Gluten Free Red Velvet Cake

There are so many things that I should tell you about this gluten free Red Velvet Cake.  I should tell you about how I baked it this morning while wearing a wrap dress, floral apron, high heels and pearls and looked like I had stepped right out of the 1950s. I should tell you how much my co-workers enjoyed this third cake that I could not bring myself to eat even though it is so delicious. (I am sugared out!). I should tell you how tender, moist and perfect this cake was and how no one could tell that it was gluten free.  I should…but it’s 11:00 PM and it’s time for this gluten free cook to head to bed.  Enjoy the recipe, especially those of you who are planning on making it for your birthdays!

For more yummy gluten free recipes like this, check out my ebook, The Gluten Free Survival Guide. I’ve packed it full with all of my favorite GF recipes, like waffles, pancakes, scones, tortillas and bread. I know you’ll love the recipes as much as we do!

Gluten Free Red Velvet Cake
Southern Red Velvet Cake

Cake Ingredients:
1 3/4 c. canola oil
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs, beaten (room temp)

1 c. brown rice flour
3/4 c. sorghum flour
3/4 c. tapioca starch
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1/4 tsp. salt

1 c. buttermilk (or 1 Tbsp cider vinegar and 1 c. milk substitute)

1 tsp. vanilla
1 oz. red food coloring (this is one of the McCormick’s bottles)
1 Tbsp. cocoa

Frosting Ingredients:
1 box confectioner’s sugar
8 oz. cream cheese (can sub vegan cream cheese)
1 stick butter (room temp)
1 c. chopped nuts (optional)
1 tsp vanilla

Cake Instructions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Use a mixer to cream oil and sugar. With the mixer still going, add one egg at a time and beat until the eggs are thoroughly incorporated. (This step creates an emulsion that holds the batter together)

3. Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl. Make sure they are well mixed, either by sifting the flours or whisking them.

4. Add the flour to the oil and sugar mixture in four parts. Alternate the flour with the buttermilk. You should begin and end with dry ingredients and each part should be mixed in completely before you add the next. (If you were to start with the liquids the emulsion would break.)

5. Make a paste of the cocoa, red food coloring, and vanilla and gently stir it into the batter.

6. Pour the batter into two greased and floured round cake pans. Bake at 350 degrees F for approximately 25 minutes. (A toothpick stuck into the middle of the cake should come out clean when the cake is done)

7. When the cakes have completely cooled, frost with Cream Cheese Frosting.

Frosting Instructions:
1. Cream the confectioner’s sugar, cream cheese, and butter.

2. Mix in the vanilla and chopped nuts.

3. Spread over cooled cake.


  1. Michelle J says:

    Thank you Mary Frances, for posting this! I think I may have slightly deafened my boyfriend with my squeal when I saw this post in my blog reader. I also sent copies of the link to 2 of my baking buddies :) I can’t wait to try it out; hmm, I foresee a quick trip to the store this weekend.

  2. What timing! Thank you! My husbands favorite birthday cake is Red Velvet Cake, and his birthday is on Wednesday next week. Are you a mind reader? Thank you thank you thank you!

  3. I agree with Michelle. I’m at work and wanted to squeal with delight, but cannot as that is somehow inappropriate (though I admit distracting). I have a friend’s bday coming up and I would love to make this for her, including your delicious frosting! Yum, thanks for posting.

  4. OH my WORD.
    That looks FABULOUS!!

    Oh- and I just tried baking your “really good sandwich bread” and I am soso happy. You ROCK.

  5. Ms. Mary Frances-
    Thank you for sharing the most wonderful GF cake recipe I have tried to date! Although I messed up the color, it was delish!

    You’re awesome!

  6. WOW! I am new to your web-site Mary and to eating gluten free. I have been very impressed with the foods and recipes that you share. I have read a number of comments from other GF persons as myself and there comments and suggestions have been so helpful to me. I have been CRAVING homemade biscuits so U’m going to make your recipe and the bread machine loaf.

