Saturday, September 26, 2015

Vegan Vanilla Buttercream

Think you can't have cake just because you don't eat dairy? I'm the princess of lactose intolerant here, and I'm here to say, I've discovered the PERFECT non-dairy simple buttercream recipe! My taste testers couldn't even tell that it didn't contain dairy. Read on for the secret.

The nostalgia of simple American buttercream is strong among bakers like me, who might have started out with box mixes and storebought cans of frosting. When I was just young, and just learning how to bake, these products were synonymous with 'birthday cake' for me. But when I was young, I didn't have a problem with dairy, so buttercream containing butterfat never bothered me. Fast-forward ten years and butter is one of the primary foods I have removed from my diet. "What's the big deal," you'd think. "You aren't a frosting person anyway." Well, yes, I'm not, but I also don't really care for naked cake. Just because I don't like to eat my way through a Mount Everest of frosting doesn't mean that I don't want any frosting.

The secret to making this frosting spreadable and oh-so-delicious is the combination of shortening and butter. Normally, I use only butter when I'm making classic buttercream. But veganizing it called for something special. I substitute the butter by half, and the result is amazing, melt-in-your-mouth frosting.

Obviously, you'll want to use vegan butter (and vegan shortening) in this recipe. I personally use Earth Balance, which I buy at either Trader Joe's or Whole Foods. Any brand should work the same, though. The other main substitution I perform is to use soymilk instead of milk. If you can't have soy, you can use almond milk, rice milk, or coconut milk instead. It's a negligible amount, used only as needed to help smooth out the final product.

Otherwise, the process is the same. You begin with your (vegan) butter and shortening in a bowl, having been brought to room temperature ahead of time.

Beat with either the paddle attachment of a stand mixer or a handheld beater, until the shortening and butter are completely incorporated and creamy. Scrape down the sides of your bowl and begin adding the sugar, 1/2 cup to 1 cup at a time. Let the sugar begin to incorporate before adding more, or else it will fly out of the bowl and make a big mess. Scrape down the bowl frequently to make sure everything is being fully incorporated. Beat until creamy: your buttercream may turn stiff and clumpy as the sugar is being combined throughout, but keep beating and the mixture will come together.

Add the vanilla (or any other flavoring extracts you'd like to use), and incorporate fully. Finally, if you are using color, add this last and continue to beat until fully mixed throughout. Ta-da! Creamy, spreadable, and completely dairy-free.

Great for spreading on a cake, or piping onto a batch of cupcakes :)

Vegan Simple Vanilla Buttercream


  • 4 cups confectioner's sugar
  • 1 stick vegan butter, room temp
  • 1 stick vegan shortening, room temp
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tsp soymilk - as needed


  1. (Beforehand: ) Leave butter and shortening out for a few hours to warm to room temperature.
  2. Place butter and shortening in bowl of stand mixer or electric mixer.
  3. Beat butter and shortening until soft and creamy.
  4. Add sugar, 1/2 cup to 1 cup at a time, to avoid splatter. Beat until incorporated.
  5. Add vanilla extract and beat until incorporated.
  6. If frosting is too gritty or stiff, add soymilk 1 tsp at a time until incorporated.
  7. If using color, add and beat until incorporated.

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