The BEST Chocolate American Buttercream Frosting Recipe

If there’s anything I’m passionate about, it’s chocolate.  And finding the right chocolate buttercream recipe has been a challenge, but let me tell you… after a little time, A LOT of research, and various tweaks, this recipe has become one of my all time favorites!

I think one of the keys when approaching baking is simplicity. You don’t need tons of ingredients and a lot of time spent making buttercream frosting. This recipe is actually a variation of my American vanilla buttercream frosting, and both recipes only call for 5 ingredients! Super easy, and trust me… you will not be disappointed!

I want to point out that I do use less powdered sugar in this recipe than even my American vanilla buttercream. For my American vanilla buttercream frosting, I actually use about half the amount of powdered sugar that your typical American buttercream frostings call for, and really, that’s just my preference. I’ve always had an exceptional sweet tooth, but that 2:1 powered sugar to butter ratio (2 cups powdered sugar to 1 stick of butter) has always been just too sweet for me! So for this chocolate buttercream recipe, I actually cut my powdered sugar even more to limit that “hit you over the head” sweetness, and really let the chocolate taste shine!

Just like any of my recipes, I’ve sifted (😉😉) through many FAQs and troubleshooting problems/solutions. So, if you’re still with me, I’ll be covering things like:

  • Proper storage of this buttercream frosting
  • How long this recipe will be good for (and how long in advance you can prepare it)
  • What to do if you see air bubbles
  • What’s the secret ingredient to really turn up the chocolate flavor?
  • Using melted chocolate chips as opposed to cocoa powder

Starting off and similar to my American vanilla buttercream frosting:

  • Store in an air-tight container, and for added insurance cover the open container with saran wrap (I use Glad Press’n Seal) then cover it with the lid.
  • This frosting recipe can last up to one month in the refrigerator, and up to three months in the freezer, if stored properly.
  • As long as your kitchen room temperature does not exceed 70 degrees, this buttercream recipe can sit out at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Once you’re ready to frost your cake or cupcakes, just remember to take out your fridge-chilled frosting at least 3-4 hours in advance to get it to room temperature. For freezer-chilled, I typically take mine out the night before and let it thaw overnight.

Now, on to the air bubble problem <insert exaggerated eye-roll here>…

You’ll likely see air bubbles a handful of times throughout the process of working with buttercream frosting. Air bubbles get incorporated into buttercream frosting during the mixing process, and especially if you’re mixing at a high speed.

If you do see air bubbles develop as you make your frosting, DON’T STRESS! When all your ingredients are fully incorporated and mixed well, you will need to turn your mixer down to it’s lowest setting and mix on LOW for 2-3 minutes. The slow mixing speed will most certainly work those air bubbles out. Just give it a little time and you should start seeing your frosting mix back into its smooth texture. Singing to it also helps. 😬

And remember, if at ANY POINT during cake decorating, you notice that your frosting has developed air bubbles, just pop your bowl back onto the mixer and re-mix on low speed for a couple minutes until the frosting is smooth again. You can repeat this process as many times as you need to ensure your cake has that smooth frosting finish!

Earlier I mentioned a “secret ingredient” to really turn up the chocolate flavor. Perhaps less a secret, and more a lesser known fact?? But, the answer is… ESPRESSO!

Because espresso and chocolate have very similar flavor characteristics, espresso works to enhance the chocolate flavor and boosts some of the darker notes in chocolate without adding much noticeable coffee flavor. I actually also add in 1 cup of freshly brewed espresso coffee in my Very Chocolate Cake recipe… post coming soon!

Last but not least, I also wanted to go over using melted chocolate chips as opposed to cocoa powder. While using either will certainly yield a delicious chocolate buttercream frosting, I actually prefer using melted chocolate chips namely because the taste of the chocolate, in my opinion, is much richer. You really get that chocolatey taste, PLUS you can easily switch out semi-sweet chocolate chips for dark chocolate or white chocolate chips (using the same amount listed in the recipe below!) in case you want to change it up!

Again, it’s all about simplicity!!

I hope you enjoy this recipe, and if you try it, let me know what you think in the comments section below! Happy baking! 👨🏻‍🍳

THE BEST Chocolate American Buttercream Frosting Recipe

Total Time: 5 minutes

Servings: 1 7-8 inch layer cake

Keywords: American buttercream, chocolate buttercream, chocolate frosting, buttercream frosting recipe, best buttercream recipe, buttercream flavors, air bubbles, crusting buttercream, easy buttercream frosting recipe, best chocolate buttercream, best buttercream frosting


  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
  • 3 cups (6 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder


  1. Using a heat-proof bowl, melt chocolate chips in the microwave for 2-3 intervals of 30 seconds. Remember to do this step first to allow the chocolate to cool to room temperature before adding to your frosting!
  2. Place butter in mixing bowl and beat on a medium speed for about 1 minute with a paddle attachment, until smooth and fluffy.
    • (NOTE: If you forget to take your butter out of the fridge to reach room temperature, just microwave the butter for about 2 intervals of 10-15 seconds each. After first interval, turn butter so the bottom is now on top. But keep close watch to make sure the butter doesn’t melt!)
  3. SLOWLY add in powdered sugar, 1-2 cup at a time. You want to be sure you are adding the sugar slowly so as to not have a powdered sugar snow storm occur in your kitchen!
  4. Once fully mixed, add in vanilla, and beat on low-medium speed until fully incorporated.
  5. Dissolve the espresso powder in 2 teaspoons of the hottest tap water. On low speed, add the chocolate and coffee to the butter mixture and mix until blended.
    • If your frosting is too thick, mix in about 2-3 teaspoons of heavy cream until it reaches the desired consistency.
    • If the frosting is too thin, mix in about 1/4 cup of powdered sugar until it reaches the desired consistency.

Recipe Notes

This recipe will cover 1 7-8 inch cake, or frost 12-16 cupcakes (depending on how much frosting you use).

If you plan on piping rosettes or other details onto your cake, I’d recommend making 1 1/2 – 2 batches of this recipe. I’ll typically have left-over frosting, but personally, I’d prefer to have too much than too little. Plus, you can also use left-over frosting on another cake or cupcakes! Just remember to store it properly! 😉

Suggested Tools: KitchenAid mixer with paddle attachment, spatula

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