This rich and velvety vegan red velvet cake with dairy free cream cheese frosting is the ultimate vegan cake recipe! The perfect balance of cocoa and sweetness with a slight tang, this red velvet cake will be your favorite, vegan or not! Naturally dairy free and gluten free!

slice of vegan red velvet cake

Why you’ll love this vegan red velvet cake:

Red velvet cake is high on the list of my top favorite cake recipes, especially this vegan version. When I used to work at Georgetown Cupcakes, the red velvet flavor was the best selling out of all flavors, even chocolate.

Red velvet cake is a classic for a reason.

It’s a wonderful celebration cake for holidays, such as Thanksgiving and Christmas, but not just those holidays: make this veganized vegetarian version of red velvet cake for Valentine’s Day, a birthday, graduation, engagement party, weddings, and more!

So when you take a bite out of this vegan red velvet cake, I think you’ll be shocked to learn that this cake is actually eggless, dairy free, gluten free, and can be naturally red!

All while maintaining the classically sweet and slightly tangy, yet uber rich and moist taste of the cake we all know and love.

This will be your go-to red velvet cake, vegan or not!

sliced vegan red velvet cake

What is red velvet cake?

People just can’t get enough of that red velvet! Now, in a good red velvet, you’ll have a very smooth, velvety texture thanks to the acidity, and with a slight tang to the sweet, it’s easy to just keep eating it!

Then of course you can’t forget the cream cheese frosting! My favorite part 🙂 For our vegan red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting, the fluffy white frosting on top is completely dairy free.

And if you want to make it completely refined sugar free, there’s an option for that! Just please not that the color will definitely be more brown than white in the frosting, and the cake will look more purple than red.

Is red food coloring vegan?

This really depends on the brand of red food coloring you’re purchasing. Because some red food coloring can be vegan and others are definitely not. Aside from the basics of making a cake veganized, the tricky part when it comes to making a vegan and vegetarian red velvet cake is actually in the food coloring.

Most food colorings contain a red that is actually not vegan. Sometimes it’s made with vegan ingredients, but then it’s tested on animals, which ultimately means it’s not vegan, as then it’s not cruelty free.

However, there are some ways around this so that we can keep this healthier red velvet cake completely vegan.

slices of healthy red velvet cake

I like to use a high quality plant based red food dye that I find at Whole Foods. I also know that the Wilton produces a vegan-friendly red food coloring gel that makes the most beautiful red hue. Wilton also doesn’t test on animals, which I think is a nice added note to make you feel good about purchasing!

I recently found a brand called Nomeca, found on Amazon, and they are entirely vegan. They also have a bunch of fun colors, like sunset yellow and pink that I’ve been using for cookie decorating! The best part? They don’t fade 🙂

Another option is using beet powder. My go to? Suncore Foods. Hands down the most potent red color I’ve found! Some other brands of beet powder might look more maroon rather than red. However, the taste will still be amazing.

slice of vegan red velvet cake

What’s the difference between red velvet cake and chocolate cake?

Most people think that red velvet cake is basically just chocolate cake dyed red, but that’s not true!

There’s only a smidgen of cacao powder in red velvet, whereas with chocolate cake, you’re talking a whole lotta chocolate.

In fact, when red velvet cake was first made, it actually had way more cacao in it. However, the amount lessened over time, and the color became more red than maroon.

This vegan red velvet cake is very different than my vegan chocolate cake, so rest assured, you’re getting an entirely different flavor profile between these two recipes!

What is the flavor of red velvet cake?

I really don’t think that any red velvet cake recipe tastes chocolatey! There’s such a small amount, but it is necessary for that slight richness in my opinion.

But actually, red velvet cake gets its name from the vinegar creating that velvety texture in the cake. It’s truly unlike any other cake I’ve ever had. There’s a slight tang to it, but trust me, it’s not gross.

