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Gluten Free Red Velvet Cake Recipe

This is an easy gluten free red velvet cake recipe from scratch. It makes a stunning 3-layer cake that’s surprising simple to make and is frosted with cream cheese frosting.

A gluten free Red Velvet Cake on a white marble cake stand with a wood base. The cake is decorated with cream cheese frosting and red velvet cake crumbs.

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Red Velvet Cake is an iconic cake that’s been on my to-make list for far too long. I finally started testing it in December for my mom’s birthday and it was a huge hit.

I haven’t had a ton of red velvet cakes or red velvet cupcakes but I’ve had enough to know that this is easily the best red velvet cake recipe I’ve had. It’s moist with a tender/velvety crumb. It’s just really, really good.

Not only is the cake great but it’s and easy red velvet cake recipe to follow. You don’t need a stand mixer or a hand mixer; you can just mix this up by hand.


What is Red Velvet Cake?

Red Velvet Cake is not really a vanilla cake because it does have a little bit of cocoa powder in the batter but is red velvet cake chocolate?

Definitely not, there just isn’t enough chocolate to call it a chocolate dessert – there isn’t even enough to be able to taste it. But it also doesn’t taste like a plain vanilla cake because of the slight tang from the buttermilk and vinegar. 

So what flavor is red velvet cake? The best way to describe the flavor of red velvet cake is a buttermilk cake (that’s been dyed red).

Did you make this recipe? Leave a star rating and let me know in the comments! You can also leave a photo/comment on this pin for others to see.


What’s the best Red Velvet Cake frosting?

Personally, I like red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting. When you buy red velvet cake or cupcakes from the store or a bakery, they’re almost always paired with cream cheese frosting. It’s pretty much the standard these days.

However, the most traditional way to serve red velvet cake is with Ermine Frosting. Ermine frosting is also often called Ermine Icing, Heritage Frosting, Boiled Milk Frosting, or Flour Frosting. Since Ermine frosting is made with flour, it’s not gluten free. I might have to experiment with making a gluten free Ermine Frosting!

Gluten Free Red Velvet Cake on a white cake stand frosted with cream cheese frosting and decorated with red velvet cake crumbs

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Key Ingredients for Homemade Red Velvet Cake

  • Red Food Coloring – I use AmeriColor Gel Food Coloring in Red Red which is what you see pictured here. AmeriColor Super Red is also a great choice – it produces a cake with a slightly deeper, less vibrant shade of red. 
  • Natural Unsweetened Cocoa Powder – I use Natural Unsweetened Cocoa Powder in this recipe, not dark or Dutch Processed. It gives the cake a very subtle hint of cocoa without making it the main flavor. You can use regular Hershey’s Cocoa Powder or my favorite – Organic Cocoa from Saco Conscious Kitchen which can be found on Amazon and at Walmart in the baking aisle. This isn’t sponsored, I just really like their cocoa and it’s my go-to when I’m not using Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder.
  • Buttermilk – I love baking with buttermilk. It gives baked goods such a great tender crumb and it’s perfect in cakes and cupcakes. I’ve included a dairy-free sub in the recipe notes.
  • Vinegar – a little vinegar is added to the cake batter. See above for a more in-depth explanation!
  • Hot Water – gluten free cakes have a tendency to be dry with a tight crumb. Adding hot water to the batter at the end makes the cake more moist and it blooms the small amount of cocoa powder.
  • Gluten Free Flour – I use my Nightshade Free Gluten Free Flour Blend in this recipe, it’s excellent in cakes. If you use a 1:1 gluten free flour blend that contains xanthan gum, omit the xanthan gum called for in the recipe.

Why is vinegar in Red Velvet Cake?

Originally, vinegar was added to Red Velvet Cake because it reacts with the baking soda and cocoa to help bring out a natural red hue. Now, the acidity helps give the cake a tender crumb. It also acts as the acid (in addition to the buttermilk) to react with the baking soda to help the cake rise.

This cake doesn’t contain any baking powder so it relies completely on the acid and baking soda reaction.  

