Chocolate Buttercream

This easy chocolate buttercream gets its extra-chocolatey flavour from using both melted chocolate and cocoa powder. Perfect for birthday cakes, layer cakes and cupcakes.

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Piping chocolate buttercream onto a chocolate cupcake.Over the weekend I shared my chocolate birthday cake recipe and what chocolate cake is complete without a decent dollop of chocolate buttercream all over it? As soon as the chocolate cake recipe was perfected I got straight to work on creating the buttercream to go with it. For some strange and unknown reason I decided to leave sorting out the buttercream until I’d got the cake recipe nailed down, which meant baking even more cakes to test each buttercream with (OK I probably could have tasted the buttercreams without the cake and narrowed it down to a few favourites – but where’s the fun in that!).

Spreading chocolate buttercream onto a round chocolate birthday cake using a palette knife. There are two more layers of chocolate cake on a cooling rack in the background.

Spreading my chocolate buttercream over the chocolate sponge – yum!

This chocolate buttercream is delicious in it’s own right and could go with all sorts of flavours of sponge, but it was designed to perfectly compliment my new chocolate cake. The key feature of this buttercream is that, like the cake, it gets its chocolate-iness from a combination of both cocoa powder and melted chocolate.

Like the cake this chocolate buttercream is simple to make. However, I have got a few tips to ensure you get buttercream perfection…

  • Melt your chocolate first and make sure you cool it down to room temperature before adding it into the buttercream (if it’s warm it’ll melt the butter and you’ll end up with runny icing). If you stir it you should find it cools down to the right temperature in just a few minutes.
  • Make sure your butter is soft, don’t try using it straight out of the fridge. I’ve tried it – you get lumpy uneven buttercream.
  • Add your icing sugar and cocoa powder a spoon at a time and mix them in on a very low speed – this will (hopefully) stop them flying around your kitchen too much – something icing sugar in particular loves to do in my house!
  • I generally find that my buttercream is the right consistency after adding the melted chocolate, but if yours is a little stiff then add a tiny bit of milk (no more than a tsp at a time) and mix it in until you get the right consistency (you’re aiming for it to be soft enough that you could spread it onto a slice of bread without it tearing but not so soft that it drips off the knife before you have a chance to spread it). If your buttercream is a little soft after adding the chocolate then pop it into the fridge and you should find that it firms up a bit.

Piping chocolate buttercream onto a chocolate cupcake. There are several plain chocolate cupcakes in the background.

5 from 3 votes

Chocolate Buttercream

This easy chocolate buttercream gets its extra-chocolatey flavour from using both melted chocolate and cocoa powder. Perfect for birthday cakes, layer cakes and cupcakes.

Active Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 12 servings
Calories 301 kcal


  • 250 g unsalted butter soft at room temperature
  • 250 g icing sugar
  • 150 g milk chocolate choose a chocolate from the baking aisle as this won’t go grainy when it’s melted
  • 40 g cocoa powder
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • A little milk


  1. Break the chocolate (150g) into pieces and melt it (either using short bursts in the microwave – stirring regularly, over the lowest possible heat in a saucepan – stirring constantly, or in a bain marie – stirring constantly).
  2. Once melted remove from the heat and pour into another bowl (this will help it to cool as it needs to be back to room temperature before mixing with the buttercream).
  3. Beat the butter (250g) until soft then add the vanilla extract (¼ tsp), cocoa powder (40g) and icing sugar (250g) and beat until fully combined (it’s easier to avoid the cocoa powder and sugar flying everywhere if you add it a spoonful at a time).
  4. Once the chocolate has cooled to room temperature (DO NOT add the chocolate when it’s still warm as it’ll melt the butter and your buttercream will end up too runny) pour it into the buttercream and beat until fully combined. You should find that the buttercream is soft and spreadable. If it is a little stiff then add milk a tsp at a time until it is the right consistency.
  5. Your buttercream is now ready to use.

Recipe Notes

This recipe makes enough icing for 12 cupcakes or to fill and coat a 2-layer 20cm round cake.

