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Gluten-Free Red Velvet Cake (Dairy-Free/Vegan)

Hands down, the best gluten-free red velvet cake recipe. Tender layers of moist cake full of classic red velvet flavor. Paired with a classic tangy whipped cream cheese frosting, this easy one-bowl gluten-free red velvet cake is absolute perfection.

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A bright white red velvet cake topped with a dark chocolate ganache drip and white frosting swirls on top. There is bright red cake crumbs sprinkled on top of the frosting.
A bright white red velvet cake topped with a dark chocolate ganache drip and white frosting swirls on top. There is bright red cake crumbs sprinkled on top of the frosting.

The Best Gluten-Free Red Velvet Cake

Made from scratch with velvety moist layers, this gluten-free red velvet cake recipe is simple to make and the perfect slice of classic indulgence. Each bite is full of subtle chocolate flavor paired with tangy cream cheese frosting. Unquestionably, a match made in confectionary heaven.

What Makes Up A Gluten-Free Red Velvet Cake

Red Velvet Cake Layers – Incredibly soft and moist, these red velvet cake layers are so simple to make. You only need one bowl!

Cream Cheese Frosting – Sweet and tangy, it’s whipped to fluffy perfection. 

Chocolate Ganache Drip – Deeply rich and decadent, it adds the wow factor.

A bright white red velvet cake topped with a dark chocolate ganache drip and white frosting swirls on top. There is bright red cake crumbs sprinkled on top of the frosting.

Red Velvet Cake Ingredients & Substitutions

As always this recipe is gluten-free and dairy-free. In saying so, I do test each recipe with “regular” ingredients and make notes of alternatives and/or swaps so that everyone, regardless of diet, can enjoy it.

Here are a few key ingredients for this cake but make sure you scroll to the bottom recipe card for the complete ingredient list.

Dry Ingredients

Flour: I made this cake with Primal Palate gluten-free all-purpose flour blend. If you are not gluten-free, swap the flour with regular all-purpose flour. Note that gluten-free flour blends can vary in weight so I recommend measuring by the cup.

Cornstarch: Key for a fluffy cake, cornstarch can be swapped with arrowroot powder, potato starch, rice flour, tapioca starch, or simply more flour.

Cocoa Powder: Love to bake with Pascha natural unsweetened cocoa powder but any regular cocoa powder will work. Choose what fits best with your dietary/medical/lifestyle needs.

Wet Ingredients

Milk: Unsweetened almond milk is always my baking preference as that’s what’s in my fridge. Use whatever milk that best suits your dietary needs. If you can do dairy, I highly suggest using buttermilk.

Apple Cider Vinegar: This creates the tang that replicates buttermilk. Lemon juice or white vinegar can be used as well.

Oil: Use canola or vegetable oil for best results but any neutral-tasting oil will work.

Sour Cream: Vital for adding moisture and flavor, sour cream can be replaced with mayonnaise or plain Greek yogurt. Pick the variety (ie. vegan, dairy-free, regular, etc.) that best suits your dietary needs.

Red Food Color: There are a few different options for red food color. I use Chefmaster red liquid gel color. It is quite saturated and only requires 2-3 teaspoons in the recipe depending on the color you desire.

You can find liquid food color in the baking aisle of most grocery stores. This will work but note that you will need to use 3-5 teaspoons worth to get a red color.

The all-natural route is possible as well. I recommend Watkins food color, but again, you’ll need to use at least 3-5 teaspoons in the recipe.

Vanilla Extract: Pure vanilla extract will always be supreme but use whatever is in your pantry. If you want a super yummy twist, add ¼ tsp of almond extract.

Frosting & Ganache Ingredients

Cream Cheese: Again, as this is written dairy-free, I used plant-based cream cheese. Feel free to swap in regular full-fat cream cheese, the brick kind, in place. I use Violife plant-based cream cheese.

Butter: Becel plant-based bricks are my personal favorite for baking but any brick-style dairy-free, vegan, lactose-free, or regular butter will work. 

Chocolate: I adore using Pascha vegan barely dark chocolate bar but any brand, type, or size of chocolate bar or chips will work in this recipe. Use whatever best fits your dietary/lifestyle needs.

A bright white red velvet cake topped with a dark chocolate ganache drip and white frosting swirls on top. There is bright red cake crumbs sprinkled on top of the frosting.

Easy Step-By-Step Instructions

You’ll need a large mixing bowl, a stand mixer or handheld electric one, three 6-inch, or two 8 or 9-inch round cake pans, a whisk, and a spatula.

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF and prepare cake pans with non-stick baking spray and parchment paper.

2. Combine the milk and apple cider vinegar and set aside to “curdle.”

3. Whisk together the oil, sugar, sour cream, vanilla, and red food coloring.

4. Add in the flour, cornstarch, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

5. Start whisking together and begin to slowly pour in the milk mixture. Mix until just combined.

6. Divide the batter evenly into the prepared cake pans and bake for about 40-45 minutes or until the edges begin to pull away from the cake pans and a toothpick comes out clean.

7. Remove from the oven and allow the cakes to cool in the pans for 10 minutes before inverting on a wire rack to cool to fully cool.

