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 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!
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Make Vegan Gluten-Free Red Velvet Cake by substituting 1:1 gluten-free baking flour.
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!
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.
Omg! Fluffy and moist and delicious and the FROSTING! …this delicious frosting is the best [frosting] I have ever had!
I made this recipe last night and it came out amazing!!!
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:
Vegan Red Velvet Cake
- 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
- ⅔ 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)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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
I’m making this cake right now and just finished step 6 in the cake directions. After lifting the cake pan up, both cakes cracked into 3-4 pieces. I live at a high elevation (7000 ft) so I’m assuming that’s the cause, but wanted to see if you had any suggestions on how to prevent this from happening again in the future?
Hi Athena! Yes, high altitude does have an impact on baking. I recommend these things: 1) Reduce baking soda to 1 1/2 teaspoons, 2) Reduce sugar to 1 1/2 cups, 3) Increase water to 2 1/4 cups, and 4) Increase the baking temperature to 375F. These changes help the cake bake in the higher altitudes. Hope this is helpful!
Wow. It looks delicious. I love pineapple cakes. So, I will try to make it. Your recipe will help me. Thanks for sharing.
Hey! Thanks for the recipe. This will be my first vegan cake ever! I have a question. Where do I get the crums for the decoration from? Will they be left over in the pan?
Hi Kathi. Thanks for your comment. When the cakes come out of the oven, there can be a slight dome. I oftentimes use a serrated knife to cut that dome off to make the cakes level. I do this after the cakes cool. Then I use whatever was sliced off to create the crumbles. I hope you love it!
Hi! What are your suggestions on baking time and temp for a 6″ version?:)
Hi Rebecca! If using 6″ round cake pans, divide the batter between 3 pans and bake for 18 – 21 minutes. Be sure to test the cake for doneness (by inserting a tester in the middle of the cake…it should come out mostly clean, a few crumb are ok). I bet you’ll have a beautiful cake when it’s all iced and ready to eat!
Question.. I’m looking around for recipes and I’ve noticed you used water instead of milk. Can you tell me why? I usually see ppl use milk for their cakes.
Hi Michelle. Great question! So, a vegan cake is quite different from a typical cake that uses eggs. With a vegan cake (without eggs) my goal is to use the gluten from the flour to create structure and binding. Water activates gluten, but it also interacts with the sugar in the recipe. Some plant-based milks have a higher fat content and that can rob moisture from the gluten formation, thus creating a gummy or even flat cake. I guess if you’re using something like unsweetened almond milk, it would work. However, I would eliminate the salt in the recipe because oftentimes unsweetened almond milk has sodium already added to it. See? In my book, water just makes it easier. And this cake turns out very moist and flavorful. I hope that answers your question, but let me know if you’d like to chat more about it!
I was wondering what size cake pans you need for this recipe? 8 inch? 9 inch? Thanks!
I typically use 9″ cake pans, however, either one will work just fine.
This looks so good, pity it does not list measures in weight.
Hi Lucy! The recipe card has a metric conversion that can be added, but it has to be manually turned on for each recipe. I just turned it on for this recipe. Hope this is helpful!
I give this four stars because the recipe did work well, it tasted good when it was finished, and it was easy to make. However when I folded the wet and dry ingredients together, the batter was very lumpy after it was pretty well combined. It said not to overmix so I didn’t smooth it out. It came out a little spotty and lumpy after it was baked, although it didn’t affect the texture too much. I wish it was more clear if we were supposed to smooth it out or not.
As author of this recipe, I’m happy to tell you that this vegan red velvet cake is now my most favorite cake ever! I’ve gone from someone who was highly skeptical to a crazy, devoted fan because of this recipe. I also love the ease of the ingredients, including the vegan cream cheese frosting!
Hi Marly! So many of your recipes are my favorites. I turn to them often when I want to make a positive vegan cooking impression. Everyone who has tried your banana bread loves it. Last evening I made your garlic bread and the spread was AMAZING! My family and guests love it. I’m so excited to try the red velvet cake recipe and share it with those I love on New Year’s day. Thank you for the work you do to make vegan cooking easy, accessible and delicious.
Hi Keri! I’m SO glad you like these recipes! Makes me happy! I hope you love this red velvet cake as much as I do. Usually, I will have a slice or two of a cake and my husband, Shawn, eats the rest…but not with this one! I took it to Thanksgiving where several of my non-vegan family commented on it (they loved it!) and so by the time we got home there was about a third of the cake left…and I ate it all! It will be perfect for New Year’s Day! ❤️