Vanilla Vegan Birthday Cake with “Buttercream” Icing


Well, it’s birthday time again and that means it’s time to make another vegan birthday cake. This year I went with a Vanilla Vegan Birthday Cake with “Buttercream” Icing recipe.

My “Healthy” Disclaimer”: 

This wouldn’t fall under the “healthy” category and is a special treat I make once a year for birthdays.

I always ask my children what kind of cake they want for their birthday, since it’s a special treat.

Last year, my six year old wanted a chocolate cake with vanilla icing, chocolate chips and sprinkles.

This year, my new five year old requested vanilla cake with vanilla icing and “shinkles”…aka sprinkles.

When I posted my Vegan Chocolate Birthday Cake recipe for my older son’s birthday last year, I included a photo of his first birthday and first birthday cake…because they are always the most special.

But when I started writing this post for my younger son’s birthday, I realized I probably don’t even have a photo of his first birthday and cake to post.

On the same day of his first birthday, I had a miscarriage with my fourth pregnancy…the very same day.

Needless to say, we didn’t get around to even celebrating his birthday or cake until a few days later.

When his birthday rolls around, it’s a happy and sad day at the same time.  But I try to focus on the happy part and try to make my little man’s day as special as can be.

Anyway, I used the Vegan Chocolate Birthday Cake recipe and just omitted the cacao and used a new vegan vanilla “buttercream” icing recipe.

Since it was a special occasion, I got the all natural vegetable colored sprinkles to decorate his cake.

They are WONDERFUL to use in homemade cookies or cakes and are made from vegetable colorants instead of traditional toxic food colorings.

The only colors they had were pink, orange, purple, white and periwinkle blue.

And because pink, orange and purple weren’t an option, I had to go with periwinkle blue.

This is ~way~ more sugar than they eat on a normal basis (especially the icing!) and in fact, they ate one piece and didn’t want anymore because “it was too sweet”.

I guess that’s a good thing!  That is one reason why I always make small 6 inch birthday cakes.

So here’s the special cake this year for my birthday boy’s 5th birthday!












Tip #1:  I used two 6 inch cake pans with this recipe and it was just enough.  If you need a bigger cake, you may need to double the cake recipe.

Tip #2:  I hardly ever use powdered sugar and I didn’t know this until recently, but some powdered sugars may not be vegan and may contain animal bone char (bones from cows). The brand I use, 365 Organic Powdered Sugar does not contain animal bone char (I emailed Whole Foods to confirm this).

Another reason to make sure you use organic powdered sugar is because it normally contains some cornstarch which is very likely to be made from GMO corn unless it’s labeled organic.

There may also be a possibility that the granulated sugar you use could contain animal bone char as well.  Whole Foods sells a Vegan Cane Sugar” which does not contain animal bone char.  I’ve also read that turbinado sugar is another safe choice.

If this is important to you, check out the brand that you are using to see if it does.

Vanilla Vegan Birthday Cake with “Buttercream” Icing The Healthy Family and Home


Dry Ingredients

  • 3 cups organic unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cup vegan cane sugar or turbinado sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon pink himalayan salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon organic cinnamon

Wet Ingredients

  • 3/4 cups organic applesauce
  • 2 teaspoons organic vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons Bragg apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cup distilled or purified water


Step 1 Mix all the dry ingredients together in the mixing bowl of an electric mixer.

Add all the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, one at a time.

Using an electric mixer, mix until well combined.

Pour into greased can pans (I used two 6 inch pans).

Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 35 - 40 minutes or until cooked all the way though.

Remove from oven and let them cool completely before removing from pans.

Ice and decorate as desired.



Recipe source:  I used the same recipe as my Vegan Chocolate Birthday Cake recipe, but had the recipe before I started my website and it didn't have a source on the copy I printed from the internet so I am unable to provide the original source.

Vegan “Buttercream” Icing The Healthy Family and Home


  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance Buttery Spread (softened)
  • 1 stick Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks
  • 2 teaspoons organic vanilla extract
  • 3 - 4 cups organic powdered sugar (365 Brand is vegan)
  • 1/3 - 1/4 cup non-dairy milk


Step 1 Cream the vegan spread and vegan butter together with an electric mixer.

Add the vanilla.

Gradually add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time and mix until smooth and creamy.

Add just enough milk as necessary to get a thick icing texture.



Recipe source:

Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat





  1. says

    Happy Birthday to your gorgeous boy! That’s such a lovely cake, I love blue and those sprinkles on top look so pretty:) That reminds me I haven’t made a vanilla cake in a long time.

