This all-natural, Mini Red Velvet Cake features everything we love about traditional red velvet cake without the food coloring. Deeply moist and flavorful cake layers beaming with a bright crimson color thanks to the magic of BEETS! Roasted beets are pureed and incorporated into the cake batter to not only color the cake but also impart tenderness and a natural sweetness with no weird taste! It’s finished with classic cream cheese frosting, too. You’ll love this small-batch red velvet cake that’s the most festive sweet treat for nearly any celebration or special occasion!

mini red velvet cake with knife on small beige plate

I enjoy the art of baking oh so very much, y’all. It was my first love before I started this food blog 8 years ago this month. Ahhh time flies. Cupcakes, layer cakes, and all bakes in between…I love ’em. And so, every year I like to celebrate with a new cake recipe or “somethin’ sweet.” To me, scratch-made cakes are so therapeutic to make and also fun to share with my peeps. Red velvet cake is one of my holy grail cakes and I’m so hyped about sharing this cake recipe with ya!

Mini Red Velvet Cake With No Dye ❤️

This ruby-hued chocolate cake originated in the 1920s and was adopted into Southern American culture and turned into an iconic dessert. The term “red velvet” refers to the cake’s famous color and plush, velvety texture as well. While this signature cake is my favorite, I’ve never been a fan of food coloring for it. It’s said that this cake originally did not use food coloring.

The subtle red color of red velvet cake came from the chemical reaction of vinegar/buttermilk with cocoa powder. Food dye was something later added along the way in recipes to make the color much more pronounced. But how do you get that deep, vibrant color without it? Testing and heaps of research about it have kept me up at night, ha. Only kidding.

Real talk, I wanted a damn-near closely colored cake without the use of synthetic dyes like Red 40 and here we are. Yes indeed. An unmistakable crimson-hued cake that’s super moist and flavorful with zero food coloring used. Friends, thanks to the *beetroot* vegetable it is possible!

slice of red velvet cake on small white plate with gold fork

Beetroot or Beets & Baking

I know some of you are like whaaat?! Yes, just like how we use carrots in carrot cake and sweet potato in bakes like my sweet potato pound cake, beets work similarly in this red velvet cake. What I love most about this beet cake is that there is no weird, funny taste at all with the use of it. Beets add a natural sweetness and moisture to baked goods. I’ve tested this recipe to perfection and even those who loathe beets will be surprised at the wizardry going on here.

Ingredients Needed For This Cake:

(Note: the full ingredients list, including measurements, is provided in the recipe card directly below.)

  • For the red velvet cake: Red beets, flour, dutch-process cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, brown sugar, granulated sugar, oil, buttermilk, vinegar, eggs, and vanilla essence.
  • For the cream cheese frosting: Cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla essence. Red velvet cake + this tangy classic frosting, yuh!

After some initial prep work with the beets, this entire cake is so easy and comes together with a quickness. She’s a dreamy little mini cake that’s perfect to feed a cozy crowd! Small-scale bakes forever and everrr! 🫶🏾

Prepping Your Beets

First, we need to do some beet prep! Preheat the oven to 400°F. Trim and clean your beet(s). Then coat your beet with oil and wrap tightly in foil. Roast the beet for 45 minutes to 1 hour- or until the beet is completely tender. Let the beet cool until safe to handle then peel the skin off or run under cool water for the skin to slip off. Then place the roasted beet into the body of a high-speed blender or food processor and blitz until the beet is pureed and smooth.

I prefer roasting beets as opposed to boiling. Why? Because just like many other roasted vegetables, doing so brings out the natural sugars during the caramelization process. It makes them richer and sweeter and helps to retain their gorgeous color without any additional work.

mini red velvet cake on beige plate

How To Make This Natural, Mini Red Velvet Cake Recipe:

(Note: please see the recipe card directly below for the complete written instructions.)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray the bottom and sides of two 6-inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray. Then line each pan with a parchment paper round and set baking pans aside. 
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, brown sugar, and granulated sugar and stir the ingredients well to combine. Then add the oil, buttermilk, vinegar, eggs, vanilla essence, and roasted beet puree. Whisk the cake batter until smooth and just combined.
  3. Divide the batter evenly between both pans and gently tap the pans on the counter to help release any air bubbles.
  4. Bake the cakes for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Then carefully invert the cakes onto a wire rack to continue cooling. Let the cakes cool down completely before frosting.
  5. In a stand mixer fitted or in a large bowl using a handheld electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the powdered sugar and continue beating until the frosting is well combined and free of any lumps, about 2-3 minutes. Then add the vanilla essence and beat until fully combined, about 1 minute.
  6. Layer and frost the top and sides of your mini red velvet cake to apply a crumb coat (thin layer of frosting) then place it into the refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes to seal in before you finish frosting the cake.
  7. When done frosting the entire cake, garnish the cake with red velvet cake scrap crumbles, if desired. Slice the cake into servings and enjoy! 🙌🏾
closeup of red velvet cake slice on beige plate

Can I Use Beetroot Powder?

Beetroot powder may cause the color to turn brown because of the reaction between leavening agents and/or other ingredients when baked. The saying that baking is a science is very true. Using different ingredients will likely result in a cake with a different outcome. Use real beets for the best results!

Can I Boil Beets?

