A super smooth, creamy vanilla buttercream frosting that doesn’t contain real butter? Yes it does exist and I am here to tell you how!
Much debate seems to happen around frosting. Some love it, some hate it, but to me it is not a cake without a generous slathering of frosting. And cupcakes without buttercream are just muffins in my world. But with the key part of a buttercream being butter I usually have to go without. Well that was until this recipe.
First, let’s break down the basic buttercream. There are two key areas that makes a good frosting. Texture and flavour.
The texture just needs to be smooth and creamy but still have enough structure to handle being piped and to hold its shape. As for flavour, buttercream is a sweet frosting but the key to a good one is for it to be sweet, but not too sweet. To combat some of the sweetness from the large quantity of sugar, we add a pinch of salt to balance out the flavour. Don’t leave it out.
I use this frosting for basically every cake I make. Sometimes I change it and add additional flavours, such as this lavender frosting. But most of the time I use a version of this basic vanilla buttercream.
So how to do this without real butter? It comes down to the quality of the substitute. Since I have had to eliminate dairy from my diet, I have not looked past the Nuttelex range. If you’re a regular reader of my blog you will know that I swear by them for all of my baking particularly for frosting. The flavour is the best that I have found in any substitute and it is not as oily as some.
I always have Nuttelex Lite (the blue one) in my fridge and generally use that one, but recently I have changed to preferring the new Buttery style as it gives that extra ‘butter’ flavour. I also love that it is an Australian brand and is available at the supermarket. In the US I believe that the Earth Balance brand is comparable in taste/texture and should yield similar results.
Technically you can really use any butter substitute and it will work, just the flavour may be different, however I would recommend against using anything coconut oil based as in my experience the texture is just not the same.
The more I bake, the more I have perfected this recipe so I wanted to share it today in it’s own dedicated post. My cupcake recipes on the blog do have different variations of this frosting, and for that reason I knew I needed to get down my main quantity and get some consistency moving forward. This amount will generously frost a batch of 12-16 cupcakes. Any leftovers can be kept tightly covered in the fridge for about a week.
If you or friends or family for whatever reason do not or cannot eat dairy, then this is a great alternative that doesn’t feel as though you are missing out. Give it a try and share it around. Oh and I guarantee even the biggest butter lover will love this frosting.
Vegan Vanilla Buttercream
- ½ cup (125 grams) dairy-free spread*
- 3-4 cups icing sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 tablespoon vanilla almond milk
- pinch of salt , to taste
- Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment fitted, beat dairy-free spread for 1-2 minutes until creamy.
- Add in 3 cups of icing sugar and beat on medium until combined. As mixture thickens, add in vanilla and almond milk. If frosting is too thin, add in an extra ½-1 cup of icing sugar until it reaches the right consistency. Add pinch of salt to taste if frosting is too sweet.
- Store covered frosting in the fridge, or pipe directly onto cupcakes or cake.