Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

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Love red velvet cake? Try Red Velvet Cupcakes! Top these classic red velvet cupcakes with a tangy cream cheese frosting and serve them at your next birthday party or backyard potluck.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Red velvet cake is classic Americana cooking with its roots in the South. Deliciously festive, rich, flavorful, red velvet is like yellow cake but with a little kiss on the cheek of chocolate.

VIDEO! How to Make Red Velvet Cupcakes

The Best Red Coloring

The red color can come from beets or even strawberries but personally I unapologetically prefer red food dye and in large quantities as it does a better job of disguising the brown chocolate without altering the flavor.

Be sure to be careful when putting this recipe together as the batter can stain, so you may not want kids putting it together (better to put them on frosting duty).

Red Velvet Cupcakes

How to Serve Red Velvet Cupcakes

Here I’ve adapted red velvet cake into little red cupcakes and topped with a dollop of cream cheese frosting, they make for a colorful and tasty dessert for late winter picnics and are especially sweet for Valentine’s Day or for the Fourth of July if adorned with some blueberries.

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How to Store Red Velvet Cupcakes

  • Frosted Cupcakes: You can store the frosted cupcakes at room temperature for a few days. If your kitchen is warmer than 70°F, or your cupcakes have been out for a while, refrigerate them.
  • Unfrosted Cupcakes: Store the unfrosted cupcakes for in an airtight container at room temperature. Frost within 2 days. To freeze baked cupcakes without frosting, wrap them individually in plastic and seal in a plastic bag or tub. For the best favor, use within a month.
  • Cream Cheese Frosting:On its own, the frosting will keep refrigerated for up to a week, and frozen for up to 2 months. Give the frosting time to come to temperature before frosting the cupcakes.

If you'd like to freeze the frosted cupcakes, pre-freeze them so the frosting hold its shape. Then wrap each pre-frozen cupcake in plastic wrap and seal in a zip-top bag or plastic tub. For the bast flavor, eat within a month.

Swaps & Substitutions

  • You can use natural cocoa powder for the Dutch processed cocoa.
  • You may use all-purpose flour instead of cake flour, though the cupcakes won't be as light and tender.
  • If you don't have buttermilk,  adding a tablespoon of distilled white vinegar to 1 cup milk and let it stand for 10 minutes.
  • You can use gel food coloring, though use less than the 1 1/2 tablespoons of liquid food coloring called for. Stir a dab at a time into the buttermilk mixture until you have a saturated red color.

Try These Other Cupcake Recipes!

Updated September 19, 2020 : We spiffed up this recipe with a new video. Enjoy!

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 18 - 24 cupcakes, depending how large you make your cupcakes

You can make your own buttermilk by adding a tablespoon of distilled white vinegar to milk and letting it stand for about 10 minutes.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 1/3 cups cake flour
  • 2 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons red food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), room temperature
  • 8 ounces Philly cream cheese (1 package), room temperature
  • 2-3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method

1 Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a muffin tin with cupcake papers.

2 Make the cupcake batter: Beat the butter and sugar in an electric mixer for 3 minutes on medium speed until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each is fully incorporated. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure even mixing.

In a large bowl, sift together the cake flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl whisk together the buttermilk, vinegar, vanilla extract, and red food coloring.

Add a fourth of the dry ingredients and mix, then add a third of the wet. Mix until just barely combined to avoid over-mixing. Continue adding in a dry, wet, dry pattern, ending with the dry ingredients.

3 Divide the cupcake batter: Scoop into cupcake papers, about 1/2 to 3/4 of the way full.

4 Bake the cupcakes: Bake for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Rotate the pan after the first 15 minutes of baking to ensure even baking.

5 Cool the cupcakes: Allow the cupcakes to cool for one minute in the pan then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

6 Make the frosting: Beat the butter and cream cheese for the frosting together, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure even mixing. Add the vanilla extract and mix. Add the powdered sugar, continually taste to get to desired sweetness. (See Cream Cheese Frosting for full instructions.)

7 Frost the cupcakes: Pipe onto cooled cupcakes and enjoy!

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Garrett McCord

Garrett McCord is a professional writer and recipe developer whose work has appeared in many print and online publications such as Gourmet Live, Saveur, Huffington Post, Smithsonian, and NPR. Past clients also include numerous food companies, wineries, and distilleries. Garrett writes about cocktails on his website, Coupe de Grace.

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157 Comments / Reviews

No ImageRed Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Jessica

    Taste wonderful but fell flat. Not sure why they flattened on the tops.

    xxxxxyyyyy

    Show Replies (1)
  2. Abs

    I LOVE THIS RECIPE!!!! thank you so much! I used this for my first time in baking red velvet cupcakes and my whole family loves it!

    xxxxxyyyyy

    Show Replies (1)
  3. adeline

    i made these for a school project and they were AMAZING!!!! I got an A+. Thank you so much.

    xxxxxyyyyy

    Show Replies (1)
  4. Loca

    Gave it a 2 star bc cream cheese icing was very good. But the cupcakes themselves WERE NOT. Followed exact recipe and turned out with a dense muffin texture. Find a better recipe

    xxxxxyyyyy

  5. Tori Lantz

    I made these for Valentine’s Day. Amazing! Everyone enjoyed

    xxxxxyyyyy

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Red velvet cupcake recipe with cream cheese frosting.Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting