Best Chocolate Frosting With Semi-Sweet Chocolate

Made with chocolate chips, cocoa powder and butter, this semi sweet chocolate frosting is super rich and chocolate-y. With the perfect texture for icing a cake or piping cupcakes, it will make your favorite dessert recipes even more decadent.

best ever semi sweet chocolate icing recipe

This chocolate frosting recipe is my absolute favorite!

Made with cocoa and semi-sweet chocolate, it is definitely a decadent, rich, chocolate-y icing (no calorie counting here!)

But it tastes delicious and is the perfect consistency for either spreading on a cake or piping onto cupcakes.


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  • Chocolate: 1 1/2 pounds (or 24 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips or baking squares – Since there is so much chocolate in this icing, if definitely has a big impact on the flavor. So I make sure to buy good quality chocolate like Ghirardelli chocolate chips.
  • Baking supplies: ½ cup plus 1 Tablespoon cocoa powder, ¾ cup confectioner’s sugar (also known as icing sugar or powdered sugar), ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Dairy: 4½ sticks (or 2¼ cups) unsalted butter – salted will work in a pinch.


  • double boiler – we need to melt the chocolate and a double boiler is the safest way to do that. If you don’t have one, you can put a large heat-proof bowl over top of a pot to achieve the same result.
  • mixing bowl – for the cocoa and water
  • electric mixer with another bowl – to put it all together
  • spatula – to scrape down the sides of the mixer
chocolate icing on a cupcake

How to make semi sweet chocolate frosting

This recipe makes enough to frost an 8″ double layer cake or 24 cupcakes (depending on how much frosting you put on them).

Prep work

Take the butter out of the refrigerator a couple of hours in advance. This will make it much easier to mix.

Melt the chocolate

Semi-sweet chocolate chips being melted on the stove

The first step is to making the frosting is to melt the chocolate. 

You’ll want to do this a little ahead of time since it needs to be completely cool before you add it to the icing. Otherwise, it will melt the butter and you’ll end up with a big mess.

If you’re using chocolate squares (rather than chocolate chips), chop them into small pieces. This makes them easier to melt.

Put enough water into the bottom half of your double boiler (or pot if you’re using a bowl) to cover the bottom of the pan by about 1/2 inch. (You don’t want the water to boil over and touch the melting chocolate, which could cause the chocolate to seize making it useless for frosting).

Bring the water to a boil, then turn the heat down to medium-low.

Put the top half of the double boiler (or the bowl if that’s what you’re using) over the boiling water.

Add the chocolate.

When you see it starting to melt, keep stirring it until it has all melted.

Remove it from the heat and let it cool for at least 30 minutes before using in the frosting.

Mix The Cocoa

Cocoa powder being mixed with water

Next we’ll need to mix up the cocoa.

First, boil some water.

Then in a mixing bowl, combine ½ cup plus 1 Tablespoon of cocoa powder with ½ cup plus 1 Tablespoon of the boiling water.

Set it aside to cool.

Put It All Together

Now we’re going to put the frosting all together. Get ready for some chocolate goodness!

Butter being creamed by an electric mixer

To start, put the 4½ sticks (or 2¼ cups) of room temperature butter in the electric mixer and beat on medium-high speed until it’s fluffy, about a minute.

Then add ¾ cup confectioner’s sugar and ¼ teaspoon salt (a little less if you’re using salted butter).

Creamed butter and sugar in a mixing bowl

Beat again until the butter has turned a pale yellow color. Another minute or two.

The trick to having light and fluffy icing is to have light and fluffy butter…so don’t skimp on the beating time for this step.

Turn the speed on the mixer down to low.

Butter mixed with melted chocolate in a mixing bowl

Add in the cooled and melted chocolate.

Mix until it is combined. Your mixture should definitely look like chocolate now!

Then beat in the cocoa mixture.

Chocolate icing being piped onto a cupcake

And that’s it! You’re semi sweet chocolate frosting is ready to spread on a cake or pipe onto some delicious cupcakes 🙂

How Long Will It Keep?

If you don’t want to use the frosting right away, you can store it in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to a month.

Because it has so much chocolate in it, it will get quite hard in those cold temperatures.

So when you want to use it, take it out of the fridge or freezer a few hours ahead of time.

Then beat it again for a few seconds with the mixer to get its smooth texture back.

Other Dessert Recipes You Might Like

chocolate frosting on a cupcake

Semi Sweet Chocolate Frosting

This semi sweet chocolate frosting recipe is super chocolate-y and works well for frosting cakes or topping cupcakes. It also has the perfect consistency for piping.
4.75 from 4 votes
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Cooling Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 5 cups (enough for 1 8″ layer cake or 24 cupcakes)
Calories 1544 kcal


  • double boiler, or a pot with a large heat-proof bowl
  • kettle or pot (for boiling water)
  • mixing bowl
  • mixing spoon
  • electric mixer with mixing bowl
  • Spatula


  • pounds good quality semi-sweet chocolate chips or semi-sweet chocolate that has been chopped into small pieces
  • ½ cup plus 1 Tablespoon cocoa powder
  • ½ cup plus 1 Tablespoon boiling water
  • cups unsalted butter softened (at room temperature)
  • ¾ cup confectioner's sugar also known as icing sugar or powdered sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt


Melt The Chocolate

  • Pour enough water into the bottom of the double boiler (or the pot you are using) to cover the bottom of the pan about 1/2" deep.
  • Bring the water to a boil, then turn the temperature down to medium-low.
  • Place the top half of the double boiler (or the large bowl) over the boiling water.
  • Add the chocolate chips (or chopped up chocolate).
  • Heat until you see the chocolate starting to melt. Then stir until all of it has melted.
  • Remove from the heat and let cool completely before using, about 30 minutes.

Make The Frosting

  • Combine the cocoa powder and hot water in a mixing bowl. Stir until smooth and set aside.
  • Add the butter to the electric mixer and beat until fluffy at a medium-high speed.
  • Mix in the confectioner's sugar and the salt.
  • Beat some more until the butter has turned a pale yellow color.
  • Turn the mixer speed down to low.
  • Mix in the cooled, melted chocolate until it is combined.
  • Beat in the cocoa mixture.


  • The frosting can be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or up to a month in the freezer. To use, take it out of the refrigerator or freezer a few hours ahead of time to let it warm up to room temperature. Then beat on low for a few seconds until it is smooth again.


Calories: 1544 kcal | Carbohydrates: 96 g | Protein: 11 g | Fat: 136 g | Saturated Fat: 83 g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5 g | Monounsaturated Fat: 38 g | Trans Fat: 3 g | Cholesterol: 228 mg | Sodium: 144 mg | Potassium: 953 mg | Fiber: 14 g | Sugar: 50 g | Vitamin A: 2621 IU | Calcium: 123 mg | Iron: 10 mg

Nutrition values are estimates only, using online calculators. Please verify using your own data.

authorWanda Simone
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This post was originally published on May 15, 2020 but was updated with new content on December 13, 2023.

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