This vegan red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting recipe is incredibly moist and tender, with a sweet and tangy flavor, which is exactly how red velvet cake is supposed to taste. It's the perfect dessert to make for Valentine's Day, Christmas, the Fourth of July, or whenever you need a red cake. We even used this cake recipe to make our fun and spooky skull cakes for Halloween.
Published Oct. 9, 2019 and updated with more important information on Jan. 5, 2021
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Hi there! We’re Linda and Alex, the mother daughter duo and creators of Veganosity. Thanks for visiting us, we’re so happy you’re here. If you’re looking for Southern inspired vegan comfort food recipes, you’ve come to the right place.
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Click on the titles to check them out. GREAT VEGAN BBQ WITHOUT A GRILL and THE ULTIMATE VEGAN COOKBOOK.
What Does Red Velvet Cake Taste Like?
This delightful cake is made with chocolate, vanilla, and buttermilk, so it tastes sweet and tangy with a hint of chocolate and vanilla.
It's one of our favorite cakes because the flavor isn't flat. There's a lot going on without it being too over the top.
And, the vegan cream cheese frosting gives it even more tangy sweetness.
Some people think that red velvet cake is chocolate cake disguised with red food coloring.
Those people would be wrong, and this is why:
- If you take a look at our chocolate cake recipe you'll find ¾ of a cup of cocoa powder.
- Our chocolate cake is chocolatey!! Red velvet cake only has a few tablespoons of cocoa powder, which gives it just a hint of chocolate flavor.
- It also has a slightly acidic flavor from the buttermilk (vegan, of course) and the teaspoon of vinegar.
- The vinegar activates the baking soda, and that gives the cake a tender crumb.
- Red velvet cake is like a cross between vanilla and chocolate cake with a tangy cream cheese frosting.
How do You Make Buttermilk Vegan?
Even before we went vegan, we made our own buttermilk. It's easy, and you only need two simple ingredients. Plant milk and an acid, such as lemon juice or white or apple cider vinegar.
You'll need an unsweetened and unflavored plant-based milk. Although we don't recommend coconut milk for this recipe, you can use any of the following:
- Soy milk
- Almond milk
- Cashew Milk
- Oat Milk
- Pea Protein Milk
Is Red Food Dye Vegan and What Kind of Dye is Best?
From the research we've done, most red food dye is now vegan.
As much as we love the idea of using all natural food coloring, it really doesn't work well for this recipe.
We tried several different brands of natural red food dye, and every single time the color went from red to a faded reddish brown during the baking process.
For this recipe we recommend using McCormick or Watkins food dye. Either one will give your cake a beautiful red color.
HOW TO MAKE OUR EASY RED VELVET CAKE RECIPE
Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C) and put cupcake liners in the cupcake pan.
There are so many cute cupcake liners that you can choose from today. So much better than the standard solid pastel paper liners from the past.
Make the vegan buttermilk.
Just mix the lemon juice (or vinegar) and plant milk until combined and let sit for 10 minutes.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the 2 ½ cups cake flour, 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and ½ teaspoon salt until completely combined.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the ¾ cup canola oil, 1 cup buttermilk, 1 ½ cups sugar, 1 tablespoon vanilla, egg replacer, 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar, and 3 tablespoon red dye until combined.
Pour the wet oil mixture into the dry mixture and beat with a paddle attachment until just combined. Slowly add the boiling water until combined. The batter will be thin, not thick.
Fill each cupcake liner until almost full. Bake for approximately 45 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center.
Cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then invert onto a cooling rack until they’re completely cool before frosting.
Pro Baking Tips
- Use cake flour. Cake flour helps you get the perfect texture.
- Add the boiling water. The cake batter will seem like it’s too wet, but it helps the cake develop a really light crumb instead of a too dense cake.
- Use the red food dye. Beet root powder and plant-based dyes turn brown while baking, even when there’s acid in the cake batter.
- McCormick’s and Watkins' red food coloring is vegan.
- Fill the cupcake liners ¾ of the way full. There should be a little space before the fill line so the tops don’t rise too far over the liners.
- Make sure that the oven is completely pre-heated and even better, don’t put the cupcakes in the oven until 10 minutes after the oven reaches 350°F (176°C).
- Depending on how your oven is calibrated, how humid your kitchen is, and other variables, can alter how long your cupcakes take to bake. Always test with a wooden toothpick to make sure that they’re done.
- Let them cool completely before frosting or the frosting will melt and soak into the cupcakes, making them soggy.
If you want to make a cake instead of cupcakes, lightly grease two 8-inch round cake pans and fill three quarters full.
Bake for approximately 50 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center of the cake.
Cool for 10 minutes in the pan and then invert the cakes onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
How to Make Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting
Vegan cream cheese frosting is easy. You only need the same ingredients that you'd use for the conventional kind, only they're plant-based.
Vegan butter, we recommend Miyoko's.
Plant-based cream cheese, we recommend Miyoko's or Kite Hill brands.
