How to Make Dairy-Free Buttercream Frosting

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Vanilla cupcakes decorated with vegan buttercream frosting and rainbow sprinkles

If you’ve ever wondered how to make dairy-free buttercream frosting, you’re in the right place! This step-by-step tutorial will demonstrate how easy it is to make perfect dairy-free buttercream frosting every time! Plus, we share our favorite dairy-free butter brands, tips for success, and recipes to put it to good use!

Cutting board with vegan butter, vanilla, powdered sugar, and coconut milk for making vegan frosting

Dairy-Free Buttercream Frosting vs. Buttercream Frosting

The two main differences between traditional and dairy-free buttercream frosting are:

  1. The dairy butter is replaced with vegan butter.
  2. The whipping cream or milk is replaced with non-dairy milk.
Sifting powdered sugar into vegan butter to make Vegan Buttercream Frosting

As for preparation, the basic rules still apply:

  1. Use softened vegan (or dairy-free) butter, which blends better (and don’t microwave chilled butter to speed softening time – it will make your buttercream runny)
  2. Use quality powdered sugar and sift it before adding to the butter or it can form clumps
  3. If your buttercream gets too thick, simply thin with a little dairy-free milk of choice (ours being creamy coconut)

How to use it?

On cakes, cupcakes, cookies, and more, including:

Electric hand mixer resting above a bowl of simple homemade Vegan Buttercream Frosting

That’s it!

We hope you LOVE this vegan frosting recipe! If you give it a try let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #minimalistbaker on Instagram so we can see what you come up with. Cheers, friends!

Close up shot of a plate of cupcakes topped with Vegan Buttercream Frosting and rainbow sprinkles

How to Make Dairy-Free Buttercream Frosting

Fluffy Dairy-Free Buttercream Frosting made with 4 simple ingredients and 1 bowl! Perfect for decorating cupcakes, cakes, and more!
Author Minimalist Baker
Plate of vanilla cupcakes topped with Vegan Buttercream Frosting and rainbow sprinkles
4.63 from 67 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 14 (2-Tbsp servings)
Course Dessert
Cuisine Gluten-Free, Vegan
Freezer Friendly 1 month
Does it keep? 1 Week


  • 1 stick vegan butter (1 stick = 1/2 cup // our current preferred brand is Miyokos, but Earth Balance also works)
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ – 3 cups sifted organic powdered sugar (ensure vegan-friendly as needed)
  • 3-4 Tbsp full fat coconut milk or other dairy-free milk (optional // we prefer coconut)


  • Add softened vegan butter to a large mixing bowl and use an electric hand mixer to cream butter until light and fluffy – about 1 minute. Then add vanilla and mix once more to combine.
  • Add sifted powdered sugar in 1/2 cup measurements and continue mixing until well combined and fluffy, scraping down sides as needed.
  • If too thick, add 1 Tbsp at a time of dairy-free milk until desired consistency is achieved (optional).
  • Use immediately or store frosting in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer up to 1 month.



*Frosting will melt and spoil if kept at room temperature for too long. We recommend frosting immediately before enjoying or storing cupcakes in the refrigerator after decorating.
*Recipe as written makes ~1 ¾ cup frosting
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated with Miyokos dairy-free butter and with lesser amounts of ingredient ranges.

Nutrition (1 of 14 servings)

Serving: 1 two-tablespoon servings Calories: 141 Carbohydrates: 21.5 g Protein: 0 g Fat: 6.3 g Saturated Fat: 5 g Sodium: 38 mg Potassium: 4.2 mg Fiber: 0 g Sugar: 21 g Calcium: 0.2 mg

Reader Interactions

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  1. Coralyn says

    I tried making this and for some reason it turned out runny even before adding the coconut milk! Any ideas why it turned out more runny than a thick consistency? Where did I mess up?


    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Coralyn, is it possible you microwaved the butter to soften it? That will make your buttercream runny!

  2. Scott says

    Vegan butter is a wee bit expensive for my budget at the moment… Can I sub in margarine sticks at a 1-to-1 ratio? Or would that offset the flavor/consistency?

  3. Gabby says

    Hello! If I’m making cupcakes for an event the next day, would it be best to refrigerate the buttercream overnight and frost the cupcakes the next day? Or refrigerate the cupcakes with the frosting already added? Thank you!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Gabby! We suggest refrigerating the the cupcakes and buttercream separately and letting them both come closer to room temp the next day before frosting them. We hope you enjoy! xo

  4. Silvia Sharpe says

    I really enjoyed making this. It was easy and it tasted excellent! I’m not much of a baker but I wanted to make my own frosting for some cupcakes to avoid some ingredients that I avoid in my eating lifestyle. I used much less sugar than the recipe called for, tasting it after 1 cup of powdered sugar was the perfect sweetness for me so I’m glad that I opted to taste before adding all of the sugar the recipe called for. I used grassfed butter and organic coconut milk. I will certainly use this again.

