Looking for an impressive dessert that’s easy to whip up? Everyone loves these Red Velvet Cupcakes! They are soft, have a gorgeous red color and are topped with fluffy classic cream cheese frosting. The recipe is super easy and they make the best treats for special occasions like Christmas and Valentine’s Day!
This simple recipe for red velvet cupcakes has the classic flavors and color of red velvet cake in cute, sharable cupcake form. Perfectly soft, moist and creamy, these cupcakes will keep you coming back for that next bite!
For more Valentine’s Day cupcakes, try my Cupcakes with Hearts in the Middle, White Chocolate and Raspberry Cupcakes, and these Strawberry Filled Cupcakes.
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS
- They are super soft, moist and fluffy with the perfect hint of chocolate flavor.
- Luscious cream cheese frosting tastes so good on top of these flavorful cupcakes.
- You can make these cupcakes in just a few simple steps.
- Their bright red color makes them perfectly festive. You’ll love them for Christmas and holidays like Valentine’s Day!
- Flour: Cake flour works best for red velvet. Cake flour is lighter than all-purpose flour and gives red velvet cupcakes their soft, light texture.
- Cocoa powder: Red velvet cupcakes only call for a small amount of cocoa powder so that it doesn’t overpower the other flavors. I recommend using natural cocoa powder.
- Unsalted butter: Butter should be room temperature. Take butter out of the refrigerator about 1 hour before making the recipe. Room temperature butter is easier to cream. These cupcakes are made with both butter and oil. The oil makes and keeps them nice and moist and the butter adds richness and flavor.
- 2 Eggs: Large and room temperature
- Oil: Vegetable or canola oil will work.
- Red Food Coloring: Red food coloring gives these cupcakes their signature red color. Add as much or as little as you like until you get to the shade of red you prefer. Use either liquid or gel food coloring. I prefer gel because it is more concentrated and you don’t need to use as much as liquid. You can also omit the food coloring.
- Buttermilk: Buttermilk makes these cupcakes tender and fluffy. It also adds tangy flavor. See my recipe notes in the recipe card for a buttermilk substitute.
- Cream cheese: Use full-fat blocks of cream cheese for the frosting and not the cream cheese sold in a tub.
SUBSTITUTIONS & VARIATIONS
- I highly recommend using cake flour. It has less gluten than all-purpose flour so it gives these cupcakes a lighter, more tender texture. That said, if you don’t have cake flour, you can swap in all-purpose flour for the cake flour.
- If you don’t have buttermilk, you can make your own buttermilk substitute. Add 1and 1/2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice or distilled white vinegar to 1/2 cup of whole or 2% milk. Stir and let it sit for 10 minutes before using.
- Use your favorite sprinkles to decorate these cupcakes.
- I sprinkled my Cupcakes with Hearts in the Middle with crumbs from one cupcake. They were gorgeous!
STEP BY STEP INSTRUCTIONS
Step 1: Whisk to combine the sifted flour and cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Step 2: In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter for one minute on medium low speed. Add the sugar and beat on medium low for two minutes, until butter lightens to pale yellow in color.
Step 3: Add the eggs one at a time and beat on low for 30 seconds. Add the oil, buttermilk, red food coloring and vanilla extract.
Step 4: Add the dry ingredients. Beat on medium low speed until just combined.
Step 5: Evenly distribute the batter between 18 cupcake liners. Fill 2/3 of the way full (use about 1/4 cup batter per cupcake). Bake 16-20 minutes
Step 6: Transfer cupcakes onto to a cooling rack to cool.
EXPERT BAKING TIPS
- Spoon flour into measuring cup. Spooning your flour into the measuring cup ensures you get the proper amount of flour. Dredging your measuring cup in the flour to scoop it out makes you end up with more flour than the recipe calls for.
- Use unsalted butter. The amount of salt can vary by brand, so I recommend using unsalted butter.
- Use an ice cream scoop to fill the cupcake liners. Using a scoop to pour the batter into the cupcake liners is neater than spooning it in. Also, it helps to measure out the batter which results in more uniform sized cupcakes.
- Use a cookie scoop or ice cream scoop to frost the cupcakes. I love using scoops for frosting. It gives all the cupcakes a uniform amount of frosting. It’s also super easy!
Red velvet has a vanilla flavor with a hint of chocolate. It has a slight tang to it and is almost always accompanied by creamy, luscious cream cheese frosting.
