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
4.90 stars (19 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. These are absolutely awesome. I made a dozen and a half for my granddaughter’s fourth birthday on Monday (there was plenty of batter). I think she ate six over the day, but they were small. The red color was terrific. Tomorrow is her birthday party in the park for friends and families and my daughter asked me to make four dozen, so I would say they were a huge success. Since my granddaughter wants a cake as well, I’m going to do a little 6 inch round in addition. I did make the frosting and it was delicious, but it didn’t hold up well on the cupcakes for an extended time without being refrigerated so I will be using some vegan vanilla frosting.

    1. Hi Joan. Happy birthday to your granddaughter! I’m glad she loved her cupcakes! Sounds like more fun to come! Thank you for sharing your wonderful feedback and review! Happy cooking!

  2. If you use gel food coloring you only need 1 tblsp and it gets VERY red. This was moist and delicious. I made another red velvet recipe yesterday and it turned out more dense and dry. I did make a vegan cream cheese frosting with this cake and it was perfect.

    1. Did you make any substitutions at all, like a different flour? Make sure you don’t over mix the ingredients, and do not over bake, or they can get heavy, dense and chewy instead of soft and fluffy.

    1. I haven’t tried it, but you could possibly use 1/4 cup more of oil, or 2 flax eggs, or another egg replacer.

  3. I didn’t have applesauce, so subbed with vegan mayo and left out the salt. Weird, I know, but it worked and they’re great. My friends, one who ran a caking business and one who ran a cupcake business, couldn’t believe how good the frosting was with apple cider vinegar and no cream cheese. Phenomenal recipe!

  4. Thank you so much for a vegan cream cheese frosting that doesn’t need vegan cream cheese! This was divine. Because it’s high altitude here (7,700 ft) I reduced the baking powder to 3/4 teaspoons, and it worked great. Thank you.

    1. You are welcome, Molly! I’m glad the cupcakes and frosting worked great for you! Thank you for sharing your wonderful review and feedback!

  5. This recipe was just perfect for my birthday on March 12th. I love red velvet and I wanted to make some for myself. So glad one of my favorite treats is not lost to me now that I am vegan and eating more plant based. They came out perfect, soft , moist , fluffy and delicious. The frosting you made was CRAZY GOOD!!!!! I went on to make red velvet pancakes using parts of this recipe. I’m so glad I found your site.

    1. Hi Alice. Belated Happy Birthday! I’m glad you loved the cupcakes! I love the idea of red velvet pancakes! Thank you for your wonderful and positive feedback! Welcome to my site! I’m glad you are here!

  6. Hi Nora,
    I love all your recipes so much!
    I was wondering since I only need to omit eggs as my nephew is severely allergic to eggs. Would it be okay to use ‘regular’ butter instead of canola oil in the cupcake base recipe?

    Thank you so much xxx

    1. Thanks so much, Jaya! Obviously I haven’t tested this recipe with real butter but I’m sure it will work in place of the canola oil.

  7. Super Yummy! I was torn about what icing to make, this or your cream cheese one. Then decided I was too cheap to buy cream cheese, so went with the one in this recipe. It was perfect! I might have eaten it by the spoonful 🙂 Cupcakes were nice and moist!

    1. LOL I don’t blame you for eating it by the spoonful! Thanks so much for using my recipe and for sharing your review and feedback!

  8. Hello
    I’d like to try these as mini muffins.. how should I adjust the baking time?
    Also will the cupcakes still be good if bake them a day before? Like Sunday evening for serving the following day? 

    1. Yes, you can, just know after storing the frosting in the fridge it will be very firm, so let it sit at room temperature until it’s soft enough for piping/spreading. Hope you enjoy the cupcakes!

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