This is the best Chocolate Frosting recipe ever and I really don’t exaggerate. It’s so airy and light, but pipes beautifully with a gorgeous sheen. Not overly sweet, nuanced with vanilla, and extraordinarily fluffy – thanks to whipping cream and an extended beating in the stand mixer.
I call it Whipped Chocolate Frosting because so much air is whipped in. The tested-till-perfect recipe is super easy to make, too. All you need is cocoa powder and a handful of simple ingredients.
It is the perfect chocolate icing to frost my near-famous Moist Chocolate Cake, Moist Vanilla Cake, Fluffy Cupcakes, or chewy brownie recipe. Heck, it would be delicious on this Portuguese Orange Cake, too. OR you may want to ditch the cake and just rub it all over your body.
Once you’ve fallen in love with this whipped chocolate frosting, you’re definitely gonna want to try my fluffy Vanilla Frosting, too. What are you waiting for? You’re only 5 minutes away from the dreamiest, tastiest chocolate buttercream.
Cocoa, Butter, Cream: Gather Your Ingredients and Let’s Make Amazing Chocolate Frosting
To make this rich, fluffy chocolate buttercream frosting, perfect for icing your layer cakes, gather the key ingredients.
- Butter (room temperature): Provides a creamy base and helps achieve a fluffy texture. It is essential to use unsalted butter. Salted butter can be swapped into many baking recipes, but for frosting, it is absolutely not an option.
- Confectioners’ sugar: Provides sweetness and contributes to the fluffy, spreadable consistency.
- Unsweetened Cocoa powder: Provides deep chocolate flavor and color. You can use Dutch process or natural cocoa powder.
- Whipping cream: aka heavy cream or double cream, this helps achieve a light, airy texture.
- Vanilla extract: Enhances the chocolate flavor with notes of warmth and depth.
- Pinch of salt: Brings out the flavor of the chocolate and provides contrast.
Can I use milk instead of cream?
Yes, you can replace the whipping cream with milk, but the texture will be softer. The photo below was frosting made with milk, you can see how fluffy and airy it is, but it won’t hold a stiff peak for piping onto cupcakes.
Ready to get to work? Here’s what equipment you’ll need to whip up that perfect chocolate frosting.
Still absolute heaven as a filling and frosting on a cake, just not the best choice for piping details.
Gather Your Tools
• Mixer: A stand mixer is ideal for the extra wattage and strength, but a hand mixer will also do the job!
• Spatula: To make sure your ingredients are properly mixed.
• Sifter: Optional, but this ensures that none of those pesky cocoa lumps sneak into your masterpiece if you’re piping with fancy tips.
• Measuring cups and spoons: To get the exact measurements of sugar, butter and other ingredients so your frosting has just the right amount of sweetness.
Let’s make some frosting!
How to Make Homemade Frosting: Step-by-Step Directions for the Cake Icing of Your Dreams
Making American-style buttercream like this is as easy as beating butter with confectioners’ sugar and adding flavoring. The key is beating until the frosting gets lighter in texture and color. Here’s exactly what to do:
- Start by beating just the butter on its own to loosen it up and let the mechanical energy of the stand mixer warm it up a bit more. This makes it easier to incorporate the cocoa and confectioners’ sugar (aka icing sugar) without making it fly all over the kitchen.
- Add the cocoa powder and the sugar. Start with the mixer speed on low to incorporate these powdery ingredients until they are evenly moistened. Again, this prevents an airborne cocoa powder tornado.
- Increase the speed to high and set the timer for 5 minutes.
Expert Tips for the Best Chocolate Frosting Ever
You want the fluffiest-ever icing on the cake? I’ve got you with these pro bakers’ secrets.
- The key is to really think of air as an ingredient. Set your timer when beating the mixture. You will watch the frosting go from thick and dull to shiny, airy, and doubled in volume. Have you ever had a frosting that was unpleasantly thick and just too sweet? This pro technique is the solution to making a buttercream frosting that tastes like bakery quality.
- I highly recommend using a whisk attachment on your stand mixer for best results, but a hand mixer or a paddle attachment will work. The color and the texture will get lighter with every minute that you beat it, and you really maximize this with the whisk.
- Use softened butter but not melting soft. Your finger should leave an indent when you press it. See my pro techniques to quickly bring butter to room temperature.
Can You Prepare Homemade Frosting in Advance? Here are some Make Ahead and Storage Tips
This whipped chocolate frosting can indeed be made in advance. However, keep in mind that confectioners’ sugar is absorbs a ton of liquid and will continue to thicken up as it stands (even for 20 minutes). So if you don’t make it right before you use it, you’ll want to give it one more final whip (even 30 seconds) just before frosting your cake, and you might need a splash more cream.
