Vegan Buttercream Icing Recipe

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(from 2 reviews)
Cake Frosting Ingredients

I have finally completed the Course 1 of Wilton's Cake Decorating Courses. It was fun and interesting. It covers the basics of cake decorating. One can get the hang of various tools and materials needed for decorating a cake after completing this course. What seems impossible at first looks quite easy after taking the class. I decorated 3 cakes during the 1st course.

They were not perfect but at least I'm getting better than simply slathering frosting unevenly on my cakes. Like any other art, cake decorating too requires a lot of passion, patience, and practice. So if you are patient enough and can devote some quality time to practice you can master it in no time.

Usually each course has 4 classes, with one class per week. So in a month, you will be completing 1 course. Having 1 class per week also gives ample time for you to practice and clear the doubts you have when you go for the next class. Depending on the instructor you can take a cake or a cake dummy to the class. I hear that some instructors are strict and ask you to get the cake.

Mine was flexible so quite a few in my class got the cake dummy. I didn't know that such a thing existed, so I baked a cake. It's a model cake made with styrofoam available in various shapes (I have seen square and circle) and sizes. So you can practice on it, after you are done wipe the icing with a damp sponge and reuse it.

Cake dummy is available in Michaels and other cake decorating supplies stores. If you live in Canada, locate a Bulk Barn near you and forget Michaels.

You can get almost all Wilton cake decorating, candy making supplies at cheaper prices than Michael's. They even rent character cake pan sets.

Another interesting tip which I found here, is using a cake pan upside down instead of buying the cake dummies. That's really awesome. It's very easy to use, already in the shape and size of the cake you will be baking, easy to clean and you can reuse it countless number of times.

Assuming that you can bake a decent cake the next step is preparing the icing. The course book has the recipe for the Buttercream Icing used in the class. The recipe calls for meringue powder, which is a combination of egg whites, cream of tartar and other unrecognizable chemicals. Now, this was the first hurdle for me. I was in such a dilemma whether to use that powder or not.

I have eaten store-bought cakes and will also be eating it in the future and I don't mind the eggs. Bringing eggs home and cooking with it, is my phobia. By getting this powder I was not bringing actual eggs but I did not want to post here even the pictures of the cakes decorated with that icing. When I asked my instructor about a substitute for the meringue powder, she felt sorry that she did not have an answer.

I was thinking maybe I should use an equal amount of EnerG Egg Replacer powder itself. Then I discovered Wilton's Buttercream Icing Mix.

The instructions read that I just had to add water and butter/margarine to it and beat it with a mixer. When I read the ingredients, I was happy that nothing related to eggs was mentioned. So I happily picked it. After coming home I was scanning the list again and found mono-glycerides.

I have read earlier that unless and otherwise it is clearly specified vegetable derived mono-glycerides, all other glycerides are derived from animals. So I couldn't use that and returned it. Many omnivores and even some vegetarians may be thinking what's the big deal.

In this day and age of packaged and processed food one can't be really sure about what one is eating and the source. But what to do I'm one among the million quirky vegetarians!

The day for the 2nd class was nearing and I was supposed to take 3 cups of icing and here I was still wondering what to do. I thought maybe I should simply follow the recipe, prepare it, learn the decorating techniques and once I'm sort of good, I can start experimenting with a substitute for the meringue powder.

But I need not have worried after all in this era of Google serving information at your fingertips. A couple of recipe sites had Wilton's Buttercream Icing without the egg powder and the reviews were good too, telling that it had the consistency perfect for decorating. It was the exact same recipe given in the course book but minus the meringue powder. So I too decided to do the same and kept my fingers crossed.

To my surprise my instructor while testing each of our icing with some designs told me that mine was perfect for decorating and she couldn't believe when I told her that I did not add the meringue powder.

So girls, one problem solved. (There is another one in the 2nd course too! Yes, I enrolled for it and the 1st class is already over. Hope I will be able to find a solution for the Royal Icing too). What a relief!

Now that we have found an egg-free buttercream icing recipe, what to do next? We would be requiring icing in 3 consistencies. Stiff, Medium and Thin. Stiff consistency icing is used to make those gorgeous roses and other flowers and objects you see on the cakes. Medium consistency is used to make borders and related designs. Thin consistency is for writing on the cake and frosting the cake.

So while preparing the icing, you usually start with stiff, then add some water to get medium consistency and some more water to get a thin consistency. One should be careful while adding water, it's usually 1 or 2 tablespoons to the maximum. Again any mistake done is not irreparable, you can always add some confectioner's sugar or water to get the desired consistency.

