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

The key to getting a black buttercream is having the right cocoa powder. You really need a dark or black cocoa powder. From my experience last year, I learned that the type of cocoa powder Sweetapolita calls for is one that you can only order online or find in specialty stores.

So in my experimenting this year, I tried Hershey’s Special Extra Dark Cocoa Powder I’ve seen at my local grocery store, Target and Walmart to see if I could get the same black color the “black” cocoa powder gave me last year. 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.

I also use a little more cocoa powder and powdered sugar in my recipe. Additionally, I don’t use the sour cream in my recipe. I felt like the sour cream made the frosting too soft and removing it didn’t change the flavor at all.

Easy and Delicious Black Buttercream.

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


  • 2 cups unsalted butter, still cold to the touch
  • 5 cups powdered sugar, measured and then sifted
  • 1 cup premium black or dark cocoa powder (like THIS or Hershey's Extra Dark Cocoa Powder)
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons 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 speed until light and fluffy, about five minutes.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, combine the hot water and cocoa powder. Set aside.
  3. Reduce the mixer's speed to low and add the powdered sugar.
  4. Slowly stream in the cocoa mixture, followed the vanilla and salt.  Beat until incorporated, about 1 minute.
  5. Increase the speed to medium and beat for two more minutes.
  6. Add the melted chocolate and beat on medium speed until smooth, about one minute.
  7. Add 1 teaspoon of black food gel. Beat until combined. Let the frosting sit for about 15 minutes 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. I noticed my frosting took much longer than 15 minutes to darken. I like making this the day before assembling the cake, so that it has plenty of time to absorb the black food gel and turn black. If by the next day the frosting still isn't black, add another teaspoon of food gel, stir and let it sit for another 30 minutes or so. 
  8. If your frosting is too soft, cover it with plastic wrap and let it chill in the refrigerator a bit.

16 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?

  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!