Red Velvet Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting.

Red velvet cake is so much more than a white or chocolate cake tinted red. This iconic cake is a masterpiece of flavors, textures, and frosting. Learn all my tricks and tips to perfecting this classic recipe at home!

I love this Red Velvet Layer Cake recipe! Learn exactly how to make it on

I’m out of control excited to share this recipe with you.

This is the holy grail of layer cakes. The most romantic, gorgeous, vibrant cake of all time. The “I can’t quite put my finger on the flavor” cake. Dense, yet soft ‘n light. The sweet marriage of buttermilk and vanilla with a little cocoa on the side. Tall, dramatic, and completely covered in tangy cream cheese frosting.

This, everyone, is one and only red velvet.

I love this Red Velvet Layer Cake recipe! Learn exactly how to make it on

I love this Red Velvet Layer Cake recipe! Learn exactly how to make it on

As I’ve told you many, many times before, I’ve always been unsure about red velvet. Quite honestly, I don’t really trust a cake that has a mystery flavor. Is it vanilla? Is it chocolate? Is it just a butter cake colored red? Why is dessert so confusing! Whatever, I’m ordering cheese fries.

That was until I learned the beauty of this mighty flavor. From brownies and cookies to bars and brownies again, I’ve had quite a lot of fun getting to know red velvet. Mild chocolate intertwined with the unmistakable taste of buttermilk, a generous dose of vanilla, and plenty of butter flavor. These four flavors make up the mystery of red velvet and are essential to perfecting a red velvet layer cake. Not only are the flavors fabulous, red velvet cake’s texture is something to write home about. It’s dense but soft with a moist, tender crumb. My absolute favorite part about red velvet cake, though, is the cream cheese frosting. Slathered on thick, this frosting is delicately sweet and undeniably creamy.

Baking Science/Nerd Alert…

Enough red velvet rambling, let me tell you about my specific recipe. There are reasons I use specific ingredients, certain amounts, and unique mixing techniques, so pay attention if you’re looking to recreate this cake at home.

Important red velvet cake tip #1: Cake flour. I highly 100% recommend cake flour for red velvet cake. Cake flour is much lighter than all-purpose and the perfect base for a light, soft-crumbed cake texture. Like I mention above, red velvet’s texture is important to the authenticity of the flavor. Cake flour is sold at all major grocery stores, baking stores, or basically wherever there is a baking aisle. You will thank me for encouraging you to buy it after you taste how incredibly soft this cake is. It’s like the kind of texture you find at professional bakeries. And guess what? They pretty much always use cake flour in red velvet cake. Please see my recipe note about subbing all-purpose flour if you absolutely must.

Important red velvet cake tip #2: Unsweetened cocoa powder. 2 Tablespoons is just enough to give that very slight cocoa taste without overpowering the vanilla and butter flavors. Chocolate’s flavor, as you know, is quite strong.

Important red velvet cake tip #3: Butter and oil. What makes red velvet cake different from chocolate cake is its buttery flavor. When I began testing recipes for my red velvet cupcakes, I threw the butter flavor aside because all I could concentrate on was “make the cupcake moist.” And we all know oil brings so much moisture. But with oil we (1) don’t have that natural buttery flavor and (2) the cupcakes aren’t as light and soft, which is something creamed butter imparts into cakes, cupcakes, and muffins. Furthermore, I often find that too much oil weighs baked goods down. So, I use both oil and butter. Moist texture, soft and cakey texture, butter flavor. Boom.

Red Velvet Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting by Learn all my tricks and tips to perfecting this classic recipe at home!

Important red velvet cake tip #4: The eggs. I could write an entire post about my red velvet/egg methodology. I’ll try to avoid boring you by summarizing it. This is a very large layer cake, so you’ll be using 4 large eggs to provide richness, structure, binding, etc. You will separate the eggs before going into the red velvet cake batter. The yolks are beaten in with the creamed butter/sugar, then beat the egg whites to a frothy consistency and fold them in last. What is the point of this? I find that the fluffiest texture is achieved this way. Beating the egg whites incorporates air which, when folded into the cake batter, creates airy volume. (As opposed to just weighing it down.) So, there ya go.