A simple, traditional gluten free Red Velvet Cake is perfect for any occasion. It’s a moist 3-layer cake with cream cheese frosting. A surprisingly easy gluten free cake recipe that you’d never know was gluten free. This cake is great for holiday desserts or birthday cakes. Red Velvet Cake recipe from @whattheforkblog - visit whattheforkfoodblog.com for more gluten free desserts. #glutenfree #redvelvetcake #redvelvet #cake #glutenfreecake #glutenfreedesserts #glutenfreebaking #cakerecipes


Can I make a dairy free Red Velvet Cake?

Yes! The only dairy in this cake to replace is the buttermilk. To make this cake dairy free, use 1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk beverage + 1 tablespoon vinegar in place of the buttermilk. 

Typically, you’d use 1 tablespoon vinegar per cup of milk and since this recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups, you’d use 1 tablespoon vinegar plus 1 1/2 teaspoons. However, there’s already a tablespoon of vinegar added to the wet ingredients which is typical of Red Velvet Cake recipes. You don’t want to have too strong of a vinegar flavor here because you’ll end up with a sour cake vs. a little tang that’s traditional in red velvet cake.


Why do you add water to the cake batter?

There’s two reasons why I add water to this cake. It provides moisture and it blooms the cocoa powder. It’s similar to my gluten free chocolate cake but in that recipe I use coffee.

I also added hot water to my gluten free gingerbread cake recipe which is why I thought to use it here. It makes the cake nice and moist without making it dense and heavy.


Equipment Needed to Bake Red Velvet Cake from Scratch

  • 8-inch Round Cake Pans – this cake makes a gorgeous 3-layer cake with 8-Inch Cake Pans. You could also make this in 2 9-Inch Cake Pans but you’ll have to increase the baking time a bit.
  • Parchment Paper – I always line the bottoms of my cake pans with parchment paper. It’s 100% insurance that your cakes will not stick to the bottom of the pans.

Gluten Free Red Velvet Cake sliced


How to Make Red Velvet Cake

Step 1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray 3 8-inch round cake pans with non-stick spray and line the bottoms with parchment paper.

Step 2. In a large bowl, whisk together the gluten free flour, xanthan gum, granulated sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Try to press out as many cocoa powder lumps as possible then set the bowl aside.

Step 3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, oil, vanilla extract, and the food coloring then whisk in the vinegar.

Step 4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Add the hot water and mix until the water is completely incorporated into the batter.

Step 5. Transfer the batter to the prepared pans dividing it evenly between the 3 pans.

Step 6. Bake at 350 degrees on the center rack for 28-32 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. I place all 3 of the pans on the center rack and mine take exactly 30 minutes to bake. When done, the center of the cake will spring back when gently pressed and the cake will start to pull away from the sides of the pan.

Step 7. Cool the cakes in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Then remove the cakes from the pans, discard the parchment paper, and cool completely on a wire rack.

Step 8. Once the cakes are cooled, frost with cream cheese frosting or wrap tightly in plastic wrap and freeze on a sheet pan until ready to use.

Slices of Gluten Free Red Velvet Cake on small white plates


Tips for Making this Gluten Free Cake Recipe

  • Follow the recipe exactly or with the notes for subs I’ve included in the recipe notes. If you make any subs in terms of the amount of dry ingredients, sugar-free subs, oil substitutions, egg-free substitutions, using different amounts of the liquid ingredients, or a natural food coloring sub, I cannot guarantee the results. For the best red velvet cake, follow the recipe to a T.
  • Give the cake a crumb coat before covering completely in frosting. That way, you’ll be sure you don’t get any flecks of red cake crumbs mixed into the frosting.
  • Use room temperature ingredients. The cake won’t rise as well if the ingredients are cold and the texture won’t be as light and fluffy.
  • Use Baking Soda and not baking powder. Always double check before adding!
  • Level the tops of your cakes with a serrated knife. Leveling the top will provide a nice, flat top for stacking and frosting. Save the tops of the cake that you’ve cut and turn it into crumbs for decorating the tops and side of the frosted cake.

