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These Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes are perfectly moist and fluffy with a subtle note of chocolate flavor. They are easy to make and downright delicious!
Valentine's Day is just around the corner and these Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes are the perfect way to celebrate! It's a silly holiday, but it's certainly fun making sweet treats for the ones you love or for yourself.
They pair well with my Vegan Buttercream Frosting or Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting, but if you are a chocolate lover, you can make my Vegan Chocolate Frosting. They are all heavenly!
If you're looking for a dinner pairing for the big day, my Easy Vegan Alfredo Sauce over fettuccine is definitely a winner, or my Vegan Penne Alla Vodka recipe is top-notch too!
️🌟 This is a quick overview with step-by-step photos. For the complete ingredient amounts and instructions, scroll down to the recipe card below.
Ingredients, Notes, and, Substitutions
- Soy Milk - it's very similar to dairy buttermilk when an acid is added. You can use any non-dairy milk, just note that it won't thicken much, but the recipe will work.
- Apple Cider Vinegar - It curdles and thickens the soy milk. You can replace it with lemon juice.
- Granulated + Powdered Sugar - choosing organic will ensure that it's vegan.
- Canola Oil - any neutral-flavored oil will work such as avocado, vegetable, grapeseed, sunflower, or refined coconut oil (measure coconut oil in its liquid state).
- Cake Flour - produces a light and fluffy crumb. However, all-purpose will still produce a lovely crumb.
- Vanilla + Almond Extract - pure vanilla tastes the best, but you can use imitation. The almond extract enhances the vanilla and is very subtle, but you can omit it if you don't have it.
- Apple Sauce - it yields a tender crumb, but plain non-dairy yogurt will work too.
- Vegan Butter - I prefer Miyoko's butter for the frosting, but any brand will do. I don't recommend tub butter because it tends to contain more moisture and could alter the frosting results.
How to make Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes
This is a very easy recipe to put together, just preheat your oven and have all of your ingredients ready to go. Here's what you'll need to do.
- Mix the soy milk and vinegar together and let sit for 10 minutes to create vegan buttermilk.
- Add the oil, applesauce, sugar, red coloring, and vanilla to the buttermilk and whisk to combine.
- Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk to combine well.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk until just combined.
- Divide batter evenly into each slot about ⅔ the way full and bake for 20-24 minutes. Lightly press the surface to check for doneness - It should spring back.
- Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing. Then let them cool on a rack completely before frosting.
Baking Success Tips
These vegan red velvet cupcakes will come out beautifully as long as you follow the recipe exactly. Any small change could alter the final result. Here are some helpful tips for a successful experience.
- Avoid scooping flour directly from the container using a measuring cup. Instead, use a spoon to scoop flour into the measuring cup, then level excess off using a butter knife. Avoid packing or tapping flour into the cup.
- Do not omit the apple cider vinegar. It helps to curdle soy milk to make vegan buttermilk and also reacts with baking soda to aid the rise of cupcakes. As mentioned above, lemon juice can be used in its place.
- Be careful not to overmix the batter or too much gluten will develop, resulting in dense and chewy cupcakes.
- Fill each cupcake liner no more than ⅔ of the way full for even baking and to avoid the batter from spilling over in the oven.
- It's best to use room-temperature ingredients for this cupcake recipe. Warm ingredients will bond together much easier and yield a smooth batter. This will help maintain the proper structure while baking.
- Don't overbake the cupcakes or they will likely turn out dry. Check for doneness around the 20-minute mark.
Cupcake Storing Tips
Cupcakes are best enjoyed fresh, but you can store them if you have leftovers. Here are some storing suggestions to keep them as fresh-tasting as possible
- Room temperature – unfrosted cupcakes will stay good at room temperature for 2-3 days in an airtight container. Place a paper towel in the bottom of the container, and another one on top of the cupcakes. This will help with excess moisture.
- Fridge – frosted and unfrosted cupcakes can be refrigerated for 3-5 days in an airtight container.
- Freezer – these cupcakes can be frozen for up to 3 months. For unfrosted cupcakes, wrap them individually in wax paper and place them in an airtight container or Ziploc. To freeze frosted cupcakes, put them on a tray and place in the freezer for at least an hour, or until the frosting has frozen. Then wrap each one and transfer to a container/Ziploc.
Yes, you can leave out the food coloring and it won't affect the taste at all. They won't be vibrant red, but you can dress them up with cute cupcake liners and crushed dried strawberries on top.
It tastes very similar to chocolate cake/cupcakes but milder in flavor and has a slight tang from the homemade buttermilk.
Not all food coloring is vegan and may contain animal byproducts. Both Americolor and Wilton food coloring gels are vegan-friendly.
More Vegan Cupcake Recipes to Enjoy
If you love these cupcakes, you may want to try a few more of my favorites.
Did you make this recipe? Let me know what you think by leaving a star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating and sharing your feedback in the comment section below. It would really make my day! You can also share your remake with me on Instagram. Just tag #veganhuggs and @veganhuggs so I don’t miss it!