  5. Alissa says

    This was amazing! I made it first as is and it was delicious. This time I needed a cream cheese frosting so instead of any non dairy milk I added 1 Tbsp of lemon juice and it was perfect!

  6. Alana says

    I use miyokos dairy free butter too! I have found that the dairy free milk which gives the best texture and flavor is the Elmhurst unsweetened cashew milk because it’s thicker than other nut milks but without a strong flavor or the oiliness of coconut milk/cream!

  7. Allanah Mullenbach says

    I used the second butter you recommended and for some reason my buttercream turned out just slightly grainy. Any way to fix this?

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Allanah, it sounds like it might need to be mixed longer! If that doesn’t do the trick, you can find some other troubleshooting tips here.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Natalie, this recipe makes ~1 ¾ cup frosting. You’ll probably want to double the recipe for a cake of that size!


    Can’t wait to try this recipe – it looks much better than my own attempts to create a non-dairy buttercream.
    Have noticed some people wanting a less sweet version, and have just read about ‘ermine frosting’ using a flour and milk roux to start the process. This means less icing sugar. I haven’t tried it yet, but I would be using an alternative milk, and if making for a gluten free taster, would try making the roux with cornflour – this would make a finer silkier base than with wheat flour. What do you think?

  9. Cat says

    Could I frost a cake he morning of the party and refrigerate it then bring it out for display? It would probably be out for an hour? Or should I bring it right out of the fridge at serving time?

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Cat, it will depend on how melty your dairy-free butter is and the room temperature, but it should be fine! If it starts to look droopy, you can refrigerate it again before serving. Hope that helps!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Jade, we haven’t tested that, but maybe in a blender? It probably won’t be as fluffy.

  10. Madeline says

    Am I using coconut milk from the can or the one that’s refrigerated? Sorry if this is a dumb question lol. And will I be able to pipe roses with this icing? Thank you!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Madeline, all questions are welcome! You can use either type of milk. We think piping roses would work, but you’ll definitely want the greater amount of powdered sugar. Hope that helps!

  11. Ariel B says

    Hi there! I love your work. I have seen in other recipes that both the milk and butter should be at room temp, would you suggest that the coconut milk should be at room temp for this recipe?


    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Ariel, it wouldn’t hurt, but we don’t find it essential to let the coconut milk come to room temperature. Hope that helps!

  12. Gail says

    I’m looking for a dairy free frosting that will pipe well. Do you find using full fat coconut milk helps with consistency? I’ve made a very similar dairy free frosting in the past that using almond milk that was good but started to look a bit melted after sitting for a bit. I thought perhaps the full fat coconut milk helps to give a stiffer frosting.
    Thank you!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Gail, full-fat coconut milk should help it be a bit thicker. We would also suggest starting with a lesser amount of milk and/or adding more powdered sugar if the buttercream seems to get too soft. Keeping it cool will help it from melting as well! Hope this helps. xo

  13. Karen says

    How do I measure out earth balance from a tub. I don’t have the sticks! I want to make frosting for 24 cupcakes.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Karen, you can use a 1/2 cup measuring cup. In a pinch the kind from the tub can work, but just know it might be more greasy and not firm up as well.

  14. Carla says

    Delicious!,! Now I can have cake with frosting! Thank you!,
    If you add a sprinkling of salt it doesn’t taste over sweet. Very delicious!!

  15. Janet says

    Do you think you could add some cocoa powder to the recipe to make chocolate icing — my husband’s favorite. If so, how much would you suggest?

  16. Li says

    I followed the directions to a T and the taste was absolutely amazing. Better than traditional buttercream in my opinion. Only thing I had a problem with was achieving that bright white color. Any suggestions?

  17. Steph says

    Do you use the salted or unsalted Miyoko’s? I have traditionally used Earth Balance soy free but can’t find the sticks. The Miyoko’s I can find is salted. With dairy butter I use unsalted and then add a pinch so I’m thinking this will be okay, but I’ve never used Miyoko’s before. Otherwise dairy/soy free suggestions are welcome. Thanks!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Sarah, we haven’t experimented with that and aren’t sure! Let us know if you try it.

  18. céline says

    Tried this with tapioca flour as substitute to icing sugar to make frosting less sweet, didn’t work. Using stand mixer, they batter crumbly and not smooth. Like cheese curds. :'(

          • Dani Dick says

            This happened to me too 😢. Sifted the tapioca starch well and the frosting came out super grainy…

          • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

            Sorry that happened, Dani. We haven’t tried it ourselves and have only heard of it working for others! Perhaps do a search in the comments to see if you can get feedback from a reader who has had success with it?

