Healthy Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting

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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:

  1. Raw cashews
  2. Coconut cream
  3. Good-quality maple syrup
  4. Vanilla extract
  5. Lemon juice
  6. Apple cider vinegar
  7. Coconut oil
  8. Salt

Frosting being poured into storage container

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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!

Cream cheese frosting after it's set in bowl

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, however 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. 

Healthy Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting on knife

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 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. 

Cream Cheese Frosting spread on top of the cake

Equipment needed for this dairy-free cream cheese frosting

The equipment that’s needed to make this icing are 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?

Cream cheese frosting spread all over the cake

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?

Frosting on cake being shown from above with a slice cut out of the cake

Other plant-based how-to’s you’ll love:

  1. How To Make Coconut Whipped Cream
  2. How to Use Aquafaba in Your Cooking (+2 Recipes)
  3. How To Make a Flax Egg
  4. How to Make Vegan Béchamel Sauce (Two Ways)
  5. Simple Creamy Vegan White Sauce

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.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup (85g) raw cashews
  • 2/3 cup (140g) coconut cream*
  • ¼ cup good-quality maple syrup
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted or softened (see above tips for more info)
  • ¼ – ⅓ tsp salt*

Instructions

  1. Soak the cashews in boiling water for 20 minutes.
  2. Drain the cashews well and place them in the blender along with the other ingredients.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. The cream cheese frosting is now ready for spreading!
  6. It can be stored in the fridge for 5-7 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.
  7. See ideas above for cake recipes to smear this frosting onto.

Notes

* My coconut cream is thick and creamy straight from the can. It has a thickening agent in it so it’s super easy to scoop straight out of the can.

* Adjust the salt to taste. I like mine a little on the saltier side.

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