Vegan Red Velvet Cake

This is the most amazing Vegan Red Velvet Cake Recipe thanks to its moist, soft, lightly chocolate cake, topped with a simple vegan cream cheese frosting. It has a perfect velvet texture! This easy red velvet cake is recognizable with its bright red color offset by a white, creamy frosting.

A slice of layered cake on a plate has a fork beside it and sits in front of the rest of the cake.

A new favorite cake has moved into town and it’s this red velvet vegan cake recipe. I’ve always said that my favorite cake is my Vegan Coconut Cake. And trust me, I do love that cake! However, this one is edging its way to the top.

You may recall a lot of eggs and milk in the traditional recipe so it may seem impossible to make a red velvet cake vegan. However, this dairy-free red velvet cake is both delicious and easy to make.

For a dramatic effect, add some shaved vegan white chocolate to the top of this cake.

What does Red Velvet Cake Taste Like?

I asked several taste testers to describe the flavor of a red velvet cake, and everyone struggled. It’s not quite chocolate, not quite vanilla. This recipe for vegan red velvet delivers a combination of flavors and textures, including:

  • Creamy frosting with a soft, moist cake
  • Subtle cocoa flavor
  • Subtle vanilla flavor
  • Tangy (in the cake and frosting)
  • Buttery, both in flavor and texture

Between you and me, it’s the red velvet cake’s texture that really, well, takes the cake!

A slice of red velvet cake on a plate with a fork holding a mouthful beside it.

Key Ingredients

You can find the full printable recipe, including ingredient quantities, below. But first, here are some explanations of ingredients and steps to help you make this recipe perfect every time.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need for this recipe:

  • Flour — I recommend all-purpose flour.
  • Sugar — I use granulated sugar.
  • Cocoa powder — We’ll use natural cocoa powder. Dutch-process is too dark for this cake.
  • Salt — Adding a little bit of salt adds flavor.
  • Baking soda — The baking soda combines with vinegar to create a high, moist texture.
  • Cornstarch — I love adding a bit of cornstarch for the perfect texture.
  • Vegetable oil — Use a neutral oil like canola oil.
  • Water — The water interacts with the gluten in the flour.
  • Vinegar — Use apple cider vinegar, or substitute white vinegar or even lemon juice.
  • Red food coloring — Add as much or as little food coloring as works for you.
  • FAT  — For the frosting, we’ll combine vegetable shortening with vegan butter. I use Earth Balance buttery sticks or make my non-dairy butter.
  • Lemon juice — You can use either fresh or bottled lemon juice.
  • Vegan creamer — Use a thick vanilla-flavored vegan creamer (used for coffee). You can substitute soy milk.

Why This Recipe is a Winner

  • PERFECT — A tested combination of ingredients is part science, part art in creating this soft, velvety crumb.
  • SIMPLE — Most red velvet cake recipes insist on creaming butter and sugar, but I found a much simpler process with excellent results!
  • FLAVORFUL — A precise amount of cocoa powder gives this cake a distinctive velvet flavor without overpowering the other flavors.

A Few Tips

  1. Prepare Your Pans. Cut rounds of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pans. Spray the inside of the cake pans (bottom and sides) with cooking spray. Then place a cut round at the bottom of each pan and spray again.
  2. Gently Folding. Once the liquid ingredients are added to the dry, gently fold the two together to create the batter. I like to use a whisk to break up lumps of flour.
  3. Red Velvet Cupcakes. Make vegan red velvet cupcakes by distributing the batter into 24 muffin compartments lined with cupcake papers. Bake them for 20 to 25 minutes (using a tester to ensure they’re done). Allow them to cool completely before frosting.
  4. Make Vegan Gluten-Free Red Velvet Cake by substituting 1:1 gluten-free baking flour.
A layered vegan red velvet cake has several slices taken out of it.

Storage Tips

I recommend a cake keeper to cover the cake and keep it fresh. It will keep at room temperature for up to 3 to 4 days or in the fridge for up to 7 days. To freeze, you can place individual slices in a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 2 months.

New to Vegan Baking?

The idea of making cookies, cakes, or muffins without eggs or dairy can seem like a hill too tall to climb. But with the simple tips in my Guide to Vegan Baking, you’ll be baking like a vegan pro in no time!

