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
4.89 stars (18 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 mins
Cook: 25 mins
Total: 35 mins
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 were absolutely amazing? I would love to make them into a round cake, any tips on baking time and time and temperature?
    PS. I LOVE every recipe of yours I have tried!

  2. I have a question, so is the nutrition, the 340 kcal, count for the whole cupcake with the frosting? I was just wondering, if anyone knows. Thank you!

  3. The cake was great, I did some large and some mini cupcakes. The large ones didn’t rise, but the minis were perfect. I used coconut oil instead so that may be the culprit.
    The icing tasted good, but the vinegar made it curdle so visually it’s not very appealing.

  4. These look really good and I want to try and make them. However, I only have icing food coloring at home. Could I use that in place of the normal food coloring? How much do you think I should use?

    1. Are you talking about gel food coloring? That’s fine, but I would use less as it’s stronger. I’m not sure exactly how much, just add a little bit at a time until you have a reddish cake batter. It won’t affect the taste of the cupcakes, just the color.

    1. Hi Shania. I’ve never tested the recipe with regular buttermilk/milk & vinegar, however I think it would probably work.

  5. So perfect!!! This is the second recipe I’ve tried from your page and holy moly, everyone in my house keeps giving me compliments. Thank you so much Nora<3
    Happy holidays!!

  6. I don’t have the beetroot powder….i do have beetroot though…..Can I use a bit of the beet juice? Do you think it would work? And what proportions do you advise I use?
    By the way Nora, you have been an inspiration to me soooo much!!!! Thank you for your efforts and help, and may God bless you with more than you can handle. 🙂

    1. Thank you so much! Let’s see, a little bit of beet juice might work. I’m not sure you will get a super strong red color, but I’m sure it will still taste good!

  7. This are absolutely amazing. My daughter and I are going to get fat with all of your delicious recipes. We made your coconut cake and didn’t think it could get better than that, but then we made these last night and I don’t know which is better! These cupcakes are better than any bakery purchased cupcakes we have had. My husband couldn’t believe these are vegan. Keep up the good work!

  8. Hi! These look delicious, I was wondering if I could use coconut sugar instead of regular granulated? Thanks, I love your recipes!

  9. Hi! How much all cake flour would we need if we were using that instead of the flour + corn starch mixture?


    1. I’m not completely sure as I haven’t tried it any other way, but probably 1 1/3 + 1/4 cup. To cover all the flour and cornstarch.

  10. Hey Nora

    Do I have to use white distilled  vinegar for the buttermilk? Is ACV ok? 
    Also any suggestions for frosting the cupcakes for first timers?

    1. White vinegar is more traditionally used in red velvet cake/cupcakes, but ACV will work just fine. I like to use Wilton’s piping tips and bags, but just frosting with a knife works, too. 🙂

  11. These were easy and fun to make!! Delicious too!! Thank you for helping us accomplish making delicious vegan meals and treats! 

  12. These look amazing, but how would you sub out the applesauce? Increase the oil to 3/4 cup? My girlfriend has a fructose intolerance.

  13. The cake itself was amazing!! However, for some reason i went wrong with the icing and it turned out a little grainy almost. Do you happen to know where i maybe went wrong that would cause this? I was hoping for your smooth looking icing and i want it to be like that for next time. Thanks!

    1. I’m not sure why the frosting turned out grainy, did you use powdered sugar? Perhaps try sifting the powdered sugar next time, in case it was chunky. The other thing could be the brand of vegan butter you use. I usually have good luck with Earth Balance, Melt and Miyoko’s. Thank you, hope that helps!

  14. Can I use beet purée instead of red coloring.
    If so how much should I add . I’m also thinking to make in a round pan . Any suggestions..?
    Thank you ,

    1. You probably could, though I haven’t tried it. I would guess maybe 1/2 cup of beet puree. I developed this recipe specifically for cupcakes, but I’m sure it would work in 2 round pans. You might also want to check out this recipe for a double layer Vegan Red Velvet Cake.

  15. Hi Nora! Just a question, do these taste similar to the red velvet cake recipe? I was going to make that but in cupcake form for Valentine’s Day but I noticed this recipe. Thanks for the answer and I look forward to making another one of your delicious recipes!!

    1. They taste quite similar I would say, but I like the fact that the cupcakes recipe is easier to make. So I would personally make the cupcakes, but either is fine. Thank you, hope you enjoy!

  16. Nora- any thoughts on how to decrease the fat content maybe via oil or vegan butter replacements that have less fat? I see the applesauce so I’m guessing you have already reduced the oil as much as possible but I’d appreciate any ideas you have.

    Love your recipes! Thanks so much!

    1. Sorry, I really don’t know how to do that with this recipe, it’s an indulgent cupcake recipe. You could always use less frosting, or sub all applesauce for the oil, but that will very much change the way they taste. Thank you!

    1. I’m not sure, I developed it specifically for cupcakes. It probably would, but I’m not quite sure what size pan or pans you would use. I do have a recipe for Red Velvet Cake if you want to take a look. Thanks!

  17. These look amazing, like all of your recipes. We have made a few and they all turned out great! Can you tell me where you think I can access beet powder? Or which food
    colouring is Vegan?

      1. I re-read your comments and realized that you had links for food coloring. I’m in Canada, my city doesnt have a whole foods but I have heard that Wilton Brand gel coloring is vegan. Its available at Michael’s craft store or Bulk Barn,
        in case any other readers are looking for it!

    1. You can, I link to a beetroot powder in the notes section. I don’t really care for stevia myself in baked goods, but if you know you like the taste, it will likely work.

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