This vegan cream cheese frosting doesn’t have any unusual ingredients (and no processed vegan cream cheese!), is maple sweetened, paleo and dairy-free!
I needed a dairy-free cream cheese frosting a while back and I couldn’t really find anything without processed vegan cream cheese, margarine and powdered sugar. I’m okay with powdered sugar (though I try to avoid it if possible!) but the other two? I’d rather pass.
So today’s vegan cream cheese frosting only uses “real” ingredients – maple syrup and coconut milk, yogurt, and oil!
You may be wondering if this really tastes just like regular cream cheese frosting and the answer is – no, it doesn’t. But given all the coconut ingredients in this, I’m guessing that was clear. :) For a less coconutty version, use regular Greek yogurt and refined coconut oil, which doesn’t have any coconut flavor.
The taste is similar to regular cream cheese frosting in that it’s tangy, but it’s lacking the obscene amount of sugar, which is fine by me! This was just sweet enough for our liking.
The texture is also kind of different once on the cake and refrigerated – then it’s more like a whipped cream cheese frosting. Despite the differences, it’s still an amazing sub, especially on goodies like carrot cake.
The cake pictured is the cake version of my grain-free healthier carrot cake muffins. I doubled the recipe and baked it in two 8″ pans for 17 minutes.
The texture was somehow different than when baking them as muffins, which seemed fluffier. Baking it up as a cake resulted in a more compact, velvety result. Both are awesome – just different!
This dairy-free gluten-free coconut layer cake from Flippin’ Delicious would also go really well with this frosting (and doesn’t it look amazing?!)
Make sure to use coconut yogurt or another type of dairy-free yogurt (preferably one that’s on the thick side, like Greek yogurt). There are a few different brands that offer coconut yogurt but you could also make your own.
Most recipes (like this thick, homemade yogurt involve incubating the yogurt 6-24 hours. If that sounds too fussy, I like the sound of this cheater version of homemade coconut milk yogurt.
This is like your typical soft cream cheese frosting in that it doesn’t pipe (or at least not like buttercream). This vegan cream cheese frosting is definitely more of a spread-it-on kind of recipe!
The frosting yielded about 1 1/2 to 1 2/3 cups, which was just enough for my two-layer cake. Note that it’s a somewhat thin layer of frosting (and that I put too little in the middle and too much on the top). If you want a little more, you can easily make 50% more or you could just double it and use any leftovers on one of these grain-free goodies!
Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting (paleo, dairy-free, naturally sweetened)
- Prep Time:
- Cook Time:
- Ready in:
- Yield: 1 1/2 – 1 2/3 cups frosting
- a 14-ounce (396-gram) full-fat can of coconut milk, chilled overnight1
- 1/4 cup (60 grams) coconut yogurt (make sure to use paleo / vegan yogurt or regular Greek yogurt for a non-dairy-free / vegan version)
- 1/4 cup (56 grams) coconut oil, melted
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- Remove the can of coconut milk from the refrigerator and without shaking it or turning it upside down, open it and scoop out the solidified, waxy layer of coconut cream at the top into a medium mixing bowl. Do not use any bits that are slightly watery! I got 200 grams of coconut cream from my can. Use the remaining coconut water in a smoothie.
- Use an electric hand mixer or a stand mixer (fitted with the whisk attachment) to beat the cream on medium until light, fluffy and soft peaks form.
- Add the yogurt, coconut oil, vanilla, salt, and 3 tablespoons of maple syrup. Beat for about 10 seconds and add more maple syrup, if desired. The frosting will be quite thin now but firms up somewhat after chilling.
- Chill for about 4 hours. The frosting will still be rather soft but after frosting your cake or cupcakes, a little of the moisture will be sucked up and will appear as it does in the pictures. Refrigerate anything frosted with this frosting.
- Refrigerate any leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
- Place the unshaken can of coconut milk in the refrigerator overnight or for at least 6 hours to allow the cream to separate from the water. If you've never made whipped coconut cream before, I highly recommend reading this post on coconut whipped cream from Gimme Some Oven.
- Piping isn't possible with this recipe as it's too soft.
69 comments on “Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting (paleo, naturally sweetened)” — Add one!
Yup this recipe worked really good for me and was a crowd hit! I frosted a lemon coconut cake w it. I wish I had doubled the recipe though, it is like a moose, I wanted a bigger proportion of this stuff in my cake layer. Tips: Once frosted I kept my cake cold in the fridge until serving bc I was afraid it would start to melt off. And I sped up my coconut milk chill time: what I did was I had cold water already in the fridge, so I put the can in a bowl with the very cold water for a couple hours, meanwhile put a glass bowl to chill in freezer, then added coconut cream to the very cold bowl and kept that the fridge for another hour or so, and stirred every now and then with a spatula to distribute the coldness from the glass. I think I chilled my coconut milk sufficiently in about 4/5 hrs since I forgot to do overnight.
