Looking for your new favorite new cupcake recipe? These light, moist red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting are everything. Made right, the best red velvet cupcake is light as air, and topped with a cream cheese frosting that’s positively irresistible. Cue Robert Palmer.
How to Make Red Velvet Cupcakes
My recipe is pretty similar to the original red velvet cake recipe by Adams. (Whether the recipe was invented by Adams or by the Waldorf Astoria remains a mystery.)
I’ve decreased the amount of cocoa powder and reduced the food dye significantly. I also swapped buttercream frosting for my favorite cream cheese frosting recipe because you can’t put buttercream frosting on a red velvet cupcake. Just, no.
To make them:
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line muffin tins with 15 liners.
- Mix cake flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa together in medium mixing bowl to make the dry mixture. Set aside.
- Pour buttermilk into ¼ cup measure. Set aside.
- Add vinegar to small bowl. Set aside.
- Cream butter and sugar in electric mixer at medium speed. You want to cream them together until they’re light and fluffy, which takes about 3 minutes.
- Add the egg to batter. Mix for 30 seconds until combined, then add the vanilla and red food coloring. Scrape down sides of bowl if there’s a lot on the sides.
- Turn your mixer speed down to low. Add half of the dry mixture. Add buttermilk and refill measuring cup with more buttermilk.
- Add the remaining dry mixture. Add buttermilk. Mix for 30 seconds, scraping down the sides of the mixing bowl as needed.
- Add baking soda to vinegar. Stir them together then quickly add them to the batter.
- Turn mixer speed to high for 15 seconds. (If you have a KitchenAid stand mixer, this is speed 6.)
- Portion out the cupcake batter into tins using #16 disher or ¼ cup measure.
- Bake for 15 minutes or until tops bounce back slightly when touched.
- Remove from oven and let cool on cooling rack for 10 minutes, then remove from tin and let cool completely adding the cream cheese frosting.
Tips for the Best Red Velvet Cupcakes
- Cake Flour: You’ll want to use cake flour instead of all-purpose flour to give these cupcakes that light, fluffy texture. Cake flour has a lower protein content (aka gluten content) than all-purpose, so your cupcakes will be less chewy. If you don’t have any on hand, here’s how to make cake flour.
- Baking soda: The combination of baking soda and vinegar makes these cupcakes extra bouncy, sort of like your best friend after three White Claws. To test your baking soda, add a large pinch to hot water. If it fizzes, it’s good to use. The vinegar also makes the red color pop.
- Red food coloring: This is not actually a must. You can make them without dye and they’ll taste exactly the same (possibly better). That said, I tend to use Americolor’s Super Red gel food coloring.
- Butter and Egg: Some velvet cupcake recipes call for oil, but I prefer butter. You’ll want your butter and egg to be at room temperature. A quick way to get butter to room temp is to zap it in the microwave for 5-8 seconds. For the egg, place it in a bowl of hot water for 10 minutes.
- Rouge Cocoa Powder: You can use any unsweetened cocoa powder for these, but I find this Guittard rouge cocoa powder gives them a little extra red color and the flavor a little more oomph.
- Dry ingredients: After you combine all of the dry ingredients, it’s a good idea to sift them to remove any lumps, but it’s not a must if you don’t have a sifter like this one on hand.
How Long Do They Last?
They’re best eaten fresh on the day you bake them. But, if you have leftovers or make them ahead of time, you can store them for 2-3 days in a cupcake carrier or a cake pan with a lid. Make sure to keep them in a cool, dry location (but not in the fridge as that will dry them out). Sorry, all of Florida.
How Do I Make the Cream Cheese Frosting?
The trick with cream cheese frosting is you have to start with very cold ingredients. It also helps to start with a cold bowl.
Have you ever had your cream cheese frosting refuse to stand up? Or worse, slide down the sides of your cupcake? I have. It still tastes good but it’s frustrating. I used to think I could just add more powdered sugar and that would solve the problem. In fact, adding more powdered sugar to your cream cheese mixture actually makes it worse.
