The BEST Red Velvet Cupcakes

Decadent Red Velvet Cupcakes topped with a luxurious cream cheese frosting are absolutely delicious and stunning as well! Super moist with a fine crumb makes these red velvet cupcakes truly irresistible! Love cupcakes? Try these favorites: Strawberry CupcakesChocolate Kahlua Cupcakes, and Samoa Cupcakes!

best red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and fondant roses on white cake pedestals with text overlay

Red velvet cupcakes are a classic treat that lend themselves so perfectly to Valentine’s Day and Christmas. 

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 excessive 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.

What Are Red Velvet Cupcakes

Many people think that red velvet cupcake is simple a chocolate cupcake with red food coloring. And while that is in part true, that’s not the whole story.

Red velvet and chocolate cupcakes are similar in that they both have cocoa, but it’s really the buttermilk and vinegar addition to red velvet cupcakes that gives it it’s signature, distinct flavor. 

Also, red velvet cupcakes should always be frosted with cream cheese frosting – it’s a must!

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Let’s Talk About Color and Flavor

This red velvet cupcakes recipe is really delicious and there is definitely 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 cupcakes on white background with red fondant roses

Here’s What You’ll Need For The Cupcakes

  • cake flour – cake flour is really an essential ingredient in this recipe. It gives the cake a really light texture with a finer crumb. If you can’t find cake flour, you can always make cake flour substitute using all purpose flour and cornstarch.
  • unsweetened cocoa powder – gives the cake that light chocolate cake flavor, just don’t use Dutch process cocoa
  • salt
  • oil
  • granulated sugar
  • eggs
  • liquid red food coloring or concentrated food coloring– I used Americolor super red – this is what gives the red velvet cake it’s bold, red color
  • vanilla extract – use the real stuff 
  • buttermilk – a key ingredient that makes this cake extra moist and delicoius. It’s also the acidity in the buttermilk that activates the baking soda. You can also make buttermilk with powdered buttermilk.
  • baking soda
  • white vinegar – another ingredient that you won’t find in a lot of cake recipes but shows up in red velvet cake!

How To Make Red Velvet Cupcakes

  1. Preheat oven to 350*F.  Prepare cupcake pan with liners and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl whisk cake flour, cocoa and salt.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer (fitted with the whisk attachment), beat oil and sugar until well blended. 
  4. Add eggs one at a time, and continue beating.  Add food coloring and vanilla and mix well.
  5. Finally, add flour and buttermilk alternately, in two batches. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Mix just enough to combine.
  6. 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.
  7. Fill cupcake liners and bake for 20 to 24 minutes. 

red velvet cupcakes on white background with red fondant roses

FAQs

Can I make the cupcakes ahead of time? These red velvet cupcakes can be made up to 2 days in advance and stored in an airtight container at room temperature. Cupcakes can be frosted a day in advance but then they will need to be refrigerated. 

Can I freeze these cupcakes? Yes, absolutely! For best results, individually wrap unfrosted, cooled cupcakes in plastic wrap and then wrap them in foil. Place them in an airtight freezer safe container for up to 3 months. Defrost by placing on a wire cooling rack at room temperature for a few hours.

How many cupcakes does this recipe make? This recipe will yield about 24 cupcakes, 3- 8″ cake layers, or 2- 9″ cake layers.

Can I make a red velvet cake with this recipe? Yes! Here is the instructions for a red velvet cake.

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.

four red velvet cupcakes on a white backgorund

More Cupcakes To Try

  1. Raspberry Vanilla Cupcakes
  2. Lemon Cupcakes
  3. Vanilla Cupcakes with Coffee Buttercream
  4. Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes
  5. Chocolate Valentine’s Heart Cupcakes

How To Make Red Velvet Cupcakes

easy red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting thre cupcakes on white background square

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Decadent Red Velvet Cupcakes topped with a luxurious cream cheese frosting are absolutely delicious and stunning as well! Super moist with a fine crumb makes these red velvet cupcakes truly irresistible!
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 24 cupcakes
Calories 330 kcal

Ingredients
 

  • 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 can use powdered buttermilk - just follow the directions
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1/2 cup butter 1 stick/8 tablespoons - 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
  • 1-2 tablespoons heavy cream or milk- although I do like the richness that cream adds

Instructions
 

  •  Preheat oven to 350*F.  Prepare cupcake pan with liners and set aside.
  • In a large bowl whisk cake flour, cocoa and salt, and set aside.
  • 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.
  • Add flour and buttermilk alternately, in two batches. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Mix just enough to combine.
  • 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.
  • Fill cupcake liners 2/3-3/4 full. Bake cupcakes 20-24 minutes. An inserted toothpick should come out with a few moist crumbs when the cakes are done.
  • Let cupcakes cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Place butter in a large mixing bowl and beat until smooth. Add cream cheese and blend until fully combined, about 30 seconds.
  • 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.
  • 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.)
  • Beat until fluffy, about 1 minute.
  • Frost cupcakes and chill until ready to serve.

Notes

Nutrition

Calories: 330kcalCarbohydrates: 43gProtein: 3gFat: 17gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 26mgSodium: 215mgPotassium: 65mgFiber: 1gSugar: 33gVitamin A: 177IUCalcium: 29mgIron: 1mg
Keyword red velvet cupcakes
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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

 

92 comments

  1. These Red Velvet cupcakes are outstanding! Super moist and the frosting is perfection! Will make over and over again!

  2. These are SO pretty!

    I was looking for ideas for Valentine’s treats and yours is the winner!

  3. 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

  4. 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 🙂

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