Whipped Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

This is my favorite chocolate frosting (and incidentally, that is yellow cake #9 that I made during my Quest to Perfect Yellow Cake and just so you know, it wasn’t even close to perfect which resulted in #10 through #15). #16 is happening right now in my kitchen. Today. And I have a good feeling that it is The One. But today isn’t about the cake. It’s about the frosting.

Simple as simple can be, this frosting is four easy ingredients whipped together into creamy, fluffy goodness.

We eat it on cake.

We eat it atop cupcakes.

We eat it sandwiched between graham crackers.

And we have even been known to slather it on a random brownie or two.

Whipped Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Because it is so simple to make and the taste is so incredibly ethereal and decadent, it is my chocolate buttercream of choice to use anytime I want to frost something. Anything.

I haven’t used it for finer piping details (like a small star shape) but it works magically well for frosting layer cakes, especially when you employ the super technical frosting method of randomly swooping the frosting over the cake in swirly dips and divets like I do. Cake decorating professionals should probably look away at this point.

Whipped Chocolate Buttercream

And the frosting is great for piping a large swirl on a cupcake (video coming Monday!), too. I don’t know about you but it doesn’t get much better than a really great cupcake topped with a giant dollop of whipped chocolate buttercream frosting.

One Year Ago: Honey Lime Tilapia
Two Years Ago: Garlic and Herb Butter Spread
Three Years Ago: Classic Chicken Noodle Soup

Whipped Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Yield: Makes 2-3 cups frosting, enough for a 9-inch layer cake

Whipped Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

I highly suggest using semisweet or bittersweet chocolate even if you are mostly a milk chocolate fan. The chocolate lightens beautifully and doesn't have an overly dark chocolate taste. And speaking of chocolate, use a good-quality chocolate chip. It really does make a difference since that is the only chocolate flavor in the recipe. Ghirardelli semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips are my preference - they taste amazing and melt really well. If refrigerating this frosting, you may need to let it come to room temperature and whip it with an electric mixer for 1-2 minutes before using it to frost a cake/cupcakes. The frosting is on the soft, creamy side - I've used it to pipe swirls on cupcakes but haven't used it for finer piping like a small star tip for cakes. Finally, if you are using unsalted butter, throw in a pinch of salt with the powdered sugar.


  • 1 cup (2 sticks, 16 tablespoons) butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (6 ounces) good-quality semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips, melted and cooled to room temperature


  1. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer or in a large bowl using a handheld electric mixer, whip the butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Gradually add the powdered sugar (so it doesn't fly everywhere!) and mix until well-combined and the frosting is creamy, 3-4 minutes. Blend in the vanilla.
  2. Drizzle in the cooled melted chocolate and whip the frosting on medium speed until it is creamy and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Frost away!

Recipe Source: Mel’s Kitchen Cafe (from a really old recipe binder that I’ve used for 10 years or so)

76 Responses to Whipped Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  1. Allison says:

    Mel–I love your recipes and this frosting is amazing! It probably won’t last long but how long do you think I can refrigerate it?

    • Mel says:

      In a covered tupperware should work – it stiffens up quite a bit in the refrigerator so it will need a bit of time to soften at room temperature.

  2. Ketz says:

    Do you think I can make this a day in advance and keep it in the fridge to frost the next day ?

  3. Karen says:

    I used this frosting for Valentines Day cupcakes. I iced Devils Food box cake cupcakes. I actually used Ghiradelli dark chocolate wafers and icing turned out great. A hit at Sunday School. Every one asked me about icing. So I guess it’s Okay with high quality wafers.

  4. Joey says:

    Would this be a good icing to go under fondant? Do you think it would hold up? Thanks.

  5. Laura says:

    Do you use unsalted or salted butter usually in this recipe?

  6. Priya says:

    Hi Mel, iam just checking, can this icing be used under the fondant icing

  7. Talya says:

    This frosting is absolutely divine. I’ve made it once awhile ago, and am making it again today. My baking can be unpredictable, so I love how this recipe is so straightforward. I got lots of compliments when I made it!

  8. I was linking to this frosting for an upcoming post and realized I never commented! I’ve made it several times now and it’s just So Good. LOVE this recipe!!

  9. Laura says:

    Made this today for my yellow cake and somehow had about a cup left over. Can I refridgerate this frosting? Maybe put it on graham crackers later?

    • Mel says:

      Yes, it stiffens up a bit in the fridge but if taken out to soften at room temperature it would be delicious on graham crackers (said from personal experience!).

