Red Velvet Cake Recipe

One bowl, one spatula, one amazing cake! The cake is soft and tangy and has a personality of its own, which is why it’s so popular! It pairs perfectly with cream cheese frosting, ermine frosting, or my personal favorite, white chocolate ganache.
↓ Recipe ↓ Video Never Miss A Cake
Total Time: 1 hr 40 mins
Serves: 8 cups

This Red Velvet Cake recipe is far more complex than a chocolate cake with red food coloring. The tenderizing buttermilk and vinegar create a texture that’s soft, velvety, and full of tangy-rich flavor. Plus this recipe only needs one bowl, so it’s an easy delicious recipe with very little cleanup required. Pair it with cream cheese frosting or Ermine buttercream for a new favorite cake recipe!

Red food color can have a bitter flavor, so you don’t need to over-color this cake, the cocoa powder and food coloring work together to deepen the color. (You don’t even have to use red if you don’t want to!)

Red Velvet Cake Ingredients

ingredients for red velvet cake and cream cheese frostingThere are so many versions of red velvet cake, but to get to make the best version I referred back to these authentic ingredients that always make this classic cake a success.

Buttermilk: This is a key ingredient to achieving the tender “velvety” texture of this cake. The lactic acid (which is milder than lemon juice or vinegar) breaks down the long strands of gluten, and it thickens the buttermilk, giving it a creamy quality. I recommend using real cultured buttermilk for this cake to give it that distinct “velvet” flavor. If you don’t have any buttermilk on hand, learn how to make it with my buttermilk substitute recipe.

White Vinegar: It sounds like a strange ingredient in a cake, but it is essential for helping the baking soda leaven the cake. Originally red velvet cake was colored with beet juice, however, when it is baked it can turn blue, so the acid from the vinegar would keep the beet juice a vibrant red color. You can use a different vinegar or acid, like lemon juice and it will achieve the same chemical reaction.

Cocoa Powder: The purpose of cocoa powder in this recipe might not be what you think it is! The natural cocoa powder works alongside the buttermilk and vinegar to tenderize the flour and create a softer, finer, velvety crumb.

Making The Red Velvet Cake

  1. Preheat your oven to 335°F and prepare three 6” x 2” pans or two 8″ x 2” cake pans with cake goop or your preferred pan release. It also works well in all pans from a bundt pan to a cupcake.
  2. Combine the eggs, vegetable oil, buttermilk, vinegar, butter, vanilla, and red food coloring in a medium bowl and set it aside. I like using food coloring gel instead of liquid food coloring for a more vibrant color. My favorite brands are ChefMaster and Americolor super red. hand adding red food coloring to buttermilk mixture in a measuring cup.
  3. Combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda in the bowl of your stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Mix this on low speed for a few seconds to combine.hand adding cocoa powder to mixing bowl with dry ingredients.
  4. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry and mix on medium speed until the batter is fully incorporated and smooth (about 1 minute). Don’t forget to scrape the bowl to ensure all the ingredients are evenly mixed.hand pouring liquid ingredients into the mixer.
  5. Divide the cake batter evenly between the prepared cake pans (I like to use my scale for accuracy). Pouring finished red velvet cake batter into a cake pan.
  6. Bake the cakes for 35-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the tops bounce back when lightly touched.two cake pans with red velvet cake.
  7. Cool the cakes in the pans for about 10 minutes, then flip them out onto a cooling rack to finish cooling.hands flipping slightly cooled cake out from cake pan onto a cooling rack.
  8. If you are going to layer and frost the same day, pop the cake layers into the freezer for about an hour, no need to wrap them. Otherwise, wrap the layers in plastic wrap and freeze them for up to a week. Pro-Tip: Wrapping the cakes while they’re still warm seals in all of the moisture, making them safe to freeze.

Making The Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. Place the softened butter in the bowl of your stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Mix on low until it is smooth and lump-free.hands putting butter into stand mixer bowl.
  2. Add in the softened cream cheese and combine on low until smooth and completely homogeneous. Scrape the bowl to make sure it is all incorporated.spatula showing the combined butter and cream cheese mixture.
  3. Add in the powdered sugar one cup at a time, mixing on low to avoid throwing powdered sugar out of the bowl.hand adding a measuring cup of powdered sugar to the mixing bowl.
  4. Add the vanilla extract and salt. A traditional vanilla flavor from vanilla extract goes well with cream cheese, but I love using orange extract or lemon extract for a unique taste.hand adding vanilla extract to the cream cheese mixture.
  5. If you are not going to use the frosting immediately, cover it and place it in the refrigerator. bowl of finished cream cheese frosting.