Important red velvet cake tip #5: Buttermilk is a must. A little tangy, a lot of moisture, and ultra creamy. You can’t make this red velvet cake without it! Besides what buttermilk does for the taste and texture of red velvet cake, it also helps to activate the baking soda to leaven the cake. The vinegar does too- and it helps brighten the red color. Don’t get scared, a touch of vinegar is normal in red velvet desserts! You cannot taste it. Back to buttermilk, though. You can make a DIY version at home that works wonderfully in this red velvet cake recipe. In fact, in my cake testing (who wants to raid my freezer full of red velvet cake?) I tried both ways. Using actual buttermilk and using the DIY version. Both fantastic and identical in appearance, texture, and flavor. See my recipe notes for how to make a DIY buttermilk if you do not keep it on hand.

Red Velvet Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting by Learn all my tricks and tips to perfecting this classic recipe at home!

I really want you to make this cake, but I just have a couple more things before I leave you with the recipe. The cake layers are very thick. I love the look of nice, thick layers in a red velvet cake. You can bake this cake into three layers instead of two. Please see my recipe notes for further information.

As I mention above, I love to use cream cheese frosting on my red velvet cakes. You can use another frosting you like such as vanilla or chocolate. In my opinion, cream cheese pairs best with the flavor of red velvet. I decorate the cake with cake crumbs. These are crumbs from the cake layers themselves. The cakes bake up to be quite tall, so I level them off with a large serrated knife and then crumble up that thin piece of cake to use as garnish. Pretty easy, right? Waste not want not.

I think that’s about it. Did you make it down this far?

I love this Red Velvet Layer Cake recipe! Learn exactly how to make it on

Follow me on Instagram and tag #sallysbakingaddiction so I can see all the SBA recipes you make. 

PS: “xo” plate was made by our friends as a wedding gift. Obsessed.

PPS: I’ve been cleaning up red velvet crumbs for the past 9 days.

Red Velvet Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Here is my favorite recipe for tender and soft red velvet layer cake with cream cheese frosting. Learn all my tricks and tips to perfecting this classic recipe at home! I urge you to read the recipe in full before beginning, as well as reading the recipe notes. It's a lot of text, but I'm careful to explain the recipe as best I can so you can have red velvet success. Enjoy!



  • 3 cups (345g) cake flour (spoon & leveled)1
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 Tablespoons (10g) natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature2
  • 2 cups (400g) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (240ml) canola or vegetable oil
  • 4 large Eggland's Best eggs, room temperature and separated
  • 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons (22ml) vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
  • liquid or gel red food coloring3
  • 1 cup (240ml) buttermilk, room temperature4

