Gourmet Made Deliciously Simple

Red Velvet Cupcakes

These classic red velvet cupcakes have a smooth velvety texture with buttery soft crumbs. Paired with tangy cream cheese frosting, these homemade cupcakes are simply irresistible!

These classic red velvet cupcakes have a smooth velvety texture with buttery soft crumbs. Paired with tangy cream cheese frosting, these homemade cupcakes are simply irresistible! #redvelvetcupcakes

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I love pretty much anything red. However, the color of this cake is not the only reason I love it so much.

And no, red velvet cake is not just a chocolate cake tinted with red color!! It’s so much more!

When done right, red velvet cake has a smooth velvet-y texture with soft buttery crumbs. It has just a hint of cocoa without overpowering chocolate flavor. And what really completes these cupcakes is, of course, sweet and tangy cream cheese frosting.

And I’m about to show you how to make absolutely perfect red velvet cupcakes from scratch.  

These classic red velvet cupcakes have a smooth velvety texture with buttery soft crumbs. Paired with tangy cream cheese frosting, these homemade cupcakes are simply irresistible! #redvelvetcupcakes

WHY RED VELVET CUPCAKES ARE RED?

Traditionally, red velvet cakes didn’t call for any artificial food coloring to get that bright red color. It was actually a natural result of combining vinegar with cocoa powder.

Cocoa powder (and other fruits and vegetables, like purple cabbage, plums, blueberries, raspberries) naturally contain anthocyanins, a pigment that changes the color due to pH level. So back in the day, when natural cocoa powder was mixed with acidic ingredients like vinegar and buttercream, common ingredients of classic red velvet cake, the cake batter naturally turned red. 

Nowadays, cocoa powders are processed with acid-neutralizing agent and it doesn’t react to acidic ingredients as it used to. That’s why we have to add food coloring to get that red color.

These classic red velvet cupcakes have a smooth velvety texture with buttery soft crumbs. Paired with tangy cream cheese frosting, these homemade cupcakes are simply irresistible! #redvelvetcupcakes

WHAT RED VELVET CUPCAKES ARE MADE OF?

To makes these soft and velvet-y cupcakes, you’ll need a few simple ingredients: flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt, egg, vegetable oil, buttermilk, vanilla extract, baking soda and white vinegar.

Food Coloring

Plus, you’ll need red food coloring to give your cupcakes a burst of red! Either liquid or gel food coloring will work for this recipe.

To achieve the level of brightness of my cupcakes, you’ll need:

  • about 1 tablespoon of liquid food coloring
  • or about 1 teaspoon of gel food coloring

Cocoa Powder

When it comes to cocoa powder, I recommend using unsweetened natural cocoa powder. (<- affiliate link to my go-to cocoa powder!)

Dutch-processed cocoa powder has a darker color, which may result darker cupcakes. Here’s an excellent article on difference between natural and dutch processed cocoa powder.

Buttermilk

If you’re wondering whether you can make these red velvet cupcakes without buttermilk, the answer is “no”. Well, technically, you can, of course!

But you won’t get that beautiful velvet-y texture, moist and soft crumbs and a slight tang. Basically, you’ll miss out on the signature taste and texture of these classic cupcakes.

These classic red velvet cupcakes have a smooth velvety texture with buttery soft crumbs. Paired with tangy cream cheese frosting, these homemade cupcakes are simply irresistible! #redvelvetcupcakes

HOW TO MAKE RED VELVET CUPCAKES

It’s really easy to make these stunning cupcakes. In a nutshell:

  1. Mix dry ingredients.
  2. Mix wet ingredients.
  3. Combine dry and wet ingredients.
  4. Stir in baking soda/vinegar mixture.
  5. Bake!

Here’s my ultimate cream cheese frosting tutorial with step by step photos and troubleshooting guide.

Step by step photo directions to make absolutely perfect red velvet cupcakes... #redvelvetcupcakes

MAKE-AHEAD TIPS

You can make both cupcakes and frosting in advance.

If making 1 day in advance, you can store the cooled cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature, and refrigerate the frosting, covered, until ready to decorate the cupcakes.

