Red Velvet Cup Cake Recipe | A Sweet Sensation

As an amateur chef, I hold a special fondness for the classic American dessert known as the red velvet cupcake, which I traditionally top with a generous swirl of cream cheese icing.

In my kitchen, these delightful little cakes are crafted with care to showcase their signature red hue, achieved through the careful blending of cocoa and food coloring. It’s this unique color that first captures the eye, but it’s the light and fluffy texture—a result of my precise mixing technique—that truly makes them melt in your mouth.

I’ve found that red velvet cupcakes are a favorite choice for an array of special occasions. Whether I’m baking for a birthday party or creating an elegant wedding dessert display, these cupcakes have a universal appeal that transcends generations.

The story of their origin is somewhat mysterious; however, it’s widely accepted that red velvet cupcakes made their first appearance in the United States around the early 20th century. Among the various tales of their creation, one popular theory holds that they were conceived by the Adams Extract Company in Texas. This company is said to have developed an original recipe that incorporated red food coloring into the cake batter, giving rise to the vibrant color that has become synonymous with red velvet cupcakes today.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Regardless of their origins, red velvet cupcakes have become a beloved dessert in the United States and beyond.

They are known for their distinctive red color, which is achieved by adding red food coloring to the cake batter.

This gives the cupcakes a vibrant hue that will catch the eye and make them stand out on any dessert table.

But red velvet cupcakes are not just all about the color. They also have a unique flavor that sets them apart from other cupcakes.

The cake has a mild chocolate flavor but is also slightly tangy and sweet, thanks to buttermilk and vinegar in the batter. This combination of flavors creates a rich, complex taste that is hard to resist.

So, let’s get started!

To make a red velvet cupcake, you will need a few key ingredients, including all-purpose flour, sugar, cocoa powder, buttermilk, eggs, butter, vinegar, baking soda, salt, and red food coloring.

A display of all ingredients needed to make the red velvet cupcake

The cake batter is usually made by creaming the butter and sugar together, then adding the eggs and mixing well.

The dry ingredients are added alternately with the buttermilk until the batter is smooth and well combined. Finally, the red food coloring is added to give the cupcakes their signature color.

Once the batter is ready, it is spooned into cupcake liners and baked in the oven until they are light and fluffy.

They can be decorated with various toppings, such as cream cheese, buttercream, or even a sprinkle of powdered sugar.

One of the great things about red velvet cupcakes is that they are incredibly versatile.

They can be made in various sizes, from mini-cupcakes to jumbo-sized cupcakes, and can be decorated in various styles.

Depending on your preferences, they can be made with or without frosting and customized with different toppings and decorations to suit any occasion.

seven red velvet cupcakes plated on a long glass dish

Easy Red Velvet Cupcake Recipe

Red velvet cupcakes are delicious and unique dessert that is loved by people all over the world. Their vibrant red color, tangy and sweet flavor, and fluffy texture make them a true crowd-pleaser, perfect for any occasion. Whether you’re making them for a birthday party, a wedding, or just as a special treat for yourself, red velvet cupcakes are sure to delight everyone who tries them.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 6 people


For Cupcakes

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons red food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar

For the cream cheese frosting:

  • 8 oz cream cheese softened
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake liners.
  • Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder in a large bowl until well combined.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the vegetable oil, buttermilk, eggs, red food coloring, vanilla extract, and white vinegar until smooth.
  • Gradually pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, stirring until combined. Be careful not to overmix.
  • Divide the batter evenly between the prepared muffin tins, filling each cup about 2/3 full.
  • Bake the cupcakes for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
  • Let the cupcakes cool completely in the muffin tins before removing them.
  • To make the cream cheese frosting, beat the softened cream cheese and butter in a large bowl until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract, beating until well combined.
  • Once the cupcakes are completely cool, frost them with the cream cheese frosting using a piping bag or a spatula.
  • Serve and enjoy!