    I appreciate your hard work because we all have to eat :)

    From the “Evergreen State”

  7. I could find where to contact you directly, so I found this blog on cake so that my question would be at least semi-relevant. Since you host the “GF Cooking School” blog, I thought you could help me. I baked the Namaste chocolate cake mix tonight, and it ended up bubbling over all four edges of the pan and pouring all over the oven racks and floor (yes, I have quite a mess to clean up). I have had this problem one other time with a brownie recipe I make from scratch. Do you know what would cause this to overflow? It said it fit in a 9×13 pan, and that is what I baked it in. Have you had this sort of experience?

    Thanks for your help,

  8. Hi. I just noticed this recipe is not in the index, or under dessert recipes on your sidebar. Thought you’d want to know. :) I remembered it from the feed, and we were looking for it for a special little girl’s birthday…

    Amy B

  9. Just wanted you to know that we made this recipe for my son’s birthday, and it was great! Both my dad and my husband said it was the best cake they had ever tasted! We only used a quarter ofthe called-for food coloring, and I added a bit of water to make the paste. It was beautiful. My son noticed that the icing is better on the second day!


  10. Hi there, I just made this cake yesterday for a birthday party and it was crazy good! everyone loved it. I also wanted to let you know that it seems to be OK to substitute oat flour for the sorghum flour – I could not find any sorghum flour. it still came out quite tasty! Thanks a million!

  11. @southwer: I’ll have to get some oat flour and try that. I’m finally back in a cake baking mood after 5 months! McCann’s Instant Oats are on sale this month at Amazon and I imagine that I could grind that in my food processor to make the flour.

  12. i made this cake for thanksgiving and it turned out great !….except for one thing i would had more cocoa to the cake but other than that it was good!

  13. Thank you for such a delicious recipe. I made this recipe around Christmas-time and it was very yummy. I was curious on the oil, is it 1 and 3/4 cup? I used just 3/4 cup of butter and it was very moist. I didn’t have time to ask you the first time, but I wanted to double check with you before I make it again. That frosting is SOOO good.

    • Hi Michelle, I’m pretty sure that it is 1 and 3/4 c. It’s been a while since I’ve baked it, but I do remember that it seemed like an enourmous amout of oil. That being said, if you liked the cake with only 3/4 c. butter then I’d be tempted to go with that and save on the calories =)

  14. Melissa Coffey says:

    Thank you!! My 13 year old daughter was recently diagnosed with Celiac Disease. It has been a difficult transition. Her birthday is coming up, and she said all she really wants is Red Velvet cake. YEAH!! Now I can give it to her…


  15. This looks SO delicious and I am going to try it for my husband’s birthday (as he can’t eat gluten). I can’t seem to find tapioca starch anywhere, is there a substitute that I could use?

    • @Cassidy: you can use corn starch if you can’t find the tapioca. However, you should be able to order tapioca starch from the Bob’s Red Mill website if you want to give it a try.

  16. Hi, this looks fab – i just made this recipe in cupcakes and they’re gorgeous, i can’t wait to try them! Was about to make the frosting though and you say “1 box confectioner’s sugar” and I buy it in large bags, and no time to go to the store…on the off chance you see this, how much is in a box? thanks, A

  17. nevermind! just went onto amazon and 1 box was 16 oz! thanks again…

  18. Thanks! This was my first cake ever. I made it for my girlfriend who has Celiacs and has always wanted a Red Velvet Cake. It was my Valentines Day surpise. It was delicious!

  19. Just writing in again to say thank you — I made red velvet cupcakes thanks to YOU for valentine’s day and they were SUPERB! You are providing a great service to all of us who have to eat gluten free!

  20. Carole says:

    Can you use tapioca fluor inplace of tapioca starch? If so, do you reduce the amount you use or is it the same?

    Thank you for any and all help!

  21. Thank you for posting this recipe! I just made it for my birthday this last weekend and it was a hit. We did the dairy-free option on the frosting as well and I couldn’t tell the difference. Even though I’m not a big cake fan, it was nice to have a cake for my own birthday that I could actually eat!

  22. I made this recipe and it was lovely. It had a nice rise to it and it was springy. I only had pink food coloring but when I added the cocoa, it turned red so no problem there. I used gel food coloring and that seemed to work well. The only other alteration I made was adding a bit more cocoa for a better cocoa taste. I topped mine with a coconut and cream cheese frosting.

