Crave-worthy healthy vegan red velvet cupcakes!! They’re moist, food dye free, made using natural ingredients, and they’re so incredibly TASTY!
Red velvet is a popular choice around holidays like Christmas and Valentine’s Day due to its red colour.
But truly, these cupcakes can be enjoyed all year long!
This vegan red velvet cupcake recipe is inspired by my other healthy vegan cupcakes on the blog.
How are they healthier?
- Most cupcakes use refined white flour as the base, but I’m using whole wheat pastry flour for a wholesome choice.
- There’s ZERO refined sugar in these cupcakes, and that includes the frosting!
- No food dye! Most red velvet cupcakes use red food colouring for their vibrant colour. Instead, I’m using BEETS for a healthy and natural way to colour them. (Of course, they won’t be AS red as using dye, but it’s a small price to pay.)
- Low in calories and low fat! These healthy vegan cupcakes are lighter than most thanks to wholesome ingredients and they’re also oil-free. No coconut oil and no vegan butter, not even in the frosting. 😉
Ingredients + Substitutions
Here’s everything you’ll need to make these incredible vegan red velvet cupcakes.
- Beets: Adds nutrients and natural redness to the cupcakes so you can skip the red food dye.
- Soy milk: My first choice of non-dairy milk to make vegan buttermilk is soy. But almond milk works as well if you’re avoiding soy.
- Apple cider vinegar: When mixed with soy milk, it thickens and curdles the milk, resulting in vegan buttermilk.
- Maple syrup: You may also use date syrup or another liquid sweetener of your choice.
- Vanilla: Use pure vanilla extra, not the artificially flavoured kind to keep this red velvet cake recipe as natural as possible.
- Whole wheat pastry flour: Whole wheat pastry flour keeps this cupcake recipe wholesome, while still providing a delicate crumb and ample lift.
- Cocoa powder: Adds a touch of chocolatey flavour and richness. Make sure to use unsweetened to keep these refined sugar-free.
- Baking powder/soda: Make sure your rising agents are fresh and active. (Baking powder that’s been opened and sitting in the pantry for 6+ months may start to lose its rising power.)
(This is a summary with step by step photos, full recipe measurements and instructions are in the recipe card below.)
Cook the beet cubes until very soft and add them to a bowl. (photo 1)
Mash them with a potato masher, or use a blender. (photo 2)
Add the remaining liquid ingredients and whisk to combine. (photo 3)
If the batter is lumpy, use a blender to make it smooth. (photo 4)
NOTE: You don’t HAVE to blend the liquid ingredients together, but a smoother liquid mixture will result in a better texture once baked.
Add the dry ingredients to the same bowl. (photo 5)
Gently mix until combined, without overmixing. (photo 6)
Divide the mixture into a muffin tin lined with cupcake liners. (photo 7)
Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. (photo 8)
Let the cupcakes cool completely on a wire rack before frosting them. Prepare your frosting while you wait.
Once cool, use a piping bag to frost your red velvet cupcakes, and enjoy.
If you enjoy these vegan red velvet cupcakes and want to switch up the flavours, you may easily do so!
- Pumpkin: Omit the beet puree and use pumpkin puree instead. Then add 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, and ¼ teaspoon each of nutmeg and ground ginger.
- Sweet potato: To make these cupcakes extra sweet (naturally) use roasted and pureed sweet potato instead of beet.
- For gluten-free cupcakes, check out these pumpkin cupcakes and/or chocolate cupcakes, instead.
These taste best on days 1-2, but you may store leftovers in the fridge for up to 4 days. Keep them in a sealed container to preserve moisture.
You may freeze the cupcakes in a freezer-safe airtight container for up to 3 months.
- Weigh your flour for the most accurate results. I highly recommend that you do not rely on cup measurements when baking. If you don’t have a kitchen scale, you may spoon the flour into your measuring cup and use a knife to scrape off the excess, with similar results. Do not scoop from the bag!
- If using canned beets, make sure they are not pickled! Use beets that are canned only in water, no vinegar or oil as that will alter the flavour.
- Use fresh and active baking powder. Baking powder that is open in your pantry for 6+ months can start to lose its effectiveness.
- If you do not have a powerful blender, soak your cashews in hot water for 30 minutes before blending your frosting. This will help them swell and soften, making them easier to blend into a smooth frosting.
- Make sure to press your tofu very well to remove excess liquid to prevent your frosting from getting too thin.
- If the frosting gets warm as you’re blending (this can happen in strong blenders), transfer it to a bowl and place it in the freezer for 30 minutes before piping the frosting onto your cupcakes.
- Let your cupcakes cool in the cupcake pan for at least 10 minutes before handling them. Then transfer them to a cooling rack to completely cool BEFORE frosting them.
More delicious healthier vegan desserts
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- 240 grams whole wheat pastry flour approx. 2 cups
- 3 tablespoons raw unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/176°C and line a muffin pan with cupcake liners.
- If using fresh beets, peel and chop them into cubes. Then bring them to a boil over medium/high heat and cook until very soft and a fork easily pierces them, approx. 20-25 minutes. (You may also use canned beets for faster prep.) Once cooked, mash the beets to get 1 cup of puree. Make sure not to use more than 1 cup of beet puree.
- Meanwhile, add the soy milk and apple cider vinegar to a small bowl and set it aside for 5 minutes to let it thicken and curdle. This is your vegan buttermilk.
- Add the beet puree, your vegan buttermilk, vanilla, and maple syrup to a large mixing bowl. Stir until combined. If the beets weren't cooked enough and your batter looks lumpy, place all the liquids into your blender and process until smooth. Then return it to the bowl.
- Now add all the dry ingredients to the same bowl and mix until combined, without overmixing.
- Then divide the batter between your 12 cupcake tins and bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, approx. 18-20 minutes.
- Let the muffins rest on a cooling rack until completely cooled before frosting them!
For the frosting
- Add all the ingredients to your blender and process until completely smooth, starting with 5 tablespoons of maple syrup. Taste and add another tablespoon of syrup if you prefer it sweeter. Keep in mind not to go overboard, or the frosting will get too thin to pipe.
- If the frosting gets warm as you're blending (this can happen in strong blenders), transfer it to a bowl and place it in the freezer for 30 minutes before piping your cupcakes.
Red velvet is a cake (or cupcake) of which the main ingredients include flour, buttermilk, sugar, cocoa powder and some kind of acid.
A chemical reaction between the cocoa powder and acid gives red velvet a naturally reddish hue. However, modern recipes use red food dye to amplify the colour.
Most red food dyes contain carmine or cochineal which is made using bugs. (Yuck!) You can purchase vegan food dye to make sure there are no bugs OR use natural colouring like I’ve done here with beets.