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. Yvonne — February 10, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    Wow, these look delicious! I wasn’t planning on making anything for Valentine’s Day – but I think you’ve inspired me to :) I’m so glad I found your website! I have been following a little less than a week and already I’m amazed by all that you have posted :) Question for you, I’ve seen that adorable cake stand on many of my other favorite cooking blogs – I emailed Picky Palate recently to ask where she got hers, and it was a TJ Maxx find for her – where did you get yours! I want one so badly, but I can’t seem to find it anywhere?! Any suggestions? Thanks!


    • Jamie — February 10, 2011 at 6:21 pm

      I got mine at Home Goods. You can get them on Amazon, just search for “ribbon cake stand.” Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Jaime ( Sophistimom ) — February 10, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    Very cute, Jamie. Don’t you love Valentine’s Day? It makes me want to blog about 2000% more right now!


  3. Happy When Not Hungry — February 10, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    These look delicious!!! Love red velvet!


  4. Claudia — February 10, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    Perfect! I was looking for a red velvet cupcake recipe for my wedding! Any idea where I could find a cake stand like that?


    • Jamie — February 10, 2011 at 4:43 pm

      The cake stand is from Home Goods, but I have seen them all over the place. Search for “ribbon cake stand” and you’ll get plenty of results. I know for a fact that Amazon carries some.

  5. Estela @ Weekly Bite — February 10, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    These are so pretty! Love all the little pink touches :)


  6. Lauren from Lauren's Latest — February 10, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    I love red velvet anything! Especially love those sprinkles on top! They’re darling!


  7. Heather — February 10, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    That is my go to recipe for Red Velvet as well. The taste is phenomenal and I LOVE that the cream cheese frosting is firm enough to pipe.

    And yours are SO cute with the heart sprinkles and the cake stand.


  8. Colleen K — February 10, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    Wonderful! I’ve made a similar recipe for red cake handed down to me from my Mom. I still fondly recall the tattered, dog-eared recipe, with splatters of red food coloring. Have you ever tried the made from scratch cooked frosting? Cook 1 cup milk and 3 Tablespoons flour in medium saucepan over medium heat stirring constantly until the consistency of thick gravy. Let cool completely (don’t rush this part…allow at least an hour). Cream 1 cup butter, softened and 1 cup sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add the cooled flour/milk mixture and beat until light and fluffy. This is the way I grew up eating red cake…and hands down it is my most requested birthday treat. Have a good Valentine’s Day!


  9. Mel Tardy — February 10, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    OMG! I’m laughing at my desk at work. I have had the same disgusting aversion to red velvet cake all because of the gross armadillo in Steele Magnolias!!! HIlarious!
    However, I had to overcome my disgust when my son and his bride begged for their wedding cake to be made all red velvet. So, I had to search for a really good recipe and I suprisingly had soo many people at the wedding tell me that it was the best cake they had ever tasted. So, I stand corrected. Thanks for the laugh and I love your blog!


  10. Amanda — February 10, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    SO beautiful… cant wait to try this!


  11. Katrina — February 10, 2011 at 5:44 pm

    These cupcakes look so tasty!


  12. Bobbi P. — February 10, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    This is the exact same recipie I use for my Red Velvet, I have never been a huge red velvet fan and didn’t get what the big deal was about Red Velvet, until I tried these! They are amazing, moist and flavorful! They puff up nice too! I love your decoration of them – sooooo cute!


  13. Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen — February 10, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    Love the little open heart sprinkles, those are the perfect finish to these sweet cupcakes.


  14. Blog is the New Black — February 10, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    Beautifully decorated!


  15. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction — February 10, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    These are stunning… I love the sprinkles on the cupcakes. Perfect for V-day! :)


  16. Tracy — February 10, 2011 at 8:06 pm

    These look incredibly delicious and I just LOVE those sprinkles on top!


  17. Lori @ RecipeGirl — February 10, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    They’re simply adorable. I’m obsessed with all things red velvet as well.


