Red Velvet 3

Greetings and salutations my fellow Paleo readers. How was your week? Ok now ask me about mine! Ask me about mine! Well if you insist…I had the most exciting week ever!!! (jumping up and down). Juli from PaleOMG featured me on her blog! If you haven’t read the post already you can find it here. I have been a huge fan of hers ever since I embarked on my Paleo journey. She is insanely talented, crazy adorable and I love her to pieces so imagine how thrilled I was! I also got in touch with George from Civilized Caveman and it turns out we live in the same city and know a ton of the same people! What a small world! He’s super nice and totally down to earth, if you haven’t checked out his amazing recipes you need to. I want to make everything he posts and his photography is legit! I will be writing a guest blog post for his site soon and I’m dying to do a feature post on him for my blog so stay tuned, big things are happening.

Now on to the delicious stuff! So one of my very favorite things in life is Red Velvet. Not the fabric, the food! Every year on my birthday I hold an “Annual Red Velvet Cake Contest” where I ask (make) my friends and family submit an entry of either a Red Velvet Cake or Red Velvet Cupcakes (with Cream Cheese Frosting, substitutions will not be accepted) and then I judge them, with my Red Velvet connoisseur taste buds, based on their deliciousness, and announce a winner! The winner really doesn’t get anything and it’s not really even a contest, it’s just a plan (trick) that I’ve devised to get more Red Velvet Cake into my life by using my birthday as an excuse (guilt trip). What?! This is Red Velvet we are talking about here people, can you blame me?!

Unfortunately Red Velvet Cake isn’t at all Paleo in the slightest. Ugh. I know. Isn’t this the part where someone shouts out “I object your Honor!” Oh no? That doesn’t work in Paleo food situations? Well it should. Anywho since it’s my half-birthday month and I really wanted Red Velvet, I decided to make some Paleo Red Velvet Cupcakes with a Cream “Not Really Cheese” Frosting. The hard part was figuring out how to make them red without using red food coloring. My friend Justin told me once that they use the crushed carcasses of some South American insect to make Red Dye #40. Um, gross! I Googled and found out that the original Red Velvet name came from the reaction of vinegar and buttermilk mixed together, which reveals the red pigments in the cocoa. This was before alkaline “Dutch processed” cocoa was widely available so now recipes mostly call for red bug juice, I mean food coloring. I have seen some recipes that use beets so I thought I would just go ahead and give that a try. I based my recipe off of this gluten-free one but made it entirely Paleo just for you (me)! They came out amazing, super chocolatey and extra Red Velvety!

Paleo Red Velvet Cupcakes

2 cups beet puree (see notes below)
3 organic cage-free eggs
1 cup organic palm shortening
1 cup coconut nectar (you could substitute with raw honey)
1/2 cup canned coconut milk, full-fat, room temperature
1/2 cup pear sauce* (If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s near you just use unsweetened applesauce)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup sifted blanched almond flour
3/4 cup coconut flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Dagoba Organic)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon pink himalayan salt

1. For the beet puree take 6 medium sized beets, cut off the stems and wrap in tin foil. I did groups of 3 so I had 2 foil bundles. Bake in the oven on a baking sheet at 400 degrees for an hour. Let cool and then peel off the skin with your fingers or a peeler, it comes off really easy.

To expedite the process, make your Cream “Not Really Cheese” Frosting while your beets are cooking in the oven for an hour. Put the frosting in the refrigerator to chill and firm up a bit while you prepare your cupcake batter.

3. In a small bowl combine your wet ingredients: eggs, palm shortening, coconut nectar, coconut milk, pear sauce, and apple cider vinegar, set aside. In a separate large bowl sift your almond and coconut flour, then add the rest of your dry ingredients, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

4. Once your beets are cooked, peeled, and ready to go, puree them in a food processor, then add your wet ingredients to the beet puree in the food processor and blend until combined. Now fold the wet ingredients from the food processor into the dry ingredients until combined and you have yourself a pretty red velvet cake batter!

