Way back in 2008, authors Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero shared their recipe for Vegan Gingerbread Cupcakes with us. It included a dairy-free lemon frosting recipe. We now publish that cupcake recipe with a different frosting, and lean on this lemony frosting for other cupcake flavors. It’s the perfect cake topping in winter, when citrus is at its peak, but is also fresh and zesty for spring and summer.
Dairy-Free Lemon Frosting to Top Your Freshest Cake Flavors
This dairy-free lemon frosting recipe is slightly adapted from the timeless cookbook, Vegan Cupakes take over the World. I also have a few answers to common FAQs.
Do I Have to Use Shortening?
Dairy-free butter alternative tends to be softer at room temperature than shortening. So it’s best to use part shortening if you want the frosting to stay firm, or if you will be serving the cupcakes or cake at a warmer room temperature. I’ve included a buttercream option, but you can have the best of both worlds if you use part dairy-free butter alternative and part butter-flavor shortening. If you would rather not use shortening at all, look for a firmer butter alternative, like Miyoko’s Vegan Butter.
Help, It’s Not Lemony Enough?
The lemon flavor depends on your lemon! Sometimes, the lemons just aren’t as boisterous in flavor. If this happens, you can add more zest, or add a little lemon extract or lemon flavor. Using concentrated bottled lemon juice, rather than fresh lemon, can also guarantee more of a flavor punch.
What Do I Do if It is Too Soft?
Add a little more shortening and powdered sugar to firm it up more. The beauty of frosting is that you can easily adjust it to taste and consistency as needed.
What Cake Flavors go well with Lemon Frosting?
Lemon is a surprisingly versatile icing flavor. Obviously, you can double down on the citrus with lemon cake. But dairy-free lemon frosting also goes well with carrot, vanilla, coconut, blueberry, strawberry, raspberry, lavender, and as mentioned, gingerbread cake or cupcakes.
Special Diet Notes: Lemon Frosting
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, gluten-free, grain-free, nut-free, peanut-free, optionally soy-free, vegan, and vegetarian.
- ¼ cup non-hydrogenated shortening (like Spectrum)
- ¼ cup dairy-free buttery sticks, softened
- 2 cups powdered confectioners’ sugar
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- In a mixing bowl, cream the shortening and buttery sticks until well combined.
- Add the powdered sugar, ½ cup at a time, and a splash of lemon juice, and with the mixer on low, beat until combined. Repeat three more times with the rest of the powdered sugar and lemon juice.
- Add the lemon zest and vanilla, and beat on medium or high for another 3 to 5 minutes, or until the frosting is smooth, creamy, and fluffy.
- Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.