Two Kooks » All Recipes » Dessert Recipes » Best Chocolate Buttercream Icing (Foolproof! 3 Min)

Best Chocolate Buttercream Icing (Foolproof! 3 Min)

Get ready to groan with pleasure when you taste this creamy, rich, luscious chocolate buttercream icing. It’s the perfect finishing touch for your cakes and cupcakes.

Exceptionally straightforward to make, just combine five simple ingredients and blend away for 2 minutes. That’s it – the ultimate indulgence – and foolproof!

1 icing-topped brownie on plate among delicate flowers.

After experimenting with different frosting recipes, I can confidently say that this buttercream icing tops the list by a mile. Its simplicity, texture, flavor, and unwavering popularity leave other frosting recipes in the dust 🙂 Prepare to swoon, chocolate lovers!

Some people reach for ice cream to satisfy their sweet tooth. I reach for buttercream icing. I make a small personal batch (my family rolls their eyes), stash it in the fridge and indulge with a tablespoon after dinner.

What to expect

THE BEST CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM ICING EVER. 5 ingredients. 3 minutes

No experience needed: I am not an experienced cake decorator by any means, but this icing is foolproof, even for first time newbies without any decorating equipment.

Equipment: You can make this icing with a handheld electric mixer, a stand mixer or a food processor. I have even used an immersion blender in a pinch. And if you have a bit of muscle power, you can whip up this icing by hand using a fork or spatula (with a bit of effort!).

Versatile and adjustable: You can experiment with different flavors and the level of chocolatey-ness. And it’s very easy to adjust the consistency. It holds its shape well, making it excellent for spreading and decorating.

Simple process: Just ‘dump and blend’. No sifting, no beating the butter ahead of time, no heavy cream needed, no eggs or egg whites, no double boiler.

Ingredients – tailored to your taste

icing sugar, vanilla, cocoa powder, butter, milk.
icing sugar, vanilla, cocoa powder, butter, milk.

Icing sugar: also called confectioners’ sugar or powdered sugar. No need to sift it.

Butter and salt: You must use soft, room-temperature butter. If you want to control the amount of salt, use unsalted butter with a pinch of added salt. I use salted butter (and don’t add extra salt) because that’s what I always have on hand.

Cocoa powder: Use unsweetened natural cocoa powder or Dutch-processed cocoa powder for a deep, intense chocolate flavor.

Milk: You only need a splash. Many recipes call for heavy cream. I just use any kind of milk I have in the fridge (even skim milk) – it doesn’t make any difference in my experience.

Variations:

  • Add a couple of drops of extract such as mint, orange, coconut, almond, blueberry, etc.
  • Add some espresso powder for a mocha icing
  • Use more or less cocoa powder for a darker or lighter chocolate color and flavor.
  • Omit the cocoa powder and add:
    • nothing – to create a classic vanilla buttercream icing.
    • lemon juice and lemon zest for a bright, zesty icing which is great on pound cake or fruity cakes.
    • raspberry purée for a pink sweet-tart icing
    • any food coloring you like.
    • warm spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, or cardamom
  • For a vegan and dairy-free version, use dairy-free milk and vegan butter.

Step-by-step instructions

all icing ingredients in a mixing bowl.
Place butter, icing sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla and half the milk in a large mixing bowl.
chocolate buttercream icing with electric beaters over the bowl.
Start beating on low speed. Add a touch more milk if needed. Beat on high for another minute or two.
buttercream icing scooped into a ziploc bag for piping.
If using the icing for cupcakes, transfer it to a piping bag or ziploc bag. Cut a tiny corner off at the bottom. Otherwise, just spread it on a cake.
icing sugar, vanilla, cocoa powder, butter, milk.

Tips and Troubleshooting

For spreading icing on cakes: The best trick to ice the sides of the cake is to add a blob of icing to the side, then wet your knife before spreading it. The icing will spread easily without tearing the cake. Repeat to complete the entire cake. A life-changer.

