These vegan red velvet cheesecake cupcakes are moist & sweet with a dairy-free cheesecake filling and a luscious vegan buttercream frosting. These vegan cupcakes are a beautiful Valentine’s Day dessert. Or even the perfect Galentine’s Day or Christmas treat. Vibrant, festive, and easy to make, these are the best vegan red velvet cupcakes with a unique twist!
The cake of these red velvet cupcakes, is super moist, holds together wonderfully, and has just the right amount of sweetness! Below are the main ingredients that make up this rich cake batter.
The wet Ingredients
Vegan Butter: I recommend Earth Balance for this recipe. It performs very similarly to dairy butter and keeps this cake batter from drying out.
Unsweetened Dairy-free Yogurt: This ingredient is key to achieving a moist cake! Similarly to my recipe for Maple Coffee Cake, non-dairy yogurt does an amazing job at holding the crumb of the cake together
Ground Flaxseed: As a substitute for eggs, this recipe calls for 2 flax eggs. Flax eggs are very easy to make- all you need to do is mix ground flaxseed with water! I made these cupcakes without flax a few times, and they didn’t hold together nearly as well.
Dairy-free Buttermilk: Buttermilk is a classic ingredient in red velvet cake. This is for a few reasons, but the primary reason is that the acid in the buttermilk forms a chemical reaction with the baking soda and the cocoa powder. It helps the cupcakes rise and if you’re not using food coloring, it helps give the cake a subtle naturally red color. Vegan buttermilk is very easy to make- just mix almond milk with apple cider vinegar, let it sit for 10 minutes, and voila! Vegan buttermilk.
Apple Cider Vinegar: Vinegar is important because it creates a chemical reaction with the baking soda and cocoa powder. The acidity helps the cupcakes rise and give them the classic red velvet color.
Vanilla: Similarly to cocoa powder, vanilla adds a hint of flavor that when combined with all the other ingredients, creates the unique red velvet taste.
Red Food Coloring: To make a vibrant cupcake, this recipe uses food coloring. See the section below which talks more about vegan food coloring options!
the dry ingredients
Baking Soda: Baking soda reacts with the vegan buttermilk and vinegar to help the cupcakes rise.
Cocoa Powder: Red velvet cupcakes typically call for just a touch of cocoa powder to give them a subtle chocolate flavor.
Granulated White Sugar: This recipe uses just enough sugar in the cake batter to add a touch of sweetness to the cake. It’s perfectly balanced with the sweet, rich buttercream that will be on top of these cupcakes.
Flour: An essential ingredient to form the cake.
Cream of Tartar: This recipe uses cream of tartar to help maintain a vibrant red color even after baking. This ingredient is optional and whether you’d like to use it or not, depends on the type of food coloring you’re using.
The Cheesecake Filling
This isn’t your typical vegan red velvet cupcake…today we’re putting a vegan cheesecake filling inside! Of course, if you’d like to make normal red velvet cupcakes, you can omit the filling. To make the vegan cheesecake, you’ll need dairy-free cream cheese.
My preferred brand, and the one I used in this recipe, is by Go Veggie. I’m able to find this vegan cream cheese at my local grocery store, it’s reasonably priced, and it has a mild flavor that works wonderfully in sweet baking recipes like this one. If you’re not able to find Go Veggie, I also recommend Trader Joe’s vegan cream cheese or Tofutti.
Vegan Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting
Is a cupcake really a cupcake without frosting?? Because there’s cheesecake in the cupcake, I opted for a vanilla bean buttercream to go on top of this red velvet cupcake instead of the traditional cream cheese frosting.
This vegan vanilla bean buttercream frosting is very easy to make and only takes a few minutes to whip together. To make the frosting you’ll need 4 ingredients:
Vanilla Bean Paste, or extract
Some Tips & Tricks
Here are some tips and tricks to make the best vegan red velvet cheesecake cupcakes.
Vegan Red Food COloring
There are a lot of food colorings out there that may not be vegan friendly. Typically, food colorings that contain Red 40 are vegan friendly since it’s a chemical compound made in a lab. Below are some brands that are vegan friendly, plus the one I used in this recipe! If you’d like to use natural food coloring without chemicals, I’ve included a few links for those below as well.
Watkin’s Food Coloring: This is the food coloring I used in this recipe. It’s affordable, accessible, and made with fruit juices. To get good color payoff, however, you need to combine it with cream of tartar (which is in the recipe below).
Americolor: a gel food coloring that uses red 40 that’s affordable, accessible, and gives good color pay off. But it does use chemical dyes.