  10. Stephany says:

    Hi Mel! I just love your blog! There is just something about you and your blog that is so wonderful. It feels just so comfortable to be here. Thank you.
    So I made your light and fluffy yellow cupcakes AGAIN! because they are SO yummy and I made this frosting to go with it today for the first time. I. just. love it!! I love this fluffy icing! So smooth and creamy, not too chocolaty, just enough so that you can still taste the flavor of the cake. I love the look of piling it on high.
    You’re awesome!

  11. jen says:

    Truly incredible chocolate frosting Mel. So rich and chocolatey. On your Unbelievable Chocolate Cake it’s a chocolate lover’s dream come true.

  12. Michelle says:

    I wanted to make a healthier version. So I used sugar free morals and light butter. It was really good. And instead of oil in my cake mix I used 6 oz of 0 fat Yogurt and 3 egg whites instead of eggs. My family didn’t know the difference and it was really good.

  13. Terry says:

    I have used this frosting more than once and always get rave reviews Miss Mel! Thank you for this recipe. I agree with the gal that said it reminded her of a 3 Muskateers bar center but much more “mousse-like”.

  14. Melissa says:

    Hi Mel,

    Sorry I asked you this question about the magical frosting before I saw this one and I am a real novice with baking, but I make all the effort I can for my daughter’s birthdays. Oncie I frost with this chocolate frosting, can I pipe on top of it in another colour on this frosting? I assume refrigerating first would be helpful if I can pipe on top of it? Thank you.

    • Mel says:

      Hey Melissa – yes, you could pipe on top of this frosting. It’s on the soft side so refrigerating it before piping it on top might help.

  15. Lacey says:

    I made this frosting yesterday to frost The BEST Yellow Cake Recipe aka Mel’s Perfect Yellow Cake recipe. I will start this out by saying I’m not a huge chocolate fan, but you can’t leave a cake unfrosted! I followed the recipe as written and used Baker’s Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips as it’s what I had on hand. The frosting color was a very, very light brown, but it really paired perfectly with the yellow cake! Thank you for sharing!!

  16. Rick says:

    Hi Mel, for piping the frosting for the cake, do I have to double the frosting recipe?

    • Mel says:

      It kind of depends on how big your cake is but to be safe, I’d probably double. This single recipe doesn’t make a ton of frosting.

  17. Monique says:

    I love a from scratch cake but they don’t compare to a box cake. A friend came up with this to die for recipe using a white or yellow box cake. Here it is
    (It was orginally for rainbow cupcakes with cream cheese icing but is good as a white cake. also I found that the amount of water was too much for my liking. What I would recommend is to start with one cup and gradually add until you reach the consistency of your liking) Other than that this cake is delish and any icing will be perfect on it! Enjoy!
     1 box of Pillsbury traditional vanilla box cake mix/or Pillsbury white cake mix
     2 ¾ cup water
     ½ canola oil
     4 egg whites
     1 box of Betty Crocker classic gel food coloring
     Baking spray (bakers joy or Pam)
    For the icing you will need:
     1 8oz package of cream cheese
     1 stick of butter
     1-3 cups confectioners’ powdered sugar (depends on your taste)
     1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  18. Haley says:

    This was the perfect amount for my 8-inch layer cake. Looked and tasted great and was easy- thanks for the recipe!

  19. Angela Montgomery says:

    I made this cake today and I must say that this is the best recipe for a yellow cake. The cake is very moist and fluffy! Thank you for posting this recipe!!

  20. Stephanie says:

    Can you sub in coconut oil for the butter?

  21. Shelley says:

    Hi Mel! I just wanted to say that I made this for Dan’s birthday cake today – he had asked for a “mousse-y” frosting, so I made this just as your recipe outlined, but at the end I gently folded in a couple large scoops of whipped topping and it made a really nice light, not-too-chocolatey chocolate frosting. Just thought I’d share! Thanks for all your super ideas. 🙂

  22. Rachel says:

    I made this, subbing a few tablespoons of butter with cream cheese. It gives it a richer taste without being cream-cheesy. I used 63% cacao chocolate. It was a big hit!

  23. Michelle says:

    Hi there,
    Can I use this chocolate frosting under my fondant on a cake?

    • Mel says:

      Michelle – I’m not sure as I haven’t tried it and don’t work with fondant often. You’ll have to experiment. Good luck!

  24. Heather says:

    Hi! Just made your chocolate frosting and it was WONDERFUL! I received tons of compliments! Thanks!

  25. Deb says:

    Used this to frost your Ultimate Yellow Cupcakes and what a perfect marriage! This frosting comes together so easily and it tastes wonderful. Love it!

