How to Make Gluten-Free Red Velvet Cake

A gorgeous red velvet cake can be made without a speck of gluten. The decadent cream cheese frosting ties the layers together in this delicious gluten-free red velvet cake.

Red velvet recipes often make showstopping desserts. And is any cake more distinctive than red velvet cake? Bright red and capped with red-freckled domes of white frosting, the cake is a true beauty. Not to mention its decadent flavor: slightly tangy, a little bit chocolaty and super rich.

If you’ve missed red velvet recipes since going gluten-free, it’s time for a reunion. Our gluten-free red velvet cake is every bit as light and delicious as the original. It’s sure to become a favorite gluten-free baking recipe.

Gluten-Free Red Velvet Cake Recipe

This gorgeous cake serves 16 people. Big thanks to Courtney Stultz, a Community Cook from Weir, Kansas, for sharing her recipe with us.

Ingredients

  • 4 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups 2% milk
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons red food coloring
  • 2-3/4 cups gluten-free all-purpose baking flour
  • 2 tablespoons baking cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Frosting:

  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar

Directions

Step 1: Whisk wet ingredients

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First, prep your baking equipment. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease two 8-in. round baking pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper, and then grease the parchment paper. (Here’s our no-fail way to grease a cake pan.)

In a large bowl, whisk the wet ingredients together with the sugar. That’s the eggs, milk, oil, vinegar, vanilla and food coloring.

Editor’s Tip: Don’t love food coloring? Start with the smallest amount called for, and see how you like the color. You can always add more, up to 2 teaspoons.

Step 2: Mix dry ingredients

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In another bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda. Mix until the color is uniform, ensuring that the ingredients are well blended.

Step 3: Stir together

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Gradually stir the dry ingredients into the egg mixture. To be thorough, pour one third of the flour into the egg mixture and stir until combined, then repeat twice until all the flour mix is incorporated. The final cake batter should be light and dappled with air bubbles. That’s a sign that the vinegar is reacting with the baking soda. Time to get the cake in the oven quickly, so you can capture all those air bubbles into a light, fizzy cake.

Step 4: Pour into pans

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Gently pour into the prepared cake pans. Don’t shake or tap the pans.

Step 5: Bake

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Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the pan comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes. Ideally, they should both fit on the middle rack. If they can’t fit together, switch the cakes halfway through to ensure even baking.

Cool in pans for 10 minutes before removing from pans and placing on wire racks to cool completely.

Step 6: Start the frosting

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For the frosting, beat the softened cream cheese and butter until combined.

Step 7: Add flavors

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Beat in the vanilla extract and salt.

Step 8: Add sugar

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Gradually, tip confectioners’ sugar into the bowl and beat. Adding too much confectioners’ sugar at once might leave you with a big cloud of sugar over the mixing bowl. Beat until the frosting is smooth and airy.

Step 9: Frost the cake

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When the cake is completely cool, it’s time to frost. Spread frosting thickly over the top of one cake, and gently set the other cake on top. From here, you have several options. You could do a classic frosted cake, slathering the sides and top with a thick layer of frosting. We opted for a fancier finish, piping the frosting onto the top of the cake and leaving the sides bare to show off the layers. If desired, garnish the top or sides of the cake with cake crumbs.

How to Store Gluten-Free Red Velvet Cake

Once frosted, red velvet cake should be stored in the fridge, tightly wrapped. It will have the best texture and taste on the day it’s made, but it will keep for up to three days.

If you want to make the cake ahead, unfrosted cake may be stored, tightly wrapped, at room temperature overnight. The cake may also be frozen for up to a month. Defrost it in the fridge and then allow it to come to room temperature before decorating.

Tips for Making Gluten-Free Red Velvet Cake

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What kind of gluten-free flour should you use to make gluten-free cake?

An all-purpose gluten-free baking mix is the best option here. This is a mix of whole grain and starches that’s meant to mimic the protein structure and flavor of traditional all-purpose flour. You can make a gluten-free flour mix at home, or find one of our favorite store-bought GF flour blends.

Can you make gluten-free red velvet cake without using red food coloring?

If food coloring isn’t your favorite ingredient, try a natural food dye. The final color likely won’t be as deep a red, but it will still taste delicious. A few options include pure beet juice or pure pomegranate juice. Make sure not to add more liquid than the recipe calls for. You may also try beet powder, which is more concentrated.

How can you replace vinegar in this recipe?

White vinegar might sound more like a cleaning product than a cake ingredient, but it actually plays a crucial role in red velvet cake. First, it activates the baking soda, making the cake super light and almost fizzy tasting. The vinegar also adds the tangy flavor that’s the signature of red velvet cake. You can try to substitute buttermilk, another acidic ingredient that will perform much the same function. However, vinegar is punchier than buttermilk, so the effect won’t be exactly the same.

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Kelsey Rae Dimberg
A former in-house editor at Taste of Home, Kelsey now writes articles and novels from her home in Milwaukee. She's an avid cook, reader, flâneur, and noir fanatic. Her debut novel, Girl in the Rearview Mirror, will be published in June 2019 by William Morrow.