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This easy vegan buttercream frosting is perfect atop your favorite desserts.
Vegan buttercream frosting is definitely my favorite frosting for cakes and cupcakes, like my vegan vanilla cake or chocolate cake. It's sweet, rich, fluffy, and super easy to make. (Cream cheese frosting comes in at 2nd place!)
This recipe is for traditional American buttercream. You will need just 4 simple ingredients and 10 minutes to make this frosting.
Find the full, printable recipe in the recipe card below.
- Vegan butter: I prefer to use Earth Balance Buttery Sticks in my vegan baking and dessert recipes because the measurements are right on the wrapper. Miyoko's is another great option. However, any vegan butter should work.
- Vanilla extract: For the best flavor, use pure vanilla extract. If you want to keep your frosting as white as possible, use imitation clear vanilla.
- Powdered sugar: Organic powdered sugar is always vegan, though pricey. There are some non-organic brands out there that no longer or never have processed their sugar with bone char. Sometimes this information can be hard to find and many vegans still use conventional sugar regardless. That's totally up to you!
- Non-dairy milk: Any neutral-tasting, plain vegan milk can be used in this recipe. I prefer oat milk.
How to Make Vegan Frosting
To start, whip the softened butter for a couple of minutes. This step is important as it aerates the butter and makes for a fluffier frosting. Then, mix in the vanilla and dairy-free milk. Start with just 2 tablespoons of milk.
Next, beat in the sifted powdered sugar about 1 cup at a time. Add more milk if the frosting becomes too stiff or more sugar if the frosting is too liquidy.
Equipment: I always use a hand mixer to make homemade frosting. You can also use a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, though I find you need to scrape down the sides often in the beginning. A wooden spoon and a whisk will work fine if you don't have access to either type of mixer.
- To achieve smooth frosting, the powdered sugar needs to be sifted.
- To sift powdered sugar, I use a classic hand crank sifter. It's the fastest and easiest.
- No sifter? No problem. You can also use a wire mesh strainer and work the sugar through with a spoon by mixing it around. Another option is to simply use a whisk. Whisking is not the most effective but works in a pinch.
- Softened butter is also key to smooth and creamy frosting. Simply leave the butter out at room temperature for a few hours. To quickly soften butter, I use the microwave at low power in short intervals. You want to make sure the butter does not melt.
- Chocolate buttercream frosting: replace ¾ cup of the powdered sugar with sifted cocoa powder.
- How to frost a cake: Check out this tutorial.
- Colored frosting: Watkin's food coloring is natural and vegan. At a few drops at a time until you receive the desired tint.
Make-Ahead & Storage Instructions
Store the frosting in the fridge for up to 1 week in an airtight container.
When you are ready to use it, leave the frosting out at room temperature until the frosting has softened again. You may need to beat it with a mixer or whisk it again.
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Vegan Buttercream Frosting
- Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, whip the butter for about 2 minutes at medium speed. This step helps to aerate the butter and create a fluffy frosting.
- Mix in the vanilla extract and 2 tablespoons of milk to start.
- Beat in the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time at low speed until frosting is smooth. Add more milk if the frosting is too thick, or more powdered sugar if too thin.
- Wait until your cake or cupcakes have completely cooled before frosting.
- This recipe yields enough to frost a 2-layer 9-inch cake or 24 cupcakes.
- You can halve or double the recipe as needed.