The Ultimate Vegan Date Fudge Frosting

This vegan recipe proves that you don’t need butter to make a fudgy chocolate frosting.

Closeup oblique vertical image of a glass bowl of chocolate fudge frosting on a wood surface, with pitted dates in soft focus in the background, printed with orange and white text at the midpoint and the bottom of the frame.

Confession time: I usually scrape the frosting off of cakes and cupcakes before I eat them.

I know, something must be seriously wrong with me, but my ideal cake is one without frosting.

My husband tries to tell me that I should just eat muffins instead, but muffins and cupcakes are not the same thing.

A muffin should be dense and trick you into thinking that it’s healthy enough to eat for breakfast, whereas a cupcake should be light and airy, and enjoying one should feel like eating dessert.

I love that. Just without the frosting part.

Horizontal slightly oblique overhead image of a small glass bowl of vegan chocolate frosting, with a few dates on a wood surface, and a glass baking dish of chocolate cake just visible at the top left corner of the frame.

Cake – at least a good cake – should be moist with a rich flavor, and a texture that almosts melt in your mouth. But frosting can ruin the experience: it’s is usually way too sweet, sometimes a bit grainy from the sugar, and often overpowers the actual flavor of the cake.

If you ask me, it’s like the effect you get when you smear peanut butter on something. This is something that you should do only if you’re in the mood to experience the taste and texture of peanut butter, and basically nothing else.

But this fudgy date frosting is the exception.

A white and gray rubber spatula rests on the edge of a small glass bowl filled with vegan chocolate cake frosting, on a wood surface with Medjool dates, and a cake in a glass baking pan.

When I first looked at the ingredients required to make this recipe, I was skeptical.

I love dates, and I use them all the time to make homemade date and nut bars. But a frosting made from dates? I figured it’d be too thin, and have a slight fruity taste.

Boy was I wrong.

While this version isn’t as fluffy as a traditional buttercream, it’s every bit as thick and rich as a classic chocolate fudge frosting. Plus, it’s easier to make, and a bit healthier.

Non-vegan fudge frosting usually requires plenty of butter and sugar, and oftentimes even more sugar in the form of corn syrup. But this vegan frosting is naturally sweetened, and only uses 1 tablespoon of almond butter to add a creamy, fatty element – no coconut oil or vegan butter substitute.

Oblique overhead image of a small glass bowl filled with chocolate frosting, on an unfinished wood surface with a few pitted dates, and a chocolate cake in a glass baking pan in the background.

Nutritionally speaking, 1/2 cup of dates contains around 60 grams of sugar, whereas 1/2 cup of sugar is closer to 100 grams. They also contain over 6 grams of fiber per 1/2 cup, as well as important vitamins and minerals, including potassium, copper, and vitamin B6.

Now, I’m not trying to tell you that this is a health food, but it is a healthier and equally delicious alternative to your standard cake topping.

But back to the frosting! Something magical happens when soaked dates are blended. You end up with a consistency that’s similar to a soft caramel. Add in the almond butter and cocoa powder, and the result is a velvety smooth frosting that spreads beautifully on a chocolate cake.

Horizontal closely cropped overhead image of a square glass baking dish filled with a frosted chocolate cake, on an unfinished wood surface with several pitted dates and a gray rubber spatula coated with icing.

I used this frosting to top my chocolate wacky cake (which also happens to be vegan), and couldn’t stop sneaking bites straight from the cake pan.

Guys, I even scraped up bites of this frosting without any cake also being present on the fork. It really is that good.

Even after five days, what little was left was every bit as rich and indulgent as when I first made it, without any weird changes to the texture. I don’t know if cake usually lasts that long in your house, but just in case it does, know that you are still good to go.

So what are you waiting for? Get out your blender or food processor and start soaking those dates!

Print
Oblique horizontal image of a glass bowl of vegan chocolate fudge frosting, on a weathered and unfinished wood table with several pitted Medjool dates in soft focus in the background.

