Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
This Chocolate Buttercream with Melted Chocolate is a smooth and light buttercream with a deliciously rich chocolate flavor. It’s the perfect chocolate frosting recipe for decorating a moist chocolate cake and/or cupcakes!
Why This Recipe Works
- Chocolate frosting made with real chocolate. This recipe really delivers on the deliciously rich chocolate flavor because we use real chocolate! This recipe calls for a semisweet or bittersweet chocolate bar melted in the frosting to create a richer chocolate buttercream. Many chocolate buttercream recipes call for cocoa powder, but I love the texture and flavor of using melted chocolate way more!
- Silky smooth buttercream recipe. Using melted chocolate helps us get a smoother texture than if we used cocoa powder. Even using baking chocolate over chocolate chips will give you a smoother consistency to the buttercream since baking chocolate melts easier than chocolate chips. This is how we get an extra silky smooth buttercream!
- Easy chocolate buttercream. This chocolate buttercream is considered an American buttercream, which is the easiest and simplest type of buttercream to make; it requires minimal steps and ingredients.
- Unsalted Butter: Use slightly chilled room temperature butter, meaning the butter isn’t soft like it would be at room temperature. The butter should still feel a *tad* cold. Not too soft and not too cold. You want the butter to be cold, but not too firm. I like to pull the butter out of the fridge 20-30 minutes before using it. If the butter is too soft then it will continue getting softer as it’s whipped, making your buttercream too lax and possibly melty.
- Powdered Sugar: Adds the sweetness! If you like a really sweet frosting, add more powdered sugar, just remember that the more powdered sugar you add the more heavy cream you’ll need in order to make it a smooth and spreadable. Sift the powdered sugar before using it for an even smoother texture.
- Semi-Sweet Chocolate: I used a Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate bar. Chocolate buttercream with melted chocolate instead of cocoa powder provides a smoother texture and a richer chocolate flavor.
- Chop the chocolate. Then microwave it until melted. Let sit for 5-10 minutes while you continue with the recipe.
- Cream the butter. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter until the color is light and the texture is fluffy.
- Add the powdered sugar. Once the butter is creamed, add the powdered sugar a little at a time. Then add the vanilla.
- Add the melted chocolate. Pour the room temperature melted chocolate over the creamed butter and powdered sugar.
- Combine until smooth. Mix on until the chocolate is fully combined and the frosting is smooth, light and fluffy. If needed, add a tablespoon of heavy cream, and mix for another minute until light and fluffy.
- Add the heavy cream. Add a tablespoon of heavy cream and mix for another minute until light and fluffy. Add more powdered sugar or cream to reach your desired consistency.
Powdered Sugar: Sift the powdered sugar before use to remove any clumps. This will give you a much smoother buttercream consistency. As always, you can add more powdered sugar to the buttercream if it’s not thick enough, or vice versa; you can add additional heavy cream to make it a more spreadable consistency.
Melted Chocolate: Make sure the melted chocolate is room temperature and not hot or warm. If the temperature of the melted chocolate is too warm, it will melt the butter. When microwaving the chocolate, remove it from the microwave every 30 seconds and stir before putting it in for another 30 seconds. This will help ensure that any melted chocolate doesn’t get burned before all the chocolate is melted.
Butter: When making homemade chocolate buttercream frosting, use slightly cold but not firm butter. You want the butter to be cold so that it maintains a solid form while being beaten. Overly soft room temperature butter will be too lax when whipped. Make sure the butter is well creamed before adding the other ingredients. The color will be much lighter and the texture will be light and fluffy.
If you are storing the frosting, I suggest rewhipping the frosting so that it’s light and fluffy prior to decorating cakes or cupcakes.
This recipe will frost about 18-24 cupcakes or a 3-tiered 8-inch cake.
Make Ahead, Storing, and Freezing
Store the chocolate buttercream frosting with melted chocolate in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week. Before frosting cakes or cupcakes, remove the frosting from the fridge and bring to room temperature. Give it another whip in your stand mixer to return the light and fluffy texture to the buttercream.
To freeze, store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 2 months. Remove and let thaw in the fridge overnight. Remove from the fridge and let come to room temperature. Beat with beaters or in a stand mixer to get the buttercream to be light and fluffy again.
Buttercream is essentially butter, or another form of fat, (sometimes people use shortening or a combination of both shortening and butter), sugar, and heavy cream whipped together until light and fluffy. You can add flavors into the buttercream such as chocolate, fresh fruit, fruit purees, and extracts. You can get very creative when it comes to making buttercream. The flavor possibilities are endless! This recipe is a simple and very approachable CHOCOLATE buttercream frosting recipe. This is a recipe you can use on cookies, brownies, chocolate cupcakes … or, as a finger dip. 🙂
Yes, keep it in an airtight container then store in the freezer for up to 2 months. Remove the chocolate buttercream from the freezer a day prior to using it. Let it thaw overnight in the fridge and then remove it from the fridge to bring to room temperature. Give it a nice whip in a stand mixer or with electric beaters to get the texture to be nice and fluffy again.
Just like in any recipe, if you substitute one type of ingredient for a different type, you’ll get a different taste, a different texture, or both! In some cases you can get away with using salted butter or unsalted butter interchangeably because you can reduce or add the amount of salt in the recipe. However, this recipe doesn’t call for any salt. So if you use salted butter, you’ll be adding an ingredient that isn’t called for. Keep that in mind if you decide to use salted butter versus unsalted butter.
Technically you can 🙂 Chocolate chips contain preservatives and stabilizers that make it harder for them to melt when heated. This is why chocolate chips hold up their shape in brownies or Chocolate Chip Cookies instead of melting and combining into the batters or doughs. Baking chocolate is different because it doesn’t contain those stabilizers so it melts more smoothly.
More Frosting Recipes
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting (with melted chocolate)
- Melt the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl at half power, stirring every 30 seconds until smooth. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes. (You don't want to add hot melted chocolate to the butter because it'll melt it and/or make it VERY soft).
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the butter on medium high speed for 2-3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and slowly add the powdered sugar. Once the powdered sugar is mixed in, add the vanilla. Beat for 30 seconds.
- Pour in the melted chocolate and beat on medium high speed for 2 minutes or until light and fluffy, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl so that everything is evenly incorporated. Add the heavy cream (if needed) and beat for another minute.
After making chocolate frosting a million times over the years, I’ve grown partial to chocolate frosting made with melted chocolate. This recipe was updated Nov. 29, 2021, with new photos, step-by-step instructions, and an adapted recipe to feature using melted chocolate rather than cocoa powder.
This recipe was originally published on June 11, 2019. It was republished on Jan. 17, 2022, to include additional information and photos.