Chocolate Butter Free Frosting

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.    

Chocolate frosting made with coconut milk in a bowl

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!

Chocolate dairy free frosting made with coconut milk in a bowl

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What You Need To Make Frosting Without Butter

  • Unsweetened Canned Coconut MilkNot 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.  
  1.  

Coconut Milk Brands I Recommend To Make Butter Free Frosting

Good and Gather

  • Where to buy: Target
  • Description:  
    • It whips up nicely, is thick and creamy, and I successfully use it to make Butter Free Frosting and Whipped Coconut Cream.
  • Pros:
    • Does not have a strong coconut flavor, includes guar gum which acts as a stabilizer, and the coconut solids are smooth and creamy.
  • Cons:
    • It can be hit or miss on how much coconut solid you are able to get from can to can.

Thai Kitchen

  • Where to buy:  Walmart or Amazon
  • Description:  
    • This used to be my go-to, but it has become harder to find. It whips light and fluffy and I had success making Butter Free Frosting and Whipped Coconut Cream.
  • Pros:
    • Does not have a strong coconut flavor and includes guar gum which acts as a stabilizer.  
  • Cons:
    • Some may find the texture chalky. But I find this unnoticeable when whipped into frosting or whipped cream.
  •  

Disclaimer: This information is purely subjective and my own opinion based on testing the product. Others may have different experiences. Additionally, I find canned coconut milk is not consistent from can to can. Ratio of coconut solids and liquid can vary.

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.

Coconut Milk Brands I Have Tested And Do Not Recommend For Butter Free Frosting

365 Organic Coconut Milk

  • Where to buy:  Whole Foods
  • Description:  
    • It works to make Butter Free Frosting and Whipped Coconut Cream. However, I didn’t care for the strong coconut flavor.
  • Pros:
    • Includes guar gum, which acts as a stabilizer.
  • Cons:
    • Has a pronounced coconut flavor, and a bit of a chalky texture. 


Native Forest Organic Coconut Milk

  • Where to buy:  Whole Foods
  • Description:  
    • This did not work for me when testing Butter Free Frosting. It did not whip to a thick and creamy consistency. My thought is because it did not have guar gum in it to stabilize it.
  • Pros:
    • Good separation of coconut solids and liquid when refrigerated.
    • Does not include guar gum. A pro if you are looking for no guar gum coconut milk.
  • Cons:
    • Did not work for Butter Free Frosting.
    • Has a pronounced coconut flavor.

Native Forest Organic Coconut Cream

  • Where to buy:  Whole Foods
  • Description: 
    • It works to make Butter Free Frosting and Whipped Coconut Cream. However, I didn’t care for the strong coconut flavor – especially in the frosting.
  • Pros:
    • Includes guar gum, which acts as a stabilizer.
    • Works to make Whipped Coconut Cream.
  • Cons:
    • Has a pronounced coconut flavor.

Andre Prost Unsweetened Coconut Milk

  • Where to buy:  Target, Walmart, Amazon
  • Description: 
    • I couldn’t really test this as the cans I tried did not have any separation of coconut solids and liquid.
  • Pros:
    • Seems to be available in a variety of stores – usually in the baking aisle.
  • Cons:
    • Poor separation of coconut solids and liquid.
    • Pronounced coconut flavor.

Disclaimer: This information is purely subjective and my own opinion based on testing the product. Others may have different experiences. Additionally, I find canned coconut milk is not consistent from can to can. Ratio of coconut solids and liquid can vary.

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!

Chocolate dairy free frosting on a cake

Common Questions For Making Chocolate Frosting Without Butter

How much frosting does this recipe make?

About 1 and 1/4 cups of frosting. Enough frosting for 6 cupcakes or a small 6-inch, 2 layer cake.

What does frosting made without butter taste like?

Like frosting! I find it is similar in consistency and texture as the store-bought tubs of frosting.

Does frosting made with coconut milk taste like coconut?

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.

Can I double the recipe to make a larger batch of frosting?

I have not tested it, but I think it would turn out ok.

How can I make this frosting recipe 100% dairy free?

Use vegan chocolate chips. Regular chocolate chips – like Nestle for example – have milkfat in them.

Why do I have to refrigerate the can of coconut milk?

This causes the coconut solids and coconut liquid to separate. It ensures very solid coconut solids.

Can I use a can of coconut cream instead?

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.

Why do I have to heat the coconut milk, oil, and chocolate chips first?

To melt everything into a homogenous mixture. And, to melt the chocolate chips.

How long do I have to let the chocolate mix cool for?

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.

The frosting is still soupy and/or thin. What did I do wrong?

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.

Can I use this butter free frosting to pipe flowers, designs, etc.?

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 

Dairy free chocolate frosting on a whisk
Chocolate frosting made with coconut milk in a bowl
Print Recipe Pin Recipe

Chocolate Butter Free Frosting

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. 
Prep30 mins
Total30 mins
Servings: 1 and 1/4 cups (approx.)
Author: Erin | Butter and Bliss

Equipment

  • Small Heavy Duty Saucepan

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened canned coconut milk or cream - recommendations in Blog Post
  • 4 tablespoons cold pressed refined coconut oil
  • 6 tablespoons semi-sweet chocolate chips - use vegan chocolate chips for dairy free
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch salt
  • 1 and 1/4 cup powdered sugar

Instructions

  • 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.

Notes

Mixer
  • 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.
Unsweetened Canned Coconut Milk
  • 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.
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 organic powdered sugar.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
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