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Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes
- 1 cup soy milk
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (sub lemon juice)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup grapeseed oil or any neutral flavored oil
- ¼ cup applesauce
- 2.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon almond extract (*optional)
- 1 tablespoon red food coloring gel (vegan-friendly)
- 1 ¾ cups cake flour (sub all-purpose)
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon salt
Batch of Frosting (choose your favorite)
- 12 Cupcake Liners
- 2 Mixing Bowls
- Preheat your oven to 350 °F (177 °C). Fill a 12-Slot Cupcake Pan with cupcake liners.
- In a medium mixing bowl, add the soy milk and apple cider vinegar. Combine and let it sit for 10 minutes to create a vegan buttermilk. It will thicken and curdle slightly. Set aside.
- When the buttermilk is ready, add the oil, applesauce, granulated sugar, red coloring, vanilla, and almond extract. Whisk to combine well.
- In a large mixing bowl with a mesh strainer on top, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to combine well and set aside.
- Now slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Whisk together until just combined (*Don't over mix or it can create a dense and chewy cupcake).
- Divide batter evenly into each slot about ⅔ the way full (an ice cream scoop works great for this). Bake them in the oven for 20-24 minutes. To check for doneness, lightly press the surface - It should spring back (You can also use a toothpick and push it through the center - it should come out clean).
- Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing. Then let them cool on a rack for at least 30 minutes before frosting.
Amazing! I made these for a non-vegan friend’s birthday and everybody loved them. Rich, fluffy, flavorful cupcakes.
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Hi Shelley! We are so glad to hear that the cupcakes were a hit! Thanks for stopping by to leave a review!
The recipe list says baking soda but instructions say baking powder. Not sure which is correct. Also, the instructions don’t mention when to add the granulated sugar. Regardless, I used soda hoping that it would react with the vinegar to make a lighter cake. Just dumped the sugar in after adding wet ingredients To the dry ingredients and mixed it well. I made this in a glass Pyrex rectangular dish ( a little smaller than a standard 9x12). Turned out great! Used a store bought “accidentally vegan” cream cheese frosting.
Hi Angela, thank you for catching the error with the baking soda/baking powder issue. I used only baking soda for this recipe. The sugar goes in with the wet ingredients. It was written there, but it just said 'sugar', so it was easy to miss. I fixed it to say 'granulated sugar' to make it more noticeable. I'm so glad it worked out for you 🙂
I also forgot to mention that I didn’t use any dye and left it natural in color. Everyone loved it and didn’t miss the red color. Great recipe!
I was wondering - instead of the food coloring, would an 1/8th or 1/4 cup pureed red beet work just as well?
Hi carol, I haven’t tried it with this recipe so I’m not sure of the outcome. I have seen recipes use beet purée but I haven’t tried any. I wish I could be more help. Baking is so precise and any changes can yield an undesired result. I’d love to hear how it turns out for you. Thank you for stopping by. 😀
I made these last night and they're so good. The cupcake is perfect! I wish I could post a picture.
Thank you, Jani! So happy to hear this 🙂
Hi! How much cocoa powder did you use? It's not stated and I want to make this recipe so much!!!! Thanks 💞
Hi Marcela, thanks for catching that - not sure what happened. It's a 1/4 cup of cocoa powder. I fixed it in the recipe card too. Have a great day! 🙂
Looking forward to trying this recipe! I'm not a fan of soy milk. Can I sub with almond milk instead?
Hi Rhonda, I prefer soy milk because it cuddles and thickens and is very close to dairy buttermilk. However, you can still use an alternative milk. The recipe will still work beautifully. Thanks for stopping by 😀
Hello, cupcakes are in the oven. I’m responding to the previous post about how much cacao powder to put in. You stated that it’s 1/4 cup in the recipe card but in the recipe card it states 2 tablespoons!
I followed the recipe card. Hopefully they come out fine but can you please clarify?
Also, if we can’t overmix, are tiny lumps ok ( like pancake batter)?
Hi Kat, the original recipe had 1/4 cup of cocoa powder which made the red color less vibrant. I reduced the amount and it's more vibrant with a subtle hint of chocolate. Both amounts will work and both are delish! Yes, a few tiny lumps are fine. You just don't want any clumps of flour in there. It's important not to overmix, but also not to undermix - just enough until it combines. I hope this helps. I'd love to hear how they turn out for you. Happy Valentine's Day! 🙂
Hi there. I am so wary about food colors I am wondering if a boiled down beet solution would work.
Isn't a red velvet cake without coloring just a chocolate cake?
Hi Daisy, I'd imagine it would take a lot of beet juice to get a vibrant color and that wouldn't work for this particular recipe. I've seen recipes that use beet juice and they look lovely. I do want to experiment with beets and I'll let you know when I do. Sorry I couldn't be more help.
Yes, red velvet is just like chocolate cake, but less chocolatey. So, if you leave out the color, there won't be a change in taste. I add almond extract for more depth too. It's delish!