Is Pillsbury Cream Cheese Frosting Vegan and Cruelty-Free?

October 5, 2023

Identifying whether a product like Pillsbury Cream Cheese Frosting is vegan can often be difficult.

This difficulty comes from processed foods with long lists of unidentifiable — and unpronounceable — ingredients that the layperson couldn’t possibly begin to translate.

However, this article aims to uncover the truth and provide you, the reader, with valuable information to support your compassionate, vegan lifestyle.

Is Cream Cheese Pillsbury Frosting Vegan?

No, Pillsbury Cream Cheese Frosting is not vegan. The product contains refined sugar, which might be processed without bone char, making it non-vegan. Some vegans are not fussed about bone char, while others are. As such, we like to err on the side of caution and not call products vegan if we can’t confirm the sugar has or hasn’t been filtered through bone char.

Luckily, the practice of filtering sugar through bone char is on the decline, fading in favor of more vegan-friendly options, like activated charcoal, though even that can have questionable sources, such as peat or petroleum, which are both bad for the environment. But I digress.

Is Pillsbury Cream Cheese Frosting Cruelty-Free?

No, Pillsbury Cream Cheese Whipped Frosting is not cruelty-free. The frosting contains palm oil, which is associated with habitat destruction and harm to wildlife.

Moreover, the product contains artificial colors, which are routinely tested on animals. Also tested on animals are GMOs (genetically modified organisms), which this frost is rife with.

It would almost be easier to name what’s not GMO in this frosting, but indulge me: cornstarch and modified cornstarch, corn syrup, canola oil, sugar, xanthan gum, mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids, soy lecithin, and citric acid.

What Is Pillsbury Cream Cheese Frosting Made Of?

Pillsbury Cream Cheese Frosting is made up of the following ingredients:

  • Sugar
  • Palm oil
  • Water
  • Corn syrup
  • Cornstarch and modified cornstarch
  • Canola oil
  • Salt
  • Mono and diglycerides
  • Artificial color including Yellow 5 and Red 40
  • Artificial flavor
  • Polysorbate 60
  • Potassium sorbate (Preservative)
  • Soy lecithin
  • Xanthan gum
  • Citric acid
  • Antioxidants (ascorbyl palmitate, mixed tocopherols, chamomile, and rosemary extracts)


Derived from sugarcane or sugar beets, sugar adds sweetness to the frosting. However, it’s often processed with bone char, making it non-vegan. It’s also quite often GMO, unless it’s organic.

Palm Oil

Extracted from the fruit of the oil palm tree, palm oil gives a creamy texture to the frosting. Its production is linked to deforestation and habitat destruction.


A universal solvent, water provides the base for the frosting.

Corn Syrup

Derived from cornstarch, corn syrup is a sweetener and texture enhancer.

Cornstarch and Modified Cornstarch

Extracted from corn, cornstarch acts as a thickening agent in the frosting. Modified cornstarch has been altered to change its properties. It’s used to improve the texture and consistency of the frosting. Both are plant based and considered vegan, but they’re GMO.

Canola Oil

Obtained from the seeds of the canola plant, canola oil adds richness to the frosting. The canola plant is heavily GMO.


A naturally occurring mineral, salt is used in the frosting to enhance flavor and balance out the sweetness. It’s derived from the evaporation of seawater or mined from underground salt deposits. Being a mineral, it’s vegan and cruelty-free.

Mono and Diglycerides

These are emulsifying agents derived from fats and oils. They help in blending ingredients together smoothly. Their origin can be either plant-based or animal-based, making their vegan status questionable. They’re probably plant based in this product, and they’re GMO, according to the Environmental Working Group.

Artificial Color Including Yellow 5 and Red 40

These are synthetic food dyes used to give the frosting its vibrant color. They are often tested on animals, raising concerns about their vegan and cruelty-free status.

Artificial Flavor

This refers to chemically derived flavors that mimic natural ones. Their origin can be varied, and without specific details, it’s hard to determine if they are vegan.

Polysorbate 60

A synthetic compound used as an emulsifier. It helps ingredients mix well together. It’s derived from palm oil, sorbitol, and ethylene oxide, and while it’s technically vegan, the palm oil source raises environmental concerns.

Potassium Sorbate (Preservative)

A salt of sorbic acid, potassium sorbate is used to extend the shelf life of products. It’s synthetically derived and is considered vegan.

Soy Lecithin

Derived from soybeans, soy lecithin acts as an emulsifier, helping to stabilize the frosting. It’s plant-based and vegan. Soybeans are a common GMO crop though.

Xanthan Gum

A thickening agent produced by fermenting sugars with a specific bacterium. It’s used to provide the right consistency to the frosting. It’s vegan because it’s derived from fermentation, but it’s GMO.

Citric Acid

Found naturally in citrus fruits, citric acid in processed foods is extracted from starches, like corn, instead of citrus fruits. It’s used to preserve the freshness of the frosting. It’s vegan but GMO.

Antioxidants (Ascorbyl Palmitate, Mixed Tocopherols, Chamomile and Rosemary Extracts)

These are compounds that prevent the oxidation of the frosting, extending its shelf life. Ascorbyl palmitate is a fat-soluble form of vitamin C, mixed tocopherols are a form of vitamin E, and chamomile and rosemary extracts are derived from the respective plants. All these ingredients are vegan.

Pillsbury Frosting Varieties

Pillsbury has a numbingly abundant number of frosting flavors, and they’re delightedly most dairy-free. However, Pillsbury frostings are still not vegan because of the sugar.

Is Creamy Supreme Milk Chocolate Frosting Vegan?

No, this frosting contains sugar that may be processed with bone char, though surprisingly, it contains no milk. Why is it called “milk chocolate”? I couldn’t tell you. We’re still not comfortable calling it vegan.

Is Funfetti Unicorn Vanilla Frosting Vegan?

No, this frosting contains sugar that may be processed with bone char. We’re not comfortable calling it vegan.

Is Funfetti Vanilla Frosting Vegan?

No, this vanilla-flavored frosting contains sugar that may be processed with bone char. We’re not comfortable calling it vegan.

Is Creamy Supreme Chocolate Fudge Frosting Vegan?

No, this frosting contains sugar that may be processed with bone char. We’re not comfortable calling it vegan.

Is Betty Crocker Frosting Vegan?

No, Betty Crocker frostings are also made with sugar that might be processed with bone char. We’re not comfortable calling it vegan.

Vegan Alternatives to Pillsbury Cream Cheese Frosting

For those in search of vegan frosting, or just dairy-free frosting, crafting your own vegan frosting might be the best route. Utilizing ingredients like coconut cream or cashews can yield a delectable and creamy frosting. When sourcing ingredients for your homemade recipe, always ensure they are vegan to maintain a truly cruelty-free creation.

However, there are actually vegan and dairy-free frosting brands out there! Here are a few:


Navigating the world of vegan and cruelty-free products can be challenging, especially when manufacturers aren’t transparent about their ingredients.

Pillsbury Cream Cheese Frosting, while a favorite for many, is neither vegan nor cruelty-free. However, with the rise in veganism and the demand for ethical products, there are plenty of alternative brands available.

By making informed food choices, we can support a compassionate lifestyle and contribute to the well-being of our planet and its inhabitants.