This chocolate cream cheese frosting is dairy-free, vegan and so creamy and rich that you won’t miss the dairy! It has dark chocolate flavor from cocoa powder and just four more ingredients. The frosting is the perfect consistency for piping onto cakes and cupcakes.
Vegan cream cheese – Kite Hill Vegan Cream Cheese Alternative (almond base) and Violife Just Like Cream Cheese (coconut oil base) are both good options. They have good flavor and texture for this recipe but are little softer than dairy cream cheese when not refrigerated. The cocoa powder in the recipe firms it up nicely. I do not recommend Miyoko’s or Daiya vegan cream cheese. They make the frosting too soft.
Vegan butter – Flavor-wise, the best vegan butter sub is Miyoko’s Cultured Vegan Butter which comes in unsalted version. Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks also work well but the unsalted version is not easy to find. So if you use a salted butter sub, expect your frosting to have a hint more salty flavor. This is not necessarily a bad thing! Salt with sweet chocolate is a fantastic flavor combo.
When testing this recipe I found that, at room temperature, the butter was still too stiff to beat with the cream cheese and the mixture was very lumpy. Heating the butter just enough to melt it makes it combine with the cream cheese more smoothly. Heat it in the microwave in short bursts of 5-7 seconds, stirring after each burst. The goal is to get it melted but NOT hot. So if there are some small un-melted chunks, stir, and the residual heat should melt them,
Cocoa Powder – Ghirardelli used to be my go-to, but their products now contain a wheat warning. Hershey’s cocoa powder is gluten-free and easy to find at your local market. I personally prefer an organic cacao powder but I encourage you to use whichever unsweetened cocoa powder you have!
Vanilla extract in chocolate frosting? Yes! It is a great flavor enhancer and is perfect with chocolate.
Cupcakes and Cakes
So yes, this frosting is vegan but I slather it on non-vegan, gluten-free cakes and cupcakes. Why? I am mostly dairy-free (but not vegan) and try to avoid dairy whenever possible, but I do eat eggs. Removing eggs from gluten-free cakes and cupcakes is a tall order. Eggs provide lightness, moisture and help keep gluten-free baked goods from crumbling. So, most of my cakes and cupcakes are gluten-free and dairy-free but contain eggs.
Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting (Vegan)
- 1/2 c vegan cream cheese* room temp
- 2 Tbsp vegan butter Miyoko's or Earth Balance
- 2 c powdered sugar, sifted
- 2/3 c unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Place the vegan butter in a small microwave-safe bowl and heat for 10 seconds. Stir. If the residual heat doesn’t melt it, heat another 7 seconds and stir. The goal is to get it melted but not hot. It will better combine with the cream cheese without forming lumps.
- Place the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl. Beat on medium-high until creamy and combined.
- Add half of the powdered sugar and half of the cocoa powder. Mix on low speed for about 10 seconds to get the powders mostly incorporated.
- Add the remaining sugar and cocoa. Mix on low speed for 10-15 seconds.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the vanilla and mix until it is smooth. It should not need more than 10-15 seconds. Overmixing will cause air pockets to form and make the frosting to be runny.
- Due to the warmth of the melted butter the frosting will be a little bit on the softer side when first mixed up. Give it about 45 minutes to firm up. It fit is still too soft, beat in 1/4 cup powdered sugar and two tablespoons cocoa powder.
- This frosting should go no more than 8 hours without refrigeration.