This Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting recipe is creamy in all the right places and yet firm enough to look gorgeous on your vegan cupcakes! Spread dairy-free cream cheese frosting on vegan carrot cake or red velvet cake for a dramatic and delicious topping!
As you can tell, I have a passion for vegan sweets. And if you’re making sweets, well, there’s nothing like adding a smear of vegan cream cheese icing on top!
The problem with many vegan cream cheese frosting recipes is that they’re just too soft. It made me wonder how to thicken vegan cream cheese frosting. I like a nice and fluffy and yet still easy cream cheese frosting for my cakes and cupcakes.
Why This Recipe is a Winner
- A small amount of vegan cream cheese is added for flavor, but because the texture doesn’t hold up in frostings, we won’t be using the entire container
- Both vegan butter and vegetable shortening are added for flavor and texture to create vegan cream cheese frosting that’s creamy and firm
- Using lemon juice adds even more of that tart flavor we’ve come to love in the best cream cheese recipes
Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients
You can find the full printable recipe, including ingredient quantities below. But first, here are some explanations of ingredients and steps to help you make this recipe perfect every time!
I finally cracked the vegan cream cheese nut to get the perfect texture and flavor. So, let’s get to it! Here are the ingredients in this recipe for cream cheese frosting:
- Vegan Butter. I use Earth Balance buttery sticks for my non-dairy cream cheese frosting and it works great. Because I’m using a stand mixer, I don’t even let it sit out. But if you’re using a hand-held mixer, I would suggest setting it out at room temperature for 15–20 minutes.
- Vegetable Shortening. As I said above, I like a homemade cream cheese frosting that holds its shape and adding some vegetable shortening helps. I used Crisco.
- Vegan Cream Cheese. There are two primary vegan cream cheese products I will use for this recipe. The first is Daiya. I like it the best because it has a beautiful consistency and a nice, tangy flavor. The other is Tofutti. I like the Tofutti cream cheese flavor, but I’m not a fan of the texture. It’s a little on the runny side and it leaves little globules of cream cheese in the frosting. That’s not a problem if you don’t care what the frosting looks like because you’re making a Tuesday night vegan carrot cake and it’s mostly for your people. But if you’re taking it out on the town, you want it to look nice!
- Powdered Sugar. This recipe uses 3 cups of powdered sugar. I always recommend sifting it first to break up any clumps.
- Lemon Juice. We’re trying to capitalize on the tangy flavor, and adding a little bit of lemon juice helps the cause.
- Vanilla-Flavored Creamer. Yes, yes, yes, you can use vanilla-flavored plant-based milk instead of creamer, but I love the creaminess of creamers like Silk, Califia, Nut Pods, and Ripple. Many of these I can even find at my local grocery store. That said, if all you have is plant-based milk, it will work fine too. And if that milk is plain, simply add 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract.
How to Make Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting
To make the cream cheese frosting, follow these steps.
Step One: Cream the Fat
First, you’ll cream together the vegan butter and vegetable shortening. I used a stand mixer, but a handheld mixer works fine too. Get these two nice and creamy together, which may require stopping more than once to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Step Two: Add Cream Cheese
Add the vegan cream cheese. Whip that into the mixture until it returns to being good and fluffy.
Step Three: Add Powdered Sugar
Next comes the powdered sugar. I prefer to add it one cup at a time, with a good mixing in between each. This makes less of a mess, too. Who amongst us hasn’t dumped the entire batch of powdered sugar only to have it fly out of the bowl once we turn on the mixer? 🙋♀️
Again, don’t forget to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the lemon juice and vanilla creamer and mix one more time until light and fluffy.
How to Thicken Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting
Many complaints about vegan cream cheese frosting center on the fact that vegan cream cheese has a funny texture when added to frostings. Even though it may seem thick in the container, vegan cream cheese can actually become runny when added to frosting. To solve this dilemma, I’ve reduced the amount of vegan cream cheese used in this recipe. We’ll use just enough to add some flavor, in fact.
In addition, we’ll be using some vegetable shortening to increase the thickness of this frosting. This frosting works — it creates a thick vegan cream cheese frosting that even kept its shape after piping it on cupcakes!
Use these expert tips to make this basic cream cheese frosting vegan perfect every time:
- I recommend Earth Balance buttery sticks.
- Don’t want to use vegan butter? Replace it with refined coconut oil. Coconut oil cream cheese frosting tastes great, but it may not hold its shape quite as well, especially in the heat. Be sure to keep it refrigerated.
- Daiya and Follow Your Heart make great substitutes for cream cheese in frosting.
- Another option for vegan cream cheese is a product called Tofutti. Tofutti cream cheese frosting has great flavor and is a good substitute for cream cheese. However, it’s not my favorite when it comes to texture. That said, it will work fine for a weeknight dessert recipe.
- Be sure to use a mixer to whip up the frosting.
- If you’re using a decorator tip, I recommend putting the freshly-made frosting in the bag and then place that in the fridge for at least 20 minutes or so, to help it firm up. It will keep in the fridge for several days.
For the cupcakes in these photos, I used a Wilton 1A Round Tip.
How to Use Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting
Here are some amazing recipes that could benefit from being topped with vegan cream cheese frosting:
- This Vegan Carrot Cake Recipe is so good but even better with this icing on top
- If you love Vegan Red Velvet Cake, be sure to add a generous layer of this icing in between and on top of the layered cake
- These Carrot Cake Cookies taste even better with the best cream cheese frosting on top
- A Vegan Vanilla Cake tastes amazing with Vegan Vanilla Buttercream Frosting, but you’ll also love the tangy cream cheese frosting, too
- Be sure to spread this frosting on Vegan Sugar Cookies
- Add this creamy icing to some Easy Vegan Chocolate Cake and wait for the oohs and ahs
- Of course, cream cheese frosting for cupcakes is delicious and works perfectly with these Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes!
Vegan cream cheese frosting, either by itself or spread on cakes or cupcakes, is typically safe at room temperature for up to 8 hours. However, overly hot or humid conditions can impact the frosting. After that, it should be refrigerated. To store the frosting by itself, transfer it to an airtight container. It will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days or it can be frozen for up to 1 month.
I hope you love this recipe as we do! Have you tried it? Be sure and leave a comment and a rating of this recipe below and then take a quick photo and share it with me using #namelymarly on Instagram. I love seeing your creations!
Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1/4 cup vegan butter
- 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
- 4 tablespoons vegan cream cheese
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon vanilla-flavored plant-based milk
- Add vegan butter and shortening to a mixing bowl. Using either a hand-held mixer or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the vegan cream cheese and beat for another minute or so, until combined.
- Add the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, beating in between addition. Then add the lemon juice and milk. Beat for another minute or so, until all ingredients are combined and the frosting is light and fluffy.
- Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes or so, to allow the frosting to thicken.
The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.