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Gluten-Free Red Velvet Cupcake Recipe with No Food Coloring

Gluten-Free Red Velvet Cupcake Recipe with No Food Coloring

cupcakes, chocolate, gluten-free, red velvet

Gluten-free red velvet cupcakes that don’t taste gluten-free and are red without the use of food coloring were not easy to achieve.  It took hours of web research and four batches of cupcakes, but I did it!

My red velvet cupcakes don't look fake bright red,
 but you can see clearly in this photo that they are much
 redder than a plain chocolate cupcake (the wrapper at the top)

My friends said that they never would have guessed that these red velvet cupcakes were gluten-free.  Even more exciting for me is that they loved the gluten-free red velvet cupcake’s taste! Days after inhaling one of these red velvet cupcakes, my friend Sara revealed that she was still thinking about how good the cupcake was (and she does not have Celiac disease).

The Back Story

I made the gluten-free red velvet cupcakes as thank you gift for Julia.  Julia donated $200 to FilterPure as part of Cupcake Project 4.0.  Her $200 donation entitled her to a custom cupcake – and she knew just what she wanted: “First, I have celiac disease, and I’m looking for a good gluten-free recipe. If you don’t think you can do one that’s gluten-free, I understand. What I would LOVE is a a gluten-free red velvet cupcake recipe. I’d LOVE it!”  The astute reader will note that Julia didn’t say anything about not using food coloring (I put that requirement on myself).  Julia, if what you really like about red velvet cupcakes is the bright red color, you can use the same recipe and replace the beet powder with 2 ounces of red coloring (I’ll never have to know).

Remember, it’s not too late to donate to FilterPure. A donation of just $1 gets you the recipe for the ultimate chocolate peanut butter cupcakes, but if you are feeling generous, consider a $200 donation to receive a  custom recipe created just for you!

Gluten-Free Red Velvet Cupcake Ingredients

Before we get into the recipe, let’s talk about some of the ingredients.

The Flour
Many gluten-free recipes call for a mix of different kinds of flours.  To make things easier, several companies have come up with gluten-free multipurpose flours.  I spoke with Linda of Free Range Cookies to find out if she could recommend one.  Of course, Linda doesn’t use a mix.  But, she said that I should try King Arthur.  I ended up using King Arthur gluten-free multipurpose flour in the gluten-free red velvet cupcakes and I was very happy with it.  It’s not quite the same as working with wheat flour, but it was a really nice substitute.

Xantham Gum
The cupcakes won’t be ruined if you don’t use xantham gum, but the xantham gum does help quite a bit with the texture. As explained on Wikipedia, “Since the gluten found in wheat must be omitted [in gluten-free baking], xanthan gum is used to give the dough or batter a “stickiness” that would otherwise be achieved with the gluten.”

Beet Powder
I found many recipes for all-natural red velvet cupcakes that used beets for food coloring.  My first two attempts to make my gluten-free red velvet cupcakes used this method.  Unfortunately, I found that when I used enough beets to make the cake red, the beet flavor was detectable and overpowered the cocoa. Further research led me to beet powder.  Because it’s a powder, it allowed me to modify a traditional red velvet recipe without all of the added moisture of cooked beets or beet juice.

Gluten-free Red Velvet Cupcake Recipe

Check out my new baking glove (I've got more info about it at the bottom of this post)

While this is an original recipe, I owe thanks to three sources: Hannah Kaminsky’s Red Velvet Cupcakes on BitterSweet (for her enlightening discussion on the chemistry of beets and cocoa), Stephanie Jolly from Suite 101 (for the idea of using beet powder), and the red velvet cupcake recipe by McCormick on AllRecipes (for being a good starting point for experimentation).

0 from 0 votes

Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting


  • 8 oz cream cheese room temperature
  • 1/4 C unsalted butter room temperature
  • 2 C powdered sugar add more if you like your frosting stiffer
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste you can also use vanilla extract, but I highly recommend the vanilla bean paste


  1. Mix cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy.
  2. Gradually mix in powdered sugar until thoroughly combined.
  3. Mix in vanilla bean paste.


Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting

0 from 0 votes

Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting


  • 8 oz cream cheese room temperature
  • 1/4 C unsalted butter room temperature
  • 2 C powdered sugar add more if you like your frosting stiffer
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste you can also use vanilla extract, but I highly recommend the vanilla bean paste


  1. Mix cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy.
  2. Gradually mix in powdered sugar until thoroughly combined.
  3. Mix in vanilla bean paste.


Scarf and Baking Gloves from KelliBelle

Photo from KelliBelle


Go back and take a closer look at the photo at the top of this post.  You’ll see that my cupcake is sitting on top of a cupcake scarf.  The scarf is super cute and was a gift to me from KelliBelle.  While I like KelliBelle’s scarf, what I really love are the Baking Beauties that she sells (those are the the baking gloves with the fuzzy pink trim that you saw in the photo near the cupcake recipe).  I find baking gloves with fingers to be so much easier to use than pot holders and the baking beauties are the classiest baking gloves that I’ve ever seen.  Check out KelliBelle’s site to see all of the available options.  If you make a purchase, write “FilterPure” in the comments and KelliBelle will donate 20% of the proceeds to FilterPure!