5. Line a cupcake pan with foil cupcake liners or silicone baking cups and scoop the batter in to them. At this point you can also use a spatula or a knife to smooth out the tops of the cupcakes. The batter won’t rise too much as it bakes so you can fill to the top of the liner if you want. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. To make sure the cupcakes are done, stick a toothpick or knife into the center and if it comes out clean you are good to go! Let the cupcakes cool completely before adding the Cream “Not Really Cheese” Frosting.

Cream “Not Really Cheese” Frosting
3 cups raw cashews (soaked overnight or at least for 4 hours)
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
1/4 cup coconut nectar (or raw honey)
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 heaping tablespoons canned coconut milk cream, full-fat (refrigerated overnight)
2 tablespoons unsweetened vanilla almond milk
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon coconut oil (melted)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1. In a blender combine all the ingredients and blend until completely smooth. You may have to scrape down the sides of the blender a few times. Once it’s totally smooth, blend some more just to be sure, no one wants lumpy frosting! The batter should resemble a cream cheese frosting like consistency maybe a little bit thinner, it will thicken a bit when you cool it in the fridge. Pour into a large Ziploc bag, or if you’re super fancy pants, put into a piping bag and refrigerate while you prepare the cupcakes.

2. Once the cupcakes are at room temperature and your frosting has been refrigerated, cut a whole in the corner of the large Ziploc bag (or use your piping bag and desired tip) and squeeze frosting in a circular motion around the top of the cupcake. I found what worked best and didn’t over frost my cupcakes was if I started in the center and worked my way out still leaving a lip on the edge of the cupcake because the frosting tends to spread a little.

The night before be sure to remember to soak your cashews and refrigerate your coconut milk. I would buy two cans of full-fat coconut milk, one for the fridge and one for the cupcake batter which you will need at room temperature. If you are super ambitious, the night before you could also cook and puree your beets, but I found it was nice to have that hour while they were cooking to prepare the cupcake batter and the frosting and also to let the frosting cool/harden in the fridge.

I also found that these cupcakes are best at room temperature. When I ate them warm out of the oven (because we all know I can’t wait!) they were a bit crumbly and all over the place. When I ate one (3) for dessert later in the evening they were a true solid cupcake. Also the frosting had sat on top of them at room temperature for a few hours and was INSANELY delicious, it tasted JUST like a real Red Velvet Cupcake with Cream Cheese frosting. The frosting will darken a bit in color when left out. So basically my advice to you (if you can wait that long) is let your cupcakes sit out for an hour or longer, frost them, and then let them set out even longer so that the frosting becomes room temperature as well.

You could also try subbing the Palm Shortening for Coconut Oil. I didn’t have a chance to bake another batch using Coconut Oil, so I honestly can’t say one way or another how it will come out or taste. If you do use Palm Shortening be sure to use a sustainable Eco-friendly kind like Tropical Traditions or Spectrum .

This recipe should make two dozen cupcakes. Enjoy!

*Here is a picture of the Pear Sauce I used from Trader Joe’s. It’s SO yummy!


Um, so how cool are beets?! I never knew! I had so much fun making this recipe because everything was so pretty! The beet color stains everything but wipes right up! At one point my hands were entirely stained blood red and I was holding a big fat butcher knife in my hand, if anyone had walked in at that exact moment it would have been so hilarious! I was waiting for Brad to come downstairs so I could freak him out, but then I got tired of waiting and giggling to myself so I went back to cooking. Lucky for you I did because these cupcakes are spectacular! I’m going to (reluctantly) bring the rest of them into my CrossFit gym tonight to give to all the people who did 13.3 twice. Yes I was one of them, yes I can barely walk today and yes if I never see another wall ball again it will be too soon.


70 Comments on Red Velvet Cupcakes

  1. Elvis
    March 25, 2013 at 2:09 pm (11 years ago)

    Yes ma’am! This is how I am getting your post! Julie talked about you on her post and I am always looking for new sites that are paleo. Can’t wait to see more of your yummy food!!