  18. Cookbook Queen — February 10, 2011 at 8:53 pm

    Jamie, these look absolutely FABULOUS!! I have been wanting a no fail recipe for Red Velvet (some I’ve tried have been a bit dry) so I’ll have to try this one!! :)


  19. Miss @ Miss in the Kitchen — February 10, 2011 at 9:41 pm

    I just tried a bite of a red velvet cupcake for the first time last week. It was delicious and cream cheese frosting is my favorite. I may have to tackle these soon. I too was a little taken back by Steel Magnolias! Great, sweet post!


  20. Sharlene — February 10, 2011 at 10:46 pm

    Red velvet is still a special treat for me. It’s decadent and delicious! I’m going to try these out as soon as possible!


  21. Katie — February 11, 2011 at 1:57 am

    They look gorgeous and beautifully decorated. Anyone would love to recieve a box of these.


  22. These looks so pretty. Your photos are so enticing and make me want to reach out to try one.


  23. Paula B. — February 11, 2011 at 8:40 am

    Agree with all the above, love the picture and want to make the cupcakes for all my Valentines!!! So funny that you posted this because my husband just emailed me ten hints for baking a red velvet cake! One of them said you must use White Lily cake flour and another said you should use a hand mixer because the stand ones are so powerful. I’m glad you posted this before I began baking. I think I can finally make my own red velvet cake, thank you!!!


  24. CaSaundra — February 11, 2011 at 9:01 am

    Red Velvet cupcakes have definitely become somewhat of a trend! I have tried a few different recipes lately, but still haven’t found a favorite! I’ll have to give this one a go next.


  25. Michelle @ Raisin Rocks — February 11, 2011 at 9:44 am

    These cupcakes look great! I was planning on making red velvet cupcakes for Valentine’s Day, so this is prefect timing. Do you prefer using a recipe with oil instead of butter? I was trying to decide which to use, I thought you might be able to give me a reason to go one way or the other?


  26. Megan — February 11, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    These look delicious! I wonder if I can turn these into mini whoopie pies.


  27. Jess — February 11, 2011 at 7:02 pm

    Oh my goodness! I absolutely love this! Beautiful. Not a fan of shortening in frosting, though.
    Jess :D


    • Jamie — February 12, 2011 at 4:53 pm

      You can just omit the shortening, I add it in for a little stability.

  28. Ann — February 11, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    Wow, these look delicious. Your pictures are truly beautiful!


  29. I love the look and sound of your cupcakes, but I also have a strong aversion to Red Velvet. The last time I made red velvet cake balls, I happened to catch the flu!!! 48 hours later, I swore I would never eat another. Red Velvet used to be my go-to flavour :(


  30. Annie@ButteryBooks — February 11, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    Oh!!!! These cupcake are gorgeous and (southern girl that I am) I LOVE red velvet. Your cake stand is sooooo pretty!


  31. leslie — February 11, 2011 at 10:28 pm

    I use Em’s recipe too! Too funny! It is sooo delicious.


  32. Bridgett — February 12, 2011 at 1:26 am

    I love your presentation and your photo is gorgeous. A great red velvet recipe is hard to resist and always seems to be a crowd pleaser in my home. Your cupcakes look divine.


  33. Courtney — February 12, 2011 at 10:06 am

    I love the taste of Red Velvet cake, but not the addition of the red coloring. Lately I’ve just made it without it and the cakes taste divine. Only if needed I’ll use the coloring. These look delicious!


  34. Chris @ nestlefoodie — February 12, 2011 at 10:52 am

    Red Velvet sure is popular this time of year! We did a similar post last week. After testing a lot of recipes, I came to the same conclusion as you, more chocolate. I used oil too since it added more depth to the chocolate. Great job!


  35. Angela — February 12, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    Jamie, I love your recipes and reading your blog – so much to try and so much inspiration. I have nominated you for the Stylish Blogger Award – Congratulations! You can read about it more here:


  36. Kristine Freshour — February 12, 2011 at 10:55 pm

    My sorority girls requested a red velvet cake or cupcakes and I’m definitely making these! Your photos are the best.


  37. jaclyn — February 13, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    Just made these in mini form… they are delicious!


