Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Love red velvet cake? Here it is in cupcake form! Classic red velvet cupcakes with a luscious cream cheese frosting.

  • Yield: Makes about 2 1/2 dozen cupcakes


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

Frosting ingredients

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

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


The cupcakes

1 Preheat the oven to 350°F. Beat the butter and sugar in an electric mixer for 3 minutes on medium speed until light and fluffy.

2 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.

3 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.

4 Add a fourth of the dry ingredients and mix, then add a third of the wet. Continue adding in a dry, wet, dry pattern, ending with the dry ingredients.

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

6 Allow to cool for one minute in the pan then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

The Frosting

1 Beat the butter and cream cheese together, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure even mixing.

2 Add the vanilla extract and mix.

3 Add the powdered sugar, continually taste to get to desired sweetness. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes.

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  • Jade

    how long can you store the cupcakes without the frosting? Does it dry out?

    • Carrie Havranek

      Hi Jade! I think you can store them overnight, covered, and then frost the next day before the cupcakes will dry out. Thanks for your question!

  • Wendy

    Does the buttermilk need to be room temperature? Both the butter and eggs are supposed to be room temp, but the buttermilk doesn’t say.

  • Lui

    The first time i make and the best homemade red velvet cupcakes


  • Elny

    Why no metrics measure ingredients? I hate recipe with cups as every cup differs one to another.

    • Donna Byrd

      A cup, does not vary. If you use a measuring cup. When they say cup, they mean a measuring cup, not just any old cup such as a coffee cup etc. I hope this helps.

      • Debbie

        It’s true that a measuring cup shouldn’t vary, but the way the different ingredients get PUT in the measuring cup can. I personally love the ease and accuracy of amounts of weighed ingredients. Definitely superior – I totally recommend that you try it !

  • Patty

    Make sure you let the butter get room temperature before mixing! The log burned up my mixer! :(

  • Kimberly

    Followed the recipe to a T! And it came out so dry and the bottom almost tastes burnt and I only cooked for 18 min (15 then rotated then 3) What a disappointing recipe.


  • Dana

    This recipe is awesome! I ended up with 18 large cupcakes, 12 mini cupcakes, and a tiny rectangular cake! Since I had so much stuff to frost, I doubled the frosting recipe and ended up with a generous amount leftover, but I don’t believe I would have had enough had I not doubled it. The frosting, while delicious, was not as stiff as I would have preferred and adding more powdered sugar would have made the frosting overly sweet. Other than that however, this recipe is just great! Make sure you’ve got enough red food coloring on your hand (YOU WILL NEED MORE THAN YOU THINK), or else your cupcakes will end up more brown tinted than red. Have fun baking these airy, delicious cupcakes!


  • Alex

    Hi, I’m not an experienced baker and I was wondering could this cupcake recipe be used to make a regular cake or would some things need to be adjusted?

    • Emma Christensen

      Hi, Alex! Emma here, managing editor. We haven’t tested this recipe as cake yet, and adapting baking recipes isn’t always obvious or straightforward. In this case, I think I would suggest finding an actual cake recipe to follow. Thanks!

  • Susan

    I am planning to make these, but only have the Wilton gel food colors. Do I still use the same amount of food coloring?

    • Emma Christensen

      Hi, Susan! Emma here, managing editor for Simply Recipes. Gel food coloring is generally stronger than liquid food coloring. You probably only need a small dab of it (I usually use a toothpick to scoop out a little bit). Try adding that, and add more if the buttermilk mixture doesn’t seem quite red enough. You can also add a little more after mixing the batter if the color doesn’t seem vibrant, though be careful of over-mixing the batter too much!

  • Sharlene

    I have loved all the recipes on this site, but unfortunately this one fell short for me. I followed the recipe to the tee, except I made two 8 inch rounds instead of cupcakes, but the cake came out very dry. My only guess is that I used Canadian cake and pastry flour — perhaps it works differently than the US version.

    The icing however was a delight and I would use this cream cheese icing recipe again in the future.

    • nina

      me too but i did mine as cupcakes just as instructed and it was also dry

  • Erin

    How many cupcakes will this make? I want to bake 2 dozen

  • Reen Bau

    Hi. How long can RVCs be left at room temp? Should I frost them right away or I should wait before they’re about to be served?

  • Reen Bau

    Can I use bright red food coloring instead of just Red?

  • Isabel

    Here in my country we only have all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour. Is there any way I can make cake flour? Thanks!

    • Emma Christensen

      Yes! Measure out a cup of all-purpose flour, remove two tablespoons of flour, and replace it with two tablespoons of cornstarch. That is the equivalent of a cup of cake flour. Happy baking!

      • Isabel

        Thank you so much! I can’t wait to try out this recipe!!!!

  • Julie

    After several high altitude baking adjustments these cupcakes came out wonderful at my 8200′ elevation. I particularly liked that this recipe uses butter instead of vegetable oil. I also used gel color (less than what is in recipe) instead of liquid food coloring and the color came out a beautiful, deep red. The cupcakes had a very mild flavor and the rich, sweetness of the cream cheese frosting really brought these cupcakes to life.


  • Kristyn

    If I used blue food coloring instead of red would the taste still be the same?

  • Jess

    My husband loves these – they are one of his favorite cupcake recipes. I’ve made them three times now, after my sister made them for a family event and they were a big hit there! The recipe is great, and the cream cheese frosting is really good!


  • lilyrose

    My brothers and sisters think that i’m so addicted to baking, but it’s just the best. I’m going to make these for christmas eve with my family.

  • Ross

    I’ve never had a chance to leave a comment before. I’ve been making these cupcakes with your recipe for 2 years and everyone loves it. I’ve tried other red velvet’s and nothing compares to this one. The closest is Magnolia Bakery’s, and I think that’s awesome. I add extra cocao and still turns out yummy. Thanks again for sharing this recipe.


