Vegan Buttercream

When you’re making allergen friendly cupcakes, it’s key that you have a great vegan buttercream to top them with!

Whenever I think of vegan or gluten free (or even dairy free) recipes, I get a little scared. My first thought is always what scary, strange ingredients is this recipe going to call for.

When I worked on this vegan buttercream recipe, I wanted to be sure it used ingredients we’re all comfortable with. As an added bonus, I think most of you will already have them in your pantry!

image of vegan buttercream frosting piped onto a cupcake

Through a lot of recipe testing this year, I’m breaking through my own stigmas about allergen friendly baking. With the right ingredients and process, it doesn’t have to be so scary 🙂

What Type of Butter Alternative Should I Use?

Picking the right butter replacement is important. Just like with regular buttercream, the type of butter or fat that you use imparts a lot of flavor into your frosting.

Test #1: Vegetable Shortening (Crisco)

Shortening was the first butter alternative I tried, and it was not my cup of tea.

While it gave the frosting a great consistency, it left a strange mouth feel after eating it. It reminded me of the bad, artificial frosting I used to eat on cheap cakes from the grocery store.

Shortening also doesn’t add any flavor!! It tasted like it was eating sweetened crisco, rather than a delicious vegan buttercream.

I was a bit disheartened after this test and grossed out! It was not the taste I was after.

Test #2: Vegan / Dairy Free Butter

This was when I realized I really needed to use a fat base with more flavor.

I did a little research on vegan butter, and tried both Miyokos vegan butter and Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks.

image of vegan frosting ingredients laid out around a squiggle of piped frosting to show how smooth it is

Both types of vegan butter worked great, but I preferred the taste of the buttercream made with Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks.

One thing to note when using vegan butter in this recipe. Vegan butter is usually made with salt, so there’s no need to add in additional salt.

So when you read the recipe card below, don’t be surprised that it doesn’t include any additional salt. I didn’t forget it, it’s just already included in your vegan butter 🙂

Getting The Consistency of This Vegan Buttercream Just Right

In addition to having this vegan frosting taste great, I also wanted it to have a silky smooth consistency.

One of the things I love the most about making frosting is getting the consistency just right. Half the fun of making frosting is decorating with it!

Whether you plan to pipe this frosting onto cupcakes or smooth it onto a cake, I wanted it to keep its shape yet still be spreadable.

image of vegan frosting in a bowl

I found that I needed to add a tablespoon of dairy free milk to make the frosting more workable.

A little bit of dairy free milk goes a long way in this frosting! Be careful to carefully measure it out, so that you don’t make your frosting too thin.

What Type of Alternative Milk Should I Use?

I prefer baking with almond milk, and it’s my favorite alternative milk to drink.

I usually add this into my vegan buttercream because it’s what I have on hand.

However, I also tested this recipe with oat, soy, and coconut milk and they all worked great. I haven’t tested out rice or hemp milk, but I’d assume those would work well too (if you try them please let me know!).

image of dairy free cupcakes with vegan buttercream made with almond milk, soy milk, and oat milk

Since you’re only adding 1 tablespoon into your frosting, it doesn’t matter if it’s sweetened or flavored! It will still work.

So feel free to use whatever type you have on hand.

My Recommendation: Use Vanilla Bean Paste

To give this vegan buttercream a more intense vanilla flavor, I love to use vanilla bean paste.

Vanilla bean paste can be used in place of vanilla extract in a 1:1 ratio.

If you don’t have vanilla bean paste on hand you can use vanilla extract, but the flavor isn’t quite as strong.

image of vanilla bean paste about to be used in vegan buttercream frosting recipe

Vanilla bean paste really elevates look of this frosting. I love being able to see those tiny little specks!!

It makes it not only look prettier, but it really does add to the flavor of the buttercream.

Adding a Tiny Bit More Pizzazz to This Frosting

You can also add an additional teaspoon of your favorite extract to this frosting (listed as optional in the recipe).

My one word of caution here is to make sure you pick an extract that will pair well with your alternative dairy.

Since I prefer using almond milk, adding a teaspoon of almond extract to this frosting would be delicious. It would help enhance the natural almond flavor in the frosting from the almond milk.

Likewise, is you prefer coconut milk, you could add some coconut extract.

For soy and oat milk, I think almond or lemon extract would taste great.

image of pipeable vegan buttercream for cupcakes and cake decorating

Tips for Making The Best Vegan Buttercream:

  • Use your favorite type of dairy free milk! I love almond milk, but soy, oat, or coconut work great too
  • If you are making frosting for a cake, mix the buttercream on the lowest speed at the end of the process for a couple minutes, to get out any extra air that might have be incorporated during the mixing process.
  • I usually make 1 1/2 batches of frosting to stack and frost a seven or eight inch cake.
  • Ingredients at room temp mix together better, so be sure you set out any cold ingredients ahead of time.

