Red Velvet Cupcakes with Roses {Recipe}

Red velvet cupcakes are a classic treat that lend themselves so perfectly to Valentine’s Day.  Although I’ve admired red velvet cake and cupcakes from afar for a couple of years, I’ve never made any.  In fact, I hadn’t even heard of red velvet cake until a few years ago.  Apparently it’s famous in the south, but being born and raised in California I wasn’t familiar with it.  And to be fair, once I learned that they were simply a light cocoa cake with lots of red dye I wasn’t sure I could ever feel really excited about it.  Although I obviously use food coloring quite often for cookie and cupcake frosting, I try to avoid using excess amounts.  But over the past 2 years of blogging, the one recipe I keep getting e-mail requests for is red velvet.  I searched the web for natural color alternatives, but after reading at least a dozen different blog posts I concluded that using natural coloring (from beets, or similar) can be a lot of work, expensive, and often only produce mediocre results.  All that to say, these are delicious cupcakes… and yes, they have quite a bit of food coloring in them.  If that bothers you, feel free to make my favorite chocolate cupcakes, or vanilla cupcakes.

This recipe is really delicious, and I’m sure I’ll be using it again.  There is something a little special about the pretty dark red hue.  This cake is a delicious, moist and fluffy, lightly flavored chocolate cake.  Different red velvet cake recipes range from containing just a couple tablespoons of cocoa, to being a fully flavored chocolate cake.  I would describe this recipe as a mild chocolate cake.  As you can see, the color is dark red, or burgundy.  If you would like a brighter red color, feel free to reduce the cocoa powder a bit, and/or add more coloring.

Red Velvet Cake (or cupcakes)

2 1/4 cups cake flour

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa (not Dutch process)

1  teaspoons salt

1 1/3 cups oil

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 eggs

4 Tablespoons liquid red food coloring (or 1 tablespoons concentrated food coloring- I used Americolor super red)

1 teaspoons vanilla

3/4 cup buttermilk (I made buttermilk with powdered buttermilk mixed with regular mix)

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons white vinegar (all I had was apple cider vinegar and it worked fine)


1.  Preheat oven to 350*F.  Prepare cupcake pan with liners, or butter and flour cake pans and line bottoms with parchment.

2.  In a large bowl whisk cake flour, cocoa and salt, and set aside.

3.  In the bowl of an electric mixer (fitted with the whisk attachment), beat oil and sugar until well blended.  Add eggs one at a time, and continue beating.  Add food coloring and vanilla and mix well.

4.  Add flour and buttermilk alternately, in two batches.  Scrap down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Mix just enough to combine.

5.  Place baking soda in a bowl or cup, add vinegar and stir (it will foam and expand).  Add to cake batter and beat for 10 seconds.

6.  Fill cupcake liners 2/3-3/4 full, or divide batter between cake pans.  Bake cupcakes 20-24 minutes.  Bake cake layers 25-40 minutes depending on the size of the pans.

This recipe will yield about 24 cupcakes, 3- 8″ cake layers, or 2- 9″ cake layers.

Recipe source-  Adapted from “The Confetti Cakes Cookbook” by Elisa Strauss, as published by the New York Times.  I scaled down the recipe from the original, which yields 36 cupcakes.

Cream Cheese Frosting

½ cup (1 stick/8 Tablespoons) butter (set at room temp about 10 minutes, but should still be cool)
8 oz. cream cheese (directly from fridge)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (always use pure vanilla extract if possible)
4 cups powdered confectioners sugar
1 to 2 Tablespoons heavy cream, heavy whipping cream (or milk- although I do like the richness that cream adds)

1.  Place butter in a large mixing bowl and beat until smooth. Add cream cheese and blend until fully combined, about 30 seconds.
2.  Add vanilla extract and powdered sugar (one cup at a time) while mixing.  Increase to medium speed and beat until it begins to get fluffy.
3.  Slowly add the heavy cream, a little bit at a time until desired consistency is met. (Don’t add too much if you want the frosting to stay in place when piped on cupcakes.)
4.  Beat until fluffy, about 1 minute.
5.  Frost cake or cupcakes.