  • Elle

    Thank you so much for this recipe! I have tried it and it’s a keeper. It became popular among my friends even if it is my first time baking! :)


  • Sanaria

    I have tried these and they are PERFECT! They are moist, soft, and fluffy. It’s the most perfect recipe I have ever tried! I have made them so many times and everyone loves them!

    Thank you for sharing. :-)


  • Zorahgail

    Made these for a birthday dinner & they were a big hit. I was intimidated by making RVCs but the recipe made it easy & simple. Thank you!


  • marisol

    I tried this recipe and the cup cakes turned out great! Thank you!!! I tried Martha Stewart’s recipe and cup cakes and I didn’t like. I will use this recipe in the future. Note: I used the tip to substitute buttermilk and it worked great. Also, I baked my cupcakes for 18 minutes. I used 2 tbsp instead of the 1 1/2 that this recipe asks. The color is rich red.


  • shahnaz

    iIve made cupcakes using this recipe countless times and always comes out perfect! Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe.


  • Sofia

    Everyone in attendance at my dinner party tonight declared these cupcakes “perfect”. The cake is SO moist and delicate. Thank you so much Garrett!


  • Vanalee Carruth

    I love Simply Recipes! I have never been disappointed in any of the many things that I have tried. I know this Red Velvet Cupcake recipe has been up for awhile and I have been wanting to try it.Recently, I made these for a concert my two teenage friends were holding to raise money for the school they built in Zambia. The cupcakes were literally flying out the door. I should have made more. I loved them so much I decided to see if I could change the recipe to a lemon one. They also turned out fabulously. Thanks for all the amazing recipes!


  • natalie

    I am not a baker so I was I was definitely nervous at how this was going to come out…so much so that I halved the recipe just in case. Turned out that they were awesome! Everyone loved them! Soo happy to have found this recipe! Thanks.


  • rayanne

    Thanks so much for this recipe! I’ve tried plenty of others, and these came out the tastiest for sure. =)


  • Cait

    I made these last night for a little get together. Half of the original recipe made a perfect dozen cupcakes – which received rave reviews! The cupcakes have a perfect texture – soft, moist, and not dense or heavy in the least. Thanks for the recipe. It’s my go-to red velvet from here on out!


  • Emma

    I made these cupcakes a couple weeks ago, and they were delicious! I was a little short on red food colouring, so they turned out a strange sort of layered brown/dark pink colour. Guess you really do need all that food colouring! Like a previous commenter, I found the batch of icing to be about double what I needed to frost them (I didn’t pipe it on, just spread over their tops).

    All in all, excellent recipe! Would definitely make it again, making sure to use enough food colouring. Thanks :)


  • Matthan

    I made this for my soon to be gf for her graduation, but instead of making cupcakes, I made a cake. It turned out great! I just doubled the recipe. It was a 3 tier cake, with cream cheese filling and buttercream frosting on the outside. Thanks for the recipe!!! It’s one of my fav’s!


  • Amanda

    This has got to be one of the best recipes (and easiest) i’ve ever tasted! I work at Starbucks and we usually come out with cupcakes every year, one of them being red velvet. This year, however, my co-workers and I were SO disappointed in them that I decided to make it my personal mission to find the best red velvet cupcake recipe and make them for my crew. These are such winners, Thank you!! :)


  • Amanda *))

    Thank you so much for this recipe!! I made it tonight for a birthday party, and it was one of the most perfect things I have ever made. I have a new hope for baking :D A delicate taste and perfect texture.

    Oh, I didn’t have buttermilk, and I made it with vinegar like you said. It came out just great :)


  • Mary Jo

    Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe. I followed the instructions and the cupcakes came out great. I have made them several times now and I have not received one criticism, just all praise. I have shared this receipe with many and will continue to do so.


  • Cairo

    I just made these cupcakes, I brought them to work and they were gone in no time! They are absolutely delicious! Wonderful flavor and the icing is to die for! (The recipe makes a pretty good bit of frosting, I was expecting just enough for a little glob on top, but I was able to really pile it on.) Mmm!


  • Bunny

    I made these for Thanksgiving and they were a real hit. I baked them for about 17 minutes and they came out perfectly moist. The recipe for the frosting is light and creamy…I had a lot left over. I sprinkled toasted walnuts on top and it gave them that extra zing. This recipe is a definite keeper! Thanks so much Garrett :-)

  • lisa

    I made these cupcakes last night they turned out great! thanks for the recipe. I wasn’t a big fan of the frosting though, but everyone else loved it and I put some chopped pecans on top. Great recipe.


  • Christina

    The cupcakes and frosting are both delicious! They’re adorable and taste so good :)

  • Myaa

    Made them two weeks ago and making them again tomorrow for a birthday. Delicious! You can also use regular Hershey’s cocoa powder in them.


  • Lora

    Garrett –
    I have an oven thermometer – trouble with oven in previous residence prompted me to buy one – so I don’t think that was the problem. However, I was unable to figure out what was causing the problem. I got so frustrated with my cupcakes looking like little craters with Martha’s recipe that I went ahead & used your recipe. They came out PERFECTLY! I was so excited – and they taste divine. I have a new RV cupcake recipe & I’m sure my family & customers will be very pleased. I look forward to trying out some of your other recipes soon.


  • Diane

    These cupcakes are so awesome! It was a bit complicated to put together the ingredients and the rhubarb-colored batter wasn’t too appetizing but I loved the result. The flavor is not too sweet, almost savory, and I liked it better than ones I’ve bought at specialty cupcake stores.
    Thanks for the tip on making buttermilk, I love stuff like that! Also I only put in only 1 cup of powdered sugar for the frosting and I can literally eat a bowlful of the stuff. I used red sprinkles on top, probably I’ll use green for Christmastime. Usually I don’t enjoy cakes, but I can’t stop eating them, thank you again for this delicious recipe!