  2. Tara Sotelo
    March 25, 2013 at 3:01 pm (11 years ago)

    I’m so excited…I swear, like two days ago I was mourning red velvet anything! I will probably use coconut oil in these, but how do you think coconut butter would work??

    • cleaneatingwithadirtymind
      March 25, 2013 at 3:23 pm (11 years ago)

      Red Velvet is the BEST! I refuse to live with out it. Period. I’m probably just as happy about this recipe as you guys are! 🙂 Try the coconut oil they should come out just as moist.

  3. MamaNic
    March 25, 2013 at 3:19 pm (11 years ago)

    Say, wha?! Will be attempting these in the near future. Thank YOU for making a paleo friendly version of my guilty pleasure!

    • cleaneatingwithadirtymind
      March 25, 2013 at 3:26 pm (11 years ago)

      Thank YOU for reading! Have fun with these! They are crazy delicious and cooking with beets is SO fun, who would have thought?!

  4. Katie
    March 25, 2013 at 6:25 pm (11 years ago)

    I also found you through Juli’s page. Receiving this recipe email completely made my day. I absolutely love red velvet and it took everything in me to resist it during valentines day. It’s awesome there is a paleo recipe for them. Can’t wait to make them. 🙂

    • cleaneatingwithadirtymind
      March 25, 2013 at 8:11 pm (11 years ago)

      I’m so happy this made your day! One should never have to resist Red Velvet, it goes against all laws of nature. Make this recipe as soon as you get a chance!

  5. Hollis K.
    March 26, 2013 at 7:16 am (11 years ago)

    I wanted to let you know since you are a shopper at Trader Joe’s that in a pinch you could also use the cooked beets in the fresh veggie section of the store. I’ve used those for many recipes with great success! Thanks for the ‘how to’ to roast the beets if you have time!

    • cleaneatingwithadirtymind
      March 26, 2013 at 8:53 am (11 years ago)

      OMG I had no idea! Thanks so much for sharing! I don’t know what I would do without Trader Joe’s!

      • Lori
        April 16, 2014 at 2:54 pm (10 years ago)

        I use organic baby food in the jar! Presto!!

      • Vanessa Barajas
        April 17, 2014 at 10:07 am (10 years ago)

        Wow! AMAZING idea Lori! Thanks for the share! I secretly love baby food. The peaches are my favorite! 😀

  6. Teri
    March 26, 2013 at 2:19 pm (11 years ago)


    Nice blog!

    Just a point of information: Red 40 is a petroleum-derived dye. Your friend was probably thinking of cochineal extract (carmine) which comes from insects. Of course the cochineal is completely Paleo, but the red 50 is not 😉

    • Teri
      March 26, 2013 at 2:21 pm (11 years ago)

      Typo above, second reference should obviously be red 40.

  7. Ana
    March 27, 2013 at 8:39 am (11 years ago)

    Love your site! heard about it from the great juli! question on your site in some pictures you have what looks like a piece of chocolate that looks like it has a clover on it. i was wondering what kind of chocolate is that??

    • cleaneatingwithadirtymind
      March 27, 2013 at 9:17 am (11 years ago)

      It’s my favorite dark chocolate in the world! Ok not like I’ve really tried every single dark chocolate in the world or anything (I wish) but you know what I mean! 🙂 It’s from Trader Joe’s and it’s ‘The Dark Chocolate Lover’s Chocolate Bar – 85% Cocoa’ The bar uses Tumaco cocoa beans from Colombia and it’s the most flavorful, almost floral like dark chocolate, I love it!

  8. Jamie
    March 27, 2013 at 5:02 pm (11 years ago)

    I found you through Julie’s blog also.

    Am new to Paleo and constantly looking for recipes (I suck at cooking as it is). I was just wondering, did you try refrigerating the cupcakes? If so, how did they hold up? I tend to like my stuff cold.

    Looking forward to your future posts!