Recipe source- Glorious Treats (this is just my version of this very old, classic frosting).

For more detailed help with frosting cupcakes, I have a full post on How to Frost Cupcakes (here)

I decorated these cupcakes with handmade fondant roses.  Here is the Fondant Roses Tutorial.

As an extra special treat, I’ve teamed up with a group of amazingly talented ladies to bring you a dozen beautiful and delicious Valentine’s treats!  Check out all of these gorgeous creations!

1.  Confessions of a Cookbook Queen-  Valentine’s Twinkies on a Stick

2.  Buns In My Oven-  Hot Fudge and Strawberry Donut Pudding

3.  Glorious Treats (you’re here!)

4.  Cookies and Cups- Glass Topper Valentine’s Cookies

5.  Bakingdom- Valentine’s Day Cookie Cakes

6.  The Hungry Housewife-  Valentine’s Jello Hearts

7.  The Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle-  Valentine’s Dotty Cookies

8.  Sprinkle Bakes- Red Velvet Cake Minis

9.  Bake at 350- Double-Decker, Stripey Valentine’s Cookies

10.  Two Peas and Their Pod-  Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies

11.  Scarletta Bakes-  Mexican Chocolate Hearts

12.  She Wears Many Hats- Valentine’s Popcorn

Have a wonderfully sweet week!


  1. Love these, Glory! Classic and gorgeous!

  2. Beautiful and very delicate!

  3. Perfectly pretty, and a Southern Staple!

  4. Red velvet is my favorite, and these are beautiful! Love the little roses on top!

  5. Beautiful!! I LOVE those ribbon roses…they are perfect!!

  6. These are simply beautiful!

  7. These are so beautiful! I pinned these and within MINUTES I had 10 repins…great job!

  8. Those are so cute! I'm totally going to try making fondant roses someday. I hope they'll be as pretty as yours!

  9. Nicely done cupcakes, pretty and thanks for the recipe^^

  10. I do love red velvet cupcakes and these look so pretty too!

  11. very cute and the roses are the perfect touch.

  12. Gorgeous…as usual Glory!

  13. Beautiful! In fact nice for any time of year as well as now.

  14. These look so good my mouth is physically filling up with saliva! I'm going to have to try these all and then get really fat!!! I hope you know you're all responsible for my downfall =p. Brilliant idea Gloria. I love V-Day treats!

  15. These look amazing! I love the icing and roses.

  16. Gorgeous! How did you pipe these? I want to recreate these for valentines day for my guy!

  17. I had also made and posted red velvet cupcakes on my blog a few days ago. Like you, I had never tried them because of food coloring concerns. Your frosting looks so good…….mine came out runny. I shall try your frosting recipe next time.

  18. These are just gorgeous Glory! Would you believe I've never had a red velvet cake or cupcake? I hear they are phenomenal, so I'll have to try it sometime. These are beautiful and those fondant roses are incredibly gorgeous!

  19. Funny you said that about natural coloring. I actually made red velvet cupcakes this morning using pureed beets (the recipe is from one of my 5-year-old's kids' cookbooks) and the color was so blah that I wound up adding a big squirt of red coloring anyway. I'll let you know how they taste :)

  20. These are lovely! And one of our favorite cake flavors. My husband would be very happy with these on Valentine's Day!

  21. Those look gorgeous! Can't wait to try them. For natural food colorings, I have found success with India Tree "Natural Decorating Colors." They definitely aren't as vibrant or versatile as gel ones, but they're worth a try, and definitely easier than making your own! I made your hydrangea cupcakes with them (blue and purple frosting), and they turned out beautifully.

    I found mine at Whole Foods, but you can get them on Amazon too.

  22. Oh my these are simply gorgeous! I just love the roses on top.

    And red velvet! What a winner. Thanks for sharing and happy Valentine's!

