This small batch buttercream is made with melted chopped chocolate instead of cocoa powder for that extra rich flavor. It makes just enough frosting for 6 cupcakes. You will love how easily this fluffy chocolate buttercream comes together!

A chocolate cupcake with piped chocolate buttercream on a turned over metal tray.

Sometimes you just need a little bit of buttercream frosting and not a whole batch. As a trained pastry chef, there’s been so many times that I have made a homemade frosting, only to have half of it sitting in my fridge for weeks on end. So- enter in this small batch chocolate buttercream frosting!

This recipe makes about 1 cup of buttercream and is the perfect topping to my small batch chocolate cupcakes, my 6 inch chocolate cake, or to make these one bowl brownies even better!

Whatever you decide to put it on, you can’t go wrong. Plus you won’t be feeling guilty that you have a bunch of leftover frosting sitting in your fridge!

Why you’ll love this recipe

  • You can easily make this buttercream quickly in just 5 minutes!
  • It is small batch so you will use it all up in one shot
  • You can substitute cocoa powder if you don’t have chocolate
  • It’s fluffy and delicious!

Ingredients needed

  • Semi sweet chocolate– either chips or chopped from a baking bar.
  • Unsalted butter at room temperature- Learn how to soften butter quickly with these easy steps.
  • Powdered Sugar– This is the base of the frosting.
  • Heavy cream or milk- to thin the frosting out.
  • Kosher Salt- just a little bit to enhance the flavor!
Ingredients for small batch chocolate buttercream

How to make a small batch buttercream

  1. In a small microwavable safe bowl, microwave the chocolate 30 seconds at a time, mixing in between, until melted. Let it cool for 5 mins.
  2. In the bowl of a hand or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment add the butter and powdered sugar. Mix on low speed working your way up to medium as the butter and sugar combine. Mix on medium speed for 2 minutes until light pale and fluffy.
  3. Stop the mixer and add the melted chocolate, cream, and salt.
  4. Mix again on medium-high speed for 1 minute until combined.
chocolate buttercream in a white bowl on a pink surface.

Recipe tips

  • Use the best chocolate you can find for the best flavor. I like to use semisweet chocolate that has a cocoa content of around 60%, or bittersweet chocolate that’s about 75%. I usually buy it at Trader Joes.
  • Let the chocolate cool for a couple minutes before adding it to the butter and sugar mixture so the butter doesn’t melt.
  • Always start the mixer on low speed when working with powdered sugar so it doesn’t blow up all over the place.

Can I use cocoa powder instead?

Yes you can use 1/3 cup cocoa powder instead of the melted chocolate. I prefer the taste of the melted chocolate though!

How to store buttercream frosting

I like to rip out a piece of plastic wrap, dump the frosting on top, then wrap the plastic around the frosting. This is how we did it in pastry school and loved it because you don’t have anything to clean after!

Making it in advance

Make the frosting up to a week in advance and store it in the fridge. Take it out 10 minutes before you are ready to use it so it softens up. Otherwise it will be too hard to spread or pipe straight out of the fridge.

If you are making it just a day or 2 in advance it’s ok to leave it at room temperature.

Recipe FAQ

What is the difference between buttercream and frosting? Buttercream is also sometimes called frosting or even buttercream frosting. All buttercream has butter in it, but not all frostings have butter. Some frosting can be made with shortening or other fat.

Can I freeze this icing? Yes, you can freeze it. Dump the frosting onto plastic wrap and seal. Place in a freezer safe zip top bag and freeze for up to 2 months. To defrost, leave it in the fridge overnight, and then on the counter for 15 minutes at room temperature.

Is this frosting good for cupcakes? Yes! It is perfect to frost 6 cupcakes.

More delicious frosting recipes

A chocolate cupcake with piped chocolate buttercream on a turned over metal tray.
5 stars (2 ratings)

5 Minute Small Batch Chocolate Buttercream

This small batch buttercream makes enough frosting to cover 6 cupcakes or an 8×8 pan of brownies. It uses melted chocolate instead of cocoa powder and is insanely delicious!


  • 1/2 cup (87.5 g) semi sweet chocolate, chips or chopped
  • 1/2 cup (113.5 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cup (180 g) confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 tsp (0.5 tsp) heavy cream, or milk
  • 1/8 tsp (0.13 tsp) kosher salt



  • In a small microwavable bowl, melt the 1/2 cup chocolate 30 seconds at a time, mixing in between, until melted
  • In the bowl of a hand or stand mixer add the 1/2 cup butter and 1 1/2 cup confectioners sugar and mix on low speed working your way up to medium as the butter and sugar combine. Mix on medium speed for 2 minutes until pale yellow and fluffy.
  • Stop the mixer and add the melted chocolate, the 1/2 tsp cream, and 1/8 tsp of kosher salt. Mix again on medium speed until the chocolate is mixed throughout and the frosting is fluffy.


You can substitute 1/3 cup cocoa powder for the melted chocolate.
This recipe makes the perfect amount of frosting for 6 cupcakes. 
Serving: 1serving, Calories: 260kcal, Carbohydrates: 18g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 21g, Saturated Fat: 13g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 6g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 42mg, Sodium: 4mg, Potassium: 88mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 15g, Vitamin A: 486IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 14mg, Iron: 1mg
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