Red Velvet Cupcakes
Soft, buttery, and moist, these red velvet cupcakes aren’t just for Valentine’s Day! They’re so easy to make and are topped with a homemade cream cheese frosting.
If you only make red velvet desserts around Valentine’s Day, you’re missing out! Although the gorgeous color of red velvet desserts is great for both Valentine’s Day and Christmas, there are no seasonal ingredients needed to make red velvet anything.
If you’ve been toying with the idea of making a red velvet dessert lately, consider this the push you needed to follow through.
These homemade red velvet cupcakes are one of my go-to desserts for feeding a crowd. They’re quick and easy to make, and I’ve yet to meet anyone who doesn’t love the unique flavor of red velvet!
Ingredients in This Recipe
You’ll need a few special ingredients to make this recipe, but you likely have them on hand already. Let’s go over a few ingredients you’ll need to make red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting:
- Cake flour: Cake flour has a lower protein content than all-purpose flour, which helps create a lighter and softer cake. I do find that actual cake flour works best to create a soft cupcake, my favorite brand is Pillsbury Softasilk.
- Cocoa Powder: You’ll only be using 2 tablespoons of unsweetened natural cocoa powder in this recipe. It provides a little chocolate flavor, but it’s not too overpowering.
- Vinegar: A little vinegar helps the cupcakes rise and enhances the color of the red cupcakes. I used distilled white vinegar, but apple cider vinegar or something similar will work fine too.
- Butter & Oil: I found that the cupcakes made with just butter were too dry and the cupcakes made with just oil were a little bland. The solution? I used a combination of butter and oil to give the cupcakes a buttery taste and keep them moist.
- Food Coloring: There’s one tablespoon of red liquid food coloring to give these cupcakes their classic red color. I prefer to use McCormick’s food coloring in this recipe.
- Cream Cheese: Make sure to use a block or brick of cream cheese for this frosting. Cream cheese that’s in a tub typically has ingredients added to thin it out and make it spreadable, which will usually give you a runny frosting.
How to Make Red Velvet Cupcakes
Before making the cupcake batter, you’ll want to preheat your oven and line two standard 12-count muffin tins with 16 cupcake liners. One that’s done, you can make the batter:
- Whisk together the dry ingredients: I like to sift the cake flour and cocoa powder to remove any lumps, then whisk in the baking soda and salt.
- Cream together the butter and sugar: Do this in a separate bowl. I prefer using my stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, but you can use a handheld electric mixer too. It’s important to cream the butter and sugar together for 4 to 5 minutes. This will incorporate more air into your cake batter and create a lighter cupcake.
- Add the remaining wet ingredients: To the butter mixture, add the egg. Once incorporated, beat in the oil, vanilla, food coloring, and vinegar. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl, as needed.
- Add the dry ingredients and buttermilk: You’ll need to do this in three stages. Start and end with the dry ingredients, and be careful not to overmix the batter.
- Divide the batter among the cupcake liners: Make sure you don’t overfill the cupcake liners, otherwise the cupcakes will overflow. I only fill my liners about halfway full, it won’t seem like much but the batter rises quite a bit in the oven.
- Bake the cupcakes: Bake just until the tops spring back to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let the cupcakes cool completely on a wire rack before frosting them.
I used my homemade cream cheese frosting for this recipe because it pairs perfectly with red velvet. If you’re looking for a different kind of frosting, my homemade vanilla buttercream or even chocolate buttercream would be delicious on these cupcakes too.
Once you’ve made the frosting, you can decorated the cooled cupcakes and enjoy!
Tip: I’ve written a full tutorial for how to frost cupcakes here. It’s super easy!
Do the Cupcakes Need to Be Refrigerated?
Yes, because this red velvet cupcake recipe features cream cheese frosting you will need to store the cupcakes in the fridge. I recommend storing them in an airtight container to prevent them from drying out.
Can Gel Coloring Be Used?
Yes, that would be fine! I would start with about 1 teaspoon, then add more if needed.