Making This Vegan Buttercream In Advance & Storage Tips:

  • Make your frosting ahead of time or save any leftover frosting! It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • Be sure to give it a good stir once it thaws to get the consistency nice and smooth again.
  • A frosted cake can last in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to a month. The buttercream locks in all the moisture, keeping the cake fresh and delicious!
  • If you cut into the cake and have leftovers, use any remaining frosting to cover the cut section to keep it moist and store in the fridge for up to a week.
  • Frosted cupcakes can sit out at room temperature for a couple hours, but not overnight! Refrigerate them in an airtight container if made the day before. I find frosting them right before serving is best!

Let Me Know What You Think!

If you try this vegan buttercream recipe, I’d love to hear what think of it! Please leave a rating, and let me know your thoughts by sharing a comment 🙂

Also please tag me @chelsweets! Use the #chelsweets so that I can see your amazing creations on social media.

Yield: 3

Vegan Buttercream

image of vegan buttercream frosting piped onto a cupcake

This recipe for vegan buttercream makes the best frosting! It uses simple ingredients you probably already have, and it's also gluten free & dairy free!!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes

Ingredients

Vegan Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 cup vegan butter, softened at room temperature (190 grams)
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste (6 grams)
  • 1 tsp almond, coconut, or lemon extract (4 grams) - optional
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar (454 grams) - or a 1 lb bag; check the bag to make sure it's vegan!
  • 1 Tbsp alternative milk (soy, almond, coconut, or oat) (15 grams)

Instructions

Vegan Buttercream Frosting

  1. Beat the vegan butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until smooth.
  2. Mix in the vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste and salt on a low speed. If desired, add in an additional tsp of almond, coconut, or lemon extract.
  3. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Alternate with small splashes of alternative milk.
  4. Mix on low for a couple minutes until the ingredients are fully incorporated and the desired consistency is reached. 
  5. If the frosting is too thick, add in additional dairy free milk (1 tsp at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time).
  6. Use to frost a batch of cupcakes, or to frost a cake!

Notes

How Much Buttercream Does This Make?

1 batch of this vegan buttercream makes about 3 cups, and is enough to frost 2 dozen cupcakes.

To frost a 6"layer cake, double this recipe. To frost a 7" or 8" layer cake, triple this recipe.

Making This Vegan Buttercream In Advance & Storage Tips:

  • Make your frosting ahead of time or save any leftover frosting! It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • Be sure to give it a good stir once it thaws to get the consistency nice and smooth again.
  • A frosted cake can last in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to a month. The buttercream locks in all the moisture, keeping the cake fresh and delicious!
  • If you cut into the cake and have leftovers, use any remaining frosting to cover the cut section to keep it moist and store in the fridge for up to a week.
  • Frosted cupcakes can sit out at room temperature for a couple hours, but not overnight! Refrigerate them in an airtight container if made the day before. I find frosting them right before serving is best!

Nutrition Information

Yield

3

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 1279Total Fat 70gSaturated Fat 46gTrans Fat 2gUnsaturated Fat 19gCholesterol 163mgSodium 578mgCarbohydrates 167gFiber 3gSugar 159gProtein 2g

9 thoughts on “Vegan Buttercream

  1. I’ve been using the Earth Balance sticks for a few years now and agree they taste the best! Love your suggestion of using the different extracts…I’ve always been too nervous to use anything besides vanilla bean paste or freeze dried fruit. Thanks for branching out into the allergy friendly world!

    1. Hi Katy,

      Right?!

      It’s been a challenging yet very intersting journey into the allergy friendly world!! There’s so much to test and learn, it’s actually been pretty fun 🙂 Haha hoping to share lots more recipes like this in the future!!

  2. I’m using this recipe to make a dairy-free frosting and can’t wait to try it! I’m wondering if this is stable/stiff enough to frost a layer cake?

    1. Hi Chana,

      So happy to hear that! The frosting consistency can vary slightly based on what type of vegan butter you use, but it should definitely be stiff enough to frost a layer cake. Hope that helps, happy baking!

  3. I did just comment but I forgot to add… 🙂 How much does it make. It says says that it make three servings but doesn’t say how much a serving is

    1. Hi Chana,

      One batch makes about 3 cups! The recipe card is weird and doesn’t let me use anything besides a number in that category, so I usually share that info in the notes section at the bottom of the recipe card. Hope that helps for the future! <3

  4. When trying to make this vegan vanilla buttercream into an Oreo buttercream, will any of the other ingredients have to change? Thank you.

  5. I’m planning on making this frosting sometime soon and was wondering if there was anything I could do to tweak it into a chocolate buttercream? (If not I would love to see more dairy free-not necessarily vegan-frosting recipes, like maybe a dairy free Swiss meringue)

  6. It was amazing! ?? Thank you! How do I make it a lil less sweet but same consistency? this is the best recipe I’ve ever tried

Let me know what you think!