Easy dairy free red velvet cake baked in a sheet pan. No stacking layers or fancy decorating, but all of the sweet taste and tender crumb of a dairy free or vegan red velvet cake.
Dairy Free Red Velvet Cake Recipe
For years, my gluten free red velvet cake has been on the front page of google search results.
I've baked it countless times, including as my sister's wedding cake. (I also baked over 200 gluten free red velvet cupcakes for her reception! It was a busy day!)
At first glance, my gluten free red velvet layer cake looks daunting.
It has 3 layers of red velvet cake, and is piped with rosette swirls.
I break down how to make a gluten free red velvet layer cake with easy step-by-step directions (with pictures) but I wanted an easier, more approachable recipe for those who are new to gluten free and dairy free baking.
Or for when you just want an easy single-layer cake.
In comes this dairy free vegan red velvet sheet cake!
It is every bit as stunning and tasty, as it's elegant gluten free red velvet layer cake sister, but just a tad simpler.
(If you want another easy gluten free cake recipe, try my GF-Bestie, Chrystal's gluten free cinnamon roll cake. It is easy to make, and has an incredible cinnamon swirl!)
How to make dairy free red velvet cake from scratch?
This recipe really isn't too tricky. The list of ingredients may seem a lot, but if you follow it step by step it is a cinch to make.
How to make dairy free buttermilk
The first tricky thing is that the recipe calls for dairy free milk and apple cider vinegar instead of buttermilk.
I've always made my own "buttermilk" instead of purchasing it.
All you need to do is add the vinegar to your milk and let it sit for a few minutes.
Since there really isn't a dairy-free buttermilk on the market, this makes it easy to make my red velvet cake dairy free or vegan.
If you handle dairy, you can also use regular milk with the same results.
The vinegar is essential to getting your cake to rise, and it will rise a lot. Almost double!
The vinegar reacts with the baking soda and cocoa powder, just like those volcanos you made in grade school.
Except for making a volcano and a mess, you get a slice of dairy free red velvet cake.
When do you add the oil for vegan red velvet cake?
Based on some comments on my red velvet layer cake recipe, I tried mixing the oil into the flour and other dry ingredients before adding the other wet ingredients.
Someone commented on my other recipe saying a velvet cake is made by mixing the oil with the flour instead of adding it with the other wet ingredients, which gives it a velvety texture.
In a red velvet cake made with regular gluten-flour adding the oil first makes a big difference!
This is because the oil prevents some of the gluten binding together when other liquid is added, which does result in a more tender cake.
With gluten free cakes, you don't have to worry about preventing gluten development, so I hadn't ever bothered to add the oil before the other wet ingredients.
This time I tried adding the oil first, and to be honest I didn't notice much of a difference in texture.
You can mix your dairy free red velvet cake batter whichever way you prefer.
I give directions for mixing the oil first in this recipe, since that is how I made it this time.
How to use gluten free flour
when baking with gluten free flour, your results will vary based on the gluten free flour you use.
Please read through my gluten free flour page for very thorough and detailed information about which gluten free flours work well, how to substitute one gluten free flour for another, and for my gluten free flour recipe.
How to measure gluten free flour
How you measure your gluten free flour is also very important.
To accurately measure your flour, use the “fork, spoon, knife” method.
First, mix your gluten free flour with a fork to ensure it is aerated and evenly mixed.
Then carefully spoon it into your measuring cup.
DO NOT scoop the flour with your measuring cup, you’ll compact extra flour into the measuring cup and then your gluten free baked goods will be dry and crumbly because they'll have too much flour.
Finally, level off your measuring cup using a knife.
Use room temperature ingredients
You’ll also have best results if all the ingredients are at room temperature, except for any ingredients that specify “cold” or “chilled”.
Using room temperature ingredients like eggs, butter, and gluten free flours helps your baked goods to bake evenly and correctly.
Think about it, if you use cold eggs, your batter will be colder.
And then it will change how it bakes, or may take longer.
For recipes that rise using steam, this is especially important.
How do you color a vegan dairy free red velvet cake?
Red velvet cake got it's name from its natural reddish hue from the chemical reaction of the vinegar and cocoa powder.
Regular or natural cocoa powder is very acidic and has a bit of a reddish brown color.
A dutch-processed or dark cocoa powder is alkalized resulting in a dark brown color, and a sweeter taste.
For this recipe, it is crucial that you use a natural cocoa powder and not a dutch processed cocoa powder if you want a vibrant red color.
A dark cocoa powder will not have any natural red color, and will be hard to overpower with food coloring.
To get a bright red, gluten and dairy free red velvet cake, you have to help the chemical reaction out a little bit with some kind of coloring.
I always use a concentrated gel food coloring to color my cake.
Can you make dairy free red velvet cake with natural food colorings?
Just add your food coloring of choice until your cake batter reaches the hue you desire.
If you use a liquid food coloring, you'll need a lot more to get a vibrant color.
You may have better luck using a powdered natural food red coloring to get a brighter color.
How do you color a red velvet cake using beets?
I'm working on a dye-free vegan red velvet cake using beets.
Until it is ready, I'd try using pureed steamed beets instead of some of the dairy free milk if you want to give a dairy free red velvet cake colored with beets a try.
While I personally have no problem with a little red food coloring on occasion, I know many do so I'm working to help you have the red velvet recipes that work best for you.
How do you make dairy free red velvet cake?
I make my red velvet cake, dairy free so that my daughter can enjoy it.
You can use my easy cream cheese frosting if you can enjoy dairy, or you can make my cream cheese frosting swapping a vegan cream cheese for the dairy cream cheese.
You can also frost it with my vegan frosting.
In my gluten free red velvet donut recipe I added a little cream cheese flavored oil (that is dairy free) to the glaze, and the same flavoring would work great with my vegan frosting.
How to make vegan red velvet cake?
To make a vegan gluten free red velvet cake, simply swap the egg in the recipe with a little egg replacer.
I know many people swear by Ener-G egg replacer. Use your favorite vegan egg replacer!
Because this recipe uses whole eggs I've had no problems substituting a egg replacer.
- ½ cup dairy-free milk
- 1 teaspoon vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar, but any gluten-free vinegar will work just fine)
- 3 Tablespoons natural cocoa powder (not dutch-processed) (0.75 ounces by weight)
- 1¼ cups white sugar (9.5 ounces by weight)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon xanthan gum
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1½ cups Gluten Free Flour Blend (8.25 ounces by weight)
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 2 eggs (or egg substitute)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ – 1 teaspoon red food coloring (I used concentrated gel food coloring. If you use a liquid food coloring or natural food coloring you'll need a lot more)
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease one 9x13 inch pan.
- In a large liquid measuring cup, mix together the milk and vinegar and set aside.
- Whisk together all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.
- Add the oil to the dry ingredients and whisk until evenly combined.
- Whisk the eggs, vanilla, and food coloring with the milk and vinegar, then add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared 9x13 pan and bake until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean, about 30-35 minutes.
- Cool before frosting with cream cheese frosting or vegan frosting.
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Nutrition InformationYield 12 Serving Size 1 slice of cake
Amount Per Serving Calories 248Total Fat 11gSaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 9gCholesterol 47mgSodium 173mgCarbohydrates 34gFiber 1gSugar 21gProtein 4g