  • Kristi

    After combing the internet for about an hour looking for a red velvet cupcake recipe, this was the only one that didn’t have just as many “hated it” as “loved it” comments so I went ahead and made them.

    DELICIOUS! I’m making them again on Monday for a luncheon. I LOVE the fact that it has butter instead of oil, which to me (oil) always coats the palate on a baked good…..light, fluffy and presentation was great. While I thought the consistency was best the same day, refrigerated they still tasted darn good 4 days later….though more dense than I would like on day 4…but I’m not complaining! I did use a cocoa that was a combination of dutched and regular–go figure my grocery store sold this rather than separately selling dutched.


  • Karla

    These were fantastic! We just served them with vanilla frosting (from a can. I know.) and they were loved by everyone! Can’t wait to make them again for the office on V-DAY!


  • Iz

    I just made these, and am actually eating one right now. AMAZING. Thanks for sharing!


  • Carissa

    Great recipe! I just made them and they were wonderful! I searched for two days for a red velvet recipe and I was disappointed by the ingredients some used. I stumbled upon yours, loved the pictures, the recipe seemed simple enough and POOF! We are loving them right now!


  • Anonymous

    Where can these cupcakes be stored? Can they be left out or do they need to be refrigerated?

    Like many baked goods the shelf life is limited. Leave them out on the counter overnight and no more. Putting them in a fridge will make the cakes hard and dry. ~Garrett

  • aini

    Could you give me a red velvet cupcake recipe that uses traditional beet juice? I’m kind of scared of using a big amount of food coloring. Thank you.

    The traditional way is not to use beet juice or coloring. The traditional “red” color was due to a chemical reaction with the cocoa powder and the acid in the buttermilk. The color was more a muddy red-brown. Beet juice will turn it dark purply-brown. As for the recipe, I suggest a Google search. ~Garrett

  • Rachel

    Hi! Is it ok if I leave out the white vinegar? Would it affect anything?

    Baking is essentially chemistry, you don’t want to upset the balance of acid to base, so no, do not leave it out. ~Garrett

  • Emma

    Instead of the sugar & eggs, can we used sweetened condensed milk?

    No. That is in no way a practical substitute in baking. ~Garrett

  • Domestic Goddess

    I tried the Hummingbird bakery recipe for RVC’s but it did not turn out well at all. So I decided to try this recipe instead since it had great reviews and it certainly did live up to its expectations. Although I used normal cocoa and plain flour it turned out absolutely fine! Moist, light and tasty. I’m definitely sticking to this recipe. Thanks a lot for sharing.

  • Edy Rose Sta. Maria

    An oven toaster would do? Could you tell me all the details? Like the time adjustment if I will use such? and pre-heating time before putting the first batch? and other stuff.. Thanks!

    I am making an educated guess. I haven’t tried it so you’ll have to test it out yourself. A toasted oven heats to the right temperatures so it shouldn’t be too much of an issue. Part of cooking is experimenting.~Garrett

  • Edy Rose Sta. Maria

    Hi! I really want to try this one this coming holidays but my problem is that the oven here at home is broken. Could you suggest other means for me to come up with this one? Like microwave oven, probably? Is that actually possible?

    Baking requires an oven. Maybe a toaster oven could be used but not a microwave. ~Garrett

  • Bake mum

    Just made the red velvet! It was really yummy, very good recipe and my family loves it! Made a few changes, use plain flour instead of cake flour because I didnt have cake flour. Added an extra teaspoon of baking powder as commented. Didn’t do them in cupcakes but split them into 2 6 inches square tins. I sandwich the cakes with the cream cheese icing and stack them to make a high cake. My icing wasn’t really enough with the recipe so had to ice the cake really thin. I would recommend you to double or make 1 1/2 times the icing recipe. The red color of the cake was beautiful but I would add a bit less coloring the next time. I would certainly make them again! Really moist and rich.

  • Rachael and Kirsten

    Delicious cupcakes, but they fell and ended up being kind of ugly. :( We followed the recipe too, but we ended up adding a tad more baking powder afterwards.

  • farrah

    hello!would really love to try this but i’m not sure what a dutch cocoa is.i have nestle cocoa and bensdorp.which should i use between the 2?thanks!

    Dutch cocoa is cocoa that has been through an alkalizing process. If your cocoa is Dutch processed, it will say so on the label. ~Elise

  • Karen

    I only used the recipe for the frosting and it was the best frosting
    I ever tasted!!! I will use it all the time!

  • Jenny

    This was THE BEST cream cheese frosting recipe. I have trouble getting my cream cheese frosting nice and thick so that it doesn’t run off the sides of cakes and cupcakes. This 1:1 ratio of butter to cream cheese + 3 cups of powdered sugar did the trick for me. I haven’t tried the cupcakes yet but the batter came together easily and was nice and thick. I have tried recipes calling for a higher ratio of cream cheese to butter and those have not always worked out well.

  • Josh

    I made these with 1/4 cup less cake flour for a denser cupcake. I topped with a vanilla bean white pepper cardamom cream cheese frosting. Everybody is thoroughly enjoying them at work!

  • Kendi

    I have never attempted to make red velvet anything until today! The task always looked so very intimidating. This recipe makes beautiful, delicate, chocolatey tasting red velvet cupcakes. The color is perfect, and I trusted and followed this recipe to a T, as I have every recipe I have ever used from this site! This is my go-to recipe database- Thanks for always being there for me.

    **Btw, I never write food reviews, or any other kind of reviews– but thought this recipe was so worth the acclamation!


  • Elena

    The taste and texture were fine, but the color was a bit light (a tan color) with almost no red hue even though I used the exact amounts.

    Not sure. This recipe already uses a large amount of coloring. My only guess is you used a very, very dark cocoa powder. ~Garrett

  • Al

    How much plain flour would I use? And what is the recipe in grams? Sorry to bother.

