When my mom visits her father, she often stops by Nothing Bundt Cakes on her way to buy two dozen of their miniature bundt cakes. She picks out a variety of flavors, but she almost always includes chocolate, lemon, and red velvet.
When she arrives in her hometown, she gives them to the family and friends who keep an eye on my grandpa as a thank you. Since the town lacks a Nothing Bundt Cakes shop or other cupcake-like bakeries, the desserts are always extra special for the recipients.
It’s a two-day trek to drive to her hometown, so my mom usually spends the night at my house because I live at almost exactly the halfway point. Before she shows up, I try to clear space in my fridge for those two predictable white bakery boxes.
But when she arrived this past weekend, I felt even more prepared than usual…
I had these red velvet brownies ready and waiting for her! She loves the mini red velvet bundt cakes from Nothing Bundt Cakes, but I know how hard she tries to save all two dozen of the bundtinis for her family and friends…
So I wanted to give her something that she could enjoy during her trip — without feeling guilty about cracking open one of those white bakery boxes to sneak a tiny bundt cake!
QUICK OVERVIEW — HEALTHIER RED VELVET BROWNIES
Difficulty: Straightforward and fairly easy, including for many beginner bakers.
Taste: Sweet and buttery, like classic red velvet cake, but with a slightly stronger cocoa flavor in the batter in comparison (these are brownies, after all!) and rich pops of flavor from chocolate chips generously sprinkled throughout the bars.
Texture: Supremely fudgy, moist, chewy, and a little gooey — almost like fudge!
BUT… WHAT FLAVOR IS RED VELVET?
Many people debate the answer to this question. Is red velvet just chocolate? Vanilla? Both? Neither?
Although some people consider red velvet to be chocolate cake… I don’t quite agree. In my mind (and to my taste buds!), chocolate cake should be really rich with a deep and strong chocolate flavor. Since many red velvet cake recipes only contain a tablespoon or so of cocoa powder per cup of flour, that “chocolate cake” label just doesn’t cut it for me!
However… Because of the addition of cocoa powder, red velvet isn’t quite plain vanilla either.
So I call it “chocolaty vanilla” — or, to answer the question, neither and both at the same time! 😉
But today, we’re talking about red velvet brownies. Since I love my brownies to be extra chocolaty, I developed the recipe for these dessert bars to have a slightly more prominent chocolate taste compared to classic red velvet cake — but the iconic sweet, buttery notes of red velvet cake are still the star flavors!
KEY INGREDIENTS TO MAKE RED VELVET BROWNIES
Let’s go over the ingredients you’ll need to make red velvet brownies! I’m assuming you have many baking staples like milk and salt in your kitchen already, so let’s focus on the more interesting and important ingredients.
Oat flour. I wasn’t sure whether to call these red velvet brownies “flourless” or “practically flourless” because oat flour is just really finely ground oats… But “powdered oats” just doesn’t have quite the same ring to it. 😉 Either way, they’re chewy, fudgy, and delicious!
For store-bought oat flour, I really like Bob’s Red Mill (both their regular and gluten free versions) because they’re so finely ground. They don’t have any stray bits of larger oats, which means your red velvet brownies will have a perfectly smooth, gooey, and fudgy texture.
Tip: If you’d like to make your own oat flour at home, follow this DIY oat flour tutorial of mine!
One Final Tip: If you’d rather use regular flour, you can do that too! I’ve shared the best options in the Notes section of the recipe.
Cocoa powder. You’ll need regular unsweetened cocoa powder to make these red velvet brownies. You’ll use less cocoa powder compared to my usual healthy brownie recipes, but these still call for more cocoa powder compared to traditional red velvet cake. Because these are brownies, I wanted a stronger chocolate taste — but not to the point of overpowering the red velvet flavor. It’s sort of like a baking game of Goldilocks: not too much, not too little, but just right!
Tip: I don’t recommend substituting Dutched or special dark cocoa powder. Those have a different acidity level, which can impact the taste and texture.
Baking powder. Traditional red velvet recipes call for baking soda and vinegar to make the cakes rise. However, when I used baking soda in the first batch of these brownies, they turned out cakey, not fudgy. Because I really wanted a classic super fudgy brownie texture, I tried using baking powder in my next batch instead. That turned out perfectly!
