Amp Up Your Chocolate Frosting With Espresso!

If you’re a chocolate fan, you’ve got to have a great chocolate frosting recipe on hand. Not only is chocolate frosting a must for giving chocolate cakes double dose of cocoa, but it also lets you turn any cake into a chocolaty treat.

This easy chocolate frosting recipe has a rich chocolate flavor — and it comes together much more easily than you might think.

This is a basic frosting made primarily with butter and powdered sugar and it is one of my favorites. Not only is the frosting delicious, but it is easy to put together and I always have the ingredients in my pantry to make it.

The Chocolate Flavor Gets A Big Boost From Espresso

You might think that melted chocolate brings the best chocolate flavor into frosting, but I find that cocoa powder makes some of the best frosting. Unsweetened cocoa powder is bitter on its own, but when paired with sugar, the dark chocolate flavor can’t be beat.

To make the chocolate flavor even more intense, I added some instant espresso along with the cocoa powder. Instant espresso powder also has a fruity, bittersweet flavor and it helps to highlight those notes in the cocoa, allowing them to come through the butter and sugar of the finished frosting.

You can find instant espresso powder in most grocery stores in the coffee aisle. If you need, you can substitute instant coffee, but instant espresso has a more intense flavor. If you do use instant coffee, so  use a bit more (1½ teaspoons instead of 1 teaspoon) instant coffee to get a similar effect.

Even with the instant espresso, the frosting won’t taste like mocha — but you can easily turn this into a mocha variation by tripling the amount of coffee in the mix.

How To Use Your Chocolate Frosting

This recipe makes a enough frosting to generously frost a batch of 12 cupcakes or evenly frost an 8″ layer cake. This recipe makes plenty, give you the freedom to play around with the designs (and eat a spoonful or two of frosting).

That said, you can half the recipe if you’re frosting a single layer cake or prefer a very thin layer of frosting on cupcakes.

The frosting can be used the same day or kept covered at room temperature overnight.

Rich Chocolate Frosting Recipe

Makes enough for 12 cupcakes or one 8″ layer cake


  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3-3½ cups powdered sugar


  1. In a small bowl, whisk together instant espresso powder and milk until espresso powder is dissolved.
  2. In a large bowl, beat butter until softened and creamy. Add in milk mixture, unsweetened cocoa powder and vanilla extract and beat until well-combined.
  3. Gradually blend in the powdered sugar until frosting is thick and smooth.