The BEST Red Velvet Cake
This is my favorite Red Velvet Cake recipe! This cake is incredibly soft, moist, buttery, and topped with an easy cream cheese frosting.
Red velvet is such a unique cake because it has a vanilla flavor but also a hint of chocolate. It can also be hard to get just right because it should be buttery, yet stay moist. This recipe delivers all of that and it’s incredibly delicious too!
I’m also sharing everything you need to know on how to perfect this cake. Including how to make a 9×13 cake or cupcakes and some step-by-step pictures to help you along the way!
How To Make This Red Velvet Cake
To make this red velvet cake, you’ll start by whisking together your dry ingredients: cake flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. I suggest using cake flour because it has a lower protein content than all-purpose flour which creates a softer, lighter cake. When it comes to cake flour, two of my favorite brands are Pillsbury Softasilk and Swans Down.
There’s also 1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder in this cake so the cake isn’t super chocolatey, but it has a hint of chocolate that is expected in red velvet cakes. Once you’ve whisked together the dry ingredients I suggest sifting them as well to remove any lumps of cocoa powder and help keep the cake light.
Then, mix up the wet ingredients starting with some unsalted butter and granulated sugar. I suggest creaming the butter and sugar together for about 4-5 minutes. Why? Creaming the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy incorporates more air into your cake batter creating a softer, lighter cake.
Once the butter and sugar are creamed together, you’ll beat in two eggs until well combined. Then mix in the rest of the wet ingredients: some oil, red food coloring, vanilla extract, and distilled white vinegar. The oil helps to keep the cake incredibly moist, so I use a combination of butter and oil in this cake.
Once you’ve mixed up the wet ingredients, you’ll alternate mixing the dry ingredients in three additions with some buttermilk. Alternating the dry ingredients with the buttermilk helps to prevent overmixing the cake batter which can lead to a denser cake. If you don’t have any buttermilk on hand, you can make your own using my homemade buttermilk substitute.
Once the cake batter is mixed up it will be a beautiful bright red color like the picture above. Then, just divide the batter between two 9-inch cake pans and bake them for about 30 minutes. If you want to make it easier to get the cake layers out of your pans I suggest using parchment paper. I use these parchment liners from Wilton and LOVE them, they’re perfect for this recipe too!
Once the cake layers are baked and cooled, you’ll mix up the frosting. I used my favorite cream cheese frosting for this cake and increased the amount to have enough to frost it. If you want to try another frosting my vanilla buttercream frosting would be delicious too!
Then, just level your cakes and frost it however you like. I used the Wilton 1M piping tip for the swirls on top of this cake.
Baking Tips For Red Velvet Cake
- Be sure that all of your ingredients are at room temperature before getting starting.
- Make sure to sift the dry ingredients to remove any lumps of cocoa powder. This will also help to keep the cake soft and light.
- I suggest creaming the butter and sugar together for about 4-5 minutes. Creaming the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy incorporates more air into your cake batter creating a softer, lighter cake.
- Alternate mixing the dry ingredients in three additions with the buttermilk, this will help to prevent over mixing the cake batter.
Red Velvet Cake
For the red velvet cake:
- 2 and 2/3 cups (295 grams) cake flour (spooned & leveled)
- 1/4 cup (22 grams) natural unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (115 grams) unsalted butter softened to room temperature
- 1 and 3/4 cups (350 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) canola or vegetable oil
- 1 (1-ounce) bottle liquid red food color
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
- 1 and 1/3 cups (320 ml) buttermilk room temperature
For the cream cheese frosting:
- 12 ounces brick-style cream cheese softened
- 3/4 cup (175 grams) unsalted butter softened to room temperature
- 3 cups (360 grams) powdered sugar
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
To make the red velvet cake:
- Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Spray two 9-inch cake pans well with nonstick cooking spray, line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper, 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 eggs and mix until fully combined, then mix in the oil, red food color, 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 each addition until just combined and be careful not to over mix the batter.
- Evenly distribute the cake batter between the two prepared cake pans and spread the batter around into one even layer. Tap the pans on the counter 2-3 times to remove any air bubbles from the cakes.
- Bake at 350°F (177°C) for 28-32 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Carefully remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool in the pans for 15-20 minutes. Then, carefully remove the cakes from the cake pans and place on the 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.
- Mix in the powdered sugar and vanilla extract and continue mixing until fully combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
To assemble the cake:
- Level the tops of each cake with a knife or cake leveler. Place one of the cake layers on a cake stand or plate, top with a layer of frosting, and smooth it out into one even layer. Place the second layer on top, then use the remaining frosting to frost the top and sides of the cake.