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.
Another home run Danielle! Made these for the 4th with blue sprinkles and blueberries on top so they were red, white, and blue! God bless America and Happy Independence Day to you and yours.
Excellent recipe! I use the Magnolia Bakery recipe when I need a cake or a big order of cupcakes. However, I have been looking for a high quality and great tasting recipe for when I want to make only 1 dozen cupcakes. I’ve found it – great taste, crumb, colour and texture. Thank you.
hi Danielle, my granddaughter asked me to bake for her red velvet cupcakes, your recipe looks awesome. she is HIGHLY allergic to eggs, will it be okay to omit the egg or should I substitute it with something else? thank you! can’t wait to bake these.
Hi, Olga! You would still want to replace the egg with something. I haven’t tried it, but a flax egg may work.
I wanted to make this in a cake form using (2) 9″ round pans. Do you know what the measurements would be for this?
Hi, Ashley! I actually have a red velvet cake recipe here.
I tried this recipe once and it turned out super delicious cup cake. Only thing I felt was i could sense sugar powder Texture in cream. I mean it was not smooth cream. Sugar wasnt completely combined in cream.
Tentatively How long to mix powder sugar in cream cheese to get well mixed cream if using electric hand mixer?
You only need to mix the powdered sugar in until just combined. Did you make sure to use powdered sugar and not something else? If so, you can try using a finer powdered sugar and see if that helps.
The frosting it’s to soft it melts? The flavor it’s gorgeous! But it’s hard to pipe
Hi, Rosalia! Did you make sure to use a block/brick of cream cheese? If you use cream cheese spread, it will cause the frosting to be runny.
Hi Danielle, this recipe is superb? I couldn’t believe how amazing it turned out, everyone keep asking for more. For a larger quantity (like 8 cups of flour) how much of the ingredients should I use?
So glad you enjoyed the recipe! I haven’t tried it, but I’m sure you could increase the recipe to make a larger quantity. I would avoid increasing it too much though, otherwise, you may end up with too much batter and accidentally over mixing it.
I’ve made this recipe so many times. It’s my favorite red velvet recipe! I do have one question, my only complaint is that mine always turn out too soft and fluffy. I need a firmer cupcake, can I just use all purpose flour? Would that be the key to getting it firmer? Thanks!!
Yes, all-purpose flour will give you a firmer cupcake.
Hi! Is it alright to reduce the sugar? 1 cup might be too sweet.., thanks! Hoping for your reply ?
You could probably reduce it to 3/4 cup. I wouldn’t recommend reducing it more than that though because it will change the taste and texture of the cupcakes.
Your red velvet cupcake recipe is superb! <3
I would like to ask what size are these cupcakes? Is it 3oz?
I’m honestly not sure how much each one weighs, sorry!
Cannot fault the cupcake recipe. Really soft cupcakes with a great flavour. The frosting came out runny and I’ve now read the comments and found a block of cream cheese should be used instead of spreadable. I’ve been baking for a while and did not know this so I’d make it clear in the recipe and then I’m sure it would be 5 stars as the frosting tastes great.
Hi, Sarah! The recipe does say to use “brick-style cream cheese” for the frosting. I’m glad the cupcake turned out well for you and hopefully the frosting turns out better for you next time!
Can you tell me if you can use the same ingredients to make a red velvet cake?
Hi, Tracy! I have a red velvet cake recipe here.
If you cannot find the cake flour (soft a silk) what’s the next best thing to use to have it taste the same?
You can make a cake flour substitute with all-purpose flour and cornstarch. I have a note in the recipe for how to make it 🙂
I realise that when making this recipe, the batter always gets lumpy at the last step when I add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk because the dry ingredients don’t mix well. Is this an area of concern and is there anyway I can fix this? Thank you 🙂
It definitely shouldn’t get lumpy at the end. You could try sifting in the dry ingredients and stir them in by hand with a rubber spatula.
the cupcakes were AMAZING but do you have any idea on how to fix crusty tops?
Have you checked your oven temperature with an oven thermometer? Sometimes if your oven is too hot or the cupcakes are a little over baked that can happen. You can store them without the frosting in an airtight container overnight and that should help soften the tops.
Hi, if i don’t want to use red colouring and keep it natural, should I substitute anything in the recipe ? As it’s 1 tbsp. Thanks.
You can just omit it, no need to adjust anything else in the recipe.
