What can I use instead of sugar for frosting?

Sugar is a staple ingredient in many frosting recipes. However, there are a variety of reasons why someone may want or need to avoid using regular granulated sugar. The good news is that with some simple substitutions, you can still make delicious frosting without sugar!

Why use sugar substitutes in frosting?

There are a few key reasons why you may want to skip the sugar when making frosting:

  • You’re limiting added sugars or following a low-carb, keto, or diabetic diet
  • You want to cut calories
  • You or someone you’re baking for has an allergy or sensitivity to sugar

Luckily, while sugar plays an important role in frosting texture and flavor, there are ways to mimic its effects using sugar substitutes. The key is finding the right substitute that will provide sweetness without overpowering other flavors.

Best sugar substitutes for frosting

Here are the most popular options for sugar substitutes to use in frostings and buttercreams:

Powdered erythritol or monk fruit

Powdered versions of the natural, zero-calorie sweeteners erythritol and monk fruit (also called luo han guo) are excellent alternatives to powdered sugar in frosting recipes. They provide volume and texture similar to powdered sugar, while offering about 70-90% the sweetness. This makes it easier to achieve the right sweetness level. Brands like Swerve, Lakanto, and Zsweet carry powdered erythritol/monk fruit blends perfect for frosting.


The natural sweetener stevia provides intense sweetness without calories or carbs. While pure stevia extract can have a bitter aftertaste in large amounts, many stevia products combine the extract with inulin fiber or erythritol to counteract this. Opt for a stevia powder rather than liquid stevia, and start with about 1/4-1/2 cup for an 8-12 cup frosting recipe. The brand Pyure makes an excellent stevia baking blend.


Xylitol looks and tastes similar to sugar, though it has about 40% fewer calories and carbs. It substitutes well for sugar in a 1:1 ratio in frosting. Xylitol has a cooling effect, which can be nice in frostings paired with fruits or chocolate. As it doesn’t dissolve completely, be sure to blend it well. Brands like Xyla and Sukrin make xylitol sweetener perfect for baking.


Allulose is an impressive new lower-calorie sugar substitute derived from fruits. With a taste and texture much like sugar, it works beautifully in frostings with just a 25% reduction in sweetness. Replace sugar with about 3/4 cup allulose per 1 cup sugar called for. Wholesome Yum Allulose or Lakanto Monkfruit Allulose are quality allulose brands.

Coconut sugar

A less processed option is coconut sugar. It retains some minerals from the coconut palm sap, and scores lower on the glycemic index than white sugar. Use a 1:1 ratio, adjusting to taste. The caramel notes of coconut sugar pair especially well with chocolate or caramel frostings.


Pureed dates make an excellent natural sweetener for frosting. Their high fiber content helps slow sugar absorption. Simmer pitted dates in water, then puree into a paste. Replace about 1/4 to 1/2 of the sugar in a recipe with date paste.

Applesauce or banana

For a healthier, moist cake frosting, substitute unsweetened applesauce or mashed banana for about half the butter. Start with 1/4 cup per 1/2 cup butter, adjusting to reach the desired consistency and sweetness.

Tips for using sugar substitutes in frosting

When experimenting with sugar substitutes in frosting recipes, keep these tips in mind:

  • Reduce liquids slightly – Sugar substitutes don’t absorb moisture like sugar, so the frosting may get runnier. Start with about 2 tbsp less liquid per 1 cup sugar sub.
  • Watch heat carefully if cooking – Sugar subs burn more easily. Cook over low heat.
  • Allow time to cool completely – Frosting will set up better after cooling.
  • Refrigerate – Storing in the fridge helps firm up frosting made with sugar substitutes.
  • Check taste as you go – Add more sweetener or extracts to get desired flavor.
  • Consider adding cornstarch – 1-2 tsp per 3 cups powdered sugar sub helps improve texture.

Favorite sugar-free frosting recipes

Once you have the basics down, get creative with these delicious sugar-free frosting recipes:

Easy Powdered Erythritol Frosting

This simple powdered erythritol frosting mimics classic buttercream:


  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 cups powdered erythritol (or monk fruit/erythritol blend)
  • 5-6 tbsp milk or cream


  1. In a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until smooth and creamy.
  2. Add the vanilla, salt, and about 2 cups of the powdered sweetener. Beat until combined.
  3. Add the milk and remaining sweetener and beat on high speed until fluffy.
  4. Add more milk or sweetener to reach desired consistency and sweetness.

