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Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes (Gluten Free and Sugar Free options)

Fluffy, moist, and slathered with a luxurious cream cheese frosting, these vegan red velvet cupcakes are absolutely addicting.  Plus they are made in one-bowl, are fully vegan, and easily can be made gluten free AND sugar free!

A bunch of cupcakes on a white background

I have to start this entry with a confession – I ate 4 of these cupcakes the day I shot these photos.  This is not an exaggeration.  If anything it’s perhaps a lie and I ate more than that.  But you’ll never know.  There are a few people I always give my photoshoot leftovers to, and EVERY ONE OF THEM was out of town the day I did these.  I was so addicted to eating them I had to muster all of my strength and just throw all the rest out so I didn’t finish the whole dozen myself.  I even accidentally threw out a plate because I was moving with such urgency, I had to fish it out of the garbage later.

Anyway. 

So yeah I’m obsessed with these vegan red velvet cupcakes.  What is it about red velvet??  It’s sweet but tangy.  It’s got that little hint of cocoa.  The cream cheese frosting is SO creamy, and it’s less sweet than most frostings, so you can eat more of it without feeling like it’s overwhelming the cupcake itself.  And the cupcake itself is rich, moist, tender, and the right mix of light but still dense.  Perfection in a bite.

(Also if you want to go straight for the cake and skip the cupcakes, head over to my Vegan Red Velvet Cake recipe!)

Looking down on a cupcake with a droopy frosting swirl

How To Make Them:

Like most straightforward cupcakes, these are insanely easy.  They require only one bowl, take about 10-15 minutes of actual work time from you (including frosting them!), and need very few ingredients, pretty much all just pantry staples.

Start by mixing together your dry ingredients in a large bowl – gluten free (or all purpose) flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, granulated sugar (see the Ingredients Needed section to learn how to make these sugar free!), baking powder, and salt.  Then add in non-dairy milk, neutral oil, unsweetened applesauce, vanilla extract, and red food coloring gel*, and mix until just combined.  Try not to overmix or they will get tough!

Photo of cupcake batter in a glass bowl
Cupcake batter in muffin tin, before baking
Baked cupcakes still in the pan

*Yes, I said gel.  You may be more used to seeing liquid food coloring at your local grocery store, and that stuff works just fine, but the gel works SO much better.  The coloring is condensed so you only need to use 1 tsp of gel vs closer to 3 tbsps of the liquid, and the color is far more vibrant.  I use this one and absolutely love it.  I haven’t tested these using the liquid food coloring instead.  They have a little room in the recipe to add some more liquid, so if you only use 1-2 tbsp of liquid food coloring you should be okay!  But TRUST ME, get the gel 🙂

Anyhoo, once you have mixed up the batter, I personally like to transfer it into a large measuring cup since I find it easiest to pour evenly into the cupcake tins this way.  Each liner will fill around 2/3 of the way up, then pop them into the oven for 20-24 minutes.  I find around 22 to be my prefect sweet spot.  Let them cool in the tin for 5-10 minutes before moving them to a cooling rack to cool completely before frosting them! 

Frosting time!

While they are cooling, it’s frosting time!  Wipe down your batter bowl if you want to keep it to one-bowl like I promised in the title!  I use a simple hand mixer to make all of my frostings, but if you have a fancier mixer then certainly use that one.  The vegan butter can either be cold and hard straight from the fridge, or softened and at room temp.  Either way add the vegan butter, vegan cream cheese, and vanilla extract to your bowl and beat for a minute or two until it’s all fluffy and combined.  Then add in the powdered sugar one cup at a time, mixing fully after each one.  I like to put in a little pinch of salt as well, but if you’re sensitive to salted foods then leave it out. 

One last thing – I note in the ingredients you can add some cornstarch as well.  In general, cream cheese frosting will be thinner than buttercream, since it’s made up mostly of cream cheese rather than butter, and just isn’t as structured.  If you want to make it thicker either for piping purposes or any other reason, but you don’t want to do more and more powdered sugar, you can do a little cornstarch at the end to continue thickening it without dumping even more sugar in.  In the photos taken here I used 4 cups of powdered sugar and just under a cup of cornstarch.  

That’s it! Time to eat your vegan red velvet cupcakes!!

Close up of a cupcake with a big bite taken out

Storage:

After they have cooled, seal in an air-tight container and store at room temperature.  Ideally if you know you aren’t serving them that day, I’d suggest making the frosting fresh, but it will certainly hold if you are eating them over a few days.  They should last for around 3 days.