Vegan Fudgy Date Frosting


  • Author: Kelli McGrane
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 1 cup 1x

Description

Fudgy, decadent, and vegan, this chocolate date frosting is naturally sweetened and spreads beautifully on top of a homemade cake.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pitted Medjool dates (about 67 large)
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon natural peanut or almond butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Place dates and hot water in a high-speed blender or food processor, and let soak for 10 minutes.
  2. Once dates have softened, blend on high or pulse until smooth.
  3. Add cocoa powder, almond butter, and salt. Blend or pulse until well combined.
  4. Pour frosting into a bowl or resealable container. Use immediately, or store for 5-7 days max.

  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: No-Cook, Blender
  • Cuisine: Vegan

Keywords: frosting, fudge frosting, dates, vegan dessert, chocolate

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Measure and Prep Ingredients

Measure out all of your ingredients, so they will be ready to go.

Horizontal image of two white ceramic and one glass bowl of almond butter, cocoa powder, and pitted dates, with a small measuring spoon of salt, on an unfinished weathered wood surface.

If your dates are whole, remove the pits. Heat up the water on the stove or in the microwave.

Place dates and hot water in a high-speed blender or food processor, and allow the dried fruit to soak for 10 minutes.

Step 2 – Blend

Horizontal overhead closely cropped image of pitted dates that have been pureed in a food processor, on a wood surface.

Once the fruit is nice and soft, blend on high or pulse until very smooth.

Overhead horizontal image of blended dates in the bottom of a food processor, on a wood countertop with small bowls of other ingredients in the background.

Scrape down the sides of the blending container if you need to.

Step 3 – Add Remaining Ingredients

Horizontal image of a hand holding a small ceramic bowl with a dollop of almond butter at the bottom, about to pour it into a food processor below.

Add the almond butter, salt, and cocoa powder.

A hand at the left of the frame is about to pour a small ceramic bowlful of cocoa powder and salt into the food processor that is below.

Blend or pulse until fully combined.

Overhead horizontal image of cocoa powder and other ingredients in a food processor.

Again, you many need to stop and scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula to ensure that everything is blended together thoroughly.

Step 4 – Frost or Store

This frosting is ready to use right out of the blender, with no chilling required. If you don’t plan to use it right away, store it in an airtight container at room temperature for 5-7 days.

A rubber spatula spreads vegan date fudge frosting onto a chocolate cake in a glass baking dish, on a wood surface.

Note: The consistency becomes more mousse-like if stored in the fridge.

Picking the Perfect Date

While choosing the right person to share this frosting with is an important decision, picking the right type of dates to make it with is even important. While there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of varieties out there, the two most common are Medjool and Deglet Noor.

Medjool dates are larger than most other varieties and have brown or almost black skins. They’re popular in baking and cooking, thanks to their sweetness and moist texture.

While dates can get a little pricey, you can save some money by buying them from the bulk bins at your local grocery store.

Deglet Noor dates are drier and firmer than Medjool dates, and have a pretty amber color. They tend to have a more nutty flavor and hold up well when cooked.

If you can find them, Barhi dates are the best type to eat straight out of the bag. They’re the sweetest and softest of the dates, but can be hard to find as they don’t ship well.

Oblique horizontal image of a glass bowl of vegan chocolate fudge frosting, on a weathered and unfinished wood table with several pitted Medjool dates in soft focus in the background.

How do you like to eat this sweet, dried fruit? Filled with goat cheese, or maybe sliced in a salad? Is it a fixture of your vegan cooking and baking? We’d love to hear about your favorites in the comments below. And be sure to check out these other recipes to use up any leftover dates:

Love this recipe? Let us know by leaving a five-star rating!

Photos by Kelli McGrane, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Shanna Mallon on May 13, 2015. Last updated: September 20, 2019 at 19:55 pm. With additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

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About Kelli McGrane, MS, RD

Kelli McGrane is a Denver-based registered dietitian with a lifelong love of food. She holds undergraduate and master’s degrees in nutrition science from Boston University. As a registered dietitian, she believes in the importance of food to nourish not only your body, but your soul as well. Nutrition is very personal, and you won’t find any food rules here, other than to simply enjoy what you eat.

