In most forms of traditional baking, butter is a prevalent ingredient.
Not only does it provide richness but also stiffness to a particular dish, since the fat content enables peaks to form and stay.
Frosting, or buttercream icing, is traditionally used as a popular topping for desserts.
With a combination of milk, sugar, and, of course, butter, you’re able to whip up a batch in no time.
However, that doesn’t mean butter is completely necessary for this type of icing, either.
In fact, it is generally interchangeable with other solid fats featuring a spreadable texture.
Since there have been many conflicting reports concerning the healthiness of butter in a diet, many people have turned to alternatives.
With some studies connecting butter to both increased risk of stroke and heart attack, while others regard butter as fine to eat – the uncertainty surrounding butter isn’t without warrant.
So, if you’re looking to make your favorite frosting without the salty, richness of butter, then you’ve come to the right place.
Luckily for you, there are a few different alternatives to butter that work perfectly well in frosting, leaving your dishes tasting as delicious as ever.
Let’s get straight into it!
One of the most common substitutes for butter is margarine.
Since both ingredients share common textures and flavors, they can be used interchangeably in a recipe using a 1-to-1 ratio.
When making frosting, butter enables it to have that smooth, creamy, and rich texture – the closest alternative to achieving this is margarine.
Margarine used in a frosting produces much of the same textures and colors you would achieve when using butter.
However, one thing to keep in mind is that depending on the margarine you use; this can implant the richness of the frosting flavors.
For instance, if you’re using low-fat margarine, then you should consider including slightly more meringue powder, which works as a stiffening agent, as it will make up for the loss in fat.
Depending on what you’re making, the stiffness of the frosting can be extremely important.
In some cases, if you’re looking to pipe your icing and make decorative designs, then you’re going to need a stiffer icing to achieve this.
Since these types of designs require precision and detail, a loose frosting can oftentimes make this extremely difficult.
Therefore, keep this in mind when you’re deliberating what type of frosting to decorate your creations.
2. Standard Icing
When it comes to basic buttercreams, the recipe will usually consist of a 1-to-5 ratio of unsalted butter against the content of sugar.
Additional ingredients that are typically present in frosting include stuff like vanilla extract and a splash of milk – these are to help with the overall consistency of your frosting.
Essentially, the more sugar you add to your frosting; the thicker it will become.
On the other hand, the more milk you include, the runnier and thinner it will get.
However, the beauty of frosting is that you can make it ahead of time for your baking convenience.
Simply ensure that you keep it securely stored at room temperature until you’re ready to use it.
When you expose your frosting to room air temperature, you run the risk of compromising the ingredients included.
For instance, some ingredients can break down which impacts the overall texture of the frosting.
Therefore, ensure it is securely covered and wrapped with plastic wrap.
3. Shortening Frosting
Due to the consistency and flavor of margarine, some people are opposed to using it.
And if you don’t want to use butter, there is another alternative you can try: vegetable shortening.
There are various vegetable shortenings – for instance, Crisco – which can be used in the same ratio you would use butter (1-to-1 ratio).
Using vegetable shortening to make buttercream icing will provide you with a rich-tasting frosting; however, it may lack some of the flavors that would otherwise be achieved with butter.
That being said, you will still receive the same pure, white coloring that would be achieved from butter or even margarine.
For vegetable shortening, use it in the same respect as you would margarine: add small amounts of meringue powder to your frosting until you achieve the desired consistency.
Essentially, it all comes down to your preferred consistency and texture of frosting, adding as little or more as you like.
4. Coconut Oil
A fact that may surprise you is that when coconut oil is stored slightly below room temperature, it will begin to solidify.
This is a great alternative to making frosting if you’re opposed to using a different substitute such as a shortening agent or margarine.
Although, you should keep in mind that this will add an obvious coconut flavor to your frosting; though, in nature; it’ll be much lighter.
On top of that, sometimes, coconut oil has the tendency to separate if not made correctly or when stored at the wrong room temperature.
To keep your coconut oil solid, the key is to keep it in the refrigerator.
Once set, you can use it as an alternative to butter in your buttercream frosting.
Since your frosting will become more sensitive to changes in temperature, after you take your cake out of the oven; allow it to completely cool down.
If your cake remains warm while you’re applying the frosting, you run the risk of it melting and creating an uneven texture.
Once you are ready to ice your cake, ensure that you cover it evenly and consistently.
Then, transfer your cake to the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve it.
While coconut oil may be a tedious ingredient, it makes for a great alternative to butter – providing you with similar textures and hints of coconut that makes for a delightful surprise.
5. Cream Cheese
This alternative shouldn’t come as a surprise since there are various recipes for cream cheese options – you can even purchase it ready-to-use directly from the grocery store!
Cream cheese provides the same texture and consistency as buttercream while providing a delicious flavor at the same time – this makes it a popular option for bakers.
Sometimes, cream cheese can even be used to replace the butter content of frosting entirely.
However, you should keep in mind that this would result in an entirely different taste and texture than you would otherwise achieve when using butter.
For instance, when using cream cheese as an alternative to butter, the frosting will turn out a completely white color.
On the other hand, when using butter, the frosting may present a slightly beige color due to the nature of the butter incorporated.
Again, this all comes down to personal preference.
Generally, when using butter, you’ll want to use a ratio of 1-to-2-to-4 when making frosting.
This represents your cream cheese to butter to confectioner’s sugar ratio.
These simple ingredients can be used to make both butter and cream cheese frosting.
With both recipes, ensure that you blend the ingredients thoroughly to achieve that smooth, creamy consistency that frosting is known to have.
Alternatively, if you’re planning to include no butter at all, and simply use cream cheese, then the ratio would look something like 1-to-1-to-2.
Again, this represents the cream cheese to whipped cream to confectioner’s sugar used.
As opposed to other types of frosting, such as a butter and cream cheese blend, this is generally much more lighter in consistency,
This is especially present when using ingredients such as non- or low-fat cream cheese.
How To Make A Basic Cream Cheese Frosting Without Butter?
To make a classic cream cheese frosting without butter, then the first thing you’ll want to do is gather all your ingredients.
This includes a teaspoon of vanilla extract (or bean paste), eight-ounce package of cream cheese, a pinch of salt, one or two tablespoons of milk or cream, and three cups of powdered sugar.
Using a mixing bowl, combine your vanilla, cream, and cream cheese together until it resembles a creamy, smooth, and velvety consistency.
One thing to keep in mind is that you shouldn’t over-mix the ingredients as this could impact the texture of your frosting – and, ultimately, could influence the way your frosting sits on your cake.
After, you’ll want to sift the sugar – measuring out approximately three cups, and gradually adding it to the cream cheese frosting. Add this point, you can also include the salt.
Make sure to beat the ingredients together until you achieve a fluffy and smooth texture.
The beauty with this recipe is that you can adjust the ingredients until you reach your desired consistency.
For instance, add more or less milk to achieve a thicker or runnier texture, respectively.
If you’re planning to pipe out your frosting, then you’ll want a thicker consistency since you won’t achieve the level of precision or detail with a runnier frosting.
These simple steps and ingredients are all you need to make a good-quality frosting.
This recipe is great for both cupcakes and cakes – adding a delicious flavor to your sweet treat creations.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below, we will answer all your burning questions regarding making frosting without butter.
What Can I Use Instead Of Butter In Icing?
Some great alternatives to butter in a cream cheese frosting include: margarine, standard icing, shortening frosting, coconut oil, and cream cheese.
Each ingredient will provide a slightly different flavor to the frosting – yielding a unique flavor with each alternate.
Can You Substitute Coconut Oil For Butter In Buttercream Frosting?
Absolutely! Butter can be substituted with coconut oil in frosting when using a 1-to-1 ratio.
Although, as previously mentioned, you should keep in mind that coconut oil is extremely sensitive to different temperatures.
Therefore, ensure that you keep both your frosting and frosted cake in the refrigerator to prevent any unexpected surprises.
Likewise, with this method, you may notice your frosting containing hints of coconut flavors.
Can I Use Olive Oil Instead Of Butter For Frosting?
While olive oil is a great alternative for butter within marinades and sauces, it isn’t the best choice for frostings.
If you use olive oil as an alternative to butter in frosting, the end result will resemble more of a glaze than a thick, spreadable frosting.
Likewise, there will also be a notable olive oil taste in the frosting.
Can You Use Vegetable Oil Spread Instead Of Butter For Frosting?
Technically speaking, vegetable oil spread can be used as an alternative to butter in a frost; however, it isn’t the best option.
With a vegetable oil spread, you won’t be able to achieve the same creamy texture you would with butter.
Likewise, there would be a notable hint of oil flavor.
Contrary to popular belief, butter doesn’t have to be a key ingredient when it comes to making frosting.
In fact, there are various alternatives that will produce the same results; if not better!
These range from margarine and cream cheese to shortening frosting and coconut oil.
So, if you find yourself short on butter, don’t worry! Hopefully, this guide has informed you on some tasting alternatives to butter in frosting.
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