overhead view of a dollop of funfetti frosting next to a piping bag on a small white plate

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Why I love this dairy free frosting

Let’s talk about frosting for a minute. I know it seems like it should be full of dairy products, and it can be, but this one thing that’s super easy to make dairy free.

In fact, most store bought frostings are already dairy free because they rely on vegetable or palm shortening for their fats.

But, I wanted to give you a full run down on how to make frosting without butter in case you need it.

close up of a funfetti cupcake next to a piping bag

Here’s what you’ll need to make it


close up of spatula full of dairy free funfetti frosting


When it comes to frosting, you basically need 3 things. Sugar, fat and liquid. Of course, we often add things like vanilla extract or cocoa powder to flavor the frosting, but basically that’s all it is – and that’s why it tastes so good.

  • Sugar – Sugar is definitely dairy free – although it might not be vegan – so we just need to replace the fats here. Thankfully it’s super easy.
  • Fat – I usually opt for vegetable shortening, but occasionally, I’ll use dairy free butter. You can also substitute coconut oil, but it will never be my first choice because it’s so temperature sensitive.
  • Liquid – Typically you will want to use your favorite dairy free milk, but you can also use coconut cream, vegan sour cream, or vegan yogurt. You can even use water.

How to make vegan frosting

Beat the wet ingredients. In a large bowl, beat the shortening, liquid of choice, and vanilla extract until smooth and fluffy.

Add the dry ingredients. Add a pinch of salt and the powdered sugar, about 1 cup at a time, and mix until each addition has been full incorporated.

close up of dairy free vanilla frosting with sprinkles in a mixing whisk

Dairy free frosting variations

To make funfetti frosting (like the one pictured here), gently mix in some rainbow sprinkles at the end.

To make chocolate frosting, add 1/4 cup of cocoa powder with the wet ingredients and decrease the powdered sugar amount by the same amount.

To make strawberry frosting, substitute 1/4 cup strawberry puree or strawberry jam for the liquid.

close up of dairy free frosting with sprinkles in a bowl

FAQS and tips for making dairy free frosting

What is vegan icing made of?

Vegan icing is typically made from vegetable shortening or vegan butter, mixed with powdered organic sugar and flavorings, like vanilla extract or cocoa powder.

How do you make homemade frosting thicker?

If your frosting is too thin, you can mix in extra powdered sugar until you reach the consistency you are after. Another option is to chill the frosting until it the fats solidify, but this will only be a temporary fix.

Is frosting dairy free?

Not necessarily. While many store bought frosting is dairy free (always check your labels), homemade frostings tend to be made with butter or cream cheese, so they won’t be dairy free.

macro close up of funfetti frosting on a cupcake

This recipe would be great with:

More recipes with frosting you’ll love:


Dairy Free Frosting

This creamy, dairy free frosting is perfect for your next batch of cupcakes or cake. It’s easy to make and delicious – you’ll want to eat it off the spoon! Don’t forget to add some sprinkles for extra fun.

  • Author: Melissa Belanger
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 56 cups 1x
  • Category: Desserts
  • Method: Mixing
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan


  • 1 cup vegetable shortening, or vegan butter
  • 24 tablespoons liquid of choice*
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 45 cups powdered sugar
  • 34 tablespoons rainbow, optional


  1. In a large bowl, beat the shortening, sour cream or yogurt and vanilla extract until smooth and fluffy.
  2. Add salt and powdered sugar, about 1 cup at a time, and mix until each addition has been fully incorporated.


*Use your favorite dairy free milk, sour cream or yogurt as liquid (amount will vary based on choice and desired frosting consistency). 


  • Serving Size: 3 tbsp
  • Calories: 323
  • Sugar: 39.5 g
  • Sodium: 76.7 mg
  • Fat: 17.9 g
  • Saturated Fat: 4.6 g
  • Carbohydrates: 41.5 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Protein: 0.2 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg

Keywords: dairy free, vegan, gluten free, egg free, easy, frosting, dessert

Last Updated on November 12, 2021 by Melissa Belanger

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Recipe rating


  1. Thank you for the link Go Straight to Recipe!
    I just close the page when they make you scroll down for ever to find the ingredients!!!

  2. I made a Wacky cake and half of this frosting with sprinkles on top for a lactose intolerant neighbor who turned 85 today. His face just lit up at the door. Thanks

  3. I used this recipe on an egg/dairy free vanilla cake today. I used Country crock avocado butter and coconut milk. I used all 5 cups of powdered sugar and sifted it before adding it. It made a wonderful crumb coat and the piped decorations held up really well. I’ll be using it again.

  4. Genius! I’m a vegan Celiac, and this advice is game changer for me. Thanks for making it so clear: sugar, fat, and liquid! I halved your recipe, and made mine with oat-gurt, sugar/strawberry jam, and coconut oil. I also added some vanilla extract and unsweetened, slightly roasted coconut shreds for a flavour profile. Came out PERFECT! I made it for my “use up every fruit that’s about to go bad in my fridge” cake. It turned into a pineapple-cherry-apple-almond-coconut cake with the dopest icing ever. It was so good, we demolished it in one sitting. Thanks again!

  5. Hello you didnt metion about storing the left over frosting and how to use when neef .. can you explain that please and thank you

    1. It will depend on what you use as your “liquid”. You should store your left over frosting in the fridge, but how long it will last will depend on your choice of liquid. All of the other ingredients are shelf stable, but if you use yogurt as your liquid you will probably want to use the expiration date on the yogurt to see how long it will last. You will probably want to bring the frosting out to room temp before you use it.

      1. I would like to use this and ship to a friend overseas. Will this frosting be safe to eat if it’s not refrigerated for 10 days? What is the limit to how long this frosting can not be refrigerated? Thanks!

  6. This was really good! I’m so glad I came across this recipe, since I needed a dairy free frosting for my birthday cake. 🙂 I used vegan butter as my fat, and almond milk as the liquid. I added the cocoa powder to make it chocolate, and it was delicious on top of a vanilla cake! Thanks!