I’m going to get to this creamy frosting recipe, but first I’m going to reminisce a little.  Mama Minnie was my great-grandmother on my mom’s side of the family.  She lived on a large farm, on the Albemarle Sound, in North Carolina.  She became a self-sufficient widow, having lost her husband when my grandpa was only 9.  He was one of 12 children and the oldest boy.  One of my aunts and her husband stayed on at the farm after they were married to help care for Mama Minnie and take care of the farm.  Much of the income on the farm came from the watermelon fields, peach orchards, and the grape vines.  All of those fruits were sold commercially.

I use to make my way, through the breezeway, to the big ‘ole kitchen at the back of that old farmhouse anticipating what sweet delights would be waiting on the sideboard.  There was always some kind of cake that took center stage to all the pies, cookies and other treats.

Back then I judged a cake by it’s frosting.  Since chocolate was my favorite, I was always more than thrilled to find one back there just the way I loved it.  While this may not be the exact chocolate frosting recipe from back then, this one is center stage worthy.

There are so many variations of homemade chocolate frosting out there.  Many are good, but none I’ve tried ever had the “wow” factor until I came across this one.

What sets this super easy frosting recipe apart?  This recipe has the spreading consistency that the store bought products have, but without all of the added preservatives.  And…it packs a chocolate flavor that does not even compare.

You can use this to frost your favorite cake.  Or, if you happen to be looking for a cake recipe you can try my  delicious Buttermilk Chocolate Cake.

To get started you will need: 3/4 cup of cocoa, 4 cups of powdered (confectioner) sugar, 1/2 cup butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 1/2 cup evaporated milk (plus a little extra for thinning).


Mix the cocoa and sugar together.

Cream the butter.

 Gradually add the cocoa mixture to the butter, alternately, with the 1/2 cup of milk  until it is all blended.


Add the vanilla.  The ingredients will pull together nicely creating a smooth creamy frosting.  At this point you will slowly add more milk to get this to the spreading consistency you like.  You have to be especially careful to add very little milk at a time until it’s the way you want.  Cream in between each addition of milk being careful not to add to much.  It’s not as easy to thicken as it is to thin.

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As you can see – this creamy chocolate frosting looks so pretty on a cake – ya just hate to have to cut into it.  Oh, but when you do…it’s so worth the extra steps it takes to make it from scratch.

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A chocolate buttermilk cake on a cake platter

Creamy Chocolate Frosting

Serving Up Southern
4.50 from 6 votes


  • 3/4 cup cocoa
  • 4 cups powdered confectioner sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter 1 stick
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk (plus extra for thinning


  • Mix the cocoa and sugar.
  • Cream the butter. Gradually add the cocoa mixture to the creamed butter, alternately, with the 1/2 cup of milk until blended. Add the vanilla.
  • Carefully add very small amounts of milk at a time until desired consistency is reached. Cream well in between each addition of milk.

Disclaimer: Nutritional values (per serving) are approximates only and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

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  1. Going to try this frosting on the buttermilk chocolate cake! Looks yummy!

    1. Kim at Serving Up Southern says:

      I’m so glad you’re going to try it, Gaye! I hope you love it! It’s our very favorite.

    2. This recipe sounds absolutely delicious! I’m going to give it a try. I’m curious though, can this recipe be used to make cupcakes instead of a cake? Have you personally tried that with this recipe? Also, is there a specific brand of coffee you use for this recipe? Thank you for sharing your recipe!

      1. Hi Mary Lou!
        I don’t recall that I ‘ve ever made cupcakes using the Buttermilk Chocolate Cake recipe, but I certainly don’t know why it wouldn’t be doable. You would need to make sure and adjust your time. As far as the coffee – I use the Folger’s instant decaf because I can’t have any caffeine and in doing it that way, I don’t have to make a pot of coffee. I do make it strong, though. Thanks so much for stopping by. I hope you’ll come back and let me know how the cupcakes turn out.
        >>> Kim

  2. Looks scrumptious! Will this frost the entire cake or does it need to be doubled?

    Thanks! Can’t wait to make it!

    1. Kim at Serving Up Southern says:

      Angelica, it will frost the whole cake! :)

  3. I have this cake in the oven right now…if its as good as the beaters tasted, we’re going to be very happy :-)

  4. Elizabeth says:

    I made the cake for my little girls 6th birthday, she and everyone loved it! Mind you I hate to bake and it turned out great! But now I’m trying to bake it again for my birthday and I think I did something wrong with the frosting it’s all runny ? do I add the milk and vanilla to the butter, then mix in to mix of sugar and chocolate? I’m having a HUGE BRAIN FART! I’m getting old!!!

  5. 5 stars
    I made your chocolate cake and frosting for Easter and it was delicious! Over 15 people had some and everyone agreed that the frosting wasn’t too sweet.. it was amazing! Thank you!

    1. Kim at Serving Up Southern says:

      Hi Victoria! I’m so glad you love the cake and icing recipes! Thanks for stopping by and letting me know. :)

  6. Natasha Allan says:

    5 stars
    Turned out beautifully! Thank you for the recipe!

  7. Kim at Serving Up Southern says:

    Thank you, Natasha! You’re very welcome! :)

  8. Sheila Heim says:

    It is my go to chocolate cake, even when it’s supposed to be vanilla lol. Can’t say enough how good this cake is. I usually make it with whipped peanut butter frosting❤️❤️❤️

    1. Kim at Serving Up Southern says:

      Hi Sheila! I’m glad you love the cake. I bet it’s delicious with the peanut butter frosting too. I’ll have to try that sometime.

  9. 5 stars
    This was the best cake I have ever made. It was so moist and the icing was delicious too. Best cake ever!!

  10. As soon as I saw the ingredients of chocolate, butter and evaporated milk I knew it would be good. Me and my grandkids couldn’t stop testing it after we made it . All I heard from my grands was clicks of spoons against the bowl and grunts of mmmmm. It is lickable delicious !!

    1. Oh, Cheryl!
      I LOVE this comment! It warms my heart to know that my recipes are playing a part in making memories in your kitchen. My grands love to clean that bowl out as well! And if I’m honest, I do too! ;)

  11. This frosting is so good you don’t even need a cake to put it on? I made the buttermilk chocolate cake with this frosting for my aunt after my uncle died on Valentine’s Day and my aunt was so happy ? this cake actually made her happy ? thank you for this awesome recipe. This cake didn’t last one full dsy?

    1. Hi Tonya!
      I’m sorry for your loss. I’m so glad the cake made your aunt happy. I know what you mean about it lasting. It doesn’t last long around here either.

  12. 2 stars
    Followed the instructions perfectly and frosting was thin. The cake was awesome though!

  13. Mary Fleming says:

    5 stars
    This is the perfect birthday cake! Delicious, moist , great crumb and the icing recipe was wonderful too!

    1. Hi Mary! I’m so glad you loved the cake and icing. It’s an all-time favorite around here and requested for birthdays often. Thanks for stopping by!

  14. 5 stars
    I watched my Hungarian/German grandmother make this cake with these ingredients as a kid. I kept the recipe for years but lost it during a move. She would make three cakes, add a layer of frosting in each, and homemade apricot pineapple jam, then piece together and frost. Simply delicious! Going to make it myself now! Thank you

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