Light and fluffy vanilla vegan buttercream frosting recipe is a dream to make and eat! Only 4 ingredients for perfect cakes, cupcakes, and more. Gluten free + allergy friendly!
This vegan vanilla frosting is a vegan twist on American buttercream. That means it is super easy to make with simple ingredients! It is perfect for putting on top of vegan vanilla cake, gluten free chocolate cake, egg free brownies, and even on top of sugar cookies! Basically any of your special occasions calls for this perfect buttercream frosting. Homemade frosting is so delicious you won't ever use the stuff from a can again!
Free from: wheat, gluten, dairy, casein, eggs, soy (optional), peanuts, tree nuts, coconut, fish, shellfish, crustaceans, mollusks, celery, corn (optional), sesame, mustard, lupin, sulfites, and more
Why you’ll love this vegan buttercream frosting
Simple ingredients. I hate when recipes have weird ingredients. The ingredients for this recipe couldn’t be simpler! They are available at almost every grocery store anywhere and the most difficult ingredient is your favorite plant-based butter.
Simple instructions. Because this is based on American buttercream frosting, it is super easy to mix up!
Here is a quick rundown of what you will need:
- Vegan Powdered Sugar - Make sure that you sift your powdered sugar to get rid of any lumps! It’s an extra step but really does make a difference. More on which sugar is best below.
- Vegan Butter - I recommend that you use softened butter that is about room temperature. Don’t use melted butter or the ratios of butter to sugar will be thrown off. More on which butter is best below.
- Good Vanilla Extract - The heart of the recipe! Make sure you use a good quality vanilla. For the best flavor, I love to use Madagascar vanilla as I like it best.
- Salt - This balances out the sweetness and adds depth to the recipe. If you are using vegan butter that is salted, you may not need to add as much.
Sometimes depending on what vegan butter you use, you may need a bit of non-dairy milk to help the frosting reach the right consistency. Any dairy free milk will work in this. I personally like rice milk as it is the most allergy friendly. Almond milk would also work great as it has a good fat quantity to help with making the creamiest frosting.
Best Vegan Butter
You can’t have buttercream frosting without a good vegan butter. Thankfully, there are several on the market right now that are in stores all over.
I prefer to use stick vegan butter. It has a better fat:water ratio that makes for better frosting. Some of my favorites are:
- I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter - This is the one I reach for in my store. It is free from nuts, tree nuts, and coconut making it a really allergy friendly option.
- Country Crock - The plant based sticks are a great option as well. They use a blend of different oils so you can choose one that works well for you.
- Earth Balance Sticks - These work really well. You can also use the earth balance in a tub, especially if you have a soy allergy that you are working with. Just replace 2 tablespoons of butter with 2 tablespoons of vegan shortening when making this frosting with Earth Balance to get the right percentage of fat.
Whatever brand you use, make sure that you don’t use the Earth Balance in a tub! That has a different fat:water ratio and was not designed for frosting. Earth Balance does make soy free sticks now if you are avoiding a soy allergy.
If you are avoiding corn, you want to make sure that your powdered sugar and your vanilla extract are both corn free. I recommend Wholesome Powdered Sugar and Singing Dog Vanilla.
For the full instructions complete with ingredient measurement and quantities, please see the recipe card below.
Start with your softened butter. Place it into the bowl of your stand mixer with the whisk attachment. You can also use a large bowl with an electric hand mixer. I don’t recommend that you make this by hand as you can’t get the same fluffy result.
On medium-high speed, whisk the butter for about 5 minutes or until it has lightened in color and is super fluffy. What you are doing is aerating the butter, making it softer and giving it a lot more volume. Don’t skip this step! You really want it to be as voluminous as possible. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed to get everything incorporated.
Next, add in your powdered sugar, pinch of salt, and vanilla. I like to add them all at once and slowly mix them in, but you can also divide this into 2 or 3 additions. Start on low speed and once it is fully incorporated, whisk again on high speed for 2 to 3 minutes to get some of that volume back!
Finally, if your frosting isn’t quite the right consistency, add some dairy-free milk as needed. Make sure you only do this a spoonful at a time! Give it a quick mix and check again.
Tip! For super smooth frosting, switch from the whisk attachment to the paddle attachment and mix for 3 minutes. This will transform your frosting to ultimate creamy texture.
And done! Your frosting is ready to be put on cakes, cupcakes, cookies and more!
How to Frost Cupcakes
If you want to get big beautiful swirls of frosting like this, it is way easier than you think!
