Cream cheese frosting, as a concept, is so far removed from cheese itself that it really only has a few attributes in common. Creamy? Yes. Tangy? Yes. Umami? No. Salty? No. Funky? Definitely not. Vegan cream cheese frosting, dare I say, is even further away.
So it never made sense to me to buy a pre-made vegan cream cheese to make cream cheese frosting. Can’t you replicate the qualities of a good cream cheese frosting without any…cheese, vegan or otherwise?
As it turns out, you can!
For my purposes, lemon juice is the secret ingredient. Adding just the right amount transforms a basic buttercream frosting into a tangy, cream-cheese-y, ready-for-carrot-cake delight.
I also like to use some coconut cream in my frosting to add richness in a different way than just vegan butter.
Check out my recipe below, and please let me know if you try it out!
Vegan cream cheese frosting
- 1/4 cup vegan butter or margarine, softened
- 1/4 cup coconut cream*
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice (from about half a lemon, but definitely measure it)
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 2-2.5 cups powdered sugar
- If needed: A splash of plant milk
- If you haven’t already, soften your butter by microwaving it at 50% power for 15 seconds at a time until soft to the touch.
- Combine your butter, coconut cream, lemon juice, and vanilla extract in a large bowl and mix with a hand or stand mixer until well-combined, smooth, and fluffy.
- Add powdered sugar, about a cup at a time, and continue mixing until the frosting has reached your desired sweetness level and texture. (You want it to be soft enough to spread, and thick enough that it won’t fall of your cake once you frost it.)
- If your frosting is too stiff, you can add a splash of plant milk and re-blend. If it’s too runny, add more powdered sugar. If it’s not cheesy/tangy enough for you, you can add a little bit more lemon juice, but be careful! It’s a fine line between “cream cheese frosting” and “straight up lemon-flavored frosting,” and you can’t really go back from the latter.
- Ideally, cool/set it in the fridge for about 30 minutes before using it to frost a cake. Then, enjoy!
- This recipe was adapted from Minimalist Baker‘s buttercream frosting.
- *For coconut cream, you want the solid stuff in a can of coconut milk. Sometime these cans are already separated, but if not, you can stick it in the fridge the day before you’re going to use the coconut cream. Then, when you’re ready, open the can without shaking it and scoop out the solids. That’s coconut cream!
- You could probably substitute more of vegan butter or coconut cream for each other in this recipe, if you have a preference for one of the other, but I haven’t tested the recipe this way. Let me know how it goes if you do, though!