Desserts · Gluten-free · Holidays

Vegan Swiss Meringue Buttercream

When I first became enamored with baking cakes and cupcakes, I struggled to match them with a good icing recipe.  Even as a non-vegan hobby baker, I had a pretty strong dislike for most icing that I could make.    The standard American buttercream (usually a mixture between shortening and/or butter and powdered sugar with some milk and vanilla added) always seemed too sweet for me.  Also, what a pain it is to make!  So much of each ingredient needed to go into the recipe in order to do anything with it.  I usually use a ratio of equal parts powdered sugar and shortening/butter (or Earth Balance) divided, so it would be for example:
1 cup shortening
1 cup butter/non-dairy substitute
2 cups powdered sugar

This is a lot of each ingredient to yield enough icing to ice a cake or some cupcakes…Also, look at the amount of fat and sugar goes into it!  A bit much, I think.  I prefer things to be slightly sweet and more rounded in flavor when it comes to desserts…I’ve mentioned this many times in my posts!  But, when it comes to icing, it seems almost impossible to balance flavor in an icing that has a stable texture for decorating…well, until now!! 😉

     With the amazing discovery of aquafaba, I have learned how to create amazing Swiss Meringue-style buttercream that is free of eggs or dairy!  I have worked with this type of buttercream for years now at my job and I love working with it because it is always smooth and easy to work with for decorating cakes.  It also hardens when it’s cold so your cakes are more stable once they have set in the fridge for a while.  The only issue with it is that it is an egg white-based recipe.
I learned to make this type of buttercream by cooking granulated sugar and egg whites, whipping them and then adding a ton of butter to them until the entire mixture emulsifies and becomes soft, smooth buttercream.  The process is quite long, especially if you are making a large batch.
This batch that I’ve created is a small one, ideal for a 6 inch round cake or 12 cupcakes.  It is ideal for the home kitchen because it is quick, does not require any cooking, and is only reliant on 1 cup of non-dairy butter substitute.  The amount of sugar is dependent on your taste, as well!  I believe that you might be able to substitute the sweetener if you choose, but make sure you are ready to experiment a little with the ratios of the other ingredients as it may change the texture.  The goal is for this buttercream to firm up enough to pipe and ice, so make sure there is still some structure there.
I love that I managed to make this buttercream work!  I like the way it looks compared to other vegan icings I’ve used.  A veganized American buttercream can sometimes be bubbly if it is over-whipped.  This buttercream is always smooth and silky, ideal for piping roses/flowers, borders, etc. on your cake or cupcakes!  I’m so happy I’ve found a way to make this recipe and I’m so excited to share it with all of you!  Feel free to sub the non-dairy butter with coconut oi.  I’ve tried this and it works beautifully.  As long as you refrigerate your cake prior to serving, the icing will stay in its proper place!  Leaving it out of the fridge, as long as it is in a cool environment for a couple hours is fine, too.

Here are a couple of cakes I’ve used this buttercream for (one was for yesterday’s VeganMoFo post!)  I hope they inspire you to do your own homemade cakes or cupcakes!  =)  Happy icing!

Vegan Swiss Meringue Buttercream


Yeild: About 4 cups, finished
Enough to ice: 1-6″ cake/12 cupcakes
Free of: Gluten, Soy*, Nuts
*Depending on your non-dairy butter


  • brine (aquafaba) from 1-15 oz can chickpeas (preferably organic)
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 Tb Ener-G egg replacement powder
  • 1/3 cup vegan granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste/extract
  • 1 cup non-dairy butter/coconut oil (I used Earth Balance soy-free), room temp.


  1. Add the aquafaba to a large mixing bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whip attachment (can also use a hand mixer).
  2. Whip the brine on high until it begins to foam and turn opaque.
  3. Add in the cream of tartar, Ener-G powder and sugars gradually, making sure to slow down the whip so you don’t spill stuff. =P
  4. Continue to whip the mixture until stiff peaks form.  Now you have meringue!
  5. Whip in (on low) the vanilla.
  6. Add your non-dairy butter or coconut oil, 1/4 cup at a time while whipping the meringue on low.
  7. Once the fat is all in the bowl, increase the mixing speed.  If it looks like it is separating, that’s good!  Turn it up to high until the mixture combines and emulsifies.  This shouldn’t take longer than 1-2 minutes.  If it does not emulsify, you may need more fat.
  8. Once it is completed, chill it until you are ready to use.
  9. Once you are ready to use it, whip the mixture again to smooth it out and combine it if it separated.
  10. Use and enjoy!  (if you have leftover, I won’t tell anyone if you use it for whoopie pies or an ice cream topping!)  ;P


Pssst! That cake has booze in it! =P

2 thoughts on “Vegan Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  1. This recipe is exactly what I’ve been looking for! I’ve read that some people have problems with the aquafaba frosting deflating pretty quickly. Have you noticed this with your recipe? If I frost my cake the night before, do you think it would still look and taste okay the following evening? Thanks for your help!


    1. I’ve found that it does when the temperature is too warm, yes. If the frosting is kept cold, it’s usually okay! And icing it the day before is definitely the best way to do it! Good luck!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s