Vegan Chocolate Buttercream Frosting (paleo, dairy-free)


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This vegan chocolate buttercream frosting is dairy-free and can be modified into a paleo buttercream frosting as well. It’s luxuriously rich, creamy and decadent. The perfect frosting for a chocolate cake or cupcakes.

This vegan chocolate buttercream frosting is dairy-free and can be modified into a paleo buttercream frosting as well. It's rich, decadent and delicious!

Sometimes I have the hardest time figuring out what to title my recipes. For instance, take this chocolate buttercream frosting. Which, by the way, is ridiculously amazing. It can be either vegan, paleo or dairy-free depending on how you make it. And it’s a buttercream frosting without any butter (again, depending on which version you go with). Confusing, eh? Do you see my dilemma?

Well, I’ve decided to call it a vegan chocolate buttercream frosting. And you’ve likely seen it piled on top of my Amazing Paleo Chocolate Cake recipe. For a decadent, triple layer cake of rich, chocolatey goodness.

Vegan Chocolate Buttercream Recipe Video

Want to see how easy it is to make the best vegan chocolate buttercream recipe? Watch the video below!

The Best Vegan Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Most traditional buttercream frostings consist of powdered sugar, butter (or butter and shortening), milk and vanilla extract. Chocolate versions of course have cocoa powder.

But today, we’re gonna switch things up – with several different variations that you can make depending on your dietary preferences. Yep, it’s a chocolate buttercream frosting for everyone.

I’ve included the basic recipe below, but let’s walk through the changes for each option:

Dairy-Free or Vegan Chocolate Buttercream Frosting: Use organic palm shortening or vegan butter (or 50/50 palm shortening and vegan butter), plus any non-dairy milk.

Paleo Chocolate Buttercream Frosting: Use powdered coconut sugar (or powdered succanat). You can also use regular butter or 50/50 palm shortening and butter if you do dairy.

This vegan chocolate buttercream frosting is dairy-free and can be modified into a paleo buttercream frosting as well. It's rich, decadent and delicious!

Using Palm Shortening Instead of Butter

I’ve talked in detail about palm shortening before on my molten chocolate cake recipe. So if you’d like to understand how it’s not like Crisco, make sure to read that. But let’s talk about why I love organic palm shortening for frosting, especially over other alternatives like coconut oil.

First, organic palm shortening is highly shelf stable. Coconut oil becomes liquid at 76 degrees fahrenheit. That means that if you use it for a frosting and it’s warmer than 76 degrees, your frosting will soon turn into a liquidy mess and your cake or cupcakes will be ruined.

Second, organic palm shortening is flavorless. Again, unlike coconut oil which has a distinct flavor, palm shortening is neutral in flavor which creates the perfect base for any flavorings you’d like to add. That includes vanilla extract or raw cacao.

What Type of Powdered Sugar to Use?

But what about the powdered sugar? Okay, I know this is going to be a big question, especially for my paleo readers. As most of you know, I’m label-free (except for gluten-free, as a celiac). I do my darnedest to eat from whole food sources and limit refined sugars as much as possible. But I also believe that a splurge every once in a while is 100% okay.

If you’ve watched my How to Make Powdered Sugar video than you know that you can make homemade powdered sugar from virtually any granulated sugar – including coconut sugar. Awesome, right? I know my paleo peeps are rejoicing. And the darker color of coconut sugar doesn’t matter when you’re adding cacao powder to make a chocolate buttercream.

Now, I will say that coconut sugar has a very caramel flavor. So that is one consideration. But if you’re okay with that, then fab. Coconut sugar is less refined and has a lower glycemic index, but in my humble opinion, sugar is sugar and the effects on your body are the same. As always, moderation is key.

This vegan chocolate buttercream frosting is dairy-free and can be modified into a paleo buttercream frosting as well. It's rich, decadent and delicious!

How I Make This Vegan Chocolate Buttercream Recipe

Want to know what I do when I make this recipe? I use 50/50 coconut sugar and organic powdered sugar. It gives the chocolate buttercream this richer, slightly caramel flavor without going over the top. I also use 100% organic palm shortening (as pictured). But if you’d like to sub 50% butter (for a true buttercream) or 50% vegan butter, have at it.

The beauty of this recipe is that it’s highly adaptable to your dietary preferences. The only thing it isn’t is sugar-free (obviously). But sometimes you’ve just gotta have cake, right?

