As stated below I have re-tested this recipe and updated the recipe to reflect those changes. I created a new post called healthier vegan “buttercream” frosting with updated pictures that reflect the updated recipe.
Vegan Cashew Frosting!!! Say WHHHAAAT???!!! Is what all of you non vegan, non dairy free, buttercream frosting loving people are thinking right now. And then there are the vegan and dairy free people who are doing a little dance of joy!
To all you non vegan and non dairy free people stick around for a minute, allow me to explain. Yes, this recipe is for you too!
Since making my Gluten Free Green Bean Casserole that also happened to be vegan and used soaked cashews to make a delicious dairy free sauce that dreams are made of. I couldn’t wait to experiment with more recipes that use soaked cashews. I’m glad that I did because this Vegan Cashew Frosting is like blow your mind good!
Okay, let’s be clear Vegan Cashew Frosting is not going to taste or have the exact same texture as buttercream or cream cheese frosting. Don’t get me wrong it’s reeeeaaaallll good but it’s just gonna be like your typical bakery’s frosting. You know what, that’s okay because we are here to try new things and expand our taste buds all while eating a little bit healthier. High five!!
Vegan Cashew Frosting is rich and creamy in texture with almost a fluffy feel on your tongue that sort of melts in your mouth. The taste is perfectly sweet with hints of vanilla and a little tang from some lemon juice to round it out. It spreads nicely on cakes, cupcakes, sweet breads, cookies. It would even work great for piping onto desserts, if you’re all talented and fancy like that. Versatile vegan frosting FTW!!! The only downfall to the frosting is that it tends to dry out easily so it is best frosted soon before serving.
My favorite part about this Vegan Cashew Frosting is that it is kept refined sugar free by using honey to sweeten it!!! Okay, I know technically honey isn’t vegan BUT never fear you could easily sub maple syrup – which may make the frosting a little darker in color – or agave nectar. Either way we are avoiding all of that sickeningly sweet powdered sugar that is used in traditional frosting. Yes, this is a dessert, it is high in fats so it should be consumed in moderation. BUT as far as frosting goes it is actually on the healthier side because of those cashews that lend healthy fats and protein that will help to slow the absorption of sugar. Plus there is that magical, wonderful good for you coconut oil in the frosting that helps to give it that fluffy texture. A frosting that’s healthier for you AND that tastes good!!!! These are the kinds of recipes that I live for!
I’ve got more good news for you: Vegan Cashew Frosting is pretty darn easy to make!!! The cashews soaked overnight is the only thing that requires planning. After that it’s all a piece of cake! Ha! Get it, we are talking about frosting and I just said cake! Cheesiness alert! Anyways, all you do is blend your soaked cashews in a high speed blender, or a food processor with the coconut oil, salt, honey/maple syrup, lemon juice and a tiny bit of water until it’s smooth. Then pour it in a bowl and pop it into the freezer to chill for a while then you whip it up with a mixer until it’s fluffy. Repeat the chill and whip one or two more times until it’s extra fluffy! That technique of whipping up the frosting is what takes it from kinda runny, glaze-like consistency to a frosting that holds it’s shape. If this method seems like a lot of work to you, trust me it’s well worth the effort. Also you can make the frosting days in advance!
Today I stuck with a basic vanilla frosting but I have dreams about peppermint frosting, or bourbon scented frosting, or cinnamon frosting, or maybe chocolate frosting! The flavor possibilities are endless! I have visions of bowls and bowls of Vegan Cashew Frosting in your kitchen!
P.S. I have a dessert recipe coming next week that uses this incredible Vegan Cashew Frosting! Be ready with your frosting because I know you won’t want to miss out! Can’t wait!!!
UPDATE 11/7/2017: I have found a few ways to improve this recipe for a creamier, more spreadable frosting. I found that adding some full fat coconut milk helps the frosting to be smoother and creamier. With the added liquid I could use my medium powered speed blender for a smoother texture, rather than my food processor. I also enjoy the taste with more lemon juice, resembles more of a “buttercream” frosting. I have updated the recipe below to reflect these changes.
UPDATE 12/18/2017: Since updating the recipe below I have created a new post healthier vegan “buttercream” frosting. The directions are mostly the same but the pictures in the new post reflect the updated recipe. You may find this helpful when making the recipe.
- 1 cup raw cashews, soaked in water for 6 to 8 hours (or in very hot water for at least 1 hour)
- Scant ½ cup coconut oil, melted
- ½ cup full fat coconut milk or coconut cream (melted if solid)
- ¼ cup honey (or sub maple syrup or agave nectar for vegans)
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1 large lemon)
- Drain the soaked cashews from their water.
- Add all ingredients to the bowl of a high powered blender. Blend until smooth. Scrape sides as needed to make sure everything is well incorporated. Taste test and adjust as needed: adding more honey/maple syrup for sweetness or more lemon juice for tang, or more vanilla for flavor.
- Transfer the frosting to a large mixing bowl. Cover and place it in the freezer for 30 minutes. Remove and use a stand mixer or hand mixer to whip until thick, about two minutes. Cover and place back in the freezer for 10 minutes and then whip again for 3 minutes, or until thick and fluffy. Repeat this process until the frosting is fluffy in texture an clings to the whisk - I whipped it a total of 3 to 4 times.
- Once whipped you can allow it to soften at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes before you decorate your cake, cookies, cupcakes etc by placing the frosting in a piping bag or spreading it on with a knife. The frosting holds it's shape nicely, however, I haven't tried any fancy decorating using this frosting.
- Store the frosting in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 7 days. Or up to 6 months in the freezer.
Prep time does not include time required to soak the cashews or chill the frosting in the fridge.
Recipe and technique adapted from Yummy Beet.