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 16 ounces (450g) full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature5
  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 4 cups (480g) confectioners' sugar
  • 2-3 Tablespoons (30-45ml) cream or milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Spray or lightly butter two 9x2 (deep dish) cake pans6. Set aside.
  2. Make the cake: Whisk the flour, baking soda, cocoa powder, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.
  3. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy - about 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat on high speed for 2 minutes until creamed together fairly well. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the oil and beat on high for 2 minutes. The butter may look "piece-y" and not completely combine with the oil. This is normal and ok.
  4. Add four egg yolks and the vanilla. (Set the egg whites aside.) Beat on medium-high speed until combined. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Beat in the vinegar and the food coloring-- until you reach your desired color. I used 3 and 1/2 Tablespoons. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, and mixing each addition just until incorporated. Do not overmix. Vigorously whisk or beat the 4 egg whites until thick and foamy as pictured above, about 3 minutes. Fold into cake batter with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. The batter will be silky and slightly thick. (If there are still small pieces of butter - again, this is ok. They will melt inside as the cakes bake. Making them even more buttery tasting.)
  5. Pour batter into cake pans filling 2/3 of the way full. Bake for 30-32 minutes or until the tops of the cakes spring back when gently touched and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If the cakes need a little longer as judged by wet crumbs on the toothpick, bake them for longer. However do not overbake; your cakes may dry out. Remove from the oven and allow cakes to cool in the pans set on a wire rack. Cool them completely.
  6. Make the frosting: In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk or paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the confectioners’ sugar and 2 Tablespoons of cream. Beat for 2 minutes. Add the vanilla and 1 more Tablespoon cream if needed to thin out. Beat on high for 2 full minutes. Taste the frosting and add a pinch of salt if it is too sweet.
  7. Assemble and frost: First, using a large serrated knife, slice a thin layer off the tops of the cakes to create a flat surface. Set these thin pieces of cake aside. Place 1 cake layer on your cake stand or serving plate. Evenly cover the top with frosting. Top with 2nd layer and spread remaining frosting all over the top and sides. Crumble the thin pieces of cake you sliced off in a large bowl. Decorate the sides and top edges of the cake with these crumbs-- this is optional! Slice and serve.
  8. Cover extras up tightly and store at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Unfrosted cake remains fresh covered tightly at room temperature for 3-4 days. Store frosted cakes in the refrigerator for up to 7 days and allow to come to room temperature before serving.
  9. Make ahead tip: Prepare cakes and frosting 1 day in advance. Keep cakes at room temperature, covered tightly. Refrigerate prepared frosting in an airtight container until ready to use. Frosted or unfrosted cakes may be frozen up to 2 months, thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature if desired before serving.

Recipe Notes:

  1. I strongly urge you to use cake flour in this cake recipe. If you absolutely cannot get ahold of it, a mix of all-purpose and cornstarch is fine. Sift together 2 and 2/3 cups (333g) all-purpose flour + 1/3 cup (40g) cornstarch and use this instead of cake flour. Sifting them is imperative.
  2. Why so many room temperature ingredients? When everything is near the same temperature, they mix together easily, evenly, and produce a uniform texture among the cake.
  3. The amount of red food coloring is up to you. I tested with varying amounts. To get the dark red color you see here, use 3 and 1/2 Tablespoons of liquid food coloring. Dye the batter until you are pleased with the color. Of course, you don't have to dye the batter at all if you don't want to. I have never tested this recipe with a natural alternative.
  4. Buttermilk is required. I used low-fat because that's what I typically have, but full fat buttermilk is fine here. You may make your own "DIY" buttermilk and use it instead. To do so, add 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice or white vinegar to a liquid measuring cup. Add enough regular milk (skim, 1%, 2%, or whole) to make 1 cup. Stir the two together and let sit for 5 minutes. This soured milk may be used instead of buttermilk in step 4.
  5. Use brick-style cream cheese. Not cream cheese spread.
  6. If you'd like to make a 3 layer cake (if you do not have 9x2 deep dish cake pans or simply want a 3 layer cake), pour the batter evenly into 3 pans and bake for around 20-24 minutes, give or take.

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© Sally’s Baking Addiction. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe.

Want more? Click here for all my red velvet recipes. Including these Red Velvet Cupcakes

Red Velvet Cupcakes by

Oh and in case you want something just as extraordinary… Oreo Cake!

Oreo Layer Cake

Eggland’s Best provided me with eggs to bring you this red velvet cake recipe.

I love this Red Velvet Layer Cake recipe! Learn exactly how to make it on
I love this Red Velvet Layer Cake recipe! Learn exactly how to make it on


  1. Hi Sally,
    I’m a big fan of your recipes and excited to try this one out next! Wondering if you can work up a Hummingbird Cake recipe sometime? That would be amazing 🙂 I think this is the best cake of all, but just can’t bare to use anyone else’s cake recipes now that I have discovered yours!