More Vegan and Paleo Desserts

And for a chocolate ganache, check out my Chocolate Truffle Tart. Enjoy! 

This vegan chocolate buttercream frosting is dairy-free and can be modified into a paleo buttercream frosting as well. It's rich, decadent and delicious!

Vegan Chocolate Buttercream Frosting (dairy-free, paleo)

4.91 from 51 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Total: 15 minutes
Servings: 16 servings
Author: Lisa Bryan


This vegan chocolate buttercream frosting is dairy-free and can be modified into a paleo buttercream frosting as well. Feel free to tweak the recipe to your specific dietary needs. Watch the video above!




  • Add all ingredients to a stand mixer and blend on low for 30 seconds. 
  • Once the ingredients have started to combine, slowly increase the speed to high and blend for one minute.
  • To thin the consistency (if needed) add more milk, or to thicken add more powdered sugar.

Lisa's Tips

  • This recipe makes approximately 3 cups of frosting.
  • I highly recommend the beater blade if you have a KitchenAid stand mixer. It scrapes the sides and beats at the same time, which is awesome.
  • It's really easy to make cashew milk, for use in this recipe and others. Make sure to check out my recipe and video on homemade cashew milk.


Calories: 366.1kcal | Carbohydrates: 63g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 13.6g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Sodium: 6.6mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 58.8g
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Paleo Frosting, Vegan Buttercream, Vegan Chocolate Buttercream Frosting, Vegan Chocolate Frosting, Vegan Frosting
Did you make this recipe?Mention @downshiftology or tag #downshiftology!

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About the author

Lisa Bryan

Lisa is a bestselling cookbook author, recipe developer, and YouTuber (with over 2.5 million subscribers) living in sunny Southern California. She started Downshiftology in 2014, and is passionate about making healthy food with fresh, simple and seasonal ingredients.

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Recipe Rating


  1. Love this bit is there anyway to get rid of that palm shortening aftertaste? I used spectrum but still can taste it. And how could I do this as vanilla?
    Love your recipes thank you!

    1. If you can taste the poem shortening, it may have been expired or turning. It usually doesn’t have a taste until it starts to go bad. Then it can give you a little aftertaste I may care with half spectrum Organic shortening and half Moko vegan butter and it is amazing. 💕5 stars

  2. This frosting was incredible! Smooth and full of flavor! Quick and easy to make! The perfect compliment to the Amazing Paleo Chocolate Cake!5 stars

  3. The recipe did not work for me. The palm shortening (I used Spectrum) never smoothed out. Lots of little white clumps stayed in the frosting. I mixed and mixed hoping it would warm up enough to melt in but it stayed clumpy. Wish I would’ve used vegan butter. I hate wasting so many expensive ingredients! Maybe this will help someone else.

    1. Was your palm shortening old perhaps? I’ve only experienced those little clumps on an old container of shortening that had been in my pantry for a while. New containers are usually very smooth. :)

    2. The easy way to fix this is to beat the shortening itself first cream it and then add the other ingredients to it 💕5 stars

  4. I’ve made this frosting a couple times for the cake and I’ve always halved the recipe and still get a bunch extra, it’s a LOT of frosting! 

    This time I did half the sugar (4 cups) and full amount of the other ingredients except for probably one cup of coconut milk! It was too thick otherwise. I did half date sugar, about 1/4 lakanto monkfruit sweetener and 1/4 xylitol birch sugar. Had it at my brother in laws grooms dinner, people liked it 😊 there was a bunch of other cakes there too so I’m glad to have leftovers to eat in the coming days 😁5 stars

  5. Hi,

    For how long can we keep the frosting in the fridge ? I have some left over from a few months ago and when I tasted it last week, it still
    seems ok. Do you think I can still use it or it should be thrown away ? 

  6. Hi Lisa I can’t get palm shortening over here in Australia but like the idea of being able to leave the cake sit out room temperature without it being ruined , I like organic as well so what do you suggest 

  7. HI Lisa, looking forward to making this cake! Can I use regular butter in the same proportions? Also, I don’t have a standing mixer, only a hand held mixer, if I work at it enough can I get the same results do you think? Thanks so much, I love ALL your recipes! <3

  8. This recipe calls for much more sugar than other similar recipes. Even in reducing powered sugar by 1.5 cups, the frosting was extremely thick. I had to add much more vegan milk than the recipe called for just to make it workable.