  23. Tiffany says:

    Thank you, Mary for posting this! I made it for our 4th of July and it was wonderful! I only added 1 egg, and made it with chickpea flour instead of white rich flour, because I was out of white rice flour. It still turned out great, a testament to a FAB recipe. I am going to make it again, but without the eggs, for those of us who are vegan and allergic to eggs. Thank you again! What a treat to find your site.

  24. I made this cake for my 30th birthday. It was great. I had a girl who loves red velvet cake try it, she noticed a slightly different texture, but said the flavor was right on. I think it was definately better the 2nd day. I also kept it in the fridge and it was a great treat in July :)

  25. Hi There! I found this recipe after surfing the net for gluten free desserts and boy-o-boy did I luck out! My co-worker has Celiac Disease and she mentioned she would love to have red-velvet cake. Ta-Da! She got exactly that. The only proble I had was finding the Xanthan Gum, but after doing some detective work on the “information highway,” I discovered that you can use un-flavored gelatin as a substitute. Not only did that work out great it was MUCH less expensive!!!! A few other posts mentione dthat using a little bit more cocoa helps, I think this is true. Wish I would have read the blogs before being so anxious and jumping in. Anywho-This recipe rocks! Thanks for sharing!!!

  26. Fantastic recipe. So great to find sources for food that is not bland and dry. Moist chocolate velvet perfection. Thanks for sharing.

  27. Turned out great!! I used Cornflour and Arrowroot instead of the other two flours because I couldn’t find those flours where I live, but it worked just fine!
    I also had to use green food colouring instead of red because the shops were out of red and I was on a time schedule. So that turned out fine too except everyone laughed at the cake.
    Was simply delicious though.

  28. What is a bit more cocoa? Would you double it? Thank you, Susie

  29. I agree with another reviewer about the amount of oil in this cake. I have only nibbled on some scraps of the cake so far since I am serving it for a party tonight. The little bites that I have had seem pretty oily. I will post anther review tomorrow after after having had a proper piece. This might help those who are questioning the quantity of oil in the batter. It does look beautiful so far! :)

  30. Great recipe! I made them today for Thanksgiving tomorrow for my 5 year old who is gluten/milk/casein/egg/peanut free.

    I substituted applesauce for the eggs (1/2 cup total). I took the advice of your other readers regarding the oil; I used 1 cup of canola oil instead of 1 and 3/4 cups. In place of the buttermilk (since he is milk free), I used your suggestion of apple cider vinegar and soy milk instead.

    The result was perfection! Soft, and tasty! I could not bring myself to use an entire bottle of food coloring so I used 3/4 of a 1 oz bottle and it was fine. Probably could have used less. Thanks so much! This is my first effort in making something like this as my sons diagnosis is new. So proud of myself! :-)

  31. Thank you so much! I was diagnosed about a year ago and this wonderful cake is giving me my spark back! Now I can take something wonderful to work and enjoy rather than stress. I did make one change to overcome the oil issue. At Walmart I chose puree mixed fruit. Both containers replaced one cup of oil. The cake was moist and great! My friends that helped with the taste test, noticed a slight baking soda after taste, which did go away the next day. Next time I will leave out the salt and add a tbs of hot water. The fruit may have changed the balance of flavor slightly. My original thought was to find baby puree plumbs, which are at Whole Foods. Next time O will use three small jars of plumbs. I will also play with the recipe to leave out the cocoa and food color, and substitute aricot puree and almond extract. I live in high altitude am very pleased. Thank you so much!

  32. I have made this recipe 4 times, now. I think, even though, it does call for a lot of oil, it is worth it. I substituted some butter and it just wasn’t as good. I added more cocoa and found it improved the flavor as well. I agree with other comments that it doesn’t need so much red dye.
    I have quite a group of gluten-free friends (one of which is believed to be the oldest living celiac in the US, she has been GF for 70 years), they all said this was the best cake they ever tasted. (and we have a really good gf bakery down the street) I served these as cupcakes at my Mom’s Christmas party last week. No one knew they were gluten free. Several people were going up for seconds. When I was seen eating one, my friend said, “oh no! you’re going to get sick!” That was when I admitted that they had no wheat in them, It turned a lot of heads to hear that. It is a great recipe! Thank you!