You’re going to fall in love with this cake!

slice of vegan red velvet cake

How to make a vegan red velvet cake with dairy free cream cheese frosting (overview)

For the full written instructions and ingredient measurements, see the bottom of this post in the recipe card. You can also hit the “jump to recipe” button at the top of this post! Here, we’ll go over a brief overview of the steps, along with providing visuals for a better understanding of the recipe.

Making this healthier red velvet cake is seriously a breeze, and you can decorate it however you want! I’m going to walk you through the basic steps for getting your cake baked and frosted, then let yourself have fun with the decorations.

sliced classic red velvet cake on cake stand

The vegan red velvet cake

I know sometimes it’s intimidating if you’re making a vegan cake for the first time, but I promise, it’s actually so similar to making a regular cake! So don’t sweat it: just trust the process!

Alright, in order to make this vegan red velvet cake, you’ll need the following:

  • Flour: you can use all purpose flour or gluten free 1:1 baking flour (if needed for GF!)
  • Vegan butter: I used to make this recipe with coconut oil, but vegan butter will give you the best tasting red velvet cake.
  • Dairy free milk
  • Vinegar
  • Granulated sugar: I also used to recommend that you could make this cake refined sugar free. You can, technically, but please note that the color will not be traditional red velvet then.
  • Unsweetened applesauce
  • Baking soda + powder
  • Cacao Powder
  • Beet powder or plant based food coloring

To make this vegan red velvet cake, simply:

  1. Combine the flour, cacao powder, baking soda, and powder in a large bowl and set aside.
  2. Cream together the vegan butter and sugar. Then add in the applesauce, vanilla, and red food coloring.
  3. Add in the dry ingredients and vegan buttermilk in increments of two, mixing just until the dry combines into the wet.
  4. Distribute the batter evenly among three 6″ cake pans and bake for 35 minutes.
  5. Let cool before you frost.

That’s it! Not too far off from making a regular red velvet cake, right?

how to make red velvet cake

The vegan cream cheese frosting

Making a vegan cream cheese frosting is, like making a vegan cake, just as easy as its conventional counterpart. The only difference is that it’s completely dairy free!

To make the vegan cream cheese frosting, you’ll need:

  • Vegan cream cheese (I recommend Violife!)
  • Vegan butter (Flora Plant Butter is by far the best!)
  • Powdered sugar
  • Vanilla extract

Next, you’ll want to make sure that the vegan cream cheese and the vegan butter are at room temperature, but still cool. This means that they’ll be slightly soft, enough for you to effortlessly dent a fingerprint into it, but still cool enough to work with without it melting. The ideal temperature is 68F.

decorating red velvet cake

Then, you’ll just make the frosting like you would a regular cream cheese frosting. Beat together the vegan cream cheese and butter until they’re whipped and fluffy.

Add in the powdered sugar in increments until it’s a fluffy frosting. Then finish with a little vanilla beaten into the frosting and there you have it!

Now you can frost your cake in layers! Make sure you level your cakes before beginning. I recommend using a frosting knife and bench scraper to get the cleanest look that will almost resemble fondant (but without the icky fondant taste!).

Note: vegan cream cheese frosting can be softer than regular vegan buttercream frosting. This means that it will start to soften more quickly at room temperature. It’s best to refrigerate your cake in between crumb coating and applying the final layer.

Can red velvet cake be made without food coloring?

You can omit the food coloring if you’d rather not include it all together in your vegan red velvet cake. It won’t have that red color to it, obviously, but the red coloring doesn’t add any flavor to it, so not to worry!

Tips & Tricks for making the best healthy red velvet cake:

  • How to make this a gluten free vegan red velvet cake: making this a gluten free red velvet cake is actually quite simple. I love using Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 gluten free flour or King Arthur’s 1-to-1 gluten free flour. Then it’s just an easy swap in!
  • Make sure to level the cakes before frosting! If you’re building this cake in multiple layers, make sure to level your layers before frosting! This means evening out that top section before you frost. I recommend using a sharp, thin knife (just be careful), then when you’re stacking your cake layers, fave the crumbed, sliced side down to make it easier to frost!
  • Sift the flour before beginning: this ensures that your cake comes out really tender. I also recommend using cake flour if you’re not gluten-free. If you are GF, add in a bit of cornstarch or arrowroot powder for that same result.