Cake decorating is a massive topic and I'm a beginner. So I will try my best to cover important things here so that those who are interested and don't know where to start can get some sort of an idea of how to go about it. If you feel that I have overlooked something or have any questions/clarifications please feel free to leave your comments here or email me and I'll keep updating the answers in the subsequent posts.

Vegan Buttercream Icing Recipe

Prep TimeCook TimeMakes
15 Mins15 Mins3 cups stiff consistency icing
Vegan Buttercream Icing Recipe
4.0 from 2 reviews
Tried and tested recipe for vegan buttercream icing!
  • 1 cup Vegetable Shortening
  • 1 teaspoon Wilton's Clear Vanilla Extract
  • 1 teaspoon Wilton's No Color Butter Flavor (Optional)
  • 4 cups Confectioner's Icing Sugar
  • a pinch Salt (optional)
  • Approx 2 tablespoons Milk/Water (As Required)
  1. In a bowl, add the shortening, vanilla and butter flavoring and 2 tablespoons of water. Cream until light and fluffy.
  2. Add Vanilla Essence

    Add Flavored Butter

    Blend the mix well

  3. Add sugar one cup at a time and beat after each addition until all the ingredients have been thoroughly mixed together.
  4. Add Powdered Sugar

  5. Blend an additional minute or so, until creamy. This produces 3 cups of stiff consistency icing.
  6. Blend the mix again

    Final Cake Frosting

  7. For medium consistency, add 1 teaspoon of water to each cup of stiff consistency icing. For thin consistency, add 2 teaspoons of water for each cup of stiff consistency icing.
  1. Even though the name of the icing is Buttercream, we don't actually use butter. Instead, we use solid white shortening. That gives the pure white color (so when you decide to mix colors you can get better shades) and also the correct structure for the designs. To keep the icing at it's whitest we use the Wilton's clear Vanilla Extract and no color Butter Flavoring. The usual vanilla extra is in dark brown color and when it's added it will tint the shortening and the icing will not be in the purest white.
  2. I saw a couple of recipes, where only butter is used or half butter and half shortening is used, but I have tried it only with shortening. As I have mentioned earlier I didn't want to experiment too much at this initial stage of learning. I read quite a lot of reviews, that some people don't like the greasy aftertaste that shortening gives and so they used butter instead. I felt that when the icing is consumed together with the cake you don't feel the greasiness but you definitely feel it when you eat the icing alone. Also, the vessels get very greasy and it's messy to do the dishes in the sink. Better use the dishwasher. The taste is really good though, just like the bakery ones. I actually was experimenting with white cake recipes. So for the 3 cakes, I baked during the course I tried 3 different recipes and felt that the icing really covers up even if the cake is not that good. Can you believe that this frosting is actually vegan?
My Notes:
  1. You could use Butter Flavor All-Vegetable Shortening. In that case, you can omit the Wilton's Butter Flavoring. I couldn't find butter flavored shortening so I had to use the usual one and hence I added 1 teaspoon of butter flavoring. If using the extra teaspoon of butter flavoring, go slow while adding the water. Also look for trans fat-free shortening. I was not able to find it and used the regular one and each serving has 0.3gm trans fat.
  2. Icing consistency is key while decorating a cake. But don't worry if you don't get it right because fixing it is quite easy. If the icing is very thin add some icing sugar until yo get the required stiffness. If it's too stiff add water (drop by drop) to dilute it.
  3. Milk or water can be used while preparing the frosting but I read elsewhere that using water is better.
  4. Icing keeps good for 2 weeks when stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  5. The Wilton cake decorating course book which was supplied to us during the class, has a lot of useful information, tips, and tricks organized in a neat manner. You can also find this on their site. The information on the website is spread all over, so I'll give some important links in the next section.
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Other Information

Explore Wilton's website for a lot of information about cake decorating. It's very extensive. To help beginners I'm putting out a list of useful links here.

1 Wilton Course Details

2 Local Wilton Classes

3 Wilton's Cake Decorating 101

4 Cake Decorating Accessories

5 Golda's Kitchen
(An excellent retail and on-line baking/cake decorating supplies store based in Canada. They ship overseas too.)

6 Bulk Barn (Another amazing store in Canada with tons of cake decorating supplies and some locations offer the Wilton Classes too. You can usually find this store in big malls.)

