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

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.
5 from 1 vote


  • 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 


  • In a bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment beat the butter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about two minutes.
  • In a small mixing bowl, combine the hot water and cocoa powder. The mixture will be thick like a paste. Set aside.
  • In a microwave safe bowl, heat the chocolate chips until melted and smooth. Let cool slightly, but not all the way to room temperature.
  • 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.
  • Add the cocoa paste (cocoa and water mixture), followed the vanilla and salt.  Beat until incorporated, about 1 minute.
  • 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 🙂
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • If your frosting is too soft, cover it with plastic wrap and let it chill in the refrigerator a bit.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Courtney Rich

I’m a self-taught baker, obsessed with cake.

I long ago ditched box mixes in pursuit of melt-in-your-mouth, to-die-for flavor combinations, fillings and textures. I believe cake must be decadent, life-changing and worthy of celebration! And I believe anyone should be able to bake that kind of cake – and I’m here to teach you just that!

Get my free cake decorating guide
Everything you need to know about decorating a cake like a pro!

You Might Also Like

Leave a Comment


  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.

    1. I’m not sure this buttercream would give you the texture you want but it doesn’t stain your teeth because you’re getting such a dark color already from the cocoa.

  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. What are you mixing with? I wouldn’t add more water, just try to whisk the powder in more. Maybe even sift the cocoa powder first.

      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!

    1. Yes they are. Try stirring a little more next time, or even heating your water so the cocoa dissolves better.

  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.

    1. Oh I’m so sorry you didn’t love it. I love a good dark chocolate flavor. Which cocoa’s did you use?

  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!

    1. It won’t necessarily make it more stiff, just sweeter. You can adjust the liquid measurements to make it more stiff.

  11. 5 stars
    I made this frosting for a galaxy cake and it turned out AMAZING. I followed the recipe/instructions to a T, using black cocoa and about 1.5 tsp of black food colouring gel (Sugarflair, Black Extra). It tasted like an Oreo cookie! It was also very smooth and easy to frost a cake with (although perhaps a bit too loose to use with a liquid filling or compote, in which case I would recommend using a sturdier non-chocolate based frosting to use as the base of the filling/piped rim).TIP: it does darken over time, but it also darkens after you rewhip it (after being in the fridge overnight). When I took it out of the fridge, it was a dark brownish grey, but after I brought it to room temp and whipped it back up in my stand mixer, it turned a beautiful glossy black. Sooo happy I found this recipe and didn’t have to dye any mouths black OR settle for a murky grey frosting. Thanks, Courtney!!

  12. 3 stars
    I followed recipe exactly and used special dark hersheys cocoa powder. The frosting turned out to taste bitter and like cocoa powder after taste. How can I fix this or make it sweeter without after taste?

  13. Made this 2 weeks ago to cover my daughter’s birthday cake (cookies and cream cake which I also got from your recipes). The waiting bit made it worthwhile, followed instructions to the T and the result was great! It went well with the cake too, tasted just like oreo with the cake.

  14. So I’m making a wedding cake, would this freeze well a head of time and defrost ok?! I haven’t worked a lot with black frosting and want the wedding cake to turn out ok!

  15. 5 stars
    Delicious and no stained teeth!!
    Follow the steps and don’t worry – it turns dark!
    Made it for a friends 50th birthday party – Star Wars theme, so needed a black icing for the cake base! Not only did it look awesome, it tasted incredible!!! Thank you so much for sharing it!
    Next time, I might add a teaspoon (or a little more) espresso powder to kick up the chocolate flavor even more.

    1. The black cocoa powder helps a ton. If you have to use a regular cocoa powder, you’ll probably need to let the buttercream rest even longer to get that black to saturate.