Red Velvet Cupcakes.

Jump to Recipe

Fluffy and moist, these buttery red velvet cupcakes are my favorite. The tangy cream cheese frosting puts them over the top!

Classic Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting - this recipe delivers. Learn what makes this classic recipe so good! sallysbakingaddiction.com

Over the past year, the most requested recipe on my blog is… red velvet cupcakes. To be honest, I was never a huge fan of red velvet up until a few years ago. Is it chocolate? Is it vanilla? The flavor always leaves me confused.

But I began to fall in love with it when I bit into a lavish 3 layer slice of red velvet cake at my friend’s wedding. It was so unworldly moist, very buttery, full of vanilla flavor with a hint of chocolate goodness. And the tang from the cream cheese frosting was the perfect compliment to the indulgently sweet red velvet crumb underneath.

Simply put? That red velvet cake was the bees knees.

Classic Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting - learn what makes this classic recipe so good! sallysbakingaddiction.com

I have never been able to recreate something like it! I’ve felt like a red velvet failure for the past 3 and a half years. I’ve tried a lot of “good” red velvet cupcake and cake recipes– some great– but nothing that deserves a spot in my archives. When I received the billionth request from a red velvet loving reader (thank you for the nudge, Nancy!), I knew it was time to put on my big girl red velvet pajama pants. Ick! I don’t wear velvet pants.

In the midst of all my pumpkin pie shenanigans last week, I also worked like a mad scientist on a red velvet cupcake recipe. And I am praising the heavens that I finally nailed it. NAILED IT! These cupcakes are absurdly amazing. And I’m not just saying that. My husband who “hates” red velvet inhaled 2 before his dinner of buffalo wings and french fries. The metabolism of a 20 something man, ladies and gents.

I’m getting off topic. So, let me tell ya a thing or two about these here cupcakes.

Classic Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting - learn what makes this classic recipe so good! sallysbakingaddiction.com

What makes red velvet stand out from say, chocolate cupcakes, is its wonderfully buttery flavor. I love that about red velvet. And during some recipe testing, I threw that flavor aside because all I could concentrate on was “make this cupcake moist, sally.” And we all know oil brings so much moisture to cupcakes! But with oil we (1) don’t have that natural buttery flavor and (2) the cupcakes aren’t as light and soft. Something creamed butter imparts into cakes and cupcakes. Furthermore, I often find that too much oil weighs baked goods down.

So, let’s use both. Oil – “the moist maker” (name that quote!) and creamed butter – a tried and true way to a fluffy cupcake crumb.

The cocoa. We’re using that so the red velvet cupcakes can have a hint of chocolate. To me, red velvet is more of a vanilla cake than a chocolate cake. So I use only 4 teaspoons of cocoa to give the cupcakes that subtle chocolate flavor. It’s perfect.

Red Velvet Cupcake Recipe

Though I typically love throwing brown sugar into just about everything I bake, I leave it out of these red velvet cupcakes. I don’t want 1 hint of molasses flavor overtaking the vanilla, butter, and chocolate flavors. Simple white sugar is enough.

Baking Science // Nerd Alert…

Buttermilk is a must when it comes to red velvet. Slightly tangy, lots of moisture, and ultra creamy. You really cannot make these red beauties without it. Besides what buttermilk does to the taste and texture of these red velvet cupcakes, it also helps to activate the baking soda. So does the vinegar. Don’t get scared, a touch of vinegar is normal in red velvet desserts– and no, you cannot taste it. If you don’t have white vinegar, you can use apple cider vinegar. The vinegar also makes the red… redder.

I almost forgot to mention the flour. What may have thrown off all my red velvet cupcake testing was the flour. Cake flour is key to an ultra light cake, but I (and you, I’m sure) don’t really keep cake flour in the pantry. So, I usually develop my cake and cupcake recipes with all-purpose. Well. The moment I added cornstarch to all-purpose flour to make DIY cake flour was the moment I knew this recipe would be the winner. What’s cake flour and why is it so extraordinary? Cake flour is a low protein flour (about 8%) and has a very fine texture. A lower protein count = less gluten forms when you mix it into a batter, thus producing a cake with a fine, soft crumb. Think, angel food cake. In a nutshell, cake flour produces a noticeably lighter cake crumb than all-purpose and red velvet cakes are known for their soft, light texture. Rather than buying cake flour, reduce all-purpose flour slightly and add cornstarch.

That was much longer than I intended it to be. Oy.

Super-moist and rich Red Velvet Cupcakes Recipe by sallysbakingaddiction.com

Though the red velvet cupcake itself is pretty impressive, my favorite part about this cupcake is its combination with cream cheese frosting. My frosting is like a cloud from cream cheese heaven. Incredibly creamy, tangy, sweet, smooth, and luscious. It’s my favorite cream cheese frosting recipe and has never steered me wrong.

You’re going to love ’em. Red velvet lovers, now we rejoice.

