This frosting is quick, it’s easy, it’s no-cook, and just so happens to be vegan. It’s American Buttercream’s less teeth-shatteringly sweet, more refined, and just as perfectly versatile meringue cousin. Dairy-free, egg-free, and nut-free, it’s allergy friendly and you’ll love working with it. Plus, the flavor and texture will have everyone who tastes it in awe.
While American Buttercream may be the quickest and easiest of the buttercreams to make, many people find it to be sickeningly sweet because it’s the sugar that gives it structure and body – and it takes quite a lot. So what could we possibly do to it to make that not the case?
Aquafaba is legume (beans, lentils, soy, peas, etc.) cooking or canning liquid – and it is the vegan egg white replacement for perfect meringues. It can be used to make macarons and top meringue pies, and even perfect little meringue cookies and royal icing. And it gets treated just like egg whites do in all of the meringue recipes out there.
And there are some amazing recipes by amazing bloggers for vegan meringue buttercreams like this recipe by Gretchen’s Vegan Bakery which is DELICIOUS and AMAZING, but they all involve a pan on the stove and I’m honestly quite lazy and don’t like to dirty extra dishes or turn the stove on unless I absolutely have to. So I had an idea.
One day, while making my easy vegan buttercream, I wondered how I could lower the sugar amount but still maintain structure within the frosting.. And I’ve made enough aquafaba meringue to know it COULD provide structure, but was worried it might deflate if I added it to a bunch of fat. Fats and oils kill meringue faster than you can blink your eyes, in case you didn’t know. Plus, aquafaba meringue usually deflates over time unless it’s stablized with something like agar agar. If you don’t add a stabilizer, it starts to melt and get weepy, and NO ONE wants a soggy cake due to deflating meringue.
But I decided to give it a chance anyway, and I did it the lazy way; I just cracked open a can of beans and dumped the liquid straight into the buttercream.
AND IT WORKED. WONDERFULLY. PERFECTLY. MIRACULOUSLY.
It fluffs up gorgeously, provides a silky texture and beautiful sheen to the buttercream, and takes the place of a whole bunch of sugar so that the frosting is only about half as sweet as what my original American buttercream recipe is.
Even being a meringue buttercream, it’s still stable enough to go between cake layers or macarons and not squish or slide out everywhere.
It doesn’t deflate or weep, and colors and takes on flavors like a dream. And if you want a denser meringue, you can totally reduce your aquafaba down before adding it (I don’t because I’m happy with the way it is and I don’t want to dirty extra dishes).
If you want to check out some gorgeous cakes that use buttercream employing this method, check out @justsomethingfancy on Instagram – while she doesn’t use my exact recipe (because I’m just publishing it now, lol) she does add reduced aquafaba to her buttercream to make it lighter, fluffier, and less sweet.
As far as butters go, take a look at my Easiest Vegan Buttercream Ever post to check out which ones work and how to make the ones that don’t bend to your will.
So without further ado….
- 2 cups (4 sticks, 450g) vegan butter*, room temp
- 5 cups (550g) powdered sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2ish c (125ml) aquafaba, room temperature**
- In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream your butter on low speed until lighter in color and smooth, then turn off mixer.
- Add all the powdered sugar and mix on low speed until completely incorporated. Turn off mixer.
- Add in your vanilla and aquafaba and mix on medium high for five to ten minutes, until your preferred level of fluffiness has been achieved. Keep in mind that the fluffier it gets, the less weight the buttercream will be able to hold. I usually go about five minutes.
- Mix on low/stir speed for five minutes to get rid of bubbles.
* Country Crock plant butter sticks or equivalent. For more on vegan butters and how to make them work, check out my Easiest Vegan Buttercream Ever post (please note that Earth Balance and Miyoko’s are both too soft for this recipe alone. Use 50/50 butter and shortening if you’re unsure if your butter will work)
** I add my aquafaba straight from the can - no reducing. Feel free to reduce yours first if you want, though.
*** The perfect amount of aquafaba to use depends on your climate, your tastes, and your needs. If your buttercream feels too soft, reduce the aquafaba to about 1/3c and/or reduce whipping time. You can also add extra powdered sugar to stiffen it.