7 Baking 911(Has extensive details on decorating cakes, cookies and more, with lot of tips and tricks)

8 Michael's 40% off coupon (If you live in Canada, check this out. You can print this coupon and take it to the store and get 40% off on any one item. It's really a huge money saver when you are buying a big ticket item like a professional cake decorating tool set. I got a $200 dollar set for $100 because they had a 50% off special that week.

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  1. Veena

    Hello again Madhuram,

    I have started course two and now the requirement for meringue powder is coming up. What have you done? Did you use it or there is any substitute for meringue powder?


  2. Veena

    Dear Madhuram,

    I finally found a solution for eggless cakes. Thanks a lot. Inspired, I started Wilton classes recently. I need a bake a cake for the class, as you know, it is required.I want a 8″ cake. Can you suggest me which will the best as I do follow your recipes without changing the quantity scaring I will ruin cake.


    • Madhuram

      Great to know that I have inspired you, Veena. You can follow the cake decoration series and bake the same cakes I have baked, or simply try the whacky vegan chocolate cake. Nobody can go wrong with it.

  3. veera

    I’m new to cake baking, but so far I have baked and decorated around 5-6 cakes. I enjoy your blog to the best. Your explanation is simple and straight to the point. Thanks for the tips. So coming to the point, I live in Oman (Middle East) and Wilton courses are available here. Can you please tell me how much did it cost for the courses out there in U.S. Thanks a lot Mam.

    • Madhuram

      Thanks for your compliments Veera. It has been a while since I took the classes here in Canada. If I remember right, it was about $30-$40 dollars per course, not including the supplies. Some supplies came with the course but we had to buy some more.

  4. MK


    I was really looking forward to getting an eggless buttercream recipe but one thing that you seem to have overlooked is that confectioner’s sugar MAY CONTAIN TRACES OF EGG. It says this on every box I have ever purchased and I have never found one that doesn’t theerfore your recipe is still not eggless!

    • Madhuram

      Here in Canada, the icing sugar I get contains only sugar and cornstarch and bone char or any other animal products or by-prdoucts is not used in the refining process making it perfectly suitable for vegetarians and vegans. The brands I use are Red Path and Lantic. See if you are able to find that in your place or try organic brands.

  5. Meenakshi

    Hi Madhuram,

    I never knew before about these chemical names derived from animal .Hence just looking into the ingredients to make sure its completely pure vegetarian n eggless, looked for such direct descriptions n not finding one use to buy products but now after knowing this from your posts….I feel so foolish of myself.I mean in this daily shopping of different food items catering to we like pure vegetarians has become so difficult.
    I am so grateful to you that you mentioned it in your posts n its so helpful.
    Also I have tried your eggless blueberry pound cake n Vegan chocolate cake which was just awesome n brought a decent baker out of me….I am enjoying baking though not a regular but your recipes n the special notes at the end are so helpful.
    I tried the Fresh cream icing on my cake from and it helped.
    But now when I tried to look into ingredients on the packet of Market Pantry-heavy whipping cream, it states mono and diglycerides and carrageenan. Does that mean its not vegetarian.Oh My God! you know the same ingredient is on the packet of butter as well.So now what to use ?.Initially when I made the whipped cream icing I used from the organic brand of Organic Valley n Horizon but later discovered there is no difference as these organic brands still use carrageenan in it n hence this time I got the normal one from Target- Market Pantry.
    Can you suggest me good veg heavy whipping cream please? I am in US.
    Also would like to know the fondant recipe to make at home but completely veg n eggless. I dont mind dairy please. I am looking to make a cake tomorrow n hence awaiting your quick response.
    Appreciate your kind understanding.

    • Madhuram

      Carrageenan is derived from red seaweed and is vegetarian/vegan option for gelatin. I doubt butter has other ingredients listed because butter should not have anything other than milk/cream. It’s been a while since I moved from the US, so I’m not aware of the products and brands there. Also I have not tried making fondant at home, so I cannot suggest you a recipe. You will have too Google for it. I’m sorry that I’m not of much help with your questions.

  6. Ranjani

    I am wondering if Earthbalance will work in place of the shortening. I feel that Earthbalance is a healthier option. Please do reply. I have my 2nd Wilton class this weekend and I am eagerly awaiting your reply to see if you or anyone has played around with it šŸ™‚ Thank you.

    • Madhuram

      I guess so Ranjani. I haven’t tried that.

  7. Shubha

    Hi Madhuram,

    I recently enrolled myself to the Wilton Cake Decorating classes and my first class starts next week. I am so confused about the list of supplies to buy for the classes. Since you have already done the course, I thought you would be in a better position to answer some basic questions for me. Hope you don’t mind!

