Classic Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes are soft, moist and fluffy with a hint of cocoa. Made in 1 bowl, they are easy to whip up any day of the week!

unwrapped red velvet cupcakes with more in back

Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes are inspired by a cupcake shop my family and I used to frequent years ago called Sprinkles. We lived in Phoenix, Arizona for about a year when the twins were little, and while I didn’t care for the heat or the scorpions, the vegan scene in Phoenix was pretty great!

Sprinkles had one vegan cupcake back then (haven’t been to one in ages so I don’t know what it’s like now), and it was red velvet. I remember it being so soft and fluffy, with the best frosting.

These cupcakes remind me so much of the ones I used to love so much. If you want to make a cake instead, check out my Vegan Red Velvet Cake.

bite taken out of cupcake, showing inside

Step by step photos of how to make red velvet cupcakes

  1. Whisk dry ingredients together – flour, cornstarch, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, salt.
  2. Add wet ingredients – vegan “buttermilk”, oil, applesauce, vanilla and food coloring.
  3. Stir – the batter will be fairly thin.
  4. Fill liners about 3/4 of the way full.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes, see how tall they get?
  6. Let them cool completely before frosting.

The frosting

I’ve included a recipe for my favorite imitation “cream cheese” frosting. It’s basically a buttercream vanilla frosting with a tiny bit of apple cider vinegar added for tang. It pipes really well, and tastes amazing!

It’s a lot sturdier than my Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting, and doesn’t require finding vegan cream cheese. But if you want to go a more traditional route, feel free to make the cream cheese frosting instead. Either is great!

frosting in a white bowl

Want more vegan cupcakes?

3 red velvet cupcakes with black background

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unwrapped red velvet cupcakes with more in back
4.88 stars (24 ratings)

Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes

Classic Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes are soft, moist and fluffy with a hint of cocoa. Made in 1 bowl, they are easy to whip up any day of the week!
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes
Total: 35 minutes
Servings: 14 cupcakes


Vegan Buttermilk

  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 2 teaspoons white distilled vinegar

Dry Ingredients

Wet Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1-3 tablespoons vegan red food coloring


  • 1/2 cup vegan butter, softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tablespoons soy milk, as needed


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.
  • In a measuring cup, combine the soy milk and vinegar. Let sit a few minutes until it curdles (this is your vegan buttermilk).
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder and salt until well combined.
  • To the bowl with the dry ingredients, add the oil, applesauce, vanilla, red food coloring and milk/vinegar mixture. Stir well with a large spoon or spatula until smooth and well combined. I used 2 tablespoons of red food coloring.
  • Fill the liners 3/4 full. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.
  • Make the Frosting: Using a hand mixer, beat the softened vegan butter for 1-2 minutes until creamy, then add the powdered sugar, apple cider vinegar and vanilla and beat everything together until smooth and creamy, adding a tablespoon of non-dairy milk at a time as needed. If you add too much milk and it gets runny, you will need to add more powdered sugar.
  • Once the cupcakes are cooled completely, frost as desired and serve. If you are going to pipe a lot of frosting on each cupcake, you may want to double the frosting.



  1. May substitute another non-dairy milk for the soy milk, such as almond, oat, coconut or cashew.
  2. The flour + cornstarch helps the cupcakes be light and fluffy like using cake flour. You could use all cake flour instead for similar results.
  3. You could likely use another oil if you don't want to use canola, such as refined coconut oil (melted), avocado oil, maybe even olive oil.
  4. If you can't find a vegan friendly red food coloring, you can always use a few tablespoons of beetroot powder instead. The cupcakes won't be nearly as bright and colorful.


Calories: 340kcal | Carbohydrates: 53g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 105mg | Potassium: 137mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 40g | Vitamin A: 379IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 65mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Nora Taylor
Did you make this recipe?Mention @nora_cooks_vegan_ or tag #noracooks!

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  1. How to make gluten free for a friend?

    Some gluten free baking recipes don’t turn out like using regular flour.

    1. Yes, subbing gluten free flour will alter the recipe somewhat, but if you use a quality mix they should turn out pretty well. I like Better Batter and King Arthur’s Measure for Measure Flour.

  2. These were easy to put together, and turned out pretty red even though we only had 1 tablespoon of food coloring.
    I love the icing, I think it’s the same as the icing for the yummy pumpkin cookies on the blog.
    Nora never fails us! Thanks for another great recipe.

    1. You bet, Audrey! I appreciate your wonderful review and feedback! I’m thrilled you loved the cupcakes! Happy cooking!

  3. I am going to try these for this weekend! Do you have suggestion on bake time/temp if I want to do mini cupcakes?

  4. I made this yesterday. Results were good with some changes. I halved the recipe, reduced the sugar in the cupcake to 3/4 the stated amount and substituted an egg for the applesauce (I’m lactose intolerant, not necessarily vegan, and didn’t have applesauce).

    For the frosting, I think the amount of sugar indicated is absolutely bananas. 3 cups of icing sugar is 360 grams. Halving that gave me 180 grams, which is more than twice the sugar I put in the cupcake. I reduced it to 100g and it was still ridiculously sweet. There has to be a mistake there.

  5. Hands down the best vegan red velvet cupcakes I’ve ever had and I still can’t believe I made them. All your recipes are incredible but this one tops them all! So easy to make in one bowl and minimal effort!

  6. So moist, light, and fluffy! This is a 10/10 recipe. The frosting is so perfect, it tastes like cream cheese but is so easy to make. These were a hit with all the nonvegans!

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