Pro Tips & Tools:

  • Make sure you are measuring your flour either by weight or using the spoon and level method.  Do not scoop directly from the container, as you will wind up with too much! This is so important! If you want to buy a pre-made gluten free flour blend, make sure it’s King Arthur’s Measure for Measure Gluten Free Flour, it is BY FAR the best one for my recipes, NOT Bob’s Red Mills or any others. If you want to make a homemade blend, here is a link to the one I use.
  • Make sure you measure your liquid ingredients using liquid measuring cups.  This will ensure accuracy!  I love this set.
  • As I mentioned, using a hand mixer with the frosting is the way to get the best results there.  I use this very simple and effective one.
  • If you haven’t used piping tools for frosting, or if you just need new ones, this set is my favorite. I love the medium and large sized tips.
  • Missing any of the basics? Here is my go-to muffin tin, and my go-to cupcake liners.
  • Get yourself some red food coloring gel! It’s so much better than the liquid stuff. This one is my go-to.
Three cupcakes on a white stand

Ingredients Needed:

  • Flour – Make sure you are measuring your flour either by weight or using the spoon and level method.  Do not scoop directly from the container, as you will wind up with too much! This is so important! If you want to buy a pre-made gluten free flour blend, make sure it’s King Arthur’s Measure for Measure Gluten Free Flour, it is BY FAR the best one for my recipes, NOT Bob’s Red Mills or any others. If you want to make a homemade blend, here is a link to the one I use.
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Granulated sugar – If you want to make these sugar free, I love using this Monkfruit Sweetener in place of granulated sugar.
  • Baking powder – I recommend using baking powder that has no added aluminum. This one is my go-to.
  • Salt
  • Non-dairy milk – I usually use soy, but any will work
  • Neutral oil – I always use grapeseed, but any will work
  • Unsweetened applesauce
  • Vanilla extract
  • Red food coloring gel – I use this one
  • Vegan butter – I use Earth Balance sticks
  • Vegan cream cheese – I am fond of the Kite Hill brand, and they come in 8oz packages which is exactly the amount you want for the frosting here
  • Powdered sugar – for the frosting. If you want to do this part sugar free, you can use this Monkfruit Powdered Sweetener in place of powdered sugar.
  • Cornstarch – optional! Cream cheese frosting is a bit thinner than buttercream, so sometimes you want to thicken it up more but can’t handle adding even more sugar or sweetness to it, so you can use a little cornstarch if needed.

What To Bake Next:

A bunch of cupcakes on a white background

Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes (Gluten Free and Sugar Free options)

Fluffy, moist, and slathered with a luxurious cream cheese frosting, these cupcakes are absolutely addicting.  Plus they are made in one-bowl, are fully vegan, and easily can be made gluten free AND sugar free!
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 24 mins
Total Time 39 mins
Course Birthday Party, Dessert
Servings 12 cupcakes

Ingredients
  

Cupcake Recipe

  • 1 2/3 cups gluten free flour can sub all-purpose if desired. This links to my favorite store bought gluten free flour blend that works best with all of my recipes, or see “Ingredients Needed” section for further info.
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¾ cup + 2 tbsp granulated sugar *if you want a sugar free option, this links to my favorite sweetener, you can substitute it 1:1 in place of regular granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk
  • ¼ cup + 3 tbsp neutral oil
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp red food coloring gel

Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients

  • ½ cup vegan butter
  • 8oz vegan cream cheese
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 cups powdered sugar *if you want a sugar free option, this links to my favorite powdered sweetener, you can substitute it 1:1 in place of regular powdered sugar
  • pinch of salt optional
  • ½ – 1 cup cornstarch optional if you want thicker frosting but don’t want to keep adding sugar

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a muffin tin with cupcake liners.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the gluten free flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Then add in non-dairy milk, neutral oil, unsweetened applesauce, vanilla extract, and red food coloring gel.  Mix together until just combined.
  • Fill each of the liners evenly with the batter, filling them around 2/3 of the way.  Bake for 20-24 minutes (my sweet spot is just around 22), then remove from the oven.  Let the cupcakes cool in the tin for 5-10 minutes before removing from the pan to cool entirely before frosting.
  • To make the frosting, add the vegan butter, vegan cream cheese, and vanilla extract to a bowl and mix first for a minute or two using a hand mixer or stand mixer.  Then add in the powdered sugar one cup at a time.  You can add a pinch of salt to taste.  Also as I note above, if you want a thicker frosting but don’t want to keep adding more and more sweetness to it, you can use some cornstarch to get your desired consistency.  Once the frosting is ready and the cupcakes are cooled, pipe or spoon the frosting generously over the top of each.
  • Eat and enjoy!

Notes

NUTRITION INFO

Total amount: 12 cupcakes
Serving size: 1 cupcake
Per serving amounts: (note – this does not account for frosting)
  • Calories – 207
  • Grams of fat – 8.8
  • Grams of carbs – 30.4
  • Grams of protein – 2.4
Keyword cupcakes, gluten free cupcakes, red velvet, red velvet cupcakes, vegan cupcakes
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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