There’s something about pancakes that’s just so special. They’re perfect for telling that special person “I love you,” for consoling a friend or family member, or for turning breakfast into brunch! And these dairy-free red velvet pancakes take it up another level. They marry vanilla and chocolate with a pretty reddish hue, and beg to be garnished with fresh berries, maple syrup, powdered sugar, or even dairy-free chocolate syrup!
We’re Sweet on these Dairy-Free Red Velvet Pancakes
This recipe is adapted from one shared with us by Culinary.net, for a special Valentine’s Day treat. We’ve made them dairy-free and have notes and tips in the FAQs below.
What is Red Velvet?
It’s a type of cake that’s vanilla, but has a hint of cocoa added for a unique hot cocoa-like flavor. Red food dye is added to create a rich red color.
Do I Have to Use the Food Coloring?
If you want the vibrant red color, you do need to use some type of food coloring. But if you just want the taste of red velvet pancakes and aren’t worried about the hue, you can skip it.
Are there any Natural Red Food Coloring Options?
There are some natural brands of food dye, like Supernatural. If you aren’t worried about vivid color, and want to go a different flavor route, you could try substituting 1 cup pomegranate juice or cranberry juice for the milk alternative and vinegar. Both fruits go nicely with vanilla and chocolate, but will add their own flavor to these dairy-free red velvet pancakes.
What is Unsweetened Cocoa Powder?
It can also be called natural cocoa powder or baking cocoa powder. It’s just plain cocoa powder that has not been processed with alkali. It’s acidic and reacts with ingredients like baking soda. Dutch processed cocoa powder is processed with alkali to neutralize the acidity. If you use Dutch-processed cocoa powder, I would increase the vinegar to 1 tablespoon.
Can I Use a Different Type of Vinegar or Lemon Juice?
Apple cider vinegar should work fine, and will just influence the flavor a touch. I’m not a fan of lemon juice with cocoa.
What Type of Milk Alternative Works Best in Pancakes?
I haven’t found too much difference between the most common types. I like almond milk in this recipe, as the natural nuttiness pairs well with the other ingredients. But your favorite type, whether it’s oat milk, soy milk, or another type, should work well. Just keep in mind that thinner milk alternatives can thin the batter out more. If your dairy-free milk is on the watery side, add just 3/4 cup to start, and splash in more milk alternative as needed.
I Don’t Have a Large Glass Measuring Cup. What Should I Use?
Use whatever measuring cup you have to measure out the vinegar and milk. Then add it and the wet ingredients to a mixing bowl. I just like to use a large measuring cup for the batter to make pouring the batter easier. It also saves a bowl with clean up!
My Pancakes are Too Thin. What Happened?
If the pancakes are coming out too thin, then your batter is too thin. This can be caused by several different issues.
First, make sure your leaveners haven’t lost their mojo. Place about 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder in separate bowls. Pour some vinegar over the baking soda and boiling water over the baking powder. They should fizz and bubble vigorously. If the are less than zealous, then you need new leavener.
Second, different climates, milk alternatives, etc can effect how much liquid your flour absorbs. Refrigerate it for 1 hour and it should set up more. If it doesn’t, or you want pancakes now, you can whisk in a little more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, and a pinch of additional baking powder. The batter should be somewhat thick, but still pourable.
My Pancakes are Too Thick. What Happened?
Your leavener was energetic, your milk alternative was rich, or your flour was a super-absorber. The reason isn’t too important with this issue. Simply thin the batter with a little more milk alterative or water, about 1 tablespoon at a time. The batter should be somewhat thick, but still pourable.
Special Diet Notes: Red Velvet Pancakes
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, nut-free, peanut-free, soy-free, and vegetarian. Just be sure to choose the milk alternative that suits your dietary needs.
For egg-free and vegan red velvet pancakes, see our Egg Substitute Guide for the best egg alternative options. Odds are, you have at least one in your kitchen! In a pinch, you can simply omit the eggs, and increase the milk alternative by 2 to 3 tablespoons. Thicker pancakes will be sturdier, while thinner ones (with runnier batter) will fall apart more easily without egg.
For gluten-free dairy-free red velvet pancakes, you can substitute your favorite gluten-free flour blend. A good friend swears by King Arthur Measure for Measure flour. Use the guide above to adjust if your batter is too thin or too thick. I recommend using an egg, not an egg alternative, for best results.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (like Nestlé Toll House)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons white vinegar
- scant 1 cup dairy-free milk alternative (see directions)
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons oil, plus additional for the pan
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon red food coloring (see the post above for options)
- Optional Toppings: dairy-free butter alternative, powdered sugar, fresh berries, maple syrup, dairy-free chocolate sauce, or dairy-free cream cheese topping (recipe below!)
- In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt; stir well.
- In separate large bowl, whisk together egg, buttermilk, unsalted butter, vanilla extract and food coloring. Add to flour mixture; stir to combine. Allow mixture to sit 5 minutes.
- Heat nonstick skillet or griddle over medium heat. Brush with oil or butter. Add about ¼ cup batter to skillet. Cook about 2 minutes, or until bubbles start to form on top. Flip and cook 1-2 minutes, or until bottom is lightly browned. Serve immediately with butter, powdered sugar, syrup and berries, if desired.
Dairy-Free Cream Cheese Topping: Put 4 ounces (1/2 cup) dairy-free cream cheese alternative, ¼ cup plain dairy-free milk alternative, ½ cup powdered sugar, and ½ teaspoon vanilla extract in a medium bowl and beat with a hand mixer or whisk until smooth and combined.