Healthy Red Velvet Cake Recipe (sugar free, gluten free, dairy free)

Healthy Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

This is definitely an exciting cake to share.  As embarrassing as it is, it took me nine trials to make a successful all-naturalnutritionally balanced, healthy Red Velvet Cake.  I’ve done the research, I’ve done the measuring, I’ve done the thinking, and I’ve definitely done the taste testing (where do you think all those batches went?!).  Thank goodness every trial was healthy, otherwise my hips would be hanging off the seat as I type this…

Anyways, making a tasty and healthy Red Velvet Cake took a lot more work than I thought.  The batter has to be acidic, the cake has to be moist, it has to taste sweet sweet sweet, and lastly, it has to look red.  Duh.  But to meet my standards, the recipe also has to be good for you, which is quite the contrary to the classic Southern recipe.  Here are the ingredients I had to swap:

  • AP Flour, Cake Flour  >  Whole Grain Gluten-Free Flours
  • Oil, Butter, Shortening  >  Beet Puree, Coconut Oil
  • Artificial Food Coloring  >  Natural Food Coloring
  • Eggs, Egg Yolks  >  Egg Whites
  • Buttermilk  >  Unsweetened Almond Milk
  • Sugar  >  All-Natural Erythritol

That’s a lot of substituting to make, yes?  So, I guess we should start from the beginning:  Trial #1.

Take a deep breath…

Trial #1:

I based the recipe off my Citrus Pound Cake recipe, since that is the recipe my friends and family request me to make the most.  The texture was great, but had no flavor whatsoever.  The cake was reddish, but not burn-your-eyes-out red like the classic red velvet cakes.  The frosting was too thin and wasn’t very sweet.

Trial #2:
I improved some of the problems from Trial #1, but the cake tasted off.  I tried coloring it without food coloring by using beet puree but it turned more like a faded fuchsia.  There wasn’t enough cocoa and the cake was a little dry.

Trial #3:
I changed routes and decided to make Red Velvet Brownies rather than cake.  I based the recipe off my Lemony Peach Blondies, but it turned a Devil’s Food Cake color and tasted too much of chocolate to be a red velvet.

Trial #4:
I fixed some of the problems from Trial #3 but the brownies still had that Devil’s Food Cake color.  The brownies were extremely doughy, sticky and difficult to slice.  It had a less noticeable chocolate flavor, but now it had no flavor.

Trial #5:
This trial ended up being really doughy and sticky as well.  It was slightly cakey and had a great taste but the flavor was simply not that of a red velvet.  Unfortunately, it was an unappealing faded red-brown color.  Ugly, but tasty!

Trial #6:
This trial = DISASTER!  I doubled the recipe and baked the batter in cake pans rather than brownie pans.  The cake was soft, moist and delicious, yet a little on the dense side.  I tried using a different brand of food coloring but it turned the cake a hideous greyish-brown color.  While people liked the cake, no one really understood what the main flavor was.  I told them it was supposed to be a red velvet but ended up looking like chocolate.  Didn’t matter too much though, cake is cake.  And it’s healthy?  Okay, this cake is good cake!

Trial #7:
I quit it with the red and made this (Orange Velvet) Pumpkin Cake instead.

Trial #8:

I did some more research on how to get a cake to turn red naturally.  It’s a science, not something I could guess on.  So when I sliced into this cake I thought I was going to see red.  Oh I saw red, just not in the freaking cake.  GAH!  I wanted to cry and throw my stand mixer out the window smush the cake with my hands.  I carved myself a slice and angrily shoved it in my face.  Oh.  My.  Gosh… it was delicious.  It was a bit dense, like the previous trial, but so damn good.

Trial #9:  (Finally, success!)
Before I even turned on the oven, I expected a baking failure that day.  I mean, I was let down 8 times already, my confidence in baking truncated with each failed trial… I expected less than post-worthy results that day.  To my surprise, though, things were looking up!  The batter was a bright fuchsia and turned more and more red as the cakes baked in the oven.  Good things do happen when you least expect them to.  I sliced the cake and my heart skipped a beat, I almost fainted.

FINALLY.  It was RED!  (Thank you baking gods)

I was so excited to take a bite that I ate a slice right off the cake stand.

This Healthy Red Velvet Cake is absolutely delicious.  It’s sweet, it’s fluffy, it’s moist, it’s red.  Naturally red.  It’s nutritious, free of sugar, butter, and all things artificial and manmade.