    Use the same amount of flour and increase the leavener by about 1 teaspoon, but I would encourage you to pick up cake flour for this as I haven’t tried this with a substitution and cannot verify the results. As for grams, please use the unti conversion tool on the left hand side of the blog. ~Garrett


    Can I use self-rising flour?

    No. I wouldn’t. ~Garrett

  • katie

    I’m currently on a baking high and these look delicious! I’m hoping to make them for my friends at school & these look to be promising. I only have two questions and I’m not sure if this will seem ridiculous or not: does it make a difference to use confectioners sugar v.s. regular granulated sugar? I just don’t want to make any stupid mistakes that would make my mum regret allowing me to do this. Oh, and does the cocoa powder need to be Dutch or would Hersheys suffice? Please & thanks for an answer!

    Katie, red velvet traditionally uses Dutch, though due to the sheer amount of red food dye in this recipe I wou;dn’t sweat it. As for confectionar’s sugar, yet, you do need that for this recipe. If you don’t have any just throw some granulated into a food processor and let it rip until you have powdered sugar. ~Garrett

  • jenn

    First time baking red velvet cupcakes. Any tips??

    Also, is the tsp of distilled white vinegar an addition to the buttermilk if you make your own?

    Much thanks.

    Just follow the directions. As for the buttermilk, add a teaspoon of white vinegar to a cup of whole milk and let it stand for 10 minutes to make a buttermilk substitute. ~Garrett

  • naila

    Can Phildelphia cream cheese be used for all the cream cheese required in all the recipes?

    Yes, as it is cream cheese. ~Garrett

  • WhiteCrayon

    So I have been looking for a traditional recipe and this one is great. I didn’t add red food coloring so I just added about two tablespoons. Baked for about 18 mins turned them at about 15 mins. They aren’t as densely moist as my grandmothers recipe… these are more like cake so they taste great. They taste of a basic cake with a hint of chocolate, nice and moist. I used a cooked butter-cream icing that just adds to the old classic red velvet taste.

  • lucy

    I made these yesterday. I don’t know what happened but it is really moist and oily. Plus, after baking, the cupcakes collapsed. :-( What do you thing I did wrong?

    Sounds like you had too much fat or that the ingredients weren’t properly measured. Without more information I can’t say for sure. ~Garrett

  • Jenn

    I was hoping to make these as a layer cake for my sister’s birthday. Any idea if and/or how the recipe needs to be changed for a 2-layer cake with 9″ pans? Thanks!

    You will need to increase the baking time for sure, probably to about 35-45 minutes. ~Garrett

    • Sharlene

      Jenn — did you try this as a cake instead of cupcakes? Did it turn out and do you have any suggestions? My son wants a red velvet cake for his 8th birthday, and I”m crossing my fingers that this one works!

  • ksenia

    I baked these yesterday for my son’s second birthday. They were very delicious. I added extra chocolate because I wanted these to have a little stronger chocolate taste but it dried out the cupcakes just a little. Next time, if I want a more chocolaty taste, I will try a different recipe. As for red velvet, this recipe is the one!

  • kayal

    These red velvet cupcakes were so bad. I made them for a party and it was the oposite of what I thought. They tasted horrible, and no one ate them!

    Kayal, you should always test a recipe yourself before testing it out on a group. Furthermore, if under a deadline or pressure you might run into problems with your stove or with the recipe as it works for you that you may want to address when you finally make it for others. Doing otherwise makes you look unprepared. As for the taste, well, taste is subjective. ~Garrett

  • Grace

    Thanks for this delectable recipe! I just wanted regular cake since I didn’t have any cupcake pans. Followed the ingredients recipe exactly, except didn’t use red food coloring and used all-purpose flour. Baked in a 9×9″ non-stick pan for 30 minutes and came out absolutely wonderfully. Halved the frosting and it was the perfect amount.

    • Sharlene

      Thanks for posting Grace — I’m going to try that!

  • Anna

    I love red velvet cupcakes and I used your recipe for my first attempt at making them. They turned out wonderful!! Thank you for the recipe – it was easy to follow and the end product was delicious.

  • Amanda

    I love RVC and made it for my daughters 1st b-day last year and am planning on doing cupcakes for this year and putting little mickey mouse fondont ears on top (she loves Mickey’s clubhouse) I was wondering, however, if there is anyway this could be converted to gluten free. My goddaughter has celiac disease and last year couldn’t have cake :( because I totally didn’t pay attention. And if not, is there a gluten free dessert that I could add to my food plan? Thanks!

    I don’t cook gluten-free. You would have to find another recipe for that as this one is geared for that style of cooking. ~Garrett

  • CR

    I made these for my Organic Chem II class, in part to influence my grade… they look beautiful and the frosting is fantastic, so I’m sure they’ll be a hit!

    I brought cupcakes to my advanced Trigonometry class in college. Didn’t help bump up that B- though. D’oh! ~Garrett

  • Sam

    If your Red Velvet cake tastes bitter or like chemicals, it’s probably the red dye. Some recipes call for quite a lot of it – I’ve seen up to 2 ounces! – so you should always use “no taste” red dye, which is not the same as what you’d typically find at a grocery store. Black dye can also have a bad taste, so it’s good to start with chocolate icing so that you don’t have to add as much dye to make it black.

  • Lynn Snell

    Help, I live in CO ~ altitude of 5000 ft and I made this recipe following the directions precisely but I didn’t make any allowance for the altitude. They were a disaster, can anyone help? They all sunk in the middle like a volcano. I thought I could cut them up and make a trifle but the structure was also bad, filled with holes and not cake like at all. I was so disappointed! Does anyone have the altitude solution? I would love to make these again. Thanks!

