This vegan frosting is made with cashews, coconut oil, agave nectar, and powdered sugar creating a rich and creamy, dairy-free frosting. Use it on cupcakes or frost your favorite layered cake! This cashew frosting recipe includes vanilla and cream cheese flavors.
Frosting is the icing on the cake!
Seriously, a bad frosting will ruin a good cake. And, ain’t NOBODY got time for bad frosting AND a ruined cake!
So today I’m going to show you how to make the BEST vegan frosting using cashews!
I’ve done my research and this recipe definitely “takes…err…makes the cake”!
A few months ago, I tested a cashew frosting for my vegan carrot cake recipe. I wasn’t happy with the results. I ended up scrapping the idea and using store-bought cream cheese as the frosting base.
The problem with the cashew frosting was the taste and texture. The flavor seemed a bit off and the texture was grainy.
While recipe testing frosting for my vegan pumpkin cake I concluded I wasn’t blending the cashews long enough or adding enough sweetener.
It is a frosting after all.
Achieving the perfect frosting consistency
In my next attempt, I added powdered sugar for sweetness and blended the cashews a bit longer for a better texture.
During the blending process, I stopped my Blendtec every 30 seconds or so to scrape down the sides and give it a break. This also gave me a chance to test the consistency. After about 4-5 blending cycles the frosting had a smooth palatable texture.
A high-speed blender, Nutri-Bullet, or equivalent will blend the cashews smooth but it does take a bit longer to process them than a Blendtec or Vitamix. I wouldn’t recommend using a food processor.
Whichever appliance you decide to use, be sure to stop it every 30 seconds or so to scrape down the sides and test the consistency.
Tip: Don’t over-process the nuts or you will end up with icing. When the nuts are blended for an extended period of time they release a lot of their own oil, which causes the frosting to become runny. So, it’s important to regularly test the consistency and stop blending once the frosting has a smooth mouthfeel.
How to make cashew frosting
Start by soaking the cashews. Use one of the 3 methods in my soaking cashews post. Once the cashews are soft, toss them along with the remaining ingredients into your blender and blend away. Begin the first blending cycle at low speed. Slowly turn up the speed as the cashews smoothen out.
The first two images show how grainy the frosting starts.
In image 3 it looks smooth and ready, but the texture was still slightly grainy.
By image 4 I had a silky smooth, palatable frosting.
Chill the finished cashew frosting in the fridge
Chilling will also help thicken it up. Whisk periodically to keep it from clumping.
You can also speed up the chilling process by placing the frosting in the freezer. Whisk it every 10-15 minutes until fully chilled, then move it to the fridge until you’re ready to use it.
Top your favorite desserts with this dairy-free frosting. It’s perfect on cakes, cupcakes, cinnamon rolls, cookies, and more.
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2 easy-to-make frosting flavors
Now that we know how to make dairy-free cashew frosting, it’s time to move on to the 2 delicious flavors of this delectable cake topping.
One is a vanilla-flavored frosting that’s sweet and to the point. The other is a cream cheese variation with just the right amount of tang.
Vanilla cashew frosting
To make vanilla cashew frosting follow the recipe as-is.
Taste and adjust the vanilla and sweetness to your liking. Add more powdered sugar for a thicker consistency or agave nectar to thin it out a bit.
Cashew cream cheese frosting
The difference between the vanilla frosting and the cream cheese frosting is the level of tanginess. To mimic a classic cream cheese tang, extra freshly squeezed lemon juice was added to the vanilla version.
However, lemons do yield different levels of tartness. So, start by blending in 3-4 Tablespoons of lemon juice then give the frosting a taste. Whisk in more until you’re satisfied with the level of tartness.
Powdered sugar was added for sweetness and also stability. A super healthy cashew frosting wasn’t my intention. I wanted to create a tasty frosting that enhanced tastebuds AND desserts, rather than worrying about the ingredients used.
Powdered sugar was definitely the right touch!
The frosting has the taste and consistency I was after. It’s sweet, thick, rich and perfectly creamy just like frosting should be. No one will ever know it’s dairy-free and made with CASHEWS!
Can I make cashew frosting into a dairy-free icing?
To make a dairy-free icing, replace half of the powdered sugar with agave nectar.
As for blending, remember when I mentioned over-processing the nuts will cause them to release excess oil? Well, for icing that is a good thing. Run the blender another cycle or two until the icing can easily be poured out of your blender. If it’s still a tad too thick, add a bit of water or non-dairy milk to thin it out.
To make icing with leftover cashew frosting, simply whisk-in a few Tablespoons of water or non-dairy milk to thin it out.
Use dairy-free icing on cinnamon rolls, donuts, quick-breads, or your favorite baked dessert.
Kids will go crazy for dip-able mini cinnamon rolls with CASHEW ICING!
Enjoy these little bite-sized treats for breakfast, snack, or dessert. To make the above ‘cini minis’, check out my cinnamon roll recipe.
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Takeaway tips for the best cashew frosting
- Soak the cashews. This is important to soften them up for blending. Drain, rinse and pat the softened cashews dry.
- Use a high-speed blender, Nutri-Bullet, or equivalent for the best consistency. I get great results blending the cashews in my Blendtec.
- Remember the frosting will thicken up in the fridge as it cools.
- If your blender is having a hard time blending the cashews, add a Tablespoon at a time of water or more liquid sweetener to help it along.
- Periodically whisk the frosting while it cools to keep it from clumping up.
- If your frosting becomes clumpy, toss it back in the blender to smooth it out.
- The agave nectar can be replaced with an equal amount of maple syrup. However, the frosting color will be darker.
- Turn the vanilla frosting into a tangy cashew cream cheese frosting by increasing the lemon juice.
- For a sweeter frosting add more powdered sugar or liquid sweetener, depending on the consistency you’re after.
- Frosted desserts should be kept in the fridge. Since the frosting is made with cashews and coconut oil it can soften in warmer conditions.
More delicious vegan sweets
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- Add everything to a high-speed blender. Blend for about a minute at a time until the frosting is super smooth and creamy.
- Periodically stop the blender and scrape down the sides as needed. Add water, if needed, to help along the blending process.
- The frosting will need to chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours. Stir/whisk it often to keep it smooth. (You can also chill it in the freezer for an hour stirring every 15-20 minutes. Move the chilled frosting to the fridge.)
- Store the cashew frosting in a covered container in the fridge until you're ready to use it. Keeps for about a week in there.
- For cream cheese style frosting, add a total of 3-4 Tablespoons lemon juice to the blender in step 1. Taste and add more if needed.
- Prep time does not include time for soaking cashews.
- Refined coconut oil has a neutral taste.
- Using maple syrup will darken the frosting.
- Warmer conditions may soften the coconut oil causing the frosting to soften as well, so it's best to keep frosted desserts in the fridge until you're ready to serve.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 2 cakes Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 763 Total Fat: 55g Saturated Fat: 36g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 14g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 11mg Carbohydrates: 62g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 1g Sugar: 50g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 6g