All Natural Recipe for Red Velvet Cake – No Dye
Looking to make a delicious Red Velvet Cake for someone special but don’t want to include a large amount of food coloring in your wonderful from-scratch cake? Here’s a Red Velvet Cake no dye that using natural red coloring to give it a brilliant hue.
All Natural Recipe for Red Velvet Cake No Dye
Red Velvet Cake is a classic. Visually stunning and with a unique flavor, it’s easy to see why it has become many people’s favorite. The only downside is that most recipes require a tablespoon or more of red food coloring. That’s a lot! Commercial food coloring is petroleum-based and has been linked to allergies, bed-wetting, hyperactivity, and more.
Though some studies are inconclusive, just the mere possibility sends me running in the other direction. We try to stay as close to natural as possible around here, so I looked to a healthier source for that signature hue: beets.
Why Beets for a No-Dye Red Velvet Cake?
Beets have a gorgeous purple/red color, so deep and vibrant it almost seems unnatural! They are also full of healthy stuff like folate, manganese, and vitamin C, but really, it’s the color we care about here. After much research, it seems that the key to a naturally red cake using beets is acidity. I’ll save you most of the science talk, but without the proper acidic pH, the beets will turn brown. This means we need to incorporate things like vinegar, buttermilk, yogurt or citrus.
I used white wine vinegar, which has a 6% acidity compared to regular distilled or apple cider vinegar which is 5%, and orange juice. I also used baking powder instead of baking soda, as it has a higher pH due to the cream of tartar. (Baking powder is just a combination of baking soda and cream of tartar. Since cream of tartar is acidic, baking powder can be used without an additional acid to activate it. Recipes that use baking soda do so because there is an acidic element somewhere else in the ingredients, such as buttermilk or lemon juice.)
The final product is incredibly delicious. I actually said ‘wow’ out loud while standing in the kitchen after the first taste. I will be honest- I was not expecting much. I thought it would be too tangy from the vinegar and too earthy from the beets, but it is delightfully sweet! The chocolate flavor floats lightly, not too powerful but definitely there, and the crumb is moist and dense, but not heavy. This recipe for Red Velvet Cake – no dye is one you will definitely want to try and keep!
Roasted Beets for No Dye Red Velvet Cake
If your beets came with the leaves still attached, slice them off at the base. Wash the beets and wrap in aluminum foil (no need to dry, the water will help them cook).
Place the foil-wrapped beets on a baking sheet to catch any drips, and bake in a 400-degree F oven for 40-60 minutes, or until a fork easily pierces their flesh.
Remove from oven and let cool. The skins should easily peel off. Chop the beets and puree them well (I used a food processor but I imagine a blender would work, too).
Red Velvet Cake Recipe – No Dye
What You Need:
Makes 2 9″ layers
- 2 ½ cups cake flour
- 3 tablespoons cocoa powder (not Dutch-processed)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 ½ cups sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup beet puree (see recipe below)
- ½ cup + 2 tablespoons orange juice
- 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
Step One: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9” cake pans.
Step Two: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, salt and baking powder.
Step Three: In another medium bowl, whisk together the milk, beet puree (see above for how to make), orange juice and vinegar.
Step Four: In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream together the butter, sugar, and vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add a third of the liquid ingredients, followed by a third of the dry ingredients, alternating wet and dry and mixing well after each addition.
Step Five: Pour into your prepared pans and bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean and the tops look firm. Let cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and cool completely on a wire rack before frosting. See the frosting recipe below or use my Cream Cheese Frosting.
Step Six: To frost this recipe for Red Velvet cake, I recommend spreading on a thin crumb coat, then placing the cake in the fridge for an hour to let it harden a bit. Remove cake from the fridge and continue frosting. This will prevent red crumbs from mixing with the white frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting for Red Velvet Cake
What You Need:
- 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar
- 1-2 tablespoons milk
Whip the cream cheese and butter until soft. Slowly add in the sugar. Add milk if necessary to achieve desired consistency. You can also check out our recipe for The Best Cream Cheese Frosting for a slightly different version.
Looking for some more delicious cake recipes to try? You might want to check out this list of 30 Homemade Cake Recipes from Scratch!
Ready to make this? Print the recipe for Red Velvet Cake – No Dye below:
Red Velvet Cake Recipe - No Dye
- 2 ½ cups cake flour
- 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 ½ cups sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup beet puree
- ½ cup + 2 tablespoons orange juice
- 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9” cake pans.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, salt and baking powder.
In another medium bowl, whisk together the milk, beet puree, orange juice and vinegar.
In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream together the butter, sugar, and vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add a third of the liquid ingredients, followed by a third of the dry ingredients, alternating wet and dry and mixing well after each addition.
Pour into your prepared pans and bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean and the tops look firm. Let cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.
To frost this recipe for Red Velvet cake, I recommend spreading on a thin crumb coat, then placing the cake in the fridge for an hour to let it harden a bit. Remove cake from the fridge and continue frosting. This will prevent red crumbs from mixing with the white frosting.
