Strawberry Butter Free Frosting

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This small batch recipe for Strawberry Butter Free Frosting is dairy free, made with coconut oil, coconut cream, and freeze dried strawberries that give the frosting a vibrant strawberry flavor.  The butter free frosting is great as a filling or to simply frost cakes, cupcakes or bars.

Strawberry Butter Free Frosting

My first butter free frosting recipe – Vanilla Butter Free Frosting – is one of the most popular recipes on the blog and Pinterest.  Given its popularity, I figured it was time to add to the flavor lineup of butter free frostings.  We have vanilla, chocolate, and even peach, and now I am excited to add strawberry to the butter free frosting list!

Features of this Strawberry Butter Free Frosting recipe:

  • This is a dairy free frosting that is made without vegan butter or margarine.
  • Coconut oil and coconut cream are combined to make the base of the frosting
  • The frosting is thick, creamy, and perfect to frost cakes, cupcakes, brownies.  Plus, it makes a great filling!
  • Bold strawberry flavor, thanks to freeze-dried strawberries.
  • It is vegan, dairy free/lactose free, and versatile in that it can be made in a variety of flavors.
  • It has the taste and texture of frosting.  Think of the frosting  you can buy at the stores in little tubs.  That is this frosting.  Except it is homemade and missing all of the ingredients that you can’t pronounce!

Frosting Made With Coconut Oil and Coconut Cream

This recipe for Strawberry Butter Free Frosting answers the question – ‘can frosting be made without butter?’  By combining a few ingredients, you can quickly make a batch of frosting that gives traditional American Buttercream a run for its money.

The key ingredients for butter free frosting are:

  • A can of coconut milk
  • Coconut oil – The solid version of coconut oil that is also referred to as cold-pressed.
  • Powdered sugar
  • Feature flavor – Such as chocolate, different flavor extracts, or fruit.  And in the case of this recipe, freeze-dried strawberries.
Freeze dried strawberries in a small bowl on a table

What You Need To Make Butter Free Strawberry Frosting

Ingredients

  • Freeze Dried Strawberries – The freeze dried strawberries are relatively easy to find in any grocery and are usually with the nuts and dried fruits.
  • Unsweetened Canned Coconut Milk – I have provided a list below of the brands I have tested and recommend to make this frosting.  
  • Coconut Oil – The coconut oil is solid, and is also the variety that you are likely to find in your grocery.  As opposed to liquid – or fractionated – coconut oil.  We want the solid, cold-pressed coconut oil.  A (affiliate) link is in the recipe for the brand I use.
  • Powdered Sugar – If you need to ensure the frosting is vegan, I recommend Wholesome Organic Powdered Sugar.  Powdered sugar is naturally vegan, though some brands may use materials during processing that make it not vegan.
  • Vanilla Extract – Adds a layer of flavor.

Kitchen Equipment

  • Small Saucepan – The saucepan is needed to melt the coconut oil and coconut solids.  I recommend using the saucepan versus microwaving so you can control (and monitor) how hot it gets. 
  • Mixing Bowls
  • Spice Grinder or Blender – For grinding the freeze dried strawberries to powder. 
  • Hand Held Mixer – I have made this frosting using my stand mixer.  But only with a smaller mixing bowl.  If you have a Kitchen Aid mixer, they do make 3 quart mixing bowls that work with the regular attachments.

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 frosting and whipped 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.

Simple Truth Organic

  • Where to buy:  Kroger grocery (i.e. King Soopers, City Market
  • Description, Pros, Cons:
    • All of the same features as Good and Gather.

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 frosting and whipped 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 a list of brands I do not recommend using in the original Vanilla Butter Free Frosting recipe post.

Tips For Making Strawberry Butter Free Frosting

Coconut Milk Tips

  • 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.
  • Do not use light or lowfat coconut milk or cream – 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.
  • You will have extra coconut milk – Use the extra for smoothies!

Coconut Oil Tips

  • 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.  

Tips For Making The Frosting

  • Do not overheat the mix when melting it together – The mix of coconut solid and coconut oil just needs to melt together.  We don’t need to overheat it.
  • Add a little powdered sugar to the mix when melting – I find a little powdered sugar gives all of the fat particles something to attach to, and not separate.
  • Allow the mix to cool to room temperature – This will give the mixture some time to start setting back up.
  • 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.  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.
Close up inside the bowl of strawberry dairy free frosting

Common Questions For How To Make Strawberry Butter Free Frosting

Can this recipe be doubled?

I think that would be fine. Just keep in mind, depending on how much coconut solid is in your can, you may have to use two cans.

What is the deal with guar gum?

Guar gum acts as a stabilizer and thickener. I have tested cans of coconut milk that do not have guar gum, and the frosting did not turn out.

Can I use fresh or frozen strawberries instead of freeze dried strawberries?

Even though I haven’t tested it, I don’t think fresh or frozen will work. There is too much liquid in fruit that will alter the texture of the frosting.

What does butter free frosting taste like?

Like creamy strawberry frosting. I find that it does not leave a greasy residue like dairy buttercream sometimes can.

What is the texture/consistency of butter free frosting?

At room temperature, it is thick and creamy, like store-bought frosting in a tub. When it is refrigerated, the frosting sets up firm. If you are refrigerating the frosting, I recommend letting it come to room temperature and stir/mix before using.

How many cakes or cupcakes will the frosting frost?

The frosting should easily frost 6 cupcakes, or a small 6-inch layer cake.

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

This forces the separation of coconut solids and liquid. We only use the coconut solids from the can.

Why do I have to melt the mixture at the beginning? Can’t I just whip all of the ingredients together?

Even though cold-pressed coconut oil is solid like butter, I find it doesn’t whip up smooth. Melting the coconut milk and oil creates a homogenous base for the frosting.

My frosting is still loose. What did I do wrong?

A few things could have happened: Did your can of coconut milk have guar gum? Was the coconut truly solid from the can, or was it soupy and loose? Did you use cold-pressed coconut oil? Did you let the melted mixture cool to room temperature first? Was the powdered sugar added in 1/2 cup increments and mixed for at least 1 minute after each addition? Did you try refrigerating the frosting for a few minutes, and try to whip again?

Can I make pretty decorative flowers or designs with this butter free frosting?

This butter free frosting is not identical to dairy buttercream, and I don’t think it would make intricate designs like dairy buttercream.

Is the butter free frosting the same texture and consistency as American buttercream?

I find this butter free frosting to be creamier and thicker than American buttercream.

Can I use this dairy free frosting as a filling?

Yes! I have used it as a frosting and filling on cookies.

Top view of butter free strawberry frosting in a bowl with a red spatula

Cake and Cupcake Recipes To Use Strawberry Butter Free Frosting

Inside view of a bowl of strawberry butter free frosting with a spatula
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5 from 2 reviews

Strawberry Butter Free Frosting

Yield: 2 Cups (approximately)
This small batch recipe for Strawberry Butter Free Frosting is dairy free, made with coconut oil and coconut cream, and freeze dried strawberries that give the frosting a vibrant strawberry flavor.  The butter free frosting is great as a filling or to simply frost cakes, cupcakes or bars.
Prep30 mins
Total30 mins

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Refrigerate the can of coconut milk at least overnight. This causes the liquid and coconut solids to separate and we are only using the solids from the can. You will have extra coconut milk solids and liquid which can be used in smoothies.
  • In a small saucepan, add the coconut milk solids, solid coconut oil, and 1 tablespoon of powdered sugar. Heat over medium-low heat and stir the mix with a spatula until it has completely melted together – this should only take about 1 minute. Do not boil. The mixture will resemble a creamy soup.
  • Transfer the mix to a small mixing bowl and stir in the vanilla extract. Let cool to room temperature – about 10 to 15 minutes. You still want the mix to be be liquid when you add the powdered sugar. Note – You can also refrigerate it for a few minutes to speed up the cool down.
  • Add the remaining 2 cups of powdered sugar in 1/2 cup increments at a time. Using a handheld mixer fitted with the whisk attachments, add a 1/2 cup of the powered sugar to the coconut 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 minute. At this point, the frosting will look sticky and gooey.
  • Continue to add a 1/2 cup of powdered sugar at a time – beating for at least 1 minute after each addition. With the final 1/2 cup, add the strawberry powder and beat the frosting for an additional 2 to 3 minutes until it is light and creamy. 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. See Notes and the Blog Post for more tips and faq's that are helpful for making and troubleshooting the frosting.
  • 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.
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Notes

Unsweetened Canned Coconut Milk
  • Use unsweetened canned coconut milk that includes guar gum.  The guar gum works as a stabilizer to help the frosting set.  Do not use 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, as long as it has guar gum.  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.  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.
Freeze Dried Strawberries
  • I recommend grinding the whole bag (1.25 ounces) of freeze dried strawberries for this recipe.  You can add more strawberry powder to the frosting to suit your taste.  You may have a little leftover that you can save for another recipe, or sprinkle over the top of frosted cupcakes.
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.  
  • 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.  Do not expect the frosting to work for intricate designs or flowers.
  • The texture and consistency of the frosting is similar to the store-bought frosting in the small tubs.
  • This frosting is great as a filling in cakes, cupcakes, or cookies.  Or to simply frost cakes, cupcakes, or bars.
  • If you want to make the frosting truly vegan, I would recommend looking for organic powdered sugar.  Sometimes (it’s hard to say), the process of manufacturing the powdered sugar may not be 100% vegan.  No animal product in the sugar itself, just the processing of it.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Erin Cernich

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