Why I love this recipe
Red velvet cake is one of those recipes that I never thought I’d be able to have once I was diagnosed with celiac disease. You just don’t find boxes of gluten-free red velvet cake mix at the store easily.
Don’t worry, though! This gluten-free red velvet cake is everything that a red velvet cake should be. It’s honestly even better than I remember!
This red velvet cake is so moist, sweet and tangy with a very tender crumb and velvety texture. It has a subtle chocolate flavor and is absolutely divine when topped with cream cheese frosting.
You really can’t go wrong with this 2-layer gluten-free cake! It’s simple to make, too!
- gluten-free flour blend – I used Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten-Free Baking Flour (in the blue bag) for this recipe, which already contains xanthan gum. If your blend does not already contain xanthan gum, you’ll need to add it to this recipe. I cannot vouch for other flours in this recipe as they have not yet been tested. If you do not have access to Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten-Free Baking Flour, I recommend using a flour that is meant to be a 1-for-1 swap with all-purpose flour.
- red food dye – I used liquid red food dye in this recipe. You can use gel food coloring which is much more concentrated than liquid red coloring if you prefer. You will need to use less gel food coloring than I’ve stated in the recipe. Remember, that color will not be as concentrated after baking. Use my step-by-step photos as a guide to see how dark your batter should be before baking.
- coffee – I use hot coffee in this recipe, similar to my chocolate cake recipe. Coffee adds some richness and moisture to cakes and brings out the cocoa flavor. If you do not want to use coffee, you can use hot water instead.
- buttermilk – The key to red velvet cake is the tangy flavor. In order to achieve this, we use buttermilk which provides a slightly sour flavor. If you are dairy-free, you can use a combination of almond milk and vinegar instead for a dairy-free option.
- apple cider vinegar – Another way we add a slight tang to red velvet is by using vinegar. I prefer apple cider vinegar, but you could also use distilled white vinegar instead.
Red velvet cake is really easy to make from scratch by following the steps below. For more details, tips, and tricks, scroll down to the printable recipe card below.
To make the BEST gluten-free red velvet cake, you’ll need to first make the cake. First, you’ll combine all of the dry ingredients. Then, you’ll cream together the oil and sugar before adding the rest of the wet ingredients. Add the dry to the wet ingredients and fill up your cake pans. Then, bake and let cool before frosting with your favorite buttercream or frosting recipe. It’s so simple!
- One of the worst experiences when baking a cake is if the cake doesn’t come out cleanly from the cake pan. To ensure it comes out clean every time, I line the bottom of my cake pans with parchment paper and I also butter them and dust both the bottom and sides of the pan with cocoa powder. You could dust with gluten-free flour, but I like the extra bit of chocolate flavor from the cocoa powder for red velvet cake.
- I used liquid red food dye for this recipe. I ended up using ½ ounce to get the red color in the photos. You could use more if you like your cake to be very red. If you use gel food coloring, you will need far less food coloring since it is more concentrated.
- For best results, use a food scale and follow the metric measurements stated in the recipe card. Baking with a food scale is far more accurate for dry ingredients, especially gluten-free flour and cocoa powder that can vary easily depending on the way you scoop it.
Make Ahead and Storage Tips
- If you want to make ahead this recipe, you can bake the cake and freeze it tightly wrapped for up to 3 months. Just let it thaw at room temperature before frosting.
- To save leftover red velvet cake, refrigerate it (since it has cream cheese frosting) in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Freeze slices of cake for up to 3 months. To do so, place the slices of cake on a sheet pan and flash freeze for an hour. Once frozen, individually wrap the pieces of cake and place in a freezer safe container or bag. Defrost individual pieces of cake at room temperature to serve.
Typically, no. Red velvet cake is NOT gluten-free. However, I have created my recipe using a gluten-free flour blend to make it gluten-free!
While red velvet cake does have chocolate flavor, it is not the same as a chocolate cake. Red velvet has far less cocoa powder than a chocolate cake does. It also typically has vinegar and buttermilk in it. The acidity from the vinegar and buttermilk is what traditionally made the red velvet cake“red” as it reacted with the cocoa powder. However, we use some red food dye to amp up the red color in this recipe.
Red velvet cake is a very moist cake that has a subtle chocolate flavor and is slightly tart. It is typically topped with cream cheese frosting.
Typically, you would use cream cheese frosting for red velvet cake. I’ve added my classic cream cheese frosting to the recipe card. However, try my chocolate cream cheese frosting or brown butter cream cheese frosting for a fun twist. You could also use chocolate frosting or vanilla frosting if you prefer.
Yes, this recipe is easy to make dairy-free. Instead of buttermilk, use almond milk mixed with vinegar to make a dairy-free buttermilk substitute. Then, use your favorite dairy-free frosting to top the cake instead of the cream cheese frosting.
Did you make this recipe?
I’d love to know! Please rate it and leave a comment below. You can also share your pictures and tag @adashofmegnut on Instagram.
Gluten-Free Red Velvet Cake
Red Velvet Cake:
- 2 ½ cups gluten-free all purpose flour blend (350g, I used Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten-Free Flour Blend*)
- 1 tsp xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)
- 1/3 cup cornstarch (43g)
- ¼ cup cocoa powder (25g)
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 cups granulated sugar (400g)
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil (or melted butter if you prefer)
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- ½ to 1 oz liquid red food coloring (I used ½ oz only)
- 1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup almond milk mixed with 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar for dairy-free
- 1/2 cup hot coffee
Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 8 Tablespoons unsalted butter (softened to room temperature)
- 16 oz cream cheese (softened to room temperature)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 5 cups powdered sugar (650g)
To make the cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Line with parchment paper and grease two 8-inch round cake pans with butter and dust with cocoa powder or gluten-free flour. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, add the gluten-free flour blend, xanthan gum (if using), cornstarch, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk until all ingredients are combined.
- Add granulated sugar and vegetable oil to a separate large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer for a few minutes to combine.
- Add in the eggs, vanilla extract, apple cider vinegar, red food coloring and stir to combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Stir in the buttermilk and hot coffee.
- Gradually add the dry ingredients, mixing until no more streaks of flour remain. Scrape the sides and the bottom of the bowl to ensure all of the dry mixture is incorporated. Let sit for 2-3 minutes to allow the batter to slightly thicken.
- Divide the batter between the two prepared cake pans. I like to use a food scale to ensure that my layers have approximately the same amount of batter.
- Bake at 350F for 35 to 40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Let cool completely on a wire rack. Level cakes if necessary, reserving any excess crumbs.
To make the frosting:
- Add the butter and cream cheese to a large bowl. Cream together with an electric mixer until completely smooth.
- Mix in the vanilla extract and salt.
- Gradually add in the powdered sugar, a little at a time, and mix on low speed until incorporated. Add 4 to 5 cups in total, until your desired consistency is reached and the cream cheese frosting is thick and smooth.
- Place one layer of red velvet cake on a serving plate or platter. Add dollops of cream cheese frosting on top and smooth with a spatula.
- Place the other red velvet cake layer on top of the frosting.
- Then, do a thin layer (crumb coat) of frosting on the cake to trap in all of the crumbs. Refrigerate for 20 minutes to make it easier to frost. Then, go back and frost the cake with a thicker layer of frosting. Sprinkle with any leftover red velvet crumbs from leveling the cakes.