Vegan Red Velvet Cake

Slice of Vegan Red Velvet Cake on a Plate with Raspberries

This vegan red velvet cake is moist, perfectly sweet, flavored with a hint of chocolate and topped with white chocolate frosting! Perfect for celebrations or treating someone special.

Slice of Vegan Red Velvet Cake on a Plate with Raspberries

Boy did this cake throw me for a loop! I had to bake so many cakes to get it right.

Every version of this cake I made was delicious. They just werent red!

I planned to throw in the towel pretty early on, deciding that vegan food coloring just wasnt up to the job, but after serving a brownish version to my family they started nagging me to figure it out. Apparently they loved it. The same thing happened via my husbands co-workers when I sent cake to work with him.

Food Coloring

Cake Server Removing a Slice of Slice of Vegan Red Velvet Cake from Plate

Carmine or Cochineal

You may have heard that red food coloring is made from bugs. This is true, in some cases. If the coloring contains carmine or cochineal, its got some bug products in it (and therefore isnt vegan). You can read all about that here.

To keep your cake vegan, avoid food dyes with carmine or cochineal on the ingredients list.

Plant-Based Food Colorings

You can buy plant-based food colorings, with the reds usually being made from ingredients like beets or cabbage.

I made an attempt with this brand, and using three full packets for one cake, amounting to just over a tablespoon of coloring (at a cost of twenty dollars at my local health food store) gave me a cake with just a few red highlights. You could possibly double or triple the amount and get something a redder, but I cant say for certain as I wasnt willing to go in for another forty to sixty bucks.

Beet Powder

I dont recommend using beet powder for your vegan red velvet cake. It resulted in total failure for me. I used a whole quarter cup of beet powder, giving me a beautiful red, vibrant cake batter that just turned muddy brown when I baked it.

Red Food Dye

Most red food dye these days is made without bugs. Yay! And before anyone yells at me, I recognize that the ingredients they are made with (usually FD&C Red No. 3 and 40) arent exactly healthy, but this is a cake recipe. Its not intended to be healthy.

If youre totally opposed to artificial colors, feel free to give the plant-based color I linked above a try. Or just skip the color the cake will still be delicious, even if its not red!

So this is the brand I ended up using. You can even see under the Q&A section on the Amazon page that the manufacturer confirms its vegan.

How to Make Vegan Red Velvet Cake

Vegan Red Velvet Cake on a Plate with Tea Cup and Cake Dish in the Background

Once youve got your coloring sorted out, this cake is pretty darn easy to throw together!

Traditional red velvet cake is made with buttermilk. Fortunately, vegan buttermilk is easy to make! Just mix some non-dairy milk and water together. While youre at it, add some vanilla extract and your red food coloring. If youre experimenting with one of the food coloring options above, this is a good opportunity to gauge how much youll need, based on how red it turns your milk.

Now whisk your dry ingredients together in a large bowl: flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.

Add your wet mixture to the dry ingredients, along with some oil. Beat everything with an electric mixer until fully blended.

Divide the cake batter among a couple of round cake pans, each coated with some oil and lined with parchment paper.

Collage Showing Steps for Making a Vegan Red Velvet Cake: Mix Wet Ingredients, Mix Dry Ingredients, Beat Wet and Dry Ingredients Together, and Pour Batter into Pans

Bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Frosting Options

Collage Showing Four Stages of Frosting and Filling a Vegan Red Velvet Cake

I went and made a special white chocolate frosting that I adapted from this recipe. Its amazing! But most of us will need to order the vegan white chocolate online in order to make it (heres what I used).

If youre not up for tracking down some vegan white chocolate or its just not your thing, my vegan buttercream frosting would be amazing on this cake as well.

Vegan Red Velvet Cake FAQ & Tips

  • I went a tad heavy on the chocolate in this recipe, because I love chocolate! If you prefer less chocolate and/or a more vivid shade of red in your cake, cut back to just a tablespoon or so of cocoa powder.
  • Why does the sugar need to be organic? Most sugar in the united states is processed using animal bone char. Organic sugar is processed differently, so its considered vegan.
  • This cake is freezer-friendly! With all the cakes Ive made lately, I didnt have much choice but to freeze a few of them. To freeze, make sure the frosting is set and then wrap your cake in a few layers of plastic wrap. Then transfer the cake to a two-gallon freezer bag, seal, and freeze. It should be good for at least three months.
  • Can this recipe be made gluten-free? Im not sure, but if youd like to try it I think an all purpose gluten-free blend like those made by Bobs Red Mill or King Arthur Flour would be your best bet.
  • My cake didnt rise. Why not? Usually this is due to older baking soda. Test yours by sprinkling it in a glass of vinegar. It should fizz. If it doesnt, its time for a new box. Another culprit could be overmixing the batter, or letting it sit too long before baking.
  • Cake frosting tip! I learned from this post by The Pioneer Woman about creating a crumb coat, and its been a total game changer. Basically, fill and stack your layers, then apply a thin layer of frosting on the top and sides of the cake. Pop the cake in the fridge and let it set, before slathering on the rest of the frosting. The crumb coat will seal in the crumbs before you apply that final coat.

Slice of Vegan Red Velvet Cake on a Plate with Raspberries

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Vegan Red Velvet Cake

This vegan red velvet cake is moist, perfectly sweet, flavored with a hint of chocolate and topped with white chocolate frosting! Perfect for celebrations or treating someone special.

  • 2 cups unflavored and unsweetened non-dairy milk
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons vegan red food dye
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups organic granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup canola oil ((or your favorite baking oil))

For the White Chocolate Frosting

  • 12 ounces vegan baking white chocolate (or vegan white chocolate chips)
  • 1 cup vegan butter, (brought up to room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups organic powdered sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.

  2. Oil a couple of 9-inch cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.

  3. In a small bowl or measuring cup, stir the milk, vinegar, food dye, and vanilla together.

  4. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.

  5. Pour the milk mixture into the mixing bowl, followed by the oil.

  6. Beat the mixture together with an electric mixer at high-speed, just until fully blended, about 1 minute.

  7. Divide the batter into the prepared baking pans.

  8. Bake the cakes for about 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of each one comes out clean.

  9. Transfer both cake layers to a cooling rack. Allow them to cool completely in the pans.

  10. When the cakes are cool, prepare the frosting. Melt the white chocolate by microwaving in 30 second increments, stirring between each increment. Allow the chocolate to cool for a few minutes while you gather the remaining ingredients

  11. Add the butter and vanilla to the bowl with the white chocolate and beat the ingredients together with an electric mixer at high speed, until fully blended.

  12. Being adding the powdered sugar, about 1/2 cup at a time, beating in each addition until creamy.

  13. Invert one of the cake layers on a plate, then remove the pan. Peel off the parchment, then spread an even layer of frosting over the layer.

  14. Carefully invert the second layer over the first, then remove it from the pan and remove the parchment paper.

  15. Distribute the frosting over the top and sides of the cake.

  16. Allow the cake to sit for a few minutes for the frosting to set. Slice and serve.

White chocolate frosting adapted from Food and Wines White Chocolate Buttercream.

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