Red velvet cupcakes are made with cocoa powder, buttermilk and vinegar. These ingredients cause a chemical reaction that helps create their famous red color. Red food coloring is often added to deepen that crimson color.
You can use either liquid or gel red food coloring. If you use liquid, you’ll need to use more of it. I prefer using gel food coloring because it is the most concentrated. You can use less of it and get more color.
Room temperature: Store unfrosted cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.
Refrigerator: Store leftover cupcakes in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Allow cupcakes to come to room temperature for a few minutes before eating.
Freezing Instructions: Store the cooled, unfrosted cupcakes in an airtight freezer-safe bag or container for up to 1 month. Bring cupcakes to room temperature before serving then frost.
MORE RECIPES YOU WILL LOVEPrint
Red Velvet Cupcakes
- Prep Time: 35 minutes
- Cook Time: 22 minutes
- Total Time: 57 minutes
- Yield: About 18 cupcakes
- Category: Cupcakes
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
Soft and moist Red Velvet Cupcakes topped with cream cheese frosting are the perfect easy dessert for a holiday or special occasion!
RED VELVET CUPCAKES
- 1 1/3 cups cake flour
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened natural cocoa powder
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1/4 cup oil, vegetable or canola
- 1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar (optional)
- 1 tablespoon liquid red food coloring or 1 1/2 teaspoons gel red food coloring
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 8 ounces full fat cream cheese, room temperature
- 3 – 3 and 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
RED VELVET CUPCAKES
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Line muffin pans with 18 paper liners.
- Sift together the flour and cocoa powder. In a medium sized bowl, whisk to combine the sifted flour and cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter for one minute on medium low speed. Add the sugar and beat on medium low for two minutes, until butter lightens to pale yellow in color.
- Add the eggs one at a time and beat on low for 30 seconds. Add the oil, buttermilk, red food coloring, vinegar (if using) and vanilla extract. Add the dry ingredients. Beat on medium low speed until just combined. If the batter has some small lumps, it’s fine. Be careful not to overmix.
- Fill 18 muffin cups evenly with batter. Fill 2/3 of the way full (use about 1/4 cup batter per cupcake). Bake 16-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center of a cupcake. Transfer cupcakes onto to a cooling rack to cool. Cool completely before frosting.
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
- Beat the butter and cream cheese on medium speed using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until smooth.
- Turn the mixer to low and gradually add the powdered sugar until combined. Once the sugar has been incorporated, turn the mixer to high and beat for 1-2 more minutes until light and fluffy. Frost cupcakes and enjoy.
Food Coloring: Use 1 tablespoon liquid food coloring or about 1 and 1/2 teaspoons red gel food coloring. Add more or less depending on how red you want the cupcakes to be. Use gel food coloring sparingly since it’s very concentrated.
Cocoa powder: I like to use standard cocoa powder for red velvet cupcakes. It adds a mild chocolate flavor. You can substitute it with Dutch processed. You can also add a little more cocoa powder for a stronger chocolate flavor. Keep in mind more cocoa powder could change the color of the cupcakes.
Flour: I recommend using cake flour. It will give you light, soft cupcakes. Equal parts all-purpose flour can be used as a substitute.
Buttermilk: For best results, use buttermilk. That said, if you don’t have buttermilk, you can make your own. Stir 1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar or fresh lemon juice into 1/2 cup whole or 2% milk.
Do not overmix: Add the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Do not mix more than necessary or our cupcakes will not be soft and fluffy.
Storage: Store leftover cupcakes in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Freeze unfrosted cupcakes in a freezer safe container for up to 1 month. Thaw at room temperature then top with frosting.
Oreos: I originally made this recipe with Oreos. I recently modified the recipe slightly and omitted the Oreos. That said, you can still include them! Just place an Oreo in each cupcake liner before adding the batter. The batter will bake on top of the Oreos!
Decoration: Decorate with sprinkles or crumbs from an extra cupcake. Add extra red food coloring to one cupcake before baking. Use that cupcake for bright red crumb decorations.
Keywords: cupcakes, red velvet cream cheese, frosting, icing, white chocolate, white chocolate cream cheese, Christmas, Valentine’s
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Barbara Briggs Ward
Absolutely sound and look delicious. Valentine’s Day is coming!
Thank you Barbara! 🙂 Yes- these would be perfect for Valentine’s Day!