    • cleaneatingwithadirtymind
      March 28, 2013 at 8:49 am (11 years ago)

      The cupcakes were long gone before any refrigeration was necessary! 🙂 I have a lot of Paleo mouths to feed besides my own! Maybe try throwing a few in there to see how they do? That way if they don’t come out how you wanted you didn’t waste the entire batch.

  9. Danielle
    March 27, 2013 at 8:16 pm (11 years ago)

    I HAD to try these tonight- mind you a little more work then I’d normally enjoy- these cupcakes were sweet sweet awesomeness! Awesomeness! I was scared a little so I tried to follow the recipe to a t, but ended up with a little less honey in the batter- and butter instead of of palm shortening – but my oh my- thank you for sharing this recipe. Its a must try team! I can’t wait to share my goodness- or should I!?

    • cleaneatingwithadirtymind
      March 28, 2013 at 8:46 am (11 years ago)

      I’m so glad you liked them! They say “sharing is caring” but I don’t know if I agree with that, especially when it comes to red velvet!!! 🙂

  10. Laura
    March 27, 2013 at 8:43 pm (11 years ago)

    Wow! I don’t particularly like red velvet, but somehow you made my mouth water with this recipe. I am in charge of dessert for our family party this weekend and plan to give these a try. Thank you!

    • cleaneatingwithadirtymind
      March 28, 2013 at 8:54 am (11 years ago)

      I’m so happy you are going to give the red velvet a try! I hope you and the family enjoy them! Also the Paleo Chocolate Cheesecake and Paleo Sea Salted Nutella cookies would be fun Paleo treats to bring to any family party if you weren’t in the mood for red velvet. I’m always in the mood for red velvet so I can’t imagine! 🙂

  11. Kerry
    May 22, 2013 at 10:37 am (11 years ago)

    Im needing a red velvet cake recipe for this coming Friday. My middle girl is having her 14th birthday and this is the cake she requested. I was wanting to find something healthy and came across this recipe. Im wondering about the beets. Can you taste them in the recipe? Also, is there a sub for the coconut milk? She doesnt like the taste of coconut. The recipe and pictures look great!

    • cleaneatingwithadirtymind
      May 22, 2013 at 10:41 am (11 years ago)

      Hi there! You cannot taste cooked beets at all, they literally taste like nothing, they are just used as a natural food coloring and plus they’re a vegetable so they’re good for you! As far as the coconut milk goes, if you do dairy you can omit the coconut milk and apple cider vinegar and replace them with buttermilk. If you don’t do dairy, honestly you can’t taste the coconut in the coconut milk at all. Mixed with all the other ingredients they literally taste just like red velvet. Hope that helps! Let me know how it comes out or if you have anymore questions!

  12. katie arnold
    June 19, 2013 at 10:06 am (10 years ago)

    This looks really yummy, but it doesn’t look like it’s paleo because of the cashews and palm shortening and maple syrup. Looks more like a yummy clean eating recipe.

  13. Barb
    November 3, 2013 at 12:03 pm (10 years ago)

    Delicious! Loved these

  14. Jennifer DeMent
    January 30, 2014 at 11:12 am (10 years ago)

    When you use coconut flour, do you pack it in the cup and then sift it? I notice that some people do and others don’t and it makes it a sneaky ingredient, because it packs down so much that the difference in amounts is huge.

    • Vanessa Barajas
      January 30, 2014 at 11:44 am (10 years ago)

      Good question! I just dip my measuring cup in the bag until full, then when I’m pulling it out I scrape the excess off the top with the edge of the bag. I don’t find the need to sift coconut flour because it’s already fine enough. I do sift almond flour unless I’m using Honeyville because it’s already super fine. Hope that helps.

  15. Tina
    February 14, 2014 at 4:08 am (10 years ago)

    Would canned beets work in this-if u dont havr regular beets? Would u roast them too?