Some other yummy from-scratch cake recipes you might enjoy making:
- Chocolate Cheesecake Chocolate Cake
- Pumpkin Cake
- Wacky Cake
- Yellow Cake
- Lemonade Cake Recipe
- Peach Kuchen Recipe
- The Best German Chocolate Cake Recipe
- Homemade Strawberry Cake Recipe
- Rhubarb Buttermilk Cake Recipe
Do you have a special recipe for Red Velvet Cake? Will you try this recipe for Red Velvet Cake – No Dye?
This recipe for Red Velvet Cake – No Dye was originally published on Little House Living in December 2014. It has been updated as of December 2018.
Thanks! My daughter loves to bake and loves Red Velvet cake! BTW, we also love your zucchini brownies you posted the other day, Yumm-O!
Ooh, this looks great! We don’t use commercial food dyes in our home either, so this recipe is a definite keeper. I admit, I am a novice baker. I am a much better cook, so I love that you described the chemistry behind your ingredient choices.
I’ll be making this very soon! Thanks for the recipe 🙂
Baking is not as difficult as it can sometimes seem. Have fun! 🙂
Hi, this recipe looks fantastic. I was wondering if you have made the cream cheese frosting, using your Cultured Cream Cheese recipe? Does it taste good? I am a fan of Little House Living. Thanks!
I’m not sure how it would taste with the cultured cream cheese recipe since that one tends to be a little more sour than traditional cream cheese. You could always try it though and let us know what you think!
This looks yummy! I would love to make this one 😉
This sounds amazing! I love how it incorporates beets. I’m definitely trying this one.
Let us know how you like it!
OhMy YUM! Making this asap! Great post, informative, visually stimulating, and I’m following along now to see what you’re making next 🙂
Thank you so much! I hope you enjoy it. 🙂
Some would say I’m an above average baker 😀
I was so excited to try this recipe, the flavor was great but it is super-heavy, not fluffy. It weighted more than a fruit cake, again flavor was great, but I would do 3 eggs instead of 4, maybe more baking soda? I live in San Diego, don’t know if maybe the recipe will do better at a higher altitude…
Thanks for sharing, I loved the chemical explanation behind it, and we did enjoy the cake 🙂
It was very dense and almost too moist. yes, heavy. did you ever try it with variations?
This looks so moist and delicious. I really like the fact that it is dyed with the beets, versus traditional food coloring.
New Mama Diaries
Thanks! Yes, food coloring seems to be in everything now!
I would love for you to share and link up at my weekly TGIF Link Party if you haven’t already this week. The party is open every Thursday night and closes Wednesday’s at midnight.
Have a wonderful week!
Red Velvet cake is probably my favorite cake! However, I stopped eating it a few years ago due to the artificial coloring, but now you’ve solved my dilemma. The cake looks so moist and delicious. I can’t wait to try it…pinned!
We will just love this cake with wonderful beets. Thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday and have a fabulous weekend.
Come Back Soon!
Can this recipe be made in a 9×13 pan?
Yes! The cooking time should be the same, but I would keep an on it to be sure.
Thanks so much!
I just found your recipe for no dye red velvet cake. Sounds amazing and would like to try it but What can I use instead of white wine vinegar as I am not able to find it in the stores.
Regular white vinegar should be fine. I think even apple cider vinegar would work. 🙂
I’ve always been scared to make red velvet cake because of the red food coloring added into it, so I did some research on the web for something that could be added in placement of the coloring. I stumbled upon this recipe and JUST made it. Oh I LOVE IT. 🙂 Thank you SO much. I will be making this cake again for my friends birthday who LOVES red velvet. Thank you!!!!!!!!
I’m so glad you liked it!
Just about to try this but don’t know how many beets I need.
I just made these for my daughter’s first birthday as cupcakes and they turned out beautiful. Tip: Use frozen beets. I did a test batch with frozen beets I already had at home and we could not detect any beet flavor. When I made the second batch, I bought fresh beets and they definitely tasted earthy.
Thank you for sharing that tip!
at what point do you freeze the beets? when they are raw? do you then still go ahead and roast the beets before processing?
Hi My husband grows lots of Beets so I’ve had to get creative. The books will tell you to cook or steam the beets then peal them, then dice, slice or blend and measure amount for recipe, then put in freezer bags force excess air out seal and freeze. I also use a large grater and grate them “raw” then freezer bag them, I melt butter in a pan and do fried beets, you need to use these faster because the freezer life is short. To make the Red Velvet Cake to make it easier you would make with the cooked ones
Thanks for this recipe. One question. This is more than twice the amount of sugar than any of the Cake Bible 2 layer cake recipes. (Typically one cup) I would think if anything, you could reduce the amount of sugar because of all the natural sugar in the beets. Any thoughts?
Thanks for the recipe ! I made this cake for my daughters 11th birthday today and it was very very good! It’s a dense cake, we substituted organic AP flour for cake flour. Not overly sweet with just a subtle hint of “beety” flavor. Beautiful, natural coloring ! She loved it.