  • Sue

    I have been a baker for years…so, what happened? The cupcakes puffed up, but they spread over the top of the pan and I had a heck of a time getting them out. I doubled checked all my ingredients and I didn’t forget anything. I baked them in my “new” convection oven, so, when you set the temp at 350 it automatically adjusts it to 325. Could that possibly have caused this? My baking powder is brand new, but now I also wonder if the baking soda maybe is past it’s prime. They taste good, but just not so pretty. I’m sure the teenage boys across the street that do my snow shoveling probably won’t care what they look like!

    Well, if the oven changed the temperature from what it should be then that might be the problem. ~Garrett

  • Nicole

    I had the same problem as Karla. I also live in Italy and while my cupcakes tasted amazing the color wasn’t red at all. Sigh. I really wanted to wow my Italian in-laws. Could I just add more food coloring?

    Yes, the batter should be bright red before you bake it. ~Garrett

  • Malavika

    I’m planning to make these for my dad’s bday this weekend. The only thing is, I’d like to make some semi-healthy substitutes if possible = i.e. substituting some of the sugar with splenda, using reduced-fat cream cheese and lowfat buttermilk, etc.. Could you recommend a substitute for butter – other than oil – that would be a little healthier but allow the cupcakes to retain some of its moistness and texture? Thanks!

    Nope. I don’t know a substitute that would give you a quality product with this recipe. Feel free to try your substitutions and if they work I hope you’ll share your process with us in the comments. =) ~Garrett

  • rayna

    My friends and I have all been in the mood for some good red velvet cake lately, and I think these cupcakes will hit the spot with them, if there are any left to share tomorrow when I see them! I love the crumb of these cakes; I tried making cupcakes before from a chocolate cake recipe I have, and the cupcakes come out way too heavy. These cupcakes are just light and moist, and make perfect canvasses for piping on that delicious icing. I am now an expert at making them, since after popping the tins in the oven, I saw two perfectly good eggs sitting on the counter at room temp, not IN the cake batter! The first batch was NOT salvageable, so I had to do everything all over again. The lesson learned here is – DO NOT forget the EGGS! Keep the great recipes coming, S.R., I know I can always count on this blog for deliciousness!

  • Ellen H.

    I made this recipe with regular flower and dutch coco. I baked the first batch for 18 minutes, the second for 15. Both batches were dry. Also, they weren’t chocolatey enough for me. The icing can be halved. I put as much frosting on each as I could and still had half the frosting left over.

    However, they were very pretty and fun to make. The color worked fine on mine. They were a deep red.

    I wouldn’t suggest switching out the flours. As for them being dry I would check your oven temperature. I remember when I first made these they kept coming out dry. I went and got an oven thermometer and found out my oven was running about 25 degrees hotter than it should. As for the chocolate taste, like I said this is a light in chocolate flavor chocolate cake. Sounds like you might want to try Devil’s Food. =) ~Garrett

  • Darrell

    Hi, I found this post via a link on TheKitchn. I had to try this recipe asap so I threw it together at the last minute while my Kugelhopf dough was rising. It turned out AMAZING, thanks so much! And the icing is to die for. The only thing I did differently was make 4 mini loaf cakes instead of cupcakes because I couldn’t find my cupcake pan and had just bought the 4 loaf pan.

    Thanks again!

  • karla

    They taste great but the colour failed me. They didn’t turn red at all. It was basically a chocolate cupcake. I live in Italy and I think the chocolate cocoa powder over here is way to strong. There was no hint of red at all. Next time I’ll take the food colouring out and just make delicious chocolate cupcakes.

  • Jane

    I made this last year for a Christmas party, and they were delicious! Gobbled up in mere minutes.
    This year, I want to double the batch, and make them for a Thursday event, as well as serving them at a Sunday party. Question is, will they still be good by Sunday? Or should I just woman-up and just make ’em twice?

  • Carol

    Thanks for sharing another winning recipe. I’ve made four batches of these cupcakes in the last week for various events, and everyone has loved them. Mine didn’t come out as red as the ones pictured, but they’re still moist and delicious. I don’t like my frosting too sweet, so I halved the amount of powdered sugar — turned out light and airy.

  • Rachel

    If I didn’t want to make so many, say a dozen instead of 2, should I cut the recipe in half or would that mess it up completely?

    That should be fine. ~Garrett

  • Sarah

    I’m interested in this recipe. I’ve been scouring the internet for different red velvet cupcakes, and I have one question I was hoping you could answer. Why do some call for all-purpose flour and some specifically cake flour (like yours). I’m making these tomorrow and it’s my first try with making red velvet, so I’m just trying to make them to best I can. Any info would be great!

    God question, Sarah. Cake flour has about 50% less protien content than AP flour and is chlorinated to further break it down giving the flour a much finer texture which results in a more delicate crumb in baked goods. ~Garrett

  • Lora

    I came across your recipe while searching for reasons why my RV cupcakes are sinking. I’ve been using the recipe from Martha Stewart’s cupcake book, but I am intrigued by the way your is put together.

    Perhaps you can give me an idea of why my cupcakes are sinking in the middle (my husband doesn’t complain because he says it’s just room for extra icing). I live in Denver, so I do have altitude issues. To compensate, I bake at 370 instead of 350. I always preheat my oven, and once it goes in, I don’t open the door until it’s done. I’ve made these cupcakes so VERY many times that I know they take 20 minutes for me. I’ve been using the Hershey’s special dark blend of natural & dutch chocolate. Is this what’s messing everything up? Thanks for your help, and I’ll be trying out your recipe in the very near future!