ONE STEP VEGAN CREAM CHEESE FROSTING RECIPE
Put eight ounces of vegan cream cheese, eight tablespoons of almost room temperature vegan butter, and one cup of sifted (this prevents lumps in the frosting) powdered sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat with a whisk or paddle attachment.
We prefer the whisk attachment because it creates air bubbles in the frosting, which makes it light and fluffy.
Because the moisture level varies in each container of cream cheese and vegan butter, you may need to add more powdered sugar. Add by the tablespoon until you get the texture you’re looking for.
That’s it, one easy step to make a perfectly thick and creamy vegan cream cheese frosting.
Once the cupcakes are completely cooled, you can frost them with a frosting knife or put the frosting in a piping bag and use your favorite decorating tip to create something fun and pretty.
DECORATING TIP: If you have an extra cupcake, crumble it and sprinkle the crumbs on top of the frosting to decorate.
Store this cake covered in the refrigerator when frosted with the cream cheese frosting.
You can freeze the cake in a freezer safe container for three months, although we don't recommend freezing the frosting. Make it fresh.
You can make this cake gluten-free if you use an all-purpose gluten-free cake flour.
The texture will be slightly different than this version, but still good.
More Vegan Cake Recipes You'll Love
VEGAN BLACK FOREST ICE CREAM CAKE
VEGAN CHOCOLATE PEPPERMINT POUND CAKE
VEGAN APPLE CINNAMON CRUNCH CAKE
Make our vegan red velvet cupcakes and let us know what you think. We love to hear from you! And, don’t forget to take a picture of your gorgeous creation and tag us @veganosity on Instagram.
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Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 ½ cups cake flour SEE NOTE
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unsweetened plant-based milk anything except coconut milk will do
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice
- ¾ cup canola oil
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- Egg replacer for 2 eggs SEE NOTE
- 3 tablespoon vegan red food dye SEE NOTE
- 1 teaspoon white or apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup boiling water
- FOR THE VEGAN CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
- 1 cup powdered sugar sift it to prevent lumps in the frosting
- 8 ounce plain vegan cream cheese we recommend Kite Hill
- 8 tablespoon vegan butter almost room temperature (See Note)
- Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C) and fill each cupcake tin with a cupcake liner.
- Mix the lemon juice and plant milk until combined and let sit for 10 minutes. This is your vegan buttermilk.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk the 2 ½ cups cake flour, 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and ½ teaspoon salt until completely combined.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the ¾ cup canola oil, 1 cup buttermilk, 1 ½ cups sugar, 1 tablespoon vanilla, egg replacer, 2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar, and 3 tablespoon red dye until combined. Add beet root powder by the tablespoon until it turns a nice red color if you don’t use the food dye.
- Pour the wet oil mixture into the dry mixture and beat with a paddle attachment until just combined. Slowly add the boiling water until combined. The batter will be thin, not thick.
- Fill each skull mold until almost full. Bake for approximately 45 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center.
- Cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then invert onto a cooling rack until they’re completely cool.
- When the cakes are completely cool, frost with the vegan cream cheese frosting. Crumble an extra cupcake and sprinkle the crumbs over the frosting for a pop of color.
- FOR THE FROSTING
- Beat the 8 oz of vegan cream cheese, the 8 tablespoon of vegan butter, and the 1 cup of sifted powdered sugar with a whisk or paddle attachment until it forms a thick and creamy frosting.
- We prefer the whisk attachment as it creates air bubbles in the frosting, making it light and fluffy.
- Frost the completely cooled cupcakes with a frosting knife or with a frosting bag and your favorite frosting tip.
- NUTRITION DISCLAIMER
- Cake flour makes the best cakes. You can use all-purpose flour but the texture won’t be as good.
- We used 6 tablespoon of JUST egg replacer for this. You can use EnerG, Bob’s Red Mill egg replacer, or Follow Your Heart egg replacer, just follow the instructions to make 2 eggs.
- If you want to make a cake instead of cupcakes, lightly grease two 8-inch round cake pans and fill three quarters full. Bake for approximately 50 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center of the cake. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan and then invert the cakes onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
I made these cupcakes for my daughter’s birthday and was so happy that they came out moist, not crumbly, sweet enough without overpowering sweetness. Just piece of heaven in mouth😋. Recipe is easy to follow with common ingredients. Will definitely make them again.
Linda Meyer says
Thank you so much, Agnes! We're so happy you liked them, and we're honored that you trusted our recipe for your daughter's birthday cupcakes. xoxo
Christine @ Run Plant Based says
These look amazing, so decadent and perfect for the holidays. Thanks!
Linda Meyer says
Thank you so much! Yes, perfect for the holidays.
I have a local vegan place that makes the best cream cheese topping for their donuts. It's better than dairy cream cheese icing. I haven't been able to figure out their recipe. But, when you mentioned coconut oil, you helped me figure out what they are probably using as the base for all their frostings, so thanks! These look great. I will be giving them a try soon.
Linda Meyer says
Hi Kari! They may be, or they're using vegan butter. The cream cheese will fall apart without it.
Thanks so much for your comment. Please let us know what you think. 🙂