I’m so glad it worked well for you!
its looks delicious and wonderfull, but may i ask you one thing, i dont have white wine vinegar, i have only white vinegar, and yogurt, can i used one of that optionaly, thank you for your response
I think you could replace it with the white vinegar instead since it’s a small amount.
Thanks for this recipe! But I was wondering is there any reason why you use milk instead of buttermilk? And if I want to use buttermilk instead of milk, would there be significant sourness to this cake?
I think it would be fine to use buttermilk in the place of milk in this recipe if that’s what you have on hand.
Ok thanks 🙂
milk becomes buttermilk when mixed with vinegar (which is also in the recipe)
Milk doesn’t exactly become buttermilk just because vinegar is added. Buttermilk has a specific flavor, and the OP is right- red velvet cake is a ‘buttermilk’ cake. 🙂
I made this last night for my husband and I’s anniversary since we had red velvet at our wedding. The taste was incredible, however it ended up brown. The batter was dark pink, but after baking it was brown. I used heirloom deep red beets from our garden. I also used ACV instead of white wine vinegar. Any tips to make it red?
Sadly, this did not turn out at all for me. It was super dense and seemed under-done even after 45 minutes in the oven. I’m not sure where I went wrong but all I ended up with was a super sweet, red brick =(
If I were to try it again I would cut the sugar in half, but the texture has thrown me off.
Sadly, you and I were on a same boat. I used 9″ round cake pan and followed the recipe to a T but sadly, came out gross and I had to throw it out. Mine also baked more than required because it just wasn’t done. As it sat out on the counter to cool off, the cake sagged more and more and in the end, I ended up with a red brick.
Thinking I missed something, I tried it for the 2nd time and I did not do anything wrong but still came out bad. I’m wondering if putting in 1/2 Cup plus 2 tablespoons of OJ is too much liquid? Perhaps it’s just 2 tablespoons of OJ??? Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
I think its the Orange Juice that throws it off, I have looked at many recipes and no one has ever suggested using it. What is the purpose of it? p.s. you can make buttermilk by using milk and lemon juice, and its delicious, I’ve used it for pancakes!
Also Red+Orange+Chocolate = Brick Color just saying. I think keeping ingredients fewer and simpler is best.
mine didn’t turn out either. and I followed it to a T as well.
my thought is its too muchmoisture in general. next time I’ll leave it the Oj out (its just there too help with acidity I think), and add more flour possibly. mine just didn’t seem to have the body to tap the gasses forming during rising. I remade this, with more cocoa powder added, and so far out looks perfect.
Hi! Any thoughts on why my cake turned out brown rather than red? It tastes great, but it isn’t ted velvet
A yummy recipe and didn’t do too bad using cup measurements for the first time. Not as red as I hoped but I only had balsamic vinegar in the cupboard which I though would go well with beetroot. Also had leftovers for cupcakes too as I used smaller tins. Will definitely use again. Will share photos and credits on my FB page soon!
“I also used baking powder instead of baking soda, as it has a higher pH due to the cream of tartar.”
high acidity = low pH (anything under 7 is acidic)
high alkalinity = high pH (anything over 7)
7 = neutral
My apologies, you obviously paid more attention in high school chemistry than I. Thank you for kindly pointing out my mistake, Laura.
The cake is great! I use panela instead of white sugar and separate the eggs to beat whites and fold in at the end to make it airy. The color is beautiful – flavor is wonderful, I used gluten free flour so I cooked a 390 instead of 350. Yumm – thank you, I will make this again. No one is the wiser about the beets!
Hi Audrey, I know it is ages ago you posted this comment but is there a chance you could tell me how much and what kind of gluten free flour you used? I have been told that you can’t really convert 1:1 since the flours react differently. Thanks in advance..
This looks like a great recipe, and I’d love to try it for Thanksgiving. Does anyone have thoughts on beet juice vs. beet puree? I have a good vegetable juicer, and I juice beets regularly, but have never cooked with them. Do you think the cooking takes some of the “earthy” taste out?
This is fantastic! I’m allergic to red dye, but I’ve had Red Velvet Cake without the dye in the past and it was probably one of my favorite cakes! I’ve been wanting to try it again ever since but all the other recipes I found used red dye. Now I can finally have this delicious cake again! Thanks so much!
Picked up some beets at the Farmer’s Market today and came home and looked up a recipe for Red Velvet Cake. This is a fantastic recipe! The cake is beautiful and tastes as good as it looks. I know I will make this again and again. Such a festive cake for celebrations and holidays. Thank you for sharing the recipe!
This is an old recipe from the school lunch days. It was called a beatnik cake and incorporated beets as a vegetable booster. Too bad they can’t serve sweets anymore!
This looks delicious! I have a question though, can this cake be made a day in advance? I’m having a birthday party on Saturday and I usually bake All The Things on Friday. Thanks!
You should be able to bake it a day in advance.
I just made this cake for New Year’s eve dinner with my family and everybody loved it. Followed everything in the recipe and came out really nice. I have leftover beets and I will be making red velvet cupcakes. Thank you for this! Happy New Year!
