Chocolate Buttercream

choc BC 3

Just when you thought the World Famous Swiss Buttercream Recipe could not get any better…….

Add chocolate to it!

Yes that’s right……

Chocolate Buttercream is going to happen!

Quite possibly the best thing about chocolate buttercream is that it is not too chocolate.

Did I just say that?

You see, even for a chocolate addict like me I find that sometimes cakes need just a subtle hint of chocolate to take everything to the next level; where fudge icing may be a bit too overpowering……

Chocolate Buttercream will be your new best friend.

Just follow along to the video tutorial below for regular vanilla buttercream, then at the very last stage of mixing, add COOLED chocolate (or the cocoa paste)

Chocolate Buttercream
Prep time
Total time
Serves: 6 Cups
  1. Prepare the swiss buttercream as per the instructions with that recipe
  2. At the last stage of mixing add the cooled melted chocolate all at once and mix to combine.
  3. OR if using cocoa powder dissolve the cocoa powder in the hot water, be sure to cool completely before adding to the swiss buttercream
Anytime you add anything to the swiss buttercream base recipe, it is going to compromise the stability. I will refrigerate any cake iced with chocolate buttercream to ensure there will not be any dripping slipping cakes layers.

Cakes iced in buttercream can stay out at room temperature (and is actually best SERVED at room temperature) for up to 5 hours, as long as the filling you choose can also handle that length of time with no refrigeration.

Chocolate buttercream recipe alone can be left at room temperature for up to 2 days
Refrigerate for up to 1 month
Freeze for up to 2 months

*You will have to bring back to room temperature and then remix before using to ice cakes

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  1. I made Gretchen’s Swiss butter cream recipe the other day. My solution was to take a reading from the house thermometer which read about 72f. Then with a digital thermometer I kept taking readings of the butter and shortening until the ingredients read the same. That’s when I started the whole process of making the butter cream. It turned out perfect, this recipe requires a bit more work, but so worth the effort

  2. Hello, I was wondering, do you use bittersweet, dark, or milk chocolate for this chocolate buttercream recipe? Thanks!

  3. I want to make the chocolate Swiss buttercream icing & wondered in using a semi-sweet chocolate the recipe calls for 4 to 8 ounces. I use the scale & wondered if u could be more specific on how much chocolate would be needed to cover two 9″ pans & filling. I have made this icing many times & love it. Once the chocolate has melted & cooled do I add it to the mixture with the paddle attachment?

    1. I do use semi sweet chocolate, if you make the entire recipe as listed here it would be enough to fill and ice a 2 layer, 9″ cake.
      yes to adding it the way you wrote

  4. Hi Gretchen,
    Thx u for your prompt reply to my question on chocolate Swiss buttercream icing. Do u have a personal preference for semi-sweet chocolate? Sometimes in the past you have mentioned using Merckens or Wilton candy melts? And I assume carefully using the microwave would be acceptable for melting the chocolate? I do like Ghirardelli’s but don’t know if they make semi-sweet chocolate.
    S. Loughrin

    1. I like to use real baking chocolate for the icing here, & merckens specifically for coatings and decorations
      I do use the microwave for melting

  5. Love reading your recipes. Do u have any with no sugar? Or what to use instead ? Diabetic . You will laugh ! What about FRUIT ,Like orange , lemon , pineapple ,etc, ( not sugar ) could u help me ? And maybe a lot of other people !!!!!

    1. Hey there thanks! I don’t typically substitute other sugars. I have dabbled with coconut sugar lately adn I found it had a strange taste- almost salty- it was weird. You can substitute a lot of recipes with liquid sugars like agave, honey etc where the sweetening power is greater in a lesser amount but only in recipes that do not require the creaming method Read There is a Method to My Madness for more.
      There is also the Splenda baking mix and stevia as well

    1. Hello Shannon! yes I know much of the content that you are used to seeing is gone 🙁
      But I have been forced to start over again from zero and I am working as hard as possible to get the most popular and most requested videos and recipes done first.
      but in the meantime if you go to my Gretchens Bakery facebook page I have alot of recipes stored in PHOTOS and there are also so many people who have saved the recipes and can share with you right away!
      Just ask on the main page! Thanks

  6. First, thanks for all your wonderful recipes!! I especially love your recipe for SMBC and have made several flavored versions (chocolate, lemon, cream cheese, etc.)–all delicious. However, yesterday I made the chocolate buttercream using cocoa and hot water (rather than melted chocolate), and the resulting “paste” never became completely incorporated into the buttercream. I ended up with chocolate buttercream that contained lots of bits of the cocoa throughout even after beating the buttercream in my KitchenAid. I then tried straining them out–not entirely successful. REALLY messy. And I was forced to eat a lot of it in the process. 🙂 I mixed the cocoa powder and water before I started making the buttercream, so I’m wondering if the mixture just got too dry? I will probably stick to melted chocolate in the future, but I’m curious as to what I might have done wrong. Thanks in advance for any advice.

      1. Hi Gretchen

        I have had the same problem as Liz. The paste does seem a bit dry but I was to hesitated to add more water – worries or would make the meringue to soft. Could it be the brand of cocoa? Is it not possible to add in the dry cocoa?

        1. Hey thanks for the message I checked the ratio and you are correct I added a tablespoon more water and it was better! sorry for that and thankyoU!

  7. Hi Gretchen
    I just made a batch of whipped ganache to make filled cupcakes. Can I use the extra about a cup and a half of the whipped ganache to make chocolate smbc

    Thanks, Beth

    1. Im not sure if you mean “which one taste BETTER?”
      But better is a personal opinion so you will have to decide for yourself. Italian is less sweet, other than that they are very similar

  8. Hi Gretchen, I have a couple of questions here about SMBC:

    1) Can I reduce the amount of sugar for this recipe? Will it cause the SMBC to turn out bad?

    2) If I frost my cake with SMBC, can I store it in the fridge or is it better to leave it out at room temperature? Say if I couldn’t finish the cake and would need a couple of days to finish it.

    3) Can I put the cake into the fridge after a layer of crumb coat?

    Thank you in advance for answering my questions 😀

  9. Hi, Gretchen! This may be a silly question to ask. Can I use white chocolate in the same amount as the other chocolate? I’m making a cake for a friend and he wants a white chocolate buttercream frosting.

  10. Hi Gretchen, this will be my first time making one of your recipes. What kind of melted chocolate should I use? I’m also making your chocolate cake recipe. Do you think this chocolate buttercream will taste best with the moist chocolate cake? Thanks :))

  11. Hi Gretchen,
    I just made your chocolate version of this recipe, and didn’t use enough chocolate. Can I add more melted, cooled chocolate at this stage?

    btw, love your recipies!!!

  12. HI ! To reduce cost, I bought One 4 oz baking bar of couverture chocolate, if the buttercream ends up not tasting chocolatey enough, then can I add some Hershey’s cocoa powder/water paste mixture after? Or will the combination taste weird? Also will this chocolate buttercream hold up under ganache?(I know you say it becomes softer after the chocolate is added)..please and thanks!

    1. Yes will be fine under ganache, you can add a cocoa paste to make it more chocolatey I usually do a 1:1 ratio of cocoa to hot water

  13. Thank you for sharing ur great recipes,
    I have a question, can I use the chocolate smbc under fondant?
    Thanks in advance

  14. Hello gretchen i m fan of u in your all recipes! Can i add some white chocolate ganache in order to make the smbc more sweet? What ratio can i use?

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