I recommend frosting the cupcakes preferably right before serving, or a few hours prior.

These classic red velvet cupcakes have a smooth velvety texture with buttery soft crumbs. Paired with tangy cream cheese frosting, these homemade cupcakes are simply irresistible! #redvelvetcupcakes

HOW TO STORE CUPCAKES

  • Store unfrosted cupcakes at room temperature, covered, for 1-2 days.
  • You can also freeze unfrosted cupcakes in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
  • Store leftover cupcakes in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 3 days. Cover the cupcakes with a plastic wrap to prevent them from drying out.

These classic red velvet cupcakes have a smooth velvety texture with buttery soft crumbs. Paired with tangy cream cheese frosting, these homemade cupcakes are simply irresistible! #redvelvetcupcakes

These classic red velvet cupcakes have a smooth velvety texture with buttery soft crumbs. Paired with tangy cream cheese frosting, these homemade cupcakes are simply irresistible! #redvelvetcupcakes

Hope you enjoy this recipe and let me know what you think. 🙂

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Red Velvet Cupcakes

These classic red velvet cupcakes have a smooth velvety texture with buttery soft crumbs. Paired with tangy cream cheese frosting, these homemade cupcakes are simply irresistible!

Yield: 12 cupcakes

Prep Time:15 minutes

Cook Time:20 minutes

Total Time:1.5 hours (Includes time for cooling)

Ingredients:

For cupcakes:
  • 1 ½ cups (190gr) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cups (200gr) sugar
  • 1 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder (Note 1)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • ½ cup (120ml) vegetable oil
  • ¾ cup (180ml) buttermilk, at room temperature (Note 2)
  • 1 tablespoon liquid red food coloring (or 1 teaspoon gel food coloring) (Note 3)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon white distilled vinegar
For cream cheese frosting:
  • 8oz (225gr) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup (55gr) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups (250gr) powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions:

  1. To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line muffin pans with paper cupcake liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl with paddle attachment, beat the egg, vegetable oil, buttermilk, red food coloring, and vanilla extract until well combined.
  4. Add prepared dry ingredients and mix until smooth, about a minute.
  5. In a small dish, mix together baking soda and vinegar. While the soda/vinegar mixture is bubbling, add it to the batter and mix it well.
  6. Using a large cookie scoop, fill the cups 2/3 of the way.
  7. Bake for about 18-20 minutes, or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Cool the cupcakes for 5 minutes in the pan. Then transfer onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. To make the frosting, in a mixing bowl with paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and butter on medium high speed until fluffy, about 1 minute.
  10. Add powdered sugar and beat on low speed for a minute. Then increase the speed to medium high and continue to beat until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  11. Stir in vanilla extract and salt. Whip again until incorporated, 30 seconds.
  12. Transfer the frosting into a pastry bag, fitted with decorative tip (I used this __ tip).
  13. Frost the cooled cupcakes preferably right before serving, or a few hours prior.

For step-by-step photos and additional notes, read the post above.

Note 1: It’s best to use natural cocoa powder for these cupcakes, as Dutch-processed cocoa powder has a darker color, which may result darker cupcakes.

Note 2: If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, make a homemade version: stir in 1 teaspoon white vinegar or lemon juice into ¾ cup milk. Let it sit for 5 minutes.

Note 3: Feel free to adjust the amount of food coloring as it’s totally up to you how much food coloring to use. The provided amount is to achieve the level of brightness you see on my photos.

Storing Tips:

  • Store unfrosted cupcakes at room temperature, covered, for 1-2 days.
  • You can also freeze unfrosted cupcakes in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
  • Store leftover cupcakes in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 3 days.
All images and text ©Shinee D. for Sweet & Savory

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All photographs and content on Sweet & Savory by Shinee is copyright protected, unless otherwise noted. Please do not use any of my photos without my authorization. If you would like to share my recipe, you may re-write the recipe in your own words, or simply link back to this post for the full directions. Thank you for your cooperation!

This recipe was originally published on December 3, 2013 and updated on January 16, 2019.

