Vegan Chocolate Frosting

Fudgy vegan chocolate frosting goes with any cake and can be whipped up in 5 minutes or less! You'll never need another frosting recipe after this.
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A hand spreading vegan chocolate frosting over a cake with an icing spatula.
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It’s said that the “icing on the cake” is an added bonus, but I’d argue that the vegan chocolate frosting on the cake is non-negotiable. What else could possibly add that same finishing touch of sweetness, locking in moisture, and finishing off each bite with a fudgy chocolate flavor? Store-bought frosting options can’t compare to homemade, but when it’s so quick and easy to start from scratch, you’ll never want to go back.

This incredible vegan chocolate buttercream frosting is a spinoff of my classic vegan buttercream frosting. Both are fluffy, silky smooth, and irresistible! If you can’t get enough frosting, you have to try this matcha buttercream frosting and this lemon buttercream frosting, too!

Vegan chocolate buttercream frosting smoothed out on a cake.

Ingredients And Substitutions

All you need are 5 basic ingredients to transform a ho-hum cake into a showstopping grand finale. It doesn’t take any fancy specialty items either!

Cocoa powder

Dutch processed cocoa powder has a richer, rounder chocolate flavor and darker color, while natural cocoa is lighter in color and has a slightly bitter, astringent edge. That said, as long as they’re unsweetened, both work beautifully here; it’s just a matter of personal preference and availability.

Wooden bowl of cocoa powder surrounded by cacao beans and dark chocolate.

Vegan Butter

With such a wide range of plant-based butters to choose from, it can be tough to know which is best. In this case, you want to go with something in stick or bar form, NOT in a tub. Butter in a tub is made to be more spreadable by adding extra water. That water will throw off the delicate ratios in our frosting. This is true for any baking recipe, too.

A block of vegan butter on parchment paper.

Powdered Sugar

Also known as confectioner’s sugar and 10x sugar, this granulated sweetener is ground to a fine, floury consistency. It instantly absorbs or melts into liquids without leaving a trace. In a pinch, you can make your own by grinding 1 cup of regular white sugar and 1 teaspoon of cornstarch together in your food processor or blender. Curious about sugar? Check out our guide on whether sugar is vegan.

Vanilla

Time to break out the good stuff! Since the frosting isn’t cooked, you’ll taste the full bouquet of flavors from your vanilla extract without losing anything to evaporation.

Vanilla extract bottle next to a small bowl of vanilla extract.

Plant Milk

Whether you prefer soy, almond, oat, hemp, cashew, or more, any non-dairy milk will do.

A glass measuring cup filled with non-dairy milk.

How To Make Vegan Chocolate Frosting

In 5 minutes or less, from start to finish, you can have luscious, velvety frosting, ready to spread, smear, and slather over anything that needs a little extra touch of sweetness.

Step 1: Start with room-temperature vegan butter so that it’s easier to blend. Place it in the bowl of your stand mixer with the wire whisk attachment installed and beat until soft and smooth. Gradually sift in half of the powdered sugar and half of the cocoa powder, mixing until thoroughly incorporated.

Step 2: Next, add 2 tablespoons of your preferred plant-based milk, along with vanilla extract, and the remaining sifted powdered sugar and cocoa powder to the mixture.

Vegan chocolate frosting in a mixing bowl being whipped with a handheld mixer.

Step 3: Once the frosting is fully blended, you may choose to incorporate an additional 1-2 tablespoons of milk until achieving your desired consistency—but use it sparingly! A little bit goes a long way.

vegan chocolate frosting in a bowl.

Tips For Making The Best Vegan Chocolate Frosting

While there is an art to making vegan buttercream chocolate frosting, I promise, it’s not as tricky as it may seem. Here’s what you need to know to ensure success:

  • No stand mixer? No problem! You can use a hand mixer instead, or in the worse case scenario, a food processor. Frosting made in a food processor won’t be as light or fluffy, but it will still be very tasty!
  • Add liquid sparingly. You can always add more, but you can’t add less. A single teaspoon of plant milk can make the difference between pipeable and runny.
  • Keep it cool. If it’s especially hot in your kitchen, store your mixing bowl and beater in the freezer before getting started, to prevent the frosting from melting.

How To Frost Like A Pro

Once you’ve got your frosting, you’re good to go! Remember, practice makes perfect, so don’t be discouraged if your first attempts aren’t flawless. Enjoy the process and have fun experimenting with different techniques. Here are some tips to help you achieve a beautifully frosted cake:

Crumb Coat: Apply a thin layer of frosting called a “crumb coat” around your whole cake, to seal in any loose crumbs. This helps create a smoother final layer. After applying the crumb coat, chill the cake in the refrigerator for about 15 to 30 minutes. This sets the crumb coat and makes it easier to apply the final layer.