Hi… I found your recipe and fell in love with it, even when I hate beets I went ahead and tried.
It came out terrible!!! all the members of my family kindly enough ate a piece, I guess in empathy for my effort.
I don´t know (and would like to know) what I did wrong, to correct it.
I cooked the beets by steaming them (maybe too much liquid in them)
Used white vinegar instead of white wine vinegar.
Took ages to cook, and then it kind of not cooked properly in the center/inside, only the crust cooked properly, but since I left it over 90 mins in the oven the crust was hard, still the insides had a mushy texture. (is it maybe the level of temperature I used? or maybe the height (I live in Mexico City wich is very high) ? Also I used less sugar, as 2 1/2 of sugar seemed excesive to me. The mixture came out with a funny texture, not quite integrated as other cakes mixture (it looked like when you lemon juice on milk, kind of separated)
I baked it twice, and both times pretty much same thing happened.
I must confess I felt quite frustrated for the outcome. 🙁
The icing came out perfect, I added some lavender and was probably the only thing I´m proud of and happy.
Hope someone has some feedback on what I may have done wrong. As I want to try again until I succeed baking this one.
I live at a high elevation also, though not as high as you. We are around 6,800 ft here so 1,000 ft less. When baking a cake from a recipe made for low elevations you need to at least cut leavening by half. I do mine by half. You could probably cut it even more because you are even higher. Maybe do 3/4t or even 1/2 t. of baking powder? Another thing you can try is to raise the temperature 25 degrees (if doing farenheit) for the first 10-15 minutes to set the cake faster and then lower to regular temperature. At high altitudes cake batters have a tendency to rise to quickly and then sag and get dense in the middle after they are removed from the oven or even still in the oven because the cake doesn’t have enough structure to support the height yet. If you turn up the heat at first it lets the outside of the cake set up quicker so it can’t rise as high and then as a result sag back down. Also do not change up the sugar amount. Try it with the full amount. Sugar affects the texture of a cake a great deal. I haven’t tried this recipe before but these tricks work for me for all the other cakes I bake. Before I started reducing the leavening I had tons of problems. Now my cakes usually turn out perfectly.
It’s the beets. I’ve made this recipe 3 times now and I tried to cheat one time with boiled beets (no other changes) and the cakes wouldn’t cook inside, couldn’t even eat them. The beets must be roasted for this recipe to work.
They’ve been awesome the other 2 times though when using roasted beets! Xx
hello 🙂 the recipe sounds amazing! I was just wondering if I could use canned sliced beets or would it ruin the recipe dramatically?
Thank you so much for posting this recipe. I am planning to make cat in the hat cake push pops for my son’s second birthday but really did not want feed him or anyone else something with red food dye, I used your recipe this evening as a trial run for his birthday and it was perfect… even my husband (who said he did not like red velvet cake) loved it.
This is my first time baking, I loved your recipe and now I’m waiting for my cake to take out of the oven, I hope it turns out well. But I tasted it before it goes in and I think it was a bit too sweet, but lets see.
I really wasn’t pleased with the outcome, but it was my first time and it was good enough. The sugar was too much though, I won’t put this much for the next time. but there will be a next time for sure 🙂
Also I wanted to make cupcakes so I put half as much as all the ingredients, however, since my cupcakes didn’t rise at all, I think I shouldn’t have changed the amount of baking powder in the recipe.
Anyway thanks a million for the recipe, and I love the idea of the beet roots instead of food coloring.
Hi there, the batter tasted amazing, the only thing my cakes were a little gooey in the middle. I cooked for 35 minutes. Do you have any ideas?
I just made this cake for my husband’s birthday as it’s his favourite cake and I was happy to find a recipe that used beets instead of red food colouring. I thought the sugar amount was a little high but everything mixed up well and it took about 25-40 minutes to cook. I found the cake to be extremely dense, not one that I would really bake into a layer cake … maybe I’ll try it in a 9×11 cake pan instead next time. Everyone seemed to like it but I’ve never had a piece of cake that I absolutely could not finish eating before … it was just too heavy and filling 🙂 tasted good though!
How would you adapt this for high altitude? We live in Colorado at 7500 ft. Thanks. Love your site.
Here’s a guide you may want to check out: High Altitude Baking.
Can you taste any citrus from the oj, because I’d rather not taste that. Any thoughts?
No, you shouldn’t be able to.
No I dont taste it in the batter. My cakes are cooking now
Hi there, I was wondering if I could use *brown sugar* instead of regular sugar? What difference would it make? Thanks!
I haven’t tried it that way…the cake make taste a little different but I don’t think it would be in a bad way, I’m not sure.
Brown sugar has more moisture content so the cake would need some moisture removed.
For those of you who were asking whether they could use canned beets, that’s a big N-O, haha. The beets were a lovely red color, pureed great, added in the rest of the ingredients, still looked ok, then when I added it to the dry ingredients in my mixer it was a brown color…the cake wasn’t red at all. And it had a very earthy dirt like taste. The consistency was very spongy and rough. Not a good experience, probably won’t make this cake again, but thanks for posting the recipe, and thanks for all your “All natural” recipes 🙂
Thank you for letting us know!
