Desserts

April 18, 2022

Plant-Based Red Velvet Cake

This Plant-Based Red Velvet Cake is made with whole food ingredients - no dyes or food coloring, no oils or refined sugars, and it's gluten-free. It's rich, fudgy and incredibly decadent. Perfect for birthdays, celebrations, and holidays.

Plant-Based Red Velvet Cake

Fun fact: I don't like chocolate cake. In fact, given the choice of chocolate or vanilla (insert dessert here: ice cream, cake, brownies, etc.) I would choose vanilla every time.

But red velvet is different. It has just that hint of richness from the chocolate, but is still basically vanilla cake.

Combine that with a rich cream cheese frosting and I'm sold.

So, when I was thinking about what dessert I wanted for my birthday (the day this post goes live) I knew I wanted to make red velvet cake.

I already have a red velvet cupcake recipe on the blog, but there's something much more decadent about an entire cake. Especially a layer cake. It feels birthday worthy.

Plant-Based Red Velvet Cake

How to make Red Velvet Cake Plant-Based

Vegan baking can be tricky. And it's even more tricky to avoid refined & processed vegan products like vegan butter or vegan sugar that bakers often use as substitutes.

So there are a few tricks in this cake. It's not your typical ingredient list but it DOES result in a rich and decadent plant-based layer cake.

Tricks for a whole food plant-based cake

Moisture

To create that rich, moist cake that you expect in good baking, we need to get creative. Chickpeas add both and help bulk up the cake, so it doesn't feel like it's missing anything. Don't worry - you can't taste the chickpeas at all!

Fat

Baked goods need some fat to create a richness. Instead of using oil or butter, this cake has cashew butter, which is a great whole food fat source. Cashews are a sweeter nut which adds to the overall sweetness of the cake. They don't have much other flavor though, so they don't distract from the overall cake flavor.

Sugar

Most cakes use white sugar in the batter and powdered sugar in the frosting. As a less processed option, this cake uses maple syrup.

Color

You usually don't have to worry about color in a cake, but red velvet cakes use food coloring to create the rich red color.

Did you know that most red food dye is not vegan?! I don't know about you, but it freaks me out a little that food coloring isn't vegan. There are some vegan options out there, but for this recipe I opted for the whole food version - beets!

Beetroot powder is a pinkish red powder made from dried beets. It achieves that red color without any non-vegan ingredients sneaking in.

Plant-Based Red Velvet Cake

Why I love this Red Velvet Cake

  • Dietary needs — this cake is vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, oil-free, and refined sugar free. That's right! No vegan butter, no white flour, no sugar, AND made with whole foods.
  • Naturally colored — did you know that most red food dye is not vegan?! I don't know about you, but it freaks me out a little that food coloring isn't vegan. There are some vegan options out there, but for this recipe I opted for the whole food version - beets!
  • Protein & Fiber — there's a secret ingredient in this cake and it adds protein and fiber. This red velvet cake is by no means "high protein" but the extra nutrients help make this more of a balanced dish
  • Fudgy and rich — this is not a dry, crumbly cake. In fact, it is rich and fudgy and incredibly moist.
  • Actually really simple — there aren't any crazy instructions. All you do is mix and bake.

Plant-Based Red Velvet Cake

Ingredient Notes & Substitutions

Cake

  • Chickpeas: the secret ingredient! Chickpeas create that moist, fudgy texture. They add protein and fiber. AND you can't taste them! Canned chickpeas are perfect here - just be sure that they don't have any added salt.
  • Maple Syrup: I highly recommend using maple syrup in this cake. You can use date syrup for a completely fruit-sweetened cake, but it will affect the color of the cake - it will be more brown than red.
  • Cashew Butter: cashew butter is the fat source. You can also use almond butter.
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Oat Flour: I used homemade oat flour in this recipe. Just blend oats in your food processor until they are a flour consistency. You can use store-bought oat flour - the cake will be slightly more dense. You can also use all purpose flour.
  • Beetroot Powder: this is how the cake gets its red color. Because we're not using a powerful food coloring, we have to use quite a bit of beetroot powder to get the red color. If you don't care about the color or don't want to use beetroot powder, you can just sub an equivalent amount of flour - this would result in a light brown cake.
  • Cocoa Powder
  • Salt
  • Baking Powder
  • Baking Soda

