Charlene on September 21, 2023
      • Reply
  • I see someone commented that the frosting is runny. I didn’t have that experience at all. I’ve used this same frosting Jenn’s Chocolate Lover’s Chocolate Cake (I have chocolate lovers in my house!) and have had perfect results each time. It’s rich, creamy, and totally divine — I will keep using it!

    • — Charlotte on August 20, 2022
    • Reply
  • The recipe makes a great amount. The amount of butter is a lot and the end product taste just like runny butter not in a good way. I ended up adding another half cup of chocolate and almost another full cup of confectioners sugar. It tasted much better after that and it thickened it up a bit so if I were to ice a cake, it would work better.

    • — Monique on August 19, 2022
    • Reply
  • Hi! I’m planning to make this to top your yellow layer cake for a family birthday. Do you recommend using milk chocolate for the yellow cake like you do for the Chocolate Lover’s Birthday Cake? Even a couple of the adults aren’t huge chocolate fans, although the “birthday boy” has requested chocolate.

    • Hi Carol, I’d definitely go with the milk chocolate. Hope everyone enjoys!

  • Hi! I really want to try this recipe, it looks great! But, as I only have 70% Cacao Dark Chocolate, can I use that instead of the chocolate used in the recipe? And if I don’t have a food processor/electric mixer, would a blender work too? Thank you so much! I’m going to use this as the buttercream for a marble cake (from your website as well!).

    • Yes, 70% cacao dark chocolate should be fine here. And if you have a very powerful blender like a Vitamix, it may work but I can’t say for sure as I’ve never tried it. Good luck!

      • Thank you so much! I really appreciate it! I will update you if it does work 😄

  • The cake is fabulous. The icing is a runny mess. I don’t know whether to add more powdered sugar or what. I have never had icing turn out like this.

    • — Brenda Nunnery
    • Reply
    • Hi Brenda, I’m sorry you had a problem with the frosting! It’s a bit of a head-scratcher as I have this frosting recipe in two other recipes on the blog (the Chocolate Lover’s Birthday Cake and Chocolate Cupcakes) and haven’t gotten that feedback. Is there any chance at all you may have made a measuring error? Regardless, I’m sorry it was a fail for you!

    • Mine was runny too, but you have to remember the chocolate added is luke warm. I needed mine thick enough to pipe cupcakes so I added 1/2 cup powdered sugar & 2 tablespoons meringue powder then chilled in the fridge for 30 minutes. Turned out perfect. Quality products make a huge difference. I used Mercken’s melting chocolate & Hershey’s cocoa powder. This will be my go to chocolate buttercream from now on. I made Black Forest cupcakes, yum! Thank you, Jenn for another wonderful recipe!

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