As an enthusiastic home baker and food blogger, I make tons of recipes on the regular from treats that are super simple to some that are a bit more involved. But one of the classics that I always come back to is this easy chocolate frosting.
First of all, there are few people who are going to turn down a cookie or cupcake topped with a swirl of rich chocolate goodness on top. Second, it’s so quick and easy there’s no reason to turn to a canister of store-bought stuff.
Also, you can use this frosting on anything. From birthday cakes to a standard layer cake or cute sugar cookies and other tasty treats, it’s a winner on whatever you use it on. I made this batch for my homemade yellow sheet cake.
One of my favorite ways to use it is to spread it on vanilla cake or chocolate cupcakes. They’re both such traditional pairings — they’re my go-to baked comfort food.
If this is your first time making frosting at home, know that this recipe couldn’t be easier to follow. You’ll wind up with a perfect chocolate frosting that everyone will be asking the recipe for.
Why You’ll Love Chocolate Frosting
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What’s not to love about chocolatey, creamy frosting?
- Versatile – Chocolate is loved nearly universally so you can use this frosting on almost any cake or cookie that you want. You can also use it as a dip for fresh fruit or graham crackers, or to rim a coffee cup or cocktail glass.
- Customizable – You can do anything you want to make this your signature frosting from changing up the salt content to adding in other ingredients.
- Easy – With only a handful of ingredients and a few simple steps it couldn’t be easier to make this homemade chocolate frosting.
- Affordable – So many of the ingredients may already be in your pantry but those that aren’t are fairly low-cost.
Simple ingredients are the name of the game for this easy chocolate frosting recipe.
- Powdered sugar – Also known as confectioners’ sugar, this ingredient is responsible for giving the frosting its silky smooth texture.
- Unsweetened cocoa powder – Since you’ll be using bittersweet or dark chocolate this ingredient does not need to be sweet. Its purpose is to lend richness to the chocolatey frosting.
- Unsalted butter – Allow the butter to come to room temperature or microwave it at intervals to soften it. Avoid using melted butter — the frosting will not reach the right consistency.
- Hot milk – While you can heat it on the stovetop, it’s easiest to microwave the milk for 30 seconds.
- Vanilla extract – Vanilla helps to balance, and bring out, all of the flavors.
- Fine sea salt – Just a little of this is necessary to round out the flavor of all of the ingredients. If you are particularly fond of a salty/sweet combo you can always add more.
- Bittersweet or dark chocolate – To melt the chocolate, you can microwave at intervals, stirring in between each until the chocolate is smooth. If you prefer using the stovetop, you can use a double boiler method.
How To Make Chocolate Frosting
There’s no need to run to the store for a canister of frosting. Using mostly simple pantry staples, this is an easy recipe to whip up in no time.
- Fill a large mixing bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or use an electric mixer / hand mixer) with sugar, cocoa powder, butter, hot water, vanilla, and salt.
- Begin beating on low speed until the cocoa powder and powdered sugar are just moistened.
- Then, increase the mixer to medium speed.
- Continue to beat the mixture until all of the ingredients are completely combined.
- In a separate bowl, melt the chocolate using the double boiler method (or in the microwave).
- Mixing again on medium speed, slowly add the melted chocolate to the sugar mixture making sure to mix long enough so that it has a creamy texture. You may find that you’ll get a fluffier frosting if you switch from the paddle attachment to the whisk attachment.
- Once the melted chocolate is fully combined, allow the frosting to rest until it has thickened.
- Use an offset spatula to apply the frosting to cakes, cookies, or cupcakes.
There are all sorts of ways to vary this recipe to top whatever cake you want to make.
- White chocolate – Instead of darker versions, try melting white chocolate chips or chunks to add to the rest of the ingredients.
- Extracts – Choose almond for nuttiness, coffee for a bold flavor, or something like peppermint for a seasonal addition during the holidays.
- Mini chocolate chips – Gently fold in some miniature chocolate chips for added flavor and texture.
- Sprinkles – Mix in colorful sprinkles for a funfetti effect. Be mindful to not overmix so that the colors do not spread.
- Other chips – Try folding in peanut butter chips or butterscotch chips for another fun flavor.
- Edible glitter – Make the frosting festive by adding some sparkle to it.
- Vanilla – Instead of a chocolate frosting, make a vanilla buttercream by omitting the chocolate and cocoa powder.
- Coffee – Mix a bit of instant coffee powder with hot water and add it to the frosting for richer flavor.
- Marshmallow fluff – Add a bit of this ingredient to get an even more fluffy chocolate frosting.
Storage, Make Ahead and Freezing
It’s quick and easy to store chocolate frosting to use later.
Make ahead: You can make chocolate frosting ahead of time and store in the refrigerator for a day or two before using it.
Storage: Store frosting in an airtight container or ziploc bag for up to 5 days. Storing it in a plastic bag is particularly helpful if you want to pipe it onto baked goods — just snip the tip off the corner of the bag and pipe straight from it instead of transferring it to a pastry bag.
Freezer: Higher fat frostings freeze well thanks to their fat content. If you wind up with too much frosting, freeze it in a freezer-safe container or bag for the next time you need it.
Other Chocolatey Desserts
- 2 ¼ cups powdered sugar
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 8 tablespoon unsalted butter softened
- ¼ cup hot milk microwave for 30 seconds
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 ounces bittersweet or dark chocolate melted
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a large mixing bowl using an electric hand mixer, combine the sugar, cocoa powder, butter, hot water, vanilla and salt. Increase speed to medium and beat for 1 minute until fully combined.
- Add the melted chocolate, beating until fully mixed.
- Allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to let it thicken.
- Frost cake using an offset spatula.