Red Velvet Cupcakes

There is something about red velvet cake that intrigues me. I mean who would have ever thought adding red dye to a basic cake recipe would turn into something so incredibly iconic. I remember watching Steel Magnolias as a kid and being mildly repulsed by red velvet armadillo cake. In fact, I think it was that scene that turned me off to red velvet until adulthood. In my mind, eating red velvet cake was equivalent to eating an armadillo.

Fast forward twenty years and you’ll still find me repulsed by that atrocious armadillo creation, but not by red velvet cake, especially when it’s in the form of cupcakes that are slathered in decadent cream cheese frosting.

This recipe was introduced to me over two year ago by Em, of the blog, The Repressed Pastry Chef, and it has remained my go to red velvet recipe. Not only is this cake recipe delicious, it’s also perfect for Valentine’s Day. There is really nothing more lovely than that rich dark red color topped with bright white cream cheese frosting and flecked with adorable open heart sprinkles.

The other fab thing about this recipe is that it only makes 12 cupcakes, so if you’re indulging a small crew, you’re not required to do any measurement scaling. This is always a plus in my book. If you are looking for a delicious and adorable way to surprise your sweetie, you’ve definitely stumbled upon the right recipe!

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Yield: 12 cupcakes


For the Cupcakes

1 cup cake flour 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 2/3 cup vegetable oil 3/4 granulated sugar 1 egg 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 2 tablespoons red food coloring 1/2 cup buttermilk 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 3/4 teaspoon white vinegar

For the Cream Cheese Frosting

8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening 3 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature 1 pound confectioners’ sugar (about 3 ¾ cups), sifted 2 teaspoons clear vanilla extract*


For the Cupcakes

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 12 cupcake wells with paper liners or spray pan with spray with nonstick cooking spray. 2. Sift together cake flour, cocoa powder and salt. 3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine oil and sugar until well-blended. Add egg and mix until combined. 4. Turn your mixer down to the lowest speed add vanilla then slowly add in the food coloring. Note:If you are using liquid food coloring, it will take about 2 tablespoons of coloring to get a dark red shade. I used about 1 tablespoon of gel dye to achieve the shade in the photographs. Add the dye slowly and color according to your preference. 5. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk in two batches; scrape down the side of the bowl. Continue mixing until just combined, taking care not to over mix. 6. Place baking soda in a small dish, stir in vinegar and add to batter with machine running. Beat for about 10 seconds. 7. Using a medium scoop (about 3 tablespoons), divide batter among between the 12 wells, filling each well about 2/3 full of batter. Bake for 20-24 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Be careful not to over bake.

For the Cream Cheese Frosting

1. In a the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together, cream cheese, shortening, and butter until well combined. 2. With the mixer of low, gradually add the confectioners’ sugar until thoroughly incorporated and smooth. Add vanilla and mix to combine.


- This cupcake recipe has been scaled down from the original recipe by The New York Times. Follow the link provided to view the full recipe. - Clear vanilla extract was used in the cream cheese frosting recipe to maintain a bright white color. Feel free to substitute pure vanilla extract in its place. - Brown liners were purchased at Bake It Pretty. - I used the large round tip from Bake it Pretty to frost the cupcakes. You can view my piping video tutorial within this post. - The sprinkles are made by Wilton.

95 Responses to “Red Velvet Cupcakes”

  1. Hidah — November 22, 2011 at 10:22 pm

    Hi, will the frosting stays in shaped? If it does, how long can it hold it’s shape before it starts to melt? And further, I was informed that those ingredients with cream cheese can’t be let in room temperature for more than 2 horus as it may caused food poisoning. Is it true? Which means, this kindda cakes are not suitable for wedding which requires to be displayed throughout the ceremony.


    • Jamie — November 27, 2011 at 12:53 pm

      I would recommend storing these in the refrigerator and bringing them to room temperature before serving. I have left them out longer than two hours, but certainly do what makes you the most comfortable.

