Quick, easy, creamy vegan peanut butter frosting that’s light, fluffy, 100% dairy-free and naturally gluten-free!
Like all of my frosting recipes, this one is also simple to make. It’s the perfect partner for cakes, cupcakes, cookies, macarons and so much more. It’s especially delicious when used to top chocolate desserts. Read on to learn all you need to know to make this tasty homemade treat!
If you love peanut butter flavoured desserts, like peanut butter cups, peanut butter bars, or peanut butter pie, then you need to add this recipe to your collection.
It’s the most delicious, creamy, fluffy non-dairy peanut butter frosting you’ll ever have…and you can have it ready in under 15 minutes. And if Reese’s pb cups were a favourite from the past, it tastes very similar to the filling of a peanut butter cup!
We all know that peanut butter and chocolate are wonderful together, so instead of making chocolate buttercream to go with your chocolate cake or cupcakes (or brownies, cookies, macarons, etc.) try something a little different the next time.
And if you’re looking for more vegan frosting / American buttercream recipes, look no further, I have a few others that are equally delicious:
Ingredients You’ll Need
All you need is 6 ingredients to make this delicious, from scratch frosting (well, 5, because one of them is optional!). I’ve added a few notes below about the ingredients.
Are you new to vegan gluten-free baking? If so, be sure to read all of my vegan gluten-free baking tips!
Peanut Butter – The type of peanut butter you use is very important for this recipe to turn out well. You MUST use a firm, smooth peanut butter, NOT a natural runny peanut butter that separates and needs to be stirred or homemade peanut butter. It must be a store-bought peanut butter that stays firm at room temperature. Some brands to use are Kraft (the one I use), Skippy, or Jif.
Vegan Powdered Sugar – As you may already know, not all sugar is vegan, some are processed using animal bone char, so to be sure buy a brand that’s organic (organic sugar is not processed using bone char). There are also some brands that are not organic, but vegan, which can be confusing, so see below in the FAQ section for some brand recommendations. The powdered sugar in this recipe cannot be replaced with liquid sweeteners or any granulated sugars and I have not tried any alternative sugars.
Salt – The peanut butter you use will likely already have salt in it. I still add a little to balance the flavours out. If you find that your peanut butter is very salty, you can omit the extra salt.
Dairy-Free Milk – Since this recipe is made without dairy, use your favourite non-dairy milk (I usually use oat or almond, but any type will work.) This ingredient is optional because you may whip all the ingredients together and find that the consistency is exactly how you want it. Only use the milk if you want a softer frosting, but make it without milk if you want it to be more on the firm side.
Unsalted Vegan Butter – You’ll need to use the sticks, not the type that you get in containers / tubs, they’ll make your frosting too soft which will affect the final consistency (see the FAQ section below for brand recommendations). You also need to make sure that your butter is at the correct softness before starting:
IMPORTANT: Always make sure that your butter is slightly softened before starting, NOT melted or TOO soft. To make sure your butter is at the ideal softness, lightly press your finger into it. If it leaves a shallow indent, your butter is at the perfect temperature. If your finger sinks into the butter with barely any effort, your butter is too soft. Refrigerate it until it has firmed up and then test it again.
How to Make It
(Note: I’ve outlined the step-by-step on how to make this recipe here, but find the full recipe, ingredients, and directions at the end of this post.)
NOTE: For the best texture and consistency, a stand mixer or an electric hand mixer is best to make buttercream. If you don’t have either, you can still make it by hand, just use a wooden spoon, and keep in mind that you’ll need to beat it longer to get the proper texture and consistency.
If your powdered sugar has any large lumps in it, sift it before starting.
Start by whipping the butter, peanut butter and salt together until they are combined and smooth.
Next, add half of the powdered sugar and mix at low speed.
When everything has been combined, add the second half of the powdered sugar and the vanilla. Stop the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Turn the mixer up to medium speed and mix until light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes. At this point, if the frosting is too stiff, add a little milk, one teaspoon at a time, mixing after each addition, until the desired consistency is met.
Mix for a couple more minutes if you want a creamier, fluffier frosting. The more it’s mixed, the more air you’ll be adding to it giving it a fluffier texture.
While mixing, if you notice that your frosting has split (it looks lumpy and a little separated) either your butter was too warm, or your butter was too cold.
- To fix buttercream made with butter that was too warm: Put the bowl into the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes so everything can cool down. Remove it from the refrigerator and start mixing it again.
- To fix buttercream made with butter that was too cold: Let the bowl sit at room temperature to warm it up a little before moving forward.