The icing here is piped onto my delicious chocolate cupcakes. You can find all of my cupcake and buttercream flavours in my mix-and-match cupcake index, including a dairy-free (and vegan) version of this recipe

Nutrition Facts
Chocolate Buttercream
Amount Per Serving
Calories 301 Calories from Fat 189
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 21g 32%
Saturated Fat 13g 65%
Cholesterol 44mg 15%
Sodium 5mg 0%
Potassium 92mg 3%
Total Carbohydrates 30g 10%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Sugars 26g
Protein 1g 2%
Vitamin A 10.4%
Calcium 1.2%
Iron 4.5%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

A chocolate cupcake on a round silver dish with a cake fork next to it. There are lots of chocolate cupcakes on a silver platter in the background.

Free From/Suitable For…

  • Suitable for Vegetarians
  • Corn-Free
  • Egg-Free
  • Gluten-Free
  • Nut-Free
  • Soy-Free

The ingredients for this recipe are easily available free from all these allergens. However, please ensure you double-check allergen information for all ingredients.

This easy chocolate buttercream gets its extra-chocolatey flavour from using both melted chocolate and cocoa powder. Perfect for birthday cakes, layer cakes and cupcakes.


  1. Simone Bergeron

    Brilliant milk chocolate buttercream icing. I used Galaxy chocolate and it turned out great.
    Thank you

  2. I used this Buttercream on a celebration cake
    A M A Z I N G

    Thank you

  3. Hello!

    I’m making a Mint Aero pinata cake for my mother-in-laws birthday and was hoping to use your chocolate buttercream recipe.
    I was wondering, if ypu were doing this, how much peppermint flavour would you put in and should I still put the vanilla in with it?

    • Charlotte Oates

      I’d leave out the vanilla and I think you would need about 1 tsp of peppermint extract. However different brands can vary in strength so I’d start with less, have a little taste and then add more if needed.

  4. I absolutely love your recipes!

    I made a two tier birthday cake for my daughter’s 21st Birthday using your birthday cake and it was absolutely amazing…

    I’m going to try your chocolate cupcakes as I’m sure they’ll be just as delicious….

    This may sound like a silly question but can I use flora or Bertolli instead of butter in the buttercream?

    • Charlotte Oates

      Personally I wouldn’t as they’re much softer than butter so it won’t set as well.

      • Thanks for the reply Charlotte – I did use Flora Original as hadn’t had a reply before I made them for a family barbecue, and it was a bit soft to pipe with – I got in a bit of a chocolately mess .

        However I put the piped cakes in the fridge overnight and the topping was absolutely perfect.

        I got complimented as to how beautiful and lovely tasting they were, and my partner said they were the best small cakes I’ve ever made.

        I gave all the credit to your fabulous recipe!

        Now waiting for an excuse to make the other flavours.

  5. Just made a birthday cake for my grandaughter using your chocolate cake and buttercream recipes, have tried it once before, it didn’t rise evenly this time was a bit lop sided not sure if it was because I started mixing on fast speed and realised it should be slow? Or maybe the baking powder wasn’t evenly mixed. It’s fine now it’s covered! Going to ice it tomorrow. Thanks!

    • The chocolate cake recipe doesn’t include any added baking powder as when I used it I found it rose unevenly and sank a little in places. Try just using self-raising flour next time and you should find it rises more evenly.

      I hope you enjoy the cake and that your granddaughter has a lovely birthday x

  6. Lovely straightforward recipe. And I love that you put the measurements for ingredients in the instructions!

    • I hate having to scroll up and down the page to check the ingredients when I use recipes online so I thought others might too.

  7. Hi,

    I’m making you chocolate celebration cake but am sizing up to 10 inch. I’ve found a cake calculator to scale up the ingredients for the cake but not sure how much to increase the buttercream recipe by. Can you help??


  8. Hi Charlotte

    Just confirming icing sugar is pure icing sugar as opposed to icing sugar mixture (which contains cornflour).