Pro Tip: Want the most moist cake layers ever? First, let cool for about 20 minutes and then wrap each layer in plastic wrap. Secondly, place back on the rack and allow to fully cool while wrapped. This seals in all that amazing moisture.

8. In a stand mixer or large mixing bowl with electric beaters cream together the butter and cream cheese on high speed for approximately 5-10 minutes or until light and fluffy.

9. Add the icing sugar and salt and mix on low until combined. Turn the mixer up to high and allow it to beat for another 5 minutes.

10. Level, stack, and frost the cake. Place in the fridge to chill. See the below section for more tips and tricks regarding this step.

11. Prepare the chocolate ganache drip by combining the chocolate and milk and heating it until fully melted and smooth. Drip the chocolate ganache over the edges of the cooled cake and decorate as you please.

12. Slice, serve, and enjoy!

A bright white red velvet cake topped with a dark chocolate ganache drip and white frosting swirls on top. There is bright red cake crumbs sprinkled on top of the frosting.

Red Velvet Cake Assembly Success Tips

Stacking a layer cake can feel a bit scary. But, as they say, slow and steady wins the race. Let’s set you up for gluten-free red velvet layer cake success with a few tips and tricks.

Fully Cooled Cake Layers: Even if a tiny bit warm, layers will slip. Ensure that each cake layer is fully cooled, if not chilled. I will even work with semi-frozen cake layers if I have to bake them a few days before stacking.

Leveled Cake Layers: Flat and level cake layers will sit and stack far easier than crooked ones. I use this super easy cake tool to ensure each cake layer is perfectly level.

Keep the Cake Chilled: If at any point you begin to feel the cake slip or the frosting is too soft to work with, pop the cake and frosting back into the fridge to chill. Remember, don’t rush it. Take your time.

A bright white red velvet cake topped with a dark chocolate ganache drip and white frosting swirls on top. There is bright red cake crumbs sprinkled on top of the frosting.

How To Decorate A Dairy-Free Red Velvet Cake

“As you desire” is often how I refer to cake decoration. It’s not that I don’t want you to make the same cake I did, it’s simply that I don’t want you to feel like you *have* to make the same cake.

We all have an inner cake artist and I want to encourage you to let it shine. That said, let’s break down this gluten-free and lactose-free red velvet cake decor.

First: Crumb-coat the cake and allow it to chill for 10 minutes. See the above section for stacking tips and tricks.

Second: Put a final “beauty” coat of frosting on the cake and smooth the sides and top of the cake with a smoother or offset spatula. Allow the cake to chill for another 10 minutes.

Third: Drip the prepared chocolate ganache over the top of the cake and chill again until set.

Fourth: Use Wilton piping tips 1M (large rosette) 4B (open star) 10 (large dot) and 3 (small dot) to pipe a wreath-like design around the top border of the cake starting with the largest tip and design. Sprinkle on a few leftover red velvet cake crumbs if desired. Enjoy!

Pro Tip: Allow the cake to come to room temperature for 20-30 minutes before slicing and serving.

A bright white red velvet cake topped with a dark chocolate ganache drip and white frosting swirls on top. There is bright red cake crumbs sprinkled on top of the frosting.

Storing and Freezing Instructions

This cake can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. It can also be stored in the freezer for up to 6 months. 

Remember that, due to the nature of gluten-free cake, it will dry out a bit each day while stored. It is best enjoyed within the first day or two.

Pro Tip: If you want to bake the cake layers a few days in advance, you most certainly can. Allow the layers to cool for 20-30 minutes, cover them tightly in plastic wrap, and freeze until you are ready to stack and decorate the cake.

Remove the cake layers from the freezer approximately 1 hour before you plan to stack and decorate and allow them to thaw slightly at room temperature.

A bright white red velvet cake topped with a dark chocolate ganache drip and white frosting swirls on top. There is bright red cake crumbs sprinkled on top of the frosting.

Gluten-Free Red Velvet Cake FAQs

Can this be made into cupcakes?

Yes, it absolutely can. The full recipe will make approximately 24 cupcakes or you could half it for 12 cupcakes. 

What other pans can I use?

This can be baked in a 9×13 cake pan (it won’t need as much frosting though), three 6-inch rounds, or two 9-inch pans. Note that the baking time will change.

Always look for light golden edges that are pulling away from the pan, the top should bounce bake to the touch, and a toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean or with a few moist crumbs.

What is the flavor of gluten-free red velvet cake?

What a great question and one that I am often asked. I would describe it as a very mild chocolate flavor with a bright tang of the “curdled” milk mixture and cream cheese frosting.

What makes a red velvet cake red?

You might be surprised to learn that a red velvet cake gets most of its color from a chemical reaction between cocoa powder and buttermilk/vinegar. The addition of the red food color only intensifies the color, Kinda neat, right?!

A bright white red velvet cake topped with a dark chocolate ganache drip and white frosting swirls on top. There is bright red cake crumbs sprinkled on top of the frosting.