    Lora, there are any number of reasons. However, usually, it’s the oven. The cupcakes are rising from heat but then aren’t actually baking and hardening the gluten bonds quickly enough so the rising mounds collapse. An oven thermometer is your best friend for baking and can let you know what the temperature REALLY is (and it’s rarely what your oven tells you). Also, I am not familiar with Martha’s recipe, so I can’t really give advice on that recipe, just this one. ~Garrett

  • Bernadette

    Thanks so much for this recipe! I cook/bake only from scratch and will make the concentrated beet juice sub. I just wanted to ask you Garrett… have you ever tried sub-ing Buttermilk with Kefir or Yogurt with a little H2O? I have made some excellent buttermilk pancakes with this substitute before. The chemical qualities of all three are very similar. Yogurt tends to have the same amount of tartness while Kefir posesses a probiotic element to food.

    Just thought I would ask….as for my Pancakes, they turn out wonderful with the sub when I don’t have Buttermilk on hand.

    I have done it with pancakes but not with cake. =) ~Garrett

  • cupcakelover03

    I just wanted to know how many servings this recipe will make? Oh and can I substitute the Dutch Cocoa Powder with Nestle cocoa powder?

    “Makes about 2 1/2 dozen cupcakes.” And, no. ~Garrett

  • Tracy

    Just made your Red Velvet Cupcake recipe and will soon be ready to make the cream cheese frosting.

    Once you frost the cakes, how should you store them?
    Should you frost them only as you need them?

    I’m a bit confused!!!

    Thanks for your help.

    I just cover them with plastic. When you want to serve them take them out an hour or so before to come to room temp. ~Garrett

  • Jill Mills

    I am going to try out this recipe, but notice that some call for butter while others call for oil. Have you tried both versions? If so, what are the differences (consistency, density, flavor)?

    I have not but good question. I will try to get on that as soon as I can. ~Garrett

  • A_Nurse

    Only in the last year have I discovered RVC and I rather enjoyed this recipe. For major fans of RVC you might find the following an obscene change, but here goes…

    I stumbled upon this recipe looking for something to make for St. Patrick’s Day not knowing the history behind the colouring I didn’t think it was a big deal to change the dye colour so I substituted green for red. I used regular cocoa, all purpose flour, regular white vinegar…they looked fantastic and tasted pretty good. I also found that it didn’t make 2.5 dozen, actually less than 2, but those ~20 cupcakes looked mighty good in green. :)

  • farrah

    Hello! I just want to know how many cupcakes will this recipe yield? I am having a party for my daughter and i am planning to make this. Thank you so much.

    Makes about 2 1/2 dozen cupcakes. ~Garrett

  • ML Chan

    I just made these this morning. The frosting was amazing. Forgot to check if my cocoa was dutch processed, unfortunately not. I cut back on the dye as well. The cupcakes turned out nice and tall, not as moist as i had hoped I think because of the cocoa.

    Question: Can these be left out wrapped or do they need to be refridgerated?

    I would pop them in the fridge. ~G

  • Carolyn

    I followed this recipe to the T and the batter tasted delicious. I used a 1/4 cup to fill the cupcake tins and only got 24 cupcakes. 18 of the cupcakes came out perfect – delicious, moist and the perfect shape with a little dome on top. The other 6 however spread out all over the pan. They sunk in the middle and the top was covered in bubbles. They still tasted good, but they looked awful. I do not consider myself a novice baker… what is going on here?

    Sounds like the oven wasn’t hot enough for the last six. My guess was the door was left open too long and the heat escaped. ~Garrett

  • Kaitlyn

    I am a HUGE fan of red velvet cupcakes, and haven’t had a decent one since I left New Orleans in december. Yours look amazing- dare I say even better? I only have regular Hershey’s cocoa powder in my pantry, and most of the recipes I’ve seen use it instead of the Dutch processed, claiming it has a reaction with the dye and vinegar. Is substitution okay?

    Give it a try and tell us how it works! =) ~Garrett

  • Jenies Thomas

    I followed the recipe, the only thing I did different was use light buttermilk, my cupcakes sunk overflowed and then sunk and didn’t really cook. Was that the reason? They didn’t have regular buttermilk and i was anxious to try it.

    Cupcakes sink for a variety of reasons – 1) too much fluid, 2) too much fat, 3) not enough heat too cook quickly enough, 4) awkward oven temperatures, or 5) ingredients not mixed well enough. This is also ruling out freak accident or elevation issues. I’ve had my most reliable recipes sometime deflate or burn. As for the buttermilk light, I’m honestly not sure, but I have trouble imagining that to be the problem. My advise for ensuring cupcakes do not sink is to always preheat, mix thoroughly without over mixing, after the first 15 minutes of baking, and rotate the pan to ensure even baking. ~Garrett

  • Jee

    Elise and Garrett,
    I’ve made these for Valentine’s day just now and they’re just regular chocolate cupcakes (with less chocolate taste) with almost close to no redness. :'( The icing is fab, but the cupcake themselves weren’t fluffy and moist as I hoped they would be. I used the Hershey’s special dark “blend of natural and dutched cocoa” cocoa, and used the McCormick red food coloring. Where did I go wrong? I think I may have mixed the batter a little TOO well…do you think that might have caused it? I also reduced a bit of the sugar…maybe by 1/4 of a cup. I would really love to make a proper RVC so if you have any ideas where I may have gone wrong plz let me know. Thanks.

    My best guess would be the mix cocoa blend might have altered things. ~Garrett

  • Tammy

    Thanks for the great recipe. I’m making these cupcakes for Valentine’s Day :)
    I couldn’t find “distilled vinegar” though at my local grocery store; would it make a difference if I just used regular white vinegar?

    Also, could I use condensed milk instead of buttermilk?


    White is just fine. As for the buttermilk, no to using condensed. Just use regular milk and add a tablespoon of citrus juice. Stir and let stand for 10 minutes for it to curdle. Poof! Instant buttermilk! =) ~Garrett

  • Michelle

    Garrett –

    These sound amazing! My boyfriend and I went to a class you taught with a couple others at Whole Foods, something about cool summer desserts. I was looking for something to make besides my usual heart-shaped sugar cookies for Valentine’s Day, and my bf is a cupcake whore :) Also a question – if I wanted to fill these with the cream cheese frosting, how would I go about doing that?


