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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

Much as I love my Italian Meringue Buttercream, there is also a place for this simpler, yet very tasty, chocolate buttercream frosting. This is a chocolate version of American Buttercream.

American buttercream is a mixture of butter and powdered sugar with a little milk or cream. I added a full 1/2 cup of cocoa powder to the buttercream to make a frosting with a big chocolate flavor.

There are times when I want the sophisticated flavor of a rum-soaked Chocolate Geniose filled with billowy Chocolate Mousse filling. There are other times when I want the melt-in-your-mouth flavor of a Chocolate Butter Cake filled with airy Italian Meringue Buttercream.

But there is also 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.

With it’s simple, straight-forward and slightly sweeter flavor, this is the perfect icing for an Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake.

This is the frosting you want to make for your kid’s birthday cake. It’s so easy to make that your kids can help you in the kitchen. That’s always a good thing, isn’t it?

Scroll through the step-by-step photos to see 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

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

old fashioned chocolate icing

Old Fashioned Chocolate Frosting

Yield: 3 cups
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

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.


  • 1/2 cup (4 oz, 120ml) whole milk
  • 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp table salt
  • 1/2 cup (2 oz, 56g) Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1 cup (8 oz, 224g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 4 cups (16 oz, 448g) confectioner's sugar


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Whip until light and aerated.
  4. Use right away. Can be stored in the refrigerator until ready to use. Re-whip before using.


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

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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

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.

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