Beet Red Velvet Cupcakes

Photo: Stephany Ayoubi

Did you know that some red food dye is made from cochineal or carmine insects? After learning about this, I was eager to create an alternative recipe using "real” ingredients. Red velvet cake has always been a favorite of mine, so why not use beets for the rich red color?

There was no artificial coloring used in this recipe and it came out to be a beautiful and bright red color. The beets also worked as the perfect emulsifier, so there was no need for eggs, butter or milk. Therefore, this recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan!

Beet Red Velvet Cupcakes

Recipe by Stephany Ayoubi


  • ½ cup coconut sugar
  • ½ cup tapioca flour
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch processed)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ⅔ cup coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 small beets, boiled, peeled and pureed (approximately 1 cup beet puree)
  • ⅓ cup agave nectar
  • 3 flaxseed eggs (made by mixing 3 tablespoons flaxseed in 6 tablespoons water)
  • Sliced fresh strawberries, for garnish


  • ½ cup vegan cream cheese, softened
  • ⅓ cup vegan butter, softened
  • 2½ cups coconut sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In one bowl, combine coconut sugar, tapioca flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. In a second bowl, combine lemon juice, coconut oil, vanilla extract, beet puree, agave nectar and flaxseed eggs.
  3. In batches, slowly whisk dry ingredients into the liquid ingredients.
  4. Pour batter into a cupcake pan filled with liners.
  5. Bake for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove and cool.
  6. While cupcakes bake, prepare vegan cream cheese frosting. Using a hand mixer, combine vegan cream cheese and vegan butter. In small increments, mix in coconut sugar.
  7. Spread frosting onto cooled cupcakes. Garnish with fresh sliced strawberries.
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Stephany Ayoubi
​Stephany Ayoubi is a dietetics student at Rutgers University.