This is my granddaughter’s favorite cupcake and I nailed it thanks to your recipe. I read the instructions throughly before I baked then I compared your recipe with Magnolia’s and decided to go with yours. The cupcakes were moist and the frosting perfect.
Wonderful recipe! I’m new to baking and I noticed that the cupcakes were a bit dry and not as moist as I was hoping. Everyone else that tried them said it was fine, but I was wondering if there is a way I can make sure that the cupcakes are moist. The frosting was amazing!!
Hi, Kady! As long as you followed the recipe and used oil and buttermilk, the cupcakes should be pretty moist. If you felt that they were a bit dry they may have baked too long. You can try reducing the baking time slightly next time and see if that helps.
Hello, I plan to make these this weekend but have a couple of questions. First, so you think it would be okay to double your recipe? Just want to make sure it wouldn’t compromise taste or texture. Second, since I plan to double, two pans will have 12 cupcakes instead of the 8 per pan (in your original recipe). Do you recommend that I adjust the baking time? Thank you so so much. Hope you can reply.
Hi, Rosie! Yes, it’s fine to double the recipe. You shouldn’t need to adjust the baking time either. Hope that helps!
Wow!!! You are the queen of cupcakes! As a novice baker i have tried many different cupcake recipes, this one def takes the #1 spot. Perfect cupcakes every time. Thank you soooo much for taking the time to share this. Magnificent!!!!
Hello! Is it ok to use ap four instead of cake flower?
Hi, Josie! I do recommend cake flour to ensure that your cupcakes rise taller and turn out softer. However, I do have a cake flour substitute that uses all-purpose flour in the recipe notes.
Hi danielle, really like this recipe, wanted to do a pink velvet cupcake for breast cancer month, do I omit the cocoa and change the colour from the red to pink?
This was amazing, I used 1/2 a tablespoon crimson pink& it came out gorgeously red..I could still taste the dye though think I’ll use beet powder next time,substituted the butter with margarine and it still came out perfect. Lovely recipe
Excellent recipe!!! These are easy and delicious! Thank you so much for sharing.
Hi!! I’m hoping you can help me. I bake a lot, but I failed with this recipe 🙁 The cupcake tasted amazing and the texture was so moist! I’m just not sure why while baking, the tops were lumpy and went flat!? I don’t know if that happens if I undermix it? I didn’t want to over mix… but I’m not sure how to fix this?
Hi, Tracy! It may be because the dry ingredients weren’t fully incorporated with the wet ingredients. As long as they still taste okay, you can try to cover the tops up with the frosting.
Hi, do you think it would be ok to use gel food coloring or should I get the liquid like you stated?
I think gel food coloring would be fine! You may need to adjust the amount though.
I followed the recipe to the letter and unfortunately mine turned out absolutely awful. They sunk about 14 mins in, didn’t bake in the center, overflowed from the cups and were an awful brown color. I’m so sad about this. I only filled them halfway like directed and I never 9penrd the oven so I’m not sure why this happened. All my ingredients were brand new too. So disappointed and wish I knew what went wrong!
Sorry that happened! I’m not quite sure what could have happened if you followed the recipe exactly as written. Have you checked your baking soda to make sure it’s still fresh? And did you make sure to only mix in the dry ingredients until just combined?
I accidentally added the sugar to the dry mixture. What do I do?
I would recommend starting over. The cupcakes won’t turn out right if you don’t cream the butter and sugar together.
Hello! So I’ve been following this recipe for a while now. And i absolutely love it.
However, i was wondering if this recipe would be enough for making 2×6inch round cakes.
I haven’t tried it, but I think it should be enough!
Hi Danielle, thanks for all the amazing recipes you share. I have tried quite a few, your carrot cake, raisin oatmeal cookies and chocolate mug Cake and I must confess they were amazing.
I can’t wait to try this red velvet recipe for my sisters birthday. The last recipe I tried from another site was a huge miss.
Thank you! Hope you enjoy the cupcakes!
Hi, I make a red Velvet cake and only use oil and it makes a very moist cake. What would the measurements be if I only used oil and not oil and butter.
You can replace the butter in this recipe with the same amount of oil, but keep in mind that it will change the taste and texture of the cupcakes.
Can I use melted butter in place of the oil for the cake batter?
I haven’t tried it, but I imagine that you could. It will change the taste and texture of the cupcake some though.