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.

Skip to the recipe

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 its 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.

What You’ll Need

Before you start, make sure you have all of the equipment needed.

NOTE – These are affiliate links which means that if you purchase from Amazon after clicking on one the product links below I may earn a small commission. All of the products linked are ones I use in my kitchen.

  • Weighing Scales
  • Measuring Spoons
  • Knife – to cut the butter
  • Something to melt the chocolate in – either a bowl in the microwave, small saucepan, or bowl over a small saucepan.
  • Electric Mixer (or a bowl and hand mixer or wooden spoon)
  • Sieve
  • Piping Bags – if you’re planning on piping the cupcakes
  • Piping Nozzle – To pipe the cupcakes as shown in the pictures you’ll need a JEM 1B nozzle.

5 from 6 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


  • 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


  • 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).
  • 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).
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • Your buttercream is now ready to use.


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

Nutritional Information

Calories: 301kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 44mg | Sodium: 5mg | Potassium: 92mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 26g | Vitamin A: 10.4% | Calcium: 1.2% | Iron: 4.5%
Any nutritional information shown is the estimated nutritional information per serving. Please refer to my guide to Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen nutritional information if you want to learn more about how this is calculated.

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
  • 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. Such a gorgeously smooth buttercream, I use it all the time. Chocolatey but not overly rich.

  2. Fabulous cake!!! Thank you so much for this recipe. Was a bit worried re timing but it took 40 mins and it was just . Butter icing was amazing! Xx

  3. I have made this cake 3 times for different birthday parties and it has been declared fabulous every time! I’m just making a 4th one for my son’s birthday tomorrow. I’m a hopeless baker but this recipe has never failed me, so thank you
    I fill it it fresh whipped cream and fresh raspberries and coat the top and sides with the butter icing – it’s a fabulous variation, especially for the summer.

  4. Hi Charlotte, I’ve just made your cake and buttercream for my daughter’s 1st birthday cake, tastes delicious so thanks for the recipe! I just wondered whether you can freeze the chocolate buttercream? Sorry if you’ve already answered that before!

  5. Hi,
    Im making a chocolate cake and wanted to make this buttercream but I have picked up a bar of milk chocolate flavoured cake topping instead of proper chocolate. Do you think this would still work?

    • Charlotte Oates

      It depends on the consistency of the cake topping. The chocolate in the buttercream helps it to set, if the cake topping you have is quite runny then it’ll probably make the buttercream too runny too, if it’s quite firm then I suspect it’ll work OK.

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

Leave a Reply

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