I’m so glad that it was a hit! A lemon coconut cake sounds so lovely. :) Thanks for sharing your tips! And yes, it definitely needs to stay refrigerated. Thanks a bunch for your comment!
Can I replace the maple syrup with honey? And is there a replacement for the yogurt?
I haven’t tried it but it can probably be used in the same amount (or even a little less). The issue may be that the frosting will taste very much like honey. The maple is much more subtle. Unfortunately there’s no sub for the yogurt. Sorry about that!
What is the nutritional information for your vegan cream cheese frosting?
I’m so very sorry for just now seeing your question! It was in spam for some odd reason. I don’t have that info but you could use this recipe analyzer for the nutritional profile. :) I’m currently looking into a way to be able to share the nutritional info in my posts. Sorry for the inconvenience!
Wow! I just made this and it is the first time that I’ve actually succeeded in finding and making a creamy df frosting. It was like watching magic happen when the liquids became creamy. Thank you! You are a magician!
Yay! I’m really glad that it worked out well for you. :) Thanks for your feedback!
would it be possible to just buy coconut cream and whip it, or is refrigerating the coconut milk to get the cream preferable? just curious! im excited to try this one out :)
You can just get coconut cream! Hope you’ll enjoy it. :) I’d love to hear how it comes out!
Hey there, I so my frosting’s been in the fridge for about an hour and it’s reallly thick, like almost solid. (I think it was the coconut cream :( )Any ideas for how to thin it out?
Hmm. Coconut cream shouldn’t have caused that! Are you sure it was coconut cream and not creamed coconut (also known as coconut butter)? Because that could have made it solid. If you leave it for a bit at room temperature, does it soften enough to spread on the cake? Then you could serve it at room temp.
so yummy, thank you!
You’re welcome! Thanks for your comment. :)
Thank you so much for this receipe! Isn’t Greek Yoghurt non-vegan though? Just wondering, thank you! Keep up the great job!
Thanks! And yes. The recipe calls for “coconut yogurt (or regular Greek yogurt for a non-dairy-free / vegan version).”
Just made this. Perfect. I was looking for a vegan cream cheese type frosting made without powdered sugar- which was mainly all I could find. I didn’t have yogurt on hand, so I substituted by making my own almond milk buttermilk (almond milk + fresh lemon juice). Also I didn’t have maple syrup so I sub’d for half molasses and honey. Turned out lightly sweetened and super light…and minor fluff…which I expected right away. It’s in the fridge cooling and I know this will be heaven on the vegan pumpkin cinnamon rolls I made to go with this. This is why I’m a happy fat vegan. Thanks for this recipe!!
Pumpkin cinnamon rolls?! Yum. I’m so happy that it came out well! I’m surprised that it worked out with buttermilk in place of yogurt. I would have thought that it’d come out runny. And a happy fat vegan sounds much better than an unhappy thin vegan. :D Thanks for your feedback and sorry for my slow reply!
Loved it thank you. My daughter is cow dairy and cane sugar free..so I made vegan carrot cake with agave and frosted with this. I added some lemon zest to the icing and some on top for decor. Yummy.
I love the idea of adding lemon zest! Thanks for the tip. I’ll have to try that myself! I’m happy you enjoyed the frosting. Thanks for your comment. :)
Looking forward to trying this frosting on the weekend for a birthday cake! How many ml does the coconut cream convert to? I have a 400ml can, is that roughly the same?
It is the same! Hope you’ll enjoy it. :)
I tried this yesterday and it was good. Thank you for the recipe!
I’m happy you liked it! Thanks for your comment. :)
Is the whisk attachment a deal-breaker?
My mixmaster doesn’t have that
Nope. Just the regular beaters work fine. :)
I made this and although I haven’t frosted my carrot cake yet, I know it’s going to be great! After just under four hours in the fridge it hasn’t thickened yet but I am just dying to frost this cake! Thank you so much. (I didn’t like the ingredient list in the SO brand of coconut yogurt so I used plain cashew yogurt and it seems to have been a great substitute. I also added a bit of finely chopped ginger root copied from another recipe…oh my. Very good. You should try that. Just a little bit…) Thank you for a great recipe!
The chopped ginger sounds like a great addition! I’ll have to try that. I hope you enjoyed the frosting. :) Thanks a bunch for your comment and sorry for my slow reply (Christmas chaos got in the way!).
Can honey be used in place of maple syrup? If so, same amount?
I haven’t tried it but it can probably be used in the same amount (or even a little less). The issue may be that the frosting will taste very much like honey. The maple is much more subtle.
I really dislike the taste of coconut, Does this cream cheese taste a lot like coconut? I have no idea why but I’ve always felt nauseous when I taste coconut :(
The only non-coconut ingredients in this are a little maple syrup and vanilla so I’d have to recommend finding a different recipe. Sorry about that. :(
Ah ok darn. Was hoping it would be like the other diary free recipes I’ve seen that have coconut milk that don’t taste overwhelmingly like coconut. Oh well thanks anyways!