If you’d prefer to boil your beets rather than roasting, you can with some notes. Trim the leafy greens but leave about 2 inches of the stem intact (this will help to keep the beet from bleeding when boiling). Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Then add the beets and boil until completely tender, about 30 to 45 minutes- or until you can pierce the beet with a knife. Let the beet cool then trim the stem and peel the skin off or run under cool water for the skin to slip off. Then place the roasted beet into the body of a high-speed blender or food processor and blitz until the beet is pureed and smooth.

red velvet cake slices on plates with gold fork

Tips + Tricks & Recipe Notes About This Mini Red Velvet Cake

More helpful information to know about this small-batch red velvet cake:

  • What’s the occasion or none at all?– This mini red velvet cake with no food coloring is ideal for special occasions like Valentine’s Day + other holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries. Or whip up this cake for absolutely no event at all other than it’s the weekend and you want a fun treat, ha!
  • Beet note– This recipe uses a ½ cup of beet puree. I recommend 1 large beet but feel free to use 2 medium or a few small beets to achieve that measurement. When roasting more than one, wrap each beet individually.
  • Use gloves– Working with beets can cause stained hands, ha. If you don’t mind it, cool. Otherwise, wear disposable gloves to prevent staining.
  • Gluten-free needs?– Swap the all-purpose flour for any gluten-free baking flour as a 1:1 ratio (we love Bob’s Red Mill gf flour!).
  • Storing this cake– You can keep this mini red velvet cake at room temperature on the counter for up to 1 day- otherwise, it will stay good in the fridge, covered for freshness, for about 3-4 days.
slices of red velvet cake on mini white plates stacked on top of each other

This Mini Red Velvet Cake is simply so, so good. From special occasions to just baking for fun, this cake is the perfect move! Be sure to tag @butterbeready in your BBR recipe creations, I sure love to see it when you do. Until next time! 🤟🏾

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mini red velvet cake with knife on small beige plate

Natural, Mini Red Velvet Cake (No Food Coloring!)

  • Author: Quin Liburd
  • Prep Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Category: Desserts & Sweets
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Southern

Description

This all-natural, Mini Red Velvet Cake features everything we love about traditional red velvet cake without the food coloring. Deeply moist and flavorful cake layers beaming with a bright crimson color thanks to the magic of BEETS! Roasted beets are pureed and incorporated into the cake batter to not only color the cake but also impart tenderness and a natural sweetness with no weird taste! It’s finished with classic cream cheese frosting, too. You’ll love this small-batch red velvet cake that’s the most festive sweet treat for nearly any celebration or special occasion!


Ingredients

Scale

For the mini red velvet cake:

  • 1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup packed dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla essence (I use vanilla bean paste)
  • 1 large red beet, roasted & pureed- (about ½ cup)

For the cream cheese frosting:

  • 8-ounces block-style cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 2 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • 12 teaspoons vanilla essence (I use vanilla bean paste)

Instructions

  1. Beet prep: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Trim and clean your beet(s). Then coat your beet with oil and wrap tightly in foil (if roasting more than 1, wrap each one individually). Place the beet on a small baking sheet just in case there’s any leaking. Roast the beet for 45 minutes to 1 hour- or until the beet is completely tender. Let the beet cool until safe to handle then use your hands (fitted with disposable gloves if desired) to peel the skin off or run under cool water for the skin to slip off. Then place the roasted beet into the body of a high-speed blender or food processor and blitz until the beet is pureed and smooth. If needed, add a tablespoon of water to help loosen. This recipe will use a ½ cup of beet puree, set aside.
  2. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray the bottom and sides of two 6-inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray. Then line each pan with a parchment paper round for good measure and spray the parchment paper as well, set baking pans aside. 
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, brown sugar, and granulated sugar and stir the ingredients well to combine. Then add the oil, buttermilk, vinegar, eggs, vanilla essence, and roasted beet puree. Whisk the cake batter until smooth and just combined- the batter should be loose and somewhat runny.
  4. Divide the batter evenly between both pans and gently tap the pans on the counter to help release any air bubbles.
  5. Bake the cakes for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Then carefully invert the cakes onto a wire rack to continue cooling. Let the cakes cool down completely before frosting (below). Once cooled, level the cake tops with a leveler or serrated knife if you have domed tops. I like to save these scraps for decorating crumbles (as pictured)- optional.
  6. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl using a handheld electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. On low speed, add the powdered sugar and then slowly increase to high, continue beating until the frosting is well combined and free of any lumps, about 2-3 minutes. Then add the vanilla essence and beat until fully combined, about 1 minute.
  7. Now let’s frost the cake! On a plate or cake stand, spread a tablespoon of the frosting onto the center of it and spread it out over a few inches (so the cake stays put on the vessel). Place one cooled cake on top of that frosting, add about a ½ heaping cup of frosting on top of the cake and spread the frosting to the edges. Top with the other cooled cake, and frost the top and sides of the cake. Feel free to do a crumb coat: a thin layer of frosting along the outside of the cake then place it into the refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes to seal in before you finish frosting the cake.
  8. When done frosting, garnish the cake with red velvet cake scrap crumbles, if desired. I like to place the finished cake back into the fridge to chill before slicing. Slicing into a completely chilled cake is best! You can keep this mini red velvet cake at room temperature on the counter for up to 1 day- otherwise, it will stay good in the fridge, covered for freshness, for about 3-4 days. Enjoy!

Notes

  1. Gluten-free needs? Swap the all-purpose flour for any gluten-free baking flour as a 1:1 ratio (we love Bob’s Red Mill gf flour!).
  2. Please read blog post in its entirety for more tips + tricks.

Keywords: red velvet cake, mini red velvet cake, beet cake, beetroot cake, southern red velvet cake, cream cheese frosting, small batch red velvet cake

mini red velvet cake slices on beige plate