  26. Isabel says:

    Hi I was wondering if this frosting would work as a crumb coat under fondant.

  27. Danielle says:

    I used this frosting on yellow cupcakes tonight and it was DELICIOUS!! I used a box of the Bakers Bittersweet chocolate and it was perfect! I’ll definitely try Ghirardelli next time though.

  28. Wendy says:

    Lovely frosting, but not as dark as I had hoped. I made 1 1/2 times the recipe (needed a little more but not quite a double batch) and used Guittard semi-sweet chocolate chips melted down. Frosting was a lighter, almost milk chocolate color – probably should have used Callebaut or even a bittersweet. What kind of chocolates do you use in your baking?

    • Mel says:

      Hi Wendy – this frosting does whip up to be slightly lighter than a deep, dark chocolate frosting but I’ve found the taste to still be rich in chocolate flavor. I almost always use the Ghirardelli Bittersweet chips (slightly larger in size than chocolate chips and they melt wonderfully). Hope that helps!

  29. […] really well.  Slipped right out of the pans, and frosted perfectly!  And I will suggest using Mel’s Chocolate Buttercream.  It’s lovely.  So no matter where you live, you have no excuse to not make a perfect yellow […]

  30. Erin says:

    This frosting was amazing! I made chocolate on chocolate cupcakes for my friend’s son yesterday and he said he loved how light the frosting was. I was wondering, this frosting reminded me of the nougat inside a Three Musketeers bar, do you think this frosting could be chilled, shaped into balls, deep chilled (or frozen) and then dipped in chocolate to make a truffle-like bite of yumminess?

  31. Tanja says:

    Hi There, I would like to know what frosting works best with fondant?

    • Mel says:

      Tanja – I’m not really a fondant expert; I’ve only used it a time or two. I would try googling it to see what you come up with. Sorry I am not more help!

  32. Jen M says:

    How many cupcakes will this frost using the flower piping method?

  33. Nicole says:

    Put this on top of your yellow cupcake recipe…oh so good!!! So glad to now have such a great chocolate icing recipe!!!

  34. Meghan says:

    May I ask what you did with all those extra cakes? You said 5 were inedible but the other 10? That’s a lot. That is great you exercise before the kids wake up/after they go to bed. Always good to see how great you can look despite having 5 kids! 🙂

  35. Nita says:

    This frosting was awesome and delicious! I used them on your light and fluffy cupcakes and they were so delicious. I’m trying to figure out what I’ll make for dessert tonight so I can use the rest of the frosting on it. Thanks for all your great recipes. I’m so glad I found your site a few years ago. 🙂

  36. Caroline says:

    oh my goodness. where has this frosting been all my life?! amazing! I made the yellow cupcakes with this frosting on top and the combo was to die for. Thank you for posting these two recipes in the most timely manner – just days before my baby’s 1st birthday! Made for a delicious party. I just adore you and this site, Mel! thank you!!!

  37. Sheila says:

    Good and easy! I piped it onto your yellow cupcake recipe and it piped beautifully. Thank you!

  38. Heather says:

    I just made this for my hubbies bday cake for tomorrow. Seriously!!!! This is fabulous. Even my 8 year old said “awesome.” Thanks for all your yummy recipes.

  39. Darci says:

    Hi Mel,
    You don’t know me, but I just put together recently that we are cousins once removed (kind of;0). I’m cousins with your Racker cousins- love that family. And to top it off I live in Minnesota too- Minneapolis area. I’ve been following you for a couple of years and you are a wonderful blogger and cook. LOVE your recipes. Love you even more now that I’ve put together these little connections. Keep up the great work. My recipe book is overflowing with your recipes. Thank you!!

  40. Mel says:

    Wow Mel! Really good frosting on a moist fluffy cake is hard to beat! I’m keeping fingers crossed that cake#16 is THE One so you can post that recipe soon and I can bust out my cake pan and try it with this frosting.

  41. Missy says:

    I was searching your site just yesterday to find a chocolate frosting recipe. Thanks for the timely post! I’ve got chocolate on the brain. 🙂

  42. Katie says:

    Thanks for the quick response! Luckily I do enjoy exercise and do it often. I just have to master the moderation thing! 🙂 I think you’re awesome by the way!

  43. Ela says:

    Hi Mel, which frosting do you prefer or like better, this one or the chocolate version of your ” The Best Frosting?”

    By the way, can “The Best Frosting” be piped into roses?


    • Mel says:

      Hi Ela – the magical frosting is in a league of its own, truly. It is more buttery and a totally different texture and flavor than this one. The Best Frosting can be piped into roses but it does need to be kept at cool room temperature so it doesn’t melt.