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

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggs, room temperature and separated
  • 1 and 1/3 cups (160g) all-purpose flour1 (spoon & leveled)
  • 1/4 cup (32g) cornstarch1
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 teaspoons (6g) natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup (60g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
  • liquid or gel red food coloring2
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) buttermilk, room temperature3
  • cream cheese frosting for topping

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a 12-count muffin pan with cupcake liners. This recipe makes 14 cupcakes, so you will have 2 cupcakes to bake in a 2nd batch.
  2. With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat 2 egg whites on high speed in a medium bowl until soft peaks form, about 2-3 minutes. See photo at the bottom of this post for a visual. Set aside.
  3. Sift the flour and cornstarch together to make sure it is evenly combined. Whisk this, along with baking soda, cocoa powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  4. 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.
  5. Add 2 egg yolks and the vanilla. 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 use 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. Fold whipped egg whites into cupcake batter with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. The batter will be silky and slightly thick. (If there are still pieces of butter - and there were in 1 test batch for me - again, this is ok. They will melt inside as the cupcakes bake. Making them even more buttery.)
  6. Spoon batter into cupcake liners filling 1/2 - 2/3 of the way full. Bake for 20-21 minutes or until the tops of the cupcakes spring back when gently touched and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Don't overbake; your cupcakes will dry out. Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.
  7. Prepare cream cheese frosting. Frost cooled cupcakes immediately before serving. I used a Wilton #12 tip; I don't recommend a star tip. This frosting is a little too thin.

Make ahead tip: Cupcakes can be made ahead 1 day in advance, covered, and stored at room temperature. Frosting can also be made 1 day in advance, covered, and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use. Decorate/assemble cupcakes immediately before serving. Leftover cupcakes keep well covered tightly at room temperature or in the refrigerator for 3 days. Unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

Recipe Notes:

  1. I use a combination of sifted flour + cornstarch to produce cake flour - if you keep cake flour in the pantry, use 1 and 2/3 cups (192g) instead of the specified all-purpose flour and cornstarch.
  2. 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 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.
  3. Buttermilk is required. I use low-fat because that's what I typically have, but full fat buttermilk is fine here. If you do not have buttermilk, make your own by mixing 1 teaspoon white vinegar or lemon juice with 1/2 cup milk. Stir and let sit for 5 minutes.

Cake: Here is my recipe for Red Velvet Layer Cake.

Mini cupcakes: For around 36 mini cupcakes, line mini cupcake pans with liners or spray with nonstick spray. Prepare cupcakes and frosting as directed. Bake mini cupcakes for 12-13 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Why so many room temperature ingredients? Here is all you need to know!

Did you make a recipe?

Tag @sallysbakeblog on Instagram and hashtag it #sallysbakingaddiction.

© 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. Some of the links above are affiliate links, which pay me a small commission for my referral at no extra cost to you! Thank you for supporting Sally’s Baking Addiction.

Another classic: try my Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting

Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting

357 Comments

Comments are closed.

  1. My first red velvet experience was totally underwhelming, but I’m so glad I tried it again and so glad to see you did too, and have your perfected recipe for it – these sound amazing! And the frosting…mmmmm:)

  2. They look perfect! I hardly have any cupcake recipes on my blog but the one recipe I too was getting request for, over and over, was RV! I decided what the heck, and researched my little heart out trying to perfect my own RV cupcakes a year or so ago. And yes to buttermilk, not tons of cocoa, and the frosting! Love how you incorporated vinegar and cornstarch too – I would love to make a batch of these babies! Pinned 🙂

  3. Sally, these are so special! I love the color of the cupcake. I know you’re still getting used to being a new wife and you’re super busy with blogging…but one day can you post a pic of your wedding cake and you eating it 😛 ?? (*Of course I’m not trying to invade your privacy) It’s just that I know how excited you were over your wedding cake! p.s. I JUST got done baking the pumpkin break from your cookbook. My kitchen smells so wonderful

  4. Cornstarch are one of my favorite ingredients to work with!! I can’t wait to try this, it looks so delish! Love this recipe! Pinned (well…I pin almost all of your recipes) so I can try ….:)

  5. Even though I’ve never made a red velvet cake I’ve looked at lots of recipes so I can find one I like ready for when I do want/need to make one. I’ve always been confused by the array of recipes for red velvet but now you’ve found the perfect one I don’t need to look any further because I trust your recipes so much (your muffin recipe is my favourite) so ill be coming straight back here when the red velvet time comes =)

  6. LOVE! With as many recipes of yours that I have to keep printing, I hope another cookbook will be in the works!

  7. I’m kind of where Kevin’s at, Sally. It takes a lot for me to eat red velvet! So many of them are dry, or bleed red food coloring.
    But your nerd alert section (and your track record in general with awesomeness) has me wanting to try these. I know you worked crazy hard to nail this!