This recipe is great. I’m allergic to red 40. I am wondering if fresh lemon juice can be used in place of the white vinegar. Would it still work the same?
I have not tried it but I think it would be fine.
Does it taste at all of beet? I actually love beets, but I am thinking of making it for a 6 y.o. birthday and I am afraid kids may be turned off if they detect any beet flavor in it. Thank you!
It does not taste like beet 🙂
I liked the concept of this cake, but that orange juice is really overpowering in the cake. I did not like it.
I had the same feedback. I did increase the cocoa to 1/2C, because I’ve always been told that red velvet cake should be a chocolate cake with red coloring. I also made these as cupcakes, which baked for about 30 minutes. I was skeptical, because of the large amount of liquid in the recipe. The resulting cupcakes had good texture, just enough sweetness, and a beautiful red hue with a hint of cocoa. No one could taste the beets at all, which is good. Definitely better than the usual, chemical-y taste of red velvet cake. What I didn’t like was the orange juice; it was way too prominent for my taste. I’d like to keep this recipe, but I’ll look for a way to replace the citric acid in this recipe.
Awesome. Making it for the first time for hubby for valentines day. Heart shaped pans. Leftover batter. Made jelly roll too. This is soooooooo good! He might wake up in the morning and find crumbs!
I have a question…can I use sifted whole wheat flour instead of cake flour, and if so what adjustments if any should I make?
You should still be able to use the same amount of flour, just remember that the cake will come out a little denser and thicker.
Made these tonight as cupcakes – This recipe makes about 30 cupcakes. Times varied depending on the batch, so after 18 minutes I would test and add 3 minutes if not yet done. Did not frost yet, that will happen tomorrow. I tried one and I could taste the beet flavor, but if I did not know beets were in it I probably would not notice it because it blends well. I think the frosting will help hide it even more. They are dense. Need to make sure you puree the beets well. I think the previous comments about the cakes not being ‘done’ may be because even very small chunks of beets can make the texture spongy.
love your red velvet recipe …will try it this week can i make cupcakes with it
Baked it yesterday and just loved it. I love beets, especially their colour and had tried other recipes of Red Velvet, but they all turned out brown.
It’s the best Red Velvet recipe ever. Great taste and lovely colour.
It’s a keeper.
Came across your blog looking for a homemade mushroom soup (will make it in 10 minutes…), then I noticed the RVC. Will adopt these recipe as well, but will reduce the amount of sugar in frosting and exchange into healthier one. Actually, have ever thought about switching white sugar to other, natural sweets? I read, that you also care about what you eat – just like me – that’s why I changed all white flours, white sugar and cow’s milk in my recipes into their healthier version. And of course no artificial colors and flavors.
I don’t use any white sugar. My contributors may use some in the recipes they have posted but it can all be replaced by natural sugar. Personally we use dried cane juice or turbinado.
Could this be made with gluten free flour?
I have not tried it yet with gluten free flour but it’s worth a shot!
Ok so I had to try this recipe as the thought of using bottles of red food colouring wasn’t sitting well with me. Read through the comments above for tips and worked with what I had and this was the result! Amazing Red Velvet Cupcakes!! Thank you for sharing this recipe, it’s a keeper. I didn’t try this frosting, instead I found a spreadable, pipeable frosting and it worked very well. For me the cake recipe yields 36 cupcakes and I baked them for 23 minutes @ 350 degrees. Perfect! …. This recipe is perfect, but I had to make a few changes. I boiled, then peeled the beets and pureed them in the food processor. I had Dark Dutch Cocoa so I used one tablespoon more flour and cut back on the cocoa using 2 tablespoons of Cocoa instead. I used fresh oranges for the 1/2 cup of orange juice, but instead of using the extra 2 tablespoons it asks for, I used 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice and placed it in the milk to make buttermilk as it mentions in the comments should help it keep the red colour and it did!!!! The one thing I paid attention to was in the instructions it mentions to beat WELL between addition of eggs and also between wet and dry ingredients, I think this is key to keeping it on the lighter side. Don’t get me wrong this is a heavy moist cake, but I think mixing WELL in between is important. Wish I could insert a photo here to show you how red they are, also moist, flavourful and perfect in every way. Thanks again for sharing! My daughters are thrilled! Birthdays are coming up and so is Easter.
Hi Suzan I would like if you can explain details what changes you made because mine got beet taste and i liked , to me no problems but people tasted beet and it was not good..
I was excited to try this for my husband’s b-day, as he loves red velvet. And I feel better about eating any cake with veggies in it, plus the bonus of not having to deal with red dye (ick!) I doubled the recipe and made a 12X3 round and had enough batter for 12 cupcakes ++. I baked the cupcakes for 23 mins and they were PERFECT! I baked the cake for 75mins ++ and used 2 flower nails, as I don’t like using a heater core.
