Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes

These vegan red velvet cupcakes have a secret ingredient! We’re making this red velvet cake with beets to give them a natural pop of red.

These fluffy Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes are hiding a secret ingredients (beets!), but no one will ever know! They're perfectly sweet and made with simple ingredients. Topped off with a creamy coconut frosting!

Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes

Valentine’s Day has to be one of the most polarizing holiday’s on the calendar. I feel like you’re either all about it, or you want nothing to do with it. Also, anyone else remember decorating shoeboxes and picking out fun Valentine’s day cards to pass out at school? Maybe we all just need to remember how fun Valentine’s Day was when we were 8.

Whether you love or hate February 14, I think we can all agree that red velvet cupcakes are something to celebrate. I’ll never say no to a vegan red velvet cupcake, and they make for a perfect sweet treat to give to someone you love! Or to yourself 🙂

Not only are these vegan red velvet cupcakes fluffy, chocolatey and absolutely delicious, but they actually have a little secret. We’re making this red velvet cake with beets! Yes, you did read that correctly. And I promise you would NEVER know they have beets in them!

I love that the beets add a little bit of fiber to these vegan red velvet cupcakes, but more importantly they naturally add the most vibrant pop of red! It’s not a red velvet cupcake without that signature, bold red color!

three red velvet vegan cupcakes

What is Red Velvet Cake

It can be a little hard to pinpoint the flavor of a red velvet cupcake, and I think part of the reason why is that it’s hard not to attribute the color to a flavor component in the cupcakes. Is it chocolate? Vanilla? And if it’s not normal to make red velvet cake with beets, then what normally makes them red?

Typically you would use a red food dye to achieve the vibrant pop of color in a homemade red velvet cake, but I find that beets provide the same bright red hue naturally. Red velvet cake recipes are somewhat of a hybrid between a vanilla and a chocolate cake. The base of a red velvet cake recipe is essentially a vanilla cake with a few tablespoons of cocoa powder added. The cocoa powder helps to add a bit of richness, and a splash of vinegar and buttermilk is often included to add a little bit of acidity. Since we’re making a batch of vegan red velvet cupcakes, we’ll be making our own homemade non-dairy buttermilk.

a plate with a full beet and a beet that has been cut into pieces

a collection of ingredients including a cup of pureed beetroot, vanilla extract, baking powder, cocoa powder, a bottle of vinegar and a bowl of flower

Vegan Red Velvet Cake Ingredients

While we are making this red velvet cake with beets, the rest of this recipe is fairly straightforward! You only need a handful of baking staples to make a batch of these delicious vegan red velvet cupcakes. Here’s everything you’ll need:

  • Non-dairy milk. You can use any kind you’d like, just go for a plain, unsweetened variety.
  • Apple cider vinegar. Alternatively you could use white distilled vinegar or lemon juice.
  • Flour. I’m using whole wheat pastry flour, but white whole wheat flour or all purpose flour would also work fine.
  • Cane sugar. Nothing fancy, we’re just using plain ol’ white sugar!
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder. The cocoa powder adds a bit of richness to these vegan red velvet cupcakes.
  • Baking powder. To ensure we end up with a beautifully fluffy cupcake.
  • Salt. Always add a pinch of salt to your baked goods to create a balanced flavor.
  • Beets. You’ll need 1 cup of cooked, pureed beets! Not only does this provide a bit of added fiber, but this will give us that bold red color we’re looking for in this vegan red velvet cake!
  • Neutral oil. Something like melted coconut oil, avocado oil or grapeseed oil would be perfect.
  • Vanilla extract. The vanilla and cocoa work together to create that signature red velvet cake flavor. 

a bowl of red velvet cake batter

a cupcake tin with paper liners filled with red velvet cupcake batter

How to Make Red Velvet Cake with Beets

Before you do anything, you’ll need to prepare your beets. I recommend steaming them, but there are lots of ways to cook beets. Jessica Gavin has a great guide on how to cook beets if you’ve never made them before. Once you’ve cooked your beets, you’ll want to peel and puree them. You’ll need 1 cup of pureed beets, which will be about 2 medium beets.

When you’re ready to make your vegan red velvet cupcakes, the first step is to make your vegan buttermilk by mixing plant-based milk and vinegar. Set the mixture aside for 5 minutes while you prepare your dry ingredients.

For the dry ingredients, combine your flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Once your vegan buttermilk is ready, add in your pureed beets, oil and vanilla and mix all the liquid ingredients together. Then slowly incorporate the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Be careful not to overmix as this will create a dense cupcake! They’re called red velvet cupcakes, so we want to be careful here!

Now all that’s left to do is distribute the batter into muffin tins and bake! For the best results, I like to bake these cupcakes at 425F for 5 minutes, then drop the temperature to 350F to bake for another 2o minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

If you add frosting, make sure that you let your vegan red velvet cupcakes cool completely before decorating! Otherwise the frosting will melt.

an overhead shot of a batch of cupcakes topped with vanilla icing and sprinkles resting on a white tray

a red velvet cupcake topped with sprinkles sitting on a cake stand

More Vegan Cake Recipes

If you’re looking for more yummy vegan cake recipes, I’ve got quite a few! From fluffy vegan cupcakes to quick bread and even a funfetti cake recipe, check out these other delicious vegan cakes!

an overhead shot of a cupcake with vanilla frosting and sprinkles


How to make:

Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes

These vegan red velvet cupcakes have a secret ingredient! We’re making this red velvet cake with beets to give them a natural pop of red.

Prep Time:
15 mins
Cook Time:
25 mins
Total Time:
40 mins
a red velvet cupcake topped with vanilla icing and rainbow sprinkles
10-12 1x
Rating: 4.8 from 4 reviews


  • ½ cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
  • 1 ½ cup whole wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup cane sugar*
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup beets, cooked and pureed
  • ¼ cup coconut, avocado or grapeseed oil (any neutral oil)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 425ºF. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners or grease with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, add non-dairy milk and vinegar. Set aside for 5 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, add flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Stir to combine evenly.
  4. To the bowl with the milk mixture, add pureed beets, oil, and vanilla. Whisk thoroughly.
  5. Slowly pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients. Whisk together until just combined; do not overmix.
  6. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.
  7. Bake for 5 minutes, then turn the heat down to 350ºF. Bake for 20 more minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a cupcake comes out clean.
  8. Wait until cupcakes are completely cooled before frosting.


*Some cane sugar is not vegan, as it can be processed with animal bone char. I use Trader Joe’s Organic Sugar. Check here for vegan cane sugars: https://ordinaryvegan.net/vegansugar/.