Healthy Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting
This vegan cream cheese frosting is free from vegan cream cheese, vegan butter, and powdered sugar. If you still want the beautiful flavours of a conventional cream cheese frosting, without the guilt (and the overload of sugar), this recipe ticks all the boxes!
I set out to create a vegan cream cheese frosting that’s tangy, velvety, and sweet. This my friends will be your go-to recipe for topping your cakes like our Vegan Chocolate and Pear Loaf Cake and the Vegan Carrot Cake.
Ingredients used in this healthy vegan cream cheese frosting
You might be wondering what’s in this plant-based cream cheese frosting if the usual suspects are omitted. You’ll find just eight simple ingredients:
- Raw cashews
- Coconut cream
- Good-quality maple syrup
- Vanilla extract
- Lemon juice
- Apple cider vinegar
- Coconut oil
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The balance of flavours
This cashew cream cheese frosting doesn’t have a strong flavour of cashews. I made sure that the balance was perfect and that not any given ingredient dominated.
I know for many vegans and non-vegan alike, nuts can be a little off-putting in plant-based desserts, so I was determined to get these elements right.
In the first few iterations of this frosting, the texture was grainy, and the flavour was a little too nutty.
By the third test, it had a great flavour, texture, and consistency.
The key is balancing the flavour and having the right ratio of ingredients. It also helps to have a high-speed blender to get all of that grainy cashews out of the cream frosting.
It might look a little grainy in the photos, but trust me when I say that this frosting is actually silky smooth!
How to prevent vegan cream cheese frosting from being runny
Let’s make one thing clear with this recipe. It’s not designed for piping. The consistency is not thick and pliable like a powdered sugar version would be.
It’s perfect for icing cakes, loaves, and cupcakes, but not for creating height. You’ll get a bit of height with it, but it won’t be the same as something that has been piped.
It will be runny when it’s first blended, however, once it has been set in the fridge (for at least 2-3 hrs), it will have a much nicer, thicker consistency. This is where the coconut cream and coconut oil help with structure.
So in saying that, those ingredients can’t be swapped out. I have tried it without the coconut oil, and it wasn’t thick enough to spread (and more importantly stay) on top of your cake.
Storing dairy-free cream cheese frosting
This cream cheese will keep in the fridge for 5-7 days in an airtight container.
This recipe can also be stored in the freezer for up to 1 month. Just thaw slightly before using it so that it’s spreadable.
A few tips for making the best vegan cream cheese frosting
To get the best results, make sure that your ingredients are at room temperature. This will help the ingredients to blend better and not split during the blending process.
If it splits, keep blending until all the ingredients reach the same temperature in the blender. You just need a little bit of extra time and patience.
As many of us know, coconut oil can be temperamental, and the consistency will depend on the room temperature. So if your jarred coconut oil is either liquid or super soft, you don’t need to do anything before adding it to the blender.
However, if it’s solid and hard to scoop out, I would soften or melt it before adding. This will make the job for your blender easier and will incorporate with the rest of the ingredients much better.
Equipment needed for this dairy-free cream cheese frosting
The equipment that’s needed to make this icing is very minimal! You’ll need the following:
- Small saucepan to melt the coconut oil (or microwave if you have one)
- Small bowl
- A spoon
- High-speed blender
- Airtight container
That’s it! Simple right?
The perfect cake enhancer
Carrot cake and cream cheese frosting are the perfect duo. The tangy, savoury, and sweet flavour of the icing balances the moist and crunchy texture of the carrot cake.
It also pairs nicely with banana cake, banana bread, muffins, and loaves. If you want something a little richer and creamier, you can go for my Coconut Whipped Cream.
How is the frosting best kept after being applied to my cake?
Once you’ve frosted your cake, keep it in the fridge. It’ll ensure that the frosting doesn’t become too soft for serving, especially if it’s a warmer climate.
The topping will be fine out if the weather is cooler. If you like a softer frosting, then feel free to leave it out.
Now let’s get into how to make vegan cream cheese frosting, shall we?
Other plant-based how-to’s you’ll love:
- How to Make Vegan Custard
- How To Make Coconut Whipped Cream
- How to Use Aquafaba in Your Cooking (+2 Recipes)
- How To Make a Flax Egg
- How To Make Vegan Chocolate Ganache
- Vegan Chocolate Hazelnut Spread
- Easy Vegan Passionfruit Curd
If you try this recipe, please let me know! We’d love for you to leave a comment and rating below. If you want to go that extra mile, tag us on Instagram or share your photo of the recipe on Pinterest.Print
Healthy Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting
- Prep Time: 25 minutes
- Chill Time: 2 hours
- Total Time: 2 hours 25 minutes
- Yield: Approximately 1½ cups
A simple step-by-step tutorial on how to make vegan cream cheese frosting that’s creamy, tangy, sweet, and savoury. The perfect vegan butter & refined sugar-free addition to vegan cakes.
- ¾ cup / 85g raw cashews
- 2/3 cup / 140g coconut cream*
- ¼ cup / 80ml maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1½ tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted or softened (see above tips for more info)
- ¼ – ⅓ tsp salt*
- Soak the cashews in boiling water for 20 minutes.
