Artur Kozlov, Getty images

The Secret To Making Inky, Jet Black Frosting

Whether you’re making goth cupcakes or a chic cake, you’ll want to know these tips from experienced bakers.

Before you go ham on the food coloring, you need to start with the magic ingredient in your frosting recipe: cocoa powder. It’s the perfect tinted base to layer black gel coloring (way more saturated than liquid) to achieve an inky, truly black hue.

“The best base to use for black icing is chocolate — you can use regular cocoa powder to make it, but I love to use black cocoa powder in a chocolate buttercream recipe,” Elizabeth Nelson, Wilton Test Kitchen Director tells Romper.Wilton

Even if chocolate buttercream with black cocoa powder seems dark enough, Nelson says you can take it even further by adding in black icing color, which Wilton makes.


Cake artist Kymberly of @kymberlyrileyart not only adds cocoa powder to darken the frosting, but also for taste. “Black requires a lot of food coloring, and the cocoa powder helps mask the bitter flavor that can sometimes come with that,” she says.@kymberlyrileyart

Her go-to brand? “[Artisan Accents] is a great brand if you want to avoid that bitter taste that you get when you make dark colors, says Kymberly, who has experience using all different brands of food gel coloring.


Van Nguyen of @OvenGiggles is also a fan of cocoa powder, but her secret ingredient is time. She allows “the black buttercream to sit overnight to let the color darken up.” @OvenGiggles
To create the black frosting on these cute and spooky cat cupcakes, Tieghan Gerard of Half-Baked Harvest includes activated charcoal (which doesn’t have a taste), and black sugar. Half-Baked Harvest
Yep this super cute marbled notebook cake from Studio DIY also calls for cocoa powder (are you sensing a theme?) and a few drops of gel food coloring to achieve an incredibly inky black hue. Studio DIY
If you just need a bit of black icing for minor details (like for these cute emoji macaron faces), Studio DIY suggests using a food decorator pen that will write on firm surfaces. For cakes, black gel food coloring works well (the kind in the tube).Studio DIY
Nguyen of @OvenGiggles tells Romper that her buttercream frosting with cocoa powder “tastes just like Oreo cookies,” and she’ll only add a few drops of food coloring to achieve the color she wants.@Ovengiggles