Dairy-Free Frosting Recipes

Dairy-free cookies and desserts have come a long way in the past two decades, thanks to milk and butter substitutes that better replicate the complex sugar and protein structures present in dairy. Once you figure out how to bake without butter, frosting your cake, cookie, or muffin is the easy part.

Most of these dairy-free frosting recipes are just as easy as their conventional counterparts. Once you have a standard pantry of dairy-free margarine, dairy-free milk, confectioners' sugar, and vanilla extract, you can tackle many of these recipes. Some call for additional ingredients, like soy yogurt or apple cider vinegar. These are easily available at almost all grocery stores.

  • 01 of 14

    Vegan Dark Chocolate Frosting

    Chocolate and Vanilla Cupcake

    James and James / Getty Images

    Perfect for vegan chocolate cakes and cupcakes, this frosting is rich, delicious, and just plain good—too good not to make. It gains richness from melted dark chocolate, which is in addition to cocoa powder. It'll be hard to find a go-to chocolate frosting recipe to top this.

  • 02 of 14

    Dairy-Free Lemon Buttercream Frosting

    Mixer beating yellow cake icing
    Nicolas McComber / Getty Images

    Buttercream frosting is an American culinary staple, which is not compromised in this dairy-free and vegan recipe. Soy margarine gives this frosting its creaminess, while fresh lemon juice cuts the one-note sweetness. Ideal for spring and summer celebrations, this frosting is also a standby for year-round cakes and cupcakes. It makes a classic frosting for wedding cakes, too.

  • 03 of 14

    Gluten-Free Coconut Frosting

    Toasted coconut triple layer cake
    James Baigrie / Getty Images

    With just three ingredients, this frosting recipe couldn't be easier to pull together. While the use of an electric mixer or a food processor will certainly speed up the process and make for a fluffier final product, it's also possible to achieve a satisfying result with a simple bowl and whisk. It doesn't have an overwhelmingly dominating coconut flavor, and even those people who "don't like coconut" inevitably end up asking for the recipe.

  • 04 of 14

    Coffee Frosting

    Coffee and walnut cup cakes on glass plates with mugs of walnut-flavoured milk on lace tablecloth, close-up
    William Reavell / Getty Images

    A little bit of espresso goes a long way in this coffee-flavored frosting. Simple to make and so delicious, this is the perfect topping for dairy-free chocolate cakes and cupcakes like this vegan mocha cake. Do be sure to use a good quality espresso that you personally enjoy drinking, because you will be able to taste it in the finished product.

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  • 05 of 14

    Royal Icing

    Glass bowl of cinnamon stars and cinnamon sticks
    Westend61 / Getty Images

    Royal icing is a simple icing that is typically used for decorating sugar cookies, gingerbread houses, cakes, and cupcakes. Prepared with just a few ingredients, this icing is perfect for everyday treats as well as special occasions. And it's totally dairy free. While some royal icing recipes use egg whites, this recipe provides the option of using meringue powder, which is a bit easier and neater to work with. To make different colors of royal icing, simply replace some of the water or vanilla extract with food coloring of your choice.

  • 06 of 14

    Vegan Chocolate Frosting

    Old-fashioned layer cake with chocolate frosting
    Brian Hagiwara / Getty Images

    This chocolate frosting recipe uses only cocoa powder—not melted chocolate—so it's a little less labor intensive than others. It gets its richness from the soy margarine and some spreadability from the nondairy milk.

  • 07 of 14

    Dairy-Free Cream Cheese Frosting

    Girl's hand spreading cream cheese icing on a carrot cake using a palette knife, close-up
    Dave King / Getty Images

    Perfect for carrot cake, this recipe is identical to its conventional counterpart—if not better. Note that this is only possible with a high-quality vegan cream cheese product. Tofutti is by far the brand we recommend using here; some other brands, like Daiya, can have a particular cheesy aftertaste that are better suited to savory uses.

  • 08 of 14

    Dairy-Free White Frosting

    White frosting

    Daniel Hurst Photography / Getty Images

    When you're looking for a classic white vanilla frosting, this is it. Although there are only four ingredients—so it's a cinch to whip up—the flavor of this icing is just as satisfying as some of the more complicated recipes we've included here. A touch of apple cider vinegar adds complexity in this recipe and balances the otherwise saccharine sweetness.

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  • 09 of 14

    Peanut Butter Frosting

    Delicious peanut butter cupcakes
    Gene Chutka / Getty Images

    Peanut butter is a particularly useful addition to dairy-free frostings. Its fatty texture provides a satisfying mouthfeel and body to dairy-free icings that otherwise lack the richness of butter. And, of course, the flavor is absolutely crave-worthy.

  • 10 of 14

    Coconut Frosting With Coconut Flakes

    Cupcakes with roasted coconut
    Dan Goldberg / Getty Images

    Compared to the other recipe for coconut frosting on this list, this frosting is slightly more complex and carries more overt coconut flavor. It calls for flaked coconut, which provides texture and bite to an otherwise silken frosting.

  • 11 of 14

    Strawberry Frosting

    Close-up of cupcake with strawberry
    Anouk de Maar / Getty Images

    Strawberry frosting has a bit of an old-school vibe, but it really is timeless. This classic strawberry frosting brings a nostalgic sweetness from the strawberry preserves. An electric mixer is needed for this recipe for an ideal final product.

  • 12 of 14

    Low-Fat Vanilla Frosting

    Vanilla cupcake
    Meike Bergmann / Getty Images

    The magic ingredient in this frosting recipe is, wait for it: tofu. Although some people may have an aversion to tofu, this recipe really takes advantage of its creaminess when it's properly blended. The confectioners' sugar in this recipe makes it taste like a classic frosting—no compromises needed. As a bonus, not only is this recipe low in fat, it's also packed with protein. Don't knock it until you've tried it.

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  • 13 of 14

    Chocolate Ganache

    Chocolate cake with ganache frosting
    Robert Linton / Getty Images

    Arguably the simplest of all recipes on this list, traditionally a ganache features just two ingredients: heavy cream and solid chocolate, usually melted together in equal parts. This recipe simply substitutes the cream with nondairy milk, resulting in a chocolate-infused sauce that's just as satisfying, but much lower in fat.

  • 14 of 14

    Low-Fat Dairy-Free Buttercream Frosting

    Buttercream on wooden spoon in a glass mixing bowl
    Dave King / Getty Images

    This dairy-free buttercream frosting makes use of yogurt for fresher, lighter frosting that still satisfies that sweet tooth. When shopping for a dairy-free yogurt, be aware that some yogurts are incredibly tart and kefir-like, and so they're not suitable for use in a traditional frosting recipe. Silk brand soy yogurt is a good choice.