    • Vanessa Barajas
      February 14, 2014 at 9:09 am (10 years ago)

      That’s a really good question! They should work fine, I’m not sure that the color would be as red since canned beets tend to be a bit darker. Also I would still use your food processor to puree them so they blend into the batter well. Let me know how it goes! These cupcakes are a great sneaky way to get some veggies in. 🙂

  16. Vicky
    March 6, 2014 at 8:48 pm (10 years ago)

    Hi! I’m new to your site and have been looking through your dessert recipes. This recipe looks amazing and I am planning on making it this weekend. I’m hoping you can answer my question before then.

    Can I replace the fresh lemon juice with something else possibly a standard sub like vinegar?

    Thanks in advance. I really appreciate it!

    • Vanessa Barajas
      March 7, 2014 at 9:21 am (10 years ago)

      Hey there! I’m excited for you to make these! I’m not sure how a vinegar sub would work, since it calls for 1/2 cup of lemon juice and 1/2 a cup of vinegar sounds a little extreme. If you can’t use lemon juice I would go ahead and use vinegar but add all the other ingredients first, add small amounts of the vinegar at a time, and taste test until you’re happy with the result. Hope that helps! Also if you can do dairy then I would suggest maybe a standard cream cheese based frosting. Let me know how it goes!

  17. Vicky
    March 7, 2014 at 9:35 pm (10 years ago)

    Great advice, thanks! I really appreciate how you run your blog and how responsive you are to your readers. It really encourages me to come back, try more recipes, and leave comments. You’re doing such a great job with your blog and have so many great looking recipes. I will definitely be coming back and trying your recipes out. Thanks again!

    • Vanessa Barajas
      March 8, 2014 at 1:11 pm (10 years ago)

      Wow thanks Vicky! What an amazing compliment! You’re my favorite! I really hope you enjoy the red velvet and let me know if you want me to suggest any of my personal favorites. 🙂

  18. nicolle
    May 20, 2014 at 6:29 pm (10 years ago)

    What can I sub for applesauce? I don’t have any and this looks amazing, to make ASAP 😉

    • Vanessa Barajas
      May 21, 2014 at 9:27 am (10 years ago)

      That’s a good question! Try avocado! Not sure how that will change the color though! 😉

  19. Yvonne
    May 27, 2014 at 4:32 pm (10 years ago)

    Hi, this looks Amazing! 🙂
    Can you please let me know how many carbs per cupcake.
    Thanks! 🙂

    • Vanessa Barajas
      May 29, 2014 at 10:51 pm (10 years ago)

      Hi there, I’m not sure, but I do know there are a few nutritional data sites where you can enter ingredients and they will give you the breakdown!

  20. Melissa
    July 7, 2014 at 1:33 pm (9 years ago)

    I cannot wait to try this recipe for my boyfriend’s birthday. Red velvet is his favorite! He is allergic to cashews, is there another nut you suggest?
    Thank you in advance.

    • Vanessa Barajas
      July 8, 2014 at 11:40 am (9 years ago)

      Oh I hope he likes them! Hmm, that’s a tough one. I feel like cashews are the only nut that gets close to that cream cheese taste. You could just use a high quality cream cheese if there are no dairy allergies? Or even like a sweetened goat cheese might be good? You could even play around with a coconut butter glaze, or a buttercream frosting instead of cream cheese? Let me know what you think and maybe I can help you create something!

      • Melissa
        July 8, 2014 at 1:31 pm (9 years ago)

        So many ideas! I like the sweetened goat cheese or cream cheese idea

  21. Tiffany
    July 19, 2014 at 11:48 pm (9 years ago)

    Okay, I’m a total dummy where beets are concerned! Never had them or cooked with them. So are these the same as the gmo sugar beets? How do I tell the difference? I don’t want to accidentally give my family exactly what I’m trying to avoid :/

    • Vanessa Barajas
      July 22, 2014 at 9:48 am (9 years ago)

      Haha this is actually a GREAT question! The beets I use are not sugar beets, they are common red beets or beetroot. They are like a reddish purple in color and you can find them in the produce section of literally any grocery store. They are very common and very healthy. Sugar beats are white in color. 🙂

      • Tiffany
        July 22, 2014 at 9:51 am (9 years ago)

        Thank you! That helps A LOT! Lol learn something new every day 🙂

  22. Heidi
    September 7, 2014 at 6:43 pm (9 years ago)

    Can you make a cake with this recipe rather than cupcakes? If yes, any suggestions?

