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Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes + Bourbon Vanilla Buttercream

December 13, 2020
Shanika | Orchids + Sweet Tea
No better way to enjoy the holiday season than with these delicious Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes + Bourbon Vanilla Buttercream!

Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes + Bourbon Vanilla Buttercream

These Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes + Bourbon Vanilla Buttercream are the perfect way to indulge your sweet tooth this season without the dairy or eggs! They are filled with decadent, rich flavor and comes completely fluffy, moist, and incredibly soft. Whipped together in the matter of a few short minutes, these cupcakes are an easy sweet treat for the entire family (once the bourbon is omitted that is)! All vegan ingredients. Gluten-free + make ahead options.

Three Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes with Bourbon Vanilla Buttercream on a small, wooden plate.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links via Amazon for products that I wholeheartedly love.

Why Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes + Bourbon Vanilla Buttercream?

OK, so when it comes to Red Velvet Cupcakes, you're aware that this classic recipe is something truly special, especially around the Holiday season. There's nothing like a delicious piece of Red Velvet ANYTHING which often comes paired with a beautiful Cream Cheese topping----am I right?

Well, the awesome thing about this recipe is that although it doesn't use the traditional Cream Cheese topping, this Bourbon Vanilla Buttercream doesn't miss a beat at all when it comes to satisfying those taste buds. This buttercream is totally creamy, fluffy, and has a nice "rich bourbon-vanilla" taste. Of course, you can always omit the bourbon to create a traditional Vanilla buttercream for the kids to enjoy along with you! It'll still taste just as satisfying.

Over the past year or so, I've really made it a mission to perfect vegan cupcakes and cakes. If I'm honest, those were the two type of desserts that I struggled with when starting this recipe development journey, however, I have learned a TON a long the way and wanted to include a few tips that might be of great help to you as well!

4 Fun Facts About Red Velvet

Did you know that there were interesting facts about Red Velvet? Yup and of course I had to share my finding from Food and Wine:

  • Red Velvet Cakes dates back to as far as the 19th Century!
  • It wasn't originally accepted!
  • The "Red Color" idea came from a Guy who wanted to sell more food dyes.
  • A study shows that Red Velvet is a part of 4.3% of all items on menus in 2013. That's A LOT!

Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes Ingredients

  • Organic Cane Sugar – A great sweetener option using all organic ingredients
  • Organic Powered Sugar – The base of your buttercream
  • Cake Flour – Creates a nice airy, fluffiness to cupcakes, BUT all-purpose flour can be substituted
  • Almond Milk – Makes things nice + soft; Sub with your fave plant-based milk
  • Cocoa Powder – The epitome of Rich chocolate flavor
  • Vanilla – A great addition of flavor and marries everything together
  • Bourbon – A nice note of vanilla, oat, and caramel flavor
  • ACV — Mixed in with the milk to act as an acid agent ('buttermilk') for the leaveners to activate
  • Baking Powder — Very important leavener for your cupcakes. You can sub baking powder with arrowroot 
  • Vegan Butter — Creates a beautiful fluffy, velvety buttercream 
  • Canola oil – The best sub for this oil is melted vegan butter or coconut oil. Can also be subbed with vegetable oil
  • Red Food Coloring – The color agent that adds the beautiful redness to Red Velvet. Vegan-friendly

Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes with Bourbon Vanilla Buttercream on a white dish.

What You’ll Love Most About These Red Velvet Cupcakes.

Very easy to whip together. Literally one-bowl needed for cupcakes.

Ready in less than 30 minutes TOTAL—-including prep.

Warm and comforting with EVERY SINGLE BITE.

Super moist + fluffy on purpose.

Loaded with decadence and delicious Holiday flavors.

All dairy-free, vegan, + gluten-free option.

Makes for the perfect sweet treat for adults + kids alike (minus the Bourbon).

Did I mention—–just delicious?

Vegan Red Velvet Cupcake with Bourbon Vanilla Buttercream with the muffin liner partially-removed.

5 TIPS FOR MAKING THE PERFECT CUPCAKES.

#1: YES, THE KIND OF FLOUR MATTERS!

To come out with a soft, moist cupcake, I’ve noticed that mixing All-Purpose Flour + Cake Flour, really does justice!

#2: DON’T OVER FILL!

Yes! This has been my trial and error moment when it comes to baking! I tend to fill my batter with most recipes to the brim, but I’ve recently gotten into the habit of pacing myself!

Over-filling makes a huge mess later and doesn’t allow your baked goods to come put perfectly, especially with cupcakes. So, filling it ¾ths of the way is key!

#3: ALWAYS KEEP THINGS FRESH!

I know that this is a common mistake, especially for those of us who aren’t daily bakers. Ensure that your ingredients (flours, etc.) are fresh and haven’t been sitting there for months improperly sealed, etc.

Also, ensure that your leaveners (baking power + baking soda) are fresh. This is super important and often is the culprit in flatter baked goods.