• Refrigerate: Place your finished frosting in a sealed airtight container and store it in the fridge. It will stay good for up to a week (but be careful not to place it near any foods with strong smells, like raw onions).
• Freeze: If you want to keep it longer, try freezing your frosting. Just put it in an airtight container or zipper-lock bag and freeze for up to three months.
• Thaw: Before using, take the frosting out of the freezer and let it thaw at room temperature for 1-2 hours – or place it in the refrigerator overnight – before piping or spreading onto cakes and cupcakes.
• Mix: If your frosting has gotten thicker over time, add a bit of heavy cream until you get the desired consistency and re-whip it for a minute or so before icing your cake or cupcakes.
• Storing a frosted cake: once the frosting is on the cake, you can leave it at room temperature for up to 2 days under a cake dome or in an airtight container. If you live in a hot climate, you’ll want to refrigerate it though or the butter will melt and the icing will turn runny. Either way, bring the cake back up to room temperature before serving for the best soft texture.
Making Icing for a Cake? Here are 3 Simple Steps for Frosting a Cake the Easy Way.
Get your cake frosted in a few easy steps. Here’s what you’ll need to do:
- Prepare: Start off by prepping your cake – level it, trim off any over-cooked edges if needed, and crumb coat it. A crumb coat is the first layer of frosting you apply to your cake before you add the final coat. It’s a thin layer that helps create an even base for your design and traps all the crumbs on your cake so they don’t get mixed in with your beautiful frosting. After you spread your crumb coat, chill it for about 30 minutes before applying the top layer of frosting – this will help it harden and stay put!
- Spread: Now you can start spreading the frosting. Start with a dollop of icing on the center of the cake plate you will be using to present your cake. Place your bottom cake layer on top to “glue” it in place while you ice the rest. Frost the cake with an angled spatula, going around the top of the cake first then filling in the sides. Add you next layer and repeat.
- Finish: If you like, pipe decorations over the base frosting layer with a piping bag and tip. Add extra flair with a star tip or basket weave tip. Or simply use a spoon to make decorative swoops.
What is the difference between buttercream and whipped frosting?
The difference between European buttercream and whipped frosting is typically the presence of egg whites. But that’s the short answer.
There’s also American buttercream frosting, which is just butter, confectioners’ sugar, and flavoring (plus maybe a splash of milk). So a frosting can actually be a whipped frosting and a buttercream.
Yes, whipped icing is the same as whipped frosting.
Whipped cream and whipped frosting are not the same thing – typically. That’s the short answer.
Whipped cream can be used to frost a cake, so whipped cream can be a frosting. Whipped frosting, however, can’t be used in place of whipped cream in most applications.
Whipped icing is made by whipping the butter, sugar and cream together for an extended time until the icing goes from thick and dull to shiny and doubled in volume.
Fluffy Chocolate Frosting Recipe
- ¾ cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 4 cups confectioners’ sugar see notes
- 1 ½ cups cocoa powder either natural or dutch process are fine
- ⅔ cup whipping cream (aka heavy cream, or 35% m.f. cream)
- 2 tbsp pure vanilla extract
- pinch salt
- Add butter to bowl of stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Start on low speed then gradually increase to high and beat for about a minute until butter is soft and fluffy.
- Add confectioners' sugar, cocoa powder, cream, vanilla and salt. Beat on low speed until the dry ingredients are incorporated, then increase speed to high and whip the frosting for a full 5 minutes, pausing a couple of times to scrape down sides and bottom of the bowl.
- Can I use milk instead of cream? Yes, you can, but the texture will be softer and more mousse-like. It won’t hold stiff peaks for piping details or crisp swoops on cupcakes, but it’s perfect for filling and frosting a cake using a knife. See the question answered in blog post for a photo of cake being frosted with frosting made with milk instead of cream.
- Beating the butter first separately starts to work in some air in before the cold cream firms it up and increases the surface area of the butter for the dry ingredients to be more easily incorporated.
- Sift your confectioners’ sugar and cocoa into the butter if you are going to pipe your frosting using fancy tips. This ensures no lumps, which could clog a small piping tip. I don’t bother sifting if I’m just spreading the frosting on, as a 5 minute whip does a really thorough job of incorporating everything,
- Make sure your cake is completely cool before you add frosting.
- Do NOT use salted butter in this recipe. It will ruin your frosting. Unsalted butter is the only option.
Last Updated on May 3, 2023 by Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD