Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes
These vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes are here to add a festive touch to your next party! They pair a moist, deep red chocolate cake with swirls of rich vegan cream cheese frosting.
When we think about holiday baked goods, we usually think about Christmas cookies, but these vegan red velvet cupcakes are made for the holidays. The bright red cake and snowy white frosting remind me of Santa! Of course, you don’t have to limit red velvet cupcakes to holiday celebrations—they’re a perfectly portioned treat that you can enjoy anytime the craving strikes!
Making vegan red velvet cupcakes isn’t all that different from the traditional version—it’s just a matter of using different ingredients! Just like the classic recipe, this one includes vinegar to help give your cupcakes a little extra lift so they’re supremely light and fluffy. It also helps balance the sweetness, which is important when you’re topping your cupcakes with rich cream cheese frosting. Make sure you use a vegan cream cheese that tastes good on its own and has a nice, creamy texture—if it tastes off or has a gummy texture, it’s not going to make a good frosting either!
Notes on Ingredients
Please note that this is important information on the ingredients and instructions and the FULL recipe with amounts and details can be found DOWN BELOW (scroll to it) in the recipe card.
For the cupcakes:
- Apple cider vinegar or regular vinegar – This is used to make vegan buttermilk.
- Soy milk or other vegan milk
- White granulated sugar
- All-purpose flour
- Unsweetened cocoa powder
- Baking powder
- Sea salt
- Oil – Any neutral-flavored oil you like to bake with will work here.
- Vanilla extract
- Liquid red food colouring – Make sure you buy one that is vegan! A good example is AmeriColor or Chefmaster. You can also buy natural food colouring (I like the 365 one from Whole Foods) but note that it won’t be as bright in colour, more a brown/purple shade. It’ll still taste delicious! Long story short, you’re trying to avoid ingredients such as cochineal and carmine.
- Baking soda
- White vinegar – This gives the cake a light, airy texture.
For the frosting:
- Vegan cream cheese – Make sure the cream cheese is room temperature.
- Sea salt
- Vegan butter sticks – The butter needs to be at room temperature too.
- Vanilla extract or vanilla paste
- Powdered sugar – This is also known as confectioners’ sugar.
How to Make Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes
In a world filled with over-the-top, elaborately decorated and filled cupcakes, this recipe is an absolute breeze! I top mine with crumbs for a minimalist look, but mini chocolate chips are an excellent option, too.
Prepare. Line muffin cups with cupcake liners and preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C.
Make the buttermilk. In a jar, combine the tablespoon of vinegar and room temperature vegan milk. This will curdle and form buttermilk.
Mix the dry ingredients. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.
Add the remaining ingredients. To the dry mixture, add the oil, buttermilk, vanilla, red food colouring, and warm milk. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until just combined (about a minute), scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
Combine the vinegar and baking soda. In a small bowl, mix together the white vinegar and baking soda. (It will fizz.) Stir into the batter.
Fill the cupcake pans. Working quickly, divide the batter evenly between 24 cupcake liners; they should be about two-thirds full. Tap the cupcake pan on the counter a few times to remove any excess air bubbles before baking.
Bake. Place the pans in center of the middle rack in your oven and bake for 18 to 19 minutes.
Cool. Remove the cupcake pans from the oven and let the cupcakes cool in the pans for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Make the frosting. Beat the butter and cream cheese together in the bowl of a stand mixer for about 2 minutes, or until fluffy and well-mixed. Add in the vanilla and the pinch of salt, then beat in a cup of powdered sugar and all of the cornstarch until incorporated. Add the remaining powdered sugar a cup at a time until the frosting has reached the desired consistency.
Frost and serve. Transfer the frosting to a piping bag and pipe onto the cupcakes, or use an offset spatula to frost them the old-fashioned way. Garnish as desired and serve.
Tips for Success
These tips will help you make perfect red velvet cupcakes!
- Don’t over-mix. You only need to beat the batter until the ingredients are just combined. Any more than this will affect the texture of the cake.
- Make extra frosting if needed. Do you want big swirly poufs of frosting like the cupcakes they sell in fancy bakeries? You might want to make an extra half batch of the frosting.
- Getting the right frosting consistency. Using 4 cups of powdered sugar and chilling the frosting for at least 4 hours will help you get the perfect consistency for piping.
How to Store
You can store these cupcakes in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Let them come to room temperature before serving.
Can This Recipe Be Frozen?
Yes, you can freeze any extra cupcakes! Place them on a baking sheet, then put this directly in the freezer. Once the frosting is frozen solid, you can wrap the cupcakes individually or place them together in an airtight container. The cupcakes can be frozen for up to 3 months, then thawed in the refrigerator before serving.
Enjoy friends! If you make this vegan red velvet cupcake recipe, please snap a photo and tag #jessicainthekitchen on Instagram! We’d also love it if you would leave a comment below, and give the recipe a rating! Thanks so much!
Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or regular vinegar
- 1 cup soy milk or other vegan milk, 240mL, room temperature
- 2 cups white granulated sugar, 400g
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, 360g
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, 16g
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ¾ cup oil, 150g
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 oz. liquid red food colouring, bright red
- 1 cup warm soy milk, 240mL
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting
- 8 ounces vegan cream cheese* bring to room temperature
- ½ cup vegan butter sticks bring to room temperature, 4 ounces
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla paste
- pinch of sea salt
- 3 cups to 4 cups of powdered sugar sifted, 480g for 4 cups
- 1/4 cup cornstarch sifted, 32g
- Red Velvet Cupcakes
- Line muffin cups with cupcake liners.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C.
- In a jar, add the tablespoon of vinegar and room temperature vegan milk together to curdle to form a buttermilk. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, add the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and sea salt. Using a whisk, whisk all the ingredients together, removing any clumps that may form.
- Pour in the oil, the buttermilk mix from earlier, the vanilla extract and the red food colouring.
- Heat up that additional milk in the microwave for 40 seconds (or on stove top until warm, not boiling). You want it warm enough to dissolve but not boiling.
- Add it to the bowl on top of everything. Beat on medium speed of electric mixer for no more than 1 minute on medium speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl once in between to ensure that everything is incorporated. You want to mix until just combined.
- In a small bowl, mix together the 2 teaspoons of white vinegar and baking soda. Yes, it will fizz! Add it to the cake batter and stir well to combine, for about 30 more seconds.
- Working quickly, divide the batter evenly between 24 cupcake liners (about ⅔ ‘s full). You can use an ice cream scoop to help! Tap the cupcake pan on the counter three times (lift and tap down slightly) to remove any excess air bubbles before baking.
- Place the pan in the middle rack of your oven and in the center of that rack. Bake for 18-19 minutes until fully cooked. Remove from the oven and let them cool in the pans for about 5 minutes, then remove onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- After cooled, frost with vegan cream cheese frosting and some red velvet crumbs. Enjoy!
- Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting
- In the bowl of a mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese together for about 2 minutes until fully incorporated.
- Add in the vanilla extract or paste and the pinch of salt.
- Add in a cup of sifted powdered sugar and all of the sifted cornstarch. Mix for about 1 minute or until incorporated. Add in the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time until the frosting has reached the desired thickness.
- Place the frosting wrapped or covered into the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight, until being used. You can enjoy it right away, but it will thicken up beautifully in the fridge.
- You can apply it immediately to a cooled cake, then place in the fridge, or place the frosting itself, then apply to the cake later. Enjoy!
- Frost with cream cheese frosting recipe (you may need a batch and a half). I recommend using 4 cups of the powdered sugar for the best pipe-ability: https://jessicainthekitchen.com/vegan-cream-cheese-frosting-recipe/
Disclaimer: Although jessicainthekitchen.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, kindly note that these are only estimates. Nutritional information may be affected based on the product type, the brand that was purchased, and in other unforeseeable ways. Jessicainthekitchen.com will not be held liable for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on nutritional information. If you need to follow a specific caloric regimen, please consult your doctor first.