This homemade chocolate buttercream frosting recipe is very creamy, light, and super easy to make. A good quality cocoa powder, pasteurized egg whites, powdered sugar, and butter create a fluffy buttercream that pairs well with chocolate cupcakes, vanilla cake, or classic yellow cake. If you've never made an egg-based frosting before, your life is about to change for the better.
This frosting is like a mock-Swiss meringue buttercream. Instead of cooking egg whites and granulated sugar, we're skipping that step and using powdered sugar and pasteurized egg whites. It's super creamy and fluffy, is perfect for frosting cakes and cupcakes, and can be left at room temperature for up to 24 hours.
Table of contents
Chocolate Buttercream Ingredients
This delicious frosting comes together with just 6 simple ingredients. No surprise here, there is a lot of butter in this "butter" cream recipe, so it's best to use high-quality butter. Unsalted butter is best for baking so that you can control the amount of salt in the recipe. Just a pinch of salt will go a long way.
Many meringue-based frostings use eggs as a key ingredient. Pasteurized egg whites are heat treated and are safe to eat without cooking and normally come in a carton. If you only have fresh eggs, I suggest making my chocolate Swiss meringue recipe.
Making Chocolate Buttercream
- Place the pasteurized egg whites, powdered sugar, and cocoa powder into the bowl of your stand mixer. You MUST use pasteurized egg whites for this recipe, not raw. Pasteurized egg whites are heat-treated (like milk) so they are safe to eat.
- Attach the whisk attachment and mix on high for 1 to 2 minutes to dissolve the sugar.
- Add the vanilla, salt, and softened butter in small chunks. Whip on high until light and fluffy, about 8-10 minutes. Once it tastes like ice cream and not butter, it’s done. You can also use a large bowl and mix with an electric mixer by hand, just mix for longer to get the right consistency.
- To avoid curdled and separated buttercream, remove about 1 cup of buttercream and melt it in the microwave for 10-15 seconds. Pour it back into the whipping buttercream to bring it all together and make extra creamy frosting.
- Switch to the paddle attachment and mix on low speed for about 10 minutes to remove the air bubbles and create very smooth buttercream. This is optional but will make it extra creamy. This buttercream is stable at room temperature for 24 hours, will last refrigerated for up to two weeks, or frozen for up to 6 months.
Using Chocolate Buttercream
- This recipe is great for frosting cupcakes. 2F and 1M piping tips are my favorite.
- This makes about 6 cups of frosting and is enough frosting to frost and fill two 8" x 2" cakes or three 6" x 2" cakes.
- This chocolate buttercream isn't very stable in high temperatures. I like to replace some of the butter with shortening to make it more stable, or use this recipe as a filling for my cakes, and frost the outside with chocolate ganache.
Tips For Success
- Is this your first time decorating a cake? Watch my free video tutorial on how to decorate a cake for the first time.
- Use a kitchen scale to weigh your ingredients for the best results. Baking is a science!
- A stand mixer works best, but you can also use a hand-held electric mixer. If you use a hand-mixer then you may need to mix for longer to achieve the same consistency.
- Room temperature ingredients are important so that your ingredients mix together properly.
With any homemade frosting, it's important to have all of your ingredients at room temperature or a little warm to create an emulsion. When some of the ingredients are cold, your ingredients won't emulsify together and will cause your buttercream to break. Fix this by melting about 1 cup in the microwave until it's barely melted and pouring it back into your whipping buttercream. This will heat up the rest of the ingredients enough to bring them all together to make the buttercream smooth and glossy.
Yes, instead of using cocoa powder, you can melt down about 4 ounces of chocolate, cool it to about 80°F, and add it to your finished buttercream. Be careful to not add your chocolate when it's too hot or it'll melt the butter in the frosting. The better the chocolate the better tasting the buttercream will be. I personally love Valhrona or Cacao Barry chocolate.
Oxidation causes chocolate buttercream to sometimes get darker overnight. If you want your buttercream to be even darker, combine your cocoa powder with a little of your butter and melt it in the microwave. Let it cool to 80°F and add it to your buttercream. This will make your buttercream much darker. You can also up the amount of cocoa powder in your buttercream and use a special dark or dutched cocoa powder.
This frosting is not a crusting buttercream, but it will get pretty hard in the fridge when the butter sets up. If you want a crusting buttercream, American buttercream with melted chocolate or cocoa powder will be your best bet. The heavy cream and lots of butter will lead to crusting and create a sweeter buttercream that is great in hot or humid areas.