Can This Recipe Be Used to Make a Cake?
Yes, you can bake the batter in one 9-inch round cake pan for 30 minutes instead of making cupcakes with it. For a double layer red velvet cake, you’ll want to reference my classic red velvet cake recipe.
- When measuring your cake flour, avoid scooping it from the container with your measuring cup. Instead, stir the flour around, spoon it into your measuring cup, and level it off with the back of a knife.
- I highly recommend using cake flour in this recipe, as it will produce the softest and fluffiest cupcake. However, if you don’t keep cake flour on hand you can always make your own.
- You can freeze both the cupcakes and the cream cheese frosting in separate containers. Be sure to store both in airtight, freezer-safe containers to prevent freezer burn.
More Red Velvet Recipes to Try!
Red Velvet Cupcakes
For the red velvet cupcakes:
- 1 ⅓ cups cake flour spooned & leveled (145 grams)
- 2 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder (10 grams)
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup unsalted butter softened to room temperature (60 grams)
- 1 cup granulated sugar (200 grams)
- 1 large egg room temperature
- ¼ cup oil canola or vegetable work well (60 ml)
- 1 tablespoon liquid red food coloring (15 ml)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon distilled white vinegar
- ⅔ cup buttermilk room temperature (160 ml)
For the cream cheese frosting:
- ½ cup unsalted butter softened (115 grams)
- 1 (8-ounce) package brick-style cream cheese softened (226 grams)
- 2 cups powdered sugar (240 grams)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- To make the red velvet cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line two standard 12-count muffin pans with 16 cupcake liners and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, sift the cake flour and cocoa powder together, then whisk in the baking soda and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl using a handheld mixer, cream the butter and sugar together on medium speed for 4 to 5 minutes or until light and fluffy.
- Add the egg and mix until fully combined, then mix in the oil, red food coloring, vanilla extract, and vinegar, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Mix in the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the buttermilk, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Make sure to mix in each addition until just combined and be careful not to over mix the batter.
- Evenly distribute the batter between all 16 cupcake liners in the prepared muffin pans, only filling each one about halfway full.
- Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until the tops of the cupcakes spring back when lightly touched and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Carefully remove the cupcakes from the pan and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- To make the cream cheese frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl using a handheld mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the butter and mix for about 30 seconds to 1 minute until well combined and smooth.
- Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract and continue mixing until fully combined, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Once the cupcakes have cooled completely, pipe the frosting on top.
Doing a lot of baking with my teenage daughters and these turned out great! We really appreciated the substitutions since we can’t go to store easily to buy things.
So happy to hear that, Darcy!
I just want to confirm, can I make this recipe without an electric beater ? because I do not own one. Just a whisk is fine ?
Please let me know, wanna make it today.
You can use a whisk. It may take a bit longer to cream the butter and sugars together though. You can also use a whisk for the frosting, but an electric mixer does help ensure that it’s smoother.
I’m going to try to turn this into blue velvet for my son who will be 9….and possibly still on stay-at-home at the end of May. I love all of your recipes!
Thank you, Christa! Hope you enjoy the cupcakes!
“Mix in the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the buttermilk, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Make sure to mix each addition until just combined and be careful not to over mix the batter.” Hello im sorry but i dont get this can you explain this alittle more to me in simpler words and proper guidance so i can be able to do it! Im new at baking and i dont wanna mess this up its my first time help me please ❤
Hi, Hannah! It simply means to mix in 1/3 of the dry ingredients, 1/2 of the buttermilk, 1/3 of the dry ingredients, the last 1/2 of the buttermilk, then the last 1/3 of the dry ingredients. You also want to mix in each one until just combined.
To make buttermilk is it 2 teaspoons of lemon juice added to 2/3 cup of milk ??
Yes, you’ll want to let it sit for a few minutes to curdle too.
A questiom actually we ear a little sweet cakes so are these cupcakes sweet enough or should i add more sugar? If adding more sugar than how much?
