Home » Easy 3-Ingredient Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

Easy 3-Ingredient Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

This is THE BEST and also the easiest chocolate cream cheese frosting you’ll ever make. It requires just 3 ingredients and about 5-10 minutes to whip up – and you don’t even need to use a stand or a hand mixer! It’s perfectly rich, velvety-smooth and ultra-chocolatey, it pipes like a dream, and it holds its shape beautifully.

Piping dollops of chocolate cream cheese frosting onto a cake with a large open star nozzle.

This is both the best and also the easiest chocolate cream cheese frosting you’ll ever make or taste.

I first made it pretty much by accident, when I was testing out possible frosting options for my Small Batch Gluten Free Chocolate Cake. And when I say “by accident”… it was really a case of throwing ingredients together and seeing how it turns out.

Let me tell you: I did not expect this simple mix of cream cheese, powdered sugar and chocolate to be so ridiculously good – but it was. And it’s been one of my go-to chocolate frostings ever since.

This frosting is perfectly rich, velvety-smooth and ultra-chocolatey, and you need just 3 ingredients and about 5-10 minutes to make it! Unlike many other cream cheese frostings out there, there’s no butter in this one: just cream cheese, powdered/icing sugar and dark chocolate. That’s it!

Plus, you don’t need a stand or a hand mixer to whip it up – you could just use a rubber spatula, though a balloon whisk makes it easier to get the frosting perfectly smooth and lump-free.

Spreading the chocolate cream cheese frosting on a cake layer with a small offset spatula.

It pipes and spreads like a dream, and it holds its shape really well, even if it stands at (warm) room temperature for several hours. It has a gorgeous glossy finish that it retains even after it’s been kept in the fridge for a while.

Another great thing about it is that it stays pleasantly soft (definitely much softer than chocolate buttercream) even when it’s chilled from the fridge, primarily due to the absence of butter.

It’s really ideal for frosting all sorts of cakes and cupcakes, or even for piping or dolloping between cookies to make delicious, chocolate-packed sandwich cookies. And it’s definitely a great alternative to buttercream – it’s a bit lighter than your standard buttercream and the cream cheese gives this frosting a wonderful tang that pairs beautifully with chocolate.

That little hint of freshness really balances out the richness of the chocolate and the sweetness of the sugar, and gives a frosting so delicious that I could easily enjoy it by the spoonful.

A cake decorated with chocolate cream cheese frosting, with dollops of the frosting piped on top.

Before we get to the bits and bobs of making this amazing frosting – if you like what you’re seeing, subscribe to my newsletter to keep up to date on the latest recipes and tips!

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Note: the whole recipe, including the ingredient quantities, can be found at the bottom of this page – just scroll down to the bottom, or click the ‘Jump to Recipe’ button at the top of this post.

Ingredients for chocolate cream cheese frosting

You need just 3 ingredients to make this fabulous chocolate cream cheese frosting:

  • Full-fat cream cheese. It’s important to use the full-fat variety and make sure that it’s at room temperature before you start making the frosting.
  • Powdered/icing sugar. Make sure to sift it before adding it to the frosting, just to avoid any clumps forming – you want the frosting to be as smooth and luscious as possible.
  • Melted dark chocolate. For best results, use a high quality dark chocolate with 60-70% cocoa solids. Cool the chocolate until it’s warm or lukewarm before using it in the frosting. 

Ingredients for chocolate cream cheese frosting.

Also, the eagle-eyed among you will notice that this recipe (or, more precisely, the ingredient quantities listed in the recipe below) is very slightly different from the frosting that I used in my Small Batch Gluten Free Chocolate Cake recipe. While that frosting is *phenomenal*, I wanted to make it a bit less sweet and a bit more chocolatey. So, I reduced the amount of sugar and increased the amount of chocolate, while also optimising the amount of frosting further to be perfect for 12 cupcakes or a two-layer 6-inch (15cm) cake.

But that’s the beauty of this frosting: so long as you don’t stray too far from the ingredient ratios given in the recipe below, you can easily tweak it to suit your own taste – for example by making it more or less sweet, or more or less chocolatey. 