A bite of cake on a fork sits in front of the rest of the cake.

Marly’s Tips

McCormick’s Red Food Dye (the kind you find most available at the store) is noted to be vegan.

Natural Food Coloring Options

It’s tricky to achieve a vibrant red-colored cake with natural food colors.

I recommend regular food coloring because you can buy it at the store (unlike gel food colorings). I recommend two tablespoons to get the bright red color in my cake.

If you want a more natural red velvet cake, here are some options to consider:

  • Beet Powder (paid link) — it doesn’t create vibrant color.
  • Dragon Fruit Powder — it’s more pink than red, but it does darken as it bakes. My Blue Velvet Cake uses a natural Blue Butterfly Pea Powder for its bright color.
  • Hibiscus Food Coloring Powder (paid link) is an option too, although it’s more pink than red.

Reader Reviews

★★★★★
Omg! Fluffy and moist and delicious and the FROSTING! …this delicious frosting is the best [frosting] I have ever had!

Jenny F

★★★★★
I made this recipe last night and it came out amazing!!!

Tennison

More Vegan Cake Recipes

If you love this vegan red velvet cake, you will also love these red velvet energy balls. Delicious! Here are more cake recipes to try:

A slice of red velvet cake on a plate in front of the rest of the cake.
A slice of red velvet cake sits in front of the rest of the cake.

Vegan Red Velvet Cake

Vegan Red Velvet Cake is a simple, delicious cake with a slightly chocolate-flavored cake with a tangy vanilla frosting that's so delicious bite after bite!
4.95 from 18 votes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 14
Calories: 506kcal

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (natural, not dutch-process)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons red food coloring (see note)

Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting

  • ½ cup vegetable shortening (such as Cristco)
  • ½ cup vegan butter
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • ¾ teaspoon lemon juice
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons vegan creamer (vanilla flavored)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C. Spray two 8 or 9-inch round cake pans with vegetable spray. You can also place a piece of parchment paper at the bottom of the pans and spray the sides with vegetable oil.
  • Combine in a large mixing bowl the flour, sugar, cocoa, salt baking soda, and cornstarch. Stir to combine.
    Ingredients for a cake are in a mixing bowl.
  • In a smaller bowl, combine the vegetable oil, water, vinegar, vanilla, and food coloring. Stir to combine.
  • Pour the water mixture into the flour mixture and gently fold until just combined. Do not overmix.
  • Pour the batter into prepared cake pans. Bake for 30–35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  • Allow the cakes to cool for about 10 minutes before inverting onto a plate. Allow cooling completely before frosting.

Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Cream together the vegan butter and vegetable shortening in a mixing bowl using either a handheld mixer or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Cream for 1–2 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the vinegar and lemon juice and mix again for another minute.
    A stand mixer mixing bowl holds creamy frosting, with some of it on the beater.
  • In a bowl combine the powdered sugar and salt. Whisk to combine. Add this to the butter mixture and mix on low until mostly combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the vegan creamer, one tablespoon at a time, mixing in between each addition. Continue until you get a smooth, spreadable consistency.
  • Once the cakes cool, use a serrated knife to slice a thin layer off the tops of the cakes to create a level surface. Reserve shaved cake shreds. Place one cake on a serving plate or cake stand. Top with a third of the frosting. Place the second cake on top and frost the top and sides of the cake. You'll need every last bit of the frosting, so be sure to use a spatula to get it all.
  • Place shaved cake bits in a food processor and pulse until crumbly. Decorate the cake with red velvet cake crumbles.
  • Allow the cake to set for about 30 minutes before serving. Use a cake keeper to cover the cake. It will keep at room temperature for up to 3–4 days, or in the fridge for up to 7 days. You can cut it into individual slices and freeze the slices. They will keep if properly stored for up to 2 months.

Recommended Equipment

(The products above contain sponsored links to products we use and recommend)

Notes

  1. Make-Ahead Tips: After layers are baked, cool them completely, and cover in an airtight container. They can be stored overnight at room temperature. You can also prepare the frosting the day before. Simply store in the fridge in an airtight container. Be sure to let it sit at room temperature for about 15 to 20 minutes before frosting the cake.
  2. Food Coloring: For this vibrant red cake, I used 2 tablespoons of red food coloring. If you have gel, use 2 to 3 teaspoons. However, you don’t have to use any food coloring at all (the cake won’t be red, but will still taste great) or see post tips for natural options. 
  3. Sheet Cake: If you prefer a sheet cake over a layered cake, pour batter into a 9×13″ cake pan or 12×17″ sheet pan. Bake at the same oven temperature for 40–45 minutes for the 9×13″ pan or 20 to 25 minutes for the 12×17″ pan. Use a tester to test for doneness.
Nutrition estimate includes both the cake and the frosting. 
Calories: 506kcal | Carbohydrates: 73g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Sodium: 420mg | Potassium: 40mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 50g | Vitamin A: 308IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 6mg | Iron: 1mg

The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

34 Responses to Vegan Red Velvet Cake

  1. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyClaire Reply

    In what size baking tin did you bake this cake? Thanks in advance! 🙂

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Hi Claire! I used a 9-inch round cake pan, but an 8-inch pan would work as well. Thanks for your comment, I updated the recipe card with this info.

  2. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyTennison Reply

    5 stars
    I had to come back and comment again. Everyone reading this please please try this recipe. This is the best red velvet cake. I’ve had people wanting me to make this cake all the time. I just made some last week and I’m currently making some again. You did a amazing job with this recipe thank you so much for sharing!

  3. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyGloria Reply

    I made this cake for Christmas Day lunch and it was absolutely yummy
    Everyone loved it

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Hi Gloria! I love picturing your family together eating this cake. Makes my heart sing! Thanks for your kind note – it made my day!

  4. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyErin Reply

    Hello! Thank you for sharing your recipe. I’m wondering how you measure out/scoop your flour so I can achieve the same texture as yours appears. Or is it accurate to use the metric measurements provided? The texture looks amazing. Thanks

  5. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyTennison Reply

    5 stars
    I made this recipe last night and it came out amazing !!!

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Hi Tennison! I’m so glad you made this cake and liked it. I’m getting ready to make it again, too. Two peas in a pod!

  6. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyJenny Feliciano Reply

    5 stars
    I normally don’t write a review on recipes which is weird cause I always write reviews for things I purchase but whatever the case my be I had to write one for this cake!! Omg! Fluffy and moist and delicious and the FROSTiNG! I have done so many vegan cream cheese frosting but this right here my friends… this delicious frosting is the best cream cheese desiring I have ever had! Thank you thank you for this recipe!! I added vegan chocolate chips to the bottom of the pan for a lent extra chocolate since this was for my daughter’s birthday. I made the 13×9 and say exactly 45 minute It was perfectly baked throughout. Thank you again!

  7. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyAileen Reply

    5 stars
    I have made this recipe twice already, and I will be making it again tomorrow. It is so delicious! I love to double the recipe each time I make it. Yum! <3

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Thanks, Aileen. I’m so glad you like this cake. It’s one of my favorites, too!

    • Avatar thumbnail image for Marlyadriana

      hi! i want do this recipe, bit i have a question, 1 CUP of flour how much is it un grams?

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Hi Adriana. If you click on the “metrics” tab in the recipe card, it translate the recipe from cups to grams. In this case, 3 cups of flour is translated into 375g of flour. I had another reader comment that reducing the water from 475 ml to 300 ml. You may want to start with that and add more water if necessary.

  8. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyJessie Reply

    5 stars
    I made this for my husband’s birthday and it was a hit!

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Hi Jessie. So glad you liked this cake. It’s my favorite for birthdays too!

  9. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyQueenT Reply

    5 stars
    I made this today as a test, using half recipe. 1 x 8 inch layer and 4 cupcakes. Instead of all water, I did half water and half unsweetened almond milk. I used 2 tablespoons of red color (will double this for full recipe), 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 teaspoon imitation butter emulsion. It was delicious without frosting. I will use this as my go-to vegan red velvet cake or cupcakes.

  10. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyBrenda Reply

    I made your red velvet cake for my grandaughters birthday as she requested a vegan red velvet cake! They said it was amazing!!! I bought one of your cookbooks and I am quite inpressed!

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