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Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes

These vegan red velvet cupcakes are soft, fluffy and perfectly paired with some cream cheese frosting!

a single vegan red velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting

Following on from my vegan chocolate covered strawberries for Valentine’s, I decided to make a cuter, smaller version of the vegan red velvet cake I made last summer.

Cupcakes are one of my favourite things to make because they are so quick, easy and don’t make a lot of mess. Usually they can be made in just one bowl!

Cupcakes are also the thing that started my love for baking when I was a child. But (shockingly!) up until the grand old age of 27, I’d never made red velvet cupcakes. Not even once!

So I decided now would be the perfect time. With the holiday of love fast approaching, it just made sense to make more of my desserts red, pink or heart shaped. Because that’s the whole point of Valentine’s day, right?

What Gives The Cupcakes Their Colour?

As anticlimactic as this may be, the red colour in red velvet cakes simply comes from food colouring. At least, the majority of it does.

There is somewhat of a chemical reaction that goes on with the acid in the buttermilk (vegan buttermilk in this case!) and the cocoa powder, which brings out slightly red/maroon tones.

But I wanted my cupcakes to look a bit more red than this reaction makes them so I just added some food colouring too.

I would highly recommend using gel over liquid food colouring as liquid can sometimes affect the flavour of cupcakes. As I’ve mentioned in a few of my previous posts, PME food gels are my favourite vegan-friendly colours at the moment and they’re available on Amazon US and UK.

I recently discovered them and ever since then, everything I’ve baked has been dyed one colour or another, LOL.

Aside from assisting with the colour, adding buttermilk to the cupcakes helps to make them moist and flavourful. It also activates the baking soda in the recipe which gives you soft and fluffy cupcakes!

close up of one red velvet cupcake with others in the background

Try more vegan cupcake recipes:

How To Make Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes

Step 1:

Before we get started on the cupcakes, you’ll need to make sure to have a cupcake tin lined with 12 paper cases. You’ll also want to preheat your oven to 180ºC / 350ºF.

Step 2:

The first step to making delicious red velvet cupcakes? The buttermilk! Now, obviously, this is a vegan recipe so we can’t just use regular old buttermilk.

Instead, you can make your own by mixing any type of plant-based milk with vinegar. My favourite type of milk to use is soy milk as I find it to be the creamiest.

To make your buttermilk, mix 280ml (1 cup + 2 tablespoons) of plant-based milk with 1 teaspoon of vinegar of choice. I like to use apple cider vinegar.

Use a fork to mix it together well then set aside for now.

Step 3:

In a separate large bowl, mix together your dry ingredients.

You’ll need 230g of self-raising flour (1 + 3/4 cups), 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, 2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder, and 180g of caster/super-fine sugar (3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons).

Mix the dry ingredients together until well combined and there are no lumps of cocoa powder or flour left.

dry ingredients mixed together in a bowl

Step 4:

Next, measure out 6 tablespoons of vegan butter or vegetable oil and melt it quickly in the microwave. Leave it to cool slightly for a minute or two.

Step 5:

Add the melted butter/oil to the bowl of dry ingredients, along with the vegan buttermilk from earlier and 3 teaspoons of vanilla extract.

adding wet ingredients to the dry

Mix everything together until well combined and smooth.

cake batter in a bowl

Step 6:

Add in around 1/2 of a teaspoon of red gel food colouring. Mix well until there are no more streaks of colour left. The mixture should now be maroon.

cake batter with red food coloring in

Step 7:

Divide the cake batter between the 12 cupcake cases and bake for 18-20 minutes. You can check if they’re ready by inserting a toothpick through the centre- it will come out dry if they’re ready.

cake batter divided into paper cases in a cupcake tray
baked red velvet cupcakes in the tray

Step 8:

Transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

Step 9:

Prepare your frosting then pipe or spoon it onto the cooled cupcakes.

Looking for more vegan dessert recipes?

Frosting ideas

I highly recommend my vegan cream cheese frosting! It’s sweet, smooth and tangy, and tastes just like the real deal.

If you’re not a fan of cream cheese, you can use vegan buttercream frosting, chocolate buttercream, or vanilla frosting.

Anything your heart desires!

You could even go the extra mile and use dark chocolate ganache. Because the flavour of red velvet is quite simple, it goes with a lot of things.

You can even eat these cupcakes just as they are, because they taste pretty damn delicious without any frosting.

I also added some edible dried rose petals on top of the frosting for decoration. I think they look pretty and match the cupcakes well!

frosted cupcake with a bite taken out of it

Top Tips

  • Use soy milk to make thick and creamy buttermilk.
  • Red food gel works best for vibrant colour.
  • If you can’t get a hold of self-raising flour, use plain flour instead and just add 2 teaspoons of baking powder to the recipe.
  • Allow cupcakes to cool completely before adding the frosting.
  • Store frosted cupcakes in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 4 days.


Can I use beetroot juice instead of artificial colouring?

When making my first ever batch of red velvet cake, I tried using beet juice in place of food gel. It didn’t work AT ALL. I actually used so much beet juice to try to produce the red colour I was after that it completely ruined the taste and texture of the cake. Plus the colour only really stayed on the outside- the inside didn’t have even a hint of red in it.

I have heard of other people who have had great success using ground, dried beet powder in place of red food gel. I can’t comment on the results as I haven’t tried it myself but I’m going to take a guess and say that the food gel will produce a more vibrant result than beets will.

How should I store the cupcakes?

In an airtight container. If using cream cheese frosting, they will need to be stored in the fridge. Without any frosting, they can be stored at room temperature or in a kitchen cupboard.

How long will they last?

If stored appropriately, they will taste their best for up to 4 days.

Pinterest pin
vegan red velvet cupcake with cream cheese icing on top
5 from 2 votes

Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes

Light and fluffy vanilla cupcakes that are vibrant in colour with a hint of chocolate.

Course Dessert
Cuisine vegan
Keyword vegan red velvet cupcakes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Servings 12 cupcakes
Calories 457 kcal


For the cupcakes:

  • 280 ml Soy milk (1 cup + 2 Tablespoons)
  • 1 Teaspoon White or apple cider vinegar
  • 230 g Self-raising flour (1+ ¾ cups)
  • ½ Teaspoon Baking soda
  • 2 Tablespoons Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 180 g Caster sugar (¾ cup + 2 tablespoons)
  • 6 Tablespoons Vegetable oil (or melted vegan butter)
  • 3 Teaspoons Vanilla extract
  • ½ Teaspoon Red gel colouring (Make sure it's vegan friendly. I like PME)

To Frost:


  1. Line a cupcake tray with 12 paper cases and preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F (160°C or 325°F if using a fan or convection oven).

  2. Mix the soy milk with the vinegar and set aside.

  3. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, cocoa powder and sugar until there are no lumps left.

  4. Add the oil to the bowl along with your buttermilk from earlier and the vanilla extract. Mix until well combined and smooth.

  5. Add the red colouring and mix until there are no colour streaks left. The mixture should now be maroon in colour.

  6. Divide the batter between the 12 cupcake cases and bake for 18-20 minutes. Check they're done by inserting a toothpick through the centre- it will come out clean when the cupcakes are ready.

  7. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before adding the cream cheese frosting. Once frosted, store in the fridge.

Recipe Notes

  • Soy milk works best but feel free to sub for any other vegan milk alternative.
  • Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.


Nutrition Facts
Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes
Amount Per Serving (1 cupcake with cream cheese frosting)
Calories 457 Calories from Fat 153
% Daily Value*
Fat 17g26%
Sodium 172mg7%
Carbohydrates 71g24%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 57g63%
Protein 3g6%
* All values are an estimate only and will vary depending on the food brands used.
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Wednesday 5th of February 2020

Love the color of these!! Its awesome that you can make so many things vegan these days ????


Friday 7th of February 2020

Thanks Kendra. I know- I love how vegan desserts are becoming easier and easier to make as we all exchange knowledge :)

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