These Red Velvet Cupcakes are soft, light, moist, and topped with an easy cream cheese frosting. Perfect for any occasion!
One of the most requested recipes I’ve had in the last couple of months has been for red velvet cupcakes. I love red velvet but it’s such a unique flavor and can be a little hard to get just right.
I spent a while testing different variations when it came to these cupcakes, from using just butter to just oil and also a combination of the two. I think it’s safe to say that more cupcakes went through my kitchen than I care to admit, but I finally landed on the perfect recipe.
These cupcakes are buttery, moist, soft, and taste just like a classic red velvet cupcake. I topped these cupcakes with a simple cream cheese frosting, but I’ve included some notes for a couple other options you can try too!
How To Make Red Velvet Cupcakes
You’ll start by whisking together the dry ingredients:
- Cake flour: Cake flour has a lower protein content than all-purpose flour, which helps create a lighter and softer cake. If you don’t have any cake flour on hand, I’ve included a note in the recipe for how to make your own. 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.
- Baking Soda + Salt: To help the cupcakes rise and for flavor!
Then you’ll mix up your wet ingredients:
- Butter + Sugar: I use unsalted butter and granulated sugar in this recipe. It’s important to cream together the butter and sugar for 4-5 minutes. This will incorporate more air into your cake batter and create a lighter cupcake.
- Egg + Vanilla Extract: You’ll be using one large egg and a teaspoon of pure vanilla extra. A room temperature egg is best, so just be sure to set it out ahead of time with your other ingredients.
- Distilled White Vinegar + Red Food Coloring: A little vinegar helps the cupcakes rise and enhances the color of the red cupcakes. I used liquid food coloring for these cupcakes.
- Oil: Wait, what?! 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 (just like my lemon blueberry bundt cake!).
- Buttermilk: It’s best to set the buttermilk out ahead of time to come to room temperature. Instead of mixing all of the buttermilk directly in with the rest of the wet ingredients, you’ll alternate mixing it in with the dry ingredients.
Once you’ve mixed up the cupcake batter, you’ll divide it evenly between 16 cupcake liners in muffin pans and bake them. 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.
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.
For the frosting, I used my Wilton 1M piping tip. I absolutely LOVE that piping tip and use it all of the time. You can use it to frost a tall swirl (like in these pictures) or make a simple rose design. I have a full tutorial for how to frost cupcakes here, super easy too!
Baking Tips For Red Velvet Cupcakes
- 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.
- Once you’ve whisked together the dry ingredients, I suggest sifting them. This will ensure that there are no lumps of cocoa powder in your cupcakes.
- Only fill your cupcake liners about halfway full. It won’t seem like much, but the batter will rise quite a bit as the cupcakes bake in the oven.
- You should be able to get about 16-17 cupcakes with this recipe. You can crumble up one of the extra cupcakes and sprinkle it on top of the frosting for a little extra decoration!
Red Velvet Cupcakes
For the red velvet cupcakes:
- 1 and 1/3 cups (145 grams) cake flour (spooned & leveled)
- 2 tablespoons (10 grams) natural unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup (60 grams) unsalted butter softened to room temperature
- 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg room temperature
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) oil canola or vegetable work well
- 1 tablespoon liquid red food coloring
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
- 2/3 cup (160 ml) buttermilk room temperature
For the cream cheese frosting:
- 1/2 cup (115 grams) unsalted butter softened to room temperature
- 1 (8-ounce) package brick-style cream cheese softened to room temperature
- 2 cups (240 grams) powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
To make the red velvet cupcakes:
- Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line two standard 12-count muffin pans with 16 cupcake liners and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cake flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Then sift the dry ingredients to remove any lumps of cocoa powder. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed for 4-5 minutes. Add the egg and mix until fully combined, then mix in the oil, red food coloring, vanilla, 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 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 in separate batches at 350°F (177°C) for 15-18 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 an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the butter and mix for about 30 seconds-1 minute until well combined and smooth. Add in the powdered sugar and vanilla extract and continue mixing until fully combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Once the cupcakes have cooled completely, pipe the frosting on top.