To make a cream cheese frosting that works, use cold butter, cold cream cheese, cold sour cream, and place the mixing bowl in the fridge for 10 minutes before you are ready to make the icing.
Here’s what I recommend:
- Place your mixing bowl in the fridge for ten minutes.
- Place your cold butter in the cold mixing bowl. Fit your stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Mix for 30 seconds on medium high.
- Add the cold cream cheese and beat for 90 seconds on medium high.
- Add the vanilla extract and sour cream and beat for 30 seconds.
- Add the powdered sugar and beat for 10 seconds on low. Then, turn the speed to high and beat it for 80-90 seconds.
- Transfer the cream cheese frosting to a piping bag and decorate your cooled cupcakes.
Can I Use This Recipe to Make a Red Velvet Cake?
I wouldn’t recommend using this recipe to make a cake.
These Red Velvet Cupcakes are incredibly light and fluffy, but that’s also where they fall apart as a cake. Literally. In fact, they’re so light that when you remove the cupcake liner, they will start to get a bit wobbly and sink a little.
I imagine if you turned these into a cake, the problem would get exponentially worse, so I don’t recommend it. Unless you’re the kind of person who doesn’t mind sunken cakes or you’re making a trifle recipe. In which case, carry on.
Is Red Velvet Just Chocolate Cake Dyed Red?
No. When made correctly, a velvet cake is it’s own type of cake. Velvet Cakes are soft cakes with a finer texture than your standard chocolate or vanilla cake and were made with almond flour, cornstarch, or cocoa.
More Delicious Recipes To Try
- Red Velvet Donuts – keep the flavor train going with these donuts.
- Pina Colada Cupcakes – if you like the drink, you’re going to love the cupcakes.
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes – our two favorite flavors together in one recipe.
Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese FrostingPrint Recipe
Red Velvet Cupcakes
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 5 Tbsp. unsalted butter (cold)
- 8 oz. cream cheese (cold)
- 2 Tbsp. sour cream (cold)
- 1¼ cup powdered sugar
Red Velvet Cupcakes
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Line muffin tins with 15 cupcake liners.
- Combine cake flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa together in medium mixing bowl. Sift mixture. Set aside.
- Pour buttermilk into ¼ cup measuring cup. Set aside.
- Place vinegar in small bowl. Set aside.
- Cream butter and sugar in stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment at medium speed until light and fluffy. (This will take about 3 minutes.)
- Add egg to batter. Mix for 30 seconds until combined.
- Add vanilla and red food coloring. Scrape down sides of bowl if there is a lot on the sides.
- Turn mixer speed to low. Add half of flour mixture. Add buttermilk and refill measuring cup.
- Add remaining flour. Add remaining buttermilk. Let combine for 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl if needed.
- Add baking soda to vinegar. Stir. Quickly add to batter. Turn mixer speed to high for 15 seconds.
- Portion out batter into muffin tins using ¼ cup measure.
- Bake for 15 minutes or until tops bounce back slightly when touched. Remove from oven.
- Let cool on cooling rack for 10 minutes, then remove from tin to let them cool completely before frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting
- Chill mixing bowl in fridge for 10 minutes.
- Beat cold butter for 30 seconds on medium high.
- Add cold cream cheese. Beat for 90 seconds.
- Add vanilla and sour cream. Beat for 30 seconds.
- Add powdered sugar and beat on low for 10 seconds. Turn speed to high and beat for 80-90 seconds.
- Transfer cream cheese frosting to piping bag and decorate cooled cupcakes.
- If you want enough frosting to decorate the cupcakes as pictured, double the frosting recipe.
- This recipe would likely not make a good Red Velvet Cake recipe, so if you try to use it for that and it doesn't work, don't @ us.
My background is in publishing (I've worked at Parade, Men's Journal, Us Weekly, Stuff, Blender, Beachbody, and more), mostly with a focus in health, fitness, and entertainment. I've also run my own baking company and competed on Cupcake Wars, so hit me up with your baking questions!
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