This vegan red velvet cake is rich, moist, vibrantly red and topped with a delicious lemon buttercream frosting and maraschino cherries.
Red velvet cake is not just cake dyed red. It’s a lot more than that.
It’s a mix of subtle flavors: vanilla, chocolate, buttermilk. All these flavors are represented gorgeously, and subtly.
It’s like you can’t quite put your finger on it, is that vanilla I’m tasting? Oh wait no, it’s chocolate.
Paired with a lemon buttercream frosting and some maraschino cherries this is a cake to remember!
Perfectly moist, dreamy and decadent, not to mention absolutely gorgeous with that glorious red color.
This cake is ideal for birthdays or other special occasions and it definitely stands out from the crowd.
And if you love red velvet then also check out our vegan red velvet cupcakes.
About That Color!
A note about the color. I used red food dye.
Initially we made this cake with a liquid red food color but have since switched to a red gel color (Americolor is our favorite brand) and it works wonderfully and is confirmed to be cruelty free.
From my research it seems that most red food dye is vegan these days. The non-vegan ingredients – cochineal or carmine – are not usually seen anymore.
I did try using beet juice to dye previous versions of this cake, and…. I did not manage to make that work – to put it nicely.
It was the worst I have ever made and the whole thing went straight into trash, to put it more bluntly.
First off – it tasted like beets! Yum. Or rather, not yum at all!
All that and the red color did not hold.
The chemical reactions that take place while baking stripped that red color right out of it and it was a not terribly appealing shade of reddish brown. But way more brown than red.
I’ve heard of beets being used successfully but it might be out of my purview, so red food dye it is!
Red food dye enabled this cake to come out beautifully, with the color holding absolutely perfectly.
Storing and Freezing
Keep it covered at room temperature where it will stay fresh for a few days (3-4) or keep it covered in the fridge where it will stay good for up to a week.
It is also freezer friendly for up to 3 months.
More Vegan Cakes
- Vegan White Cake
- Vegan Banana Cake
- Vegan Carrot Cake
- Vegan Vanilla Cake
- Easy Vegan Chocolate Cake
- Vegan Lemon Cake
Did you make this recipe? Be sure to leave a comment and rating below!
Vegan Red Velvet Cake
For the Red Velvet Cake:
- 2 cups All-Purpose Flour (250g)
- 1 cup White Granulated Sugar (200g)
- 1 tsp Baking Soda
- ½ tsp Salt
- 1 Tbsp Cocoa Powder Unsweetened
- 1 cup Vegan Buttermilk (240ml) 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice + Soy Milk up to the 1 cup (240ml) line
- 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
- ½ cup Canola Oil (120ml) or Vegetable Oil
- 1 Tbsp Distilled White Vinegar
- 1 tsp Red Gel Food Color
For the Frosting:
- 4 and ½ cups Powdered Sugar (540g)
- ½ cup Vegan Butter (112g)
- 2 tsp Lemon Extract
- 2-3 and ½ Tbsp Lemon Juice
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Spray two 8-inch cake pans (see notes*) with non-stick spray and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Sift the flour into a mixing bowl and add the sugar, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder.
- To make the vegan buttermilk add 1 Tbsp lemon juice to a measuring jug and then add soy milk up to the 1 cup (240ml) line. Leave to sit for a minute, it will curdle into buttermilk.
- Add the buttermilk, vanilla, oil, vinegar and red gel food color into the mixing bowl and mix in.
- Use a hand whisk briefly to get rid of any large lumps.
- Divide the cake batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans.
- Place into the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Transfer the cakes to a wire cooling rack and allow to cool completely before frosting.
- While the cakes are cooling, add the powdered sugar, vegan butter, lemon extract and 2 tablespoons lemon juice to an electric mixing bowl and starting at slow speed gradually increase speed until the frosting is thick and smooth. If needed add more lemon juice (see notes*).
- When the cakes are completely cooled, frost and decorate with cherries (optional).
- Measure the flour correctly using the spoon and level method - spoon the flour into a measuring cup and then level off the top with a knife - don't scoop it and don't pack the flour into the cup. Alternatively weigh it on a food scale.
- Vegan buttermilk can also be made with almond milk. Other non-dairy milks may not curdle as well as soy or almond milk but could still be used.
- The red gel food color we used is Americolor brand and is highly recommended.
- Frosting - the amount of lemon juice you need for your frosting will depend on the brand of vegan butter you use. Stick style vegan butter has a much lower water content than a soft tub style vegan butter. We used a tub style vegan butter that is still pretty firm so we used 3 and ½ Tbsp lemon juice. If you use a stick vegan butter then you may need even more. Just play this part by ear and only use as much as you need to get a thick but spreadable frosting.
- Baking pan sizes. This cake can adapt as follows:
- Three 6-inch round cake pans - bake for 20 minutes
- Two 7-inch round cake pans - bake for 25 minutes
- Two 8-inch round cake pans - bake for 20 minutes
- One 9-inch round cake pan - bake for 30 minutes
- One 9x9 square cake pan - bake for 25 minutes
- Cupcakes - This recipe makes a perfect 12 cupcakes. Bake for 20 minutes.
- Gluten-Free - if you'd like to make this cake gluten-free then I recommend using a gluten free all purpose baking blend to replace the regular flour.
- Storing - store in an airtight container at room temperature for 3-4 days or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. It's also freezer friendly for up to 3 months if you want to freeze it.