Learn how to make the best vegan buttercream frosting! It pipes perfectly, needs only 4 ingredients and tastes incredible. Makes 2 1/2 cups or enough for 24 cupcakes or a 8-9 inch layer cake.

yellow cupcakes piped with swirly frosting

A vegan buttercream frosting for all your cupcake and cake decorating needs. Just try not to eat it all by the spoonful; it’s that good! The trick is in the technique and using a quality vegan butter.

I’ve been making a version of this frosting for years but recently perfected it. I’ll teach you everything I know!

Ways to use vegan frosting

There are endless ways to use this frosting, but here are just a few ideas:

Ingredients you need

  • Vegan butter – This is probably the most important part! Make sure to use a vegan butter you like the flavor of. I think Miyoko’s is best, but recently I discovered Trader Joe’s vegan butter which is equally amazing. Other brands will work, but just know whatever butter you use will determine the flavor. It needs to be softened to room temperature, NOT melted.
  • Powdered sugar
  • Non-dairy milk – I prefer to use a creamy milk or even vegan creamer, such as soy milk, full fat oat milk, or cashew milk.
  • Vanilla extract – Use clear for a very white frosting. I usually just use pure vanilla extract.
ingredients for frosting on white marble backdrop

How to make vegan buttercream

In a large bowl (I use my stand mixer with paddle attachment), beat the softened butter until smooth.

butter in a glass bowl

Gradually add the powdered sugar, a cup at a time, mixing on low then increasing to medium speed.

powdered sugar being added to butter in glass bowl

Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Add 2 tablespoons of milk and the vanilla. Beat on medium speed for about 3-4 minutes until well combined, fluffy and creamy. To prevent air bubbles, don’t beat on high speed and don’t use the whisk attachment.

Add a little more milk if needed. If the frosting seems runny, add additional powdered sugar until the desired consistency is reached.

mixing bowl with creamy white frosting

Vegan buttercream variations

You may add vegan friendly food coloring to the frosting, or try any of the following flavor variations:

  • Peppermint – Add 1/2 teaspoon of peppermint extract, like in this Peppermint Mocha Cake. Yum!
  • Lemon – Add 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice and 1 tablespoon lemon zest, like in my Lemon Cake recipe. Or change it to orange.
  • Chocolate – You can make this chocolate buttercream by adding 1/2 cup of sifted cocoa powder when you add the powdered sugar. Add additional milk as needed.
  • Caramel – Add 1/2 cup of vegan caramel (or salted vegan caramel). Omit the milk, only use if needed to thin.
  • Strawberry or Blueberry – Add a 1-ounce bag of freeze dried strawberries/blueberries to a blender and blend into a fine powder. Mix into the frosting. Check out my Vegan Strawberry Cake!

How to pipe frosting onto cupcakes perfectly

I used to struggle to pipe frosting into perfectly tall swirls on cupcakes, but I figured out a trick that works!

First, get out a large glass and fit your piping bag with a tip. Place the bag in the glass and fold the edges around the cup. Fill with frosting. This is the easiest way to fill a piping bag with frosting!

bag full of frosting in a glass

Place a circle of frosting in the very center of your cupcake.

piping bag placing one round bit of frosting in the center of a cupcake

Now, start on the edge and swirl frosting in a circular motion on your cupcake. You will get tall swirls that don’t sink or become uneven. Easy peasy!

swirly dollops on a cupcake, frosting bag showing how to frost

How to store vegan frosting

Make ahead – You can make the frosting up to 2 days in advance and store in the refrigerator. When ready to use, bring it to room temperature and mix well before frosting.