If you prefer a thinner or thicker buttercream, those are easy fixes, too:
- To fix buttercream that is too thick: Add the optional dairy-free milk, a teaspoon at a time until you get the consistency you want.
- To fix buttercream that is too thin: Add more powdered sugar, a few tablespoons at a time, until it reaches the thickness you want.
What to Put It On
Topping cakes and cupcakes is how I use this recipe the most but it can also be used for macarons, whoopie pies, sugar cookies, sandwich cookies, brownies, and more.
It’s also perfect to top gluten-free vegan chocolate cupcakes like in my pictures and it also works very well with banana cake and banana cupcakes.
If you’re decorating with sprinkles or chocolate shavings, add them immediately after piping the frosting because it will crust a little after it has been piped and your decorations will not stick to it.
TIP: If you’re new to cupcake decorating, I highly recommend this inexpensive cupcake decorating kit (Amazon Link) that comes with four of the most popular decorating tips as well as eight disposable decorating bags. I also recommend adding a 12″ reusable piping bag to your collection.
- If refrigerating for later use, store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to one week. When ready to use, bring it to room temperature, add to a bowl, and mix with your electric mixer or stand mixer for a couple of minutes to fluff it up before using.
- If freezing for later use, store in an airtight, freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to use, thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Once thawed, bring it to room temperature, add to a bowl, and mix with your electric mixer or stand mixer for a couple of minutes to fluff it up before using.
Once you frost your dessert, the buttercream will be fine to stay at room temperature for a day or two but after that, refrigerate it or refrigerate right away if the actual dessert needs to be kept cold.
Expert Tips for Success
- Always make sure your butter is slightly softened before starting. To make sure your butter is at the right temperature, lightly press your finger into it. If it leaves a shallow indent, your butter is at the perfect temperature. If your finger sinks into the butter with barely any effort, your butter is too soft. Refrigerate it until it has firmed up.
- Use the proper type of peanut butter. This particular recipe really needs a firm peanut butter to be successful. Use a firm, store-bought one for your recipe to turn out perfectly.
- You can sift the powdered sugar if you’d like, but I usually don’t, I find that if there are any small clumps, they get taken care of during the mixing process. However, if you find that your powdered sugar is very dry and lumpy, sift it before starting for the best results.
- When adding the powdered sugar to the mixing bowl, start the mixer at the slowest speed and add it gradually so it doesn’t fly everywhere.
- If you prefer a more light and fluffy frosting, add a teaspoon or two of the optional dairy-free milk and continue mixing for about 2-3 minutes.
- If you find that you’ve whipped too long and the icing is TOO fluffy, give it a few good stirs with a wooden spoon to knock out some of the air and make it a little less fluffy.
- Read this post from beginning to end before making the recipe, it contains lots of tips and tricks on how to make the perfect vegan peanut butter icing, every single time!
- Don’t be afraid to use a piping bag and tips to decorate your dessert. They may seem intimidating, but they aren’t difficult to use. I used a Wilton 4B piping tip to decorate the cupcakes you see in the images on this page. I recommend investing in this inexpensive cupcake decorating kit (Amazon Link) (the 4B tip comes with it!)
- For the very best results, follow the recipe exactly as it’s written, don’t reduce the amount of powdered sugar or butter called for and don’t use runny peanut butter. The recipe can be halved if you need just a very small amount or doubled (even tripled!) if you need more.
Use your favourite firm vegan butter, but make sure you buy sticks, not butter in a container since that type will make a buttercream that is too soft. If you can, buy unsalted butter so you control the salt. If you can’t find unsalted butter, simply omit the salt the recipe calls for. I like Melt Sticks and Becel Plant-Based Sticks, but other brands like Earth Balance and Miyokos will also work well.
Some brands use bone char to process their sugars, making them not vegan, but luckily, some don’t use this process like Wholesome Sweeteners, Trader Joe’s brand, Whole Foods’ 365 brand, and Redpath (Canadian brand). If you can’t find any of these, your best bet is to look for organic powdered sugar since organic sugar is always vegan. And note that “powdered sugar,” “confectioner’s sugar,” and “icing sugar” are all the same thing.
This can be caused by a few things. First, make sure to always use powdered sugar. Using any type of granulated sugar will result in a grainy buttercream. Another cause can be that you need to add a little more moisture, so you can add a little non-dairy milk to lighten it up and make it softer. The last cause can be overly lumpy powdered sugar. As powdered sugar sits, it can dry out and clump up, it will still work to make your icing, it will just need to be sifted first.
If you don’t have an electric or stand mixer, you can still make this recipe by hand, but you’ll need to beat the frosting for quite a while, especially after all the ingredients have been added to reach that creamy, fluffy texture and consistency.