My Favorite Red Velvet Cupcakes

Original image from 2013

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72 comments

  1. Wonderful recipe!! Very pleased with the outcome! I made them in mini cupcake form for my Christmas goodie box to friends. Will definitely use this recipe again! 

    Rating: 5
  2. Oh My Goodness. I have made alot of red velvet desserts using many different recipes. I received so many compliments when I used this recipe. I this only thing that is different from other recipes is mixing the baking soda & vinegar separately. It made all the difference in the world when it comes to taste & texture. Sooo good! For some stupid reason I did not save this recipe when I made it. I have been searching for it ever since lol 2 weeks later, I found it, saved it, printed it, laminated it & put it in a safe place lol. This will be the only RV recipe I use from now on. I did use my own CC buttercream recipe which is the best!!

    Rating: 5
    • Hi, Robin! So glad you fount the recipe after all! And thank you for your feedback. Seemingly little things sure make a big difference in baking, don’t they? 😉

  3. Hello. Cupckakes was ok, they came out nice, but the frosting sucks. It is tasty. but so runny. I will use it in my next cake, but it not for cupcakes. 🙁

    Rating: 3
  4. Definitely didn’t like your frosting recipe – it was incredibly runny, even after refrigeratorating. Yes, I used Philadelphia cream cheese in the block – always do. Still way too runny and it greatly decreased the aesthetics of the cupcake. Back to my original frosting recipe I go. 

    Rating: 2
    • Hey, Paige. I’m sorry your frosting didn’t turn out. You didn’t decrease the sugar amount, right? This’s a no fail cream cheese frosting recipe that I always use. I even used it for a friend’s wedding cupcakes, and they were beautiful, just like the cupcakes on the picture here.

    • I left the whipping cream out and had the perfect frosting for piping.  You can always use a tiny bit of milk if it’s too thick.

  5. I made it and everyone loved it. I want to do more but I’m afraid to double the recipe. Have you ever doubled it, and if so did you get the same results?

    Rating: 5
  6. I was so excited to try this recipe because Red Velvet is my absolute favorite! I was disappointed with these 😔 I followed the recipe 100% and I have to say my family and I all agree this tasted nothing like red velvet ! It was more like a vanilla dyed red and the frosting was delicious but did not hold.

    • Hi, Josephine! I’m sorry to hear you were disappointed with the cupcakes. I’m surprised that they taste more like vanilla, despite the addition of cocoa powder. Anyway, I appreciate your feedback and thanks for trying my recipe!

  7. I’ve just made these cupcakes for my daughters cake sale in school,everyone loved them to the point of asking for mums number…thank you so delish

    • Aww, Fatuma! Thank you for your feedback, it made my day! I’m so happy to hear the cupcakes turned out great. Hope you won’t get too many calls, asking for more cupcakes. 😉

  8. Frosting tastes awesome! The cupcakes themselves came out looking great but were a bit heavy, not as light as I’d want a cupcake to be. The egg and buttermilk I used were not at room temperature, could this have been the cause? Otherwise the recipe was awesome, great instructions and super easy to follow for a beginner like me!

    • Hi, Anastasia! So glad you tried my recipe and thank you for your honest feedback. Having egg and buttermilk at room temperature aids the batter to blend better, thus it does affect the texture of the cake. Next time try to bring those ingredients to room temperature before baking and see if there’s difference. Also, don’t mix the batter for too long after you add flour, otherwise too much gluten will form and will make the cake denser.

  9. Hi Shinee, 

    I’ve been searching for a red velvet rfor cite for ages… and yours seems perfect! Just one question though… I live in Portugal and do not get any other vinegar other than white wine vinegar! Can white distilled vinegar be substituted with white wine vinegar? If not can you give me another alternative, I did notice your comment earlier about baking soda and white distilled vinegar replacing baking powder!

    Awaiting your reply as I want too make these soon….they are so yummy! 

    Thank you very much xx

  10. Hi Shinee,

    It has taken me so long to find a perfect red velvet recipe and this one is it! The cupcakes came out incredibly moist and delicious. Thanks for sharing 

  11. How did you achieve the bright red color of the cupcakes? Mine turn almost brown everytime 🙁

  12. Hi! I made the cupcakes and they turned out amazing! I want to bake a birthday cake in round 9inch pan… Would this recipe work? What are your thoughts on how to bake in oven and temp? Thanks!! 

