This vegan icing recipe is made using cashews and does not include any butter, oil or powdered sugar. It makes for a pourable icing that's thick, rich in vanilla flavor and healthier too. Use over cupcakes, cookies or spread over loaves. Fully dairy-free and naturally gluten-free.
I have a sweet loaf coming up soon that needs to be iced. And this vegan cashew icing came out to be so perfect I thought I would give it its own post!
It is a simple 4-ingredient recipe that's entirely made without any added powdered sugar and uses cashews as a base. And it is amazing!
But, this might not surprise you to see cashews in here as my blog is filled with cashew recipes! Whenever I want a creamy and rich texture, such as in this vegan baked ziti or simply this mascarpone cheese, then there is simply nothing like cashews to do this.
These kidney-shaped nuts are naturally sweetened and especially after soaked, they can be blended to such a smooth texture. This makes them an incredible ingredient to use as a foundation for frosting/icing. They make everything so buttery and creamy and work well for both sweet vs savory dishes. i.love.cashews.
Plus, I skipped on the traditional refined white sugar and used maple syrup instead to add sweetness. It gives the recipe a subtle caramel-like flavor that's also enhanced with a little vanilla extract.
It really is an easy recipe and you can follow my speedy version to get your icing done quicker.
Icing vs frosting
It this an icing or a frosting or even a glaze?
You may call it the way you want, but to me, it does come closer to the texture of a classic icing. A glaze is usually super thin with a translucent color where an icing is a little thicker and completely opaque, but still with a pourable/drizzable consistency.
What I want to clarify up front is that this recipe is not to be used as a piping frosting, it simply won't hold. Use it instead to spread over sweet loafs or dip the top of cupcakes or cookies to cover them with a thin layer of sweet cashew cream.
Other vegan frosting recipes you might like
- Coconut whipped cream
- Vegan date spreadable caramel
- Vegan peanut butter frosting
- 3-Ingredient dark chocolate frosting
Only 4 simple ingredients!
- Cashews: choose raw, unroasted and unsalted. They can be expensive, but if using them often, then try buying in bulk or order online in larger bags.
- Plant milk: any kind will work, use a plain one so you can flavor the icing the way you want.
- Maple syrup: sweetener, can also use agave nectar. I haven't tried using granulated sugar.
- Vanilla extract: gives it so much flavor. Can swap for cinnamon too or even, use a scraped vanilla bean (see how to do that in my recent vanilla matcha latte post)!
How to make it
Soak the cashews
You will need to soak the cashews before blending them:
- cover them with room temperature water for 8 hours (or overnight) OR
- pour some boiling water over and do a quick soak of about 15-30 minutes.
Then, be sure to drain them well so you don't add extra water to the icing.
Then, transfer the cashews with the milk, maple syrup and vanilla extract to the blender and blend on high until smooth. This usually takes me at least one minute of active blending broken down with a few breaks to scrape the walls with a spatula. The icing is ready when you don't see any pieces of cashews anymore and the mixture is silky and shiny.
The icing might have warmed up while blending for so long, so you might need to chill it first before using so it is cold (and a little firmer) depending on how you want to use it.
Watch how to make it
How to use it
Use this vegan icing whenever you are looking for a glossy and rich sweet glaze to go over baked goods. Try spreading over cupcakes, apple cinnamon bread, oatmeal cinnamon cookies or drizzle over date scones or apple cider donuts. You can also use it over cakes, although cannot be used to fill a layer cake as it is too thin.
You might have more than you need for your recipe, so use any leftovers over morning toasts or add a dollop in you oatmeals (yes, it is healthy enough). Also, it can be amazing to use as a creamy sweet dip for fruits, especially strawberries and oranges.
This cashew icing stores very well, keep in the fridge for up to 5-7 days. Be sure you use an air-tight container as it can dry easily and also, stir before using as some of the water tends to separate over time. The texture firms up just a little as it chills, which is something you might want depending on how you will use it.
As a side note, compared to an icing made with a large amount of powdered sugar, this healthier kind of icing won't store as well AFTER spread over baked goods. I used it over a lemon loaf and even though it was holding up very well over a few days, some areas of the icing were slightly absorbed by the cake or dried out.
High-speed blenders are best for blending cashews to an extra smooth texture. If you don't have one, then you can try making the recipe by blending longer and also, be sure to do a good soak of 8-12 hours for the cashews.
I haven't tried using a food processor, but I'm thinking it would give you an icing that's not smooth enough.
Soaking the cashews is essential! It will assure you have softened the cashews enough to create an icing that's very smooth and not end up with a lumpy texture. If you forgot, then simply do a quick soak using boiling water. But whenever you can, try to plan ahead and soak them overnight. This will help eliminate the phytic acid from the nuts and thus, help the digestion of the cashews.
Other creamy cashew recipes you might like
- Vegan mascarpone
- Vegan white sauce
- Cashew mayo
- Vegan ricotta
- Hawaiian cheese ball
- Vegan baked ziti
- Creamy cashew pesto sauce
- Vegan white queso
- Vegan chipotle mayo
- Garlic pasta bake
I hope you like this vegan icing as much as we do! If you try it, please leave a comment below and rate the recipe to let me know how it was.
Vegan Cashew Vanilla Icing (No Powdered Sugar, No Butter)
- Blender (ideally high-speed)
- 1 ½ cups raw cashews, unsalted and unroasted - soaked overnight, then drained. See notes
- ¼ cup maple syrup - or agave nectar
- ½ cup vegan plain milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract - can also use a scraped vanilla bean
- In a blender, combine the soaked and drained cashews, maple syrup, plant milk and vanilla extract. Blend on high for at least a minute taking a few breaks to scrape the walls as needed. The icing is ready when super smooth, shiny and without any pieces of cashews visible.
- Use over loaves, cookies, cupcakes or use as a dip for fruits.
- The whole process of blending the cashews will make the glaze warmer and more pourable. I thinks it is perfect when you actually want to pour over baked goods. If you want a thicker frosting, then let it completely cool down first in the fridge. That way, it would be more spreadable like a thicker cream for cakes and cupcakes.
- Store in the fridge in an air-tight container for up to 5-7 days.
- Don't skip on soaking the cashews, it is essential to get a texture that's super smooth.
- I expect the result to be better when using high-speed blender. If you don't have one, then be sure to properly soak your cashews an also, you might need to blend a little longer.