  19. Hadley says

    I made this recipe for my sisters 7th birthday cake, and she LOVED it!!! I added almond extract. It is delicious!! Thank you for this recipe!!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Thanks so much for the lovely review, Hadley. We are so glad she enjoyed it! xoxo

  20. Céline says

    I followed the instructions except that I didn’t use 3 to 4 tbsp of coconut milk because I used unsweetened almond milk and only used 1/4 of the milk. For powdered sugar. I used Organic Icing Sugar by Wholesome brand. It was my first time to ever make buttercream frosting in my life so the sifting of powdered sugar while using an electric hand mixer was the most difficult task. I used Plochman’s Neon Food Colours as food colouring and the frosting looked like the colour of Grimace mascot from McDonald’s because I put too much pink and purple colour. Taste-wise, I find it too sweet for my taste and didn’t achieve the subtle and balanced sweetness I was expecting to achieve.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Céline, buttercream does tend to be pretty sweet, but if you prefer a less sweet frosting, you could play around with replacing some of the powdered sugar with tapioca starch. We haven’t tested it that way, but some other readers who prefer a less sweet frosting have mentioned doing so with success!

  21. Michaela says

    This frosting came out amazingly well. I used Trader Joe’s “Vegan Buttery Spread” which came in the paper wrapper. The ingredients in that are mostly coconut, sunflower, and canola oil, as well as fava bean protein. I found that my frosting was able to sit out at room temp for longer than I expected, and maybe that is due to the oil blend and protein. I made my birthday cake with this frosting and my friends (none of whom are vegan) absolutely loved it.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Woohoo! Happy belated birthday, Michaela! We’re so glad you and your friends enjoyed it. Thank you for sharing your experience! xo

  22. Jenika Turner says

    Hi. I was wondering how this holds up if I frost a cake and the freeze it? I want the firsting to hold up for a long photo shoot.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Jenika, we’d recommend using Earth Balance vs. Miyoko’s vegan butter, which should help it hold up better!

  23. mahek says

    if im making this for my baby’s smash cake, can i keep the cake out for display until the end of the party? will the frosting spoil or get soaked up at all?

  24. Allie says

    If one uses (a lot) less sugar, will this recipe work? I have a baking client who asks me to make offerings that are vegan, gluten free, dairy free and sugar free often. It is tough to substitute everything! Attempts with cashew milk and chia seeds etc have not been successful, or the least bit satisfying on my end.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Allie, definitely tough subbing all of those! It would be runny with less sugar, but some readers have reported using cornstarch or tapioca starch in place of some of the powdered sugar to thicken. Hope that helps!

    • Hush says

      You have to use something in place of the sugar. Vegan and dairy free are simple— just vegan buttery spread and dairy free milk. The powdered sugar can be replaced with confectioners (powdered) sugar style sweetener. It’s usually something like Truvia, Swerve, or Spenda which has been ground ultra fine and mixed with cornstarch. You should be able to replace the powdered sugar 1:1 with one of those products. When I’ve used these in the past, I thought Truvia had a very clean “sugar like” taste.

  25. Naomi Vasquez says

    This was amazing! I thought I had to double the recipe but it really fluffs up nicely once you blend all the ingredients, the key was mix it on low, then medium, then high for 2-3 minutes and it whipped up beautifully! I added a teaspoon of vanilla and it was perfect, no one believe it was dairy free. Thank you!

  26. Crystal Seay says

    I made this recipe for a dairy free cake, and it turned out great!! I used the earth balance butter sticks. Everyone was obsessed with the flavor of the frosting.

    Note about using food coloring: I used some blue food coloring to make a gradient effect on the cake, and when I added it the frosting split. I probably should have used a powder or gel, which would have soothed my panic in hindsight. But I just added more powdered sugar and the frosting came back together!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Julia, we haven’t tried this recipe with margarine so we cannot guarantee results, but we think it should work. Let us know how it goes!

  27. Valerie says

    I made this, thank goodness my brain was working! I used 1 cup (nowhere near the amount the recipe calls for) of powdered sugar, and it is still way too sweet. It’s fluffy and vegan, but I would recommend far less sugar.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Valerie, sorry it was too sweet for you! We find the consistency is too thin with less powdered sugar, but if that doesn’t bother you, feel free to cut it back. If it needs more thickening, but is already sweet enough, you could add a little cornstarch or tapioca starch.

  28. Prudence says

    I don’t have a hand mixer so i did this by hand but is was so worth it! This was too good.

  29. Lori McClure says

    question, could I frost a 13×9 cake with 1 recipe of this frosting? 14 servings of 2 tbsp doesn’t compute for me, I think I might need to make the recipe x 2? :) thank you!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Lori, this should make just enough frosting! It makes about 1 3/4 cups of frosting. We find a 9×13 usually needs 1 1/2-2 cups of frosting!