This recipe makes approximately 24 cupcakes, depending on the size of the muffin tins. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Also read: Cherry Chip Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe
Keyword Baking, Cake, Sweet

What can I use instead of buttermilk in red velvet cake?

If you don’t have buttermilk on hand or prefer not to use it, there are a few substitutes you can use in your red velvet cake:

  1. Milk and vinegar or lemon juice: Combine 1 cup of milk with one tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice, and let it sit for 5-10 minutes until it thickens and curdles. This mixture can be used as a substitute for 1 cup of buttermilk.
  2. Milk and yogurt: Combine 3/4 cup of milk with 1/4 cup plain yogurt. This mixture can be used as a substitute for 1 cup of buttermilk.
  3. Milk and sour cream: Combine 3/4 cup of milk with 1/4 cup of sour cream. This mixture can be used as a substitute for 1 cup of buttermilk.
  4. Milk and cream of tartar: Combine 1 cup of milk with 1 1/2 teaspoons of cream of tartar. This mixture can be used as a substitute for 1 cup of buttermilk.

Remember that while these substitutes will work in a pinch, they may not produce the same flavor and texture as buttermilk. Buttermilk has a tangy flavor and acidity that helps tenderize and moisten the cake so that the substitution may result in a slightly different taste or texture.

How do you store red velvet cupcakes?

To keep your red velvet cupcakes fresh and moist, storing them properly is important. Here are a few tips for storing red velvet cupcakes:

  1. Cool completely: Before storing your cupcakes, make sure they have completely cooled to room temperature.
  2. Store in an airtight container: Place the cupcakes in an airtight container, such as a plastic storage container or a cake carrier. This will help prevent them from drying out or absorbing any unwanted odors.
  3. Refrigerate if needed: If your cupcakes are frosted with cream cheese frosting, they should be stored in the refrigerator to prevent the frosting from spoiling. Please keep them in an airtight container and stay fresh for up to 5 days.
  4. Freeze for longer storage: If you need to store your cupcakes longer, you can freeze them for up to 3 months. Place them in an airtight container or freezer bag, and label them with the date. Let them sit at room temperature for a few hours or overnight in the refrigerator to thaw.
  5. Keep away from heat and moisture: Avoid storing your cupcakes near any sources of heat or moisture, such as near the oven or on the countertop near the sink. This can cause them to become soggy or spoil more quickly.

What is the ingredient in red velvet cake that makes it red?

The ingredient that gives red velvet cake its signature red color is typically red food coloring.

Originally, the reddish color of red velvet cake was created by a chemical reaction between the cocoa powder and the acidic ingredients in the cake, such as vinegar and buttermilk.

However, modern recipes usually call for a small amount of red food coloring to be added to the batter to ensure a vibrant and consistent red color throughout the cake.

Some recipes may also use natural ingredients such as beet juice or pomegranate juice as a substitute for artificial food coloring.

What should red velvet cake taste like?

Red velvet cakes have a unique flavor, often slightly tangy and chocolatey, with a hint of vanilla.

The tanginess comes from buttermilk and vinegar in the recipe, which adds a subtle tangy flavor to the cake.

The chocolate flavor is usually mild, with just enough cocoa powder to give the cake a slight chocolate taste without being overpowering.

Adding a small amount of red food coloring or natural red color from ingredients such as beet juice gives the cake it’s signature vibrant red color.

What type of frosting is used for red velvet cake?

The traditional frosting used for red velvet cake is cream cheese frosting. This frosting complements the tangy flavor of the cake and adds a creamy, slightly sweet contrast to the rich cocoa flavor.

Cream cheese frosting is made with cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract. It’s important to use softened cream cheese and butter to ensure a smooth, creamy texture. You can also adjust the sweetness to your liking by adding more or less powdered sugar.

Variations of cream cheese frosting can also be used, such as whipped cream cheese frosting, which has a lighter and fluffier texture, or cooked cream cheese frosting, which is thicker and more stable for decorating. Ultimately, the choice of frosting depends on personal preference and the occasion.

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