  33. Thank you Mary Frances,
    Awsome recipe. My whole family enjoyed the velvet cake. I Made this for my son, who is allergic to wheat, milk, soy, eggs, e.t.c. He is 6 years old now and going to be 7 in comming April. This will be great as his birthday cake.
    I followed the substitues suggested by Simone. Also I substitued corn flour for Brown rice flour and amaranth for Sorghum flour. I did not use the red dye or chocolet. But the result is awsome. The texture and flavour are excellent.

    This site is a life saver. Thank you guys.

  34. OMG, this is the most delicious cake I’ve had in 10 years! It seems that right after Christmas, red velvet cupcakes appear everywhere and I just remember loving them as a kid! So I thought I’d try your recipe and it is wonderful! Based on some of the comments, I added an additional tablespoon of cocoa and only about 1/2 ounce of red food coloring. Just perfect! Baked as cupcakes for 20 minutes. The frosting is delicious too. Thank you so much for a yummy treat!!

  35. I like this recipe a lot, however, its not true that the emulsion would break. As long as you have enough flour the cake will hold itself together. You need to be more concerned about emulsions in traditional baked goods with wheat, not GF or with icings. I mixed it all and it came out perfect. I also added more cocoa, about 1/3 cup.

    Thanks for the recipe!

  36. I have made this recipe twice now and hands down it is the best cake my family has ever had. I made it into a lemon cake instead of red velvet and it was wonderful. Instead of the dye and cocoa, I added the zest and juice from half of a large lemon. The other half of the juice and zest went into the lemon frosting – superb! I used duck eggs instead of regular eggs because of allergies! Thank you!

  37. can you use any GF flour in place of the brown rice and sorghum flours? I noticed my local grocery store has the bob’s red mill GF flour, and was wondering if I could use 1 3/4 cups of that instead? i am making cupcakes for my son’s baseball team on tuesday and one of the boys is allergic to gluten, but I thought it’d be a treat for him to enjoy cupcakes with the rest of his team…

  38. I made this cake, exactly as the directions, just substituting potato flour instead of sorghum, which I would not find. The batter was so think I think I would have rolled it into a call and bounced it. Why did this happen?

  39. Sorry-the batter was so THICK I could have rolled it into a BALL adn bounced it!

  40. Did you use potato flour or potato starch flour? I think potato flour is a little heavy for this recipe and very “potato-ey”. Even an all-purpose GF blend I think would work better. You might try ordering sorghum flour online and try again because this is a delicious cake. Made it again for my own birthday a couple of weeks ago!

  41. The flour was potato flour-you might be right about it being heavy-I will order sorghum and try it again. I also had the GF blend, but since I bought all the other flours I thought I would try it. Thanks for the tip-it really taste good anyway!

  42. Just made this cake for the Memorial Day Weekend and everyone loved it! I did tweak it a bit, but only with the flour I used. I used my All Purpose Gluten Free Flour with Millet and it was awesome! Light and airy, not too heavy and the frosting was amazing! No one knew it was gluten free, and I am the only one who eats gluten free!

  43. Meredith says:

    I made this for a coworker of mine who is gluten free. The entire office gobbled it up! The batter seemed a little thick in the bowl, but it came out amazing! I was worried that it wouldn’t rise properly, but this was just perfect. My coworker said this was the best Gluten Free cake she’s ever had, including at a GF bakery. My Neighbor who got a slice, also said I should go into the bakery business. Ha! What a testament to the recipe!!!

    I did follow some suggestions on here that said to add the extra cocoa and less of the red dye. You have to add some water though, otherwise the paste is too dry.

    I was able to find the sorghum flour at Whole foods.

  44. I am making my own gluten free wedding cake, and I wanted red velvet. I just did the trial run, and this recipe is amazing! I substituted coconut flour for the sorghum, and added a bit more buttermilk (as coconut flour is very absorbent), and it is the most moist, delicious red velvet cake I have ever tasted, gluten free or otherwise! The texture is literally perfect, and it lent itself very well to layering. Now if I can just get the tiering part down…

  45. My roommate made this cake for me a few days ago for my birthday. She used the substitute for buttermilk suggested in the recipe since I can’t have milk either. It was amazing. Nice and moist. Everyone was commenting on how it much it tastes like real red velvet cake!


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