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!

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