  44. Kelly says:

    I am so excited for your yellow cake. I have been trying for years to find one from scratch that I like! I hate using box mixes, but really have struggled to find a good from scratch recipe. The frosting looks delicious! I can’t wait to try it. Thank you!

  45. Katie says:

    I have a question that’s baffled me from you and other food bloggers? How do you stay so trim while making/testing 16 cakes? I love to bake and would love to experiment with my own variations and such but if I were to make that many cakes in such a short time I’d be 300 lbs! Maybe you just have the self control I lack! I feel like I’m always being held back from one of my favorite hobbies because of the fear of an expanding waistline…any tips? Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      Hi Katie – trust me, it hasn’t been real great for my BMI to have 15 yellow cakes laying around, although at least five of those were completely inedible thanks to experimentation gone wrong. 🙂 I definitely go through ups and downs where I indulge more than I should and then have to get myself back on the “moderation train” again. I’m actually there right now. Desperately trying to be smart in how I eat to shed some pounds that somehow found their way on my body during the holidays and deep winter. I can’t speak for other bloggers, but for me, I exercise for the main purpose of supporting my love of food. With five kids, time is at a premium so I usually wake up before they are up and running and exercise then or I do it when they go to bed at night (and I try to fit it in at least 4 but hopefully more like 5 times a week). Also, while I am definitely guilty of over-indulging at times, when I make treats (or say, 15 yellow cakes), I do try to stick with the moderation theme and enjoy a small piece instead of half the cake. And I give away lots of our baked goods (or freeze them for sharing later). I don’t have a magic solution, and there is definitely a lot of jiggle on my body (where I don’t necessarily want jiggle) but I guess exercise and eating right with a few small treats thrown in here is what I strive for. 🙂

  46. Lafayette says:

    Is this the same chocolate frosting you use for your chocolate frosted brownies?

    • Mel says:

      Lafayette – nope, this is a bit different although they are similar in creaminess and texture. This frosting relies on chocolate chips for the chocolate flavor where the frosting on the brownies is cocoa-based.

  47. Kate says:

    Mel! You knew I wanted to see this recipe.

    My husband asked for a Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Frosting and I grabbed your Chocolate Cake recipe but I’ve been looking for a Chocolate Frosting recipe. You’ve saved the day!

  48. Anna says:

    I’ve only got bars of chocolate these days, and I’m trying to work my way through the pantry instead of buying something more at the grocery.

    Would bar chocolate work okay for this application, or do the chips have something in them that the recipe needs? Will substituting change the texture?

    • Mel says:

      Anna – yes, bars of chocolate will work just fine, too. Chocolate chips or bars – but NOT the almond bark/candy melt wafers or blocks, if that makes sense.

  49. Kim in MD says:

    Yeah! I have been waiting for you to share this recipe ever since you posted your yellow cupcake recipe! I hope you post your perfected yellow cake recipe soon, because I am hosting a party in April and it would be perfect dessert to serve! Have a great weekend, Mel!

  50. Valerie says:

    I actually made your yellow cupcakes yesterday and the buttercream frosting. The frosting was SOOOO good! It was kinda funny though – I had read through the comments on your other cupcake recipe and read several negative “cornbread” complaints. Oddly enough, that’s exactly what my husband said (without reading any comments!) I thought they had a delicious flavor, but they did taste “heavy” to me. So this is my question: Will scratch cakes/cupcakes always have that heaviness, or did I over-flour? (I don’t have a scale, but I did use your recommended scoop and level method) Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      Hi Valerie, from-scratch cakes and cupcakes will never taste exactly like a boxed mix, probably, thanks to the lack of additional preservatives and chemicals that give boxed cakes their unique taste and texture. However, from-scratch can still be light and tender and fluffy. Over flouring will definitely make a heavier, coarser cupcake. If you don’t have a scale, err on the side of measuring the flour with a very light hand. I dip and sweep when I don’t use a scale but I make sure that I give the flour a super good fluff before dipping in so that the flour doesn’t pack down. I’ve only ever made the yellow cupcakes with all purpose flour but you could try cake flour if you want a lighter texture…but I really think you can get them lighter by weighing the flour or using a bit lighter hand while measuring. Hope that helps!

  51. Teresa says:

    Looks fabulous, and so easy. I’ve been eagerly awaiting this for the past couple of days. I plan on cutting the frosting recipe in half and using it to frost the 12 yellow cupcakes from the other day. Can’t wait to taste two amazing recipes put together!

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