    1. I’m planning on doing all 3 courses in cake decorating, so I was wondering if it is worth it to buy 3 individual student kits for all 3 courses and buy extra stuff or buy the Wilton Ultimate Decorating Set?

    2. Which brand turntable/lazy susan works best for cake frosting? The reviews weren’t good for the Wilton turntable.

    Thanks a lot!

    • Madhuram

      Sorry Shubha, I’m on vacation so I couldn’t reply immediately. The professional set costs around 200$ but does not include a couple of things which is required for the course and I ended up spending buying the course material too. If I remember right some of the stuff in Course 2 and 3 does not come with the professional set. So I would suggest you to get just the course material as you complete it and buy the professional set if you are definitely serious about cake decorating. Because I thought I was going to do it regularly and I rarely use it now. Maybe 1 or 2 cakes a year and this does not require the set.

  8. Aparna

    Thanks dear for the post. I too am a strict vegetarian and trying hands at making cakes. Wish to master the art of icing too. Ur info is helpful but unfortunately the ingredients are not available here in uk šŸ™

    • Madhuram

      Thanks Aparna. I googled and found out that there are a lot of cake decorating supply stores online in UK. Did you try it?

      • Aparna

        Yes did try. Read that it may be available in Sainsbury but no luck. Also surprised to see that icing bag n nozzles too are not easily available in stores (maybe because i am not in Mainland England) , in online too only one or two brands are available.

        Wanted to make the cake for the first birthday of my friends’ daughter, but alas!

  9. Neeharika

    Hi Madhuram
    I had come across your blog through google.I am new to cake decorating.I wanted to learn from the basics.
    i have to enroll for the class at michaels. Your blog is awesome.You have many many recipes.I don’t know how
    many years it would take for me to try all the recipes in your site.
    I have a very basic doubt.What is the difference between frosting and icing?I see icing written on
    container and the other one icing.So please let me know.


    • Madhuram

      Thanks for the compliments Neeharika. Frosting and icing is one and the same, but sometimes it is assumed that icing is a bit watery and is used on cookies like royal icing while frosting is for cakes/cupcakes.

      • Neeharika

        Hi Madhuram
        Thanks for your reply.i bookmarked your site.From now, i will be a very frequent visitor.

        • Madhuram

          You’re welcome.

  10. Sonali Gawde

    Hi Madhuram,
    I am also interested in doing Wilton cake making course.
    But i am aware how to get it. So please could you help me how to do


      • Sonali Gawde

        Hi Madhuram,
        I live in India at Mumbai. And not sure where will will i find good cake making classes.

        • Madhuram

          Google it and you should be able to find some classes.

  11. priya

    hi madhu,
    i live in India…here wilton’s icing mixture iz not available… can u suggeat me some other vegan substitute….

    Priya, in that case you have to prepare the icing right from scratch just like I have mentioned in this post. Shortening is nothing but Vanaspathi (both are solidified from vegetable oils), but I’m not sure how different the texture is and how vanaspathi works out in frosting. So your better bet is to use butter instead.

  12. Indu

    Hy Madhu!

    I am beginner, and I am humbly asking for help with fondant.
    Since I am vegetarian I do not have vegetarian gelatina powder, only in little “crumbs”, I really need fine powder.Do You have a vegetarian substitute and how are You making fondant? By reading Your article I found out that glycerol is also from animals, I live in Croatia and I do not know are they glycerol from plants in our pharmacy!
    I am making butter cream with sugar and vegetable grease, or butter, and it is ok!.
    Please some advice about fondant.


    Hi Indu, I did not make the fondant but got it in the store and later realized that it did have some animal derived ingredients in it. I did hear that purely vegetarian fondant is available too, the brand is Satin or something. See if its available in your country. While searching for homemade rolled fondant recipes, I do see that we require glycerine to make it but glycerine is mostly animal derived, so I really don’t know what other option we have.

    Check the recipe I found here. I have not tried it myself.

  13. spice

    Thanks dear.

  14. spice

    Hi Madhuram,wanted to know if your buttercream icing has little crystalized taste to it or it’s smooth & creamy….I used wilton recipe minus Meringue powder….it’s not totally smooth & creamy I mean u can feel little crystal feeling on your tongue, nothing like melt in the mouth….I’m not sure if it’s suppose to be like this or I need to work on it more….will appreciate your answer..thanks.

