Vanilla or chocolate? This easy chocolate buttercream recipe makes a firm argument for the latter.
This American-style buttercream is infused with rich dark chocolate; has smooth, silky texture that can be spread with ease; and has a rich, buttery base. Is your mouth watering yet?
This chocolate buttercream pairs well with a variety of cake flavors, can be used to decorate cakes and would also work well as a sandwich cookie or doughnut filling.
Easy chocolate buttercream recipe
Yield: about 3 cups
- ½ cup (1 stick or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
- 4 cups powdered sugar, divided
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 3½ ounces chocolate, melted and slightly cooled (see recipe note)
- Milk or cream, to thin (optional)
International readers may enjoy our handy metric conversion guide.
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and 2 cups of the powdered sugar until smooth and slightly fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes on medium speed.
2. Stop mixing and add the vanilla, salt and melted chocolate. Resume mixing on low speed to combine, mixing until the chocolate leaves no streaks.
3. Add the remaining powdered sugar, half a cup at a time, until the mixture reaches the desired consistency (see recipe note). You may not use all of the sugar.
Your buttercream is ready! Any cake, cookies or treats should consider themselves lucky to be topped or filled with this sweet stuff.
Unsalted butter is best for this recipe, as different brands include different amounts of salt in salted butter. It’s more reliable to use unsalted butter and add salt. If you do use unsalted butter, omit the added salt in the recipe.
The standard size for gourmet chocolate bars is 3½ ounces. If you are using baker’s chocolate, which comes in 1-ounce portions, you can use 3 ounces instead.
You can use dark, bittersweet or milk chocolate for this recipe; whichever one suits your mood and preference.
The chocolate should be melted and slightly cooled before adding it to the butter. It should still be liquid, but slightly thickened and not very hot to the touch.
You can substitute cocoa powder for the melted chocolate. Substitute 4 tablespoons of sifted unsweetened cocoa powder for the melted chocolate in this recipe.
Your final consistency can vary: It may be thicker if you are using the buttercream as a filling or for piping, or thinner if you want to spread the buttercream smoothly on top of a cake. If you find the buttercream is too thin, add more powdered sugar; if it is too thick, add milk or cream.
Using your buttercream
What types of cakes taste good with this chocolate buttercream? Great question. A classic chocolate or yellow cake are both great picks, but think outside the box! This buttercream would also pair well with more unexpected cake flavors, such as chocolate wolfberry cupcakes or red velvet cake.
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in December 2015 and was updated in January 2018.