Icing too thick? Add a little bit more milk at a time (don’t overdo it).

Icing too thin? Add more powdered sugar (icing sugar).

Icing has air bubbles? You may have overwhipped it. The taste won’t be affected at all. Burst the bubbles by stirring the icing with a spoon by hand.

How to pipe icing swirls: If you have a plastic or metal icing tip/nozzle, cut a small hole in the Ziploc bag on one side and push the tip into the hole before adding the icing. Then squeeze the bag to pipe the icing in swirls. With no icing tip, just pipe the icing through the tiny hole. Here’s a video on how to use a piping bag and tip/nozzle and how to pipe with a ziploc and no tip/nozzle. I skip the scotch tape part.

Recipe FAQs

Is there a difference between buttercream icing and buttercream frosting?

The terms icing and frosting are interchangeable. The differences are minimal. Some countries or regions use the term icing. Others use the term frosting. Some call the icing American buttercream.

How do you soften butter quickly?

The best way to soften butter is to let it sit out at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours. If you don’t have time, try one of these methods to achieve soft, not melted, butter:
1. microwave the butter on “soften” if you have this setting.
2. place butter in a sealed bag (leave it in its foil packaging if you like)and run it under warm water for 5 minutes.
3. grate it with a box grater or microplane.

How much frosting will the recipe make?

The frosting recipe will make enough for 18 cupcakes (or 24 with a slightly thinner layer of icing), a 9 x 13-inch cake or a 2-layer 8-inch/20 cm cake. You can halve or double the recipe. If you want a thicker layer of icing or lots of piped swirls, make 1 1/2 times the recipe.

Can I leave a cake with buttercream icing at room temperature?

Yes, you can leave your cake with buttercream icing out on the counter at room temperature for up to 3 days. It’s best to keep it covered.

How to use buttercream icing

Use this easy chocolate buttercream frosting to decorate birthday cakes, vanilla or chocolate cupcakes, brownies and cookies. I also eat it by the spoonful on its own (no judging) 🙂

Need a 10-minute dessert? Pipe the buttercream icing on those two-bite brownies or mini brownie bites you buy at the store or at Costco. As pictured above. Decadent!

Need an easy birthday plan? Make cupcakes from a box and pipe on the buttercream icing. Best treat ever.

One of my favorite desserts is banana cake with chocolate buttercream icing. Pairing banana and chocolate is seriously delicious.

Make ahead

Make the chocolate buttercream recipe and store it in the fridge in an airtight container or ziploc bag for up to a week. It can also be frozen for 3 months. When you’re ready to use the icing, bring it to room temperature. If piping it from the bag it was stored in, there’s no need to whip it up again. If spreading it on a cake, give it a good stir to fluff it up.

1 icing topped brownie on plate among delicate flowers.

Decadent desserts

Here are a few of our favorite decadent desserts you might want to try if you’re in the mood or have a dinner party or holiday event coming up.

If you like this recipe, please leave a 5 star rating 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟in the recipe card below. And if you REALLY like it, consider a review in the comments. Thanks very much!

1 icing-topped brownie on plate among delicate flowers.
Print Recipe Pin Save Recipe

Rate this recipe here

5 from 2 votes

Best Chocolate Buttercream Icing (Foolproof! 3 Min)

Get ready to groan with pleasure when you taste this creamy, rich, luscious chocolate buttercream icing. It's the perfect finishing touch for your cakes and cupcakes.
Total Time3 minutes
Course: Dessert topping
Cuisine: American
Servings: 34 tablespoons (for ~18-24 cupcakes or 1 layer cake)

Equipment

  • hand mixer or stand mixer or food processor Note 1

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, Note 2 (2 sticks)
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar (icing sugar, confectioner's sugar) use 4 cups to stretch icing further
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch process)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons milk or cream, any kind (you might need a little more or less)

Instructions

  • MAKE ICING: Add softened butter, icing sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla and 1 tablespoon of milk or cream to a large bowl.
    Using a hand or stand mixer, start with a slower speed until partially incorporated, then increase speed to high and blend for 2 minutes, scraping down sides if needed. Add a touch more milk at a time if needed to get the consistency you want.
    If using a food processor, process for 2 minutes, scraping sides of bowl as needed.

