This light and fluffy vegan red velvet cake has a beautiful red hue and an undertone of cocoa flavor! It’s covered in a luscious vegan cream cheese frosting. Simply divine!
Red velvet cake has such a signature flavor! While some think it is simply a red-colored chocolate cake, nothing could be further from the truth!
Red velvet cake has a distinct flavor that is much different from dense chocolate cake varieties. It’s also much lighter and fluffier in texture. Check out these healthy plant-based dessert recipes!
What is red velvet cake?
The traditional red velvet cake recipe is bright red in color, and made with buttermilk, butter, cocoa, flour, and vinegar. It was first served during the Victorian era as a special occasion dessert.
It has a tangy flavor that comes from buttermilk and vinegar. The cocoa gives it a hint of chocolate but also helps create the red color when it is combined with vinegar.
It is most common to use food coloring to achieve the deep red color, but during the depression they used beets! It’s perfectly acceptable to use beetroot powder instead of food coloring to achieve the red color we all know and love.
Why This Recipe Works
- Easy to make
- All vegan ingredients
- Paired with a tangy and sweet vegan cream cheese frosting
- A beautiful dessert to make for Valentine’s Day or other special occasions
- Light and fluffy
- Gorgeous red hue
- A tangy chocolate flavor
- A perfect Valentine’s Day treat!
Recipe Ingredients and Notes
Vegan Buttermilk: In order to get that signature tang, you’ll need to make your own vegan buttermilk. Don’t worry! It’s super simple! All you need to do is combine 1 cup of soy milk, almond milk, or your favorite non-dairy milk with 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. Allow it to sit for 10 minutes, and the milk will curdle and thicken into tangy buttermilk!
Cocoa Powder: Use an all-natural cocoa powder to get that undertone of chocolate flavor.
All-Purpose Flour: I used all-purpose flour for this recipe, although I usually use white whole wheat flour. I wanted this cake to be as light and moist as possible, and all-purpose flour or cake flour creates the best texture.
Coconut Oil: Unrefined coconut oil has more health benefits and a thick texture that creams nicely to create a moist crumb.
Raw Cane Sugar: Not all sugars are vegan! That’s why I opt for organic raw cane sugar.
White Vinegar: Along with the buttermilk, the white vinegar gives this cake its tang.
Beet Powder or Vegan Red Food Coloring: Regular red food dye is made with artificial, potentially harmful ingredients. These food colorings are also tested on animals. However, you can still get a beautiful color without using standard artificial food coloring. Beetroot powder makes an excellent stand-in, as well as Watkins Natural Red Food Coloring!
Step by Step Instructions
Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two 8 inch cake pans with parchment paper, grease (coconut oil), and flour the sides.
Step 2: Make Vegan Buttermilk: Combine 1 cup of soy milk with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar. Whisk together to combine. Allow it to sit for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes the milk will thicken and curdle.
Step 3: In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients including the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.
Step 4: In a large bowl beat together the wet ingredients including the coconut oil, sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer for 30 seconds or until well combined.
Step 5: Beat in red food coloring or beetroot powder, and vinegar until well combined.
Step 6: Alternately, add flour mixture, and vegan buttermilk, beating on low to medium speed until just combined.
Step 7: Pour batter evenly into the two prepared cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Step 8: Cool the cakes in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully, remove the cakes from the pan, by running a knife along the sides, and inverting the cake so that it gently releases from the pan. Allow the cakes to cool completely on a wire rack.
Note: Reserve some of the cake crumbs to decorate the top and sides of the cake.
Step 9: While cakes are cooling to room temperature make the vegan cream cheese frosting with vegan cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract.
Step 10: When frosting is ready, add a thick layer to the top of the first layer of cake. Refrigerate for 10 minutes. This will allow the first layer of frosting to set.
Step 11: Place the other cake layer on top and frost the top and sides. Sprinkle with cake crumbs or red sprinkles. Keep the cake in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Make this into a two or three layer cake!
- Use a healthy oil, or applesauce to create moisture. If you’re following an oil free diet, using applesauce and even banana adds needed moisture. I recommend using an oil for cakes or you run the risk of it coming out dry and dense. I recommend coconut oil or a healthier vegan butter such as Earth Balance or Miyokos.
- Use unsweetened non-dairy milks. The added sweetness and vanilla flavor of other plant milks will affect the overall flavor of your cake.
Traditionally, red velvet cake is paired with tangy cream cheese frosting. The tang from the cake and the frosting combine for a delicious taste and texture. However, if you do not like cream cheese frosting, you can always use a simple vegan vanilla buttercream frosting.
You can simply frost your cake, add piping, or even add a few red vegan sprinkles! I suggest, reserving some of the cake crumbs to sprinkle on the top or sides of the cake for decoration! It’s easy and beautiful! Serve with a warm cup of coffee or tea. You could even add a scoop of vegan vanilla ice cream!
Store: Store the cake in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve. Since this cake has a cream cheese frosting, it is best to keep it refrigerated. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator as well. Lightly cover with saran wrap, or keep in a cake storage container.
Keep: The cake will keep refrigerated for up to 5 days.
Using Beetroot Powder vs. Vegan Food Coloring
Beetroot Powder: Beetroot powder is made from grinding dried dehydrated beets into powder form. It’s all-natural with nothing added. Using beetroot powder will yield a beautiful crimson color to your baked goods. However, do consider that the beetroot powder has a beet flavor. It’s subtly sweet, and not terribly noticeable when baked. If you choose to use beetroot powder instead of food coloring, it’s a 1:1 substitute.
Vegan Food Coloring: The artificial food colorings you find in the baking aisle of your grocery store have harmful chemicals that have been tested on animals. This is why they are not technically vegan. If you choose not to use beetroot powder, opt for the Watkins brand of food coloring.
More Vegan Cake Recipes!
Vegan Red Velvet Cake
- 2 cups soy milk
- 2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
- vegan cream cheese frosting double recipe
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two 8 inch cake pans with parchment paper, and grease and flour the sides.
- Make Vegan Buttermilk: Combine 1 cup of soy milk with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar. Allow to sit for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes the milk will thicken and curdle.
- In another bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.
- In a large mixing bowl beat together the coconut oil, sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer for 30 seconds or until well combined.
- Beat in red food coloring, and vinegar until well combined.
- Alternately, add flour mixture, and vegan buttermilk, beating on low to medium speed until just combined.
- Pour batter evenly into the two prepared cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully, remove the cakes from the pan, by running a knife along the sides, and inverting the cake so that it gently releases from the pan. Allow the cakes to cool completely on a wire rack. Note: Reserve some of the cake crumbs to decorate the top and sides of the cake.
- While cakes are cooling make the vegan cream cheese frosting.
- When frosting is ready, add a thick layer of frosting to the top of the first layer of cake. Refrigerate for 10 minutes. This will allow the first layer of frosting to set.
- Place the other cake on top and complete your frosting. Keep the cake in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
- Keep cake refrigerated until ready to serve.
- Keep leftovers in the refrigerator.
- Cake will keep up to 5 days when refrigerated.