This small-batch Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting is silky smooth, deeply chocolatey, and incredibly decadent. It’s pretty much the best thing you’ll ever spread onto a cupcake.
I have another small-batch frosting recipe for you today, and this one is one of my favorites. This Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting is SO creamy and SO spectacularly good, good luck not just sitting there and eating it with a spoon (that’s what I like to do 😉).
And the best part is that it’s just as easy to make as a classic American chocolate buttercream but with the added smoothness and tang of cream cheese.
This recipe will make about 1 cup of frosting depending on how much air you whip into it. It will frost (about):
- 4 to 6 cupcakes with a piping bag
- 8 cookies
- 1 single-layer 6-inch or 7×5-inch cake or brownies (top and sides)
- 1 8-inch cake (thin layer over top only)
*If you want to use this frosting to frost a 6-inch 2-layer cake, double the recipe.
Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients
- Cream cheese: You’ll want to use full-fat cream cheese here for the best results. Philadelphia cream cheese is my go-to cream cheese for desserts.
- Butter: I call for salted butter here since it’s what most people have on hand, but if you have unsalted, you can use that and just add a generous pinch of salt.
- Vanilla extract: Even though this is a chocolate frosting, a little vanilla extract helps add depth to the chocolate flavor.
- Powdered sugar: Powdered sugar adds sweetness AND structure to this frosting. If you’re someone who likes to cut the sugar in recipes, don’t try and cut too much sugar from this frosting or it will be too runny.
- Unsweetened cocoa powder: Even though we’re using just 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder, it gives the frosting a deep and dreamy chocolate flavor.
- Milk: If you need a thinner, smoother frosting, you can add just a bit of milk after everything has been mixed.
How to Make the Best Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting (Tips & Tricks)
- Start with softened (but not warm and greasy) cream cheese and butter. Starting with fats that are the correct temperature (about 65°-70°) is *essential* to this frosting recipe. Too cold and you’re going to end up with little lumps of cream cheese and butter in your frosting. Too warm and the frosting will be greasy. You want your cream cheese to be easily spreadable and you should be able to press an indentation into the butter with your finger while the butter around it holds its shape.
- Beat the cream cheese and butter together until there are no individual streaks or lumps of either remaining. If the cream cheese and butter aren’t mixing together nicely, they’re too cold. Let them sit at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes more and then try again. If you mix the rest of the ingredients in while the fats still have lumps, you’ll have lumps in your final frosting that you won’t be able to get rid of.
- Beat in vanilla and then your sifted powdered sugar and cocoa powder. You *can* mix this frosting by hand, but it’s a lot of work. I recommend a handheld electric mixer. Be sure to start on low and work your way up to medium-high so you don’t end up with a cloud of sugar and cocoa powder when you start.
- Adjust for desired texture. Once your frosting is smooth and creamy and looks like frosting, you can adjust the texture depending on what you need. For a stiffer frosting, add a bit more powdered sugar. For a thinner more spreadable frosting, add just a bit of milk, 1/2 teaspoon at a time.
A note on sifting: Both powdered sugar and cocoa powder tend to be lumpy ingredients. Sifting removes all those lumps and ensures that you end up with a completely silky smooth, lump-free frosting.
If you have a large flexible plastic cutting board (like these), using one can speed up your sifting time and create less mess. Sift your powdered sugar and cocoa powder over the larger cutting board surface and then pick up the cutting board and funnel the sugar/cocoa powder into your bowl.
Where to Use This Frosting
Chocolate cream cheese frosting is delicious on almost anything, but here are a few recipes to get you started:
- Small-batch Vanilla Cupcakes
- Small-batch Chocolate Cupcakes
- Frosted Sugar Cookies
- Small-batch Brownies
- Small Banana Layer Cake (double the frosting recipe)
Chocolate Frosting FAQ
Does cream cheese frosting need to be refrigerated?
Yes. Cream cheese frostings and desserts topped with them should be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
Can you freeze chocolate frosting?
Yes! American buttercreams like this freeze really well. Store your frosting in a freezer bag and it will keep for up to 2 months in the freezer. Allow to come to room temperature on the counter before using.
Can you make this frosting in advance and store it in the refrigerator?
Yes. You can store this frosting covered in the refrigerator for about 48 hours, but the frosting is extremely firm cold, so you’ll need to let it come to room temperature on the counter before using.
More Small-batch Frosting Recipes
- Vanilla Frosting
- Chocolate Frosting
- Cream Cheese Frosting
- Cookie Dough Frosting
- Strawberry Frosting
- Oreo Frosting
To double or triple the frosting recipe, hover over the serving size or click if you’re on mobile, and slide the slider.
Small-batch Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 ounces cream cheese softened
- 4 tablespoons (57g) salted butter softened
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cups (150g) powdered sugar sifted
- 2 tablespoons (10g) unsweetened cocoa powder sifted
- 2 teaspoons milk as needed
- In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese and butter. Using a handheld electric mixer, beat until well-combined and there are no individual streaks of cream cheese or butter remaining.
- Add vanilla and mix well.
- Add sifted powdered sugar and cocoa powder and beat, starting on low, working up to medium-high, until frosting is smooth and creamy.
- If necessary, add a little milk by the half teaspoon until frosting reaches your desired consistency.
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