How To Make Homemade Chocolate Frosting

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Chocolate frosting is one of the best and easiest ways to decorate a cake. Even if your cake has gone disastrously wrong, you can easily save it with some chocolate frosting.

We have been known to occasionally take a shortcut and use a cake mix to make a quick cake or a batch of cupcakes. However, the one thing you can do to make your baked sweets stand out is to be sure you always use homemade frosting. And why not? It’s super easy to make homemade buttercream frosting.

To make delicious chocolate buttercream frosting, you just need five ingredients: unsalted butter (this is important!), powdered sugar, dry cocoa powder, pure vanilla extract, and milk or heavy cream. No cooking is involved in making this frosting, and your chocolate lovers’ dreams will come true.

But, as tempting as it is to just buy a tub of frosting, we’re big fans of making everything from scratch.

Making chocolate frosting is super easy and less expensive than buying ready-made frosting. You probably already have all of the ingredients in your kitchen cupboard.

Homemade Chocolate Frosting

There are a few different types of chocolate frosting. But we’re going to keep things simple and show you the best way to make chocolate buttercream frosting.

This is so simple and only requires you to mix together a handful of ingredients.

Chocolate cake and chocolate cupcakes with homemade chocolate frosting are a favorite in my house. My boys can swallow a cupcake whole. (I’m so proud ;-)) This easy chocolate frosting recipe can be used as icing on any cake recipe for great chocolate flavor. It’s better than canned frosting and cheaper too. Ice a yellow cake or brownie and you’ll find milk chocolate heaven. It’s the best cream frosting I know.

From Scratch vs Ready-Made

Before we get into the recipe, let us convince you of why you should make frosting from scratch. 

  • Firstly, everything tastes better from scratch. Even if you don’t think your food tastes that good, knowing you have made it all yourself adds a little something.

  • It’s cheaper. This is pretty much always true. But it is especially true with this recipe. All you need is butter, confectioners sugar, and cocoa powder. You won’t be using all of it so you will always have some leftover in your kitchen cupboard for future bakes.

  • You can make it just how you like it. You have complete control over the ingredients. Although we think our recipe is the best, if you want to add extra cocoa powder then you can. This is a very basic recipe that you can mix up and make your own. 

How to Make Chocolate Frosting

Now that we have (hopefully) convinced you that homemade chocolate frosting is the best, let’s move on to actually making it.

(Read on or scroll down for the exact ingredients and method). 

Step One: Cream the Butter

With the recipe, you can throw everything in at once. But if you want to make the frosting creamy, it’s best to whisk the butter first.

Add the butter to a large mixing bowl. It’s best to use butter that has been sat out on the counter for a few minutes. This will soften it and make it easier to whisk. But don’t leave it out for too long or it will become too soft. This will potentially cause the frosting to slide off the cake. 

Before reaching for the whisk, it’s a good idea to break up the butter using a knife or a fork. This will make it easier to whisk. Once it is in small pieces, whisk the butter until it is completely smooth and there are no lumps left.

Step Two: Add the Confectioners’ Sugar

Do this slowly and in portions. As confectioners’ sugar is so fine, it will make a huge mess if you add it all at once and whisk it. 

Spoon the confectioners’ sugar a few spoonfuls at a time and then mix it with a wooden spoon or spatula. 

Although it is fine, it’s a good idea to sieve it into the bowl. This will get rid of any lumps and make it easier to whisk.

Once all of the sugar has been added and mixed in a little, then grab your whisk. Whisk the mixture until it is completely combined but no more. 

Step Three: Add the Vanilla Extract/Flavoring

This is optional. The cocoa powder will give the frosting most of its flavor.

But if you want to add a little extra flavoring, this is the time to do it. Just add 2 to 3 drops of vanilla extract.

Step Four: Add the Cocoa Powder

Add in the cocoa powder in the exact same way you added in the confectioners’ sugar. It is very fine and should be folded in carefully. This is a stage when you can change up the recipe.

Have a taste of the frosting and see if it’s to your liking. This is also a good time to work out if the frosting is thick enough. With our recipe, the frosting should be thick enough to sit stiffly on the cake. 

But not so thick that you can feel the texture of the sugar. If you want it to be thicker, add some more confectioners’ sugar. If you want it to be creamier, add in some more butter. This is a very simple recipe so don’t be afraid of messing it up (you can’t!).

How to Store Leftover Frosting

One of the best things about making your own frosting is that you can easily make enough for one cake and not have any left over. This recipe should give you enough frosting to cover a two-layer cake made in 20cm tins.

But, if you happen to have some leftover, you can easily freeze it. It won’t freeze completely solid and will need to be whisked again once it defrosts. But this is the best way.

You can keep it in the refrigerator but only for a couple of days. Otherwise, the butter will go bad and the frosting will begin to curdle and separate.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

This is a super-easy three ingredient frosting that can be used on layered cakes, cupcakes, loaf cakes, and more!
4.93 from 51 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 12 people
Calories 268 kcal


  • Mixing bowl
  • Wooden spoon
  • Whisk (electric is best)
  • Measuring spoons


  • 1 cup softened unsalted butter
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp tsp vanilla extract  (optional)


  • Soften butter in a mixing bowl using a fork or knife.
  • Whisk the butter until it is creamy.
  • Gradually sift in the confectioners’ sugar.
  • Carefully combine the ingredients (confectioners’ sugar can make a mess).
  • Whisk until fully combined and creamy.
  • Add in the vanilla extract (optional).
  • Add in the cocoa powder in the same way you added the confectioners’ sugar.
  • Whisk until fully combined. The frosting should form peaks when you lift the whisk away.
  • Add to your cake!


Calories: 268kcalCarbohydrates: 33gProtein: 1gFat: 16gCholesterol: 41mgSodium: 236mgPotassium: 86mgVitamin A: 485IUCalcium: 18mgIron: 0.7mg
Keyword Buttercream Frosting, Chocolate Buttercream Frosting, Chocolate Frosting, Frosting
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
Cassie Marshall
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