    • Vanessa Barajas
      September 9, 2014 at 4:21 pm (9 years ago)

      Absolutely. I would double the recipe and use a 8-9″ springform pan. Let me know how it goes.

  23. Bethany
    February 7, 2016 at 6:43 pm (8 years ago)

    Eek! So excited to try these red velvet cupcakes! I am a baker and I recently started doing paleo so anything paleo sweetness is right up my Alley. Sadly I am allergic to coconut flour, do you think it would change much if I used all almond flour in the recipe?

    • Vanessa Barajas
      February 10, 2016 at 11:47 am (8 years ago)

      That’s a great question! Coconut Flour is a lot more absorbent than almond flour, so it may affect it slightly, I would suggest trying 1 cup of almond flour and going from there to offset the absorbancy. 🙂 If you are a baker you would LOVE my cookbook! It’s a Paleo baking book but does have savory recipes too. 🙂 Happy Baking!

  24. ET
    September 13, 2016 at 6:14 pm (7 years ago)

    Hi , do you think it would work on a cake and slice well ? Thanks

    • Vanessa Barajas
      October 17, 2016 at 3:54 pm (7 years ago)

      Hi There,

      You could definitely make a cake out of this, I would say either a 6″ or 8″ would work best. I haven’t tried it, but it should be fine.

  25. Nicole
    March 25, 2017 at 10:48 am (7 years ago)

    Hi! Your recipes are fail proof, just saying! Every week I have to bake a cake for my husbands fire station. They are shocked your cakes are gluten free and taste so good hahah ;). I want to make these red velvet cupcakes into an 8″ cake. Would I need to double this recipe? How many cupcakes does it make?

    • Vanessa Barajas
      March 27, 2017 at 4:02 pm (7 years ago)

      Oh yay! Glad to hear the cakes are such a hit! This is one of the first recipes I ever made so I had no idea what I was doing when it came to writing recipes! haha. If I had to guess I’d say 12 and I’d definitely use an 8″ cake pan for sure. 🙂 Happy baking!

  26. Liz Simpson
    February 14, 2018 at 12:37 pm (6 years ago)

    Hi! Looks amazing! Wondering if I can cook this in 9 in rounds instead of cupcakes??? For V-Day….I just like cutting into a cake!

    • Vanessa Barajas
      February 15, 2018 at 3:44 pm (6 years ago)

      Shouldn’t be a problem! 🙂

  27. Sara
    January 17, 2019 at 3:33 pm (5 years ago)

    I can’t seem to find a baking powder without corn. What would you suggest I use instead?

    • Vanessa Barajas
      January 17, 2019 at 4:10 pm (5 years ago)

      Pamela’s and Hain brands make corn-free baking powder. You can also make your own at home by using cream of tartar and baking soda, or if you want to pre-make baking powder for later use, you can mix a ratio of 2:1:1 of cream of tartar, baking soda, and arrowroot or tapioca starch. Hope that helps. 🙂

  28. Aunque Tu
    January 21, 2019 at 10:57 pm (5 years ago)

    Yes ma’am! This is how I am getting your post! Julie talked about you on her post and I am always looking for new sites that are paleo. Can’t wait to see more of your yummy food!!

    • Vanessa Barajas
      January 30, 2019 at 1:47 pm (5 years ago)

      Awesome, welcome! Juli is just the best! She posts a LOT more than I do, hahaha, but I’m hoping to have some new recipe posts up soon! Thanks so much for following along! 🙂


8Pingbacks & Trackbacks on Red Velvet Cupcakes

  1. […] the beets.  Beets just make the cupcakes super moist! For the cupcake, I modified a recipe from Clean Eating with a Dirty Mind.  I made up the frosting on my own since I wanted something light and sweet.  Add a blueberry on […]

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