Small Batch Recipes For Baked Goods And Desserts

Chocolate Butter-Free Buttercream Frosting

No one will ever know that this small batch of decadent chocolate frosting is made without butter!  The Chocolate Butter-Free Buttercream Frosting is made with refined coconut oil and canned coconut cream in lieu of butter to make a rich chocolate frosting.    

Homemade Chocolate Frosting Dairy-Free


New Chocolate Frosting Recipe

I have made a few changes to this original post and recipe.  After some recipe testing and refinement, I have created a small batch chocolate frosting recipe that is much more decadent! 

The original recipe for a butter-free buttercream frosting only used coconut oil as the replacement for butter.  While it was still very yummy, I didn’t care for how loose it was.  So I made a few refinements and this new recipe for Chocolate Butter-Free Buttercream Frosting is eat-off-a-spoon worthy!

The Ingredients in Butter-Free Buttercream Frosting

The great thing about any frosting is that it only requires a few ingredients.  And this butter-free version is no different.

  • Coconut Milk Solids – we get this from a can of unsweetened coconut milk.  Not carton coconut milk.  In a can of coconut milk, the coconut solids separate from the coconut liquid.  It is the solids that we want for this recipe.  And it is very important that the coconut solids are very solid.  To aid in the separation process, refrigerate the can of coconut milk at least overnight.
    • Brand Recommendations:
      1. Good & Gather – Target – I find this brand whips up beautifully and usually what I use for my Whipped Coconut Cream recipes.  The coconut solids are creamy, there is not a strong coconut flavor, and it is also my go-to when I want creamy coconut milk in baking or drinks.  I have also had success using it to make butter-free buttercream.
        • Cons:  It can be hit or miss on the amount of coconut solids from can to can.
      2. Thai KitchenGrocery – This used to be my go-to, but it seems harder and harder to find.  I have had great success in whipping it to a fluffy whipped cream and using it to make butter-free buttercream.  There is not a strong coconut flavor.
        • Cons:  Some may find it chalky.
      3. 365 Organic Coconut MilkWhole Foods – I’d put this as a mix of Simply Balanced and Thai Kitchen.
        • Cons:  Some may find it chalky and there is a more pronounced coconut flavor.
      4. Native Forest Organic Coconut Milk Whole Foods, Thrive Market and Coconut Cream Whole Foods – If you are looking for a brand that does not have guar gum added, I recommend the Coconut Milk (the Coconut Cream has guar gum).  I have had luck with good solid and liquid separation.  To make whipped cream, I recommend the Coconut Cream.
        • Cons:  I find there is a more pronounced coconut flavor.
  • Cold Pressed Refined Coconut Oil – this helps to add a little healthy fat to the frosting and help firm it up.  This is the coconut oil I use.  It is also important that the coconut oil is the variety and not liquid oil.  I also prefer ‘refined’ because it does not have a strong coconut flavor.
  • Chocolate Chips – there are no hard-pressed rules on the type of chocolate chip to use.  My go-to chocolate chips are Ghiradelli’s, but you can you whatever brand of chip you prefer.  You can also make this frosting vegan by using vegan chocolate chips.
  • Powdered Sugar – same rules (or no rules) for the powdered sugar.  Any brand will work, and you can ensure it is vegan by using vegan powdered sugar.  

What does Butter-Free Buttercream taste like

I could go on and on about the differences between a no-dairy buttercream and dairy buttercream – but I won’t.  This recipe tastes just like dairy chocolate frosting.  Even though we are using solid coconut milk and coconut oil, you don’t taste the coconut.  This chocolate frosting is just as smooth and decadent as any dairy version – and in my opinion, better!

Chocolate Frosting

How to make Chocolate Butter-Free Buttercream Frosting

I have lost count of how many batches of frosting I have made – butter and butter-free.  And this recipe of chocolate frosting is really pretty easy to make.  

  1. Heat the coconut solids, coconut milk, and chocolate chips – basically, we want to melt all of these ingredients together so they are nice, smooth, and fully incorporated.  
  2. Let the heated chocolate mix cool – you can speed up this process by putting it in the refrigerator for about 5 minutes.  Or cool it on the counter for twice as long.
  3. Add the powdered sugar – I would recommend adding it slowly so you don’t have a sugar mess all over your counter!  And here is another not hard-pressed rule – you can increase or decrease the amount of powdered sugar based on the consistency you want.  

Tips for butter-free buttercream frosting

The frosting sets, even more, when refrigerated – so, you can make this frosting ahead of time and store it covered in the refrigerator.  And if you do refrigerate the frosting, I recommend letting it sit a room temperature for a few minutes before frosting your bake. 

This is not dairy buttercream – thus, it doesn’t behave like dairy buttercream.  This frosting is sturdy and great to frost cakes, cupcakes, or bars.  However, if you are looking to make intricate piping designs or flowers, it may not work.  Please note – I cannot say this for certain because I have not tried it, but based on the nuances of a dairy buttercream and this dairy-free frosting, I can’t say for certain fancy decorations will work.

This is a small batch recipe – with that, I have not tested it by doubling, or even tripling it.  There will be enough frosting to frost 6 cupcakes or a 6-inch cake with two layers.  

Recipes Ideas for the Chocolate Butter-Free Buttercream Frosting

Butter-Free Chocolate Buttercream

Chocolate Butter-Free Buttercream Frosting

No one will ever know that this small batch of Chocolate Butter-Free Buttercream Frosting is made without butter!  This frosting recipe uses refined coconut oil and canned coconut cream in lieu of butter to make a rich and decadent chocolate frosting.   
Prep20 mins
Total20 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 1 and 1/4 cups (approx.)
Author: Erin | Butter and Bliss


  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened canned coconut milk or cream (recommendations in Blog Post)
  • 2 tablespoons cold pressed refined coconut oil
  • 6 tablespoons chocolate chips (dark chocolate, semi-sweet, or bittersweet)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/4 cup confectioner’s (powdered) sugar


  • Refrigerate the can of coconut milk at least overnight. This causes the liquid and coconut solids to separate – we are only using the coconut solids to make the frosting. You will have extra coconut milk solids and liquid which can be used in smoothies.
  • In a small saucepan, add the coconut milk solids, coconut oil, and chocolate chips. Heat over medium-low heat until the mixture has melted and completely blended together. Do not boil.
  • Transfer the mix to a small mixing bowl and add the vanilla extract. Cool to room temperature for about 5 minutes in the refrigerator, or 10 minutes on the counter.
  • Add the powdered sugar to the chocolate mixture. Using a handheld mixer, beat until the frosting is light and fluffy – about 3-5 minutes. Do not overmix! Beating the frosting too long make cause it to separate.
  • The frosting is ready to use right away! If refrigerating, transfer to an airtight container and the frosting can be kept for up to a week. When ready to use, allow the frosting to come to room temperature to loosen up.


Unsweetened Canned Coconut Milk
  • Use unsweetened canned coconut milk.  Not carton coconut milk.
  • Unsweetened canned coconut cream will work too.  It separates into a solid and liquid just like canned coconut milk does, and I have not found significant differences between the two.
  • Brand recommendations are in the Blog Post. 
  • The coconut milk (or cream) solids must be solid.  Any extra water could impact the way the frosting turns out. 
  • It can be hit or miss sometimes on how solid the coconut milk (cream) is in the can.  Unfortunately, if your can does not have coconut solids, you may want to save that can for another recipe and try a new one.
Cold Pressed Coconut Oil
  • The coconut oil for this recipe is solid – not liquid.  It almost resembles a lighter shortening.  
  • I keep my coconut oil in the pantry – away from heat and light.
Frosting Tips
  • Refrigerating the frosting will set it even more.  You can make it ahead of time and refrigerate for up to 1 week in a sealed container.
  • This recipe has only been tested for a small batch.  I cannot say how it will turn out if the recipe is doubled.
  • The recipe makes enough frosting for 6 cupcakes or a small 6-inch, 2 layer cake.
  • I have piped this frosting into a simple swirl on cupcakes.  While I have not tried it, I don’t think it will pipe intricate designs and details (i.e. flowers) as dairy buttercream does.  
  • This frosting is great as a filling in cakes or cupcakes.  Or to simply frost cakes, cupcakes, or bars.
  • Make it vegan by using vegan chocolate chips and vegan powdered sugar.
Keywords Butter-Free, Buttercream, Chocolate, Small Batch
Liked the recipe?Let us know how it was!

2 thoughts on “Chocolate Butter-Free Buttercream Frosting”

  • My frosting looks nothing like your fluffy and lighten chocolate frosting. I am disappointed. I wonder what went wrong with mine.

    • Hi Sharon – I’m sorry to hear the frosting didn’t turn out. Few thoughts – were the solids from the canned coconut milk really solid? It should be. Any extra water/liquids may impact the way the frosting turns out. Also – was the coconut oil you used the solid kind (I use Nutiva refined cold-pressed). And, letting the mix cool after melting helps – you could even refrigerate it for 5 minutes before adding the powdered sugar – this will definitely help the chocolate chips start to set, which are a big help in the thick consistency of this frosting. Hope this helps if you make it again, but I appreciate you trying the recipe and the feedback!

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