Beet Red Velvet Cake

Red velvet cake is my guilty pleasure. Which is always interesting to me and most people because I’m a huge advocate for natural things…which red velvet is most certainly not. Every time I make traditional red velvet, I shudder at the entire bottle of red dye going into it. But something about the luxurious color and flavor (probably from the food dye lol) makes it so enticing for me.

I’ve been trying (with not much success) to naturally dye red velvet or leave the dye out. Natural dyes don’t do much and I end up with a strange brown color that’s not “chocolate” enough to look normal. Leaving the dye out somehow changes the experience and the flavor.

Enter in, BEET red velvet cake. I finally had a leftover beet to use to make this cake that I’ve been wanting to try for forever. It has a lovely, moist crumb and a tangy and earthy flavor. This will probably be my go-to red velvet now that I know I can leave out the food dye!

P.S. Roast the beets in the oven, even though it takes forever. I tried to microwave them and I almost set my microwave on fire, all the while making my entire kitchen smell like awful smoke for hours. The microwave still has a lingering smoky smell to this day…whoops.

Processed with VSCO with m5 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with m5 preset


  • 3 medium beets
  • ¾ cup (170 grams) butter, softened
  • ¾ cup (180 milliliters) buttermilk, room temperature
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (200 grams) cake flour (sift before measuring)
  • 3 tablespoons (24 grams) Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1 ⅛ teaspoon (6 grams) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (6 grams) salt
  • ½ teaspoon (3 grams) baking soda
  • 3/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 3 eggs


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Wash beets and wrap in aluminum foil. Bake until the tip of a knife slides easily into the largest beet, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Cool until beets can be handled, then peel. (This may be done up to a day ahead.)
  2. Butter and flour two 8 inch or 9 inch cake pans.
  3. In a food processor, chop beets to pieces about the size of finely diced onions. Measure 1 cup and set aside (remaining beets can be reserved for another purpose). Return cup of beets to the food processor. Purée with buttermilk, lemon juice, vinegar and vanilla until smooth.
  4. Sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Set aside.
  5. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter until soft. Slowly add sugar and beat until creamy. Beat in eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.
  6. Alternate adding flour mixture and beet mixture to butter mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, and beating for 10 seconds after each addition. Scrape down the bowl after each addition of the wet ingredients.
  7. Divide batter between prepared cake pans, smoothing the tops. Bake until a cake tester inserted in the cake comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Remove pans from oven and cool completely on a wire rack.
  8. To assemble, place cake layer flat side down on a serving platter. Drop icing onto cake and, using a flat spatula, spread evenly over top. Place second layer flat side down on top of first layer. Use remaining frosting to cover top and sides of cake.

Adapted from NYT Cooking.

Leave a Reply