    Hi Spice, I’m trying hard to recollect the taste and texture. I think it was smooth enough. I’m sorry that I don’t remember it exactly. All I know is it tasted good, the consistency was perfect. Also I used lesser sugar than mentioned in the original recipe. I used 3 cups of sugar instead of 4 cups

  15. spice

    Hi Madhuram,

    I wanted to ask u the professional cake decorating set u bought…does that have all the tools u need for all the 4 wilton courses…do u really find the whole set useful.Thanks in advance.

    Hi Spice, I would suggest you to get the course kit as you go because the tool set I got does not have everything needed for the courses. I ended up buying the course kit too.

  16. vani


    i did make this version of icing, without that powder and my instructor was amazed to see this icing and the consistency of this, medium, and stiff.. it was really superb and perfect. thanks a lot … and it was really helpful for me.
    i have recommended ur website to so many ppl and my friends also…great work and u are really amazing and superb:)

    Thank you very much Vani for taking the time to leave your feedback here.

  17. vani

    thanks for your reply. i meant joann store, it is like micheals in usa. visit it is nice store and i am taking my classes there for cake decorating…:)

  18. vani

    hi madhu,

    also wanted to ask you do u know any store in USA,,, has a cakesupply store……..other than michael and joann.. pls let me know….thanks in advance.

    Vani I think you could do a google search “cake decorating supplies” and the name of the city in which you live. It should give you some results. I found an excellent store in my place like that only.

  19. vani

    hi madhu,

    i am taking the classes of wilton 1.thank god and thank you for letting me know that meringue powder contains egg whites… i am so happy i found out before i prepare icing on my cakes as we in my family are pure vegans and no eggs at all….so i will definitely follow ur recipe for preparing icing and take it to my class next week…..thank you very much..

    You’re welcome Vani.

  20. renu

    Thx for your reply…i will stick to the method posted by you .. One more question, we are supposed to take a baked cake covered with icing to the class. Do you have a suggestion for the icing? my classmates were suggesting to buy one …have never decorated the cake before, have no idea how it works.
    Thank you so much, must say your posts on wilton cake decoration are very very helpful.

    Renu, you’re welcome. They actually tell you in the class to frost it with the medium consistency buttercream icing itself. That’s what I did for 3 of my cakes. For the fondant cake I didn’t have time to make the buttercream icicng and used the store bought icing before covering it with fondant.

  21. renu

    I have enrolled to Wilton cake decorating course 1. I need to make icing for the next class…i just read u didn’t add meringue powder, my instructor said it is important to get the right texture, how did you manage to get the texture?

    Renu it does work. The cakes I have decorated and posted here, the icing was made without meringue powder. Just omit it and follow the rest of the instructions and you will be fine. Actually the buttercream icing recipe in the Wilton’s site itself does not mention meringue powder.

  22. My first ever “decorated” cake – completing Wilton’s basic cake decorating course 1 « for the love of food

    […] would recommend that you read the very detailed, informative posts about the classes put up by Madhuram of Eggless Cooking (one of my favourite bloggers) and Tracy of Puffy’s (one of my wonderful classmates). i […]

  23. vidhya

    i reading ur recipes and posts. i shld appreciate u for ur posts.
    i have been baking for many yrs and now come to the level of taking bday orders and party orders.
    reg the buttercream icing i agree with bharti- pure butter tastes divine but it looses it shape soon even with ur hand heat. so use 1/2 butter and 1/2 butter flavour crisco. it works fine in all consistencies.
    also i usually use fruit pulp as an egg replacement but with ur idea i used yogurt with a package mix and it turned out great.
    i make a mermaid wilton cake with pineapple cake mix,milk,yogurt,oil .it came out so well.
    thanks once again for ur work


    Thanks for the info Vidhya. I too am going to try that ratio the next time. I don’t get butter flavored Crisco here. So I should be adding the butter flavoring instead.

  24. payal jain

    hi madhu,
    can u plz tell me what actually is vegetable shortening and crisco…i have found these words everywhere in many cake decorating methods ,but dunno what are they coz i cant find them in india…and what is the substitute for that…once i tried making buttercream icing with white butter and it tasted yuck n greasey…so from then onwards i use only whipped cream icing…u have seen my cake decorations…but sometime icing doesnt get that stiff to make firm flowers…plz help me….

    Payal, vegetable shortening is nothing but the Vanaspathi (Dalda brand which is quite famous) we get in India. It is better to avoid using that, because it is unhealthy than butter, because it has trans fat. Here it is possible to get trans fat free shortening but I’m not sure about it’s availability in India. Actually I too am going to try with butter alone once I’m done with the classes. Since India is very hot, I think you would have to keep it in the fridge every now and then while you are working with buttercream.