How to Make Dairy-Free Buttercream Frosting

GFVGVDF
Vegan cupcakes decorated with homemade 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 buttercream 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 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
4.6 from 15 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

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Kim Wikoff says

    I just made this frosting for my daughters birthday cake and it was so amazing I added a few drops of food coloring too. Definitely using this again for all her cakes. I am not vegan but my daughter is and I was just in awe of the flavor. I used the country crock plant base butter sticks and I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk. Can’t wait to make it with the coconut milk.

  2. Nancy says

    I’m having a hard time finding vegan butter in stock form – can I use Butter flavored Crisco shortening sticks? And should I use the coconut milk in a can, or will the carton version work? Thank you!

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Nancy, we haven’t tried that and aren’t sure whether it would work! Either coconut milk should work as long as the canned one isn’t chunky. Carton would be better for this recipe though!

  3. Nickola says

    Thank you for posting this! I’ve been looking for a vegan buttercream recipe for a long time! :)

    Is there a difference between the Earth Balance spread and the buttery sticks? This is the only vegan brand in my local supermarkets…

    • Dana @ Minimalist Baker says

      You can make powdered sugar by blending normal sugar in a high speed blender. It needs to be fine and powdery in texture.

  4. Deb Axelrod says

    This tasted wonderful – thank you! I did find that it started to melt so quickly…any suggestions or is this simply a function of working with vegan butter? Regardless, it was lovely and really made my celiac/dairy-allergic kiddo (and mom) so happy!!

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Deb, we’re so glad you both enjoyed it! Our best guess is that it was the type of butter used and/or the room temperature. We find that Miyokos melts faster than other brands such as Earth Balance.

  5. Safa says

    I’m curious if you know how to make an espresso/coffee buttercream? Do you think using espresso instead of the non dairy milk would work? Or should I use coffee powder? This recipe seems like a great base to add other flavors to. Thanks!

  6. Tiffany Hereda says

    I thought it was delicious. With vegan gluten free chocolate cupcakes it was perfect, thank you!

  7. Kathy says

    I followed the recipe. Love it! I put it on a vegan chocolate cake. I used the Miyokos brand of non-dairy butter. It is so close to the taste of butter that it’s amazing.

  8. Paola Espinoza says

    Can’t wait to try this recipe! Can I use a kitchen stand mixer instead of hand held? If so, what speed? Sorry, and lastly any tips to preventing the powder red sugar from flying everywhere as you add it to the butter? I always have the happen :(

    • Dana @ Minimalist Baker says

      A stand mixer will work well! Add the powdered sugar in small amounts to avoid splattering.

      • Carly A says

        You can also cover your stand mixer with a tea towel to keep the powdered sugar dust from flying everywhere!

  9. Melissa says

    This was delicious!! I’m a huge fan of butter cream and wanted to make something for my son who is very allergic to dairy. We chose to use a non-vegan buttery spread and it worked perfectly!! Smart Balance was the only deviation that we did. For the milk, we used organic coconut milk from the can.

  10. Abby says

    Awesome recipe! I was worried it would be greasy but turned out great. I used Country Crock vegan butter with almond oil, otherwise stuck to the recipe exactly. Thanks for a reliable recipe!

  11. tanya Smith says

    Hello and thfor this really easy recipe. I am trying to make a special occasion cake and was wondering could this stay out on display for around 6 hours without fail?

      • Jhinae says

        Hi, I am planning on making and using this for my son’s 1st birthday cake. His cake will need to be made a day or 2 ahead of time by someone else. So if we refrigerate it for a day of 2, Will the frosting soften on the cake after removing it from the refrigerator before I give it to him? Thank you in for reading.

        • Dana @ Minimalist Baker says

          It will, yes. So try and keep it refrigerated for as long as you can before serving! Especially in warmer climates.

        • Heather says

          I stuck to the exact recipe and thought it tasted awful :( I tried it out but definitely not going to make for my daughters birthday.

          • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

            Oh no! So sorry to hear that was your experience! What type of vegan butter did you use? We wonder if it had a strange taste?

  12. Christine says

    High five! This was simple and tasty! I’ve made American buttercream before and this was no different except for products! Country Crock Plant butter (almond oil version), Simple Truth unsweetened coconut milk. I also added a additional almond flavoring after the vanilla, because I just love almond. The almond flavor also cuts the sweetness some. Nice fluffy all purpose frosting! ♡

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Thanks so much for the lovely review, Christine. We are so glad you enjoyed it! Next time, would you mind leaving a rating with your review? It’s super helpful for us and other readers. Thanks so much! Xo

  13. Tina says

    This recipe is so easy! I love how the icing gets super fluffy when using the mixer. Only thing I changed is lowering amount of powdered sugar to my liking. I used Earth Balance vegan butter, and let the butter sit out until softened. Made this for the first time for a friend who allergic to dairy products. EVERYONE loved the cake, couldn’t tell it was Vegan. I’ve also used this website for their non dairy yellow cake. EASY! Love it and will definitely try their other recipes.

  14. Ryan says

    I made this recipe twice so far, I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong but the icing is very runny, even after I add more sugar and/or cornstarch to make it thicker. Maybe it’s because I’ve been using Earth Balance or using the blender too long? I’m not sure but the next time I will use Miyokos and let you know if there is a texture difference. You are my go to recipe blogger for all things vegan, most things I’ve tried via Minimalist Baker does not disappoint!!

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hmm, are you melting the butter? If you microwave chilled butter to speed softening time – it will make your buttercream runny.

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hm, we haven’t tried that and aren’t sure how it would turn out. Let us know if you try it!

  15. I don't want to share my name. says

    Can you taste the coconut? My dad doesn’t like coconut and I want to do something that he would like for his birthday.

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      You could use almond milk (or another non-dairy milk) instead of coconut milk. Hope that helps!

  16. Tomo Dugan says

    Can you recommend specific types of vegan butter to use?

    I have made a cream cheese frosting for a vegan carrot cake. I used Earth Balance sticks and the frosting tasted off.

  17. Cristie says

    Hello! Quick question, and it may be a silly one. But I want to make sure I have it correct!! So I have the earth balance butter. In the recipe, you say 1 stick. They are like half sticks (half of a regular stick of butter that is) So, is it one stick (one of the 4 in the box) that this recipe is calling for? Thanks so much!!

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Cristie, 1 stick would be 1/2 cup or 114 grams. We aren’t exactly sure which size of butter you are referring to, but hope that helps!

        • Molly says

          You probably won’t see this, but where I live, the earth balance sticks that look like half sticks are actually the same amount of butter as a regular stick! They are thicker and shorter, but they have the same weight per stick. Just sharing in can a case it helps tier baking!

  18. Michelle Parker says

    This has become my go-to buttercream! Delicious as vanilla, but a perfect base to launch any flavor. I made the vegan peppermint cupcakes today (Christmas), and added half vanilla extract and half peppermint to this buttercream for a wonderfully subtle peppermint flavor. I thought about tossing in some crushed candy cane at the end, but opted for a sprinkle on top and a mint leaf for garnish. Thanks for all the wonderful, easy, one bowl recipes!

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Thanks so much for your kind words and lovely review, Michelle! We’re so glad you enjoyed this and are other recipes! xo

    • Dana @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hmm, sounds like some liquid got into the batch. Was the bowl or utensil wet? Did you add liquid sweetener?

    • Sarah Bassett says

      Hi! I haven’t made this recipe yet, but I’m an avid cake decorator. When buttercream separates, try whipping it for a good long while with a wet cool towel wrapped around the bowl. Keep an eye on it to make sure it’s moving in the right direction. Sometimes, the heat from the mixer can cause the butter to melt. It’s worth a shot (rather than tossing the whole thing). You can also try letting it sit for a bit on the counter (maybe a half hour), and try whipping it into submission again :)

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Thanks so much for the lovely review, Lori. We are so glad you enjoy it! Next time, would you mind leaving a rating with your review? It’s super helpful for us and other readers. Thanks so much! Xo

  19. Donna says

    I have a multigrain sandwich round with vegan butter and cinnamon every morning. It tastes like a cinnamon bun, but it is much healthier. This morning, I whipped up this super easy butter cream icing and topped my “cinnabun” with it, and it was decadent! I used Silk Original Protein Nut milk instead of cow’s milk, and it worked beautifully! Thank you so much for this recipe!

  20. Korrin says

    My good friend baked a cake for my “Blessingway Memorial” in honor of my baby. (Our stillbirthday cake)
    We only took home about 3 slices! It was delicious and I especially enjoyed this buttercream. No one else at the event was vegan but everyone was raving about it!
    ?????

  21. Rachael Becker says

    Delicious! I just made this recipe, although I admit I also added 1/4c. of shortening, and only 1Tblsp of milk, instead of 3. So it wasn’t exactly your recipe. I didn’t have coconut from the can, but I did have an almond/coconut blend of half and half I subbed instead. I thought it might help it hold a bit better with the crisco. It ended up piping nicely, although it was a bit softer than I’d prefer. I am interested to see how it holds up overnight in the fridge, and then at the party. The taste was perfect!

  22. Samantha Jaramillo says

    Is there a big difference if you dont use the organic powdered sugar? All I have is the powdered sugar that has corn starch in it. Would it still be considered soy and dairy free?

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Samantha, that should work! We mentioned organic for those who want to make sure their sugar is vegan.

  23. Debbie Hernandez says

    I’m thinking of using this recipe in-between the cake layers and to use as a crumb coat before covering in fondant. Will the fondant hold up on top of this icing?

  24. Sanju says

    Hi, I don’t have an electric hand mixer, so I am just wondering if it will still work if I do this by hand? If not, then do you happen to have any suggestions? Thanks in advance!

  25. Andrea says

    I’m wanting to use this to frost a cake “naked” style ;) It will be a multi-level cake (two 8 in cakes stacked and two 6 in cakes stacked) will one batch do it, being that it goes on so thin, or should I make 2?

    • Dana @ Minimalist Baker says

      I’m thinking one batch should do it! Or, times it by 1.5 to be sure! Find the option to adjust serving size just about the ingredients.

    • Mike says

      Did I do something wrong? After following this to a T. I ended up with a pile of buttery sugar that wouldn’t spread and was not the right consistency. It gave me a headache just tasting it.

      • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

        Hi Mike, sorry to hear that! It sounds like something went wrong. Did you make any modifications? What brand/type of butter did you use?

  26. Gina says

    I’m so excited to find this recipe! I love making homemade frosting, and your recipe is perfect to top my favorite dairy free, egg free cupcakes.

  27. Des says

    I just made this frosting with earth balance and rice milk. I colored the frosting with gel and it has white specks. I have whipped it several times but the specks won’t go away. Any advice??

  28. Franki says

    Hi!
    I’m frosting my wedding cake in a couple days and I wondered whether this recipe would be okay.. considering the cake will sit at room temperature for some time on display. If it isn’t okay – do you have a recommendation? Thanks so much!

    Franki

    • Dana @ Minimalist Baker says

      That should work well, actually! In that case though, I’d recommend using Earth Balance vs. Myokos b/c myokos tends to melt quicker! Happy wedding day!

  29. Melissa says

    Hello,
    My daughter has a milk protein allergy and I need to make her birthday cake, but we live in Florida so even though her birthday is November it’s going to be pretty warm. My question is have you ever used rice milk in the recipe, if so how did it turn out or do you just recommend using the canned coconut milk?

    • Dana @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi there! I think that should work. We haven’t tried it but I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t. Let us know how it goes!

  30. Joanne Gero says

    HI there…can you please tell me what is the brand of your sprinkles used on top of the buttercream as well as the funfetti vanilla cupcakes you make.. thank you for sharing your magic with us xo:)

    • Dana @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hmm, did you whip in the sifted powdered sugar yet? That’s what will make it fluff up well.

    • Dana @ Minimalist Baker says

      Use light or full fat canned coconut milk vs those that come in a carton, which are very watery.

      • Tokasa says

        Hi, I find that if you use Kara coconut cream or any coconut cream not milk, it works so much better and more fluffier . The cream usually settles up at the top of the can or carton and you can use that and try not to stir it.

  31. Lauren Campbell says

    I have a question or two I’m hoping you can help with! I’ve been asked to make a birthday cake for a three year old and while I have done a lot of vegan cooking, I don’t have a ton of experience with vegan baking (or baking at all, for that matter!). I see this recipe makes about 1 3/4 cups of frosting, would that be enough to frost an 8” cake with two layers, or would you recommend doubling the recipe? I’m also trying to figure out what brand of butter to buy, I see you recommend earth balance for something that will keep its shape outside of the fridge. Would that be the earth balance baking sticks or spread, or does that even make a difference? I’m sure I’m overthinking this, but any help you can give me would be wonderful! I always feel pressure to prove that vegan food is every bit as good as the regular version and want it all to turn out right. ?