The only things I changed were 1) using real vanilla bean powder, so I increased the milk by 1 Tblsp and 2) I used 1/3 brown sugar, as I ran out of white and 3) used a little less regular salt, as opposed to kosher ( cut by 1/2)
The texture was really nice – not as dense as everyone said -I found surprisingly very light and fluffy (but I read all the tips and beat well in between additions of eggs and dry/liquid ingredients). I think that is the key, as another comment noted.
I tested the cupcake with some Whipped cream buttercream (Wilton recipe) and they are a really nice match!
However, I was a little disappointed in the color – the top looked nice and red but the middle was very brownish. I used natural cocoa and everything else as directed (aside from my minor changes above), so I’m not sure why that happened(?)
Also, I could REALLY TASTE THE BEETS! I was hoping that I wouldn’t be able to taste them, as some comments noted. I don’t mind the taste, but then it really doesn’t taste like red velvet and that’s what I was going for.
Any ideas what went wrong? I’d like to try this again and perfect it, especially if my husband likes it….
PS: I should note that I sifted the cake flour and cocoa – maybe that helped to make it lighter and fluffier too….
Here is a tip for the beets use small beets and they are sweet the bigger beets are earthy and can be bitter
I just cooked this cake for the fourth time, and it is perfect. The other times the flavor was good, but the cake was so heavy and thick…didn’t even rise! This time I sifted the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa, baking powder), left out the 2 tablespoons of orange juice. I used the white wine vinegar this time also and believe it helped balance the flavor more. I believe the stand up mixer, I hadn’t used in years, helped the texture as well. This cake came out fluffy and much lighter! Delicious! !!!
Hi. I just made cupcakes using this recipe, they taste great! The texture, however, was kind of spongy as supposed to velvety and my friends found them a bit unappealing. We still devoured them, I was just looking forward to that ‘mwlt in your mouth’ experience.
Is this normal? How can I fix this?
Thanks for the recipe!
I really like the people who change the recipe and then complain about how the cake didn’t come out as anticipated.
Also, these people whining about sugar and wheat flour, it’s CAKE! If you truly want to eat very healthily, please refrain from eating cake at all.
This cake is ridiculously delicious. Thank you for the recipe.
HI Merissa.. thank you for your recipe..
I m today upsed because i have a red velvet cake for a birthday tomorrow and i decided make one with beets juice reducing .. and it did not get red but brown.. i tried four times.. now i have four cakes all brown and i m really sad.. i did the recipe exactly they explained and now i saw your and you say we can use puree.. did you already see the recipe with reducing juice of beets!!! please help me.. thanks
how are you
i loved your explanations and your recipe..
i m sure it was sweet and without beets flavor..
i did it with reduce beet juice..
the recipe is same and i m doing with all yours informations and recipe but just using reducing juice..
if you want to know i let you know how it was ..
i m also livingsimplelife in some profiles.. and also in personal blog
hi, i made it last week and its tasted beet..
now i read Cristal recipe and she told she used frozen beets.. i will try..
but i would like some explanations why it taste beet..
it was not supposed to taste beet or is impossible to make as a birthday cake for exemple and there are people that dont like beet.. so..
to me was good, humid.. nice.. fresh.. beautiful but tasted beet..
could you give me help..
I made this cake and it tasted beautiful, it did not turn out red, and was a little dry I am trying out a new European oven and don’t know exactly how it works then I found out I used Dutch process cocoa. While having red cake is pretty I suggest if the cake turns out brown, you present it as Brown Velvet Cake and call it a day. Nobody could tell it had beets and we loved it
Will have to see how subbing beets for the food coloring works with the recipe my Mom’s been using since I was little (maybe even before I was born! LOL) Her’s also already calls for white vinegar & buttermilk, so I don’t think acid will be an issue. 🙂 I thought I’d share the icing recipe we use for red velvet (I was 35-ish before I’d ever heard of anyone using cream cheese icing on this cake. 15 years later, I STILL don’t understand using cream cheese icing on in instead of the ‘red velvet cake icing’ recipe that she got from whoever gave her the recipe.) When you mix the cooked part with the creamed part, you have to beat it really, really well so it’s not grainy.
The only alteration she’s made is to do a batch and a half instead of a single batch. I personally sub out butter for the margarine. (Still too chicken to mess with the little bit of shortening it calls for. If the beets work for the color, maybe I’ll be brave and sub out the shortening as well.)
Icing for Red Velvet Cake
(1 batch) (1-1/2 batch)
3 Tbs. flour (Wondra) 1/4 cup flour
1 cup milk 11/2 cup milk
1/2 cup Crisco 1/2 cup Crisco
1/2 cup margarine 1 cup margarine (2 sticks)
1 cup sugar 11/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla 11/2 tsp. vanilla
Cook flour and milk on low heat until thick. Let cool. Cream sugar, butter, shortening and vanilla till fluffy. Add to flour mixture and beat until it is liked whipped cream.