    Michelle, so glad you liked the class! As for filling these, use a paring knife and carve a little cone out of the top of each cupcake. Carve the cone of cake off the piece of cupcake you cut out so you are left with just a “cap”. Fill with whatever filling you choose (maybe truffle ganache?) and replace the cap. Frost as usual. ~Garrett

  • bakinggal

    my fiance is allergic to chocolate. These cupcakes look so good, is there a way of using vanilla cake mix and still have the same effect.

    Red velvet is a chocolate cake. Why don’t you add some red food coloring to a vanilla cake mix and see how you like it? ~Elise

  • Lauren

    If you’re worried about artificial colors, here’s a suggestion: use beet juice concentrate, which can be found at a Polish deli. It works beautifully! I think the “concentrate” part is important because a little bit of the deep red liquid goes a long way, which means you won’t get a beet-flavored cake.

  • Sophie

    Can I use powder food color for this?

    Shouldn’t be a problem, just don’t use too much or the cupcakes may come out a bit dry. ~Garrett

  • amazed

    Looks yummy! Will try it out soon for valentines! :) Thank you for sharing this with me! BTW, can sour cream/plain yogurt be used as a substitue for buttermilk??

    In baking, I would say no, do not substitute sour cream for the buttermilk. ~Garrett

  • liz

    I’m planning on making this for my parent’s coming 25th anniversary so I’m wondering if I can use this recipe for a big cake instead of cupcakes? Also, can I use cream cheese spread for the frosting? Thanks.

    Feel free on the cream cheese spread if that is what you like. As for making it into a big cake, that should be fine. Just increase the baking time and keep an eye on it. I would suggest using round pans as they are easier to gauge rather than a large sheet cake. ~Garrett

  • janice Stahl

    I tried this recipe today after searching the web for what I thought would be a very good one. This recipe is very dry and the cupcakes had no flavor. This was very discouraging. I cook for a living so I am very well versed in cakes from scratch….this is a miss.

  • Nonpareil

    I made these cupcakes for christmas, they turned out great! I would recommend adding 3 Tbsp. of cocoa if you want them to be more chocolatey and I think next time I’ll try the almond extract Christina 2 comments above me mentions, it sounds like a great idea! I used a vanilla buttercream frosting instead, and I’m going to use the cream cheese frosting recipe for some pumpkin muffins this morning.

  • Kim

    Any guesses on how using unsweetened cocoa powder (instead of Dutch processed) will alter the flavor? I read that Dutch was basically a neutralized version of unsweetened, but anyone know if the “chocolat-iness”/sweetness is different as well (ie, should I scale up/down the amount of unsweetened powder I should use for this recipe?)
    (recommended sub for 3T Dutch= 3T unsweetened + 1/8t baking soda)

    Any advice/suggestions would be much appreciated!Tx!

    The main thing here is ph-balance as one, the Dutch, has been alkalized. This means the acidity has been neutralized and thus is a bit more subtle in flavor and isn’t as bitter. Normally Dutch is used in baking with baking powder which is neutral, where as regular cocoa powder is acidic is used with baking soda (an alkali) to create rise. If you use “regular” cocoa powder here, you might get cupcakes that over rise and pool out or collapse on themselves. Summed up: I would not suggest substituting unsweetened cocoa powder for the Dutch cocoa. ~Garrett

  • shalethia

    The cupcakes with the icing were fantastic!!!! The flavor and texture came out great. Everyone that tried the cupcakes gave me rave reviews!! This recipe is a keeper! Thanks Garrett for the amazing recipe.

  • Christina

    Someone said … “I dunno about that… I’ve had some intensely rich red velvet cake in Texas and at great soul food restaurants. :) I don’t know what the secret ingredient was… maybe lard. ;)”

    As a southerner who grew up with Red Velvet Cake often, I was constantly disappointed with their flavor after I was grown. I later discovered that the recipe my mom uses includes almond extract. It’s delicious and definitely makes others taste less intense by comparison.

  • kathy

    On the red velvet cupcake recipe there is a note
    on how to make buttermilk if you don’t have any…it read 1 Tbsp. vinegar but how much milk?
    I am assuming 1 cup. Thanks, Kathy

    Indeed! Yes it is 1 cup of milk! ~Garrett

  • Jennifer

    I made these cupcakes tonight and they are the BEST! They are fluffy and moist and the flavor is perfect. I actually doubled the recipe. I had so many red cupcakes piled up all over my kitchen that it looked a little Dr. Seuss-ish in there for a while. I was able to make 39 regular sized cupcakes and a whole tray of minis. I doubled the icing ingredients too, which was not really necessary. I have a lot of icing left over (not a problem!). Thanks for posting this recipe!

  • James

    This recipe came made simply amazing cupcakes! I made a red velvet cake via Paula Dean’s recipe, and it came out horrible!! Thank you for this amazing recipe, would any changes need to be made in-order to produce this in cake form? Thanks!

    I do not think so, just a longer baking time. Try it out and let us know! ~Garrett

  • Deb

    Hi. Just wondering about a good alternative for cream cheese frosting. A friend of mine is a huge fan of red velvet cake, but she is not into cream cheese! What do you suggest?

    Thanks! :)

    A simple vanilla buttercream should be just fine. ~Garrett

  • Jayden

    I absolutely love the way these cupcakes look. I didnt have any buttermilk [my kids drank them all] so thx for that side note. I mixed in alittle crushed pecans to my cream cheese frosting. It kinda added a crunch to the cupcake. You should try it. Thx for sharing !!!!

