What is Vegan Icing?

C. K. Lanz

Vegan icing is any icing that is prepared with substitute ingredients in conformance with vegan dietary requirements. Icing that is suitable for vegan consumption must be made without any ingredients derived from animals as vegans do not consume any animal products including meat, seafood, eggs, cheese, milk, honey and sugar whitened with bone char or charred animal bones. Any difference in taste between vegan and non-vegan icing is often difficult to detect and ingredient substitution is rarely a complex process.

A cake with vegan icing.
A cake with vegan icing.

Almost any non-vegan icing can easily be made vegan. Buttercream frosting is a popular and sweet icing for cupcakes and cakes because it is stiff and holds its shape. A vegan buttercream icing is typically made with shortening, soy margarine, powdered sugar, soy milk or soy creamer and a flavoring such as vanilla extract. Once the ingredients are well blended, vegan buttercream can be piped just like the non-vegan version.

Vegan icing can be made with tofu.
Vegan icing can be made with tofu.

Cream cheese frosting is a richer variant of buttercream that can also be made vegan. Cream cheese frosting is creamy and best used to decorate a cake with mild flavor. Vegan cream cheese frosting is usually prepared with a vegan cream cheese product, soy margarine, powdered sugar, lemon juice and a flavored extract like vanilla or maple. Like vegan buttercream, the ingredients of vegan cream cheese frosting are simply blended together. This vegan icing is often used to frost carrot cake.

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A vegan chocolate ganache might use soy milk and margarine, and vegan chocolate.
A vegan chocolate ganache might use soy milk and margarine, and vegan chocolate.

Another popular icing is ganache that is commonly used as a glaze or a filling for cakes, fudge and pastries. Non-vegan ganache is made with cream. A vegan version substitutes soy or rice milk and includes soy margarine and vegan chocolate. Dark chocolate is often vegan and can make a good substitute, too. Ganache is often prepared on the stove in a sauce pan or a double broiler.

Peanut butter is a popular vegan icing for brownies and cupcakes.
Peanut butter is a popular vegan icing for brownies and cupcakes.

Peanut butter frosting is a popular topping for brownies or chocolate cupcakes and cake. A vegan baker can use soy or rice milk instead of the dairy version and blend it with creamy peanut butter, soy margarine, vanilla extract and powdered sugar. The consistency can be altered by adding more or less soy or rice milk.

For vegans who are concerned about reducing sugar and fat consumption, vegan icing can be prepared with tofu as a base instead of soy margarine or shortening. By using tofu, it is possible to reduce the added powdered sugar to only a few tablespoons. The tofu and sugar once blended with lemon juice and vanilla extract can be colored with food coloring or flavored with an extract like orange or lemon.

Soy milk is often used in vegan icing.
Soy milk is often used in vegan icing.

Discussion Comments

jonrss

There is a little bakery close to my house that makes incredible vegan cupcakes. I don't know what they put in them but if they did not tell you they were vegan you would not know.

I am saying this as a person who is not vegan and tends to find vegan imitations of regular foods to be borderline inedible. So there is no vegan bias here. They are just that good.

summing

Vegan chocolate icing is usually better than vegan vanilla icing because the chocolate is a stronger flavor and it does a better job of masking the lack of dairy.

I have a great recipe for a vegan dark chocolate icing that tastes great on everything, even things you would not associate with chocolate icing.

chivebasil

Does anyone have a recipe for a really good vegan icing? I have tried to make it myself a few times and the results have always been disappointing. I have even had it at a few vegan centric bakeries and it is not much better.

I want to believe that it is possible to make a really good vegan icing, even one that rivals regular icing. But I haven't had it yet

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