  23. Lovely cupcakes. I had problem with the red, the one we have in the marked here in Peru are not so good, so I have to use a LOT to have a very red color in a red velvet.
    I will wait for your roses tutorial, I found them so lovely…and again…the red in the fondant is so deep…

  24. These are just plain PERFECT! They're seriously beautiful and I love the sweet little ribbon roses on top. Lovely!

  25. Looks very good. I love cream cheese frostings.

  26. Classic red velvet for Valentines day..just perfect! I love your little fondant roses….adorable

  27. Love the pretty fondant roses!

  28. Hi Glory,

    This has nothing to do with your red velvet cupcakes – although they look divine. Just wanted to let you know that I have made your chocolate cupcakes upteen times and they are so totally delicious and such a crowd pleaser. Also, thank you for all the effort you put into your blog, in particular the fantastic frosting tutorials. I have been the woman of the hour on many an occasion due to your rose icing tutorial and choc cupcake recipe.

    All the best,

  29. These look absolutely perfect. Not to mention, delicious!

  30. Those handmade roses are a complete winner. They look amazing.

  31. They look so pretty!

  32. These are gorgeous and look delicious too! I had to pin it on the CraftBliss Red Valentine Bliss Board on Pinterest and link back to you. ~Dee

  33. So pretty, Glory! I absolutely LOVE your roses and can't wait for the tutorial!

  34. Oh! I wish I liked red valvet cake because these are so beautiful! I LOVE the cookies in the #5 photo from bakingdom, so terrific! Love you!

  35. I just love red velvet. It's bordering on addiction. My recipe is very very similar. It calls for 2 oz. red food coloring, but I normally use just 1 ounce. It's still plenty. I like to save a drop or two to make the frosting pink! Mine didn't turn out nearly as beautiful as yours though! 😉

  36. These beautiful cupcakes looks so romantic! The roses are pretty on top of the icing and the photos are fabulous as well.

  37. How do you all do this! SweetSugar Belle, The Decorated Cookie,Bake at 350, You (Glorious Treats),etc…Almost daily I receive emails with another great baked item and decorating scheme. If I did this I would have no other life, except living in my kitchen. What is your secret? Thanks!!

  38. i got to use my beautiful new candy apple red kitchen aid for the first time and made these cupcakes the beautiful red batter in the see thro bowl with the red mixer was just beautiful :) thanks to my love for getting me the best valentines day present!! and thanks to you Glory for the first recipe ever made in it!!

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  40. Hello Glory, I am from Jamaica. I tried this recipe yesterday and it was wonderful!! The cake was very moist and nicely accentuated by the icing! Thank you!! All the best!

  41. Hi! I just ran into these cupcakes and they look amazing! The fondant roses especially, and am off to check out your tutorial on them,
    Since you mentioned the food coloring I just wanted to tell you that I've made a completely natural red velvet cake, using beets that wasn't complicated to make, tasted wonderful and doesn't differ too much from the food coloring version of red velvet.

    My cakes are nowhere near as beautiful as yours, I just make them for my kids, but the recipe is good. The original recipe is from

  42. Hi Glory! So glad I came across ur blog! The cupcakes look absolutely beautiful… Cud I ask if u've tried baking the cupcakes wd butter instead of oil. Wat is the significant difference between using oil and butter? When is it advisable to use either the fat? Pls advise. Thk u!!

  43. just made these and the recipe is PERFECT! thank you so much!

  44. Hi Glory! I love the look of these cupcakes. How long does the cream cheese frosting keep for? and can I store the leftover in the fridge?

  45. Hi Glory! I love the look of these cupcakes. How long does the cream cheese frosting keep for? and can I store the leftover in the fridge?

  46. I’ve made a lot of your recipes and have loved almost all of them. I’m positive I made these correctly, but the tops were oddly crusty. I know I didn’t overcook them, because I only did it for 20 minutes. Maybe there was some way I could have avoided this, but if there was it wasn’t obvious. Just wanted to let you know. Thanks for running a great blog!