Muffin liner being removed from a Vegan Red Velvet Cupcake with Bourbon Vanilla Buttercream.

#4: DOUBLE PROTECTION IS BETTER THAN ONE!

While using cupcake liners are a huge lifesaver when making it easier to remove your cupcakes after they are ready, ensuring that you not only use high quality liners, but that you also lightly spray the inside of your liners with a cooking spray HELPS A TON! Don’t you just hate when your cupcake inevitably gets stuck on one of those cupcake liners?

#5: WHEN IN DOUBT, THROW THEM OUT. Haha.

Last but not least, always ensure that your batter is JUST RIGHT. With cupcakes, your batter should be slightly thick and not extremely watery. This allows them to come out fluffy and not too wet. Therefore, always slowly add in the wet ingredients (while mixing) to ensure that your batter isn’t too crazy liquid-y to the point that it looks like your scooping up milk. When it doubt, throw it out and start again. Trust me, it’s best that way!

Believe me, after making small adjustments (like the ones mentioned in my tips above), I began perfecting cupcakes, which has been the best feeling in the world! Haha.

White dish of Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes with Bourbon Vanilla Buttercream.

Can I Make These Red Velvet Cupcakes Red Without Coloring?

Absolutely! Achieving the red color requires some form of 'dyeing' your batter. In this recipe, I chose to use a Vegan approved food coloring to make things easier, however, there are other great ways to achieve the same color without any extra chemicals:

  • Use beet puree (there are plenty of recipes on making your own beet puree to add in!)

When it comes to making a beet puree, you simply roast them and place them in a food processor like you would any other type of puree (sweet potato, pumpkin, etc.).

The awesome part is that by using pureed beets, you can come out with a naturally, perfect red color for any red velvet recipe that you chose!

COMMON FAQs ABOUT THESE RED VELVET CUPCAKES.

HOW LONG WILL THESE CUPCAKES LAST FOR?

When tightly wrapped + refrigerated, these cupcakes can be stored for 3-4 days. However, you can freeze them for up to 6 months (unfrosted) and then thawed, heated, and then cooled before adding buttercream.

CAN THESE CUPCAKES BE MADE AHEAD?

Absolutely! You can always bake these cupcakes the night or day before and let them cool, tightly wrap, and refrigerate until ready to use. The buttercream frosting can also be made prior and tightly wrapped and stored in the fridge as well. When ready to serve, let cupcakes sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour, frost, and enjoy!

DO I NEED CAKE FLOUR?

In all honesty, I tend to use Cake Flour by itself when I decide not to mix it in with All-Purpose Flour. Using Cake Flour alone makes your cake/cupcakes even more soft, fluffy, and moist! Of course, you can always use All-Purpose Flour solely if you don’t have Cake Flour.

WHY ARE THE INGREDIENTS AT ROOM TEMPERATURE?

When it comes to ingredients, especially in baking, it’s always best to have cold ingredients at room temperature to ensure that the mixing process is more seamless and even. Please note that microwaving your butter last minute if you forget to leave it out at room temperature isn’t recommended. Microwaving often changes the consistency of the butter which doesn’t create a nice ‘creaminess’ when mixed.

CAN TURN THESE CUPCAKES INTO A SINGLE OR 2-LAYER CAKE?

Absolutely! You can always use the same measurements of the ingredients to create a nice single layer cake OR double the ingredients for a beautiful 2-layer. The bake times will vary slightly (only a few minute longer), but the transition is pretty easy + simple.

WHAT MAKES RED VELVET DIFFERENT FROM CHOCOLATE?

Although both Red Velvet + Chocolate Cake contain cocoa powder, there is a distinct difference. Unlike Chocolate Cake, Red Velvet contains a combination of vinegar and 'buttermilk', which is super important for the texture and taste. In addition, Red Velvet is a lot more rich and fine in taste as opposed to Chocolate.

WHAT FROSTING FLAVOR GOES WELL WITH RED VELVET?

As mentioned earlier in the post, Red Velvet often comes paired with a Cream Cheese Frosting. However, there are so many other pairings that work perfectly with Red Velvet, such as: Classic Vanilla, Bourbon Vanilla (as this recipe), Chai, White Chocolate, and Cookie + Cream. 

NEED CUPCAKE IDEAS? TRY THESE RECIPES.

MADE OUR RECIPE?

If you make these Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes + Bourbon Vanilla Buttercream, be sure to Tag @orchidsnsweettea_ on Instagram and hashtag it #orchidsandsweettea!

Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes with Bourbon Vanilla Buttercream on a table.

Muffin liner being removed from a Vegan Red Velvet Cupcake with Bourbon Vanilla Buttercream.

Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes + Bourbon Vanilla Buttercream

December 13, 2020
5 from 13 votes
No better way to enjoy the holiday season than with these delicious Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes + Bourbon Vanilla Buttercream!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 18 minutes
Total Time: 28 minutes
Serves: 12 Cupcakes

Ingredients

CUPCAKES:

  • 1 ½ cups organic all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup organic cocoa powder  (You can also use Cacao powder as well!)
  • 1 ½ tsps baking powder
  • ¾ cup organic cane sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup organic canola oil (See Notes!)
  • 1 cup Dairy-free "buttermilk" (See Notes!)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5-6 drops organic red food coloring, vegan-approved (See Notes!; the more drops, the bolder in color the cupcakes look)

BOURBON VANILLA BUTTERCREAM:

  • 5 cups organic powdered sugar, sifted
  • ½ cup vegan butter, softened at room temp.
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2-3 Tbsps bourbon (I like Jim Bean; optional---you can omit the bourbon if desired!)
  • 1-2 Tbsps Almond milk (You can use your fave plant-based milk)
  • Pinch of sea salt

Instructions

TO MAKE THE CUPCAKES:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and prep the 12-cavity cupcake pan with liners + spray.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, sugar, cinnamon, and sea salt. Set aside.
  • Add the "buttermilk", oil, red food coloring, and vanilla to the dry ingredients and using a hand-mixer on medium-speed, mix everything until combined (and smooth) and no lumps are visible. NOTE: DO NOT OVER-MIX!
  • Scoop the batter into each cupcake cavity ( about ¾ full) and bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for the FIRST 5 minutes. Then reduce temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and continue baking for another 11-13 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean in the center.
  • Once done, turn the oven off and keep cupcakes inside with the oven door slightly open for about 2 minutes before taking them out. NOTE: This keeps the cupcakes from "deflating" from the sudden change in temp.
  • Let them cool COMPLETELY before frosting.

TO MAKE THE BUTTERCREAM:

  • Simply beat the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer (or using a hand-mixer) on medium-high speed, until smooth and pale. Add in the powdered sugar, vanilla, bourbon, and milk, continuing to mix on medium-speed until you reach the desired consistency----smooth and fluffy. NOTE: Add more milk (1 tablespoon at a time if too thick) or powdered sugar (for more thickness).
  • Add buttercream to a piping bag and pipe onto cooled cupcakes. Repeat until all cupcakes are frosted.
  • Bon Appetit!

Tips & Tricks

  • STORAGE: Best kept if stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 7 days (unfrosted) and 3-4 days when frosted. Also, can be frozen for up to 6 months when unfrosted and thawed.
  • RED COLOR: If you chose to opt out of red food coloring, you can always naturally dye your cupcakes by using pureed beets. For this, you would need 1 cup of pureed beets; In addition, ensure that you only use ½ cup of Almond milk + ½ teaspoon of Apple Cider Vinegar when using this option instead of recipe measurements.
  • MAKE AHEAD: You can always bake these cupcakes the night or day before and let them cool, tightly wrap, and refrigerate until ready to use. The buttercream frosting can also be made prior and tightly wrapped and stored in the fridge as well. When ready to serve, let cupcakes sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour, frost, and enjoy!
  • OIL: If you want to substitute the canola oil, you can always use melted vegan butter,  vegetable or coconut oil.
  • GLUTEN-FREE VERSION: To make these cupcakes GF, I recommend using a GF Flour Blend (Bob’s Red Mills has a great version!). **NOTE: If the cupcake mixture is too ‘thin + runny’, simply add additional GF flour, ¼ cup at a time.**
  • EQUIPMENT: Here, I’ve curated a list of cooking + baking essentials that I use to achieve my favorite baked goods or cooked meals, especially with these Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes. Everything from my fave cupcake pans, mixing bowls, hand-mixers, wooden spoons, and more. SEE THEM HERE!

Nutrition

Calories: 228kcal | Carbohydrates: 79g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 2mg | Sodium: 183mg | Potassium: 78mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 33IU | Calcium: 59mg | Iron: 1mg

DID YOU MAKE THIS recipe?

Tag @orchidsnsweettea_ on Instagram and hashtag it #orchidsandsweettea

 

ORCHIDS + SWEET TEA

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  1. Love the details in this recipe! You are so thoughtful in your explanations and really make it easy for people to succeed. Thank you - these look super cute 🙂

  2. Every time I see your recipes I am one step closer to becoming vegan myself. Although I still have a long way to go but I must say you are a wonderful cook!

  3. wow these are so gourmet looking right out of a beautiful magazine very stunning and I am sure they taste as great as these look

  4. These are definitely my idea of cupcake heaven! They were so yummy that it was really hard to want to share.

  5. These cupcakes look amazing. I never would've thought of using the beet puree for coloring. So healthy too!

  6. Yassss it's vegan! I eat plant-based, so I am super stoked to find your vegan recipe for red velvet cupcakes. I am not much of a baker, but I think I'll learn for this recipe. 😉