Creamy and tangy vegan cream cheese frosting made with homemade vegan cream cheese! Smooth and delicious and perfect on vegan cakes or cupcakes.
I have wanted to make some vegan cream cheese frosting for years now!
But I had the issue that I either couldn’t find vegan cream cheese or, on the rare occasions I did find it, I didn’t like the result.
Let me be clear though that I have not had a lot of options for store bought vegan cream cheese over the past few years, so this is not about throwing shade on vegan cream cheese brands, I just didn’t have many options.
But recently I made a homemade vegan cream cheese that we just loved. And I started wondering if I could use it for a cream cheese frosting.
The vegan cream cheese we made has some dried dill stirred into it. So I tried making a batch of it and not stirring in the dried dill and then tried a cream cheese frosting. Well….haha my first try tasted a little bit…yuck.
This was because I left out the dried dill but still used my original vegan cream cheese flavorings like onion powder and white vinegar. This works SO well for a savory cream cheese but is just very incompatible with something sweet!
So then I made the cream cheese again, this time altering the recipe to leave out the onion powder altogether and reducing the white vinegar by three quarters.
A small amount of white vinegar was still needed to create that cheese flavor so that it still tastes like a cream cheese frosting, and not just a frosting with some cashews thrown in!
And then we had it – the most perfect tasting frosting.
How To Make Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting
You will find full instructions and measurements in the recipe card at the bottom of the post. This is a summary of the process to go along with the process photos.
So for this recipe, you make the cream cheese from scratch. You don’t have to, if you have a readymade version that you want to use instead you can do it!
But if you’re doing it like we did, then you start off by making the vegan cream cheese.
You soak raw cashew nuts in hot water for an hour and then drain and add to a blender jug with some lemon juice, coconut cream, salt and a tiny bit (¼ tsp) of white vinegar. Blend until smooth.
This will make around 13-ounces of vegan cream cheese. You’re only going to use 8-ounces in the frosting.
Never fear though, I will show you how to add extra savory flavoring to the leftover cream cheese so that you’ll be spreading it on crackers and bread and bagels and loving it.
So once the cream cheese is made you’ll add 8-ounces (226g) of it – weigh it for accuracy – to the bowl of your stand mixer.
Add in some vegan butter and powdered sugar and vanilla extract and then starting on slow speed gradually increase speed until you have a beautifully smooth frosting.
And your cream cheese frosting is ready to use! Spread it on cakes, cupcakes or cookies!
Tips For The Best Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting
Sift the powdered sugar for this frosting. I don’t usually sift powdered sugar for frostings and usually leave it to my mixer to get rid of any lumps, but for this frosting it didn’t work.
I had small lumps of powdered sugar that I couldn’t get rid of. So sift the powdered sugar first.
Weigh out your ingredients for accuracy. Especially since you are not just using all the vegan cream cheese that you make in the frosting, you need to be very accurate with the amount that you do use.
However, you can be a little flexible on the amount of powdered sugar. If you want the frosting thicker, you can use more powdered sugar. However just be aware that…
It thickens up a lot in the fridge. This frosting does thicken up a lot in the fridge. To the point that you need to let it sit on the counter for a bit before it thins enough to be spreadable.
I found it to be perfect to place onto a cake while still quite runny, but then put the whole cake into the fridge for the frosting to harden and set. And then after that, if the cake is at room temperature it will be like what you see in these photos. Fairly soft.
But it is quite ideal for baked goods with a cream cheese frosting to be kept (covered) in the fridge.
If you do want it to be thicker at room temperature you can use more powdered sugar, but the issue is that you do dilute the cream cheese flavor a bit if the ingredient ratio leans more towards the sweetness of the powdered sugar.
You want it to have that signature cream cheese tang.
Use a brand of vegan butter that is more firm. Ideally if you can get a vegan stick butter, like Earth Balance buttery sticks, this will work great. Alternatively if you have a brand of vegan margarine that comes in a hard block then that will also work great.
If all you have access to is vegan butter in tubs, then if you have choices, choose the one that is most firm. If you don’t have choices, then don’t worry about it too much, it’ll be okay anyway!
Can you pipe it? It really depends on the texture you get. As I mentioned above, mine firmed up a lot in the fridge. So I reckon I could have piped it, but then whatever had the piped frosting on it would have had to stay in the fridge. Which is fine too.
What to do with the leftover 5-ounces of cream cheese? Oh yes, so glad you asked. Take the leftover cream cheese (which will be roughly 5-ounces) and add ¼ teaspoon distilled white vinegar and ¼ teaspoon onion powder and ⅛ teaspoon dried dill and stir it in. It will take it from a plain cream cheese to a flavor sensation cream cheese! It lasts about 5 days in the fridge so enjoy it spread on crackers or bagels or toast!
