This is our go-to chocolate frosting recipe! It’s so delicious and easy to make. Perfect for topping cakes, cookies, graham crackers, and more!
Chocolate frosting can be a tricky thing, or at least I used to think it was. Up until very recently, I thought there were two versions, both irreparably flawed.
Version #1: frosting made with cocoa powder and softened butter. This makes a light, fluffy frosting that tastes like cocoa powder. My brain wants to put eating cocoa powder in the same category as eating sawdust and instant coffee granules (i.e., not good).
Version #2: frosting made with cocoa powder and melted butter. This makes a really delicious, fudgey frosting, but as the melted butter cools and starts to re-solidify, the frosting hardens and turns into fudge. It tastes great, but you have to be lightening quick to use it before it hardens. Not very forgiving stuff!
A few weeks ago, when I was making my 4 year-old’s birthday cake, I wanted a chocolate frosting that combined the fluffiness of frosting made with softened butter and the rich chocolate taste of one made with melted butter. The answer is melted chocolate!
The melted chocolate and softened butter combine to make a chocolate frosting that is both rich and fudgey AND light and fluffy. Because melted chocolate takes a lot longer to harden than melted butter does, the frosting stays soft and spreadable for more than enough time for you to frost your cake or cookies.
We’ve made this frosting twice in the past 3 weeks, and I tell you it has changed lives! That’s what we’re all about here on Lulu the Baker: changing lives, one frosting recipe at a time.
Our Favorite Chocolate Frosting
This is our go-to chocolate frosting recipe! In the past decade, we've rarely tried any other chocolate frosting recipes because this one is so good.
Slightly adapted from Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes by Alisa Huntsman and Peter Wynne
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 12 tablespoons butter, softened
- 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- a pinch of salt
- Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the regular old attachement you use for everything else! Process until smooth and silky.
- Alternately, you can just combine all the ingredients in a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer, and beat it until combined. Stir it a few times with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to remove large air bubbles.
- Use immediately, and store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. Bring to room temperature before using.
36 thoughts on “Our Favorite Chocolate Frosting”
I’ll definitely try this and post it on my baby of a blog
This looks so light and delicious!
I absolutely adore chocolate frosting and yours looks absolutely amazing! I would love to try some.
an old fashioned frosting we used to make is combining the butter chocolate while heating them in a sauce pan. once they combine, making a smooth mixture, add the powdered sugar and keep it on the heat while whisking constantly. add a few tablespoons of strong brewed coffee and whisk, whisk, whisk until smooth and glossy. it’s a dark, lustrous and delicious frosting. my mother used to frost killer brownies with this frosting…so very good!
That sounds like a really yummy frosting! I might have to give it a whirl soon!
Thank you so much for this recipe! I will put it to good use! 😉
No problem Jinna. We put it to good use once a week or so!
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I know this seems odd, but I do not have a processor. Should I just throw away the recipe for the time being? Thank you. Tammy
Hi Tammy! I actually didn’t always have a food processor, but now I wonder how I managed without it! I would think you could make this with a good mixer as long as the butter is nice and soft and you mix it really well. I wouldn’t use a stand mixer since they are notoriously bad at getting everything mixed in. I would use a hand-mixer.
With the frosting being made with half and half and butter I take it that the cake should be stored in the refigerator after the cake has been frosted. Am I right on this?
Hi there! I’m pretty sure I’ve left my frosted cakes out on the counter instead of putting them in the fridge. They never stick around for very long, so I don’t think there’s much danger of the frosting on them going bad. But I do store the unused frosting in the fridge.
Hi please can you tell me what half and half is, we dont have that in our country, or if we do it goes under another name. LOVE your Blog and recipes, thank you.
Hi there! Half and half is basically light cream mixed with milk, so it has a butterfat content somewhere between the two. You can easily use a mixture of cream and milk in place of the half and half. And thank you!!
I’ve always used soft margarine, coco powder and icing sugar. Depending on the cake the coco powder is substituted with something else (ie carrot cake: cream cheese). Unsweetened chocolate is super expensive in my country and, we’ll I don’t have a food processor. But I’ll put this recipe away just in case I’m ever able to use it! 😉
somber-spider, my mom has always made chocolate frosting with melted butter, cocoa powder, and icing sugar. It is delicious. It just sets up very quickly! This one tastes very similar, it just stays soft longer.
OH my GOSH Lady!! This is SO GOOD I can’t even tell you! My kids were like, “What is that??!!”. Not because it was bad but because it was SO good they wanted to know what it was! I told them it’s the best icing I’ve ever had. Thank you SO, SO, SO, much for sharing. You’re awesome!!!
diplobrisco, my husband likes to eat it right out of the bowl! I always try to make extra so we can put it on graham crackers.
Hi:) Love your blog! Just wondering is this icing can be piped. Thanks!
PatriciaErin, yep, it can be piped! You might have to decrease the amount of half-and-half. I’d start with 1 Tablespoon and work up from there until it’s piping consistency.
what if you don’t have a food processer??? Can i just use my kitchen aid?
Sarah-Jane, I’m sure it will work with a regular mixer. Just make sure you beat it really well!
Lulu- I have been using this exact cake recipe by Ina Garten for a couple of years now. It has NEVER let me down. To add, I’ve always used her buttercream recipe, but I decided to switch it up when baking for the kids whom I nanny. That being said, I used your frosting recipe for the first time about five days ago, and WOW! What a hit! Not to mention how quickly it makes in the food processor! Thank you SO much for sharing your preferred frosting recipe. It will definitely be my go-to. Today will be the second day within a week that I have used your frosting recipe. It is not going unnoticed, I assure you. Enjoy your weekend!
Cynthia in Wisconsin. 🙂
Hi Cynthia! It really IS the best chocolate cake recipe, and I love that you tried my go-to chocolate frosting recipe and loved it!
Hi, I made the chocolate cake you posted with this frosting in two 8″x3″ round pans and cut both in two. Will this be enough to frost the four layers? Thanks!
Hi Michelle. I would say you should probably double the frosting. Better to have a little chocolate frosting left over than to run out too soon!
If I spread the frost the cake day before and I leave
In the fridge would the frosting be harden?
Hi Donna! Yes, if you refrigerate the cake after frosting it, the frosting will harden. I would recommend leaving it out on the counter, covered, instead.
I am pumppppppped to try this!!! On my next cake for sure! Thanks lady! Xo
It’s so good! You’ll love it!
I make this cake all the time for birthdays:) Do you think you could make this as cupcakes? Same oven temp? Cook 15-20 minutes? Thanks!
Hi Mimi! I’ve tried it before as cupcakes, and while they do turn out delicious, they don’t look very pretty. I always use this recipe instead if I want to make cupcakes: https://luluthebaker.com/2016/04/best-chocolate-cupcakes/. Good luck!!
12 Tablespoons of butter is that right ??
Yep! 1 1/2 sticks.
This cake is delicious. Baked in a 9 x 23 pan for 35 mins (my oven runs hot) and it came out perfect. Made the frosting and used2 t. Vanilla which was more to my liking. Nice and fluffy frosting.
I’m so glad you liked it, Shangra! I just made a batch to go with chocolate cupcakes tonight, and it was delicious, as usual. Cheers!