The Best Basic Chocolate Frosting

We’ve got lots of frosting recipes on this site (most are attached to cakes or cupcakes), but the other day someone asked me for a go-to chocolate frosting and I realized we didn’t have this one in our index.  I love chocolate, and I love fancy chocolate frostings like Swiss Meringue buttercream, Whipped Ganache, or cooked frostings.  But when it comes to just good ol’ basic, creamy, chocolate for slathering on cupcakes or cakes or sugar cookies or brownies, this is the chocolate frosting recipe I make.  Instead of cocoa powder, I use melted chocolate, which gives a much richer flavor profile and smoother texture.  Make sure to read through the tips here to get the absolute best results!

Chocolate Frosting on a Spoon

You start with a basic buttercream mixture of real butter (always real!) I always use salted butter because you need the salt to balance the sugar load but if you use unsalted that’s fine, you’ll just want to add additional salt in there.

chocolate buttercream

Then you’ll add melted chocolate.  I suggest dark chocolate or even bittersweet, because again, you’ve got plenty of sugar in there, but you can get away with semi-sweet if that’s what you’ve got.  Personally I would avoid milk chocolate.  It won’t give you as strong of a chocolate flavor and it runs the risk of being overly sweet.

Adding Melted Chocolate to Buttercream

As you whip this up it will need a little liquid.  I suggest cream for the absolute silkiest yummiest frosting.  You can use milk, but cream yields better results.  At about 2 tablespoons it will start to look great and whip up nicely.  Look at this photo- delicious, right?

Chocolate Buttercream Process

But when you get just the right amount of cream and you keep on whipping, something magic happens and it suddenly turns silky, see the difference?

Silky Chocolate Buttercream

The sugar granuals dissolve and everything comes together in this beautiful, fluffy, silky cloud of awesomeness.

Buttercream frosting

Later this week I’m going to share an easy chocolate cupcake recipe but in the mean time you can top this on just about anything.  Like have you ever had frosted graham crackers??  Make that.

Chocolate Buttercream

The Best Basic Chocolate Frosting

5 from 1 vote
Easy and amazing chocolate buttercream frosting using melted chocolate and great for cakes, cupcakes, brownies and more!


  • 3.5 oz chocolate chips, chopped chocolate bar, etc., about 1/2 cup
  • 8 tablespoons 1 stick real butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons cream more or less as needed


  • Melt chocolate in 30 second intervals in the microwave until melted and smooth.  Set aside to cool. 
  • Whip butter in a stand mixture until smooth add powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt and continue beating until smooth.  Add in melted chocolate.  Beat to combine and slowly add cream and beat until silky and smooth. 
  • Frosts 24 cupcakes normally and 12 generously (piped high). 
Author: Sara Wells
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Meet The Author

Sara Wells

Sara Wells co-founded Our Best Bites in 2008. She is the author of three Bestselling Cook Books, Best Bites: 150 Family Favorite RecipesSavoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites, and 400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites. Sara’s work has been featured in many local and national news outlets and publications such as Parenting MagazineBetter Homes & GardensFine CookingThe Rachel Ray Show and the New York Times.

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Questions & Reviews

  1. 5 stars
    i used a trader joes milk chocolate candy bar with almonds (i forgot to buy semi sweet choc) chopped it up good !!

    used 1 cup of confection sugar instead of 2

    used 2 sticks of butter instead of 1

    added 1 Tbs. of instant coffee / 2 TBS hot water

    OMG !!! The BEST frosting i have ever made !!!!

  2. I made this for my son’s birthday, and accidently grabbed a box of brownie mix out of the cupboard. So I just made brownies in cupcake holders, and topped it with this frosting. I didn’t have cream, but I had super thick, rich chocolate milk from a local dairy- which turned out so yummy! Major win. I’m adopting this as my go-to chocolate frosting! Thanks!

    1. It will frost a two layer cake, however if you plan to do quite a bit of piping for decoration, I’d probably double it!

  3. Try it sandwiched between Saltines–really! Sweet + Salty! As a kid, I could devour almost a full sleeve of Saltines with the frosting!

  4. Frosted graham crackers are life! So yummy. Frosting is something i routinely struggle with. Mine often “breaks”. Any suggestions to avoid that and the weird/yucky texture that comes with it?