Easy Dairy-Free (Vegan) Cream Cheese Frosting

When it comes to frosting, my favorite type of frosting is cream cheese frosting.  I just love how it’s such a perfect balance of sweet from the powdered sugar and tangy from the cream cheese.  While traditional buttercream icing is always delicious, the slight tang from the cream cheese is really what makes this such a great recipe.  I like how much this recipe makes because I usually have a little left over to keep in the refrigerator, which is perfect for when you have a little sweet tooth and just want a little bite of something sweet to tide you over.  One of my favorite ways to enjoy this vegan frosting recipe is to use it as a fruit dip.  Fresh strawberries dipped in this dairy-free cream cheese frosting is one of my favorite afternoon treats.

So Many Uses

This is the best vegan cream cheese frosting and has become my go-to recipe for so many desserts and afternoon snacks.  As I mentioned before, one of my favorite ways to enjoy this recipe is simply by dipping fresh fruit into it.  I also love adding this icing to a piping bag and slathering it all over baked goods.  This would be the perfect icing to put on top of your favorite cake like a vegan carrot cake or red velvet cake.  Of course, this icing is wonderful between every layer of a layer cake.  And this perfectly sweet and slightly tangy icing tastes amazing on top of your favorite cinnamon rolls.

Dairy Free

What I like most about this recipe is that it can be made as a traditional cream cheese frosting or easily made dairy-free for anyone with dairy allergies.  It’s so easy to swap out dairy products for dairy-free products.  To make a regular cream cheese frosting, use regular butter and regular cream cheese.

Room Temperature

The key to this recipe is to allow enough time for the butter and cream cheese to come to room temperature.  This is the only way to ensure that the butter and cream cheese will get fully blended together before adding in the powdered sugar and vanilla extract.  If you are strapped for time, here are a few methods to quickly bring the butter and cream cheese to room temperature:

  • Cut into smaller pieces – This is my preferred method.  Place butter and cream cheese on separate plates or pieces of parchment paper.  Use a sharp knife to cut into small chunks.  The smaller, the quicker they will come to room temperature.
  • Microwave method – Fun fact, by choice, I don’t have a microwave – ha!  If you do, you can use the defrost setting and heat for 5-10 seconds and check the butter and cream cheese after each interval.
  • Warm water – Put the wrapped-up butter and cream cheese in a sealed plastic bag.  Then, submerge in a big bowl of warm water.  Note: It’s key that the water is warm, not hot.  You don’t want to use so much heat that will melt everything.  Just warm water that will soften is perfect.
  • Grater – Using a box or handheld grater, grate the butter and cream cheese.  The smaller shreds will quickly soften.  

Trouble Shooting

While this recipe only involves a few simple ingredients, there are some tips and tricks to getting the best results for the smoothest and creamiest icing every single time.

  • Room Temperature – This recipe simply won’t work if the butter and cream cheese are too hard or in melted condition.  See the section above for the best tips to quickly bring both of these ingredients to room temperature.
  • Milk – This recipe intentionally does not call for any dairy-free milk products.  However, when it comes to dairy-free products, the texture can vary from product to product.  If you have followed all of the instructions below and slowly and thoroughly mixed in the powdered sugar after creaming together the room temperate butter and cream cheese, and your icing is too thick for your liking, you can add in a couple of tablespoons of dairy-free milk.  Almond milk, coconut milk, and cashew milk are my favorite dairy-free milk options for this recipe.
  • Thickeners – Tapioca starch and arrowroot powder are natural thickeners.  While I do not believe it’s necessary for this recipe if the methods are followed, you can add a tablespoon or two at a time to thicken the icing up to your desired consistency.  If my icing isn’t thick enough, I just to just add a little bit more powdered sugar.

Mixing the Icing

Before mixing the icing, be sure that your ingredients are at room temperature.  This will help everything blend together seamlessly creating the perfect smooth and creamy texture.  You can use your stand mixer with the whisk attachment.  I used my electric hand mixer, but an electric whisk also works!

Simple Ingredients

  • Dairy-free cream cheese – You can use any non-dairy cream cheese that you like.  Just be sure that is an unflavored variety.  Kite Hill, Violife, and Trader Joe’s sell my favorite dairy-free cream cheeses.  Also, it’s important to note that some of the dairy-free cream cheeses are sold in smaller quantities than the recipe calls for.  If your chosen brand only comes in 6 or 7 ounces, it’s fine.  Still, just follow the provided methods.  When it comes time to add in the powdered sugar, just be aware that you may not need to use all of the amount called for in the recipe.
  • Vegan butter – Earth Balance makes the best vegan butter, but you can use any vegan butter or vegan margarine brand.  Or maybe you are like me and tolerate butter just fine but cannot tolerate other dairy products.  If that is the case, this recipe will still work if you use dairy-free cream cheese and regular butter, for example.
  • Powdered sugar – Also known as confectioner’s sugar, powdered sugar must be used in this recipe to keep the texture smooth and creamy.  You can use powdered monk fruit, but I have found that it has a strange aftertaste.  It’s also worth noting that there is a super easy trick to making your own powdered sugar.  I cannot tell you how many times I have realized that I am out of powdered sugar and make my own.  All you do is add regular, granulated sugar to a high-speed blender and then blend until powdered sugar is formed.  This only takes about 30 seconds and you just saved yourself a trip to the store.
  • Vanilla Extract – When it comes to vanilla extract, it’s always important to use a high-quality vanilla extract.  I have found that the absolute best vanilla extract comes straight from Mexico.  However, so many of the extracts that come from Mexico are sold in plastic bottles.  I have been using this Mexican vanilla extract for several years and it comes in a glass bottle.


Be sure to store your frosting in an airtight container.  It will last in the refrigerator for 5-7 days.  

Easy Dairy-Free (Vegan) Cream Cheese Frosting

Sarah Erickson
An easy, dairy-free version of perfectly sweet and slightly tangy cream cheese frosting.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Course Treat
Cuisine American


  • 8 ounces dairy-free cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup vegan butter
  • 3 cups powdered sugar plus more if needed
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt


  • Be sure to bring your dairy-free cream cheese and butter to room temperature. You can read above for my troubleshooting tips on how to do this quickly.
  • Once the butter and cream cheese are at room temperature, place them in a large bowl and use a stand mixer or electric mixer to cream the butter and cream cheese together.
  • Once fully combined, add the powdered sugar just a little bit at a time. I would start with a cup at a time. When the icing starts to reach your desired consistency, slowly add the rest of the ingredients.
  • Use a wooden spoon or spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure everything is fully incorporated.
  • This is one of those recipes that you will want to taste test before adding to your baked goods (wink, wink!).


Be sure to read the information above on what to do if the dairy-free cheese comes in a package smaller than 8 ounces.
Keyword cream cheese, dairy free, frosting, icing, vegan

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