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The Perfect Vegan Vanilla Buttercream

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!

Vegan Vanilla ButtercreamMuch 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.

Vegan Vanilla ButtercreamI 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.

Vegan Vanilla ButtercreamTechnically 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.

Give this frosting a try with these vegan chocolate cupcakes, or maybe keep it simple with my favourite vanilla cupcakes. Whatever the cake, this frosting will take it to the next level.

Vanilla Cupcake with Vegan Vanilla ButtercreamIf 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.

Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Vegan Vanilla Buttercream

A super smooth, creamy vanilla buttercream frosting that doesn’t contain real butter? Yes it does exist! If you or friends or family do not or cannot eat dairy, then this is a great alternative that doesn’t feel as though you are missing out.
Prep Time15 mins
Total Time15 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 2 cups
Author: Sally


  • 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.


Makes enough frosting for about 12-16 cupcakes.
*I use Nuttelex Buttery to replace butter in most of my recipes as it is vegan and gives a 'buttery' flavour without being greasy. As this is an Australian product, the closest US alternative I believe is Earth Balance. Otherwise any dairy-free spread will work.

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Vegan Vanilla Buttercream - Pinerest Image

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  • Reply
    June 16, 2019 at 10:19 pm

    Can this be achieved with The new nuttelex which is palm oil free ? ( the one made with coconut oil). And would it serve to ice a whole cake ? Thanks 🙂

    • Reply
      June 19, 2019 at 11:17 am

      Hi Carolina. I have not used the new nuttelex myself so I cannot be sure, but I believe it should work the same. It will depend on how big the cake is that you want to frost. This quantity should be enough for a 2 layer 8 inch cake. If your cake is bigger you can always double it like I did with my vanilla layer cake.

  • Reply
    March 31, 2019 at 7:35 pm


    I tried using Nuttelex’s original to make my buttercream, but I just couldnt get stiff peaks. Everytime I pipe, it keeps losing shape and body. Please help me.

    Thank you.

    • Reply
      April 1, 2019 at 10:03 am

      Hi Akila,
      There are a couple of things that you can do to try and troubleshoot your issues. First, add more icing sugar – usually 1/2 cup at a time until you reach your desired consistency. The second thing is to omit the liquid (almond milk) until after all icing sugar has been combined with the Nuttelex and then only add in as much as you need to reach your desired consistency. Third, is your Nuttelex cold? It should be used straight from the fridge, this will help the buttercream keep its shape. Finally, chill your buttercream for 30 mins before piping to allow it to firm up a bit. This is particularly necessary with really hot weather.

      Hope this helps! Let me know how you go.

  • Reply
    Laura Smith
    November 11, 2018 at 7:39 pm

    Forgot to rate!

  • Reply
    Laura Smith
    November 11, 2018 at 7:39 pm

    Amazing frosting – delicious!! Even my husband (who hates anything dairy free) said it tasted fantastic. Thank you ❤️

    • Reply
      November 12, 2018 at 11:28 am

      That’s so great to hear Laura!

  • Reply
    October 17, 2018 at 4:19 pm

    I absolutely love the idea of the vanilla buttercream; it looks so creamy and delicious! Will definitely have to try it. I have bookmarked it.

  • Reply
    Calla Smith
    August 28, 2018 at 10:13 am

    Do you think shortening would work in place as a butter substitute?

    • Reply
      August 28, 2018 at 11:07 am

      Hi Calla! Where are you based? In Australia what we have as shorting is quite hard and would not work, however I understand in the US shortening is quite different and would be able to be beaten to a creamy texture in this scenario. I have not tried it myself, however from what I have read I think shortening would work, you may just need to adjust the vanilla extract and salt to account for the difference in flavour. Hope this helps! Let me know if you try it.

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