What are the Different Types of Vegan Frosting?

Dorothy Bland

After cooking up tasty vegan cakes, frosting can be used to compliment the dish by enhancing flavors and serving as an attractive decoration. Unlike traditional frosting, vegan frosting recipes avoid the use of eggs, milk, butter, cream, honey, and other animal by-products. Although vegan frostings do not use these ingredients, by no means do they need be unappetizing or boring. There are many different types of vegan frosting, including buttercream, chocolate, and cream cheese.

A cake with vegan frosting.
A cake with vegan frosting.

Fat, sugar, and milk are the three most common ingredients included in frosting recipes. The fat found in icing usually comes from butter. Strict vegans do not consume dairy products, however. An acceptable alternative is nut butter, vegan margarine, or shortening. As margarine can contain trace amounts of dairy products, users should read the label for mention of lactose or whey to ensure the product is fully vegan-friendly.

Milk is often replaced with soy milk when preparing vegan frosting.
Milk is often replaced with soy milk when preparing vegan frosting.

Though sugar does not contain animal by-products, white sugar may be filtered using animal bones. To avoid the issue, vegans can choose to use unbleached cane sugar, maple syrup, or corn syrup. Dairy milk can usually be substituted with soy milk, rice milk, almond milk, or other alternatives without a great change in the consistency or flavor of the vegan frosting.

Vegan cream cheese frosting is often made with a tofu base.
Vegan cream cheese frosting is often made with a tofu base.

With the basic ingredients down, a vegan frosting can be created that compliments any type of vegan menu. There are dozens of different vegan frostings that can be made. Several of the most popular simple frostings include buttercream, chocolate, and cream cheese.

Buttercream frosting features a thick smooth texture that makes it ideal for piping onto cupcakes, and the soft texture is easily spread on vegan cookies. A basic vegan buttercream frosting blends soy milk with vegan margarine to get a fluffy consistency. A flavoring extract and powdered sugar provide flavor and sweetness.

Chocolate frosting is often used to compliment a vegan chocolate cake or brownies. To make chocolate frosting, butter is blended with melted chocolate chips or cocoa powder, then almond extract and soy milk are added. To sweeten the icing, agave syrup or maple syrup may be used.

Cream cheese vegan frosting has a sweet tartness suitable for carrot or spice cakes. As a replacement for dairy, vegan cream cheeses are made with a tofu or almond base. Vanilla flavoring, powdered sugar, and a vegan margarine are blended into the cream cheese.

When making a vegan dessert, the ingredients used can be varied based on what items are at hand. Simple vegan frostings can be adapted to suit different types of vegan sweets by folding in fresh mint, vanilla bean paste, strawberries, blueberries, shredded coconut, chopped nuts, or crushed vegan cookies.

Many people are allergic or sensitive to dairy products or avoid them for ethical reasons.
Many people are allergic or sensitive to dairy products or avoid them for ethical reasons.

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