I think they’re sweet enough, I wouldn’t add more sugar to them.
Beginning to make now but it looks that 1 cup of cake flour weighs 145g and the 1 tablespoon of coco weighs 10g. I usually bake by weight but recipe does not match up. What should I do?
Did you make sure to spoon and level the flour? If you scoop it from the container, you can end up with a lot more. I always recommend going by weight measurements.
These tasted amazing! The only thing was that the cupcake stuck to the wrapper, and I was wondering what I could do to prevent that for next time?
Hi, Lauren! The cupcakes shouldn’t be sticking. Did you make any adjustments to the recipe and did you let the cupcakes cool completely? Another good option would be parchment paper liners, they work really well!
Hi Danielle, I would like to use this recipe for mini cupcakes. How long should I bake them for?
I would guess 10-14 minutes for mini cupcakes.
This was so easy to follow! My oven is like the devil, it gets too hot so I adjusted the amount of baking time. The cupcakes are perfectly moist. The cupcake and frosting both have the perfect amount of sweetness! Not too sweet at all!
Hi, is there any substitute for vanilla extract, honey perhaps?
Honey or maple syrup would probably be okay.
The cupackes look delicious, i have a couple of questions
1) is white vinegar the regular vinegar we use?
2) If i just want to make 8 cupcakes instead of 16, should i half all the ingredients?
It should say distilled white vinegar on the bottle, you can use apple cider vinegar or something similar if you can’t find any. If you want to make just 8 cupcakes, you can cut all of the ingredients in half.
Hope you are doing well in these difficult times.
Just wondering how long I can keep the batter before I bake the cupcakes? Just because I don’t have 2 cupcake trays.
Thank you in advance!
Hi, Joyce! You can just wait and bake the last few once your pan has cooled slightly. I just wouldn’t let it sit for a long time otherwise the last few cupcakes may not rise quite as well.
Hi! How many calories per cupcake? 🙂 great recipe btw!
So glad you enjoyed the recipe! I’m not sure about the nutritional information, but you can plug everything into an online calculator to get an estimate.
I made this recipe for my daughter’s birthday. We usually buy red velvet cupcakes at a gourmet cupcake shot in Nashville. These cupcakes were absolutely just as good if not better! So moist and light! Will definitely make again.
Hi Danielle – Thanks for the recipe; looks so inviting! I only have a 9 inch pan and 6 count jumbo muffin pan. Which one would you recommend I use for this recipe for it to come out correctly without altering the ingredients measurements?
Either one would be fine! The 9-inch pan may be a bit easier though.
The “cream cheese” frosting turned out awful, way too runny. I believe not enough cream cheese. Last time I made red velvet cupcakes I must have used a different recipe because these turned out quite bad compared to others I’ve made. I followed the recipe almost exactly, just added a pinch of cinnamon. They turned out very dense and quite bland. I wouldn’t recommend this recipe
Sorry the cupcakes didn’t turn out well for you, Laura. Did you happen to use cream cheese spread in a tub? If so, it has ingredients added to it to thin out out and make it spreadable but it will make the frosting runny. I recommend using blocks/bricks of cream cheese to avoid that problem. Also, the cupcakes shouldn’t be dense they should be really light and fluffy. Did you make sure to use cake flour and spoon & level the flour too?
Do you think it would be ok to make these cupcakes a day ahead and just frost on the day of a birthday? I want to save some time on the day of. Thanks!
Yes, that would be fine! You can store the cupcakes without the frosting in an airtight container at room temperature.
Hi, I want to make this tomorrow morning and I have a question. I know in your notes it says 2 teaspoons of lemon juice or distilled white vinegar, and I’m using the vinegar, would this affect the amount of 1/2 teaspoon of distilled white vinegar that the recipe asks for? Please help.
Hi, Ivette! If you use the 2 teaspoons of distilled white vinegar with milk to make the buttermilk substitute, you’ll still want to add the 1/2 teaspoon of distilled white vinegar called for in the recipe. Hope that helps!
