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
Print
Plate of vanilla cupcakes topped with Vegan Buttercream Frosting and rainbow sprinkles
4.74 from 49 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

Ingredients

  • 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)

Instructions

  • 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.

Video

Notes

*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

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    • 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!

  1. 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!

  2. 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.

  3. 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?
    Thanks!

    • 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!

  4. 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!!!

  5. 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.

  6. 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

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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