    • Hi, Kathy! I’m so glad you tried the cupcakes. I’ve never tried making the cake version out of this recipe though. But I don’t see why you couldn’t. I’d bake the cake at 350°F for 20 min and check for doneness by inserting a toothpick in the center. Hope this helps.

  13. Hi Shinee! Sounds like an AMAZING recipe you have here- I am using this recipe to make BLUE velvet cupcakes for a baby shower on the weekend- can’t wait to try it!! Just a question- I have noticed there is no baking powder in this recipe and the flour is not self-raising; do the cupcakes still rise and if so, what is the raising agent in this recipe?

  14. Have not eaten one of these cupcakes yet, but the frosting is So Runny. It’s practically running off the cupcakes even as I type this.  It tastes fine! But it has the wrong texture.  Maybe it needed more butter? 

    • Hi, Laura! What kind of cream cheese did you use? Hope it wasn’t the one in a round plastic tub, which is cream cheese spread. I also had a runny frosting result when I used generic Walmart cream cheese. So I only use Philadelphia cream cheese bricks.

  15. i made these and while the batter was delicious they went totally flat in the oven!  Actually they completely fell into the middle.  Not sure what happened.

    • Bronni, sorry your cupcakes went flat on you. There could be multiple reasons for that to happen. 1. The batter was mixed for too long, creating too much air bubbles in the batter. 2. The oven temperature was off. 3. If the oven door was opened during baking, it will also cause the collapse. 4. If you’re in high altitude, the recipe should be adjusted accordingly. Hope this helps.

  16. Hi, i was wondering if i could substitute the buttermilk for whole milk 

    • Hi, Allz! Sorry for late response. I wouldn’t suggest using milk in this recipe. Buttermilk is essential. If you absolutely can’t find buttermilk, you can make a homemade version by adding about 1 tablespoon lemon juice in 3/4 cup milk. Let it sit for 5 minutes before using. Hope this helps.

  17. I made these today and although the cupcakes were SO fluffy and light, the frosting was veeery runny.. But it was probably something I did wrong because it tastes amazing (the measurements where exact)..

    • I just saw a previous comment of yours! I used philadelphia cream cheese ase well..

    • Hi, Katerina! I’m glad your liked the cupcakes. I wonder why the frosting was runny though, since you did use Philadelphia cream cheese, which is what I use too. Did you use the block cream cheese, right? Not the one in the round container? And was it regular cream cheese, or less fat version? Hope we can get to the bottom of this issue.

      • Thank you for replying Shinee! 🙂 I took them to a party yesterday and they were a hit!
        Maybe you found the problem! I used the one in the container (full fat though!).. We don’t have many options for cream cheese where I live, but had I seen the blocked one I would have bought that instead..BUT! I put it in the fridge to set and then I just topped the cupcakes with a blob of the icing and put it right back in the fridge and they were fine! can i send you a pic? 🙂

        • Oh, I’m glad to hear that they turned out great, Katerina! I’d love to see the picture. You can send it via e-mail, or post it on Instagram with hashtag #sweetandsavorybyshinee. 🙂

  18. If I make the cream cheese frosting how long can I save it for and how do I save it if I can

    • You can make the frosting up to 1 day ahead. (I’ve done that.) Just cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Also, I’d suggest beating it for a minute or two to fluff it up before frosting the cupcakes.

  19. How many cupcakes does this recipe make?

  20. Hi Shinee!

    (first of all as in Shinee the band? haha)

    and secondly, I’ve made this before and I absolutely loves this recipe! However I tried remaking this recipe and the icing turned out runny, is there something I’m doing wrong? I followed the recipe correctly :<

    • Hi, Easanda! Yep, just like korean (?) band. 🙂
      What kind of cream cheese did you use? The reason I’m asking is because I once used generic brand cream cheese, and it was so runny. So, I only use Philadelphia cream cheese, and never had that problem again. Did you use the same cream cheese as the first time you tried?