The Best Gluten-Free Red Velvet Layer Cake

Tender layers of moist red velvet cake paired with classic tangy whipped cream cheese frosting and finished with a decadent chocolate ganache drip. Made from scratch, this easy one-bowl recipe will knock your socks off with all the classic gluten-free red velvet yum in every single bite.

An adaptable ingredient list allows you to tailor this recipe to suit all dietary or lifestyle needs. Everybody deserves cake and now they can have it!

Make sure you tag me on social media @cakedbykatie and leave me a star rating and review below if you make it. I cannot wait to see!

The Best Layer Cake Dessert Ideas

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A bright white red velvet cake topped with a dark chocolate ganache drip and white frosting swirls on top. There is bright red cake crumbs sprinkled on top of the frosting.

Gluten-Free Red Velvet Cake (Dairy-Free)


  • Author: Katie Stymiest
  • Total Time: 1 Hour 40 Minutes
  • Yield: 12 Servings 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

Hands down, the best gluten-free red velvet cake recipe. Tender layers of moist cake full of classic red velvet flavor. Paired with tangy whipped cream cheese frosting, this easy one-bowl gluten-free red velvet cake is absolute perfection.


Ingredients

Units Scale

Red Velvet Cake

  • 2 cups (500ml) dairy-free milk, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups (300g) granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups (360g) dairy-free sour cream, room temerpature
  • 2/3 cup (157ml) canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 23 teaspoons red food color *see note
  • 3 cups (360g) gluten-free flour 1:1 baking blend
  • 2 tablespoons (16g) cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons (16g) cocoa powder
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt

Cream Cheese Buttercream

  • 1 cup (227g) dairy-free salted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups (200g) dairy-free cream cheese, room temperature
  • 6 cups (720g) powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt

Chocolate Ganache

  • 1/2 cup dairy-free chocolate
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons dairy-free milk

Instructions

Red Velvet Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF and prepare three 6-inch cake pans with non-stick baking spray and parchment paper.
  2. Combine the milk and apple cider vinegar in a small bowl and set aside for 5 minutes to “curdle.”
  3. In a large mixing bowl and stand mixer combine the sugar, sour cream, oil, vanilla extract, and red food color and mix until smooth.
  4. Measure in the flour, cornstarch, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and begin to mix.
  5. While mixing, slowly pour in the milk mixture and combine until smooth.
  6. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans and bake for approximately 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.
  7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pans and then invert on a wire rack to fully cool.

Cream Cheese Buttercream

  1. In a stand mixer or large mixing bowl with electric beaters, combine the butter and cream cheese and beat together on high until light and fluffy. This should take approximately 5-10 minutes.
  2. Add in the powdered sugar and salt and mix on low until combined.
  3. Turn the mixer up to high and allow it to beat for 5 minutes. 
  4. Place in the fridge if not using right away.

Chocolate Ganache

  1. Combine the chocolate and milk in a microwave-safe bowl and begin to heat in 30-second intervals. Stir after each interval. Repeat until fully melted and smooth.

Cake Assembly

  1. Level each fully cooled cake layer with a knife or cake leveler. Save the cake cut-offs for decor if desired.
  2. Place one cake layer on a plate, cake board, or cake turntable. Top with approximately 1½ cups of buttercream. Repeat with the remaining layers.
  3. Cover the outside of the cake with a thin layer of buttercream and allow to chill in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.
  4. Cover the cake with a second layer of buttercream and smooth the sides and top with an offset spatula or cake smoother tool. Place in the fridge to chill for another 10 minutes. Prepare the chocolate ganache at this time.
  5. Pour the chocolate ganache on top of the cake and very slowly push it over the edges with an offset spatula. Place back in the fridge to chill for another 10 minutes.
  6. Fit four piping bags with tips 1M, 4B, 10, and 3, and fill each bag with frosting. Pipe large rosettes with the 1M, open stars with the 4B, and dots with the 10. With tip 3, pipe small dots within the large rosettes.
  7. Cut up the cake top trimmings from step 1 and sprinkle the red velvet cake crumbs on top. Enjoy!
  8. Leftover cake should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 6 months.

Notes

*See the ingredients swaps & substitutions section for further details regarding red food color options. It can also be omitted entirely if you do not need or want a deep red.

  • Prep Time: 60 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 Minutes
  • Category: Cakes
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: gluten-free red velvet cake, red velvet cake, red velvet cake recipe, dairy-free red velvet cake, vegan red velvet cake, egg-free red velvet cake, gluten-free red velvet cake recipe

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4 Comments

  1. I was wondering if you made the recipe with eggs and if so how many you used, and if they replaced anything?

    Thanks!

    1. Yes, you sure can! There’s a whole section with ingredient swaps and subs in the blog post that lists the flax egg/egg swap.

  2. Made this cake for my son’s birthday party using a number of the substitutions. I struggled a little bit with density and my cake sunk after coming out so I know I did something wrong. Thankfully the boys at the party still loved it despite the imperfections. The taste was still sooo good just like every recipe I have tried from here.

    1. Red velvet has a “velet” like texture as opposed to a light fluffy one. I’m glad to hear the boys enjoyed it.

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