Side note: American vs European (UK) cream cheese

I tested this recipe with European cream cheese that’s available here in the UK. Specifically, I used the Philadelphia cream cheese (also called “soft cheese” here in the UK) that comes in tubs and has a fat content of around 21% (21g of fat per 100g of cream cheese).

In comparison, American cream cheese is typically sold in blocks (wrapped in foil) and has a higher fat content of around 33-35%.

From my research (and also from watching YouTube videos of bakers from the US), it seems that the American cream cheese is firmer, whereas the UK cream cheese has a softer, spread-like texture and has a higher moisture content.

There’s obviously quite a bit of difference between the cream cheese available here in the UK and over in the US. However, this frosting is very forgiving – and it’s been made by many readers and followers from the US as well, with great success. 

So, even though the cream cheese texture and fat/moisture content can vary, both American and European/UK cream cheese will work great in this recipe. Plus, you can tweak the texture and consistency of the frosting if needed – check out the Top Tips section and the recipe below for more details about that!

How to make THE BEST chocolate cream cheese frosting

Here’s how to make this AMAZING chocolate cream cheese frosting (it seriously couldn’t be easier):

  1. Melt the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl either in the microwave or over a pot of simmering water on the stovetop. Allow it to cool until warm or lukewarm. Then, add the powdered/icing sugar
  2. and the cream cheese.
  3. Mix it all together until smooth. I recommend using a large balloon whisk,
  4. but a rubber spatula will also do in a pinch. And that’s it – the frosting is done and ready to be used!

The process of making chocolate cream cheese frosting.

Top tips for chocolate cream cheese frosting PERFECTION

  • Room temperature cream cheese. Make sure to use room temperature cream cheese when making this frosting – leave it out on the counter at room temperature for at least one hour before you start. If you use cold cream cheese, that can cause the chocolate to seize up, and your frosting will end up grainy and/or lumpy.
  • Use full-fat cream cheese. For a frosting that’s super decadent and luscious, and that also holds its shape beautifully when piped, use full-fat cream cheese.
  • Mix all the ingredients together at once – don’t mix the cream cheese with the sugar before adding the chocolate. Unlike many other recipes, where there is a certain order to adding the ingredients, here it’s not only easiest but also best to just put all the ingredients into the bowl at once and then mix them up. If you were to mix the cream cheese and the powdered sugar first, your frosting could end up too runny, as the sugar can draw out some of the moisture from the cream cheese and make it runny or “watery”. (Note that this applies to my experiences with using UK cream cheese, and it might be slightly different when using the firmer American cream cheese. However, mixing up all the ingredients at once will work perfectly regardless of which style of cream cheese you use, which is why I really recommend sticking with this method!)
  • To thicken the frosting: First, make sure that your frosting actually requires thickening! If your chocolate was very warm when you added the rest of the ingredients, it could be that your frosting is just too warm. If it feels warm to the touch, pop it into the fridge for 15-20 minutes and check its texture. And then, if it’s still too runny, you can add some cocoa powder (one tablespoon at a time) until you reach the desired consistency. This will also deepen the chocolate flavour.
  • To make the frosting looser and softer: If your frosting is too thick or too firm, you can add some room temperature full-fat milk or heavy/double cream (one tablespoon at a time) until you reach the desired consistency.

A layer of chocolate cream cheese frosting on top of a cake.

Storing the cream cheese frosting

As this frosting is so quick and easy to make (seriously, it takes about 5-10 minutes!), I usually make it just before I need to use it. However, you can prepare it in advance to use later. Because it contains dairy (cream cheese), it’s best to store it in the fridge (short term) or in the freezer (longer term).

  • Store it in the fridge in a closed air-tight container for up to 5 days. Bring it up to room temperature before using, either by leaving it out on the counter at room temperature for a few hours, or by re-heating it in the microwave in bursts of 5-10 seconds, stirring in between, until it reaches its original consistency. Make sure to give it a good whisk or stir before using.
  • Store it in the freezer in a closed air-tight container for up to 3 months. When you want to use it, first thaw it in the fridge. Then, bring it up to room temperature before using, either by leaving it out on the counter at room temperature for a few hours, or by re-heating it in the microwave in bursts of 5-10 seconds, stirring in between, until it reaches its original consistency. Make sure to give it a good whisk or stir before using.