32 thoughts on “The Ultimate Vegan Date Fudge Frosting”

  1. Shanna, I can definitely relate to this feeling and the gratitude we feel for those willing to make us good food during those phases, my mother fills that role for me on a regular basis, and I for her, when she needs it 🙂 I feel certain your motivation in the kitchen will definitely return when Baby starts eating solids (if not a lot sooner), but I can imagine that seems such a long way away right now. That did happen for me in a big way. Anyway, a couple of recipes jumped to my head when reading the post. One is this very easy watermelon gazpacho which your Vitaminix will produce in seconds. Perfect with summer coming… http://www.cannellevanille.com/small-plates-and-sweet-treats/sharing-a-watermelon-tomato-and-almond-gazpacho-from-small-plates-and-sweet-treats/
    And I saw a zucchini ceviche at our farmer’s market the other day: just cut up raw unpeeled zucchini with lemon, a little olive oil and lots of cilantro, it was kind of amazing and so quick! Enjoy nesting xo 🙂

    Reply
    • Oh, thank you, Helene, both for the recipes and for the empathetic words. I love the way you’ve fed Pablo and raised him to be such a food lover, and I hope we get to do that, too. You’re right it seems a long way away! It’s so nice to hear wise words from people who’ve gone before and can speak with knowledge about how it all happens and keeps happening and you’ve just gotta ride it as it comes. Thankful for you!

      Reply
  2. I think however much one likes to cook and bake, there will inevitably be seasons when you don’t feel like it, especially when big things are happening in other areas of your life (like bringing a little human into the world!). And I agree with Kate, the chocolate frosting sounds divine – I have been baking brownies with only dates for sweetness recently and I adore them so I can just imagine how good and fudgey that frosting must be!

    Reply
  3. Shanna…I’ve never utilized my crock pot like I should until I decided one day to research HEALTHY recipes for it. I came across a brilliant idea from the search by a gal who felt the same way I did about crock pot usage….you still have to spend time in the morning or night before to prep the food before it goes into the pot. When you are tired at the end of the day or trying to rush out the door in the morning, this is just one more thing you don’t want to have to add to your agenda. She decided to take one afternoon to gather, chop and prepare all the ingredients for several recipes at one time. She placed each ingredient in their individual zip lock style bag, placed those bags into a larger zip bag, placed the recipe for the ingredients in its own separate bag, placed it in the larger bag and placed the “prepped recipe” bag in the freezer. The only thing I omitted was the liquid required from any of the recipes I found to preserve freezer space. In the morning, you pull a “frozen recipe” from the freezer and all that’s needed is to add all the contents to the crock pot, along with any required liquid. In a few hours on one Sunday afternoon, I was able to ready about 8 healthy meals and soups for the freezer for future use. With a new baby on the way for you and Tim, this might be a great way to prepare now so it’s one less thing to have to think about after Baby M arrives.

    Reply
    • Oh, man, yes to the recipes and yes to someone else getting what I mean about mommy brain. It is so real. Also PS haha about the hair loss! Real talk I could lose an entire head of hair and it would still look full. #blessingandcurse

      Reply
  4. Shanna!!!! Soon, soon soon!! So excited for you! I imagine it must be difficult to think of recipes to whip up with all the other things you need to think about! What an amazing and also crazy time!! But so happy for you (excuse all my exclamation marks!!).

    sending plenty of Buenos Aires love,
    felicia

    Reply
  5. Btw, some easy recipes from my blog – hope they are worth adding to your library of easy recipes!

    Rainbow veggie rolls (you can cook the veggies if you can’t eat raw):
    http://dishbydish.net/2014/11/24/rainbow-vegetable-rolls-spicy-peanut-sauce/

    Pan-fried tofu & soba salad (or use tempeh if you prefer):
    http://dishbydish.net/2014/06/02/pan-fried-tofu-soba-salad/

    Beef & onion stuffed bell peppers (or stuff with rice and beans):
    http://dishbydish.net/2013/11/11/beef-onion-stuffed-bell-peppers/

    Peach & arugula bruschetta (should you need to whip something easy for guests):
    http://dishbydish.net/2014/12/29/peach-arugula-bruschetta/

    ENJOY my friend!! <3

    Reply
  6. I could not resist! This cake is in the oven right now. I think we are in the same frame of mind, friend. You may get a little push to cook or bake more towards the end – that tends to be my pattern. I made the Raw Berry Cream pie for Mother’s Day and pretty much demolished the whole thing by myself by Tuesday. And I’m waiting for my CSA basket of berries this coming weekend to make another.
    For the frosting, if I don’t have any dates in the house would you recommend another method or recipe?
    Enjoy your final days with your baby bump – they are precious!