Silly copy/paste spacings….2nd try:
Icing for Red Velvet Cake
3 Tbs. flour (Wondra)
1 cup milk
1/2 cup Crisco
1/2 cup margarine (1 stick)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup flour
1.5 cups milk
1/2 cup Crisco
1 cup margarine (2 sticks)
1.5 cups sugar
1.5 tsp. vanilla
Nice. I also saw this recipe in another website and it reminded me of the béchamel sauce, but sweet instead of salty… I love béchamel, so I am sure I would love this sweet version as well.
I love that you used beets. I have never found a red velvet cake recipe I liked. I’ll have to try this as I love beets and have made a chocolate beet cake before that turned out great. Maybe this will be the one! Thanks for sharing at the party @DearCreatives I’ve pinned it! Hope to try it soon. Happy New Year!
This looks awesome for my little girls birthday cake! Just wondered if I can nix the cocoa so the color could look more pink? Thank you!
I just made this cake and followed the instructions exactly and was very disappointed – the use of a ‘cup’ as measurement is very inaccurate and I ended up with loads of left over batter because I calculated the amounts incorrectly – in addition I cooked my cakes for the correct amount of time at the right temperature and when I took them out of the oven they were raw? Has this happened to anyone else? They also came out ridiculously flat – either I’m a terrible baker or I messed up the recipe. Pleasr help because I love red velvet cake and mine looks like a red tortilla wrap.
Hi! I tried it this weekend and it also didn’t work so well… Had the same issue with the cakes being raw despite being baked at the right temperature for the right amount of time. My cake is also more purple/brown than red and is VERY dense and heavy. The taste isn’t bad though – the earthy beet taste is coming through a bit which I love.
I just want to point out that if baking powder is more acidic than baking soda, its pH will be lower, not higher.
Do I have to refrigerate the whole cake since the icing has some milk in it? Please advise. Delicious, by the way!
I wonder if it would work to use coffee instead of the orange juice? Thoughts?
Made this cake for my SIL’s birthday. Red Velvet is her favourite. I couldn’t stomach the idea of food dyes so I discovered this recipe. Worked beautifully. My kids loved the pink colour. I puréed the roasted beets with the milk and other liquids and let them sit while I prepped everything else. Sifted flour a few times since my cake flour was old. I read reviews after putting it in oven and was nervous but it was perfect. Not sure what went wrong with above posters. Will definitely make again. Forgot to measure beets before adding but I used 4 smallish ones.
Can I use all purpose flour instead of the cake flour or a all purpose gluten free flour?
Yes you should be able to.
Hi, thank you for the recipe. I was searching for a natural version of the red velvet cake for my daughter’s birthday and found your website. So far what I’ve learned from some websites is that the red color in the old fashioned red velvet cake was a chemical reaction between buttermilk, baking soda (Ph alkaline), white vinegar (Ph acidic), and unprocessed cocoa. Nowadays, the version of the red velvet cake is less natural and probably less expensive for commercial sales.
I am not a great cook, but I’m going to try the old fashioned version, but I like your version as well and I’ll be trying it next. I’ll let you all know how it tasted. Thank you for your post!
After reading Lily’s comment and all the others, I decided that I can make this today and see, since I like red velvet cake but dislike the idea of using food coloring. Of course with baking no two recipes will come out alike. I decided that I will use half of very item on the list and make a smaller one to try, and also by the way made my own butter milk(milk, lemon juice and vinegar). The cake is somewhat red, but remember that only artificial food coloring can come out bright red. For mine, the color, came out just like the pic on this website. Yes it’s very soft, and tasted pretty good, except the choco taste was very prominent, but because I added a little extra, it was just to see. I will try omitting the chocolate next time altogether, just to see what taste it will give. I boiled the beet instead of baking it. The cooking time has to be longer than 30minutes because of the density of the batter. I had to leave it at least 15 minutes longer. I think the recipe was on point, it’s just the people not using their judgement, very important in cooking. I am glad I came across this website, and tried Merissa’s easy recipe for red velvet cake, and also all the hints from the people who commented. Thank you Merissa.
This is recipe turned out so well! My whole family loved it! One change I made was using 3/4 cup of sugar in the icing instead of the total 2 cups and it was just perfect! Thanks for sharing – I will be making again!
thanks for beautiful recipe.
but i have a question.
i dont know how many ml in 1cup in baking.
bcuz im not american i cant guess amount of 1cup ;(
sorry for ask such a basic question.
but i search the internet but cant find the answer..
I did a search and it says 1 cup = 236.588 ml. I hope that helps!
thanks you so much!!
it is very helping!
im keep searching but some people say 200ml somple say 250ml or 240ml i was so confuse!
god bless you!
I made your recipe, followed everything to the letter, and it didn’t rise very well, or evenly. I remade the recipe, adding more cocoa, and it turned out fine. Does your original recipe require more flour at times? Or maybe hi-ratio shortening instead of the butter, ti better handle the high sugar/moisture levels? Please help, I was so excited about this recipe!
When I found this recipe, I noted that all of the recent comments seemed to be “this sounds great”, but no one had actually made the cake. I’ve made your Red Velvet cake twice now, and it is wonderful! Well worth the effort, and in the process I re-discovered beets and plan to add them to my garden. Thank you for sharing such a great, natural recipe!