Start by filling a piping bag with frosting. What tip should you use? Here are some of my favorites:
- Wilton 1M is my go to tip!
- Wilton 8B is for really pretty swirls
- Ateco 808 Large Round makes fluffy swirls like clouds
Grab a big cup and place your piping bag with the tip inside of it. Fold the edges over the cup and you can easily fill your piping bag all the way up!
To frost a cupcake, you want to hold the bag in your dominant hand (right for me) and place a cupcake directly under the tip.
Tip! Make sure that you twist the bag and clip it so that no frosting can escape out the top!
Starting at 9 o’clock on the cupcake, gently squeeze out frosting that is almost to the edge. Go all the way around the cupcake.
When you get back to where you started ( 9 o’clock) lift your hand up and make the next circle slightly smaller as you again work all around the cupcake.
Finally, when you run out of circles to make on the cupcake (for me it’s about 3 times around the cupcake) make a tiny swirl on top and stop pressing on the bag. As you release the bag while slowly pulling up, it will naturally make a cute little tip!
It may take a few tries to get the feel of it, but you can always scrape off any you don’t like and try again!
How to store
This frosting is best when used right away to frost cupcakes or cakes.
Fridge - Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week. You may need to add an additional splash of milk to help the frosting have the right consistency again.
Freezer - Yes, you can freeze frosting! Store in a freezer safe container for up to 3 months. Allow to thaw in the fridge and again add a splash of milk to help achieve the right consistency.
Not all sugars are vegan, but thankfully there are some really good ones that are! Wholesome Sweeteners, Trader Joe’s Sugar, 365 Sugar, and Pioneer Sugar (if you’re in the Midwest of the USA) are all vegan.
For a really creamy and smooth frosting, after whipping with the whisk attachment on your stand mixer or hand mixer, switch to the paddle attachment. The paddle attachment is made for making things nice and smooth. A few minutes of blending with the paddle attachment and you will have the smoothest frosting ever!
Yes, you can use vegetable shortening in this recipe. Use up to 50% of vegetable shortening in place of vegan butter to make a vegan frosting that is more stable at room temperature, not to mention easier to work with.
No, you can not use coconut milk to replace the butter. Coconut oil and coconut milk are too different from vegan butter and vegan shortening. However, you can use coconut milk to thin out the recipe a bit in place of the plant-based milk. That should give the frosting a subtle coconut flavor.
I love McCormick for natural dyes in frosting and for a more traditional vibrant coloring. Bonus, I always order my sprinkles from Sweetapolita as they make cute vegan sprinkles!
More vegan dessert recipes to love
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- hand mixer or stand mixer
- measuring cups
- measuring spoons
- mixing bowls
- piping bags + tips
- 1 cup dairy free butter
- 3-4 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 1-3 tablespoon dairy free milk as needed
- pinch salt
- In a large mixing bowl with your hand mixer, or in your stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk the softened vegan butter on medium-high speed for 5 minutes. Whisk until light and fluffy.
- Add the vanilla, salt, and powdered sugar. Start on low speed and slowly build up speed until all the sugar is incorporated into the butter. Again, whisk on high speed for 2 to 3 more minutes. Add plant based milk as needed to get the right consistency.
The nutritional information on this website is only an estimate and is provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.
Shamani Nair says
I am looking for a vegan buttercream icing that can be used as an oil painting on a cake. I would like a 'starry, starry night ' painting be done on a cake for an artist,'s bday. Would this icing do. Pssst...pssst please tell me what brand did you use. The "buttery" nuttlex which we get in Australia was sickeningly fatty for me. Thanks and looking forward to hearing from you.
I think this frosting would work well for the painterly look that you are going for! (And I would totally love to see this cake when finished, it sounds amazing!!) After you whisk the frosting together, I would really recommend switching to a paddle attachment to get it as smooth as possible. If coconut milk is safe, adding in a few splashes of coconut milk can help get the viscosity of the frosting to be a little bit more like oil paint. If you are finding the vegan butters to be a bit fatty, you could try mixing in some melted vegan marshmallows as a way of replacing some of the butter. As for what brands I use, I typically use Earth Balance Buttery Sticks. I'm not sure if the is available in Australia. Have you ever tried Natural or the Cultured Butter? I've read positive things about their butters, but I haven't tested them so I'm not sure.
This sounds amazingly yum and the lil cakes look divine as well! Great job! x
Laura Schneider says
Thank you! I can confirm that this is so yummy that you'll want to lick the bowl. Purely for scientific purposes of ensuring it is good, of course! 😉
? Of course! X