Red velvet cupcakes always feel like a treat with their rich flavour and gorgeous colouring. The combination of cocoa powder and buttermilk creates that distinctive taste that just evokes feelings of warm summer nights and indulgent desserts.
Why You Need to Make These
With my vegan red velvet recipe, you’ll be able to create wonderfully light and fluffy cupcakes in less than 30 minutes. Easy to make and the perfect treat for any occasion. This recipe can also be used to make a dozen ring donuts. So good!
Ingredients and Substitutions
To ensure that this recipe is allergen-friendly, I am using a couple of substitutions in place of egg and butter. Not vegan but still want to make these? Check out my ingredient substitutions to see how you can swap out ingredients to suit your own dietary requirements.
Cake Flour: to create a light and fluffy consistency for our cupcakes, I am using cake flour. This type of flour has a lower protein content, less gluten and will create a more gentle texture in your baked goods. It is very easy to make your own, if you can’t find some in the grocery store. Weigh out 240 grams of all purpose flour, remove 2 tablespoons and replace it with 2 tablespoons of cornflour. Sift two times to ensure it is incorporated fully. Gluten Free? I recommend using Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Baking flour in place of cake flour.
Baking Powder and Salt: Baking powder helps the donuts rise. Remember that baking powder adds PUFF to a recipe which is exactly what we want here. Salt is added to cut back on the sweetness, and also to enhance the flavours.
Cocoa Powder: One of the main ingredients of red velvet is cocoa powder. I am using dutch processed cocoa powder. Regular cocoa powder will work just as well if you can’t find dutch processed. There is a theory that regular cocoa will actually enhance your red velvet flavour but I’ve never noticed a difference. Feel free to use whichever one you have.
Sugar: I’m using white sugar in this recipe. If you want a slightly caramelly undertone, you could sub with golden or light brown sugar. You can also substitute with coconut sugar.
Melted Butter: I am using unsalted plant based melted butter to add fat to the cupcakes. You can substitute with a light oil such as canola if you prefer or regular unsalted butter if you’re not dairy free or vegan.
Buttermilk: The not-so-secret ingredient to red velvet is…. buttermilk! I’m a huge fan of using buttermilk in my baking as it creates a light and fluffy texture with a little bit of tang that is just Oh So Good. The perfect match for my red velvet cupcakes. Homemade buttermilk is really easy to make. Just use one cup (240ml) of milk (I used almond milk) and add 1 tbsp of vinegar (I like using Apple Cider Vinegar) or lemon juice. Let it sit for 10 minutes and it’ll curdle (see below) and be ready to add to your recipe. Read more about buttermilk in this ‘how to’ post.
You can just sub with plant based milk if you don’t like the flavour of buttermilk, although your cupcakes will be less fluffy. If you are not vegan, you can also add an egg to this recipe for extra moisture.
Food Colouring: You can’t make red velvet without adding some sort of food colouring. My preference is Americolor Super Red as it doesn’t have a bitter aftertaste, unlike other brands. You can sub with a natural food dye if you prefer. I will be experimenting with natural food colouring in the future and will post an update here with my findings. Send me your recommendations if you have used any in your baking and I’ll try them out.
How to Make Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes
Start by preheating your oven to 350°F (175°C) and gathering all of your equipment and ingredients. This recipe comes together very quickly and I recommend using a hand mixer or mixing by hand so that you don’t overmix the batter.
First, make the buttermilk by combining 175 grams of plant based milk and 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a measuring cup.
Let it sit for 10 minutes while it curdles.
Stir in 30 grams of melted butter.
Add approx 10 drops of red food colouring to the buttermilk. I highly recommend using Americolor as it is oil based and creates a richer colour in baked goods.
Stir to combine. Look at the colour!
Add all of the dry ingredients to your mixing bowl and stir to combine. That’s 240 grams of cake flour, 140 grams of white sugar, 2 tsp of baking powder, 1 tsp salt and 2 tbsp cocoa powder (US Cup measurements are in the recipe card).
Add the wet ingredients that you previously made to the mixing bowl. Mix until fully incorporated. Look how wonderfully red it looks when it pours.
This will darken as it bakes but you’ll still have enough colouring to know that these are red velvet.
Place 12 cupcake liners in the cupcake pan and fill each one, using an ice cream scoop to evenly distribute the batter. I am using a 3 tablespoon ice cream scoop and it is seriously one of my favourite baking tools.
I love the ease of knowing that my cupcakes will all have roughly the same amount of batter without having to weigh them.
Bake at 350°F for 15 minutes. The cupcakes will be well risen and firm to the touch.
If you want to frost the cupcakes, allow them to cool completely before decorating. I recommend using either vanilla buttercream (see my vanilla cupcake post for the recipe) or cream cheese frosting. I love piping simple swirls on my cupcakes.
And then finish it off with a few crumbles of vegan red velvet cupcakes. Understated beauty!
Let’s have a close look at the crumb inside one of our cupcakes. So light and airy!
This recipe makes 12 cupcakes. It can also be used to make a batch of donuts or a 6″ cake.
I recommend using Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Baking flour in place of the cake flour.
These cupcakes are best enjoyed on the day of baking/frosting and will store well in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. You can also freeze the undecorated cupcakes in the freezer for up to 3 months. Allow defrosting to room temperature before eating.
Love Red Velvet?
Easy Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes
For the Vegan Buttermilk
- 175 mililitres Plant Based Milk (3/4 US Cup – see note)
- 1 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
- Gather all your ingredients and equipment.
Making the donuts:
- Make the buttermilk by combining the plant based milk and vinegar in a measuring cup. Let it sit for 10 minutes while it curdles.
- Stir in the melted butter and food colouring to the buttermilk.
- Add all of the dry ingredients to your mixing bowl and stir to combine.
- Add the wet ingredients to the mixing bowl. Mix until fully incorporated.
- Place 12 cupcake liners in the cupcake pan and fill each one, using an ice cream scoop to evenly distribute the batter.
- Bake at 350°F for 15 minutes. The cupcakes will be well risen and firm to the touch.
- If you want to frost the cupcakes, allow them to cool completely before decorating. I recommend using either vanilla buttercream or cream cheese frosting. Enjoy!
- This recipe makes 12 cupcakes. It can also be used to make a batch of donuts or a 6″ cake.
- Check out the full recipe post for substitution information.
- These cupcakes are best enjoyed on the day of baking but will store well in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- I always weigh my ingredients rather than use cup measurements. This ensures accuracy for every recipe and perfect results every time. For convenience for those who prefer using cup measurements, I have converted this recipe myself. Please note that if you use the 2x or 3x ingredient feature in this recipe card, it will not increase the cup measurements. Please calculate those manually.
- Nutrition information is provided as a guide only and is based on the actual ingredients that I used to create this recipe.