Freeze – It can also be frozen for up to 3 months on a freezer bag or container.

piping bag with frosting, showing finishing frosting a cupcake

More vegan frostings to love

square image of vanilla cupcakes with vegan frosting swirled on top
4.81 stars (36 ratings)

Vegan Buttercream Frosting

Learn how to make the best vegan buttercream frosting! It pipes perfectly, needs only 4 ingredients and tastes incredible. Makes 2 1/2 cups or enough for 24 cupcakes or a 8-9 inch layer cake.
Prep: 10 mins
Total: 10 mins
Servings: 24 servings

Ingredients 
 

  • 1 cup vegan butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons non-dairy milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions 

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or in a large mixing bowl with an electric hand mixer, beat the butter until smooth, about 2 minutes.
  • Gradually add the powdered sugar, about a cup at a time, and mix starting on low speed gradually increasing to medium, until all the powdered sugar is mixed in.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of milk and vanilla and beat on medium speed for 3-4 minutes, until everything is well combined. Scrape the bowl as needed.
  • If the frosting seems too thick, you can add more milk, 1 tablespoon at a time. If the frosting is too thin and runny, simply add more powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time until the desired consistency is reached.
  • Pipe onto cupcakes, spread on a cake or anywhere else you'd like. Enjoy!
  • You can make the frosting up to 2 days in advance. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use, then bring it to room temperature before using. It can also be frozen for up to 3 months.

Notes

  1. For the best flavor, use a vegan butter that tastes good. I prefer Miyoko’s or Trader Joe’s brand vegan butter. Melt, Earth Balance and others work as well. Use sticks or blocks if you can over the tub butter.
  2. For best results, use a full fat type plant milk that is creamy. Soy, cashew, coconut or oat milk are all good options.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 114kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Sodium: 62mg | Potassium: 5mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 365IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 2mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Nora Taylor
Did you make this recipe?Mention @nora_cooks_vegan_ or tag #noracooks!

This recipe was originally published Dec. 2018 and has been republished with new photos and a slightly different recipe, because I learned how to perfect it!

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Comments

  1. I love this frosting, have made it in the past for my son who is intolerant to many things including dairy and soy. He’s now reacting to quite a few more foods and we haven’t identified any vegan butter he can tolerate – I want to make a cake for Easter, do you think I could use the Nutiva coconut shortening in place of the vegan butter?

    1. That should work pretty well, it just won’t have that buttercream taste but that’s okay! Hope you enjoy.

  2. Thank you so much for this delicious recipe. You provided everything needed to successfully prepare this frosting. 

    1. You are very welcome! I’m glad the instructions were clear, and that you love the frosting! Thank you for sharing your great feedback!

  3. OH My god, another hit. My husband absolutely loved it.

    I have made many different cakes from Nora’s recipes and always get so many compliments. Most don’t believe it’s vegan.

    Thank you

  4. I made 2 cakes for my kids birthdays with this and Nora’s vanilla cake recipe. 

    If you haven’t tried her cake recipe, do it now. It’s the best.

    For the icing, it worked like a charm and I didn’t have issues with it melting. For a buttercream sub it’s a great recipe with a lower sugar content than most, I’d like to try it with some different vegan butters although was quite happy with this one. 

     I used presidents choice vegan butter substitute unsalted (the block kind, I live in Canada). For one cake I put fresh strawberries between the layers middle and for One I added cookie crumbs to the icing and chunks of press go the middle.the Oreo one, I upped the salt a tad in the frosting and it was much yummier.

  5. Thank you so much for including the different flavor variations. i tried the lemon version and it is incredible. The only mistake I made was still adding the milk so it was a little too thin, but I just added more powdered sugar and all was well. Will definitely be my go to buttercream recipe. Thanks!

    1. Thank you for sharing your fantastic feedback! I love the variations possible with this frosting! Wishing you lots of happy cooking!

  6. I’m so glad you put this buttercream recipe out‼️♥️‼️ I’m taking cake decorating lessons soon, & was afraid I’d have to give every cake away ‼️‼️??♥️♥️

    1. How wonderful! Thank you for sharing your feedback! Have fun with your cake decorating, and enjoy the frosting!

  7. I LOVE your vegan chocolate cake & frosting.  It’s the BEST chocolate cake I’ve ever eaten.  My friends agree & they are so surprised to hear it’s vegan.  Absolutely Dee-licious!!

  8. Hi!! I’m planning on making the vegan gluten free vanilla cake and using this frosting with it. It’s for my daughter’s birthday! Should I double this recipe if I’m going to do a crumb coat as well? I’m planning on making a double tier 8 inch cake. Thanks I advance, love your recipes! Blessings

    1. This recipe makes enough to cover my Vanilla Cake so it should be fine. You could always make extras to be on the safe side and store it in the fridge for later if you have too much!

