How To Thicken Vegan Frosting [Top Tips]

  • Author: Ben
  • Date: June 13, 2022
  • Time to read: 6 min.

Baking a cake requires somewhat of a different approach – and a host of alternative ingredients – compared to a regular, non-vegan cake. Avoiding all dairy products is particularly tricky, but don’t ignore the delicious frosting on the top of the cake too. Don’t worry though, we will take you through how to thicken vegan frosting to ensure it’s perfect.

What’s Not Vegan About Frosting?

The frosting is produced from a mix of ingredients but most of them aren’t vegan. Sometimes, it is store-bought and other times, a die-hard cook or baker will make their own that they swear by.

Usually, some kind of dairy product is indeed used.

So, it’s still animal-derived icing at the end of the day.

Most frosting includes butter to make it rich enough, and give it a creamy texture. Perhaps cream or milk is added too.

And the butter isn’t vegan butter either.

Instead, it is made usually from cow’s milk or maybe another type of animal. Either way, it’s not vegan approved.

Some oils may be included as well. These won’t always be oils that a vegan would approve of.

Check out our article on how to make the perfect vegan cake, which you can then top with your vegan frosting. If you find that your vegan cake is dense, our guide will talk you through where you have potentially gone wrong.

Also, any store-bought cakes are likely to be the same situation unless it’s from the vegan section of the bakery or a vegan-only bakery.

The great thing is, as veganism is becoming more mainstream, more and more of the main stores are stocking vegan baked goods and sweet treats. As well as this, independent vegan bakeries are springing up all over.

But, if you still want to have a go at making your own vegan frosting, we will take you through this below, including how to thicken vegan frosting to ensure that it is stiff enough to stick to your baked goods.

Nobody likes sloppy frosting!

If you are not vegan and trying to cater to vegan guests, check out our guide on what to serve vegan dinner guests.

How to Make Frosting Vegan

A buttercream vegan frosting is what you want to aim for. It has the right texture, consistency, and dazzles the taste buds too.

The ingredient list to make vegan vanilla frosting at home includes the following:

Vegan butter: Choose the type with the taste you prefer. Don’t try a new one or try vegan butter for the first time when making the icing for a cake. Or you could end up with a cake that you dislike all because of the choice of butter. Trader Joe’s has a good vegan butter that’s got many fans. Also, don’t dismiss the Miyoko vegan butter either too.

Vegan milk: The type of milk required could be soy milk, but cashew milk or one with oats in will do too. It all depends on the taste that you want in your icing. Avoid any skimmed varieties.

Powdered sugar: Use the right amount for your sweet tooth.

Vanilla flavoring: A clear vanilla extract is best for white-colored frosting. Otherwise, you can choose one with a slightly darker hue.

5 Steps to Follow for Perfect Vegan Icing:

  1. Use softened, but not melting It’ll need to be close to room temperature for best use.
  2. Add the butter to a food mixer or similar. Mix it until the butter has a cream-like consistency.
  3. Next, begin to sprinkle in the powdered sugar while still running the mixer. Build the speed up gradually, but do not go above mid-level speed on the mixer.
  4. When ready, spoon in a couple of tablespoons full of vegan milk. And the vanilla extracts
  5. Use a medium rate to beat the mixture for several minutes until it’s become fluffy and creamy. Avoid using a whisk and rushing using a high speed because this won’t work well for vegan icing. It’ll add unwanted bubbles to the icing mixture.

Flavor Variations for Your Frosting

To create different flavored frosting, it’s possible to vary the ingredients to get the desired results.

For example, a lemon cake can include a tablespoon of lemon zest along with a couple of generous tablespoons of lemon juice (freshly squeezed is best).

This will give your frosting a zing to it!

Otherwise, if you’re not partial to lemon, then it can be replaced with orange zest and orange juice.

Salted caramel or plainer caramel frosting is possible too. Replacing the vanilla extract with salted caramel or caramel will be fine.

Vegan milk is not required, but it can be added sparingly to reduce the thickness of frosting to a thinner texture.

For chocoholics, a cocoa powder that’s pre-sifted is the way to do this. A small portion is needed, so don’t overdo it. Add it when the sugar goes into the mixer. Vegan milk can also be utilized to find the right balance.

Lastly, peppermint is an easy replacement. Just switch out the vanilla extract for peppermint extract. There’s no need to adjust the amount of milk or make other changes to the recipe.

Best 4 Tips for Thickening Vegan Frosting

Here are a few tips to thicken the vegan frosting.

1. Add Powdered Sugar

Powdered sugar is the main approach to take if your frosting isn’t using much if any, vegan milk.

Add one or at most, 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar.

Don’t drop it into the icing mixture all in one go though.

Gently add the powder a bit at a time to spread it more evenly. Then it’ll need to be heavily mixed to thicken the existing blend.

Use a Different Vegan Butter

Not all vegan butter products are alike.

They vary wildly with how much soy, water, and vegetable oils are present.

Each of these will affect how the icing turns out. Therefore, if you keep making icing that’s too think, consider using a different vegan butter that has less water in it.  

Add More Flavoring

Some flavoring will thin out the frosting whereas others like cocoa powder may serve to thicken it up.

As such, it depends on what type of flavoring you’ve used and how it will affect the level of thickness.

Consider this when using an existing frosting recipe and changing the intended flavoring. It may create a thinning effect on the frosting results.

If so, determine whether adding more flavoring to intensify it will thicken the mixture or do the opposite?

If it’ll work against you, then powdered sugar may be the best remaining option.

Use a Thickening Agent

A situation can arise where you’re wanting to use more vegan milk or flavoring or other ingredients that create a thinning effect.

To remove them, the icing won’t be like you wish it to be. However, when using them, the icing doesn’t firm up enough. Catch-22!

In this situation, it may be necessary to use either xanthan gum or guar gum in your recipe.

These are thickening agents that will work their magic to give your icing a greater thickness even when other ingredients may have previously done the opposite.

Not every home baker wishes to use them, but it is a fourth possibility to consider.

Purchase the Frosting Mixture

If you’re short on time, there are a few store-bought frosting options for vegans:

Duncan Hines Creamy Homestyle Frosting

The Creamy Homestyle Frosting has a whipped vanilla flavor.

It is vegan approved, dairy-free, and doesn’t have gluten either.

There is also a chocolate and a fluffy white flavor as well if vanilla is… too vanilla for you.

Miss Jones Organic Frosting

Gluten-free organic frosting under the Miss Jones brand is a good option too. It is dairy-free, so you’re worries are over.

There are salted caramel, chocolate, vanilla, and other flavors to try out!

Wholesome Organic Frosting

This organic frosting has the USDA logo on it, and it is vegan as well. So, there is no dairy in it.

Also, for people who need to avoid gluten, it is gluten-free too.

There are many flavors of Wholesome Organic frosting to choose from including chocolate, salted caramel, and more.

Whether choosing to make the frosting yourself or to purchase it, keep it vegan.

Wrap Up: How To Thicken Vegan Frosting

Getting the perfect vegan frosting does not have to be an unachievable feat. Follow our top tips above in order to ensure that you create the perfect vegan frosting for you, your friends, and your family. Do you have any top tips as to how to thicken vegan frosting that we haven’t covered here? If so, let us know in the comments below so we can all learn.

Best vegan pepperoni alternatives

Previous Post

Best Vegan Pepperoni Alternatives [Tried & Tested]

Next Post

Is Microwave Popcorn Vegan? [Yes, and no…]

Is microwave popcorn vegan