Easy and Delicious Black Buttercream That Won’t Stain Your Teeth!

Oct 09

Easy and Delicious Black Buttercream That Won’t Stain Your Teeth!

Easy and Delicious Black Buttercream That Won't Stain Your Teeth #blackbuttercream #halloweencake #cakebycourtney

It’s true! You can actually make a black buttercream without the fear of staining all your guests’ teeth black!

You’ve had that fear before, right? No? Just me?

Black Buttercream Attempt #1

It actually wasn’t just a fear. I actually did dye all my guests’ mouths black at Westin’s 3rd birthday party. At the time Westin was hugely into superheroes and asked for a Batman cake. Not knowing nearly as much as I do now, I thought using a vanilla buttercream base was the best way to tint any frosting. Ha!

Easy and Delicious Black Buttercream That Won't Stain Your Teeth #blackbuttercream #halloweencake #cakebycourtney

I had to use SO much black food gel to turn that white frosting black that a single bite of the cake quickly tinted everyone’s mouths’ completely black. I couldn’t believe it! Well, actually I could based on how much food gel I knew went into that frosting – so I guess a better way to say it is, I was so embarrassed!

Black Buttercream Attempt #2

Since then, I haven’t even thought about making black frosting until last year when I tried Sweetapolita’s Black Chocolate Cake and Black Chocolate Frosting. What did I learn? First and foremost, you’ve got to start with a chocolate based frosting! That seems like a no-brainer now, but back in the day, the thought didn’t even cross my mind.

Sweetapolita’s black chocolate frosting is fudge-y and delicious, but I made a few tweaks to the recipe for taste and to simplify it even more.

Easy and Delicious Black Buttercream That Won't Stain Your Teeth #blackbuttercream #halloweencake #cakebycourtney

Black Buttercream Attempt #3

There are a few key components to making black buttercream black without staining your guests’ teeth. Here are the essentials:

  • Black food gel
  • Dark cocoa powder
  • Time

I like Americolor’s Super Black food gel, but Wilton also has a great one if that’s easier for you to track down.

Next, you really need a dark or black cocoa powder. I like Extra Brute Cocao Barry (linked in the recipe), but there are several other “black” cocoa powders you can find on Amazon. I have also tried Hershey’s Special Extra Dark Cocoa Powder which you can get just about anywhere now. It works great! The cocoa didn’t change the flavor at all, and only had to use 1 teaspoon black food gel to darken it just a bit more.

And lastly, give this frosting some time to rest. It will likely not look black right away. The color will darken the longer it sits out (just like my red and blue frosting). I recommend you make this frosting a day before you want to use it. It can be stored covered in the refrigerator for the night or left at room temperature for half a day.


Easy and Delicious Black Buttercream.

Smooth and rich, black chocolate buttercream that won't stain your teeth.


  • 2 cups (452 g) unsalted butter still cold to the touch
  • 5 cups (625 g) powdered sugar measured and then sifted
  • 1 cup (118 g) premium black or dark cocoa powder like THIS or Hershey's Extra Dark Cocoa Powder
  • 3/4 cup (177.45 g) hot water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (6.3 g) pure vanilla extract 
  • Generous pinch of salt
  • 8 ounces premium dark chocolate chopped or chips, melted 
  • 1-2 teaspoons food gel in Super Black 


  1. In a bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment beat the butter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about two minutes.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, combine the hot water and cocoa powder. The mixture will be thick like a paste. Set aside.
  3. In a microwave safe bowl, heat the chocolate chips until melted and smooth. Let cool slightly, but not all the way to room temperature.
  4. Reduce the mixer's speed to medium and slowly stream in the melted chocolate, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally so the chocolate doesn't harden around the sides of the bowl.
  5. Add the cocoa paste (cocoa and water mixture), followed the vanilla and salt.  Beat until incorporated, about 1 minute.
  6. Decrease the speed to low and gradually add the powdered sugar. Once the powdered sugar is incorporated, add the black food gel and then beat for about two minutes. The color will likely be grey. Don't worry. Your next job is to be patient 🙂
  7. Let the frosting sit for at least a couple of hours (even a full day is great) because the color will take awhile to process and it's best to let it sit rather than adding more and more coloring right away.
  8. If you've let the frosting rest for plenty of time and it's still not black, add one more teaspoon of black food gel and let it rest a bit more.
  9. If your frosting is too soft, cover it with plastic wrap and let it chill in the refrigerator a bit.

28 thoughts on “Easy and Delicious Black Buttercream That Won’t Stain Your Teeth!

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  1. I’m making it right now, it’s REALLY soft. Like cake better. I know you said to put it in fridg for a little, but it seems really soft. I know I measured everything correctly. My butter also seems like it’s separating from the rest.

  2. I made this twice this week and it just doesn’t seem like the amount water to cocoa powder is right – 1/2 cup water to 1 cup powder – the directions say “slowly stream” – both times I get such a thick paste that seems to leave grit in the frosting – I was afraid to add more water and make the icing too runny – any suggestions?

  3. Do you think that I could use this frosting to decorate cookies (tuxedo hearts) for a bridal shower? I use a white glacé with first and two days later I stencil with the black. They are so cute but stain the teeth. The grooms mom just texted me that the groom is wearing. I won’t have to go as dark, but do you think the blue will stain. Thanks.

  4. Question: when I combined the hot water and the powder it never fully incorporated and instead was lumpy. What would you recommend I do next time? Add more water?

      1. Hi! I’m really struggling with the color of this frosting. I made it yesterday and right now it is still very much a dark grey. I’ve already added food coloring and more black cocoa straight into the buttercream. Will it still continue to darken even after I frost my cake?

  5. Is it supposed to be 1c cocoa and 1/2c water? When I mixed it it was a super thick paste and left black clumps in my frosting after mixed in…just checking if those measurements are correct? Thank you!

  6. I love this recipe!! After I read the reviews and refrigerated the frosting for a few minutes it was perfect. It’s been really HOT in Cleveland so the humidity was working against me. But I was able to complete my order. Thank you for sharing 🤗 I wish I could add my picture to this message?

  7. I tried this recipe, among others, for a black icing cake for my daughters birthday cake. This icing achieved the best looking “black icing” color, however, it did not taste as well as some of the others. This had a very strong cocoa taste. I used her exact recipe and all exact items. Wish the taste would have been there.

  8. What would you recommend to get more of a milk chocolate flavor? Use milk chocolate instead of dark and stick with the black powder and food gel? I’m using it for frost cupcakes for a kids birthday party and looking for a black milk chocolate buttercream 🙂

  9. Is the flavour a strong, dark chocolate flavour? My son love chocolate, but sometimes finds dark chocolate too intense. I am trying to find a black icing for his laser tag birthday party, but I want to make sure he will like it. Thanks.

  10. 5 stars
    Wow! This is the best buttercream I have ever made. It turned out awesome and delicious! It didn’t take too long to make the icing black color as well after adding in the black color gel. I used Hershey’s special dark cocoa powder instead of extra dark since that is what I found and it worked just fine. I have never made chocolate buttercream so this is now my go to recipe. It paired wonderfully with white oreo cake. It was really soft and heat sensitive. Next time I may use less water. But the taste was awesome!