And there you go: everything you need to know in order to make THE BEST and the easiest 3-ingredient chocolate cream cheese frosting. This one is truly a revelation and I promise you that once you’ve tasted it, it will become one of your go-to frostings.

Hope you’ll love it!

Signature of the author, Kat.

Piping dollops of chocolate cream cheese frosting onto a cake with a large open star nozzle.

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Easy 3-Ingredient Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

This is THE BEST and also the easiest chocolate cream cheese frosting you’ll ever make. It requires just 3 ingredients and about 5-10 minutes to whip up – and you don’t even need to use a stand or a hand mixer! It’s perfectly rich, velvety-smooth and ultra-chocolatey, it pipes like a dream, and it holds its shape beautifully.
Note: This recipe makes enough to frost 12 cupcakes, or one two-layer 6-inch (15cm) cake with enough left over to pipe decorations on top. To frost an 8-inch (20cm) cake, you will need to double the amount of frosting.
Print Rate
Prep Time 10 mins
Total Time 10 mins
Servings 12 cupcakes or one two-layer 6-inch (15cm) cake

Ingredients

  • 225 g (8 oz) dark chocolate (60-70% cocoa solids), chopped
  • 180 g (1½ cups) powdered/icing sugar, sifted
  • 270 g (1¼ cup) full-fat cream cheese, room temperature

Instructions

  • In a large heat-proof bowl, either in the microwave or over a pot of simmering water on the stovetop, melt the chocolate. Allow it to cool until warm or lukewarm.
  • Add the powdered/icing sugar and the cream cheese.
  • Mix it all together until you get a smooth, glossy and fairly thick frosting that is easily spreadable. I recommend using a large balloon whisk, but you can also use a rubber spatula.
    Tip 1: It's best to mix all the ingredients together at once. Don't mix the sugar with the cream cheese first, before adding the chocolate – this can draw out some of the moisture from the cream cheese, resulting in a runny, loose frosting.
    Tip 2: Although you can use a rubber spatula, a balloon whisk is better, as it makes it easier to get the frosting perfectly smooth and lump-free.
  • Use the frosting to decorate your cake or cupcakes.
    This recipe makes enough to frost 12 cupcakes, or one two-layer 6-inch (15cm) cake with enough left over to pipe decorations on top.

Adjusting the consistency of the frosting (if necessary):

  • To thicken the frosting: First, make sure that your frosting actually requires thickening! If your chocolate was very warm when you added the rest of the ingredients, it could be that your frosting is just too warm. If it feels warm to the touch, place it in the fridge for 15-20 minutes and then check its texture. If it’s still too runny, you can add some cocoa powder (one tablespoon at a time) until you reach the desired consistency. This will also deepen the chocolate flavour.
  • To make the frosting looser and softer: If your frosting is too thick or too firm, you can add some room temperature full-fat milk or heavy/double cream (one tablespoon at a time) until you reach the desired consistency.

Storage:

  • In the fridge (short term): You can store the frosting in the fridge in a closed air-tight container for up to 5 days. Bring it up to room temperature before using, either by leaving it out on the counter at room temperature for a few hours, or by re-heating it in the microwave in bursts of 5-10 seconds, stirring in between, until it reaches its original spreadable and pipeable consistency. Make sure to give it a good whisk or stir before using.
  • In the freezer (long term): You can store the frosting in the freezer in a closed air-tight container for up to 3 months. When you want to use it, first thaw it in the fridge. Then, bring it up to room temperature before using, either by leaving it out on the counter at room temperature for a few hours, or by re-heating it in the microwave in bursts of 5-10 seconds, stirring in between, until it reaches its original spreadable and pipeable consistency. Make sure to give it a good whisk or stir before using.
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