    How unfortunate that his special day brings back sad memories, but with a gorgeous smile like that I’m sure he can instantly lift up your spirit:) And you’re definitely making up for that first cake photo;)

    • Karielyn says

      Hi Adriana! Thank you so much! Eventually I will get the entire color set of sprinkles. It’s amazing how my boys think a couple of shakes of the sprinkles on something magically makes it so much better lol!

    • Karielyn says

      Hi there! Thank you so much! It is a really simple cake with pretty basic ingredients so it would be really easy to make too.

      Thanks for visiting 😉

    • Karielyn says

      Hi Abby! I know, me either…who would have ever thought that you had to be vigilant about animal products in sugar of all things!

  2. says

    That looks like a gorgeous birthday cake!!! Awwww!!!!

  3. says

    Hi, I was wondering if almond milk could be used instead of water. I find it kind of strange that water is used. Do you think it would make much of a difference?

    • Karielyn says

      Hi Ally! I am so puzzled! I went back and looked over the recipe (and the original vegan chocolate birthday cake recipe) and they both call for water, but I agree with you, that does seem strange.

      I can’t imagine that I’d list it incorrectly on both recipes, but I guess it’s possible.

      I’m thinking it probably should be some type of non-dairy milk (almond is what I would use as well) because it also calls for acv which is usually used with the milk to make “buttermilk”.

      I will have to remake this with non-dairy milk to make sure it’s ok and update the recipe(s), but I think you would be fine using the almond milk until then.

      Thank you for letting me know so I can check it out 😉

  4. Rebecca says

    What could be used as a substitute to the earth balance? Could I use coconut butter? They don’t sell any vegan butter products where I live. Thanks!!

    • Karielyn says

      Hi Rebecca! I haven’t tried to use coconut butter as a substitute, but would actually prefer that over the vegan butter substitute anyway. The ingredient list in the Earth Balance butter is: natural oil blend (palm fruit, canola, soybean, flax and olive oils), filtered water, pure salt, contains less than 2% of natural flavor (derived from corn, no msg, no alcohol, no gluten), soy protein, soy lecithin, lactic acid (non-dairy), and naturally extracted annatto for color (non-GMO soy, corn and canola, but still). The ingredient list for the coconut butter is….100% raw coconut. Period.

      I actually don’t buy the vegan butter substitutes anymore because I prefer unprocessed foods with minimal ingredients.

      So, even though this was a “once a year special treat” dessert, if I were to re-make it, I would try the coconut butter, but haven’t yet so I don’t know 100% if it would work.

      Because my son wanted vanilla icing, my options were limited somewhat, but if you didn’t need vanilla and wanted a clean chocolate icing, you could use the “Healthy Vegan Chocolate Hazelnut “Nutella” Spread recipe I have on my website or even the icing from the “Raw Almond Peanut Butter Bars” recipe or the icing from the “Gluten-Free Vegan Walnut and Oat Brownie” recipe. You would need to keep the cake refrigerated because they all have coconut oil and it would probably get very soft and even melt some at room temperature.

      I hope that helps and if you give the coconut butter a try, come back and let me know how it turned out 😉

  5. Sue says

    Karielyn, Brilliant! Absolutely brilliant! I never ever thought of just making a 6 inch cake and always felt so guilty finishing up the leftover cake, even after sending cake home with anyone who would take some. I felt equally guilty throwing it out as I grew up listening to my mom who lived through the depression say over and over, “Waste not, want not!” But you know where all that extra cake ends up….waist…and its not wanted. Oh my. I will be buying some round six inch cake pans. Now for my second thought: Thank you, thank you, thank you for my favorite flavor with buttercream icing. Every so often, I’ve been sneaking (if you can call it that) some vanilla cake with buttercream icing and coconut. Oh, yum, yum, yum! But I am allergic to milk although I can get away with only having a little in something like cake and icing sporadically. So now I can have my cake and eat it too AND without worry or harm! And number 3: I am sorry for your loss but you seem like a very strong woman. Don’t feel bad to spend some time grieving the little angel but then go on and be with the angels by your side. They grow so quickly, so very, very quickly. My little girl has 3 kids of her own after 5 pregnancies. I had 2 after 4 pregnancies. Every child is so special, we never forget them. BUT, oh the joy my children and grandchildren bring. I am still learning to live in the moment, much as you described. Please feel free to edit out anything you’d like. AND THANK YOU for these recipes and all the information you added about the products. I never knew there could be charred bones in sugar!

    • Karielyn says

      Hi Sue! I agree with you completely about the 6 inch pans and you are right, I used to be the one who would eat the leftovers just because they were there. I used to do the same thing with little leftovers from my boy’s meals but those little bites add up!