  30. Jennifer Garcia says

    Such an amazing delicious recipe! And so easy/simple/fun to make. I read the comments and used only 1/2 tsp of salt. Came out divine. Also used the Bob’s Red Mill all purposes gluten free flour that has potato starch already in it. Made with the vegan buttercream frosting using the Miyokos brand the author of this recipe recommended. We are having a birthday party for my 7-year-old girl tomorrow and those are so wonderful! Thank you for making amazing and easy gluten free and vegan recipes that I can always trust!

  31. Jasmyne says

    First attempt at vegan buttercream, so please excuse my silly question. Can this recipe be colored using gel food coloring?

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Cathy! We don’t think that will work in this recipe! However, we do have a cashew based frosting that doesn’t use vegan butter here! Hope this helps!

  32. Lauren Gonsalves says

    This is my go-to frosting recipe! It’s so easy, and absolutely delicious. All anyone who’s tried it can do is rave about it. I’m wondering how I can make this into chocolate frosting. What should the ratio of cocoa powder be?

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Anshel! We haven’t tried this recipe with lemon, but we think you could add some lemon zest to it! We suspect that lemon juice might make the vegan butter split… Let us know if you try it!

  33. Gabriella says

    can i substitute the powdered sugar? making this for my son’s smash cake and we want to minimize his sugar intake!

    • M Sommerville says

      You could look at making your topping more of a sweetened whipped topping instead of a frosting. Frosting, by nature, has a fair bit of icing (confectioners) sugar in it. However, coconut cream whips up beautifully and is delicious … my kids actually preferred it to dairy shipped cream. Using that whipped coconut cream as your base, you could add a bit of icing sugar for additional stiffening, although it wouldn’t really be necessary unless you’re adding some vanilla or other liquid that needs to be compensated for.

      If you want to try it, get a can of full fat coconut milk and drain out the liquid part (the cream usually separates out). Using just the at cream part, beat with a hand mixer until fluffy. Don’t over beat it.

  34. Suzanne Hall says

    I made this and it was delicious but not nearly fluffy enough. Was my butter too melt? Add more powdered sugar? Beat it on a higher speed?

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Suzanne! We’re sorry it wasn’t fluffy enough, we think all of those things would help you in the future!

  35. Becca says

    Thank you! This came out perfectly! Exactly what I was hoping for. Your recipes always deliver beautiful results. Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful creations!!!

  36. Rania says

    Hello, I like the way you made the buttercream, it looks perfect, but I did it it was very watery, even though I didn’t put more then 1Tbspand half of full fat dairy free milk. So it didn’t look like like the picture when you were piping. I followed the recipe, What did I do wrong?

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Rania, sorry to hear the texture wasn’t right! How much powdered sugar did you use? It sounds like it may have needed more. Another idea would be if your vegan butter was melted instead of just softened. Hope that helps for next time!

    • Bailey Pritchard says

      Are you using the canned coconut milk? Or canned coconut cream? Watching your video it looks thicker than refrigerated coconut milk.

      I am making Christmas cutout cookies and need a Royal type icing.

      Thank you!

    • Jess says

      This looks yummy! But I need to decorate our layer cake in advance, and cover it with fondant (which will crack if stored in the fridge). Will this last for internal layers overnight at room temp? (I know it may not look the same, but will it be tasty and safe?!

      • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

        Hi Jess, we wouldn’t recommend storing it at room temperature for more than a few hours because it will spoil.

  37. Shelaki says

    Great recipe! I’ve made this many times and always a success! Many thanks : )
    Recently tried a new orange variation that was really good on a chocolate cake – I replaced the vanilla extract with orange extract and replaced the non-dairy milk with 2Tbsp of undiluted frozen orange juice concentrate (thawed)

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Yum! That sounds incredible, Shelaki! We’re so glad you enjoy it! Thank you for sharing. xo

  38. Amber says

    My family loves this icing! You can’t even tell it’s not made with dairy ingredients. Seriously, it’s that good. I use Country Crock Plant Butter with Olive Oil (sticks) and Planet Oat Extra Creamy Oat Milk for my butter and milk options.

  39. Amanda says

    When I make non-vegan buttercream, I usually use heavy cream as the liquid dairy. I was wondering if you thought using a dairy free heavy whipping cream might work here?

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Julie, we prefer salted vegan butter in this recipe but if you would like a less salty version definitely try unsalted vegan butter next time!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Sami, ideally thawing in a refrigerator for ~24 hours or more, but a few hours at room temperature might work. We do not recommend heating it. Hope this helps!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Rocio, we find Earth Balance is preferable for keeping it stable at room temperature for a few hours.

  40. Monica says

    Excellent frosting! I used some vanilla bean too and it gave it some speckles of brown. I used it to fill my vanilla macarons. This website is my go-to for vegan recipes. Always a success!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Yum! We’re so glad you’re enjoying it, Monica. Thanks so much for the lovely review! xo