Red Velvet Cookies

This recipe is a collation of a number of recipes I looked at research how to make a red velvet cookie without food coloring. While it does have a reddish color if you want that really bright red you could augment it with a tablespoon of red food coloring.

This recipe is also designed to be a thumbprint cookie with maybe a Hershey kiss placed in each one, but I've also made them with chocolate drizzle, cream cheese icing and just plain, and they are quite good in all those ways. If you really wanted to lean into the cherry flavor you could press halves of dried cherries into them.

Some quick science of Red Velvet. Red Velvet is fundamentally a chocolate flavor like devil's food. It usually has lots of vanilla to help make the flavor a little more complex. It is often paired with flavors not immediately associated with chocolate to highlight different aspects of the flavor of chocolate. The red color come from two things. Most importantly lots of something very red to mask the familiar chocolate color. More interestingly though keeping the chocolate in a more acidic environment which keeps the cocoa a more reddish brown instead of the blacker hue it picks up in dutch processed cocoa or even more so in double dutch processed cocoa like in Oreo's, which are so bitter from added alkaline they almost taste like soap, delicious delicious chocolaty soap. This acidic environment also highlights the fruitier flavor in the cocoa while the red color further accentuates the idea of fruit in our minds resulting in what we call red velvet. This is actually very similar to the pink colored ruby cocoa, which uses unprocessed cacao bean juice to make it redder and more acidic.

By using macerated cherries in place of an egg in this recipe it allows us to bring more natural red coloring and acid to the recipe to get us the something closer to red velvet in a cookie that is also vegan, unless you cover it in milk chocolate or cheese based icing;)

Note: This recipe is vegan.



  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  2. In a large bowl, combine the first cup of sugar and berries. These will breakdown as you mix them giving you a sugary red slurry. Microwaving it for a minute can really accelerate this.

  3. In a second bowl combine a spoonful of the slurry (avoiding cherry pieces) with the remaining sugar. The goal is to get a bowl of red sugar that has a nice color, but is not as wet as the slurry. We will use this as sanding sugar to roll the dough balls in later.

  4. Add a spoonful of sanding sugar back to the large bowl, to replace what was taken out before. Then set the sanding sugar aside.

  5. Add the oil, vinegar, vanilla and cocoa powder to the large bowl. Mix to fully combine these acidic liquid ingredients.

  6. Mix the remaining dry ingredients. then slowly add them to the liquid ingredients. After this all comes together you can let this rest or us it immediately.

  7. Take about 2T (1 heaping Tablespoon) scoops of the dough. and roll them into balls

  8. Roll the balls in the sanding sugar mixture from before to coat them. Then place them on a lined cooking sheet, about 1" apart.

  9. Bake for 8-10 min.

  10. Rotate.

  11. Bake for 8-12 min.

  12. Let cool for 5 min, then if desired press in a chocolate, candy or piece of dried fruit into the middle of each cookie.

  13. Enjoy.