  2. mohammed amer — January 16, 2012 at 6:11 am

    can i substitue cake flour with APF? the cake flour is not available where i live thanks.


    • Jamie — February 13, 2012 at 6:33 pm

      I would not recommend using AP flour in this recipe. Instead check out this post on how to make your own cake flour from Good Life Eats.

  3. Puffy Baker — March 12, 2012 at 10:23 pm

    After years of looking for the perfect cupcake recipe, I finally found it! <3 I made it, and it was perfect. I substituted vanilla for almond, and the cake flour for a mix of regular flour and corn starch ( ) . After a life of dry batches, over flooding batches, too heavy batches… I can say I finally found the best recipe, thank you very much for the fluffiest, smoothest and moistest cupcakes I've ever made! :D


  4. chelsea — March 22, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    I made these for a Super Bowl party and for my niece’s Birthday and wow what a hit!! This is hands down one of the BEST cupcakes that I have ever eaten…. and the best red velvet I’ve tasted!!! Most of the Red Velvet cakes/cupcakes I have tasted in my day have been dry and yucky, so thank you for introducing me to my new Red Velvet recipe and my new favorite baking blog!!!!


    • Jamie — March 22, 2012 at 8:10 pm

      I am so glad to hear that you enjoyed these! :) Thanks for commenting.

    • Mia — February 11, 2014 at 6:26 pm

      Did you follow this recipe exactly as written?

  5. angie — June 3, 2012 at 7:56 pm

    My cupcakes sank in the middle and kind of fell a part, I think I over beat the batter. Also my frosting looks like it is melting a bit, any suggestions to hold it’s shape better? They taste great! Love that they are not overlly sweet!


  6. komi — July 3, 2012 at 1:50 am

    Hi I can’t locate your frosting video tutorial. Where do I watch it ?



  7. Malena — July 19, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    Hi! I love this recipe but I can´t find buttermilk in my country (I live in Peru). Can I replace it with any other ingredient? Please, I really, really want to make this recipe! I´ll be expectant for your answer!



    • Lailabakes — January 2, 2014 at 11:43 am

      To make buttermilk, place one tablespoon vinegar in a measuring cup. Pour milk on it to measure to one cup. Let sit 15 to 20 minutes and then stir. It will somewhat curdle and thicken… Works on any recipe calling for buttermilk

  8. Andrea — July 24, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    I made these beauties today! Evertything fine, except I forgot the baking soda and the vinegar. Oh, nevermind! They taste heavenly. One question tho, I would prefer them to be a tad more red (without adding more artificial color), should I lower the amount of cocoa?


    • Jamie — August 1, 2012 at 7:33 pm

      You could definitely reduce the cocoa a tad without any problems.

  9. Injla — August 26, 2012 at 5:25 am

    Can I use regular flour instead of cake flour? we dont get cake flour in my country :(


    • Jamie — August 28, 2012 at 5:02 pm

      I’d recommend giving this post from Good Life Eats a read. It explains how to make a DIY cake flour. I hope it helps.

  10. Michelle — October 10, 2012 at 10:00 am

    I have made these cupcakes numerous times and used good greaseproof liners, but every morning after I’ve made these, the liners are all peeling off. Any suggestions on a different types of liner or what may be causing this? I’d hate for this to happen as this is the recipe I am using to make red velvet cupcakes for a wedding. I used Cupcake Creations liners. ANy helpful suggestions you could give would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks you,


    • MBA — November 12, 2012 at 8:12 pm

      Although I come across many decent greaseproof liners, I feel that the liners from the tomkat studio does one of the best jobs for what you are looking for. I have provided the link below – thanks for stopping by and providing your feedback! Have a great day!

  11. Gillian — December 5, 2012 at 8:59 am

    So excited to bake this recipe! Can anyone help me out to the conversion of recipe from cups to grams? I’m having difficulties with it!


    • Lailabakes — January 2, 2014 at 11:50 am

      Based on the package one cup flour or cake flour is 128 grams. One cup sugar is 200 grams. Liquids one cup is 250 ml but American cups are 237 ml.1/4 cup cocoa is 20 grams but I would use 5-10 grams to get more red color.