Looking for More Gluten-Free Recipes?
Gluten-free Girl and The Chef have compiled a fantastic collection of gluten-free recipes for Thanksgiving.  They also have a gluten-free cookbook.  I don’t own it, but it has received great reviews on Amazon.

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20 comments on “Gluten-Free Red Velvet Cupcake Recipe with No Food Coloring”

  1. Food Review says:

    So you managed to make a bit more healthy cupcake, and it looks like a cupcake but what does it taste like? Is it similar to all the diet soda out their?

    Regards, FoodReview

  2. Stef says:

    I never claimed that it was healthy, just that it is gluten-free. It tastes like a red velvet cupcake – maybe not the best red velvet cupcake that you’ve ever had, but for those used to average gluten-free baked goods, it’s incredible.

  3. Sylvia says:

    I’m very impressed! Although I love glutenous cakes and breads and have no trouble digesting them, I am sadly familiar with the gluten-free alternatives since my mom doesn’t eat wheat. Unfortunately she doesn’t do dairy either. If I had $200 to spare, I’d challenge you to make a dairy free equivalent for cream cheese frosting!

  4. Dustin says:

    What a great challenge. My mom has recently taken to a gluten free diet and it can be trying at times. You should share this over at

  5. Kim says:

    Brilliant! I’m sure you spent hours looking for the perfect recipe.. My niece has just found out she’s allergic to many things(dairy, gluten, caffeine, etc) and I’m having a horrible time finding dessert recipes that she can still enjoy… oh and she can’t have sugar at the moment. UGH! Great job on your recipe!!

  6. Eden says:

    I’m so super excited about this! I discovered the existance of Red Velvet cupcakes after I was diagnosed with celiac disease. So I’ve never actually had one. I love that you made it with the food coloring. That aspect of the traditional recipes kinda freaked me out.

  7. Eden says:

    Without food coloring. Aahh. The things spell check never catches. :-)

  8. Anonymous says:

    Could you pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaase make a Red velvet mini cupcake recipe (just a normal one) like you find a those high tea places?


  9. I was JUST trying to figure out how I would make a gluten free velvet cake. I was thinking beet juice, but powder sounds perfect! Very nice!

  10. Since most red velvet cupcakes use buttermilk and vinegar what takes that place?

  11. Stef says:

    A Day in Candiland – If you look at the non-gluten free red velvet cupcake recipe that I based mine off of, it does not have buttermilk in it.

  12. Lauren says:

    Where can you buy xanthan gum or beet powder? Whole Foods?

  13. Anonymous says:

    I tried making these, beet powder wasn’t used because I couldn’t find it. To be completely honest, these tasted horrible. The only good thing was the icing, which is any typical cream cheese icing. I have made other gluten free cupcakes, like your amaretto ones, that were fantastic. These left me greatly disappointed.

  14. Jamie says:

    I’ve never tried gluten-free baking, other than a basic flourless chocolate… I’m wondering if I have a red velvet recipe that I adore, can I use my recipe and replace the flour with the Gluten Free and xantham? Seems like the basic difference in ingredients are: butter vs oil / buttermilk vs milk / baking powder vs baking soda and vinegar.. and of course the no flour part!

    Any help wold be much appreciated!

  15. Anonymous says:

    This is all very new to me and this article really opened my eyes. Good Project!

    Oil Paintings

  16. CAROUSEL says:

    Thanks for this recipe! I am making my cousin’s wedding cake. She loves red velvet cake but she wanted it dye free. Thanks for doing the research for me. I LOVE LOVE your website very eye opening.

  17. CAROUSEL says:

    Is there a reason why you used regular milk instead of buttermilk?

  18. Isabella says:

    I have been a faithful follower of The Cupcake Project for quite some time, and every recipe I have ever made has been delicious and comes out exactly as the recipe has claimed it would except this one. I followed the recipe exactly as is except for substituting cake flour for GF flour. My cupcakes tasted just alright and weren’t even remotely red. I tried again, adding more beet powder this time. They came out brown but had a slight beet flavor to them. I am very disappointed.

  19. Tina says:

    My mom and I tried making these cupcakes yesterday and doubled the recipe. The batter was very thick, but since we haven’t made gluten free other than a premade mix we went ahead and baked them. The cupcakes were very dry and dense. What suggestions do you have?

  20. Patricia Monroy says:

    My son has many allergies, and I feel bad he can’t eat cakes or cupcakes. We did a little research and found coconut ice cream for him to eat something sweet. I buy the brand SO Delicious and it is dairy free. I promised him to make cupcakes after Easter but am waiting for the egg replacer that I ordered at Publix. They said it takes about 6 weeks for them to get it for me because they didn’t have it at the store and they have to order it . I see your cupcakes are very healthy and people that have gluten-free diets can eat them. My son has many allergies. He can’t eat chocolate, milk, and eggs and not wheat either. I use coconut milk as a substitute for milk and it really tastes good when I made him mush potatoes. He had tears in his eyes when he tasted my mush potatoes. :) I wonder if you also have a cupcake recipe for people with other allergies like my son. Thank you! Wish you keep making healthy recipes.

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