These vegan red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting are perfect for any occasion. Soft and fluffy cupcakes are topped with a creamy and tangy cream cheese frosting. You won’t even realise they are completely free from eggs and dairy!
Red velvet cupcakes have always been one of my favourite flavours. I think it’s because they feel a little bit more refined than just a simple vanilla cupcake.
This recipe produces cupcakes that are so light and fluffy plus they taste amazing. My non vegan taste testers all agreed it was one of the best cakes to come out of my kitchen and I guarantee you won’t be able to tell that these cupcakes are completely egg and dairy free.
They are also made with real ingredients and nothing fancy that you have to hunt down at the health food store and will probably never use again.
These cupcakes have a super soft and moist texture which is balanced out perfectly by a very generous amount of tangy cream cheese frosting. This frosting is so good I was eating it straight out of the bowl as it tastes just like cheesecake! It may easily become your go to for all desserts from now on.
So, what flavour is red velvet exactly?
The common question that is asked around red velvet cake is, is it a vanilla cake or chocolate cake? And the answer is that it’s both and it is neither.
A red velvet cake has the perfect sweetness of a vanilla cake balanced out with a rich undertone of cocoa. The balance here has to be just right otherwise one flavour dominates the other.
The other key to red velvet is the tang. Using a bit of vinegar in the batter creates not only a chemical reaction which results in a super soft cake, but also balances out the sweetness and again helps shape the flavour profile making it stand out from it’s vanilla cousin.
And then you have the real thing that makes a red velvet cake exactly that – the cream cheese frosting. Sure you could use a simple vanilla buttercream, but the tanginess of the cream cheese brings out the other flavours in the cake and is really what makes people really adore a red velvet cupcake above others.
For this recipe I use my favourite vegan cream cheese, a brand called Sheese, which is the best quality I have found and is stocked at my local Woolworths supermarket. Use your favourite brand here for best results, but if you are not needing these to be vegan but are sensitive to lactose, then heads up that Philadelphia now makes a lactose-free block cream cheese and that will also work perfectly in this recipe.
A note on the red food colouring
Keep in mind that if you are vegan or making these for someone who is, that not all red food colouring is vegan as colourings often contain animal byproducts. I always use Americolor food gels as they are super concentrated and produce beautiful strong hues unlike a lot of others I’ve tried. These are also vegan.
To produce a really vibrant coloured cupcake, you will need to use more dye than you think as the cakes will darken as they cook and the brown colour from the cocoa powder will come through.
For this recipe I used quite a few drops of the red colour and then let the batter sit for about 5-10 minutes just to let the colour develop a bit so it was stronger. The colour really is only for looks however so if you don’t like the idea of using food dye, simply omit it.
I’ve seen some recipes use powdered beetroot to dye the cupcakes instead but seeing as I am not a fan of regular beetroot, I just can’t bring myself to try it! But please let me and other readers know if you have in the comments!
How to make red velvet cupcakes
These cupcakes are so easy to make! In a medium sized bowl add in your flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda and whisk together.
In a large bowl add in the sugar, vanilla and the oil and whisk together. Add the vinegar to the milk in a small bowl and then alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk mixture to the bowl with the oil and sugar, whisking completely between each addition.
Finally add in your food colouring and mix through until you reach the desired colour.
Pour the batter into a prepared muffin tin lined with patty cases, making sure to only fill them up half way. For this recipe it will make 14 cupcakes so you will need to use a second tray if you have one, otherwise you can wait until the first batch is done and set the cakes on a wire rack to cool and then put the other two in to bake.
This amount of batter also can be split between 3 6 inch pans to make a little layer cake which is perfect to serve about 6 people.
If you do make this recipe, please be sure to leave a comment and rating below! And tag any of your creations on Instagram with #eightforestlane as I would love to see.
Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes
For the cupcakes:
- 1 cup almond milk
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
- 2 cups plain flour
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup white sugar
- ⅓ cup canola oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1/4 teaspoon red gel food colouring
For the cream cheese frosting:
- 250 g vegan cream cheese softened to room temperature
- 1/4 cup (60 grams) dairy free butter
- 3 cups icing sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ¼ teaspoon salt to taste
- Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a muffin tin with 12 patty cases, and a second tin with 2 patty cases.
- In a small bowl combine white vinegar and almond milk. Milk will split which is fine. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt.
- In a large bowl, whisk together canola oil, sugar and vanilla until combined.
- Slowly add the dry ingredients to the oil and sugar mixture, alternating with the milk until cupcake batter comes together, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
- Spoon mixture into patty cases ensuring they are only 1/2 full before placing them in the oven for 18 minutes or until lightly springy to touch. Let cool completely before frosting.
- Make the cream cheese frosting. Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment fitted, beat dairy-free butter, vegan cream cheese and vanilla for 1-2 minutes until creamy. Add in 2 cups of the icing sugar and beat on medium until combined. Add in the final cup of icing sugar and salt to taste and continue mixing until it reaches a smooth and creamy consistency.
- Place frosting into a piping bag with a round tip and pipe buttercream onto cooled cupcakes.