I just made this frosting recipe for a layer cake for my husband’s birthday. I doubled the healthier carrot cake muffin recipe and baked in two 9 inch rounds for 25 minutes each.
I used canned coconut cream from Trader Joe’s that did not have to be chilled in the refrigerator. It is only the thick cream, no water, and used So Delicious plain coconut yogurt. The coconut Oil did not congeal when added to the whipped coconut cream. The frosting thickened up nicely in the refrigerator, and I did not have any trouble spreading it between the layers and all around the outside of the cooled cake. My family had no idea it was not my regular cream cheese frosting. It tasted delicious!
Wow! That’s really great that they didn’t know it wasn’t regular cream cheese frosting. And thanks for the tip on TJ’s coconut cream. I’ve been wanting to try that! Thanks a bunch for your feedback. :) I hope your husband had a wonderful birthday!
Just wondering how it holds up…. Does it have to be kept super cold? I want to make it for a cake and the party is at a park… In California… In the summer…. I would keep it in a cooler but does it need more than that?
I’d be hesitant to do that as I’m afraid it might melt. It really needs to be refrigerated. Sorry about that!
Hi- Looking forward to trying this for my daughter’s First smash cake. Since the coconut milk is cold, won’t that make the melted coconut oil congeal when added?
Hello! I’ve never had that issue. After whipping the coconut cream, it’s not all that cold and the melted coconut oil isn’t cold, either, so it works out. I hope you’ll all enjoy it. :)
Think this will work for fruit pizza?
Using just the frosting as the topping? I’m not so sure about that. When you put this frosting on a cake, the cake absorbs a small amount of the liquid in the frosting and I’d be worried about making the fruit pizza base soggy. What you could do is refrigerate the frosting overnight before putting it on the cookie base. I haven’t tried it but I think it could work. I hope you’ll enjoy it if you try it out!
I can’t find your recipe for the Carrot Cake. Is it basically the same as the muffin recipe? The link for the Grain-Free Healthier Carrot Cake just takes me to the muffin recipe.
It’s the same recipe as the muffins but to make it a cake, you use the baking time listed in the paragraph after the second picture (in this post). Sorry if that wasn’t clear! I hope you’ll like it. :)
Thanks for the reply. I thought that was how the recipe would work but needed to make sure.
No problem! I hope you’ll enjoy it. :)
Mine didn’t quite come together but I’m going to give it another try. My go to Thai coconut milk has been hit or miss lately.
Oh no! What do you mean didn’t come together? Did the coconut milk not whip up after refrigerating? I’ve never had an issue with Rewe Beste Wahl or Del Monte coconut milk, which you can find at Kaufland. The only thing that didn’t work for me was when I tried to whip it, thinking that I didn’t need to refrigerate it since it’s quite cold in my kitchen and when you open a can, it’s already separated. Even if it looks separated, it still needs refrigerating (not that you didn’t refrigerate yours!) I hope the second time works out because it’s really yummy. :)
It was still yummy!! I’ve been buying the Real Thai brand at REWE and sometimes it separates and sometimes it doesn’t after a night in the fridge. This came out like yogurt so it wouldn’t stay put but I just served the cake in a bowl and spooned this along side and it was great.
Did you chill it for four hours first? And it was still yogurt-y? What a bummer! I’m sorry it didn’t set up for you. Maybe you could try Rewe Beste Wahl next time. I’ve tried a lot of coconut brands over here and a lot of them have this off taste when you first open the can but that one is lovely. :)
Thank you so much for making a vegan frosting recipe but actually using real ingredients! I love all the way this frosting sounds and I love that light whipped texture. I have never been a big fan of super sweet frosting so I’m all about this tang!
Aww, your comment totally made my day! Thank you. :)
This vegan cream cheese frosting looks so creamy and delicious. Perfect for frosting carrot cake! Nice pics too!
Thanks so much, Renee! And so sorry I just now found this comment in the spam folder. :(
You are brilliant! I was actually looking for a healthy frosting yesterday and didn’t come across anything that looked half as good as this.
Thanks so much! I had a feeling you might appreciate this one. :)
I’m pretty sure I would eat a bowl of that frosting with a spoon all by it’s beautiful self.
Why the heck not? ;)
Vegan or not, it just sounds like a very delicious frosting to me! Yum.
Thanks so much, Lana!
Forget putting it on a cake, I could eat this frosting with a big ol’ spoon!
That’s the spirit! :D
You’ve become one of my go-to blog for vegan recipes Erin! This looks delicious!
Hehe. Then I guess I’d better make some more vegan recipes! ;)
I’m loving your vegan cream cheese frosting, girl! xo
Thanks, Stacy! :)
I don’t live a vegan lifestyle, but I do have a slight allergy to lactose. This is a great alternative to a dairy induced and sweet bomb type cream cheese frosting. So creative!
Thanks, Erin! And I’m with you! I’m not vegan and don’t have any dietary issues but I still loved it. :)
This frosting looks delicious! And it’s Vegan!