365 Brand Plant-Based Food Coloring: You can find this food coloring at Whole Foods. The red is made from red radish and the dye is labeled as plant-based. I haven’t tried this food coloring, but a few reviewers mention the red appears more purple than red.
Color Kitchen Food Coloring: These food colors are labeled as vegan which is awesome! They’re a bit on the pricey side, but they’re non-GMO and artificial dye-free if that’s important to you! Because these are natural dyes, it’s important to note the color pay off may not be as vibrant as the one I used in this recipe.
These cupcakes are so moist, fluffy, soft, and all-around have the perfect texture. To help you achieve this texture, it’s important to use room temperature ingredients. Before starting the recipe, pull your vegan butter, non-dairy yogurt, and almond milk out of the fridge and let them come to room temperature for about an hour. This helps the ingredients blend together evenly and creates a uniform batter.
The Best cheesecake filling
In this recipe, I chose to place the cheesecake filling at the top and in the center of the cake batter (see the images above). To do this, fill your cupcake liner a little over halfway full. Make a tiny well in the center of the batter, and spoon about 1 tablespoon of cheesecake filling onto the batter.
Because the cheesecake is denser than the cupcake, placing the cheesecake at the top, in the center felt the most balanced. However, if you’d like to add more cheesecake to the cupcakes, feel free! I also tried the following combinations:
- Fill the cupcake liner 1/4 way full, drop 1 tablespoon of cheesecake in the center, and then cover the liner with more cupcake batter until it’s 3/4 of the way full.
- Fill the cupcake liner just under 1/2 way full, then layer the entire top with cheesecake, so the liner is 3/4 of the way full.
- Place cheesecake in the center like mentioned in the first bullet, and on top of the batter after covering the center.
These amazingly moist vegan red velvet cheesecake cupcakes can be stored at room temperature for 1 to 2 days, then I’d recommend storing them in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 4 to 5 days.
If you’re looking for some more vegan desserts, check out these recipes!Easy Vegan Chocolate Lava Cake
Vegan Ube Cinnamon Rolls (Purple Sweet Potato)
Pomegranate Crumble Bars
- 6 oz vegan cream cheese (about 8 tbsp), preferred brand is Go Veggie
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 tsp lemon juice
- Pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup vegan butter, cubed, room temperature
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup non-dairy yogurt, unsweetened vanilla-flavored, room temperature
- 2 flax eggs, 2 tbsp ground flaxseed mixed with 4 tbsp water
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ cup +2 tbsp non-dairy buttermilk, mix 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp almond milk with 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- ½ tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- 3/4 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tsp cream of tartar, optional (see notes)
- 4 heaping tsp vegan red food coloring
Vanilla Bean Buttercream
To Make the Cheesecake Filling
- Mix the cream cheese and sugar together. Add the vanilla, lemon juice, and salt. Add the flour and cornstarch and mix until smooth.
- Place in freezer to firm up while making the cake batter. Do not leave in the freezer for more than 20 minutes.
To Make the Cake Batter
- Cream the room temp. vegan butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the room temp. non-dairy yogurt, flax eggs, & vanilla.
- Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, & cream of tartar (if using).
- Make well in the center. Pour the vegan butter mixture into the center. Add the vegan buttermilk, the extra apple cider vinegar, and the food coloring.
- Stir until just combined.
Baking the Cupcakes
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Line your cupcake pan with paper liners. Fill the bottom of the liners with about 2 tbsp of cupcake batter (or the liner should be just over 1/2 way full).
- Form a small well in the center and spoon 1 tbsp of the cheesecake mixture into the center. Make sure there is batter surrounding the edges of the cheesecake mixture. The cupcake liner should be about 3/4 of the way full. Do not overfill the liners.
- Bake for 20 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting.
To Make the Frosting
- Cream the vegan butter with a hand mixer or stand mixer for 2-3 minutes until fluffy. Add the vanilla bean paste and 1 tbsp of the coconut cream.
- Add the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time. Mix on medium-high speed the frosting until it is light and fluffy and all of the sugar has been added about 5 minutes. If the frosting appears too stiff, add in the 2nd tablespoon of coconut cream. The frosting should be stiff enough to hold it's shape, but still fluffy and creamy.
Let the vegan buttermilk sit for 10 mins room temperature to curdle slightly.
This recipe calls for cream of tartar because it helps the food coloring I used in this recipe stay vibrant even after baking. Check the specific instructions on your food coloring.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 20 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 425Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gSodium: 287mgCarbohydrates: 82gFiber: 1gProtein: 6g
Nutritional info is an estimate.
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