  2. I’ve made red velvet cakes before, particularly Cakeman Ravens’ recipe. His was the best I’ve had, until I made your recipe last night! WOWWWW!!! Talk about tender and moist, and the flavor is something else!!!! I could tell when I pulled them out of the oven, just by the aroma, that this was gonna be real good! This is my go to recipe from now on! This evening my 80 year old next door neighbor got locked out of her house, and came over until her family came back. We offered her some tea and red velvet cake. After eating it, she said that it was the best cake she EVER HAD in her 80 year life! We also gave her some to take home. Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe that I’ll be making for years to come! 

  3. Tried this recipe and red velvet cake for the first time last week and it was absolutely sublime. Thank you:)  Will definitely make this one again!

  4. Hi Sally, 
    Can you tell me, will thus cake hold shape covered in fondant? 
    Thank gou

  5. Hi Sally, 🙂

    i used this Gorgeous red velvet cake recipe of yours for a birthday party and it was a super duper hit. Everyone just loved it to bits, and the birthday girl actually hid the rest of it since she didn’t want to share it with anyone. lol… thank you so much, really.  🙂 


  6. Thank you for this great recipe! I’ve tried many but this is my favorite! I’m on my 3rd batch today – for a wedding cake. So happy to find this!

  7. Hi Sally! I’ve made your red velvet cupcakes many times (always amazing) and finally made your red velvet layer cake. It was just as fantastic as the cupcakes! I brought it into my office and some of the comments I received included “On a scale of 1-10 this cake is a 15!” and “This is the best red velvet cake I’ve ever tasted in my life!”

    For others looking to make this recipe –
    I made the cake in 3 9″ layers, baked for about 22 minutes and they came out perfectly! The one thing I had difficulty with was the frosting. Like many others, my frosting came out VERY thin. I used good old Philadelphia block cream cheese, all ingredients were room temperature, it was not a particularly humid day, etc. Somehow the frosting came out so thin I could barely get it to stay on the cake. Fortunately after the cake was refrigerated overnight it held up fine and obviously still tasted delicious, but next time I would definitely leave out the cream completely. I think leaving out the 2 tablespoons of cream would make a big enough difference that the frosting would be a good consistency. And I will definitely be making this cake again!

  8. Hi, the cake was really lovely, however did not come out red….disappointed with that. Can you advise which make food colouring are you using for best red colour. Thank you

  9. After trying 3 recipes , this was the 3 Rd and finally had the moistness and texture that I wanted ! Thank you loved it ! 

  10. I’ve just made this cake for my friends girls birthday. It’s such an easy cake to make seeing as I’ve never made red velvet cake before and tastes amazing. I had to cut lots off the top and couldn’t help but try. Thank you so much for your recipe. Will definitely be making this again. 

  11. Hi Sally,

    I want to make this cake for my dad’s birthday. I am planning on making it on Thursday evening and then Driving up to Scotland on Friday after work. So will eat on Saturday, will it still be suitably fresh? how shall I store it in the interim? 

    Thank you

    • It will still be wonderful. I’d travel with it in a cake carrier. Keep it in the fridge when you aren’t traveling if you can.

  12. Hi Sally!! 

    For the buttermilk, when doing the DIY version can I use coconut milk (from the can since the consistency is thicker) instead of regular milk? The hubs is lactose intolerant 🙁 

  13. Hi! I love both your Red Velvet Cake and Cupcakes recipes. And I feel soo silly asking this question but I must! Will cupcakes turn out well using the cake recipe? I need to make more than a dozen and the cake recipe seems that it will yield the right amount of cupcakes. If it works well, is there anything I need to watch for? other than baking time? Thanks so much for sharing your “addiction”! 🙂

    • Hi Dolores, you can absolutely make this cake into cupcakes. I wouldn’t change anything about the recipe. Obviously a lower baking time. 🙂 Let me know how they turn out!

  14. Hi Sally,
    Thanks for the Red velvet recipe, can you advise as my daughter loves Red Velvet cake, however wants a middle layer of Oreo cookies instead of the cream cheese fostering, how do I make that? thank you.