This recipe was developed using butter, so for the best results, stick with the recipe as it’s written. Coconut oil or shortening may work, but I have not tried either and cannot give specific directions on how to change the recipe.
Powdered sugar is needed in this recipe to provide the structure and firmness needed for piping and frosting your desserts with ease, so liquid sweeteners will not work. As for powdered sugar alternatives, I have not experimented with them, so I’m unsure if they will work the same.
Technically, yes, you can, but you’ll have a harder time achieving the colour you want because the frosting is already a natural tan colour. If you must add colour, I suggest trying to make it a darker colour like brown or orange which will be easier, rather than trying to make it a lighter colour (I wouldn’t even try to make it light blue, pink, yellow, etc!). I also suggest using food colour gels over water-based colours since they’re bolder and won’t thin your frosting out if you need to use a large amount. Two brands to check out are AmeriColor and Chefmaster. They’re both vegan AND gluten-free.
Another option, if it’s a cake you’re decorating, is to make a small amount of vanilla buttercream, colour it how you want, frost the outside of your cake with the peanut butter frosting, chill it so it stiffens, and then apply a very thin layer of the coloured vanilla buttercream over the layer of peanut butter frosting.
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If You Make This Recipe…
Leave me a comment and rating below and tell me what dessert you put it on! You can also snap a picture, post it on Instagram and tag me so I can see.
And If You Like This Recipe…
You may also like these other vegan gluten-free peanut butter recipes:
- Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Peanut Butter Granola Clusters
- Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
- No-Bake Peanut Butter Coconut Balls
- Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars
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Vegan Peanut Butter Frosting
- Add butter, peanut butter, and salt to the mixing bowl and mix for 1 to 2 minutes until smooth and creamy.
- Add 1 cup of the powdered sugar and mix at low speed. Once there are no more spots of dry powdered sugar, add the second cup of powdered sugar and the vanilla. Mix again at low speed. Stop occasionally to scrape down the sides of your bowl.
- Turn the mixer up to medium speed and mix until light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes. If the frosting is too stiff, add a little milk, one teaspoon at a time, mixing after each addition, until the desired consistency is met. Stop occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Mix for a couple more minutes if you want a creamier, fluffier frosting.
- Use immediately, or refrigerate / freeze until needed. (Refrigeration and freezing instructions can be found above and below)
- Please read all of the information, tips, and FAQ info above, as well as the notes below before making this recipe.
- This recipe makes enough to frost 12-18 cupcakes (depending on how much or how little you add to each one), OR one 9 x 13 cake, OR a single layer 8 or 9-inch round cake, OR a double layer 8″ or 9″ cake. The recipe can be doubled if you want a very thick layer of frosting on your 2-layer cake or for a double batch of cupcakes. You can also triple the recipe for a triple-layer cake or a triple batch of cupcakes.
- Make sure that your butter is slightly softened before starting, NOT melted or TOO soft. To make sure your butter is at the ideal softness, lightly press your finger into it. If it leaves a shallow indent, your butter is at the perfect temperature. If your finger sinks into the butter with barely any effort, your butter is too soft. Refrigerate it until it has firmed up and then test it again.
- Use firm, smooth store-bought peanut butter that does not need to be stirred and does not separate. This recipe will not work well with runny, oily, natural peanut butter that separates and needs stirring or homemade peanut butter. Some recommended brands to use are Kraft, Jif, or Skippy. It MUST remain firm at room temperature.
- Sift your powdered sugar before starting if it is lumpy.
- If you have a scale, I recommend weighing your powdered sugar for accuracy. This is the scale I own.
- Be sure you are using vegan butter that comes in sticks, not the type that comes in containers / tubs since they will be too soft and will result in a very soft frosting. See above for brand recommendations.
- Chill the buttercream for 15-20 minutes if you will be piping decorations onto a dessert to make it easier.
- If using a stand mixer, my preference is to use the paddle attachment. Follow the same directions above.
- If refrigerating for later use, store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to one week. When ready to use, bring it to room temperature, add to a bowl and mix with your electric mixer or stand mixer to freshen it up before using.
- If freezing for later use, store in an airtight, freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to use, thaw frozen frosting in the refrigerator overnight. Once thawed, bring it to room temperature, add to a bowl and mix with your electric mixer or stand mixer to freshen it up before using.
- Once you frost your cake or cupcakes, you can leave them out at room temperature for a day or two, but after that, refrigerate.
- Nutrition info is based on 1/12th of this recipe, made as written, on its own with no cake or cupcakes. Nutrition info is only to be used as a rough guide. Click to learn how nutrition info is calculated on this website.