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Easy Vegan Vanilla Buttercream {no cornstarch}

Easy vegan vanilla buttercream frosting is just what your vegan cakes and cupcakes need! It is made with DIY powdered sugar that is free of cornstarch!
close up of beaters covered in swirls of vegan vanilla buttercream frosting

This post is short and sweet, just like the recipe! It’s for vegan vanilla buttercream that is both vegan and grain-free. I created it for use with my Grain-Free & Vegan Vanilla Layer Cake recipe.

The vegan part is simple: in place of butter, I use vegan margarine sticks. Be sure to use sticks, not tub margarine. The latter has significantly more water and will throw off the proportions of the recipe. I used Earth Balance Soy-Free Buttery Sticks. I have zero affiliation with the brand. I chose the buttery sticks because I think that they have the best flavor, are made with expeller-pressed oils, and are trans fat-free.

The grain-free part requires finding a  powdered sugar that is free of cornstarch. Powdered sugar (also known as confectioners’ sugar) is simply granulated sugar that is ground into a powder, but most brands also add cornstarch to prevent caking.

Several brands (e.g., Thrive Markets, Wholesome Sweeteners, Safeway O Organics and Whole Foods 365 brand) use tapioca starch instead of cornstarch. Check the label, as more and more brands are making the switch from cornstarch to non-grain starches.

How to Make Powdered Sugar (Confectioners’ Sugar) without Cornstarch

If you cannot find ready-to-use grain-free powdered sugar, make your own!

In a clean coffee grinder or high speed blender, process 1 cup of granulated sugar with 1 tablespoon arrowroot, tapioca starch, or potato starch until powdery.

Regular blenders and food processors can work, too, but I recommend making a bigger batch (double or triple the amounts of sugar and starch).

overhead shot of DIY powdered sugar made without cornstarch

How to Make Vegan Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

The buttercream itself is a breeze: beat the margarine until light and fluffy, then gradually add the sifted powdered sugar and vanilla until completely blended.

glass bowl filled with vegan vanilla frosting being beaten with electric beaters

The buttercream is perfect for frosting layer cakes:

overhead shot of cake being frosted with vegan vanilla frosting

And for piping, too!

close up of cupcake frosted with vegan vanilla buttercream frosting

Related Recipes:

  1. Vegan Chickpea Flour Chocolate Cake
  2. Vegan and Grain-Free Vanilla Layer Cake
  3. Vanilla Almond Flour Cake
  4. Vegan Gluten-Free Red Velvet Cake


Yield: About 3 cups frosting

Easy Vegan Vanilla Buttercream {no cornstarch}

Easy Vegan Vanilla Buttercream {no cornstarch}

A quick and simple vanilla buttercream that is perfect for frosting and piping onto cakes and cupcakes. It is made with grain-free, cornstarch-free powdered sugar.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes


  • 2 sticks (1 cup total) vegan margarine, softened
  • 5 cups grain-free powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (see notes)


  1. In a large bowl, beat the with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.
  2. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the powdered sugar, stopping several times to scrape down sides of the bowl, until completely blended, light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla until incrporated.
  3. This makes enough frosting to frost a 2-layer cake or 24 cupcakes.


Tip: Powdered sugar is also known as confectioners' sugar.

Tip: Be sure to use sticks, not tub margarine. The latter has a much higher water content and will alter the proportions of the recipe.

Vanilla: Technically, vanilla extract is not grain-free because it is made with alcohol, which is made from grain. Vanilla paste is made without alcohol. If you are fine using vanilla extract, use an equal amount (1 teaspoon).

Nutrition Information

Amount Per Serving Calories 0Total Fat 0gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 0gCholesterol 0mgSodium 0mgCarbohydrates 0gFiber 0gSugar 0gProtein 0g

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Vegan & Grain-Free Vanilla Layer Cake | power hungry

Wednesday 16th of September 2020

[…] way you like, but for this traditional (not traditional!) vanilla cake, consider using my simple Vanilla Buttercream (it is also vegan and grain-free; I have tips and a recipe for cornstarch-free powdered […]

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