Plant-Based Red Velvet Cake Ingredients

Frosting

  • Arrowroot Powder: Since the frosting has no butter, it needs to be thickened. Arrowroot powder is a starch that helps thicken the frosting without adding flavor. You can sub cornstarch.
  • Maple Syrup: As noted above, you can use date syrup here for a completely fruit sweetened cake, but date syrup is dark and will change the color of the frosting.
  • Vanilla Extract

Plant-Based Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients

How to make Plant-Based Red Velvet Cake

Step 1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the bottom of two 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper.

Step 2. Add the chickpeas to a food processor or blender and process until the chickpeas are blended into a paste.

Plant-Based Red Velvet Cake Steps 1 & 2

Step 3. Transfer the chickpea paste to a large bowl and add the remaining cake ingredients. Stir until everything is well combined.

Step 4. Divide evenly into the cake pans.

Plant-Based Red Velvet Cake Steps 3 & 4

Step 5. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cake comes out clean and the center of each cake feels firm to the touch. Let the cakes cool completely (this is important!!). For best frosting results, refrigerate the cakes for 30-60 minutes before frosting.

Step 6. Meanwhile, prepare the frosting. Using a hand mixer or stand mixer beat the frosting ingredients until combined and slightly fluffy. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Plant-Based Red Velvet Cake Steps 5 & 6

Step 7. When the cakes are cooled, spread half of the frosting on top of one cake. Then top with the second cake. Spread the other half of the frosting on top. Serve and enjoy!

Plant-Based Red Velvet Cake Step 7

Tips & FAQs

I don't have an 8-inch pan. What do I do?

You can make this recipe in a 9-inch cake pan instead - the layers will be shorter and the cake will be wider.

You can also make this cake in a 9x13-inch sheet pan.

Alternatively, turn this recipe into cupcakes. It makes about 3 dozen.

Is this cake gluten-free? What if I'm not gluten-free?

This cake is gluten-free. Oats are naturally gluten-free. If you have a strong sensitivity, look for certified gluten-free oats to avoid cross contamination.

If you aren't gluten-free, you can still use oat flour - blend your own or buy it from the store. You could also use all purpose flour.

Do I have to use beetroot powder? What can I use instead?

I've tested multiple versions of this cake in an attempt to avoid using a powder. Unfortunately, if you want the red color, beetroot powder is the best option.

You can also use pink pitaya powder - this is what I used in my red velvet cupcake recipe and it worked fairly well.

If you don't care about the color, you can omit the beetroot powder altogether and replace it with more flour. Alternatively, you can try a vegan food coloring.

How do I frost this cake?

To frost any cake, you'll want an offset spatula. It makes things so much easier.

If you don't have an offset spatula you can use a regular knife.

I recommend frosting only the top of this cake, not the sides.

Since it doesn't have any butter, the frosting is thinner than a normal cream cheese frosting. Unless it is really cold, it will slide off the sides of the cake.

How do I make the frosting thicker?

If you want to attempt to frost the sides of the cake, you should make the frosting thicker. You have two options:

One. Add more arrowroot powder. This will thicken the frosting, but if you add too much you will dilute the sweetness.

Two. Use vegan powdered sugar. This is definitely not whole food plant-based, but if you want the effect of a fully frosted cake, this is a great option.

This cake is too complicated. How do I simplify?

By far the most difficult part of the cake is the layering and frosting. For a simpler approach, make cupcakes instead. This recipe will make 3 dozen cupcakes.

Storage

Store this cake in the refrigerator for up to a week.

The cake can also be sliced and frozen. If you know you will be freezing part of the cake, don't frost the parts you will freeze.

Plant-Based Red Velvet Cake Eaten

Recipe Prayer

Thank you God for this cake. Remain with us as we celebrate birthdays, holidays, and time with friends. Amen.