  12. Lori — November 13, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    Great recipe! Love that it just made 12,not the usual 24. They disappeared quickly :-) I’m going to try doubling it to make a 9 X 13 birthday cake for my daughter. Have you ever tried that?


    • Jamie — November 20, 2013 at 11:56 am


      I haven’t tried making it like that, but please stop back and let us know your experience with the recipe! Have a fantastic day and happy birthday to your daughter!


  13. Petro Neagu — January 8, 2014 at 5:30 am

    Oooo, these are wonderful! I am a cupcake person and I will totally give this recipe a try. I’m sure it’s going to be as delicious as it looks :)


  14. Jonni Lynch — January 15, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    Hi! Looks like a great recipe–
    Curious, I have a TON of pastry flour on hand and wondered if I could use that instead of cake flour? It’s similar….


    • Jamie — January 17, 2014 at 8:21 pm

      I have not attempted this recipe with pastry flour, so I am unable to attest to how it will perform when used in this recipe. Sorry I am not more of a help. Thanks for stopping by.

  15. Disha makkar — February 4, 2014 at 9:08 am

    Would just like to know if this recipe could be made eggless as im vegetarian but would love to have this. Thanks :)


    • Jamie — February 11, 2014 at 8:23 pm

      Disha, I’m not sure as I’ve never tried it. Eggs are usually pretty important to a cake like this, but you might be able to use “flax eggs” instead. Google those for instructions.
      – Jamie

  16. Gbemie — February 6, 2014 at 5:43 am

    I love baking but I do not love eating cake. I bake and give out or make for people. I have been searching for a red velvet cake that’s moist snd fluffy and not too oily. I made this and it was exactly that. I used all purpose flour and stillll……..

    I made 12 cupcakes just now and 2 are gone already. The third would av disappeared but I am typing.

    My only prob was my colour. Was more off maroon.

    I hope I leave some for hubby. Hahaha


  17. Tara — February 11, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    When red velvet was made from scratch the red was from beets not food coloring. So, if someone has a red sensitivity, as some do in my son’s class, roasted pureed beets will give that brilliant red color.


  18. Tanya — February 16, 2014 at 8:00 pm

    Just made these and they were a hit! Thanks for the piping video, I was looking for something simple and straightforward. I usually don’t try to be fancy but today I made some fancy looking cupcakes. My boys were impressd ;).


  19. nihi — September 11, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    Plss give a optional for egg..means eggles cake nd cookie


  20. Shivam — September 3, 2015 at 2:30 am

    is it necessary to use a mixer?


    • Jamie — September 23, 2015 at 12:09 pm

      Nope, not necessary a whisk and some elbow grease will do the trick! Happy Baking.

  21. Virginia — January 11, 2016 at 11:50 pm

    Made these today and they were a hit, omg they taste like Sprinkles cupcakes, super moist I added a little butter and a two tsp of sour cream.


    • Jamie — January 12, 2016 at 6:32 pm

      Hi, Virginia! I’m so glad you enjoyed them! All the best to you.

  22. Kim — January 15, 2016 at 3:44 pm

    I was really excited to try a new red velvet recipe. To much disappointment after reading all of the wonderful reviews, mine turned out far too oily and completely sunk. I’m an experienced baker and after going back over the ingredients… 2/3 cup oil for a cupcake recipe that yields approx. 12 cupcakes is way too much! More than double that what most of my recipes ask for. In the trash they go :(


    • Jamie — January 17, 2016 at 9:30 am

      I’m so sorry they didn’t work out for you, Kim. Let me know if I can help you out in any other way! All the best to you.

  23. Shirley — October 5, 2016 at 10:06 am

    Hi! I’m looking forward to baking with your red velvet cupcakes recipe. May I know is there is anyway I can replace shortening?


    • Jamie — October 5, 2016 at 1:33 pm

      Hi, Shirley! You can substitute butter for the shortening. I hope you enjoy the cupcakes!


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