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Old Fashioned Chocolate Frosting with Cocoa

Simple, yet delicious Old Fashioned Chocolate Frosting. Cocoa gives this buttercream a lovely fudgy flavor. It’s the perfect filling for an old fashioned layer cake.

an old fashioned chocolate cake on a cake stand

Why this Old Fashioned Chocolate Frosting is so good

There is a time and place for an Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake with Old Fashioned Chocolate Frosting. Just as there are different types of chocolate cakes for different tastes; there are different types of frostings that seem to go well with those different cakes.

This is a version of American buttercream. I added a full 1/2 cup of cocoa powder to the buttercream to make a frosting with a big chocolate flavor.


  • Whole milk 
  • Vanilla extract
  • Salt
  • Dutch process cocoa powder 
  • Unsalted butter 
  • Confectioner’s sugar

How to make Old Fashioned Chocolate Frosting:

whipped butter and sugar in a mixer bowl
  • Whip the room temperature butter with the powdered sugar until light and aerated.
whipped butter and sugar with chocolate in a mixing bowl
  • Add the cocoa mixture to the butter and sugar.
a bowl of whipped chocolate frosting
  • Switch to the whisk and whip until light and airy. Use immediately
a slice of chocolate cake and a whole cake in the background

a slice of chocolate cake on a plate with a fork

You might also like: Chocolate Italian Meringue Buttercream, Malted Chocolate Frosting, Chocolate Ganache, Chocolate Whipped Cream.

If you love this recipe as much as I do, please consider leaving a 5-star review.

old fashioned chocolate icing
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4.58 from 83 reviews

Old Fashioned Chocolate Frosting

Simple, yet delicious Old Fashioned Chocolate Frosting. Cocoa gives this buttercream a lovely fudgy flavor. It’s the perfect filling for an old fashioned layer cake.
Prep Time20 minutes
Total Time20 minutes
16 servings


  • 4 ounces whole milk (½ cup)
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • teaspoon table salt
  • 2 ounces Dutch process cocoa powder (½ cup)
  • 8 ounces unsalted butter (softened to room temperature)
  • 16 ounces confectioner’s sugar (4 cups)


  • Combine the milk, vanilla and salt in a microwave proof bowl. Microwave in 10 seconds increments until the milk is almost boiling. Pour the warm milk over the cocoa and whisk until smooth. Set aside to cool.
    4 ounces whole milk, 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract, ⅛ teaspoon table salt, 2 ounces Dutch process cocoa powder
  • Beat the butter on medium speed until it is softened and beginning to aerate. With the mixer running on low, slowly add the sugar to the butter and mix until completely combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl. Add the cooled cocoa mix, switch to the whisk.
    8 ounces unsalted butter, 16 ounces confectioner’s sugar
  • Whip until light and aerated. Use right away. Can be stored in the refrigerator until ready to use. Re-whip before using.


My Book
KA Stand Mixer
KA Hand Mixer
Round Cake Pan, 8 x 3-Inch
Revolving Cake Stand

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This recipe makes enough icing to fill & frost an 8″ layer cake.


Serving: 12g | Calories: 116kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.5g | Cholesterol: 31mg | Sodium: 23mg | Potassium: 69mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 366IU | Calcium: 17mg | Iron: 0.5mg
Have you tried this recipe?Mention @eileen.bakingsense or tag #bakingsense!
Recipe Rating

Karen Modeski

Monday 5th of June 2023

Just an FYI. You have 2 oz. of cocoa equaling 1/2 cup. That's not correct. 2 oz. is 1/4 cup.

Eileen Gray

Monday 5th of June 2023

A cup of cocoa does not weight 8 oz. A cup of cocoa weighs 4 oz. So a 1/2 cup of cocoa weighs 2 oz. I’ve written a comprehensive post on weighing ingredients vs. volume measure

Linda Elliott

Friday 15th of October 2021

Can anyone make a chocolate frosting without using powdered sugar?I'm hunting one that's made with real sugar and cocoa powder


Saturday 21st of January 2023

@Eileen Gray, thank you. I'm going to try both recipes. Trying to find a recipe for my mom's frosting that my dad and I used to fight over. I would cut away the chocolate cake from my slice and leave the frosting for last. My dad would always try to take my frosting. Great memories.

Eileen Gray

Saturday 16th of October 2021

Yes, Ermine Frosting uses granulated sugar. Add 1/4 cup of cocoa to this recipe to make chocolate Ermine frosting. Whisk the cocoa in with the flour and sugar.


Monday 10th of February 2020

Can I replace butter with any (non-dairy) substitute or shortening?

Eileen Gray

Monday 10th of February 2020

Shortening would be the best substitute. The flavor won't be as good, but the texture should be fine.