Thanks for sharing this recipe, the cake is delicious. However, it came out brown with only a pinkish hue at the crust. I replaced the milk with buttermilk and used beets boiled in water for puree instead of roasted ones…could this be the reason?
I’ve just tried this recipe and it is brilliant! I’ve done red velvet the artificial way in the past and it didn’t turn out great and used a ton of food colouring. But this had a lot of lovely flavours. I substituted the sugar for 1 cup honey and 1 cup of ground almonds because I’m cutting out refined sugar but it still tastes lovely and sweet!
Great recipe! Thank you!
Not good. Heavy cake. Beets taste overwhelming. Wasted a lot of ingredients on an inedible product. Went in garbage.
Thank you for this great natural recipe! I was wondering can I substitute hibiscus for beetroot? I read somewhere I can boil dried hibiscus leaves and then use the water after its cooled as red food dye. Would that be better? I also wanted to try canned beetroot but I read in some comments here and in other websites that its not good at all! (gives a brownish texture)??
I was just wondering if you could use canned beets instead of fresh? If it would make a lot of difference. I was also wondering if you could use just plain white vinegar.
As for the vinegar, I’ve made it both ways, and didn’t notice much difference. Never tried it with canned beets though.
This recipe sounds and looks delicious. I made it and it is horrible. Way to moist and gluey. What a waste of time and ingredients.
I just made this cake for a Valentine’s Day office party. I separated a small bit of batter to make a cupcake to try it out and am so pleased! It’s moist, delicious and has perfect flavor! This will be my go-to red velvet cake recipe! Thanks so much for sharing 🙂
This is great! I made a triple batch once as cupcakes and froze them, so I had cake on demand, lol. 30 seconds in the microwave and it’s just like fresh baked!
I get a terrible headache when i eat artificial food colorings, so this is an awesome solution. I’m also all for hiding veggies in tasty food 😉
Hi.. the recipe looks so yummy and must-try. . I just have one query. Can I use Wheat flour instead? Thanks in advance. Love from India.
Lots of comments, is it necessary to add the cocoa if it Is required can pure chocolate be used or can it be omitted completely or would there have to be a substitute, thanks for sharing
The chocolate will help add depth to the flavor. It could probably be substituted or omitted but I’m not sure of the results as I haven’t tested it.
Thanks for the prompt reply
Made this cake and it turned out pretty good! I made two six inch cakes and about fourteen cupcakes. The cupcakes were awesome! The cake was a bit dense and had a fruity flavor oddly enough. Color was perfect and we enjoyed the cake, but I’m thinking I might add a bit more cocoa next time and a little less OJ and see how it works 🙂
I’m glad you enjoyed it!
Think this recipe will work with equal measure of almond or cocoa flour?
I have not tried either of those substitutes so I can’t guarantee they will work.
Haven’t made it yet, but it gets 5 stars because this is a red velvet cake that my whole family can enjoy! No artificial food coloring! Awesome! Only thing I would do differently is steam the beets, cut into quarters. But this is something I do all the time anyway.
I hope you enjoy it!
I just baked this and while the color is perfect, the cupcake came out a little too crispy on the top (almost resembling creme brulee), slightly too moist in the center and flat on top 🙁 The cupcakes also don’t peel from the wrapper, but rather about 1/3 gets stuck to the wrapper. The taste is great though. Any tips?
Interesting, and sad that you work out this recipe to eliminate artificial red dye, then you wrap the beet in
Ugh, that is a neurotoxin!
Use parchment paper, or nothing. But—- ALUMINUM FOIL? NO! NO! NO!
Are you also using teflon? Or aluminum cookware…or -please not PLASTIC !
We do what we can, where we are, with what we have.
I needed a dye free red velvet cake recipe for my daughters 5th birthday. I scoured and came upon yours and almost gave up after reading the comments about it being too gooey but with my recipe magic I edited it into fluffy perfection. The ingredients are great but the measurements were a bit off for a delicate crumb.
My changes for a softer crumb:
3 c of cake flour
3 t baking powder
1/4 c cocoa powder
2 c sugar
1/2 c orange juice
I made the buttermilk with the vinegar and let it sit.
I pureed the beets while warm until they were like baby food then I strained them to remove any chunks.
I baked them in buttered and parchment lined glass pans for 45 minutes.
I hope this helps anyone who wanted a different consistency. Great recipe with good bones, thanks!!!
I had a panic this morning because I couldn’t find this recipe and have not been able to find another one that comes anywhere near it!!
Anyway, thankfully I found it at last!
Real beets and oranges, the MOST DELICIOUS thing i have ever put in my mouth!
Have also made a gf version with almond flour and was equally incredible!
Thanks so much!!!!
So, so good!!! My daughter and I decided to give this a go and it was amazing!!! We decided against cake flour since we couldn’t find organic so I just used AP Flour but sifted it along with the other dry ingredients! It came out so light and fluffy and the most gorgeous color! This one will be my go to forever for a red velvet!!! Thank you!
Where is the beet puree recipe? I don’t see it anywhere on this web page.