Note: Vinegar would amplify the cakey texture that resulted from using baking soda. Thus, to give them the best chewy texture, these red velvet brownies are made without vinegar!
Unsweetened applesauce. It’s a workhorse in this recipe! Unsweetened applesauce replaces the eggs, most of the oil or butter often found in “regular” brownie recipes, and also creates an incredibly moist and fudgy texture — without heavy cream, sour cream, or other dairy products. In other words… It’s an overachiever and the secret ingredient to making the best healthier red velvet brownies imaginable!
I turned to applesauce instead of mashed banana, pumpkin, or other egg replacers like flax because it (a) has a neutral flavor that’s completely undetectable in these brownies and (b) is really easy to find in grocery stores in the US. To make it even easier on you, I designed this recipe to use exactly one single-serving container!
Hint: By using unsweetened applesauce, your red velvet brownies are egg free, dairy free, and vegan!
Sweetener. You can use either light brown sugar or coconut sugar in this recipe. If you haven’t heard of it before, coconut sugar comes from coconuts — but it doesn’t actually taste like coconuts! It has a similar caramel-like flavor as brown sugar yet the same drier and pourable consistency of granulated sugar. It’s considered an unrefined sweetener, so if you use coconut sugar, your red velvet brownies will have no refined sugar!
Butter extract. This is a really important ingredient! Butter extract adds that sweet and buttery flavor of classic red velvet cake — but for far fewer calories than sticks of melted butter! You can usually find it on the baking aisle near the vanilla extract. I’ve also seen it on the wedding-themed aisle at Walmart!
Hint: Using butter extract keeps these red velvet brownies low fat and low calorie — and you can use it in these other recipes of mine too! It’s not a one-time use ingredient. I promise!
Food coloring. I tried really, really hard to use natural ingredients to dye these brownies red. Natural food coloring barely made any difference; the brownies still looked totally brown. I also tried beet powder to avoid adding too much liquid to the batter from liquid natural food coloring, but even when I used almost ½ cup, the brownies still looked mahogany at best… And they tasted strongly of beets. Very earthy and vegetable-y.
So for the best red color, one that’s bright and deep and rich, you’ll need liquid red food coloring.
If that’s not your thing, you can substitute milk or natural food coloring! Just remember that your red velvet brownies will look brown.
Mini chocolate chips. My mom loves how Nothing Bundt Cakes includes chocolate chips in their red velvet bundt cakes, so I added some to these brownies. I’m so glad I did; we loved the bright pops of chocolate flavor!
HOW TO MAKE RED VELVET BROWNIES
Now that you have all of the ingredients you’ll need, let’s go over how to make the best red velvet brownies from scratch. Like I mentioned earlier, this recipe is really easy to make!
One bowl. That’s right! Just one bowl required… And no stand mixer or hand-held mixers either! You just need a fork to mix all of the ingredients together. So simple!
However, one very important thing to note… The order of additions really matters, so for the best results, follow the instructions exactly. Add the ingredients exactly when they’re meant to be added, and stir them exactly when they’re meant to be stirred.
Also, pay attention to the baking powder! Sprinkle it over the top of the oat flour and cocoa powder. Don’t dump it in! Sprinkling it evenly over the top helps prevent clumps, which then ensures your red velvet brownies end up with the best possible texture.
Eight-inch square pan. This red velvet brownie recipe was designed for an 8”-square baking pan. That means 8” across the top rim — not necessarily the bottom! Many square baking pans have slightly sloped sides, so the bottom is a bit narrower than the top.
If your baking pan measures 8” across the top rim but closer to 7” or 7 ½” across the bottom, that’s fine to use!
If your baking pan measures 9” across the top rim but closer to 8” across the bottom, that’s a 9”-square pan — not an 8”-square pan! — so I don’t recommend using it. If you do, your brownies will end up incredibly flat and thin, and it’ll affect their texture as well.
Low and slow. These red velvet brownies bake at 300°F, which is a lower temperature than many recipes use. The lower temperature allows for the center to bake through without drying out the edges. However…
They’ll look underdone — but don’t panic! When your red velvet brownies are done baking, the batter along the edges of the pan will look fully baked, but the center will still look glossy and underdone. That’s normal! By allowing your brownies to cool all the way to room temperature in the pan, the heat from the baking pan will continue to cook the center all the way through.