    • Marielle, So sorry to hear these didn’t quite turn out for you! Without being next to you in the kitchen, it’s near impossible to guess what may have gone awry. Experimenting is a big part of baking, feel free to adjust this recipe as you may see fit. Best of luck with your future baking!

  47. Hi,

    May i know How many ml is 1 cup ? Thanks

  48. Hi Glory, just two questions which i dont seem to understand..
    1)Why is baking powder not required in this recipe? And if baking powder is added what difference will it make to the cake?
    2)Why is Dutch processed cocoa powder not encouraged in this recipe? What difference will Ducth processed make?

    • Hi Stella, I have only made this recipe with the ingredients just as listed. Feel free to experiment, but I have no way of knowing the results for sure.

  49. Pingback: Red Velvet Cupcakes with Roses on Stand « Cupcake Post

  50. How beautiful! Love the roses~

  51. Hi Glory, I love your recipe.
    I baked this for my father’s birthday. The cake went so good, but unfortunately not the frosting. :( The texture of the frosting was not thick and it became runny as I want to frost it on the cake.
    Hope you can guide me to make a simple and great cream cheese frosting. Thank you!

  52. I hope you see this comment, ‘Im wanting to make these today but Im confused on step 4?What do you mean alternating in two batches?Also, would it be okay to use just all purpose flour?Hope to hear back soon THANK YOU!

    • Hi Ally,
      For step four, it means, add some flour, then some milk, then some flour, then some milk.
      The ingredients listed above are what I’ve used, so I can’t be sure of the results with different ingredients. Feel free to experiment. In general, cake flour produces a lighter, fluffier textue. I imagine all purpose would work fine.

  53. Hi Glory!

    love your site and I have had so mich success with your vanilla cupcakes and the hybrid cream cheese/ american butter cream recipe!

    Quick question, what tip did you use to decorate these? It looks different from the standard Wilton 1M. Thanks so much! Look forward to some more recipes and different tip styles :)

  54. I made these cupcakes today with blue food coloring instead of red. I loved how fluffy and moist the cupcakes were, even after sitting out of the oven for 30 mins! I used Ghirardelli unsweetened cocoa for these cupcakes and was very surprised to find out that the chocolate flavor was quite subtle; it was a nice change from the obvious cocoa flavor tasted in other recipes.
    Good job on making a very tasty red velvet cupcake Glory!!

  55. hey ! love your recipe’s!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! just one question: is there a substitute for buttermilk? because we dont have buttermilk here in Sri Lanka [where i live]…….. would normal fresh milk suffice??

  56. @ Saeeda, here’s an easy substitute for buttermilk:

    1. Place a Tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice in a liquid measuring cup.
    2. Add enough milk to bring the liquid up to the one-cup line.
    3. Let stand for five minute. Then, use as much as your recipe calls for.

  57. Can i use mascarpone cheese for the cream cheese frosting?

  58. Hi!

    I am an avid fan and I have baked a lot of the recipes you have posted. I recently baked red velvet cupcakes and they tasted great. However, I noticed that after about a day, they tasted bitter. I followed everything, except I used less food coloring (2 tbs instead of 4). I do remember them tasting really good when they came out of the oven.

  59. Pingback: Valentine's Day Tip: How to Make Red Velvet Cupcakes - Tiny Hands Blog - Tiny Hands Blog

  60. Hi Glory, can I substitute buttermilk with regular milk or maybe cream? And what would be the amount?
    Thank you :)

  61. Oh never mind. I just found one of the above replies answering the same question 😀

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  64. I just made this red velvet recipe today….and I loved it.!
    I like that the recipe uses oil instead of butter, it’s so moist and light. I always find cupcakes that use butter a little bit dry.
    I didn’t have cake flour, so I used 2 cups of AP flour + 1/4 cup of corn flour.
    I also substitute buttermilk with a mix of plain yoghurt + milk.

