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Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

This thick, creamy, and rich homemade Chocolate Buttercream Frosting is the best. It spreads beautifully on everything and holds up well on summer days. You'll find yourself eating it out of the bowl with a spoon.

The thickness and smooth texture are perfect for piping in between layer cakes, topping on cupcakes, brownies, and even cookies.

We also use this Chocolate Buttercream Frosting recipe for icing sheet cakes and the outside and top of layer cakes.

And bonus-- there aren't any fancy ingredients you need to buy ahead of time. You'll most likely have everything already on hand to whip up a batch of this frosting today.

A glass pan holding a chocolate cake. A hand and angled spatula is spreading chocolate buttercream frosting over the top of the cake.

We are so in love with the intense chocolate flavor of this recipe. It satisfies all our chocolate cravings and then some.

And anytime there are leftovers we love dipping our gluten and dairy free Vanilla Wafers or graham crackers into it. What a fun treat to surprise the kids with after school-- and the adults in your life too.

With only 6 ingredients you're just minutes away from having this decadent frosting ready to use on your next homemade cake.

So pin this frosting recipe now so it's always available at your fingertips with no wasted time searching for it.

A knife cutting through a chocolate frosted  cake.

chocolate buttercream frosting ingredients

  • dairy free butter-- we use Earth Balance Buttery Sticks in the red box; it is vegan and soy free too
  • palm oil shortening-- this is our go-to. We store it in a cool place and it lasts forever. Vegetable shortening works in this recipe too.
  • vanilla extract
  • unsweetened cocoa powder-- traditional unsweetened cocoa or Dutch-processed cocoa powder if you're looking for a darker chocolate color and even more intense chocolate flavor. The Dutch-processes cocoa powder is our favorite to use in recipes. You can read the company's allergy manufacturing statement in another post here.
  • sifted confectioners' sugar-- also known as powdered sugar
  • dairy free milk-- our favorite is unsweetened almond milk
  • sprinkles-- our go-to safe brand of sprinkles is Sweets Indeed. They offer seasonal sprinkles too that we love to top on our homemade donuts. They can be purchased from their website or on Amazon.
  • angled spatula-- this is a kitchen gadget must. We use ours almost every day for evenly spreading dinner recipes or desserts like this frosting. The angled spatula is ideal for getting in the corners of the cake pan.
  • 9x13-inch baking pan-- here's the pan and lid we use every week. If you're new to baking-- this is a must-have pan in the kitchen.
  • 8x8-inch baking pan-- we love this glass Pyrex pan
  • disposable piping bags-- it is a wonderful convenience to use disposable bags when frosting a cake
  • traditional frosting recipe-- we were inspired to create this decadent allergen friendly recipe following the traditional buttercream recipe found here from Wilton.
A glass pan holding a chocolate cake. An angled spatula is spreading chocolate buttercream frosting over the top of the cake.

does chocolate buttercream frosting need to be refrigerated

Yes and no. You can prepare this frosting up to 3 days in advance and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

After your baked cake has been frosted, it can stay at room temperature.

And keep leftover frosting refrigerated in an airtight container for up to a week.

how much frosting does this make

This recipe yields 3 cups of chocolate buttercream frosting.

For frosting an 8 x 8-inch square cake, we cut the frosting recipe card measurements in half.

And to top 24 cupcakes or frost the top of a 9 x 13-inch sheet cake in the pan, prepare this recipe card exactly as is.

Then to pipe and frost 3-layer 6-inch cakes, we double this recipe for 6 cups of frosting.

A glass pan holding a chocolate cake frosted with chocolate buttercream and topped with colorful sprinkles. A few pieces of the cut cake have been removed.

more gluten + dairy free cake recipes

  • vanilla buttercream frosting-- you wanna sink your teeth into this decadent frosting. This no-fail vanilla buttercream has been our got-to for years.
  • carrot cake bars-- moist, light, and yet rich, these bars baked in an easy 9x13-inch pan are heavenly
  • chocolate bundt cake-- fudgy and full of chocolate flavor, this bundt cake is a must-try for birthdays and holidays topped with an easy 2-ingredient ganache
  • pineapple cake-- always a favorite, this cake has bite-size pineapple chunks in it for the best flavor. This cake tastes so, so good.
  • sprinkle cake-- a popular gluten and dairy free cake idea anyone can do
  • chocolate ganache spread-- we use this recipe so often for homemade donuts, as a drizzle topping on our cakes, as a fun dip for waffles and so much more. This 2-ingredient recipe is amazing.
3 cut pieces of chocolate cake frosting with chocolate buttercream frosting and topped with sprinkles are stacked on top of each other.

bonus dessert recipes for the best party ever

  • oh henry bars-- cut these layered ooey, gooey chocolate peanut butter bars and arrange on a plate. They are always a hit.
  • chocolate dipped ice cream cones-- up your ice cream game with ice cream cones dipped in chocolate and topped with festive party sprinkles. These are always a crowd favorite.
  • rice krispies-- an easy to make and serve birthday party side dessert that goes well with everything
  • peanut butter swirl brownies-- here's a make-ahead recipe combining everyone's favorite-- chocolate and peanut butter swirled into one fantastic fudgy brownie
  • brownie cookies-- these grab and go cookies are the ultimate brownie twist. And they taste chocolaty and wonderful. Any leftover chocolate buttercream frosting is always fun on these cookies too.


Years ago we used a chocolate frosting recipe that called for coconut oil.

While we enjoyed the frosting, there was always so much stress worrying if the frosting was going to melt off the cake. And we had to keep the frosted cake in the refrigerator right up until we served it.

Not with this recipe. While we'd never suggest placing a cake in direct summer sunlight, this cake can withstand warmer temperatures in a shady spot.

So next time you need a good, thick frosting recipe, try this one.

And for good reason-- you can't even guess it's dairy free. Yes, it's that good!

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A glass pan holding a chocolate cake. An angled spatula is spreading chocolate buttercream frosting over the top of the cake.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

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Servings: 3 cups


  • ½ c dairy free butter 1 stick softened, suggestion in post
  • ½ c palm oil shortening vegetable shortening works too
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 c sifted confectioners' sugar powdered sugar works too
  • 5 tablespoon dairy free milk suggestion in post


  • In a stand-up mixer or using a handheld mixer, in a large bowl cream together the dairy free butter and palm oil shortening.
  • Next add in the vanilla extract and cocoa powder.
  • Gradually add in the powdered sugar one cup at a time. Be sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl often.
  • Then add in 3 tbsp. of dairy free milk. Add in the remaining milk as needed for the thickness you desire. Adding in more milk will make the frosting thinner.
  • For frosting a cake we prefer using 5 tbsp. of milk in this recipe. For piping details on a cake, we prefer the icing to be a bit runny so we add in 6-7 tbsp. of dairy free milk.
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to a week.
  • This can be made 4 days in advance and stored refrigerated in an airtight container. Allow to sit on the counter for 20 minutes and then re-whip before using.


For a darker chocolate buttercream frosting use Dutch-processed cocoa. 

Nutritional Disclaimer

These Nutritional Facts are ESTIMATED. Your actual nutritional info with this recipe may vary depending on the brands you choose. “Eating Gluten and Dairy Free” is not a registered dietician or nutritionist. The provided nutritional info above is based on a generic calculator, if you want more accurate info, use your nutritional calculator of choice where you can choose brands and get more info that way.

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Friday 31st of March 2023

Can't wait to try it!