A cake on a turntable with frosting being smoothed by an icing smoother.

Start from the Top: Begin frosting the top of the cake, spreading it evenly toward the edges. Once the top is covered, move on to the sides. Use a spatula to spread the frosting evenly over the sides of the cake. After applying the frosting, use a bench scraper or offset spatula to smooth the surface. You can dip the spatula in hot water and wipe it between passes for a smoother finish.

Decorate: Get creative with decorations. Use piping bags, spatulas, or other tools to create patterns, swirls, or other decorative elements. Don’t forget the sprinkles, edible glitter, and any fresh garnishes you’ve got!

Vegan chocolate frosting being pipped in a swirl on top of a cake.

Let It Set: Allow the frosted cake to set before slicing and serving. This is especially important for buttercream, as it will firm up a bit.

Serving Suggestions

Naturally, cakes and cupcakes are prime candidates for frosting application but don’t stop there. There are many more ways to enjoy this sweet staple!

  • Melted and used as hot fudge sauce. Top ice cream, crepes, and brownies with a drizzle of melted chocolate frosting for instant gratification.
  • Spread on toast. Sometimes referred to as “fairy toast,” this simple snack gets finished with a handful of sprinkles for a whimsical treat.
  • Fill fresh strawberries. Forget the fuss of dipping strawberries in tempered chocolate; simply stuff them with chocolate frosting instead! You get more chocolatey goodness in every bite, too.
  • Make cake truffles. Mash leftover cake crumbs with frosting and form it into balls. Roll in cocoa, coconut flakes, or cacao nibs, and voila, you’ve got waste-free chocolate truffles!

Frequently Asked Questions

How can you store chocolate vegan frosting?

Vegan buttercream frosting is ideal for making ahead of time. It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. When ready to use, let it come to room temperature then re-whip with your stand mixer or hand mixer until light and fluffy again.

How can you fix runny frosting?

If your frosting is too runny, don’t panic. Start by chilling it in the fridge for 30 minutes to see if it might thicken again when re-whipped. Failing that, add more softened vegan butter and powdered sugar to balance out the ratio of liquid to dry ingredients. It may take some tweaking but don’t give up!

The top of a cake with vegan chocolate frosting being smoothed with an icing smoother.
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Decadent Vegan Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Author: Liv Samson
5 from 4 votes
This perfect vegan chocolate buttercream seamlessly blends rich cocoa flavors into a velvety frosting. This luscious frosting achieves the ideal balance of sweetness and decadence, making it an irresistible companion for any vegan chocolate cake or cupcake.
A hand spreading vegan chocolate frosting over a cake with an icing spatula.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 16

Equipment

  • Handheld Mixer or Stand Mixer (can be whipped by hand, but an electric mixer will achieve better results)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup softened plant-based butter, Earth Balance buttery sticks recommended
  • cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2-4 tablespoons plant-based milk, coconut creates a creamier frosting

Instructions

  • In a medium to large mixing bowl, whip softened butter until fluffy.
  • Sift half of the powdered sugar and half of the cocoa powder into the whipped butter. Mix until fully combined.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of plant-based milk of your choice, vanilla extract, and the rest of the powdered sugar and cocoa powder (sifted) to the mixture.
  • After the frosting is fully mixed, optionally add 1-2 more tablespoons of milk until you reach your desired texture.

Notes

This recipe makes enough for 1 double-layer 8 inch cake or 24 cupcakes.
If using unsalted butter, add one ½ teaspoon of salt to bring out the flavors in the frosting. To avoid the frosting separating, make sure the plant-based milk is room temperature before adding it into the frosting mixture. For a stiffer frosting, add more powdered sugar.

Nutrition

Calories: 106kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 2g | Sodium: 90mg | Potassium: 58mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 0.2g | Calcium: 7mg | Iron: 1mg
Course — Dessert
Cuisine — American
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Recipe Rating




4 comments
  1. Andrea White says:

    5 stars
    Such a yummy frosting!

  2. 5 stars
    I could eat this entire batch of frosting myself right out of the bowl…it’s THAT good. Silky and incredibly delicious!

  3. 5 stars
    Love this frosting recipe! It’s perfectly decadent and easy to make with very little cleanup.

  4. 5 stars
    Easy and quick delicious frosting. No excuse to not frost that cake!!

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