  • Jaime

    If I were to make this into a two-layered cake, would I have to increased the bulk of the recipe–or would this recipe be enough (icing and cake)?? Thanks :)

    Don’t know, think you’ll have to experiment to find out. ~Elise

  • Cherie

    I made these over the weekend, along with the Coconut Cupcakes also featured on this site, for a potluck dinner. They were definitely a hit. Few comments though – I used regular (plain) flour, rather than cake flour & regular cooking cocoa, rather than the recommended Dutch. But, I did double the quantity of the cocoa & found them to still have a ‘chocolatey’ taste. They did turn out quite dense, which was probably a result of using the plain flour. I did find that the recipe only yielded approximately 18 cupcakes, not the 30 that it suggests. Also, the frosting recipe makes quite a generous amount, probably more accurate for 30, but then they’d be very small cupcakes in my opinion!

  • Kris

    Hey! This recipe was great! I tweaked it a little bit by using milk instead of buttermilk and putting in 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder. But I was wondering if I could use self-rising flour instead of cake flour? Would it have a different texture? Thanks!

  • Sara

    I am new to this site and this is my first comment. This is also the first recipe I tried from here and it was amazing. I have never made Red Velvet cupcakes before but really wanted to this time. They were such a hit. I am going to make them again for my son’s 8th grade graduation as he requested. I dipped some in coconut flakes which was also very good. Thanks for this. I am a Tastespotting junkie now and can’t wait to make my own blog.

  • suzy

    Garrett and Elise, thanks! I made these for valentine’s day and they were lovely. and so pretty with the white cream cheese frosting. :-)

    Red velvet cake is awesome, but if you want *intense* flavor probably better to find another cake flavor. That’s just not what it’s about.

  • Abby

    Just made these cupcakes last night. I was unable to find Dutch-processed cocoa so I used cocoa powder instead. They turned out great and still have the chocolate flavor, although I’m sure the chocolate flavor would be richer with Dutch cocoa.

  • Katie

    Hi Garrett,
    Great recipe! They tasted great, but weren’t really red at all, rather brown in color (so I added red sugar sprinkles for Valentine’s Day). My Dutch processed cocoa was dark chocolate: does it come in a non-dark, too? Perhaps that’s why the coloring was lost.

    I live at 7,000ft, added 2 tbs of extra flour, and they were perfect. Thanks.


  • Kerry

    Does anyone know of a replacement for Dutch processed cocoa? I have not been able to find it in any grocery stores. I found a cocoa powder that is a mixture of Dutch processed and unsweetened. Would that work? Please let me know!

    If that is all you can get, then it should be fine. ~Garrett

  • jack

    Would using regular flour affect the taste? I made these tonight and was disappointed. I associate red velvet cake with a really rich flavor, and these were pretty bland in comparison. The icing helped, but it wasn’t the same red velvet I’m used to. I used regular flour instead of cake flour, though, could that have made a difference?

    Cake flour allows for more lift and rise in this cake. As for the flavor, it’s a matter of taste. ~Garrett

  • jen

    I am really excited to try these for a Valentine’s craft show I am participating in (vendor fee is 5 bucks & a snack!). I think a cinnamon heart on top of that dollop would be adorable. I am wondering if they would work with soy milk?

  • Anne

    It looks delicious. Cupcakes are new to me, I think it must be a typical American cake (I live in Copenhagen) and it is not that many years ago I saw the first recipe of a cupcake. Muffins on the other hand, I have “always” known. Can anyone please explain to me the difference – except for the frosting – between a cupcake and a muffin?

    Size and frosting can define a cupcake, but I know I have done cupcakes with fillings, without frostings, and some that I had trouble even calling cupcakes as they bordered bombes, phyllo pastries, and so on. I think at times it’s simply a matter of opinion. ~Garrett

  • Debbie

    I just finished watching my husband and two grandsons demolish these cupcakes… they loved them and asked to keep these on my list of “reruns”… little do they know I have frozen a half dozen of these gems… at least I know I can have one during my break tomorrow. Thanks for the recipe!

  • Hannah

    These are so delicious! I made them on Sunday for one of my friends. I put pink food coloring in the frosting so it was like a valentine cupcake!

  • Kellie

    Just wondering if you have any suggestions on a great “packaging” for Valentines Day gifts. These are gorgeous!

    Me giving any sort of arts and crafts advice would be cruel. However, a simple Valentine’s Day tin would probably be easiest. ~Garrett

  • Kiran

    Hi, I would like to try these cakes BUT I am a vegetarian and don’t eat eggs also, so would it be ok to have all the other ingredients without the eggs?

    I have only baked with eggs, and honestly, I am not sure how this would turn out without them. A simple google search on vegan baking might be able to provide you with the answers you seek. ~Garrett

  • shuna fish lydon

    When I began baking seriously I became obsessed with Southern American cookery and found this cake by way of that self-education.

    So I would have to disagree with you that RVC is like yellow cake, because it’s really a Devil’s Food Cake with a different name, now that we have access to much higher quality cocoa. For Red Velvet Cake came about because of the chemical reaction between natural (not Dutched) cocoa, heat, and the leavening agents of the time period. (DFC and Yellow Cake are unrelated by way of method and ingredient list. The former recipe was created in a time of historical scarcity and the latter was born out of wealth.)

    I appreciate that your version, Garrett, is the moderne version but I also think a baked good with a name deserves to have its history told, not merely amended.

    These look beautiful, and I can tell from their ingredient list, tender.

  • Patti

    Elise and Garrett—-My daughter and I made these today for my mother’s birthday and our little Super Bowl party. They were fantastic and mom loved them. They turned out perfect and looked just like your cupcakes in the picture. Definitely a “keeper” recipe. Thank you for sharing.

  • laura

    So… what would happen if I made this without the food dye? I think I need some cupcakes right now but I don’t use that chemical stuff. :)

    It would be a devil’s food cupcake then. See Chef Shuna Lydon’s comment below for a detailed history of Red Velvet Cake’s color. ~Garrett