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What does a vanilla frosting recipe without butter taste like?

This easy butter FREE powdered sugar frosting is soft but stiffens up nicely making it ideal for topping cupcakes, cakes, soft sugar cookies or brownies. It’s created without butter, so it’s dairy-free or vegan!

Note* There are TWO versions of this frosting recipe. Note the notes at the bottom of the recipe card!

cookies and cupcakes frosted in a powdered sugar frosting.

Homemade frostings are quite simple to create! Most recipes are made with sugar, butter, milk (or cream) and vanilla extract.

This dish is created without butter and is also dairy-free!

We wish to utilize dairy-free milk, water, cream, or juice to accomplish this.

This type of icing is known as a “quick frosting” because it takes minimal time to whip up. I prefer almond extract over vanilla extract for flavoring since it has a distinct taste that is really nice!

To make your frosting dairy-free, use the following liquids for the dairy:

  • Any nut milk
  • Juice that has been freshly squeezed (orange juice, lemon juice or lime juice)
  • Alcohols (vodka, Kahlua, whiskey, bourbon, champagne, etc) (vodka, Kahlua, whiskey, bourbon, champagne, etc.)
  • Coffee or espresso

Apart from vanilla, you might flavor your frosting using the following extracts:

  • almond
  • coffee
  • orange
  • mint
  • hazelnut
  • lemon
Chocolate cupcakes with white powdered sugar frosting without butter.

No butter frosting for cake or cookies

This confectioners frosting is great if you want a thick but soft icing for those soft sugar cookies we’ve all come to love around the holidays. This frosting is economical yet delicious for icing Christmas cookies or cupcakes for a birthday celebration.

My favorite feature is how well it stiffens up, so that after your frosting is done, you can stack or cover your cupcakes without worrying about smears.

Note * Be warned: this frosting is SWEET. If you want a less sweet frosting, you should look into a frosting made with BUTTER known as a buttercream frosting.

How to make your frosting super smooth:

One of my favorite aspects of this confectioners sugar frosting recipe is how forgiving it is! If you mess up the frosting or dent it, you can easily fix it with some hot water and an offset spatula . Read more about smoothing frosting here.

Two images showing how to smooth out frosting on a cookie.

The icing sugar will melt again if heated. So pressing a hot spatula or knife against the icing will cause the sugar to melt just enough to help it to smooth out evenly giving a clean presentation.

Pro Tip: To simply smooth out your frosting, dip an offset spatula or butter knife into boiling water!

Butter Free!

There is no butter in this frosting because it not Yet, there is cream cheese in the icing. Without any of these two ingredients, your frosting will be much too sugary. It requires one or the other to tone down the sweetness.

Closeup of vanilla frosting with confectioners sugar and without butter in a bowl.

Have you checked out my desserts page yet?

“Will this frosting get hard?”

Yes, it will harden up enough for you to stack your cookies or take your cupcakes on the go without smearing everywhere. Depending on how thick your frosting is, it will take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours to cool and remove the moisture.

“How long will this frosting stay fresh?”

Your frosting will keep fresh in the fridge for up to 1-2 weeks if kept sealed.

“Can I hand mix my frosting?”

Yes. Just make sure to mix it very well!

“How can I make my frosting smoother?”

Sieve the powdered sugar before adding the cream and extract. Sifting the sugar will remove many small clumps that you don’t want in your frosting creating a softer, smoother texture.

“Can I stack my frosting coated cookies?”

Yes! Let the frosting to solidify. The time will vary according on how thick it is. It should solidify in 30 minutes to 2 hours.

“How do I spread my firm frosting?”

Microwave the frosting in 15-30 second increments until it softens enough to spread.

Vanilla powdered sugar frosting on cookies and chocolate cupcakes.

Tools to make frosting desserts a bit easier:

Other delicious sweets you will LOVE:

Chocolate Cake Mix Cookies

Mocha Pudding Cookies

Sea Salt Chocolate Covered Potato Chips Recipe

BAKED Mini Churro Bites w/ Quick Chocolate Sauce

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Powdered sugar no butter frosting on a chocolate cupcake.

EASY Powdered Sugar Vanilla Frosting (without butter)

This easy powdered sugar frosting is made with and quick making it ideal for topping cupcakes, cakes, soft sugar cookies or brownies. It can also be made dairy-free!

Course: Dessert

Cuisine: American

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 5 minutes

Calories: 216kcal


Non-Dairy Frosting

  •  2 cups powdered sugar
  •  2 oz. cream cheese
  •  2 tablespoon cream
  •  1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
  •  ½ teaspoon salt

Dairy Free Frosting

  • ▢ 4 cups powdered sugar
  • ▢ ¼-⅓ cup non-dairy milk, water or juice
  • ▢ 1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
  • ▢ ½ teaspoon salt


Standard Frosting

  • If you want a smoother frosting, sift your powdered sugar.
  • In a mixing bowl, combine the sugar, heavy cream, extract, and salt and whisk until smooth. A standing mixer or hand mixer works best.
  • Add to a piping bag or smooth onto cupcakes, cookies or cake using an offset spatula. *Please read the notes below.

Dairy Free Frosting

  • Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix using a hand mixer or standing mixer. (Mixing by hand is difficult.)
  • If frosting is too thick, add 1 tsp. of liquid at a time until desired consistency is reached. If you use too much, you will need to add extra powdered sugar.

    Put to a piping bag or use an offset spatula to smooth onto cupcakes, cookies, or cake. Read notes below*

Recipe Notes

Yield: frosts 5-6 cupcakes

NOTE* As compared to the dairy-free variant, the conventional version has a fluffier consistency and is less sweet.

**Because this frosting is created without butter, it is SWEETER than traditional buttercream. I highly suggest leaving out half of the sugar in your cookie/cupcakes recipe to balance the sweetness in the frosting.**

  • Have a bowl of hot water on the side for dipping your spatula into before smoothing out your frosting. This is quite beneficial!
  • If you want tinted frosting, add a few drops of food coloring to get the desired hue.
  • You can use milk, water or juice to make your frosting. The quantity will vary depending on what you use.
  • Between 30 minutes and 2 hours, the frosting will stiffen.
  • Store frosting in the fridge for 1-2 weeks.
  • To use firm frosting, heat it in the microwave for 15-30 second intervals until it can be spread easily.


216kcal | 31.1g carbohydrate | 9.5g fat | 5.9g saturated fat | 35mg cholesterol | 107mg sodium | 29.9g sugar | 17mg calcium