Other Gluten Free Cake Recipes To Try

A slice of Gluten Free Red Velvet Cake on a small white plate with a bite taken out


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A gluten free Red Velvet Cake on a white marble cake stand with a wood base. The cake is decorated with cream cheese frosting and red velvet cake crumbs.

Gluten Free Red Velvet Cake Recipe

Yield: Serves 16
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

This is an easy gluten free red velvet cake recipe from scratch. It makes a stunning 3-layer cake that's surprising simple to make and is frosted with cream cheese frosting.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups gluten free flour blend (see notes)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons (5 g) xanthan gum (omit if your flour blend contains it)
  • 1 1/2 cups (325 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (10 g) natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, room temperature (see notes for dairy free)
  • 2/3 cup avocado oil (or neutral oil of choice)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon red gel food coloring (see notes)
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 1/2 batches cream cheese frosting

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 3 8-inch round cake pans with non-stick spray and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the gluten free flour, xanthan gum, granulated sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Try to press out as many cocoa powder lumps as possible then set the bowl aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, oil, vanilla extract, and the food coloring then whisk in the vinegar.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Add the hot water and mix until the water is completely incorporated into the batter.
  5. Transfer the batter to the prepared pans dividing it evenly between the 3 pans.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees on the center rack for 28-32 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. I place all 3 of the pans on the center rack and mine take exactly 30 minutes to bake. When done, the center of the cake will spring back when gently pressed and the cake will start to pull away from the sides of the pan.
  7. Cool the cakes in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Then remove the cakes from the pans, discard the parchment paper, and cool completely on a wire rack.
  8. Once the cakes are cooled, level off the top with a serrated knife and then frost with cream cheese frosting or wrap tightly in plastic wrap and freeze on a sheet pan until ready to use.

Notes

  1. I used my Nightshade Free Gluten Free Flour Blend in this recipe. 3 cups of my blend weighs 420g.
  2. To make this cake dairy free, use 1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk beverage + 1 tablespoon white vinegar in place of the buttermilk. For dairy free cream cheese frosting, follow the diary free notes in the cream cheese frosting recipe.
  3. I used AmeriColor Red Red. I've also made this with AmeriColor Super Red which was a deeper shade of red.
  4. To frost the cake as pictured, I made a double batch of cream cheese frosting and had about a cup leftover. I decorated the cake with red velvet cake crumbs from leveling off the tops of the cakes before frosting.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 198

Nutrition Facts are estimated and aren't always accurate. Please consult a doctor or nutritionist if you have special dietary needs. Calories based on 16 servings and does not include frosting.

Did you make this recipe? Leave a star rating and let me know in the comments! You can also leave a photo/comment on this pin for others to see.

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Joni Weeks

Monday 26th of July 2021

Can you substitute guar gum for the xanthum gum in this recipe?

Thea

Friday 23rd of July 2021

Am i omitting the vinegar if im using a dairy free buttermilk with vinegar. Help!

Thea

Friday 23rd of July 2021

Tried a GF recipe last night, baked till midnight. This morning.. tried the cake. Its dry and tough.

Saw this recipe and the reviews. Wish me luck everyone. Its for my best friends birthday party in t minus 24hours.

If i were to use 9x13 pan, i might be able to divide the batter evenly, however, recommended bake time??

20 minutes? 25min?

Gigi

Monday 21st of June 2021

Hi. I made this last night and it was dense, didn’t feel baked even thought it was and was very chewy / gummy texture. I followed the instructions fully ! I don’t understand what happened :(

Shay

Tuesday 22nd of June 2021

Hi Gigi, it sounds like you maybe used a flour blend that already contains xanthan gum and then added the amount called for in the recipe. You may have also inadvertently over-measured your flour. Here's my tip on how to measure flour correctly: https://what-the-fork-food-blog.ck.page/d90b8360fe

Patty

Wednesday 5th of May 2021

I used avocado oil and found it left a terrible aftertaste. Threw that batch out and made agin with vegetable oil. MUCH better. Great recipe. Used cup4cup flour and it really turned out well

Shay

Friday 7th of May 2021

Hi Patty! It sounds like your oil may have been off! Glad you enjoyed it with the vegetable oil!

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