Related Recipes

Looking for more whole food plant-based desserts? Try some of my favorites:

Tried this recipe?

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Plant-Based Red Velvet Cake

This Plant-Based Red Velvet Cake is made with whole food ingredients - no dyes or food coloring, no oils or refined sugars, and it's gluten-free. It's rich, fudgy and incredibly decadent. Perfect for birthdays, celebrations, and holidays.

Author:

Elizabeth

Serves:

12

Prep:

30

min

cook:

30

min

total:

60

min

Ingredients

Cake

  • 3 15-Ounce Can Chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 1/2 Cups Maple Syrup
  • 1 1/2 Cup Cashew Butter
  • 2 Tablespoons Vanilla Extract
  • 3 Cups Oat Flour
  • 2 Cups Beetroot Powder
  • 1/2 Cup Cocoa Powder
  • 2 Teaspoons Salt
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1 1/2Teaspoons Baking Soda

Frosting

  • 16 Ounces Vegan Cream Cheese
  • 1/3 Cup Arrowroot Powder
  • 1/3 Cup Maple Syrup
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the bottom of two 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper.
  2. Add the chickpeas to a food processor or blender and process until the chickpeas are blended into a paste.
  3. Transfer the chickpea paste to a large bowl and add the remaining cake ingredients. Stir until everything is well combined.
  4. Divide evenly into the cake pans.
  5. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cake comes out clean and the center of each cake feels firm to the touch. Let the cakes cool completely (this is important!!). For best frosting results, refrigerate the cakes for 30-60 minutes before frosting.
  6. Meanwhile, prepare the frosting. Using a hand mixer or stand mixer beat the frosting ingredients until combined and slightly fluffy. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  7. When the cakes are cooled, spread half of the frosting on top of one cake. Then top with the second cake. Spread the other half of the frosting on top. Serve and enjoy!
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April 28, 2022
Jean Mastin
Elizabeth: Thank you so much for making my meal times wonderful again. I am 86 yrs plus, and was finding eating dull and dreary. Now it is " scrum delicious time to eat". . Blessings de Jean
Hi Jean - Thanks so much for your kind words. I'm so glad you are enjoying my recipes. Please let me know if you ever have recipe requests or if there's anything else I can do to keep your meals delicious!
April 9, 2022
Katie
Can you leave nutritional info for your recipes? Serving size/calories would be so helpful! Trying mushroom lentil stew tonight! and looking forward to crispy chickpea stuffed sweet potatoes very soon. Thanks for creating healthy, attractive recipes!
Hi Katie - so excited to hear that you are trying some of my recipes! I'd love to hear how they go. I haven't posted nutritional information for my recipes because I know it can be difficult for some people with disordered eating to see nutrition facts. I've gotten a lot of requests to add them recently, so I'm working on a solution that can provide information for those who want it but not be triggering for others. In the meantime, if you're curious about the nutrient info about a particular recipe, I recommend using Cronometer. It's a website/app to track and understand nutrient info and I think it does a great job of emphasizing all the nutrients (not just macros). I hope this helps! Please let me know if I can help in any other way.
April 9, 2022
Vickey
U mentioned date sugar on this recipe but it’s not in the instructions. I know u add it but just in case u wanna add to instructions. Love ur recipes! Thank u. I’m thinking of going to vegan a little nervous tho lol
Hi Vickey - thanks so much for catching that! I am updating the post now. So happy to hear you enjoy my recipes. And exciting that you are thinking about going vegan!! If there's anything that I can do to help, please let me know.
March 28, 2022
Sr Maureen Egan
I'd love to try this soup. What are the nutritional values, like how much fat does it contain, carbs, etc.
Hi Sr Maureen - I usually don't post macronutrient information because I know each person has their own goals and I don't want to encourage or discourage anyone's specific goals. But I often use Cronometer as a tool to understand the nutritional profile of my recipes. I plugged the ingredient information for this recipe into Cronometer and got the following nutrient information per serving: 521 calories, 44g fat, 23g carbs, 16g protein. I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any other questions and if you try the recipe!