  15. Hello, I live in the mountains at a high altitude, what kind of adjustments would I have to make to bake this?

  16. HI Sally,

    I can’t wait to try the recipe for my hubby’s birthday this Saturday. Can I replace cake flour and baking soda with self raising flour? Thanks

  17. Hi Sally, your red velvet cake is very popular with my family.  It is always requested whenever a family member’s birthday comes around.  I have 12 grandchildren.  So, you can just imagine how many times your red velvet cake is baked in a year.  And, that’s discounting Christmas, Thanksgiving and other celebrations.  That’s how delish your r.v. cake.  Thank you so much for sharing your recipe.  

  18. Hi Sally! I love baking as a stress reliever. I made this cake last night. I ended up doing three layers instead of two because of the pans that I had. The cake turned out AMAZING!  I usually make all of my cakes with Swann’s Down Cake Flower.  I do have a question. I definitely think that the mix of unsalted butter and canola oil contributed to the moistness of the cake, but could I substitute the canola oil for butter? 

  19. Hi Sally, I love your recipes and came across this one so going to try it! I’ve been asked to make a ‘blue velvet’ cake, do you think this recipe would work the same with blue & a touch of violet colouring instead of red? 

  20. I made this cake over the weekend for a birthday celebration and it was a hit!!!!  I love working with your recipes. I always direct them to your website for the fabulous recipes. Thank you!

  21. Hi Sally, 

    I almost gave up baking, until I came across your blog. Every recipe that I’ve tried so far has been such a huge success. The flavors are fantastic! Red velvet cupcakes are my favorite so far, even the cinnomon rolls…never had better! I now end up recommending your site to all my friends. Great going!! 

  22. I want an 8″ cake and i would prefer to cook all the batter in one tin… is this a good idea and how would i adapt your recipie

  23. Thank you SO much for giving full instructions for preparing the cake AND how to store it!!!! So so so so so helpful!!!!! I’m making this for my mother in law’s birthday. It’s both of our faves! It’s in the oven now! Can’t wait to taste it tomorrow night!! 

  24. Hi Sally, thanks so much for such an awesome recipe! I made it last night at the request of my daughter for her 20th birthday. It was so moist and flavorful, I’ll definitely be making it again. One word of caution though, I would definitely recommend against spraying the pans with cooking spray. I’ve used parchment paper for years, but thought I’d go ahead with the cooking spray this time because it was late and I felt lazy. Big mistake. The three layers came out of the pans in several pieces, with a good chunk of it remaining stuck to the bottom of each pan. It was all I could do not to throw them against the wall! 🙁 But I wrapped them up and decided to get a good night’s sleep and come back to it in the morning. In the end, I pieced them together as best as I could, and the frosting and crumbs hid the worst of it. It was not pretty, but everyone agreed that it tasted really great, and that’s what really matters, right? So I thought I might save someone else from the frustration and just say that you can’t go wrong with parchement paper, as long as you don’t forget to peel it off before frosting the layers! That’s another problem in itself. Yikes! Thanks again for the awesome recipe!

  25. Dear Sally,

    I’m currently living in Germany and I have never seen “Brick” style cream cheese is there any other way to do the frosting with regular philadelphia cream cheese spread?

  26. Hi there,

    I have never been a huge fan of red velvet cakes, until I tried this recipe tonight!
    It is for a 21st cake tomorrow and it smells delicious! Not going to lie I just tried some of the off cuts and it is so moist and fluffy – will definitely be using this one in the future!

  27. I made this cake for my supper club. It was a big hit & every one had to take an extra piece home with them.  I appreciate all the extra notes you included in the recipe, they were very helpful.

  28. Would this amount of batter work for a bundt cake pan?

  29. Do you use whipping cream or half- n- half cream for the icing?

  30. Can this recipe be halved to make a smaller cake?

  31. Hi Sally – could I bake this in two 9″ x 1.5″ round pans?

  32. Can I make the batter, divide it into three portions, pour it into the pan and bake it while the other two portions wait? Or is it impossible because of baking soda?
    Thank you so much for your recipes, they never let me down! х

  33. Hi Sally, can I use apple cider vinegar instead of white vinegar?
    What is the difference?

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