How to store vegan red velvet cake

I recommend storing any leftovers in a cake container or sliced and placed into an airtight container. The cake will last for about a day or two on the countertop, but you can also store it in the fridge for up to 4 days.

slice of vegan red velvet cake on plate

You are just going to LOVE this vegan red velvet cake! It’s the perfect balance of notes of cocoa powder and vanilla, and that beautiful sweetness with a slight tang.

As always, I love to see your beautiful creations, so be sure to tag me on Instagram and Pinterest!

Happy cake baking!

More vegan cake recipes that you’ll love:

The Best Vegan Vanilla Cake I’ve Ever Had

Ultimate Vegan Chocolate Cake

Vegan White Chocolate Cake

Vegan Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake

Healthy Blueberry Lemon Cake

Vegan Black Forest Cake

DIY Vegan Wedding Cake

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BEST Ever Vegan Red Velvet Cake (Gluten Free!)

If you make this recipe, please be sure to leave a comment and a rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ below. This helps others to find the recipes! As always, I absolutely love to see your beautiful creations on Instagram and Pinterest, so be sure to tag me there as well!

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slice of vegan red velvet cake

Vegan Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Author: thebananadiaries
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 35
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 20 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

This rich and velvety vegan red velvet cake with dairy free cream cheese frosting is the ultimate vegan cake recipe! The perfect balance of cocoa and sweetness with a slight tang, this red velvet cake will be your favorite, vegan or not! Naturally dairy free and gluten free!


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1 1/4 cup (300 g) vegan buttermilk, room temperature
  • 3 cups (375 g) all-purpose flour or 1-to-1 gluten free flour with 1 tbsp cornstarch or arrowroot powder
  • 1 1/4 cup (250 g) sugar or coconut sugar
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup (113 g) vegan butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup (250 grams) unsweetened applesauce, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 oz vegan red food coloring or 2 tbsp beet powder

Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 cup vegan cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup vegan butter, softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Read through all instructions before beginning.
  2. Prep: Preheat the oven to 350F and grease three 6″ cake pans or two 8″ cake pans with olive or coconut oil. Line with parchment paper and set aside. Add the apple cider vinegar to unsweetened dairy free milk and set aside to curdle for 5 minutes.
  3. Prepare the dry ingredients: In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and sea salt. Set aside.
  4. Make the batter: In a stand mixer with paddle attachment or large bowl, cream the vegan butter for 2-3 minutes, until fluffy. Add in the sugar, and continue mixing until the sugar is almost dissolved into the butter. Then add in the applesauce, vanilla, and red food coloring. Mix on medium speed until combined. Add in the flour mixture and vegan buttermilk in increments of two, mixing until the flour is JUST integrated into the wet ingredients. 
  5. Bake the cakes: Divide batter evenly amongst the cake pans. Place cake pans into the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the toothpick comes out clean.
  6. Cool the cakes: Let the cakes cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer them to a drying rack to cool completely before frosting.

Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting:

  1. When ready to frost the cakes, make sure that each cake layer is leveled using a knife.
  2. Add vegan butter and vegan cream cheese to a large bowl and beat together with a hand mixer.
  3. Add in 1 cup of powdered sugar at a time, continuing the beat the mixture until it’s a thick buttercream.
  4. Add in vanilla and continue to beat until desired texture.
  5. Frost cake and enjoy! 

Notes

Food coloring options:

If using coconut sugar: your cake will look more tan/brown than red, even with using the vegan food coloring, but it will still taste delicious!

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 slice
  • Calories: 392
  • Sugar: 24 g
  • Sodium: 449.5 mg
  • Fat: 21.2 g
  • Carbohydrates: 48.5 g
  • Protein: 4 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg

Keywords: vegan red velvet cake, vegan red velvet cake recipe, red velvet cake recipe, vegan red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting