Red Velvet Cake Recipe

Amazing real red velvet cake recipe. One bowl, one spatula, one amazing cake! The cake is very light and delicate and very moist. Goes great with cream cheese frosting or ermine buttercream!
↓ Recipe ↓ Video Print Recipe
Total Time: 40 mins
Serves: 8 cups
best red velvet cake recipe

A classic red velvet cake recipe made with buttermilk and vinegar for that true red velvet cake flavor

This red velvet cake recipe is what a REAL red velvet cake should taste like! Topped with cream cheese frosting, I finally figured out why people LOVE a real red velvet cake. This cake is buttery, soft and truly lives up to it’s velvet description. This cake also pairs really well with Ermine frosting or my easy buttercream frosting

classic red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting on white plate

This recipe is updated from a previous recipe that I used and is a million times better! That’s the thing with baking, you are always learning and improving. I wanted a red velvet cake recipe that was super classic and wasn’t just vanilla cake with food color added (yuck). I tested this recipe out on a client who’s favorite cake flavor was red velvet and she said it was the best she’s ever had so I think that is a win.

Is red velvet cake just a chocolate cake recipe with red food coloring added?

Red velvet cake isn’t just a chocolate cake with red food coloring added. In fact, the original red velvet cake got its name because the buttermilk and the vinegar naturally bring out the red undertones in the cocoa powder, giving the cake a red tint. Buttermilk and vinegar also break down the gluten in flour resulting in a more tender cake which is probably why it got the nickname red velvet. 

Of course over the years a little red food coloring was added to intensify the color to what we see today, which is why people can get confused about what the flavor of a true red velvet cake recipe is supposed to be. Some inexperienced bakers may even just add red food coloring to a vanilla cake. Red food coloring actually tastes really bitter so if you’ve ever had an overly colored red velvet cake recipe, it probably tasted really bad. 

real red velvet cake recipe with buttermilk and vinegar

What does a real red velvet cake recipe taste like?

A real red velvet cake recipe is made with buttermilk, vinegar and a tiny bit of cocoa powder. These ingredients result in a very tangy cake with a hint of chocolate. This is a pretty unique flavor combination but when you add in some cream cheese frosting or ermine frosting (the classic frosting for red velvet cake), then it adds even more tangy flavor. That tangy flavor is the sign of a true red velvet cake recipe. 

Why is red velvet cake such a popular flavor?

I personally think that red velvet cake is popular due to two factors. Some people have had a TRUE red velvet cake recipe and love it! I don’t blame them, it really is delicious. The other factor is that it’s a very controversial cake flavor. If you haven’t had a really good red velvet cake and you associate the cake with just a bland red cake then you won’t see what the big deal is.

Whenever there is a controversy between is something good or not, it always becomes more popular. There is a saying in art, if it’s good then people will either love it or hate it. If everyone just feels “ok” about it, then it’s just meh. Same with cake, people seem to either love or hate red velvet cake. 

classic red velvet cake recipe

Easy red velvet cake recipe

Ok this is the really the only cake recipe I make that’s a one bowl method. Typically I prefer a more precise mixing method like the reverse creaming method. This red velvet cake recipe is soooo super easy!

  • Just combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda in a bowl. 
  • Whisk together the eggs, vegetable oil, buttermilk, melted butter, vinegar, vanilla and coloring in a separate bowl. 
  • Slowly add in the wet ingredients to the dry and mix for one minute. You can do this by hand or in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. 
  • Pour batter into two 8″ round cake pans and bake!


 

I like to frost and fill my cake with cream cheese frosting and then use some of the cake trimmings (from removing the dome) to make a pretty cake crumb coating on the outside. Garnish with a little white chocolate and boom! That’s one pretty red velvet cake. 

red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

How to make a red velvet layer cake with cream cheese frosting

  1. After my cakes baked and I let them cool, trim off the domes of your cakes to make them flat. Place your first layer on a cake board or large flat plate. 
  2. Add a big scoop of your cream cheese frosting and spread it onto your cake layer using an offset spatula. I make my frosting about 1/4″ thick. Then place another layer of cake on top. Repeat with the final layer. 
  3. Spread more of your frosting in a thin layer all over the cake. This is called the crumb coat and literally seals in all the crumbs so they don’t get into your final coat of frosting. Freeze cake for 20 minutes to harden the crumb coat. 
  4. Add another layer of buttercream to your chilled cake and smooth with a bench scraper or off-set spatula. A turntable helps a lot with this process. 
  5. Next, crumble up your cake domes and add them to the top of your cake and sides as decoration. 
  6. Finish your cake with some small dollops of buttercream around the outside edge! All done!

red velvet cake with crumbs and buttercream dollops

Frequently asked questions about this red velvet cake recipe

Can this recipe be made into cupcakes? – Yes you can definitely use this recipe for cupcakes. I have made them many times and they turn out really well. Bake for 5 minutes on 400ºF then reduce to 350ºF for 10-15 minutes or until the cupcakes are set in the center. Do not fill cupcake liners more than 2/3 of the way full or they will overflow and collapse. 