  8. Red velvet deserts are delicious! I made two red velvet cakes for my sister’s wedding last May and they were a hit! And cream cheese frosting…I’m pretty sure we all know that’s the crowning jewel of red velvet 🙂

  9. My daughter loves red velvet and I have a really good recipe from a British baker that makes a 3-layer cake (in fact, that was the cake I made for the last celebration in the office and the recipient loved it), but I’m always on the lookout for variations on a theme, so this might well be one of those! I use red food gel instead of liquid food colouring, as I’ve read a number of complaints that too much liquid colouring makes the cake taste weird.

    1. gel food coloring works here too, Nicola. I usually make them with liquid though. I have to make a 3 layer red velvet cake sometime!

  10. These red velvet cupcakes look delicious, Sally! I love how RED they are!! Red velvet frozen yogurt is one of my fav. flavours and since then I’ve been in love with everything red velvet! Pinned!
    And your wedding cake sounds absolutely fabulous 🙂

  11. MY SANDWICH WITH A MOIST MAKER!

    Sally this looks beautiful. I like that you are true to the red velvet, I had a baking teacher once go on a rant about how true red velvet always has vinegar and isn’t just a regular cake died red. Anyway, these look amazing & I will definitely be making for this Thanksgiving or Christmas.

    Thank you for taking so much time to perfect this and share!!

    – Amy

    1. That’s exactly what I’ve learned over the past 3 years. Your teacher is preaching the right message!

      1. Also thank you for the baking science lesson! I am always eager to know the whys/hows behind baking & recipes – it definitely has helped me to become a better baker!

  12. These look so yum Sally! I love a classic red velvet cupcake – but it is really difficult to get both the cake the frosting completely right, something a lot of people don’t realise.

  13. I grew up on Red Velvet (it’s a Southern staple) and there’s nothing like a good red velvet cake, but one bite of a bad red velvet will turn you off for years! And I totally agree, buttermilk has not substitution in red velvet. Great recipe, Sally! Have a great week! pinned to my Red velvet board 🙂

  14. I’ve always had the same thought, is it vanilla or chocolate 😉 glad I was’t the only one wondering that! … These are SO beautiful, I’m always so impressed with your photo’s and styling they always leave me dreaming of the dessert, literally! …I bet these cupcakes were out-of-this-world de-lish!

  15. “YOU THREW IT… AWAY?” (while pushing on eyes)

    Red velvet eluded me for soooo longgggg. I used to make cakes/cupcakes as a side business, and it wasn’t until I had to make almost 200 RV cuppies that I perfected my recipe. I also went through about 3 HUGE bottles of red coloring. My kitchen was a crime scene, for sure. Love the photos! Glad you finally conquered your RV fears!! Wahoo!

  16. Oh these look so good! I never make red velvet anything because it’s always seemed more complicated to me then a simple chocolate or vanilla baked good. But these don’t look too bad! I’ll have to try them. I’m making Halloween cupcakes later for some preschool kids and it’s toss up between this and your very vanilla cupcakes! 🙂

  17. These look so delicious. I have always had confusion when it comes to Red Velvet. My husband loves it. I’m going to give these cupcakes a try to see if I can get some clarity. Looking forward to be converted to a lover of Red Velvet.

    1. Hi Anna – I don’t suggest it, actually. IT would be “fine” But real buttermilk is best in terms of texture and flavor.

  18. So helpful to go over the DIY tip – and as for the flavor, I don’t find it confusing, I find it alluring and intriguing. I think of Red Velvet as the Marilyn Monroe of cakes!

  19. hi. i love red velvet cupcakes! 🙂 i have my own favorite recipe. it doesn’t use vinegar so the color is a darker. i use more cocoa powder, so its more like a red devils food cake. 🙂 i also use sour cream instead of buttermilk (supermarkets here in the Philippines doesn’t usually have buttermilk). reading your post at 11:30 pm is a bad idea. 🙂 im going to try your recipe and compare it to my usual recipe. 🙂

  20. These look absolutely amazing! I have had quite a few bad red velvet experiences; dry, bland cakes with sickly frosting, but these look completely the opposite! Love it and definitely pinned! 😀 x

1 2 3 9

With kitchen-tested quality recipes and step-by-step tutorials, my goal is to give you the confidence to bake and cook from scratch.

Recipes You’ll Love

Archives

Categories

Sally's Baking Challenge

Join the community on the 1st of every month as we tackle a new challenge recipe.

View More

Sally's Cookie Palooza

A tradition since 2013, every December we countdown to Christmas with 10 new cookie recipes in a row!

View More

Sally's Pie Week

The first week of every November is all about Thanksgiving Pies.

View More

My Cookbooks

@sallysbakeblog

This error message is only visible to WordPress admins

Error: No posts found.

Make sure this account has posts available on instagram.com.

About Sally

Welcome to my Kitchen!

I’m Sally, a cookbook author, photographer, and blogger. My goal is to give you the confidence and knowledge to cook and bake from scratch while providing quality recipes and plenty of pictures. Grab a cookie, take a seat, and have fun exploring! more about Sally

×