Sweet with the right amount of tang, I’ll teach you how to make the best Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting that’s thick, rich and totally decadent! Perfect for Carrot Cake, Red Velvet Cake, or Pumpkin Spice Cake.
Some cakes are calling out for cream cheese frosting, am I right? It was always my favorite type of frosting before going vegan. The few times I’ve tried to make it the way you would make typical cream cheese frosting, it would be too runny and slippery. One time I made a double layer carrot cake for Easter, and the top layer slipped off and broke right before serving… It still tasted good, but how frustrating!
Today I’m going to show you how to make Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting that is thick, spreadable, and suitable for layer cakes. It’s a little fussier than other frostings (like this Vegan Vanilla Frosting), but it’s not too bad and the tiny bit of extra effort is totally worth this tangy, sweet delicious frosting!
How do you make vegan cream cheese frosting?
Start with 1/2 cup (or 8 tablespoons) of vegan butter, Earth Balance baking sticks preferred. I have used the tub successfully as well, and when I use that I simply measure out 8 tablespoons.
First, beat the butter with a hand mixer (or stand mixer) until creamy. Next, drain any extra liquid in the vegan cream cheese container, and add it to the bowl. Beat for 30 seconds to 1 minute to combine, but not longer or you risk it becoming very runny. Do not over beat!
This post contains affiliate links. Read my full disclosure here.
Mix in the vanilla, and then with the mixer on low, gradually add the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, until thick and spreadable. You may need a little more, or a little less.
It should be pretty thick at this point, but not pipe-able most likely. That’s okay, I’ve got you. Read on.
How to make thick and pipe-able vegan cream cheese frosting:
Here is my trick. At this point, stick the bowl with the frosting in the freezer for 15 minutes. Remove, stir, and either use, if thick enough, or put it back in the freezer for 15 more minutes. It works like a charm, because most vegan cream cheese is made with coconut oil, which thickens up when cold.
This is what my frosting looked like after 4 cups of powdered sugar and before chilling. Thick, delicious, but still too soft for frosting or piping on a cake/cupcakes:
This is after 30 minutes in the freezer, stirred after 15 minutes. SO. MUCH. THICKER. And totally spreadable:
How do I prevent my layer cake from slipping?
Make sure your cakes are completely cooled before you frost. Apply a thick layer of frosting on the first cake layer, then stick it in the refrigerator for 10 minutes. Keep the frosting cold in the fridge while you wait. Then take it out, place the 2nd cake layer on top and frost the rest of the way.
For cakes using vegan cream cheese frosting, you must store them in the refrigerator. If not, the frosting will get melty, and you will have a mess on your hands. Same with cupcakes. Just be aware, this frosting is not very stable at room temperature, so keep it cold!
Let’s review! How to prevent vegan cream cheese frosting from being runny:
- Make sure the vegan butter is only slightly softened, NOT melted at all.
- Drain excess liquid from vegan cream cheese container, and use it straight from the refrigerator. Don’t over beat the cream cheese.
- Add more powdered sugar, as needed to thicken.
- Still too soft? Stick it in the freezer in 15 minute increments until very thick and spreadable.
- Keep it thick by keeping it cold! After frosting cakes/cupcakes, keep them in the fridge.
This vegan cream cheese frosting recipe makes enough for 12 cupcakes or (1) 8 or 9 inch cake. Double for a double layer cake.
Recipes to pair with Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting:
- Vegan Red Velvet Cake
- Vegan Vanilla Cake
- Vegan Lemon Cake
- Vegan Chocolate Cake
- Vegan Funfetti Cupcakes
- 1 Bowl Pumpkin Muffins (top them with the frosting, yum!)
Adapted from Sugar Spun Run.
Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1/2 cup vegan butter, slightly softened to room temperature (8 tablespoons)
- 8 ounces vegan cream cheese
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 4 cups powdered sugar, more if needed
- In a large mixing bowl, add the slightly softened vegan butter and beat with a hand mixer (or stand mixer) until creamy and smooth.
- Drain any extra liquid in the vegan cream cheese container, add it to the bowl and beat for 30 seconds to 1 minute to combine with the butter. Do not over beat at this point, or your frosting may be too runny.
- Beat in the vanilla to combine. With the mixer on low, gradually add the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, until thick and spreadable. I used 4 cups, but you may need a little more.
- At this point, if your frosting still seems a bit too soft and runny for spreading, stick the bowl in the freezer for 15 minutes. Take it out, stir, and put it back in the freezer for another 15 minutes if needed, until a thick consistency is reached.
- *If using between cake layers, make sure your cakes are completely cooled before frosting. After you apply a thick layer of frosting to the first layer, place the cake in the refrigerator for 10 minutes, then frost the cake the rest of the way, however you desired. Cakes frosted with this vegan cream cheese frosting are best kept in the refrigerator, as most of the cream cheese is made with coconut oil and is not very stable at room temperature. You don't want the top layer to slip off (trust me, I've been there!)
- I recommend Earth Balance brand of vegan butter, baking sticks preferred. They tend to be less greasy for frostings, but I have used the tub as well just fine. If using the tub, measure out 8 tablespoons. Make sure it is not close to melty, or the frosting won't work. Just slightly softened is what we're going for here.