- Drain the cashews well and place them in the blender along with the other ingredients.
- Start slow and increase speed and blend until the cream is nice and silky smooth. If it starts to split, be patient and just keep blending until it’s smooth.
- Pour into a container and put in the fridge for at least 2-3 hours. Ideally, I make this the day before so it’s really nice and set.
- The cream cheese frosting is now ready for spreading!
- It can be stored in the fridge for 5-7 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.
- See ideas above for cake recipes to smear this frosting onto.
Coconut cream: Coconut cream is the thick part that sits at the top of a can of coconut cream or chilled coconut milk. For creamy, thick coconut cream, buy one that has guar gum in it.
Salt: Adjust the salt to taste. I like mine a little on the saltier side.
- Diet: Vegan
Loved this! Tasted like the real deal! I used agave nectar instead of maple syrup and it tasted divine. Went so well along with beet cake from https://www.thefullhelping.com/vegan-chocolate-beet-cake/
Hello! I’d like to use this recipe for my son’s first birthday smash cake. Do you think it would work without the maple syrup? Or at least with much less? Also, is it “sturdy” enough to use as the filling in a small 2 or 3 layered cake? Thank you!
Hi Kyra, I’m so so sorry I totally missed your comment! I hope it’s not too late? You can reduce the maple syrup, it just won’t be sweet. For consistency, you’ll have to replace it with another liquid to get a spreadable frosting. You can increase the coconut cream to make it more stable. The only trick is that you’ll need to set it in the fridge before use and after you’ve spread it between the layers. I wouldn’t do more than 2 layers to be on the safe side. Apologies again, and I hope this helps!
Thank you so much for your reply! Still in time 🙂
So I’ll try replacing the maple syrup with more coconut cream. I’ll let it set in the fridge, and stick to 2 layers. Thanks again!
Hi! I am making this to too carrot muffins for my daughter’s first birthday. I bought a can of coconut cream. Should I store it in the fridge so it is chilled, or room temperature so it is the same as the other ingredients? Thank you!
Happy birthday to your daughter! It depends on the brand and the temperature where you live. For me, it’s winter right now, so the one I use separates fine in the cooler weather. However, if you’re in a hotter climate and you’re not sure how it will react, the best is to place it in the fridge first and leave it to set before use. I hope that helps!
Just to make sure I’m understanding the recipe right, I take the cashews and place them in a jar of boiling water for 20 minutes and not put them in boiling water on a pan that continues to boil for 20 minutes? Wanna get this right, I’m so excited to try this. I tried looking for alternatives or “healthier” options for cream cheese topping (for some carrot cake oatmeal I’m gonna try) but they all contained cream cheese…..and I would rather have something like this recipe so thank you sooooo much this recipe looks amazing!
Hi Haley, that’s right. You just put the cashews in boiling water, no need to boil them on the stove for 20 minutes – just soak. I hope that helps!
Hi! Can I use powdered sugar instead of maple syrup?
Yes, you can, it will be thicker and sweeter though so maybe consider adding a little more coconut cream. Let me know how you go 🙂
This is incredible. It tastes exactly like authentic cream cheese frosting. Well done Maša.
Thank you so much, Lindsey!
This is quite possibly the BEST frosting I’ve ever had. I already made two back to back carrot cakes with the frosting. Once I take a bite I just cannot stop and keep going back for another “sliver”. I’m hooked! 🙂
That’s great, Paula! So happy to hear you love it. I wouldn’t be able to stop myself either 😂
Not missing the dairy!
I whipped this up in my Nutribullet and it came out creamy and smooth. It doesn’t have the sour flavor that cream cheese does but it tastes GREAT!
I’m so happy that I can have a vegan carrot cake with cream cheese frosting for my birthday! Coconut cream isn’t avaiable where I live. Could I use homemade coconut yogurt instead of coconut cream? Any other sub? thx!
Yay! So glad you can too 🙂 Unfortunately coconut cream is an important ingredient in this recipe to keep in thick and creamy. You could try more cashews and a little more coconut oil to substitute it but I haven’t tried it myself so I can’t say how it would turn out. Let me know how you go!
I found out that it’s so easy to make coconut creme! The frosting came out great; very smooth and just the right sweetness!!! I’ll leave a review and tag the cake on Instagram!
So happy to hear you enjoyed it 🙂 Thanks for sharing!
Hello, this looks great. We have a a child with cashew allergies. Can you substitute something for the cashews?
Hi Maria, hmmm…I personally haven’t made it with anything else because the cashews give it that nice thick and creamy consistency. You could try macadamias, but the taste and texture won’t be the same. Let me know how you go if you give it a try 🙂
Will this work omitting coconut oil? Thinking about an oil-free diet. Thanks!
Yes, it will give you a similar result 🙂
Could there be used on cinnamon rolls?
Maša, your timing could not have been better. I signed up to bring a vegan dessert for a going-away potluck at work Tuesday. I know one of the two honoree likes carrot cake. This can be made today and will be well set up by Tuesday. Thanks!
Oh, perfect timing! Hope you and your colleagues enjoy it 🙂