March 26, 2022
Margareta Ahle
This curry is absolutely delicious.
Thank you so much! It's one of my favorites :)
March 23, 2022
Martha maloney
Thank you I have been doing the fruit and oatmeal, etc for years and I love it. I will try the pears. I refrigerate my left over oatmeal and with a touch of milk or fruit juice liquid it’s fine the next day. Just a warning about tofu; it interferes with some medicines especially Thyroid medicine. Thank you for the short prayers, there are lovely.
Hi Martha - thank you so much for your kind words. I'm glad you like the prayers! As someone who doesn't take any medications I have no issues with eating tofu and encouraging others to eat it too (it's a great source of protein!). That said, you should always consult with your doctor about possible interactions with medications. I have plenty of recipes without tofu, so hopefully you can find things that work for you!
March 3, 2022
Susan Cunningham
I made this for Ash Wednesday and it was delicious. It was also simple and not much work time once the mushrooms and onions were cut.
Hi Susan - I'm so glad you liked it!
March 1, 2022
Jade
When you say shape into a rectangular loaf, what dimensions? 1/2 thick by 8 inches long or?
My loaf was about 7" long and 4" wide with about 1" of height. Then I sliced it 1/2" thick along the long end to get 12ish biscotti. I will clarify this in the post! Let me know if this makes sense and if you have any other questions.
January 16, 2022
Tracy Henry
Made this tonight. Absolutely delicious Elizabeth. You got this one just right!
Oh yay! I'm so glad you enjoyed it :)
January 16, 2022
L Collins
Hi Could you please confirm two things:1. The amount of salt. Seems like too much. 2. The directions say there is lemon juice in the dressing but it’s not listed under ingredients. ThanksL.
Hi there! Confirming that the two teaspoons of salt in the dressing is correct. I didn't salt the cauliflower when roasting it or the salad after it was done, so this amount of salt was perfect. If you're concerned about it you can decrease the amount of salt in the dressing and then add more at the end if you need it. As for the lemon juice, SO sorry about that! It was a typo in my directions and I've removed it now. Hope this helps :)
December 20, 2021
Martha
This looks lovely! Do you have a recipe for the red pepper hummus also? Thank you!
Hi Martha! I don't have a recipe for red pepper hummus on my site. I suggest taking a traditional hummus recipe and blending in roasted red pepper.
November 22, 2021
Amanda J Lehmann
I tried these and they were delicious! A bit dense but flavorful and the "buckeye" blend of peanut and chocolate was on point! Recommend!
Yay! I'm so glad you liked them! -- Elizabeth
December 6, 2021
Grace
Hi, these look amazing. I was wondering, could I used powdered peanut butter in place of creamy for the recipe? thanks
Hi Grace! There is already some powdered peanut butter in this recipe, so adding more might make the texture more gluey. Also, the real peanut butter adds some fat, which helps create flavor. That said, if you want to use powdered peanut butter, I would suggest mixing it with a high-fat liquid like coconut cream and then measuring out 2/3 cup. Hope this helps! Let me know how it goes :) -- Elizabeth
November 15, 2021
Becky
You mention using vegetable broth in your introduction but it isn’t included in the recipe
Hi Becky - thanks for pointing this out. I have removed mention of vegetable broth from this post. You do not need any vegetable broth. The mushrooms will release natural liquid which will prevent any sticking. -- Elizabeth
September 23, 2021
Tracy Henry
Hi Elizabeth, LOVE you recipes. Please keep them coming. :)I was wondering, can you share what is the vegan chocolate bar you used in this recipe?
August 28, 2021
Henry (Hank) Mader
thank you for the oil free recipe. I'm getting introduced to wild Bolete mushrooms here in Colorado, and everyone sautes Bolete's in butter or olive oil. I'm on a veggie, oil free regimen for heart health reasons. and your recipe suggestion may fill the bill. I can't wait to give it a try.
August 13, 2021
Lindsey Kuhn
This is so fun! Loving your creamy photography :)
August 13, 2021
Lindsey Kuhn
This looks incredible! So yummy and pretty photography