If you gave this to me when I was ten years old (you know, when I ate three Hershey bars a day and ate Pillsbury frosting out of the tub?), I would have eaten this without any complaints.  I would have eaten this with my hands (because who needs a fork?) in about 2 minutes flat.

Oh wait, that’s what I did as a twenty year old…

Anywaysss, this cake is magnificent.  Both a success and accomplishment that were a long time coming.  Nine trials long, but totally worth every hour spent researching (and eating).

Naughty or Nice Cookbook: The ULTIMATE Healthy Dessert Cookbook – Jessica Stier of Desserts with Benefits

Naughty or Nice Cookbook: The ULTIMATE Healthy Dessert Cookbook – Jessica Stier of Desserts with Benefits
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Healthy Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Servings: 2 8" cake layers



Recipe Notes

I originally wasn't going to share the recipe here because I worked so incredibly hard on publishing Naughty or Nice.  But, I understand not having a recipe here can be frustrating.  So, I'll meet you halfway...  how does that sound?  I'll show you all the ingredients I use in the recipe.  That way, you can determine on your own whether or not the cookbook is for you!
Nutrition Facts
Healthy Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Amount Per Serving (1 cake)
Calories 220 Calories from Fat 90
% Daily Value*
Fat 10g15%
Saturated Fat 6g38%
Sodium 200mg9%
Carbohydrates 28g9%
Fiber 3g13%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 5g10%
Calcium 100mg10%
Iron 1.1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Cake & Cupcakes



Be happy.

Live fully.

Feel naughty, eat nice.


– Jess


95 comments on “Healthy Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting”

  1. Hi Jessica!

    I’m pretty impressed with the effort you’ve put into coming up with this recipe. I recently started experimenting with healthy desserts and this recipe looks perfect for Valentines.

    I have a couple of questions tho, because event though I always prefer to bake recipes that are as healthy as possible, I really do not need them to be gluten free, and It’s okay by me if instead of being 100% sugary and fatty they are at least half.. having said that, can the Oat flour be substituted with Spelt flour instead?. Also, I live in Denmark and I don’t think they sell Grapeseed oil here (or at least I haven’t been able to find it), so what can I substitute that one for? Sunflower oil maybe? I’m thinking Coconut oil might alter the taste somewhat.

    And I’m not such a big fan of Stevia and prefer not too use too much of it, so can the 2 tsp Stevia Extract be substituted with Agave Syrup instead?, and then maybe eliminate the Erythritol? since Agave it’s already so sweet… I had never heard of Erythritol before and wouldn’t know where to find it here anyways. If it can not be eliminated, maybe adding some granulated Sugar Stevia instead? what would be the right measure?

    Thanks in advance for your reply 🙂 … I’m looking forward to preparing this beautiful cake!


    • Lizy-
      Thanks so much Lizy!
      I don’t have any baking experience with spelt flour so I can’t be sure if it will replace the oat flour. In general, I find out flour to be a difficult ingredient to replace.
      You can use any other oil instead of the grapeseed oil. Sunflower or coconut should work just fine 🙂
      As for the stevia replacement, I’m afraid that can’t be replaced with agave. The extra liquid will throw off the dry:wet ratio in the recipe.

  2. Thanks so much for the answers, I will try the cake using all the ingredients but the Erythritol which I can’t find here, lets see how it turns out 🙂


  3. It’s difficult to find gluten free oats here (Australia) can you suggest an alternative to the oat flour?

    • Mandy-
      I’m hesitant to give out any substitutions for this recipe because red velvet is a science… another flour might turn the cake darker or even brown. Plus, oat flour is pretty unique when baked (it absorbs liquid, acts as a binder, and provides a good flavor). I would suggest buying oat flour online, that’s where I get mine! 😀

  4. Hi 😉 this cake looks really good.
    I have a question. ¿Can I use whole eggs instead of whites ? If yes ,,how many.

    • Chana-
      I haven’t tried using whole eggs in this recipe but I’m sure it would work out just fine! Just crack eggs directly into a measuring cup until you get 3/4 cup worth of eggs… it should be about 3 large eggs. I hope you like the cake! 😀

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  10. So do I have to buy the cookbook to get the filial recipe? I’m trying to find a earthy “red” cake for my daughter, her favorite color, and need quickly😬

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