  38. Heather — February 13, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    you tweeted this one hour too late. I just finished my first red velvet cake. It’s okay. A little dry. I’ll try this one next. :)


  39. noella — March 2, 2011 at 12:12 am

    Thanks for the recipe. always wanted to make a red velvet, will definitely try this one. looks yummy. can i omit the cream cheese frosting, coz some of my friends feel frosting makes the cake too rich to eat . pls advice.


  40. Taylor — April 5, 2011 at 12:51 am

    I loved this recipe and added a few of my own twists. It came out amazing. I panicked when I saw how wet the batter was and worried that I’d done something wrong, but they rose perfectly and this has become one of my favorite recipes. I posted my version of the recipe on my blog but I credited you (with a link) I couldn’t take the all the credit when it was based on your recipe. I hope you don’t mind. I love your site and I can’t wait to see what other recipes you share with us.


  41. Taylor — April 5, 2011 at 12:53 am

    Wow. I forgot to give you the link to the post. Here it is:


  42. Jennifer — June 1, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    Jamie – have you ever doubled this recipe? I’m looking for a good one, and you’re one of my most trusted cupcakers. I just need two dozen!!


    • Jamie — June 1, 2011 at 6:24 pm

      You can definitely double it! Enjoy and thanks so much for stopping by!

  43. Em — June 8, 2011 at 1:45 am

    Hello! I am so excited about trying this recipe. I simply love this site. Quick question – does it have to be cake flour? Can I just use plain flour? :)


  44. Flo — June 9, 2011 at 1:37 am

    GREAT recipe!!!!

    I tried it this week and it came out great! Super moist and great taste.

    I also used the cream cheese frosting recipe and also a hit for my friends!!

    Great recipe, will def use again in the near future!!


  45. Britney — June 25, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    Love this Recipe!!
    I made it a few weeks back. Was the best red velvet I’ve made. I didn’t use the cream cheese frosting. I used Martha Stewarts instead. I wish I would have used yours. I didn’t really like the idea about the shorting in it but now I see why you added it in yours. My Martha frosting was melting everywhere.
    Question! Do you come up with all your recipe?
    Thanks :))


  46. Daria — August 30, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    Tried to make a red velvet cake for the first time last week. It was a lot more work than I expected! Came out pretty good but will have to try this recipe :)


  47. Sofia — September 26, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    Hi all,
    I made these cupcakes this weekend and they were a hit! They were so tasty. I didn’t use shortening in the icing but it was still perfect…
    To be honest, the first time I tried it, I was dodging my 10 month old clinging baby in the kitchen, had had little sleep and had doubled the recipe …I ended up thinking it needed 3/4 CUPS of white vinegar instead of 3/4 teaspoon. It wasn’t until I started blending it that I was thinking…wait a second…something looks amiss here…lol!!!
    So felt like crying but ended up laughing it off : )
    The second batch which I scrutinized the ingredient list turned out fabulous. I was really happy with the result and so were my guests.

    So happy I found this website, will try the lemon ones next.


  48. rachel — October 20, 2011 at 10:44 am

    hi jamie and everyone!

    just want to say that this recipe is a total godsend for me! :) i chanced upon MBA when looking for a Guinness cupcake recipe to make for my husband early this year, and when one of my bestest girlfriends wanted to bake red velvet cupcakes as wedding favours for her wedding this Dec, MBA was the first place i turned to. She sent me a few others to test, but it is this recipe that produced the best results! they look great and taste great :) for simplicity and logistical reasons, we are going to do a simple dot of vanilla sugar frosting on the centre of each cake and stick a little sugar heart on as decor instead of doing the full works with the cream cheese. we also added some choc chips for extra chocolatey flavour, and while i was initially disappointed that the chips all sank to the bottom (since d cupcake batter is not quite dense enough to keep d chips suspended) but the effect turned out well – like a nice base of melted chocolate! :D works great with this fantastic recipe. that said, would definitely appreciate tips on how (if possible) to keep d choc chips distributed throughout the cake like a muffin :)

    thanks for reading and have fun baking everyone!! thanks again Jamie, for being such a source of inspiration and reliable recipes :)



Leave a Comment