Recipe Notes

  1. Equipment: Use electric handheld electric mixer or stand mixer or food processor. In a pinch, you can use an immersion blender. If you have no equipment, whip by hand with a fork or whisk (this will take some effort!)
  2. Butter: If using salted butter, don’t add salt. If using unsalted butter, add a pinch of salt. I used salted butter. For a vegan version, use vegan butter (and nondairy milk).
  3. How to soften butter quickly: The best way to soften butter is to let it sit out at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours. If you don’t have time, try one of these 3 different ways to achieve soft, not melted, butter:
    • microwave the butter on “soften” if you have this setting.
    • warm water: place butter in a sealed bag (leave it in its foil packaging if you like) and run it under warm water for 5 minutes.
    • grate it with a box grater or microplane.
  4. Troubleshooting: Too thick? Add a little milk at a time (don’t overdo it). Too thin? Add more powdered sugar. Bubbles? Use a wooden spoon to stir by hand and burst bubbles. 
  5. Flavor variations:
    • Add a couple of drops of extract such as mint, orange, coconut, almond, blueberry, etc
    • Add some espresso powder for a mocha icing
    • Vary the amount of cocoa powder for a darker or lighter chocolate color and flavor by using more or less.
    • Omit the cocoa powder and add:
      • nothing – to create a classic vanilla buttercream icing.
      • lemon juice and lemon zest for a bright, zesty icing which is great on pound cake or fruity cakes
      • raspberry purée for a pink sweet-tart icing
      • any food coloring you like.
      • warm spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, or cardamon
  6. How much this icing recipe will make: The yield is about 2 1/2 cups/820 gram. It will make enough for ~18 cupcakes (or 24 with a slightly thinner layer of icing), a 9 x 13-inch sheet cake or an 8-inch/20 cm 2-layer cake. You can halve or double the icing recipe. If you want a thicker layer of icing or lots of piped swirls, make 1 1/2 times the recipe (i.e. 5.2 cups/620 grams powdered sugar, 1.5 cups/340 grams butter (3 sticks), 3/4 cup cocoa powder, 3 teaspoons vanilla, 3 tablespoons milk
  7. How to pipe icing swirls: If you have a plastic or metal icing tip/nozzle, cut a small hole in the Ziploc bag on one side and push the tip into the hole before adding the icing. Then squeeze the bag to pipe the icing in swirls. With no icing tip, just pipe the icing through the tiny hole. Here’s a video on how to use a piping bag and tip/nozzle and how to pipe with a ziploc and no tip/nozzle. I skip the scotch tape part.
  8. Need a dessert in 10 minutes?: Pipe chocolate buttercream icing on those two-bite brownies you buy at the store or at Costco. As pictured above. Decadent!
  9. Make ahead: Make the icing and store it in the fridge in an airtight container or ziploc bag for up to a week. It can also be frozen for 3 months. When you’re ready to use the icing, bring it to room temperature. If piping it from the bag it was stored in, there’s no need to whip it up again. If spreading it on a cake, give it a good stir to fluff it up.
 
Nutrition values are estimated for approximately 1 tablespoon of icing/frosting. Generally, you need about 2 tablespoons per cupcake. 

Nutrition

Calories: 100kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 0.3g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 14mg | Sodium: 44mg | Potassium: 23mg | Fiber: 0.5g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 168IU | Calcium: 4mg | Iron: 0.2mg
Tried this recipe?We’d love you to rate it above under ‘rate this recipe’ or in the comment section below. Thanks!

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating