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No one will ever know that this small batch of Chocolate Butter Free Frosting is made without butter! This chocolate frosting recipe uses coconut milk and coconut oil instead of butter to make a smooth and creamy chocolate frosting. Make it truly dairy free and vegan by using vegan chocolate chips and organic powdered sugar.
RECIPE AND POST UPDATED August 2021
Chocolate Butter Free Frosting
Chocolate Frosting is almost a necessity in any baker’s kitchen. And having a recipe to make homemade frosting is equally important. Store-bought frosting always works in a pinch, but I find that it is too sweet, and often leaves a weird oily residue.
Which leaves me with the dilemma that I am not a huge fan of American buttercream. Ironic given the name of the blog, right?! Traditional buttercream is not my favorite because I find it is simply just too buttery. So, I had to solve for this and this Chocolate Butter Free Frosting recipe – along with my Vanilla Butter Free Frosting recipe – are a delicious, dairy free and butter free answer to my frosting problem!
And you may be wondering, can you make frosting without butter? The answer is yes. This chocolate frosting is made with coconut milk and coconut oil. The coconut milk comes from a can of unsweetened coconut milk, and the coconut oil is cold-pressed and solid. Combining these two key ingredients with chocolate chips and powdered sugar result in a creamy and thick chocolate frosting.
What Does Frosting Without Butter Taste Like
I could go on and on about the differences between a dairy free 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!
What You Need To Make Frosting Without Butter
- Unsweetened Canned 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 they should be very solid. To aid in the separation process, refrigerate the can of coconut milk at least overnight. Brand recommendations are below. Do not use light or lowfat coconut milk or cream. We need the full fat variety to create a thick and creamy frosting.
- Cold-Pressed Refined Coconut Oil – This acts as a fat and thickener to the frosting and helps it firm up. I use Nutiva Refined Coconut Oil. It is also important that the coconut oil is the cold-pressed variety and not liquid oil. I also prefer refined coconut oil because it does not have a strong coconut flavor.
- Chocolate Chips – If you want to make a truly dairy free and vegan frosting recipe, use vegan chocolate chips.
- Powdered Sugar – Same as above – organic powdered sugar tends to be certified vegan.
- Vanilla – For added flavor.
- Salt – Salt balances the sweetness and makes the chocolate flavor more pronounced.
Brands of coconut milk I Recommend to make butter free frosting
- Good and Gather from Target – It whips up nicely, is thick and creamy, and I successfully use it to make frosting and whipped cream. Pros: not a strong coconut flavor and contains guar gum. Cons: it can be hit or miss on how much coconut solid you get from can to can.
- Simple Truth Organic from Kroger grocery (i.e. King Soopers, City Market) – This brand has all of the same features as Good and Gather.
- Thai Kitchen from Walmart and maybe the grocery – This used to be my go-to, but it has become harder to find. It whips very light and fluffy. Pros: not a strong coconut flavor and contains guar gum. Cons: some may find the texture chalky, but I find this unnoticeable when whipped into frosting or whipped cream.
If you are curious about other brands of canned coconut milk I have tested, I have outlined those below. Also helpful when making your ingredient purchase decisions.
Are there Brands of Coconut Milk that you do not recommend to make butter free frosting?Yes, and I’ve outlined those below. I’ve tested all of these a few times, and have not been successful in making thick and creamy frosting.
- 365 Organic Coconut Milk from Whole Foods – It does contain guar gum, but I don’t care for the strong coconut flavor. I find the flavor off-putting when trying to make a flavored frosting.
- Native Forest Organic Coconut Milk from Whole Foods – No guar gum and it wouldn’t whip up thick and creamy. Plus, it has a pronounced coconut flavor.
- Andre Prost Unsweetened Coconut Milk from Target, Walmart, Amazon – While I’ve seen this brand at almost every store that sells groceries, I’ve yet to find a can that had any separation of coconut solids and liquid.
Tips For Making Chocolate Frosting Without Butter
- Use unsweetened canned coconut milk (or cream) – I use canned coconut milk because it is less expensive than cans of coconut cream. Carton coconut milk will not work.
- Use full fat coconut milk or cream, not light or lowfat – We need the full fat variety to create a thick and creamy frosting.
- The canned coconut milk (or cream) should have guar gum in it – Guar gum acts as a thickener and stabilizer. If you are opposed to guar gum, you could try replacing the coconut milk and coconut oil with vegan butter. I have not had success using ‘no guar’ coconut milk.
- Refrigerate the can of coconut milk (or cream) overnight – This helps the coconut liquid and solids to separate.
- Only use the coconut solids from the can – If the can doesn’t have any or is already mixed up, try a new can.
- Use cold-pressed refined coconut oil – Refined because it doesn’t have a strong coconut flavor. Cold pressed because it is solid and not processed like liquid coconut oil.
- Store your coconut oil in your pantry – This is just good for the product as it is sensitive to temperature and can loosen in warmer environments.
- Do not boil the chocolate mix when melting it together – The mix of coconut solids, coconut oil, and chocolate chips just needs to melt together. We don’t need to overheat it.
- Allow the chocolate mix to cool completely – This will give the mixture some time to start setting back up. Put in the refrigerator to speed up this process.
- Add powdered sugar in 1/2 cup increments – I have found this makes for a creamier texture.
- 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. Bring it to room temp and stir/mix before using.
- If you want to make the frosting truly vegan – I would recommend looking for organic powdered sugar and vegan chocolate chips. Sometimes the process of manufacturing the powdered sugar may not be 100% vegan. No animal product in the sugar itself, just the processing of it.
Dessert Ideas For Using Chocolate Butter Free Frosting
I have a variety of desserts on the blog that this chocolate frosting would be great with, and I’ve listed a few below. Or, if you are like me, I have a tendency to eat it right off the spoon!
- Gluten Free Vanilla Cupcakes
- Peppermint Mocha Layer Mini Cake
- Frosted Brownie Blondies
- Easy Chocolate Mini Cake
- Small Batch Vanilla Cupcakes
Common Questions For Making Chocolate Frosting Without Butter
About 1 and 1/4 cups of frosting. Enough frosting for 6 cupcakes or a small 6-inch, 2 layer cake.
Like frosting! I find it is similar in consistency and texture as the store-bought tubs of frosting.
It will depend on the brand of coconut milk you use. With the brand of coconut milk and coconut oil I use, I don’t taste coconut.
I have not tested it, but I think it would turn out ok.
Use vegan chocolate chips. Regular chocolate chips – like Nestle for example – have milkfat in them.
This causes the coconut solids and coconut liquid to separate. It ensures very solid coconut solids.
Yes, you can. I have not found a significant difference between canned coconut milk and coconut cream. I use coconut milk because it is easier to find.
To melt everything into a homogenous mixture. And, to melt the chocolate chips.
It needs to cool completely so it is no longer warm. Cool completely either at room temperature for 20-30 minutes. Or you can cool it in the refrigerator for about half that time.
A couple things could be happening. 1. Your coconut solids weren’t solid. 2. You used liquid coconut oil instead of cold-pressed coconut oil. 3. This mixture needs some time to cool, and you can set it in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes and try mixing again.
This butter free frosting is best used to simply frost cakes, or as a filling. While I have not tried piping flowers or designs, I can’t say it behaves the same as American buttercream.
More Frosting Recipes
- Glossy Marshmallow Meringue Frosting
- Vanilla Butter Free Frosting
- Strawberry Whipped Buttercream Frosting
- Pumpkin Cupcakes with Whipped Ganache Frosting
Chocolate Butter Free Frosting
- 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 and stir the mix with a spatula until it has completely melted together – this should only take about 1 – 2 minutes. Do not boil. The mixture will resemble a creamy soup.
- Transfer the mix to a small mixing bowl and add the vanilla extract and salt. Allow the mixture to cool completely. As it cools, it will thicken slightly. You can cool on the counter for 20 – 30 minutes. Or in the refrigerator for about half the time.
- Using a hand held mixer or stand mixer (see Notes) fitted with the whisk attachments, add a 1/2 cup of the powered sugar to the chocolate mixture. Start at low speed to incorporate the powdered sugar and avoid having it spray everywhere. Turn up the speed to high and beat for 1 – 2 minutes to fully incorporate the powdered sugar. At this point, the frosting will look sticky and gooey.
- Add another 1/2 cup of powdered – beating for at least 1 – 2 minutes. With the final 1/4 cup, beat the frosting for an additional 2 – 3 minutes, until it is light and creamy. Note – At this point, taste the frosting. You can add more powdered sugar for a sweeter frosting. The frosting should be thick and creamy and resemble the store-bought frosting you buy in the small tubs at the grocery. If the frosting still looks loose, refrigerate it for about 10 minutes, then beat for a couple more minutes until it thickens.
- The frosting is ready to use right away or can be refrigerated. If refrigerating, the frosting will firm even more. Allow refrigerated frosting to come to room temperature and stir/mix to fluff before frosting.
- I use a small 3-quart mixing bowl that works on my stand mixer and the frosting in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. I find it is just easier.
- Use unsweetened canned coconut milk. Not carton coconut milk.
- Do not use light or lowfat coconut milk or cream. We need the full fat variety to create a thick and creamy frosting.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 organic powdered sugar.
about the author ...
I'm Erin and I'm all about desserts - and a little bit of butter!
I've tested, written, and photographed hundreds of recipes on my website. Here you'll find the tastiest small batch gluten free and traditional desserts - all homemade, all simple, and all for you!