Storing and Freezing
Keep it stored in the fridge and consume within 5 days.
It’s freezer friendly up to 3 months. Let it thaw in the fridge and then whip it up again in your mixer before using.
Want Vegan Cakes For Your Frosting?
Well, if you were wondering about the delicious cake we have featured in these photos then I can’t wait to tell you! It’s our vegan carrot cake. And this frosting is definitely divine spread on top of carrot cake.
It would also be super good on our vegan carrot cake cupcakes.
A vegan red velvet cake or vegan red velvet cupcakes also work great with a cream cheese icing and I’m thinking it would be pretty great on our vegan banana cake and vegan pumpkin cake too.
Did you make this recipe? Be sure to leave a comment and rating below!
Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting
For the Vegan Cream Cheese:
- 1 ½ cups Raw Cashews (225g) soaked in hot water for 1 hour
- 2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
- ½ cup Coconut Cream (120ml) Canned, Full Fat, Unsweetened
- 1 tsp Salt
- ¼ tsp Distilled White Vinegar
For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 8 ounces Homemade Vegan Cream Cheese (226g)
- ¼ cup Vegan Butter (56g)
- 4 cups Powdered Sugar (480g)
- ½ tsp Vanilla Extract
- To make your vegan cream cheese, soak the raw cashews in hot water for 1 hour. Add the cashews to a bowl, pour boiling water from the kettle over it, cover with a cloth and leave to soak for 1 hour.
- Then drain the cashews and add to a blender jug with the lemon juice, coconut cream, salt and white vinegar. Blend. If you have a stick attachment for your blender then use this to push the mixture down onto the blades as you blend for easier blending. If you don’t have this attachment, then just be patient, and stop regularly and scrape down the sides, give it a stir and carry on until you have a smooth texture.
- Transfer the cream cheese from the blender to a storage container.
- Now you’re ready to make your cream cheese. Weigh out 8-ounces (226g) of the cream cheese and place it into the bowl of a stand mixer.
- Then add the vegan butter, sift in the powdered sugar and add the vanilla extract.
- Starting at slow speed gradually increase speed until the frosting is thick and smooth.
- Place the bowl of frosting in the fridge to firm up before using, or use it right away and then place the cake into the fridge for the frosting to firm up on top of the cake. The frosting is a little on the soft/runny side when first made but firms up a lot in the fridge. You can also add more powdered sugar if you want to, but this will effect the flavor balance.
- If you don’t want to make your own vegan cream cheese first, and have a store-bought brand that you like then you are free to use that instead (in the same quantity). It’s better not to let your mixer go to top speed if you’re using a store-bought brand as it can cause it to get too runny. But with the homemade cream cheese you can go at top speed without an issue.
- With the leftover cream cheese that is not needed for the frosting (you’ll have around 5-ounces leftover), add in ¼ tsp white vinegar, ¼ tsp onion powder and ⅛ tsp dried dill and stir it in and use this to spread on crackers or bagels or bread.
- You might be wondering why we can’t just make a batch of vegan cream cheese that is the perfect amount for this frosting and have nothing left over? It’s actually hard to make too little as it gets very hard to blend if you make too small a batch of something, so just make the full batch and enjoy the leftovers savory style!
- There is enough frosting here to frost a 3-layer 6-inch cake or a 2-layer 7-inch or 8-inch cake. For a larger cake you may want to increase the recipe or it might just be a thinner layer of frosting.
- The prep time does not include the time spent soaking the cashews or any time for the frosting to firm up in the fridge.
- The homemade cream cheese recipe is an adaptation from our recipe for vegan cream cheese. The cake featured in these photos is our vegan carrot cake.
This frosting is absolutely amazing! Although regular vegan buttercream is delicious, I’ve always missed that distinctive flavor of cream cheese frosting that I remember from childhood, but was skeptical it would be possible to replicate… until trying this recipe! I used Miyoko’s cashew butter and the flavor and consistency were perfect, both refrigerated and at room temp. My entire non-vegan extended family absolutely loved it (on Strawberry cake) and said it’s just as good if not better than the dairy version. Thank you so much for sharing this!
Alison Andrews says
Wonderful! So happy you enjoyed it. Thanks for the great review!
Hi there, how many cupcakes would this icing frost? I wanted to use it with your red velvet cupcake recipe xD
Also how much of the cream cheese if leftover?
Alison Andrews says
It will easily frost all 12 cupcakes from the red velvet cupcake recipe if you’re frosting generously. If you’re simply spreading on the frosting then it could go a lot further. There is around 5 ounces of cream cheese leftover, in the notes of the recipe card I explain how to use it.