    Thank you

  9. Hello Charlotte,

    I was searching for a chocolate buttercream for my daughter’s birthday cake. Usually she has a chocolate cake with chocolate ganache but as I was covering the cake with fondant icing that wouldn’t do. I am so glad I came across your chocolate buttercream recipe it’s just so light rich and chocolatey. I did use dark chocolate and not milk. I have to say I much prefer this to ganache. A convert. Thanks so much. I’m off to read the rest of your blog.

  10. Hi Charlotte

    Sorry have not tried it yet as don’t have coffee morning until 29th September. I may do a test run tomorrow if so will let you know

  11. Well I am making a choc cake with your choc filling for a Douglas Macmillan coffee morning – I really do hope it turns out fine will let you know

  12. Choc cake and your lemon cake works every time mix well can’t go wrong

  13. Hi Charlotte,
    great recipes and ideas. I will be baking a two tier chocolate cake and then icing it in yellow icing like Belles dress from Beauty and The Beast for my niece…wish me luck..!!

  14. Hello, just wondering if you’ve ever made this a couple of days before it was needed, and If it was still good to username Terna of its consistency. If so did you store it in the fridge or at room temp?

    • That’s supposed to say ** use in terms of its consistency

    • Charlotte Oates

      It should be fine to make in advance, although it sets a little once you’ve made it so best to actually decorate the cake rather than storing it and decorating it later. In cool weather you’d be OK to stop it out of the fridge but in the warmed weather we’re having at the moment it’ll start to go funny so I’d recommend keeping it in the fridge.

  15. Hi Charlotte,
    I’ve just made your delicious looking chocolate cake which is cooling in the tin at present. It’s my birthday tomorrow and I have family coming. We prefer fresh cream filling rather than buttercream. I have lots of light double cream. Can you tell me what I need to make it a suitable chocolate flavour filling please? Thank you so much, my cake smells devine as it’s cooling!

  16. Thank you so much!!! I’m not much of a baker, so was looking for a fail-safe icing recipe for my 5yo’s birthday cake today. I’m typing this dusted in icing sugar… the icing is GORGEOUS, smooth, lumpfree, chocolatey heaven. OOh I’m super happy with it!! Thank you so much, I’ll hand this recipe down to my grandkids 🙂 xxx

  17. Hi Chrlotte
    I’ve made your recipe before (and it’s fantastic!!!) but not sure how to get the right quantity for my brother’s birthday cake – it’s a square tin 30cm by 30cm (and we need 3 tiers….)
    Any ideas?
    Thank you so much for this recipe – it is truely amazing!

  18. Hi Amy, I’ve just made your chocolate cakes and they look and smell delicious! Going to make the buttercream icing now but realise I just have plain chocolate- if I use that, should I be using less cocoa powder? Or more icing sugar? Or just keep the recipe the same? Thank you!

  19. Thank you so much Charlotte for sharing your recipes! I am planning to bake a cake (debating between chocolate or vanilla sponge) for my twin girls 3rd birthday!! I’m still thinking wheather I should go for sugar paste or buttercream on top of the cake…. I have never done sugar paste before so I am a bit afraid to attempt. Anyways, I will definitely try out your sponge cakes recipe they look delicious!!

    • I guess it depends on what you want to cake to look like. If you do decide to go for fondant then put a layer of buttercream underneath and then chill it before addicting the fondant, and buy more fondant that you think you really need as it’s far easier that way.

  20. I’m always on the lookout for a good buttercream and will definitely give this a try. I like the tip about getting chocolate from the baking aisle- I didn’t know this. Great piping too.

    • Charlotte Oates

      Thanks Nicola. Quite a few chocolates from the sweet aisle would work well too but there are some (e.g. Dairy Milk) that HATE being melted and go grainy and unusable if you try so I prefer to stick to the ones from the baking aisle just in case as I’ve never had any problem with them.

  21. Always good to have a handy buttercream recipe to hand! Your piping is perfect! I really need to do a cupcake decorating course!!!

    • Charlotte Oates

      Thanks Kate. There’s really no need to go on a course as there’s loads of great tutorials on You Tube. I learnt the few styles of piping I can do from there and I’m planning on trying out more soon.

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