What can I use if I don’t have buttermilk? – You can use an equal amount (by weight) of sour cream or you can add 1 Tbsp of vinegar into regular milk and let it sit a few minutes until it starts to curdle to make homemade buttermilk. 

Can I leave out the red food coloring? Yes you can but the cake will not be very red on the inside. 


Cake Batter and Frosting Calculator

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Cups of Batter Needed

8 cups

Cups of Frosting Needed

5 cups

Note: measurements are estimated based off the vanilla cake recipe using standard US cake pans and sizes. Measurements used are for 2" tall cake pans only. Your results may vary. Do not overfill cake pans above manufacturer's recommended guidelines.

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best red velvet cake recipe

Red Velvet Cake Recipe

Amazing real red velvet cake recipe. One bowl, one spatula, one amazing cake! The cake is very light and delicate and very moist. Goes great with cream cheese frosting or ermine buttercream!
4.95 from 246 votes
Print Rate
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 30 mins
Total Time: 40 mins
Serves: 8 cups
Calories: 446kcal

Ingredients

Red Velvet Cake Ingredients

  • 14 ounces (397 g) AP flour
  • 14 ounces (397 g) Granulated Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons (2 Tbsp) cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon (1 tsp) salt
  • 1 teaspoon (1 tsp) baking soda
  • 2 large (2 ) eggs room temp
  • 4 ounces (114 g) vegetable oil
  • 8 ounces (227 g) buttermilk room temp
  • 1 Tablespoons (1 Tbsp) white vinegar
  • 6 ounces (170 g) unsalted butter melted but not hot
  • 1 teaspoons (1 tsp) vanilla
  • 1 Tablespoon (1 Tbsp) super red food coloring I prefer americolor super red because it doesn't have a taste

Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients

  • 12 ounces (340 g) cream cheese softened
  • 8 ounces (227 g) unsalted butter softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon (1/2 tsp) orange extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1/4 tsp) salt
  • 26 ounces (737 g) powdered sugar sifted

Equipment

  • Stand Mixer
  • Paddle Attachment
  • Whisk Attachment

Instructions

Red Velvet Cake Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350F and prepare two 8" cake pans or three 6" cake pans with cake goop or preferred pan spray.
    Make sure your cold ingredients are all room temperature. See notes at the bottom of the recipe for details.
  • Lightly whisk together your room temperature eggs, oil, buttermilk, vinegar, melted butter, vanilla and food coloring and set aside. 
  • Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa powder and salt into the bowl of your stand mixer
  • Add your egg mixture into your flour mixture and mix on medium speed for about a minute until combined
  • Divide batter into cake pans and bake for about 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out cleanly. Pairs perfectly with our cream cheese buttercream. 

Cream Cheese Frosting Instructions

  • Place softened butter in the bowl of your stand mixer with the whisk attachment and cream on low until smooth and has no lumps. 
  • Place softened cream cheese in the bowl with butter in small chunks and cream on low until smooth and combined
  • Add in sifted powdered sugar one cup at a time until combined, mixing on low
  • Add your orange extract and salt
  • Frost your cooled cake as desired and serve at room temperature. Cream cheese frosting should be refrigerated until a few hours (2-3) before the cake is served. 

Notes

Important Things To Note Before You Start
1. Bring all your ingredients to room temperature or even a little warm (eggs, buttermilk, butter, etc) to ensure your batter does not break or curdle. 
2. Use a scale to weigh your ingredients (including liquids) unless otherwise instructed (Tablespoons, teaspoons, pinch etc). Metric measurements are available in the recipe card. Scaled ingredients are much more accurate than using cups and help ensure the success of your recipe. 
3. Practice Mise en Place (everything in it's place). Measure out your ingredients ahead of time and have them ready before you start mixing to reduce the chances of accidentally leaving something out.
4. Chill your cakes before frosting and filling. You can cover a frosted and chilled cake in fondant if you wish. This cake is also great for stacking. I always keep my cakes chilled in the refrigerator before delivery for easy transporting. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 446kcal (22%) | Carbohydrates: 59g (20%) | Protein: 3g (6%) | Fat: 22g (34%) | Saturated Fat: 15g (75%) | Cholesterol: 54mg (18%) | Sodium: 305mg (13%) | Potassium: 59mg (2%) | Sugar: 45g (50%) | Vitamin A: 480IU (10%) | Calcium: 32mg (3%) | Iron: 1mg (6%)

 

316 comments on “Red Velvet Cake Recipe

  1. 5 stars
    Hi Liz,

    Thank you so much for your awesome recipes, I have made so many of your recipes and have always followed them to a T, always use oven thermometer, use 8×2″ Fat Daddio’s pans and all my ingredients are room temp/ a bit warm.

    I baked this red velvet recipe, skipped the red coloring as I did not have any, used real 1% buttermilk, everything at room temp and a correct 350F oven temp, poured batter in two 8×2″ pans and they took exactly 38min to fully bake…so far everything looked great, but as I went to cut the domes off of the cooled cakes, I noticed the sides are super crunchy but the rest of the texture was fine. I had to cut 1/4inch off from all around the layers.