  21. Hi shinee 
    I’m nine years old and did your recipe for red velvet cupcakes to help me for my school bake off competition.I baked them on my own yesterday and my family loved them 
    Thanks for the amazing recipe
    (I’m going to put them in a cupcake bouquet)
    P.s I live in the uk  

    • Hi, Lara! I’m so happy to hear that you made my favorite red velvet cupcakes all by yourself. Glad that your family loved them too. I can imagine how beautiful your cupcake bouquet will be! Good luck on your bake-off competition!
      PS: I just travelled to London last month, and I had absolutely lovely time in your country! 🙂

  22. Hello shinee! Your red velvet cupcakes look perfect! I tried to make it but the color didn’t come out as bright as yours although i also used liquid food coloring. What brand do you use?

  23. Is this unsweetened cocoa ?

  24. I tried these cupcakes twice and both times it came out nasty. I went over the recipe. I took my time and it still came out the same way the only thing good about this recipe is the icing which I plan on keeping…

    • I’m sorry that you didn’t like the cupcakes, Lee. I wonder what went wrong? Would you elaborate on nasty? Was it bland, was it dense, or something else? Did you substitute anything, or changed quantity? I’m just trying to see if it was something that was preventable. It’s my go-to red velvet cupcake recipe, and I’ve made it so many times, including for a wedding with 150+ guests. Everyone loves it.

  25. Hey Shinee!! I just discovered your website and i love it!!!! Your recipies are amazing and the website looks very nice and professional. Im loving it!!! This red velvet cupcake looks amazing and im actually going to use it for a class project. however, i will be changing up the icing into a white chocolate cream cheese frosting. Thanks for your help. Ill be sure to give you credit when i present the project in class!!! 

  26. Red velvet is still my all time favorite. Love this!

  27. hi, what kind of flour do you used?what’s the best flour do you recommend?

  28. Hi Shinee,
    These look lovely and I’d like to make them for my husband’s birthday. Did you use the liquid or powdered red food colouring? I have the powdered one.

    Thank you!

    • Hi, Suparna! I used liquid food coloring. I’m sure powdered one will work fine, but I can’t advise how much to use, because I never used them. Thank you for stopping by!

  29. Red Velvet is definitely one of my favorite cupcake. Love it. I’m gonna try to bake it. I know it’s gonna be fun.

  30. These pics were beautifully taken and styled I just love it. I haven’t made red velvet cupcakes in a long time maybe too long but these pictures have inspired me to do just that. After all it’s Christmas time!

  31. Yum! And again beautifully styled! This is why despite a weekend of cranberry relish, chocolate chip cookies, everything bagels, a yummy new salmon recipe and brownies with homemade vanilla bean ice cream my blog is neglected.

    If you love red velvet, this ice cream is delicious. http://www.annies-eats.com/2013/02/08/red-velvet-ice-cream-with-cream-cheese-frosting-swirl/

    • Audrey, you have a blog? What is it?
      And thank you for sharing this awesome ice cream recipe! Now I really want to try it. 🙂 I have a growing list of ice cream recipes that I want try and I really need to buy an ice cream machine asap!

      • A mostly (at least for now) inactive blog that I’m fairly shy about. I mainly used it for meal planning/ recording things I’d made and now that I found the BigOven program just keep track of weekly meal plans and recipes on there. After much reviewing (I tend to review kitchen purchases extensively) got the cuisinart ice cream maker . David Lebovitz’s book the perfect scoop is fabulous as well. The Guinness ice cream alone is worth the purchase.

        http://dakotaliving.wordpress.com/2013/05/26/memorial-day-weekend-treats/

        • I love the meal plan idea… I always try to do that, but never got around it. 🙂 Oh, I too do extensive review before any big purchases, and it was very helpful to read your review on ice cream maker. Thanks for sharing your blog. Very informative!

  32. Yamarch tsaraylag cupcake ve, manai huu nadaas red velvet cake hiigeech gej asuugaad baisan enuugeer hiij uznee. Cake hiihed elbeg hurne bizdee. Bayarlalaa.