Luscious Cream Cheese Frosting

Cream cheese makes this frosting extra rich and tangy:


  • 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 cups powdered erythritol (or sweetener blend)


  1. With mixer, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth.
  2. Add vanilla and 1 cup powdered sweetener, beating until combined.
  3. Gradually add remaining sweetener until desired consistency is reached.

Fluffy Coconut Milk Frosting

The rich coconut milk base lightens up this frosting:


  • 1 can (13.5 oz) full-fat coconut milk, chilled
  • 1/3 cup powdered sweetener
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Pinch of salt


  1. Refrigerate can of coconut milk overnight. Open and scoop out the solidified coconut cream into a bowl, reserving liquid for another use.
  2. Using a hand mixer, whip coconut cream until fluffy peaks form.
  3. Add powdered sweetener, vanilla and salt. Beat until combined.
  4. Add more sweetener to taste if desired.

Whipped Greek Yogurt Frosting

Protein-rich Greek yogurt creates a tangy, fluffy frosting:


  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup powdered erythritol or monk fruit sweetener
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  1. In a bowl, combine Greek yogurt, powdered sweetener, and vanilla.
  2. Using a hand mixer, beat until frosting becomes fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Taste and beat in more sweetener if desired.

Mocha Fudge Frosting

Cocoa powder and instant coffee give this frosting a mocha twist:


  • 1/4 cup butter, room temperature
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp instant coffee granules
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups powdered erythritol
  • 3-4 tbsp milk


  1. In a medium bowl, beat butter until creamy.
  2. Beat in cocoa powder and instant coffee until smooth.
  3. Add vanilla and 1 cup powdered sweetener. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.
  4. Add milk and remaining sweetener. Beat until light and fluffy.

Frosting recipes with added protein

For extra nutrition, you can also incorporate protein powder into sugar-free frosting recipes. Here are some tasty options:

Vanilla Protein Frosting


  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 scoop (1/4 cup) vanilla protein powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup powdered erythritol or monk fruit sweetener


  1. In a food processor or blender, combine cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, protein powder, vanilla and 2 tbsp sweetener.
  2. Blend until smooth. Move to a mixing bowl.
  3. Beat in remaining sweetener until frosting reaches desired texture and sweetness.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Frosting


  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 scoop chocolate protein powder
  • 1/4 cup powdered erythritol or monk fruit sweetener
  • 1-2 tbsp milk


  1. In a bowl, mix together peanut butter, Greek yogurt, protein powder and powdered sweetener until smooth.
  2. Add milk gradually and beat until desired consistency is reached.

Storing and serving sugar-free frosting

Sugar-free frostings made with natural sweeteners have a shorter shelf life. Follow these tips for best results:

  • Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 5-7 days max.
  • Let frosting come to room temperature before using for optimal texture.
  • Leftovers can be frozen for 1-2 months.
  • When serving, slice cold treats like cakes into portions so frosting doesn’t warm up quickly.
  • Avoid leaving frosted treats out at room temperature for extended periods.

Creative ways to use sugar-free frosting

Your homemade sugar-free frosting doesn’t have to just top cakes and cupcakes. Get creative with these fun ideas:

  • Filled cookies: Pipe frosting into sandwich cookies instead of icing on top.
  • Stuffed French toast: Slather frosting over French toast before cooking for a sweet stuffed treat.
  • Frosting dip: Use it as a dip for fresh fruit slices or low-carb Keto waffles or muffins.
  • Frosted doughnut holes: Make baked doughnut hole treats and frost for a healthier option.
  • Sweet crepes: Spread a thin layer over cooked crepes and roll up.
  • Layer cakes: Use sugar-free frosting between cake layers instead of just on top.


With the right sugar substitute and technique, you can create frosting that retains both the sweet delicious taste and spreadable texture without all the sugar. Options like powdered erythritol, monk fruit, stevia, xylitol, allulose, and coconut sugar all work beautifully in place of regular powdered sugar.

Be sure to adjust liquid, cook gently, and refrigerate for optimal results. Then get creative with sugar-free frostings swirled over cakes and cupcakes, stuffed into cookie sandwiches, paired with fresh fruit, and more. With just a little care and creativity, you can have fluffy, sweet frosting without the added sugar!

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