red velvet cupcakes

Although Moose and I don’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day, I can’t turn my back on a day that’s designated for sweets and snuggles. And while I know there is no shortage of red velvet cupcake recipes out there, especially around this time of year, I thought it would be a good time to take my Red Velvet Cake recipe (the second recipe I ever posted, oh so long ago) and adapt it to fit into cute little cupcake cups.

Plus, Sebastian loves Valentine’s Day. He loves love more than any cat I’ve ever met.

Harrison’s favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. He also loves love, but he loves food just as much.

Court Kitty’s favorite holidays are any days that don’t involve fireworks.

Red Velvet Cupcakes
Makes 12 cupcakes
Printable recipe

Cake ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup vegan refined sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup grape seed oil
  • 1 cup vanilla almond or soy milk
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • red food coloring (be sure to use food coloring without cochineal/carmine)

Frosting ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup vegan cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups vegan confectioners’ sugar

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, refined sugar, cocoa powder, sea salt and baking soda.

In a separate bowl, stir together the grape seed oil, milk, vanilla extract and red food coloring. You want the mixture to be a bright red color. Don’t make it too dark, the red will turn darker as the cake bakes.

Stir the dry ingredients in with the wet ingredients, then stir in the distilled white vinegar.

Pour the batter into cupcake liners

and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until a toothpick can be inserted and removed cleanly.

While the cupcakes cool, whip up the frosting by placing all ingredients in a large bowl and mixing on low-medium speed until fully combined.

Frost the cupcakes

and enjoy with your Valentine

but NOT with your kitty!

36 thoughts on “red velvet cupcakes

  1. I love Sebastian’s kitty feet in the last photo. So adorable!

    Red velvet cupcakes are the best. Especially cream cheese frosting. I have a hard time not just eating the frosting with a spoon.

  2. These are beautiful! Red velvet has always been my favorite kind of cake, but I’ve been having trouble finding a good solid vegan recipe. Looks like I’ll have to give this one a try!

  3. HI! I’m about to make these and realized I only have brown rice vinegar. Can I sub that for the white?

    And, isn’t it the vinegar reacting with the cocoa that turns it red? Why add extra dye?

    Third, Can I use raw cacao powder for a nutritional boost instead of processed cocoa?


    • Hi Nixie,
      The distilled white vinegar is used along with the baking soda to help the cake rise in the absence of eggs. I’m not sure that brown rice vinegar will work as it needs to be acidic and I’ve never tried that, but lemon juice will work if you happen to have that on hand. I also haven’t used the cacao powder so I can’t say how it will taste, but the kind folks over at The Kitchn say it should work just fine:

      • Hi Liz,
        Thanks so much for stopping by! The unsweetened cocoa powder is used for flavor. The recipe isn’t intended to be a raw dessert. I also am not a raw food expert by any means, but I believe that unsweetened cocoa powder is not considered raw unless the ingredients are cold pressed.

  4. A perfect treat for V day! Your version probably taste better than non-vegan versions because some red velvet cupcakes can be way too sweet. I love the last pic with the kitty paws!

  5. I LOVE your kitties – so stinkin’ cute. Court Kitty looks just like Mr Meow in my house. Maybe they are long lost brothers. Thanks for sharing this yummy cupcake recipe.

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  7. I made these cupcakes today but while the cakes themselves came out nicely, the frosting was a nightmare to work with. For me the consistency was far too loose – it was coming out of the piping bag without me putting any pressure on it and once on the cake it didn’t hold its shape and just slid down the sides! I’m in the UK and made it with Tesco own-brand vegan cream cheese and Vitalite vegan spread. It tasted yummy, though, so next time I’ll make it again but add in some extra sugar to thicken it up a bit.

    • Hi Julianne,
      I’m so sorry to hear that about the frosting, I’m sorry you had trouble with it. I have found that different brands of vegan butter and cream cheese, along with different non-dairy milks, result in different consistencies. The only way I know how to fix it is to add more sugar. I’m glad it tasted good, though!

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  12. Hey I couldn’t help but notice but your recipe doesn’t call for baking powder how’s does that effect the cup cakes?

    • Hi Fanny! The reaction from the baking soda and vinegar are enough to leaven these dense little cakes. No baking powder is needed, but it won’t hurt if you’d like to add some. Thanks!

  13. I followed this recipe to a T, and it’s terrible. I should have taken it as a warning that there was no measurement for the red food coloring (1/2 tsp, by the way). I just pulled them out of the oven. Far too much vinegar! And far too sweet and oily, considering the frosting is thick and dense.

    I started by adding the 1 TEASPOON of vinegar to the soy milk. Let it sit and coagulate. Then add other wet ingredients. Reduced oil to 1/4 c and added 1/4 c water.

    I kept the dry ingredients the same for the most part. The batter was far too runny so I added 1/8 c of coconut flour for the fiber content and thickening properties, but feel free to add flour as well.

    Baked these puppies for 15 minutes at 350. They came out perfect.

    • Thanks for your comments, DB. I’m sorry that this recipe didn’t work out for you but I’m glad that you were able to revise it to suit your tastes.

      I would like to note, however, that the food coloring measurement can’t be used for everyone because it depends on the type of food coloring used (gel, natural, etc). Also, the vinegar is tasteless when baked into cakes so your preference for a cake that is less sweet and oily can be resolved by using less sugar and oil. Red velvet cake is meant to be a heavy, dense cake (hence the amount of oil used), and using the full tablespoon of vinegar makes the cupcakes fluffier, so I do not recommend reducing the measurement. But if anyone is sensitive to vinegar, you can substitute with lemon juice. If you want to try it without using oil at all, you can substitute the oil for applesauce or yogurt which will make the consistency more like a “regular” cake than a heavier red velvet.

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  15. Hmm. Not sure what happened, but this recipe did not work out well for me. I could taste the vinegar and they were somewhat dense. Just wanted to add a comment so others could make modifications if desired.

    • Hi Sarah – the cakes definitely should be dense, as red velvet is traditionally a dense cake. However it’s odd that you could taste the vinegar since it is flavorless when baked into cakes. Did you use distilled white vinegar? Maybe it was something else you were tasting? Next time you can try fresh lemon juice instead, which can be used as a 1:1 replacement for vinegar.

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  17. Question 1. Can I use apple cider vinegar instead of white vinegar?
    Question 2. I’m not sure where to find grape seed oil…is there a substitute you can suggest?

    Thanks! Looks like a wonderful recipe

    • Hi Britt – you can substitute the grape seed oil with canola or vegetable oil. Please note that these are pretty dense cakes so use a little less oil if you want a lighter cake. And yes you can definitely sub AC vinegar for white vinegar, and you can also sub fresh lemon juice, as well. Thanks!

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  19. Thank you very much for my new favorite all-purpose cupcake recipe!

    I reduced oil and sugar and I used canola oil (half neutral, half vegan butteraroma) and oat milk. Instead of white vinegar I used raspberry balsamico vinegar – and I made them double berry cupcakes (blue- & raspberry) 😉
    Though the batter was quite thin, I tried it and WOW! Fluffy, gorgeous little things :)

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