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The Best Homemade Chocolate Icing Recipe With Buttermilk

It’s time to celebrate because you’ve just found one of the easiest and the best recipes ever for homemade chocolate icing with buttermilk.

No matter what you’re planning on icing, from birthday cakes to chocolate cupcakes, I’m sharing my favorite recipe, which only requires four ingredients.

Chocolate icing being poured over a chocolate cake.

Yes, that’s right, you can make your chocolate cake and your icing with ease. There’s nothing to it, even if it’s your first time making icing.

Grab a spoon and get ready to swoon. You’re going to want to make a batch just so you can eat it from a bowl to satisfy those chocolaty cravings. Or maybe that’s just me? I can’t be the only one, can I?

Get the recipe for the chocolate cake pictured.

Chocolate cake with frosting on a white cake stand. There's a red kitchen towel below the stand.

An Easy Recipe for Great Chocolate Icing

Everyone needs an easy recipe for homemade chocolate frosting.

I know the store-bought stuff is convenient, but when you get a taste of this yummy chocolate frosting, you will never again buy that other stuff.

It’s made with just four simple ingredients, and as much frosting as that will make, you may want to make a little more just to have leftover frosting.

I promise it’s worth it. My husband came into the kitchen the other day while I was taste-testing my easy frosting recipe here.

He grabbed a spoon, and well before we knew it, it was gone. I had to make more while my chocolate Bundt cake cooled, but it’s so simple.

It’s ready in minutes. I guess what I’m trying to say here is this, watch out for the allure of this creamy chocolate frosting.

If you can’t resist frosting, make more than you need because you will absolutely scrape up every last bit and lick your spoon clean.

Pouring chocolate icing over the top of a chocolate cake.

Ingredients For The Easy Chocolate Icing Recipe

  • Powdered sugar
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Buttermilk
  • Vanilla extract

Full printable recipe with measurements and instructions listed at the bottom of the post in the recipe card.

Easy Chocolate Frosting Recipe

I know I’ve already mentioned it twice, but again, I just want to make it clear that this homemade chocolate frosting only requires four ingredients.

While most homemade frosting recipes don’t often have gobs of ingredients, this one is perhaps the easiest because there is no butter.

So, if you’re trying to frost a cake and you don’t have butter to make the best chocolate buttercream frosting, all you need here is powdered sugar (also known as confectioners’ sugar), unsweetened cocoa powder, vanilla extract, and buttermilk. 

Chocolate icing on a slice of chocolate cake.

Now, I say buttermilk like everyone has this in their kitchen, but don’t worry if you don’t have any.

You will see in the full recipe below that you can use regular milk instead. All you do is add everything to the bowl and mix, and then you have chocolate icing! It’s that easy! 

These basic ingredients make for a reliable and utterly delicious frosting for any cake. And as always, remember to only frost a cooled cake, or you’ll wind up with a runny frosting mess on your hands. 

How To Make The Icing

  1. Add the powdered sugar to a medium bowl.
  2. Next, add the unsweetened cocoa, buttermilk, and vanilla extract and mix well.
  3. Pour over your dessert.

Step-By-Step Instructions

Powdered sugar in a clear glass mixing bowl

Start by adding the powdered sugar to a large mixing bowl.

Confectioners sugar and unsweetened cocoa powder in a clear glass mixing bowl.

Next, add the unsweetened cocoa to the bowl.

Pouring vanilla extract into a bowl with powdered sugar and cocoa.

Pour the vanilla extract into the bowl.

Pouring buttermilk into a bowl with powdered sugar and cocoa.

Finally, pour the buttermilk into the bowl.

Mixing chocolate frosting in a clear glass bowl with an electric mixer.

Mix the ingredients with a hand mixer or whisk until all of the lumps are gone, and you have a smooth consistency.

More Delicious Desserts

How To Store The Chocolate Icing

The recipe doesn’t make a lot of icing, but if you do have some leftover, you will want to store it in an airtight container and place in the refrigerator.

You will need to add more buttermilk to thin it out when you want to use it again.

Do I Need A Pastry Bag?

No, you don’t need a pastry bag. This is not thick icing. I usually put the icing in a glass measuring cup and pour it over the dessert of my choice.

Can I Use This Frosting On Sheet Cake?

Definitely! But, you will most likely want to double or triple the recipe, depending on the size of your cake.

The Best Homemade Chocolate Icing Recipe With Buttermilk

The next time you need a delicious cake with rich chocolate flavor, this creamy chocolate frosting recipe is the way to go.

Homemade frostings bring the best flavor to all your tasty treats. Add it to your Bundt cake, vanilla cake, 2-layer cake, or pound cake.

Scroll down to the bottom of the post to get all the steps to make this high-quality chocolate icing recipe today!

Chocolate icing being poured over a chocolate cake.

The Best Homemade Chocolate Icing Recipe With Buttermilk

Yield: 3/4 cup
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

Homemade chocolate icing is made with four simple ingredients and can be whipped up in less than five minutes to top your favorite dessert.


  • 1 1/4 cup powdered sugar (a.k.a. confectioner's sugar)
  • 3 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


Add the powdered sugar and cocoa to a mixing bowl.

Next, pour the vanilla extract and buttermilk into the bowl and mix with an electric mixer or whisk.

Pour it over the intended dessert (make sure the dessert is cooled to at least room temperature or it will melt and be runny).


If you don't have any buttermilk, you can also use milk or heavy cream.

If the icing is too thick, add a teaspoon of buttermilk. If it's too thin, add a little more powdered sugar.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 1 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 218Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 2mgSodium: 118mgCarbohydrates: 40gFiber: 3gSugar: 31gProtein: 5g

Nutrition is approximate.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest


Friday 23rd of February 2024

I used this frosting for homemade donuts and it was just perfect.

Julie Pollitt

Sunday 25th of February 2024

Great to hear! So glad you liked it!


Thursday 22nd of February 2024

This chocolate cake icing is my new favorite. The buttermilk adds a tangy flavor that is the perfect compliment to the chocolate.

Julie Pollitt

Friday 23rd of February 2024

So glad you like it!


Monday 19th of February 2024

I made an old fashioned chocolate cake over the weekend and used this frosting. It was so perfect!

Julie Pollitt

Wednesday 21st of February 2024

So glad to hear!

Risa Brown

Monday 24th of July 2023

I made this icing for a chocolate bundt cake. I kept it slightly thin and drizzled it warm over cake. Delicious. Thank you

Julie Pollitt

Wednesday 26th of July 2023

Great to hear! I love Bundt cakes, especially warm ones. Mmmm...


Tuesday 4th of July 2023

This has to use more than 1/4 cup sugar, could that be a misprint?

Annie Souden

Wednesday 13th of December 2023

@Cathy, look at the ingredients it has 1 1/4 on there

Julie Pollitt

Tuesday 4th of July 2023

It is 1 and 1/4 cups. Thank you for pointing that out.

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