Beet Red Velvet Cupcakes

GF DF Beet Red Velvet Cupcakes
This has been a crazy week.  Thursday was my son’s birthday and today was his party.  Since his second birthday I have been making him cupcakes or a cake for his birthday.   His favorite color is red and he usually requests something with red for his birthday treat.  Last year I attempted to make red icing…. you wouldn’t believe how much red food gel I used and it still only came out a magenta like color.  It made him happy, but made me worried… it was too much food gel, it couldn’t be healthy.  Since then, I have come to learn that I was right.  This article and this article discuss briefly the link between food dyes and ADHD.  We made a lot of changes since then and searching for right cake was even more important to me this year.

I knew my kiddo was going to want something red again, so I started my research early.  Last year I tried an awesome vegan beet red velvet cupcake some friends got from a bakery, and I thought maybe I could find a recipe close enough to make myself.  The first recipe I tried did not come out very “red” and tasted too much like beets to me.  I called it a fail, even though my husband liked it.  So I did more research, and discovered a few things.  In order to bake a nice red cupcake or cake with beets, the beets need to maintain an acidic pH.  Otherwise this will lead to a brownish color.  So baking soda should be avoided.  (The first cake fail recipe called for baking soda…  makes sense now!)  You also want to avoid the Dutch Process cocoa witch is processed with alkali.  Natural or raw cocoa powder is best.

With all of the knowledge I needed, I found another recipe and it was so yummy!  But since I used gluten free flour at first, they seemed to sink just a bit, so I had to add a couple things to help with the rise a little. (I prefer not to use xanthan gum)  Here’s what I came up with…


  • 3/4 cup freshly puréed organic beets, about 3 medium beets (see directions below)
  • 1/3 cup organic coconut oil
  • 1 cup organic cane sugar
  • 1  1/2 tsp organic vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp organic Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1  1/4 cup Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Flour
  • 1 tbsp organic ground flaxseed
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1  1/2 tbsp organic cocoa powder (NOT Dutch Processed)
  • 1  1/2 tsp aluminum free, gluten free baking powder
  • 1 cup original unsweetened Almond milk

Buttercream Frosting Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup organic coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup soy free earth balance, soft
  • 1/4 cup from refrigerated can of organic unsweetened coconut milk (we want the cream to settle to the top and thicken)
  • 1 tbsp organic vanilla extract
  • 3 cups organic powdered sugar

Beet Purée:

1. Preheat oven to 400 F.  Wash beets, and cut off any attached leaves at the base.  Place in a roasting dish with an inch of filtered water.  Place a piece of parchment paper on top, then cover with aluminum foil and seal tight.

2. Roast beets at for 90 minutes or until they are very tender.  If they need more time, go for it.

3.  Once they are tender enough, allow them to cool completely.  Peel and cut into chunks.  ( I wear dish gloves for this to prevent hand stains)
GF DF Beet Red Velvet Cupcakes

4. Purée beets in a food processor until they are as smooth as possible.  Be sure to scrape the sides often. (Don’t worry, these pictures show a double batch of beets)
GF DF Beet Red Velvet Cupcakes

Cupcake/ Cake Recipe:

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line your cupcake sheets with muffin tins/ or your cake pans with a layer of parchment paper at the bottom of the pan.  Be sure to lightly grease your cake pan as well.

2. In a medium bowl sift together flour, ground flaxseed, salt, cocoa powder, and baking powder.
GF DF Beet Red Velvet Cupcakes

3. Mix beet purée and coconut oil until well incorporated.  Add sugar and vanilla extract and mix.  Be sure to scrape the sides and give the bottom a good stir.  Add the apple cider and mix.
GF DF Beet Red Velvet Cupcakes

4. When baking cakes, I use Wilton’s Bake Even Cake Strips.  You can get them at any craft store that sells Wilton’s supplies.  They help the cake bake with a nice even rise.  Follow the directions for soaking and placing them on the outside of your pans.  (If you are making cupcakes, disregard this step)
Baking strips

5. Alternate adding the flour mixture and almond milk until completely incorporated in the batter.  Be sure to scrape the sides and the bottom of the bowl occasionally.
GF DF Beet Red Velvet Cupcakes

6. Divide among cupcake liners, filling them about 3/4 full.  If making a cake, pour all of the batter into one greased pan.

7. Bake cupcakes for 20-25 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.  If making the cake, bake for 30-35 minutes.  Let cool for 15 mins and then remove from tins and place on a cooling rack.
GF DF Beet Red Velvet Cake

Buttercream Frosting:

1. Using the paddle attachment on your mixer first, add earth balance and coconut oil and mix.  Scoop 1/4 cup of the top thick layer from the cold can of coconut milk and add it and mix.
Buttercream Frosting  Buttercream Frosting

2.  Add vanilla extract and mix in powdered sugar 1 cup at a time.  Once all of the ingredients are combined, switch to the whisk attachment and whisk until nice and fluffy.
Buttercream Frosting  Buttercream Frosting

3.  Once cupcakes have been completely cooled, pipe onto cupcakes as desired.  The color from the cake or cupcakes may bleed into frosting, so don’t frost more than 24 hours in advance.
GF DF Beet Red Velvet Cupcakes

One batch made about 17 cupcakes or about a 1″ thick 9″ round cake.

Look at that happy kid!

These cupcakes were so good, I’m telling you that you won’t be able to taste the beets!  I made these for my son’s class and got many compliments the next day from the teachers who had the extras.  They all asked for the recipe!  The best part…. not only is the beet a better alternative to food dyes, but you are also giving your kiddos some healthy vitamins and minerals in their treats!  That’s a win win in my book 🙂


3 thoughts on “Beet Red Velvet Cupcakes

  1. I’m so glad that these turned out for you! I’ve only ever baked them in mini-cupcake form and I was afraid of what they’d look like baked in regular size or even a cake. Looks like the colour is still very vibrant =) Thank you for linking back and sharing the GF version of your recipe! I’ll be sure to direct any of my GF readers to you when they ask for a GF alternative ^__^

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