  9. Do you know how I can modify this recipe to make maple frosting? I love maple walnut cake, but haven’t been able to find a good vegan maple buttercream recipe. By the way, your vegan chocolate cake is, indeed, the best chocolate cake I have ever made. My friends rave about it. Thank you for all of your recipes.

    1. Hi Brett. I’m thrilled to hear you and your friends loved the cake! Thank you for using my recipes!I think my Maple Pecan Frosting, which I used with my Vegan pumpkin cupcakes, may be what you are looking for. I hope so! Give it a try, and happy cooking!

  10. I haven’t done this recipe yet but planning on it! I want to do it for my son’s birthday and I’d like to make a spiderman design with the frosting. Do you think I can add red coloring to this exact recipe. Will anything need to change? Thank you for your help!

  11. If I make your gluten free chocolate cake with this frosting as an icecream cake (just put icecream in the middle layer)…do you think it will hold well being kept in the freezer after assembled? And if so, for about how long?

    1. While I haven’t tested it myself, I think it should hold up well in the freezer. Probably for at least a couple of weeks, I imagine.

  12. Hi Nora, 

     Just made 70 of your vegan vanilla cupcakes, thanks for the great recipe! I’m wondering if using powdered sugar with or without cornstarch would make a difference? 

    1. Wow, that’s a lot of cupcakes, yum! I’m pretty sure I typically use powdered sugar that does contain cornstarch, but I think either is fine for the frosting. As long as it’s not super clumpy or anything, which I think can happen when it doesn’t contain cornstarch. Hope that helps!

  13. Hello I am wondering if I can use maple syrup in place of confectioners sugar…as we cannot get confectioners sugar here..they simply do not have it in the stores…help!

    1. Sorry, if you use maple syrup the frosting will just be runny and messy. If you have a blender and regular sugar you can make your own powdered sugar!

  14. I love all your recipes but this one melted off the cake I don’t know what I did wrong maybe because it was 100 degrees in my house ? LOL 

    1. Yes, of course it melted off the cake if it’s hot in your house, that will always be the case, vegan frosting or not. 🙂 Not much to be done about that unfortunately!

  15. I just made your Vegan Funfetti cupcakes and the  vegan vanilla  icing, so delicious and very easy to make.  My daughter is Vegan and it’s her birthday on June 10th so I made the cupcakes to see if I can do it from scratch and I did it, so sending her home with the cupcakes and making the cake for Saturday as her in-laws and her family are coming for a BQ and dessert is the cake, just love it, thanks for working hard to create great deserts ?❤️.

    1. Hi Pam! I love creating delicious and easy recipes! It’s so fun for me to receive comments like yours! Thanks for taking your time to share! I hope your daughter’s birthday is lots of fun! Happy cooking!

    1. Yes it can be. If you are planning to pipe any frosting on for decorations, or you want it really thick, I would double the recipe. Hope this helps!

  16. OMG!!!! I made these for a coworker because she was fasting and couldn’t have animal products, fell soooooo in love with these!!! They were so easy to make and very moist! I’m keeping this recipe in my arsenal. Thank you!!!

  17. I don’t own a hand mixer. Is it possible to make this frosting with any other appliance? A blender or food processor?

    1. It might work in a food processor or blender, I’ve never tried making frosting in either. You might be able to mix it by hand but it will be rather difficult.

  18. I’d like to make this as a strawberry buttercream to go with your vanilla cake. I do have frozen strawberries in the freezer. The best way to incorporate into the frosting? Blend X amount in the Vitamix and fold into the frosting? I’m worried about the liquid in the strawberries making it too runny. Thoughts? Can’t wait to make this cake, looks amazing!

    1. I prefer to use the sticks, which are 1/2 cup each. If you only have the tub, you will have to measure 1 cup the best you can using a measuring cup.

  19. Such a decadent and delicious frosting! I used it on both your Vanilla Cake and Chocolate Cake and it turned out amazing!

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