Yes, this chocolate buttercream is great under fondant as long as you chill your cakes. It will go on super smooth on your cake and is delicious paired with my homemade marshmallow fondant recipe (LMF).
This buttercream will last in an airtight container frozen for up to 6 months or refrigerated for 2 weeks. When you're ready to use it, mix it on medium speed with the paddle attachment, microwave about 1 cup until it's just barely melted, and pour it back into the buttercream to make it smooth.
Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- 1 stand mixer with the whisk and paddle attachments
- 6 ounces pasteurized egg whites (¾ cup)
- 24 ounces powdered sugar (2 ½ cups)
- 3 ounces cocoa powder (⅓ cup)
- 24 ounces unsalted butter (2 ½ cups) softened
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Place the pasteurized egg whites, powdered sugar, and cocoa powder into the bowl of your stand mixer with the whisk attachment and mix on high for 1 to 2 minutes to dissolve the sugar.
- Add the vanilla, salt, and softened butter in small chunks and whip on high until light and fluffy, about 8-10 minutes. Once it no longer tastes like butter, it’s done.
- If your buttercream looks curdled, remove about 1 cup of buttercream and melt it in the microwave for 10-15 seconds until it is barely melted. Pour it back into the whipping buttercream to bring it all together and make extra creamy frosting.
- Switch to the paddle attachment and mix on low speed for about 10 minutes to remove the air bubbles and create very smooth buttercream. This is optional but will make it extra creamy. This buttercream can be left at room temperature for 24 hours, refrigerated for up to two weeks, or frozen up to 6 months.
- You MUST use pasteurized egg whites for this recipe, if you don't have pasteurized egg whites then you can use my chocolate Swiss-meringue recipe instead. Pasteurized egg whites are heat-treated (like milk) so they are safe to eat, raw egg whites are not. You can also pasteurize your own egg whites.
- You can also use a large bowl and mix with an electric mixer by hand, just mix for longer to get the right consistency.
- After refrigerating or freezing, always re-whip your buttercream before use. I melt one cup of the buttercream and mix it back in while whipping on high to make it creamy again.
- Instead of using cocoa powder, you can melt down about 4 ounces of real chocolate, cool it to about 80°F, and add it to your finished buttercream.
- If you want a more rich chocolate flavor, you can add more cocoa powder! You can also increase the powdered sugar for a sweeter frosting, but I wouldn't recommend adding less sugar.
Marlene Raymond says
Hi love your recipes, My question is can I use regular egg whites.thanks
Sugar Geek Show says
We use pasteurized egg whites in this because they're safe to eat without cooking. But try my chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream if you want to use fresh eggs! https://sugargeekshow.com/recipe/chocolate-swiss-meringue-buttercream/
Can I just say this is the best chocolate butter cream ever. This is the second time I’ve used your recipe and every time I can’t believe how good it is! Today I made devils foods cupcakes and used this buttercream for the frosting. They were so good I wanted to do a dance!
Rupal Hurd says
Hi, could I omit the Cocoa if I wanted just a vanilla buttercream? Thank you
Sugar Geek Show says
Yes, here's the recipe! https://sugargeekshow.com/recipe/easy-buttercream-frosting/
Mary C says
Hi Liz - I have made this several times and it’s worked wonderfully. Need help though today. I doubled it and it is way too loose. How can I thicken it up? Refrigerating isn’t helping it much.
Elizabeth Marek says
You can add in a little more butter if it's not thick enough
Hey Liz quick question. Should the egg whites be cold or room temp?
Elizabeth Marek says
they do not have to be room temp
Tastes exactly like chocolate ice cream, my favorite as a kid. I couldn’t get it firm enough to pipe onto cupcakes, not anything at all like the picture. When I’m whipping the egg whites and sugar do I need to add more time? I tried chilling it and adding more sugar - no luck. What am I missing? I’m not ready to give up. It tastes so good!
Sugar Geek Show says
Oh no! Maybe your butter is too soft? Sometimes I'll stick my buttercream in the fridge for 20 minutes and it will firm up. If you add more sugar it will actually make it looser, so I'd try adding just the recommended amount of powdered sugar and see if that helps. If you live in a really hot area, you could also try doing 1/2 shortening, 1/2 butter and that will help with the stability.