      I had forgotten of what I had written in that post and it surprised me when I re-read it because I normally don’t share personal details or stories, but I guess that was weighing heavily on my mind that day and I just had to get it out. Thank you for your kind comments…it really means a lot to me. I guess a mother doesn’t really know what it feels like until they have gone through it and it’s good to be able to share with others who have experienced the same thing.

      I’m glad you like the nutritional information that I add to the recipes…I like to know what is in the foods I eat and more importantly, what’s ~not~ it them. And, it helps to make you feel less guilty about eating a treat now and then when you know the ingredients are actually good for you.

      Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment, I really appreciate it 😉

  6. Sue says

    Oh, jeepers! Forgot to mention the cutie smiling and loving his special cake. Love the picture and he just is too cute!

  7. Jessica says

    What did I do wrong? This turned into a rubbery sticky mess. I thought it was strange to mix one wet ingredient in at a time and also to do so til well combined. With cookies ( I never bake cakes) I always mix wet and dry separately then fold one into the other til just combined so they don’t turn into hockey pucks Also thought it was strange that there was no oil or fat in the recipe. Nonetheless this turned out to be the worst cake I’ve ever made hahaha. And for my husbands birthday no less. Can you fix what I’ve done wrong?
    Thanks :)

    • Karielyn says

      Hi there Jessica! I’m sorry to hear that the cake didn’t work out, especially for your husband’s birthday :(

      I’ve made this cake several times for my boy’s birthdays and because I know how special of an occasion birthdays are, I would never make something yucky for them on their special day, so I continue to make this same recipe every year because it comes out good and they enjoy it so much.

      I made a cake this past weekend to see if I could pinpoint the problem for you and everything turned out fine. It was moist, it rose well, cut well. But ~without~ icing, the top and bottom of the cake is a little sticky. This shouldn’t be a problem if you are going to ice the cake and decorate it and I never even noticed it until I was specifically looking out for a “sticky mess” 😉

      The cake, by itself without icing, does have a different texture (what you describe as rubbery/spongy) than a normal cake with eggs, oil, butter, etc. more so if it is not cooked all the way through. It will not be like a regular cake that most people are accustomed to eating. But after it’s iced, I really couldn’t tell a difference and nothing unusual jumped out at me…it’s a vegan cake.

      I’m afraid I don’t have any suggestions to offer because when I made it again this weekend, exactly as in the recipe, it came out just fine. In fact, my boys ate one entire 6 inch cake (un-iced) that evening and ate the second one the next morning. The entire cake was gone within hours and that was plain without any icing lol!

      I suspect that you didn’t do anything wrong at all, it was probably just different than what you were expecting 😉

  8. Haleena N. says

    Hello, my name is Haleena, and I was reading your posts on your chocolate vegan cake as well as your vanilla vegan cake, and I saw that they both used apple cider vinegar. I love baking, but I’m a bit of a scientific person, so when I saw vinegar I didn’t immediately understanding why it was used. Is it used simply to react with the baking soda to make the cake rise? Or does it do something special with the applesauce that’s used? Can I ask what your opinion on flavor the cider vinegar adds? I’ve never used it before, so that’s why I’m so curious.
    Sincerely, Haleena N.

    • Karielyn says

      Hi there Haleena! Those two particular recipes, I made the cakes from another recipe (although I didn’t have the source of where I got them from to give credit), so I was just following the directions.

      I am ~definitely~ not a scientific person lol, so I’m afraid I don’t know the answer of why apple cider vinegar is used.

      As a coincidence, it was my son’s 6th birthday yesterday, so I went looking for another vegan cake variation to try and found another recipe that I ended up making and it also used apple cider vinegar. On this particular recipe, it was mixed with non-dairy milk and “set aside for 5 minutes” which I ~think~ it to mimic buttermilk? but I’m not sure.

      I can tell you that you don’t taste the vinegar at all, so it’s not for the taste and must be for some kind of interaction with another ingredient.

      Thank you for your question and I’m sorry I wasn’t able to answer it better 😉

    • Karielyn says

      Hi there Nia! Sorry about that…it should be 2 teaspoons organic vanilla extract.

      Thanks for the question and I’ll make the update on the recipe page 😉

  9. Lisseth says

    Made this cake last year and it was hit taste wise. But I am terrible At decorating. Anyway-thinking of making this into cupcakes this year-think it’ll work?

    • says

      Hi there Lisseth! I’ve never made the recipe as cupcakes, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. It’s actually a great idea! You may have to adjust the cooking time…maybe a little less? Just keep an eye on them. Then you could make the same icing and just frost them instead of decorating them.

      Thanks for the question and I hope you enjoy the recipe :)

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