Vegan Vanilla Frosting

mo cupcakesVegan frosting? Yes, it does exist. And this version is delicious.

Okay, so most folks who are vegan are probably more health-conscious than I am and might be appalled to see one full cup of vegetable shortening in this recipe, but trust me, it’s the only way to go. I got this recipe from my cousin Barb, who has a friend whose children have various food allergies, including dairy and egg allergies. The friend actually got this recipe from her grandmother, who called it something like “Depression frosting,” likely because during the Depression dairy and eggs were scarce. It remind me a great deal of my grandma Zella’s frosting, which includes egg whites.

Just a caveat: you really do need to take the full 10 minutes to whip this frosting, or the ingredients won’t come together properly. You could also certainly cut the recipe in half for a smaller yield; this frosted 36 cupcakes very generously, with just a bit left over.


  • 1 cup shortening
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 8 cups powdered sugar


In a mixing bowl, combine shortening, 1 teaspoon vanilla, water, and 4 cups powdered sugar. Mix on low speed, then increase to medium-high and beat for 10 minutes, until smooth. Add remaining powdered sugar and additional teaspoons of vanilla extract, beating until smooth.

Frost cupcakes as desired; you can add food coloring for tint if you like, once frosting is fully mixed.


Vanilla Buttercream






Vanilla buttercream is the little black dress of the baking world.  It goes with everything, from a chocolate birthday cake to a strawberry-filled almond wedding cake.  You cannot go wrong with this smooth, mellow, just-sweet-enough frosting.


  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3 to 3 ¼ cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons milk


Place butter in a mixing bowl and beat for a few minutes using the paddle attachment.

Add 3 cups powdered sugar.  With your mixer on low, incorporate the powdered sugar into the butter.  (Hint: I find that placing a kitchen towel over the mixer during this stage prevents a powdered sugar blizzard.)

Increase speed and add 1 tablespoon vanilla, salt, and milk.

Beat for 3 minutes, then taste.  If you’d like a stronger vanilla flavor, add the second tablespoon of vanilla, along with the additional ¼ cup of powdered sugar.  Beat until combined.

For thinner buttercream, add additional milk, one tablespoon at a time, until you reach the desired consistency.