Yesterday we were talking about frosting on pie pops, and I wanted to make sure you have a deliciously versatile option. This dairy-free buttercream frosting is just like traditional buttercream, but with a couple simple swaps. The recipe is from my book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook, and it’s perfect for topping or filling so many types of desserts.
Dairy-Free Buttercream Frosting for the Icing on the Vegan Cake
Sometimes, it’s hard to find that perfect frosting, but this recipe is it. It includes very simple ingredients and I have some guidance to ensure delicious results.
It’s easy to forget that quality really matters in a recipe with so few ingredients. In this case, the “butter” is key, so be sure to pick one with a flavor that you really like.
We prefer to use buttery sticks in this dairy-free buttercream frosting recipe rather than buttery spread, as it tends to be firmer. The buttery sticks are usually sold next to the buttery spreads, and are made by a few companies. Or, you can use the Bakeable Butter Recipe in my cookbook, Go Dairy Free 2nd Edition.
For a firmer, decorator’s frosting, cutting in some shortening (your choice of type), helps too stabilize the mixture without overwhelming the flavor.
And because dairy-free “butter” can be soften more quickly than dairy butter, it’s important to add the liquid near the end of whipping, and only as needed. This helps to prevent turning your dairy-free buttercream frosting into a runny icing!
Special Diet Notes: Dairy-Free Buttercream Frosting
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, gluten-free, grain-free, optionally nut-free, peanut-free, optionally soy-free, vegan, and vegetarian.
- 1 cup dairy-free buttery sticks or spread, softened (see post above)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or pure vanilla flavoring
- 3½ to 4 cups powdered sugar
- 1 to 4 tablespoons plain or unsweetened dairy-free milk beverage, as needed
- Put the buttery spread or sticks in a large mixing bowl. Beat with a hand mixer until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat just until combined.
- Sift in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, and beat on low speed to incorporate it.
- Turn the hand mixer up to medium or high speed and whip the frosting for 2 minutes. Beat in the milk beverage as needed to reach your desired consistency.
- Store leftover frosting in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Beat the chilled frosting with your hand mixer for 30 seconds to soften before using.
Can this be used to cover a cake before covering with fondant or sugarpaste?
Hi Carole, I’m not experienced with fondant, so I couldn’t speak to this. If this is customary, buttercream under fondant, than I believe it should work. I would keep the cake cool.
Really good makes too much though.
Hi! I have tried to make this icing several times and just cannot seem to get the texture right. It seems like the more I beat/whip the butter, it doesn’t firm up that much. My end result is almost runny. The df sticks feel softer to me than regular butter even when cold. Do you think I could whip this butter without softening it? Also I can feel the sugar in my mouth – like it doesn’t dissolve. Please help! The last time I made a vegan cake I used store bought icing. 😕
That sounds like an issue with the buttery sticks. I know it can be frustrating, but dairy-free brands and even batches can vary. Especially this year, as companies are producing certain products quite fast. But yes, you can beat without softening. It’s sounds like the brand you are using is soft already. Usually buttery sticks are very firm. There are really only two factors at play, the buttery sticks and the sugar. Different brands of powdered sugar can also perform differently, and have different textures. Most store-bought brands use shortening. For more consistent results, you can use the Decorator’s buttercream option, which uses half shortening. I use Spectrum Shortening (which is soy-free, hydrogenated oil-free, and pretty consistent).
This came out very grainy. Not sure what I did wrong, maybe added too much sugar?
Hi Hunter, there aren’t a lot of working components in this recipe, so it really comes down to the ingredients. By graininess, do you mean actual mouthfeel or separation? If it is mouthfeel, then it is the sugar. I assume you used a regular powdered sugar (alternatives like sugar-free options or “unrefined” ones will not work well). If it was separation or clumpiness, then it was the butter alternative brand that you used. Did you use buttery sticks or a buttery spread, and if so, which one?
I made a gluten free cupcakes for our Son yesterday and your recipe for lactose free icing. Turned out to be my best cupcakes ever and I’m over 60. Thank you. Will forward to friends, family etc. Delicious!!
That’s wonderful Judy!
The margarine separated and got super runny ???
What brand did you use? That’s definitely a problem with the margarine.
Country crock spread. Would the margarine sticks work better? Or did I just over mix it?
Yes, make sure you read the notes in my post. Many buttery spreads don’t properly work. I haven’t tried the country crock spread for recipes like this, but would go with the sticks.
Can I use coconut oil instead of the buttery sticks?
I would use this coconut oil frosting recipe instead -> https://www.godairyfree.org/recipes/dreamy-dairy-free-coconut-cupcakes
And make sure the cupcakes are kept cool. Coconut oil has a melting point of 78 degrees F, so it will begin to liquefy in a warm room or with a lot of people around.
Love this simple recipe! It’s the perfect way to top my favorite dairy free, egg free cupcakes.
Very interesting. Lacks a little bit of flavor.
Maybe add lemon juice
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