    Reply
  7. So excited for you! It’s so weird what happens to us during pregnancy. I went through a phase of wanting to cook, buying ingredients, and then getting grossed out by the idea of “ingredients.” I wanted to buy the ingredients, I wanted to eat the result, but something about looking at them in the cooking process was so repulsive that I actually had to throw them away a few times. So bizarre.

    Hang in there! I’ll be praying for you.

    Reply
  8. Easy dinner ideas: #1 my husband pounds out organic chicken breasts for us once a week and marinates them in a freezer bag at lunch (he works from home). You can really just eyeball it – olive oil, lemon juice, soy sauce, red pepper flakes, sugar, garlic, balsamic vinegar. (loosely based on pioneer woman’s recipe for grilled chicken). Then we cook them off and eat on top of salad- super quick and flavorful! #2: Baked yams topped w/ black beans, cheese, sauteed onion/bell pepper, salsa & green onions- quick/easy and tasty. #3: frittata- this is my favorite “use up the fridge” recipe w/ whatever sauteed veggies you have laying around, eggs + milk, some fresh herbs, a little cheese (feta is great), bake at 400. Lastly #4: Again my husband usually preps this one for us: barbacoa beef recipe from gimme some oven- throw the ingredients in the slow cooker and it turns out great every time! We usually eat it in tacos. Hope those help! (I haven’t had “pregnancy brain” myself but I’ve heard about it from all my friends who’ve had babies!)

    Reply
    • Oooh good ideas! I think I need to sit down and list out a bunch of recipes and just go through them one by one in prep. Seriously coming up with ideas is the toughest part so thank you for these!

      Reply
  9. Sounds like you’re just in non-kitchen nesting mode! 😀 I had some weeks like that too with feeling so uninspired in the kitchen, and then all my anxious waiting energy kicked in those last weeks and the kitchen became the best place to be, haha! This cake looks so easy + yum, and I’ve been hungry for some chocolate cake…this will do perfectly! Plus I love the date-sweetened frosting idea. (PS. I ate Medjool dates regularly throughout labor and I really do think it helped to keep my energy levels up…any excuse to eat those little morsels is good with me, hehe!)

    Reply
  10. Well, I love chocolate cake AND dates, so this is a winner for me. And you know what? I say use this hall pass to not think about food and meals or anything else but the baby. Everything else will still be there in 18 years. 🙂

    Reply
  11. I’m generally of the opinion that however you feel right now, you should just go with it. Whether that means cooking/not-cooking or doing/not-doing whatever you feel like. It’s all good. As for this chocolate cake? It sounds pretty perfect to me.

    Reply
  12. A big simple and delicious cake sounds just like what you need right now.
    And don’t worry about the lack of interest in cooking, your body is very busy doing something incredibly awesome: baking a human!
    I’m sure once the little Food Loves Writing comes into the world you will get right back into the kitchen 🙂
    Enjoy the last few weeks!

    Reply
  13. This cake looks great! I am always up for a new “everyday cake” recipe, and I love that this one has date sweetened frosting! It’s nice to have our sweets without consuming huge amounts of refined sugar. Thanks! 🙂

    Reply
  14. Just had to say that I saved this recipe and told my husband today (as I’m in my 2nd trimester) that I needed a “healthy” dessert b/c I’m craving something. Came across this recipe I had saved and just read your comments about your baby brain and struggling. Its been so hard! I don’t want to cook or anything, just want to get take-out. I’m going to make this yummy looking dessert and savor it and the fact that I made something.

    Reply
    • Oh, bless your heart, I remember those days so well. I’m so glad you found this cake and hope you enjoyed it. You will get through these days! Someday you’ll feel like you can think clearly again, haha! Wish you the absolute best!

      Reply

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