I am tempted to try the red velvet cupcakes however in grams how much cream cheese do I use?
It’s 226 grams.
Your cupcakes looks awesome!I would like to ask if I can use the same ratio to bake a 8 inch cake?
Yes, that should be fine!
Hi Danielle. Is the temperature for the oven, fan forced? If it is, can i bake without the fan on too?
The temperature is without the fan, if you use convection you can just reduce the oven temperature 25°F.
I have tried so many red velvet cupcake recipes trying to find one that actually delivered on it’s promise to be light, buttery, moist and a little bit chocolate-y. I had almost given up and then I tried yours. THANK YOU!! These truly are the best… the best!
I don’t have distilled white wine vinegar I only have regular white wine vinegar is that the same or should I just not use any at all?
You can replace the distilled white vinegar for regular white wine vinegar.
Hi, thanks for your recipe and it tasted great every time I made them. I am wanting to make a 3 layer cake using this recipe. So, if I want to make 3x portion of this recipe, do I just triple all the ingredient? Does it sound right with 600g of sugar? It just seems a lot to me. Thanks in advance for your comment.
Yes, you can just triple all of the ingredients. If you do then 600 grams of sugar would be correct. I do have a red velvet cake recipe here as well and I use *slightly* less sugar in the layer cake.
I tried this recipe and ran into a few problems and I’m looking for some help in fixing them 🙂
1. I had a hard time creaming the butter and sugar together. I used a stand mixer and did exactly as instructed, but it didn’t seem to work unfortunately.
2. My red velvet cupcakes turned into pink velvet cupcakes, but again, I did exactly as instructed with the food colouring.
3. These cupcakes took much longer to make than 18 minutes for some reason because again, I followed the recipe exactly as instructed.
Any information or help would be greatly appreciated 🙂
Hi, Erin. It’s really hard to say if you followed the recipe exactly as written. Was your butter softened when you tried to mix it with the sugar? If not, that could be one reason you had trouble creaming it with the sugar. Also, the cupcakes shouldn’t turn pink if you’ve added cocoa powder. Did you make sure to use the correct amount of cocoa powder?
These cupcakes are amazing! The cake is so soft and you can taste the chocolate, so good!!!
Is the half teaspoon baking soda enough because I’ve gone through other recipes also and some have used baking powder & baking soda & some have used 2 teaspoons baking soda.
Please let me know it’s my first time making & I would love to try out your recipe today.
Yes, it is enough. It doesn’t seem like much, but it’s plenty to help the cupcakes rise 🙂
I love this recipe but I used 1/2 cup butter instead of 1/4cup Is that an issue?
Also can I make this recipe without egg?
Hi, Janice. I would recommend sticking with 1/4 cup butter in the cupcake recipe. I also haven’t tried an egg substitute, but something like applesauce or a flax egg may work in place of it.
If I want to make just 8, what quantity would you recommend for the egg? Should I just use one or will that change the recipe?
Hi, Monika! I wouldn’t recommend using one egg if you cut the recipe in half otherwise the cupcakes may not turn out quite right. Do you have a scale? If so, you could weigh the egg, beat it in a bowl, then measure out half of it. I believe one egg without the shell is about 50 grams if that helps.
I have made this cupcake recipe countless times and it’s a crowd favorite. My boyfriend who does not like sweets pesters me to make these at least once a month. My brothers birthday is this week and i wanted to turn these cupcakes into a 2 layer cake using 8in pans. Would this be enough for 2 8 in rounds or should i double the recipe? How long do you think they would bake for?
Hi, Loann! I have a red velvet cake recipe here that makes a 2 layer cake. You could bake it in 8-inch cake pans, you will just need to increase the baking time 5 to 10 minutes.
Wondering if I can use liquid melted coconut oil for the oil in this recipe instead of traditional cooking oils?
Looking forward to making these?
Yes, that’s fine! Just be sure all of your other ingredients are at room temperature too.