    How can I fix this? Should I use cake nails next time so the middle cooks faster and thus the sides wont harden up?

    1. I’m not for sure why the sides would be so crunchy, some browning is normal of course but 1/4 seems like a lot. I would try using the baking nail or baking strips.

  2. 5 stars
    Hi Liz, thanks for sharing your recipes and knowledge. My ñame la Adriana and I’m from México and I just made your red velvet recipe and its delicious but I do not perceive the chocolate flavor is it possible that I can use more cocoa poder. And I also want to know if I can double the recipe

    1. Red velvet is not a chocolate flavor, the chocolate is only there for an accent in red velvet cake 🙂 Yes you can double this recipe.

  3. Hi Liz, I’m really glad to come across your website, you have so much details in your recipes, I just have one query though, when we have an option to change the servings, if for e.g, if we change from 8 to 4 servings, what would be the weight of the final cake stacked with frosting?

  4. Hey liz, can i make this cake in reverse creaming method like yor pink velvet cake recipe ?

  5. Hi! I’ve used this recipe before and found an older screenshot I saved that had 12oz flour and 14oz sugar. This now has changed to both being 14oz. Has it changed or is it a typo?

  6. Can I use red wine vinegar instead of white?

  7. I increased the amounts to make a 3-layer 9-inch round cake. It looks great, but I have a question. The layers are pretty thick, almost 2-inches. Is that the depth of your layers? Do I need to torte them, or are they fine as is?

  8. Is this frosting pipable? I want to do some decorating on the top of the cake.

  9. I’ve got maybe a strange question. I love ermine, and I know you’re a fan of it, too. Do you think it would be possible to make a cream cheese style ermine frosting? I’m not a fan of powdered sugar and that’s why I’ll typically make Ermine. If so, how much of the butter would you replace for cream cheese? Thanks Liz 🙂

  10. 5 stars
    Wow! I cannot wait to try this 🤤. I’m making it for my friends this weekend *fingers crossed*
    Just one question: I have only one 8 inch cake pan. Will half the batter be fine sitting in my mixing bowl while the first layer bakes ?

  11. Hii Liz, I have a doubt. Buttermilk already has the acidity then why would we add additional vinegar to the cake batter? I havent learned professional baking courses. I am a home baker so I would live to learn from you. Because you are doing a very great job here

  12. Can you make this without the extra red food coloring in it or will it throw off the recipe and baking times? Thanks!

  13. Hi Liz
    Thank you very much for this recipe and the technique. I made a red velvet cake and some cup cakes from the same cake batter and they all turned out delicious. I received many exceptional comments from friends and family who got to try them, including from people who never liked red velvet cakes before. I am a total beginner to baking so it really motivated me. Thank you

  14. 5 stars
    For my step daughter’s wedding last year I made the sugar geek red velvet cake and cream cheese frosting. We finally took the leftover slab out of the freezer after 13 months. Still moist and the frosting hadn’t gone grainy. (Boxed and wrapped in four layers of plastic wrap)

  15. 5 stars
    This was the best red velvet cake recipe. I get so many compliments for this cake . Thank you Liz

    1. It’s red velvet cake, I just trimmed off the tops of the cakes to level them and crumbled it up to use as decoration 🙂

  16. 5 stars
    I made this red velvet cake recipe and it has such an amazing taste, moisture and texture. My first time making a cake recipe by weighing the ingredients, so I was a little nervous. But loved the end result. The only problem I have is with the Cream cheese frosting. I feel like I can never get that one right it’s too soft or soupy. Liz, Thank you so much for your recipe.

  17. Dear Liz

    Why does this velvet cake not require 2 minutes of mixing on medium like your other cakes?
    My cake was slightly flatter.
    Any help?

    1. This cake recipe is just a regular, easier creaming method. My white velvet cake uses the reverse creaming method, so the 2 minutes of mixing isn’t required for this regular creaming method. And it’s formulated to bake up flat, so that’s good!

  18. 5 stars
    Just tried making this cake for a birthday celebration and it came out exactly like your picture (minus my sloppy piping of top edges). The cake was dense but moist and not too sweet and pairs so well with the cream cheese frosting. Only thing is that there was a weird after taste from the red food coloring (americolor gel) so i think I’ll 1/2 the coloring next time I try it. Thanks for sharing!

  19. 5 stars
    Quick question…can I use a cup for cup gf flour blend in place of ap flour for this recipe? I’m making my mom’s wedding cake with the original recipe, but her new mil can’t have gluten so I was going to make some cupcakes on the side for her. Thanks!

  20. 5 stars
    Hey Liz! Great recipe. Urgent Question:
    I overbooked myself on orders and wondering if I can make this about 2 weeks ahead of time and freeze it, will it be ok?

  21. 5 stars
    Hello Liz, made this cake yesterday for the in-laws and it was outstanding ! Had to come back and say Thank You and God bless xx

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