    • Dana @ Minimalist Baker says

      I’d recommend the “butter” sticks, yes, vs the kind that comes in tubs. And I think 1 batch should be sufficient! However, if you like more frosting, try multiplying the quantities by 1.5!

  32. Gizelle says

    I just finished this recipe!!! Delicious!!!
    I used:
    3/4 cup homemade ghee
    1 1/2 cup icing sugar
    1/8 cup + 1 tsp cocoa
    1/2 tsp vanilla
    3 tbsp almond milk
    Followed exactly your instructions.
    Thank you for your always RELIABLE recipes. Thanks again.

    • Hank says

      Love it. But realize ghee means it’s no longer vegan. What vegan oil can I use that not a pre-made processed food like earth balance?

      • Cheryl says

        I have replaced butters and processed oils with coconut oil with almost perfect results. I haven’t tried it yet with this recipe but I’ve been using it for about six years and it’s always been consistent. A straight across 1:1 replacement has worked in all my baking!

  33. Vera says

    I loved this recipe plus my vegan friend liked it sooooooo much that she even ended up asking me where I got the amazing recipe from, so I recommended your website. She has been cooking of it 24 7 now (:
    Somebody is getting popular around my neighborhood! ?

  34. Hayley says

    Love all of your recipes! Can you PLEASE do a strawberry cake/cupcake recipe? I can’t find any good ones that are Vegan and/or GF.
    Some use Strawberry jam, purée or freeze-dried strawberries. I’d love to see how you would choose to do it.

    Thanks for all the great recipes!

  35. Chantel says

    Just used this frosting recipe for some vegan vanilla cupcakes I made, and they were a hit! The frosting was easy to make and it was sooooo delicious! Non-vegans ate the most!! Going to make it again this weekend for a graduation party! Thanks for a great recipe!

  36. Blueeyed Vegan girl says

    Hi! I love your recipes!
    A few questions
    Any suggestions on why the frosting has a gritty/grainy texture? I am using vegan/organic powdered sugar and sifting prior.
    I’ve heard some vegan bakers use vegetable shortening and butter?
    Lastly, once cake/cupcakes are decorated I store in the fridge but then frosting gets hard but if I leave it out it gets soft… I am useing earth balance butter.
    Thank you

    • Dana @ Minimalist Baker says

      Always make sure your butter is softened before whipping, and sift your powdered sugar into the butter to prevent clumps.

      Vegan butter is a little trickier to work with as it is more temperature sensitive. But Earth balance is the best way to go in my experience.

      Sorry I couldn’t be of more help!

  37. Becky says

    I need to make cupcakes for a party. I want the buttercream to be the consistency to pipe flowers and they will need to sit out at room temperature for 6-8 hours. Any suggestions to make sure they dont melt? What do you do if cannot keep it refridgerated? Also do you have a recipe and suggestions to make a vegan royal icing to decorate cookies (pipe and flood)?
    Thank you

    • Support says

      Hi Becky, We haven’t tried that and can’t say for sure, but we think using Earth Balance would be a better choice than Miyokos for this. We would recommend using the maximum amount of powdered sugar you can without it getting clumpy. Also, it would be best to omit or reduce the dairy-free milk. We don’t have a recipe for vegan royal icing, but it’s on our ideas list. Hope that helps! Let us know if you give it a try!

      • Dhani DeFelice Sell says

        I used your icing recipe last night for the vegan chocolate birthday cake I made my grandson. I added a bit more powdered sugar to ensure the icing would hold up. It did! Even when the cake was left on the counter for hours. Everyone loved it. So impressed!

  38. Noelle says

    Hello I am always confused with coconut milk. Do you mean the kind in the can or the kind in the milk carton? Thanks! Will definitely try these.

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Noelle, In this recipe, we recommend full-fat canned coconut milk, but the carton milks should work as well since it is a small amount and is primarily used to add moisture, not flavor. Hope that helps!

    • Support @ Minimalist Baker says

      We think that would work well- Earth Balance would probably be a better choice than Miyokos for this. We would recommend using the maximum amount of powdered sugar you can without it getting clumpy. Also, it would be best to omit or reduce the dairy-free milk. Hope that helps!

Leave A Reply