    I reduced the sugar to 1 1/4 cups, since most cake recipe usually too sweet for my taste. Turns out, the cake was not sweet enough.
    But I did fold in chocolate chips in some of the cupcakes, and it was the perfect sweetness plus the chocolate taste was more pronounce.

    Thank you for posting the recipe.

  65. Pingback: Glorious Treats » Red Velvet Cupcakes with Roses Recipe | Recipes, Gossip & More!

  66. Hey.these cupcakes look beautiful. Everytime i make creamcheese frosting it comes out too soft and smooth for me to pipe. Any suggestions as to how to get it to pipe nicely as in your photo? Think I may have used 3 cups powdered sugar insead of 4..would that make a difference?

  67. I have cocoa, but how do I tell if it is Dutch or not?

  68. Hi

    What method did you use to scale down the recipe, I need to scale it down further to make 12 cupcakes.

    • The recipe as I have it listed will make about 24 cupcakes, if you’d like to make 12, simply use half of each listed ingredient.

  69. Pingback: Red Velvet Cupcakes | The Cupcake Blog

  70. Hi Glory,
    a quick question, in an ideal scenario where I follow the recipe what can cause my cupcakes to peak in the middle? I suspect my rusty oven which I kinda hate but my muffin pan didn’t fit in my countertop oven:( is it the temperature?

  71. P.S. Also my frosting was a bit soft..Should I refrigerate it maybe before I use it?
    p.p.s. And also cake related they became kinda crunchy on the outside and great on the inside.. again I think it’s the oven. . maybe I should reduce the temperature?what do you think??
    Thanks so much

  72. Hi there every one, here every person is sharing these experience, therefore it’s nice to read this web site, and I used to pay a quick visit this website every day.

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  75. Hi Glory,
    I’ve just recently found your site…so thankful I did!! I love being in the kitchen and baking wonderful goodies for family and friends and it’s such a joy to find others that share the same passion. If we lived close, I think we would possibly be BFF’s! LOL

    I plan to try your red velvet cupcakes in the next day or two. Do you know when you might post the info on the fondant roses?

    Thanks again for sharing your love and passion…such an inspiration!

    Be blessed!

  76. Hello,
    I would like to know which tip did you use for decorating Red Velvet Cupcakes with Roses. Love your cupcakes.
    Thank you.

  77. Adorable! Looks delicious!

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  80. Hi there. Love, love, love the look of these cakes and plan to make them soon. I know you have clarified which tip you used but I can’t quite see the technique. It’s nearly a ruffle but crossed with a rose? I looked at your frosting tutorial but it’s not there? Could you clarify?

    • Hi Rebecca, For these cupcakes I used a 1M or 2D tip (both produce similar results). The extra bit of ruffles is just from squeezing the bag a bit harder than usual and then the frosting comes out faster than you are swirling the tip. It’s more on accident than anything! =)

  81. I had an hour to bake cupcakes for my twin daughters’ birthday and I turned to the most reliable source I have found for baking, your blog. The cupcakes were amazing and I wanted to thank you for being such an inspiring, amazing baking genius.

  82. hi im from canada and i ca’n’t find powdered butter milk can i use the fresh buttermilk my officemates asking for a treat this friday and they specifically requesting a cupcake. im thinking this will be a great idea.. i tried many of your treats they are delicious.
    thank you

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  84. Hi Glory,

    I made these yesterday and tagged you in the photo on instagram. They came out great! The frosting was a little bit thin, but it didn’t run from the cupcakes. I noticed some butter stuck to the bottom of the bowl when I was putting the frosting in the pipingbag so that’s probably it, I think.
    Thanks for sharing! :)

    Love, Karlijn

  85. Hi – are these able to be frozen and then defrosted as required. If so, do they defrost okay, are just as fresh/soft? Absolutely love this recipe!!! Thanks for all your amazing work :)

  86. Hello, these were good but I really prefer your favorite chocolate cake from the Samoa recipe. Can I use the Samoa recipe and simply add red colorant? Let me know. Thanks

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