The Best Vanilla Frosting Recipe Without Butter

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This Vanilla Frosting recipe is made without any butter or milk but pipes equally well.

The secret to making this butterless frosting thick and delightfully tasty is adding cream cheese instead.

Once done, you can use it to frost your cupcakes, cakes or any other sweet delights you might think of.

A glass bowl of vanilla frosting next to a full piping bag and a rack of cupcakes in the background

The best vanilla frosting recipe without butter

Most traditional vanilla frosting recipes rely on butter for structure and a depth of flavor.

However, if you aren’t particularly fond of butter then you’ll probably want to use something else as a thickener.

And the best alternative to butter in this case is cream cheese.

Cream cheese has a thick enough consistency to make the icing pipe well without overpowering its flavor.

The key here is letting the cream cheese warm up for 20 minutes at room temperature before whipping it up.

This allows it to blend with the rest of the ingredients more easily without losing its structure.

Ingredients for the butterless vanilla frosting

Apart from cream cheese, you’ll also need a few other ingredients to whip a batch of this delightful frosting.

Here’s all of the ingredients you’ll need to make this recipe:

  • Cream cheese – acts as a thickener and helps build structure. Use cream cheese that’s softened up for no more than 30 minutes at room temperature.
  • Heavy whipping cream – the heavy cream must have a fat content of at least 35% so it can whisk well.
  • Powdered sugar – will lend the frosting some sweetness and give it an airy texture.
  • Vanilla extract – use pure vanilla extract for the best flavor.

Since this frosting works so well on cupcakes, I’ve included the combo in my list of recipe ideas for butter-free cupcakes which you should probably check out.

ingredients for a vanilla frosting without butter

How to make it

Check out the recipe card at the end of this article for detailed, step-by-step instructions.

Before you start, it’s a good idea to leave your whipping cream, mixing bowl, and whisk attachment for 15 minutes in the fridge.

This will make whipping the heavy cream much easier and yield better results.

  1. Whip the heavy cream with a hand mixer on high until it reaches a fluffy consistency.

    a glass bowl with whipped fluffy heavy cream

  2. Sift the powdered sugar in a small bowl.
  3. Transfer the powdered sugar and cream cheese in another bowl and fold them with a spatula.
  4. Beat the cream cheese mixture with the mixer until it reaches a uniform consistency.

    A bowl of beat cream cheese and powdered sugar showing the uniform consistency it should reach

  5. Add the vanilla extract and keep mixing until it’s fully incorporated.
  6. Fold the heavy cream into the cream cheese mixture and mix until the frosting has a uniform consistency.

    a glass bowl of beat cream cheese with added whipped heavy cream

    This should be done relatively slowly.

    folding the heavy cream into the beat cream cheese with a spatula in a glass bowl

    And here’s what the end consistency looks like:

    a bowl of well mixed heavy whipped cream and beat cream cheese with a good consistency

  7. Let the frosting cool in the fridge for at least 40 minutes.
  8. Pipe the frosting on vanilla cupcakes or refrigerate for later use.

And this is what the frosting should like after it’s cooled in the fridge:

showing the final result for the butterless vanilla frosting in a glass bowl

Tips for the best vanilla frosting

  • Always use cold heavy cream when you’re making vanilla frosting. Warm cream is harder to whip and, when whipped, sticks to the whisk attachment.
  • Don’t let the cream cheese for more than 30 minutes out of the refrigerator. If you leave cream cheese for more than half an hour at room temperature it will lose its structure.
  • Avoid using heavy whipping cream with less than 35% fat content. Low fat or light whipping cream is harder to whip.
  • Make sure you let the frosting rest for at least 40 to 50 minutes in the refrigerator before piping. If you pipe it before that, the frosting will have a runnier texture.
  • Leave your mixing bowl and whisk attachment in the fridge for 15 minutes. This will yield the best results when whipping the heavy cream.

a rack of cupcakes with fluffy vanilla frosting on top

Storage

The best thing about this vanilla frosting is that you can pretty much leave it in the fridge for a week and it will still be perfect for use.

This allows me to make it ahead of time and use it another day when I’m making my cupcakes or cake.

Just make sure to cover the frosting before you refrigerate it.

the vanilla frosting without butter piped onto cupcakes with rainbow sprinkles on top

For more dessert recipe ideas:

Try my 10-Minute Eggless Brownies recipe.

Or check out my Protein Powder Pancakes with banana frosting and blueberry jam.

Or check my round up post on Sour Cherry Desserts!

a glass bowl of fluffy vanilla frosting without butter in front of a rack with cupcakes
5 from 1 vote

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The Best Vanilla Frosting Recipe Without Butter

This vanilla frosting is made without using any butter and I love whipping a batch whenever I'm making cupcakes, cakes or soft sugar cookies. It's extremely easy to make and has a great, airy texture.
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooling or acclimating ingredients: 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
by: Aya
Servings: 12
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Whip the heavy cream with a hand mixer on high until it reaches a fluffy consistency. Make sure you're using cold heavy cream, otherwise it will be harder to whip up.
  • Sift the powdered sugar in a small bowl.
  • Transfer the powdered sugar and cream cheese to another bowl and fold them with a spatula.
  • Beat the cream cheese mixture with the mixer until it reaches a uniform consistency.
  • Add the vanilla extract and keep mixing until it's fully incorporated.
  • Fold the heavy cream into the cream cheese mixture and mix until the frosting has a uniform consistency.
  • Let the frosting cool in the fridge for at least 40 minutes. If you use it before that, the frosting will have a runnier consistency.
  • Pipe the frosting on vanilla cupcakes, cakes, soft cookies, or refrigerate for later use.

Video

Notes

  • It's a good idea to sift after you've weighed the powdered sugar.
  • Remember to fold the cream cheese and powdered sugar before whipping them with the mixer. If you beat them straight with your mixer, they may become frothy.
  • The cream cheese should NOT rest at room temperature for more than 30 mins!
  • Make sure the heavy cream is AT LEAST 35% fat or it does not whisk well.
  • Real vanilla extract will probably yield an even better taste than Bourbon Vanilla extract.
5 from 1 vote

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Nutrition

Calories: 124kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 26mg | Sodium: 34mg | Potassium: 27mg | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 346IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 19mg | Iron: 0.03mg

I do my best to provide you with the nutritional information for recipes but I'm not a certified nutritionist. The nutritional information provided should only be treated as an estimate since it will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

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The Best Vanilla Frosting Recipe Without Butter

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