- I used Trader Joe's Vegan Cream Cheese. Tofutti, Miyoko's or Kite Hill would likely work. I don't recommend the Daiya brand because I think it leaves an odd aftertaste.
- This recipe makes enough for about 12 cupcakes or (1) 8 or 9 inch cake. Double it for a double layer cake.
This frosting was AMAZING. I frost cakes because it looks nice and other people like it, but I usually scrape the frosting off when I eat the cake. I didn’t do that this time!
I used Kite Hill cream cheese; I brought the cream cheese to room temp before using and poured off the tiny bit of liquid before adding it to the butter. Couldn’t be easier or taste better!
Terrific that you loved the frosting! It’s definitely one of my favorites! Thanks for your fabulous feedback and review!
I used Philadelphia Plant Based Cream Cheese and it worked awesome. I also use Violife Cream Cheese and it works great. Also, used Earth balance soy free buttery spread in the tub. I halfed the recipe and it was PLENTY for a 6 inch, double layer round with icing between layers. I wanted a semi naked look and I had PLENTY of icing. Great recipe.
I’m thrilled the frosting was just what you wanted! Thanks for sharing your terrific ideas, feedback and review!
LOVED this icing! Used it on the carrot cake and got so many compliments from everyone, including non-vegans. I have a question. I made too much, and I am planning on making the strawberry rolls in a week and a half. Do you think this icing is okay stored in the refrigerator for 2 weeks?
Hi Dorea. How terrific you loved the frosting! I’m so glad it was a hit! The icing will stay fresh about a week in the refrigerator. It does freeze well, which may be your best option. I freeze it in a freezer friendly container, usually glass, with a well sealed lid. Hope that helps!
Hi! Should I triple the batch since I’m making your carrot cake recipe in a (3) 6 in pans?
This recipe makes a lot of icing, so you should be ok to only double the recipe if you’re making a triple-layer carrot cake in 3 6-inch pans. I hope this helps!
Can I make the cream cheese frosting the night before and just put it in the fridge for the next day to frost the carrot cake?
Hi Hannah. You can make the frosting the night before. Definitely refrigerate it! Enjoy!
This was so good! I used the Miyoko cream cheese and it worked up really well. No complaints about the texture. There was definitely a zesty flavor (lemon? sour?) but it wasn’t a distraction for me. I really appreciate the specific mentions of brands since there is such a variety. Thanks for the recipe 🙂
I’m so glad you liked it, Rachel! Thank you for your review 🙂
This is an excellent recipe that I made for cupcakes and holds it’s shape. I also added 2 tsps of tapioca starch to absorb any excess liquid and make it sturdier.
It is delicious but far too sweet for my tastes.
Thanks for you feedback and review, Jeannie!
Hello Nora I also want to know do you have some basic baking classes
Help Nora what is a good plant based milk to use and cream cheese I’m new to the vegan life
Another awesome recipe from Nora Cooks. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your fantastic recipes!
I have begun to make fruit pizza’s a lot and I use this frosting all the time it always comes out perfect, thank you so much!
You’re so welcome, Jamie! Thank you for your wonderful review!
I’ve made this icing before using Tofutti and loved it however this year, I had Miyokos in the fridge so I used that. I have to say it had a sour taste. I was worried about that because I’ve had this cream cheese before but I thought maybe the powdered sugar would cut the sourness. It did, but only a little and my family not I were a fan, unfortunately. I would stick with Tofutti in the future. 5 stars with Tofutti but only 3 stars with Miyokos
I just now made it for the first time, with Tofutti, and it turned out wonderful! It was so easy to make too!
I’m so glad it turned out wonderful for you! Thanks for your terrific feedback!
Hello! I am going to make your chocolate cake, and I was wondering how much cocoa powder to add to this to make it chocolate cream cheese frosting. Thank you!!!
Also I love your recipies!
I would reduce the powdered sugar by 1/2 cup and add 1/2 cup cocoa powder. Sounds so good, enjoy!
My mother in law made this after I found this recipe for a spice cake for my birthday. It was so delicious! Have to tried freezing any left overs? I would love to reuse some we had left over for future baking
Hi Rachael. I’m glad you love the frosting! It does freeze well. I freeze it in a freezer friendly container, usually glass, with a well sealed lid. Hope that helps!
What type of butter salted or unsalted? I’ve only ever seen the salted version of Earth Balance in any grocery ive checked.
I used salted vegan butter here. If you only have unsalted that’s fine just add a little pinch of salt to make up for it.
Dearest Nora, this came out so well for my husband’s birthday. Wow! We all in love with this cake.
Do you think this would work with coconut sugar either full or at least half way? Thanks so much ?
I’m so glad, thank you! I’m not sure the coconut sugar would work well unfortunately, it’s very grainy and different than powdered sugar. Perhaps if you blitzed it in a blender first to make it more powdered it might work though. Hope that helps!
Hi there! I haven’t made this yet but looking forward to it! I would be making it for a cake for a client and was curious if it would be stable long enough to transfer the cake to the party location?
It should be okay, as long as you chill the frosted cake for a few hours before it travels to the party location. And as long as the drive isn’t too warm! Since it’s winter and likely pretty cold, it should work.
Here’s a tip, use Tofutti cream cheese, it always works great for cream cheese frosting
Thanks for sharing!