Tip: If the brownie edges start pulling away from the edges of the pan within 10 minutes of removing the pan from the oven, you’ve baked your red velvet brownies long enough!
Chill 24 hours. Yes, it’s painful to wait that long to slice into these and eat one… But chilling for 24 hours makes a huge difference in their flavor! It allows the flavors to meld and intensify a bit more. The sweet, buttery, classic red velvet profile is much stronger and truly shines too!
FAQS ABOUT HEALTHIER RED VELVET BROWNIES
Are these red velvet brownies gluten free, dairy free, eggless, or vegan?
Yes — to all of the above! They can be made nut free as well.
Can I make my own oat flour?
Absolutely! I have a DIY oat flour tutorial here.
Can I use special dark cocoa powder?
I don’t recommend using special dark cocoa powder. It has a different acidity level, which will impact both the taste and texture of your brownies.
I don’t want to use red food coloring. What can I substitute instead?
You can use natural food coloring, but your red velvet brownies will look brown — or mahogany at best. If you don’t have natural food coloring, then just substitute milk or water, but keep in mind that your brownies will definitely look brown if using either of those!
What can I substitute for the applesauce?
I highly recommend using the unsweetened applesauce, if at all possible! It’ll give your red velvet brownies the best flavor and fudgy texture. However, if you can’t find it in stores near you at all, then you can try pumpkin or mashed banana. Just keep in mind that you’ll be able to detect a fruity flavor if using the latter!
How should I store these red velvet brownies? And how long will they keep?
Store your red velvet brownies in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They should keep at least 5 days, if not closer to a full week (or longer!), if stored like that.
Can I freeze these red velvet brownies?
Yes! They freeze and thaw really well. I love to thaw individual brownies in the microwave on 30% power until they’re warmed all the way through and the chocolate chips turn melty!
Ready to make your own? And when you do, remember to snap a picture and share it on Instagram using #amyshealthybaking and tagging @amyshealthybaking IN the photo itself! (That guarantees I’ll see your picture! 🙂 ) I’d love to see your healthier red velvet brownies!
Healthier Red Velvet Brownies
- 1 tbsp (14g) unsalted butter or coconut oil, melted
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp butter extract (see Notes!)
- ¼ tsp salt
- 4 tsp liquid red food coloring (see Notes!)
- 1 (111g) single-serving container unsweetened applesauce, room temperature (the equivalent of 7 tbsp + ½ tsp – see Notes!)
- ¾ cup (144g) coconut sugar
- 1 tbsp (15mL) unsweetened vanilla almond milk, room temperature
- 1 cup + 2 tbsp (135g) oat flour (gluten free if necessary and measured like this)
- 6 tbsp (30g) unsweetened cocoa powder (measured like this)
- ¼ tsp baking powder
- 3 tbsp (42g) miniature chocolate chips (divided)
- Preheat the oven to 300°F, and coat an 8”-square pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a medium bowl, stir together the butter or coconut oil, vanilla extract, butter extract, and salt. Stir in the red food coloring. Stir in the unsweetened applesauce. Stir in the coconut sugar. Stir in the milk. Pour in the oat flour and cocoa powder, and sprinkle the baking powder over the top (to prevent it from clumping!). Stir in the oat flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder all at the same time until just incorporated. Stir in 2 ½ tablespoons of miniature chocolate chips.
- Spread the mixture into the prepared pan. Gently press the remaining miniature chocolate chips on top. Bake at 300°F for 16-20 minutes (16 minutes for the fudgiest and most gooey brownies, 20 minutes for firmer brownies). Cool completely to room temperature in the pan. Once they’ve reached room temperature, refrigerate the brownies for 24 hours for the best taste and texture before slicing and serving. (See Notes!)
View Nutrition Information + Weight Watchers Points
You may also like Amy’s other recipes…
♡ The Ultimate Healthy Red Velvet Cupcakes
♡ Healthy Red Velvet Chocolate Chip Cookies
♡ Healthy Red Velvet Cookie Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting
♡ Healthy White Chocolate Red Velvet Cookies
♡ Healthy Red Velvet Pancakes
♡ Healthy Baked Red Velvet Donuts
♡ …and all of Amy’s other healthy brownie recipes!