Assembling the Red Velvet Cake

  1. Trim the tops of the cake layers off and save them in a bowl. You will use these to make crumbs to decorate the cake.hands trimming domed top off of a layer of cake with a serrated knife.
  2. Place the first chilled cake layer on a cake board, add a large scoop of cream cheese frosting, and spread evenly across the cake layer. A chilled cake will be easier to frost with the cream cheese frosting.hands spreading cream cheese frosting on top of a layer of cake with a spatula.
  3. Place the second layer of cake on top and repeat the filling and layering process.hands spreading cream cheese frosting on second layer of cake with a spatula.
  4. Frost the exterior of the cake with a crumb coat to lock in those red crumbs. Chill the cake for a few minutes before applying the final coat.hands spreading a crumb coat of cream cheese frosting on the stacked cake.
  5. Apply enough cream cheese frosting to cover the outside of the cake evenly. Cream cheese frosting can make really pretty spatula patterns, but I choose to do a simple smooth finish using a bench scraper.Hand putting final layer of cream cheese frosting on the cake.
  6. Crumble the extra cake trimmings into crumbs and gently press them into the sides of the cake, and then sprinkle on top as well.hand pressing red velvet crumbs to the side of the frosted cake.
  7. Using your piping tip of choice, pipe dollops of cream cheese frosting on top of the cake.Top of a cake with cream cheese dollops and red velvet crumbles in the middle.
  8. This cake will last for about 4 days in the refrigerator, I recommend covering the cake in plastic wrap after cutting so that it doesn’t dry out.Cake slice being lifted from whole cake. piping cream cheese frosting on a red velvet cupcake.

Tips For Success

Is this your first time decorating a cake? Watch my free video tutorial on how to decorate a cake for the first time.

  • Use a kitchen scale to weigh your ingredients for the best results. Baking is a science!
  • I used a stand mixer to make my cakes but you can also use a hand-held electric mixer. If you use a hand-mixer then you may need to mix for longer to achieve the same batter consistency.

Room temperature ingredients are important. Make sure your buttermilk and eggs are slightly warm and your butter is soft but not melted so that your ingredients mix together properly.

FAQ

Can this recipe be made into cupcakes?

Yes, you can definitely use this recipe for cupcakes. Do not fill cupcake liners more than 2/3 of the way full or they will overflow and collapse. Then bake at 335°F for 15 to 20 minutes until the tops bounce back when you touch them.

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.

Is red velvet cake just a chocolate cake?

Classic Red Velvet Cake is far more complex than a chocolate cake with red food coloring. Buttermilk and vinegar naturally bring out the red undertones in the cocoa powder, giving the cake a red tint. They also break down the gluten in flour resulting in a more tender cake. The small amount of cocoa allows the other flavors to come through and not be masked with the deep richness that is in a traditional chocolate cake.

Why doesn’t my red velvet cake look red?

You most likely didn’t use enough food coloring. Gel food coloring works best to get that true shade of red after baking.

What flavor is red velvet?

Red velvet cake flavor is very tangy and slightly acidic with a hint of chocolate. That’s a pretty unique flavor combination but when you add in some cream cheese frosting or ermine frosting, then it adds even more tangy flavor.

Can I leave out the red food coloring?

Yes, you can. But the cake will not be very red on the inside. 

More Cake Recipes You’ll Love

Doctored Red Velvet Box Mix Cake

White Velvet Buttermilk Cake Recipe

Pink Velvet Cake Recipe

Lemon Velvet Cake

Did You Make This Recipe?Leave a rating and tell me how it went!

Red Velvet Cake Recipe

One bowl, one spatula, one amazing cake! The cake is soft and tangy and has a personality of its own, which is why it’s so popular! It pairs perfectly with cream cheese frosting, ermine frosting, or my personal favorite, white chocolate ganache.
4.92 from 474 votes
Print Rate Never Miss A Cake
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 30 mins
Chilling time: 1 hr
Total Time: 1 hr 40 mins
Serves: 8 cups
Calories: 446kcal

Ingredients

Red Velvet Cake Ingredients

  • 14 ounces (397 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 14 ounces (397 grams) granulated Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 large eggs room temperature
  • 4 ounces (114 grams) vegetable oil
  • 8 ounces (227 grams) buttermilk room temperature
  • 1 Tablespoons white vinegar
  • 6 ounces (170 grams) unsalted butter melted but not hot
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 Tablespoon red food coloring gel food coloring

Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients

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

Equipment

  • Stand Mixer
  • Paddle Attachment
  • Whisk Attachment

Instructions

Red Velvet Cake

  • Preheat your oven to 335°F and prepare three 6” x 2” pans or two 8" x 2” cake pans with cake goop or your preferred pan release. It also works well in all pans from a bundt pan to a cupcake.
  • Combine the eggs, vegetable oil, buttermilk, vinegar, butter, vanilla, and red food coloring in a medium bowl and set it aside. I recommend using food coloring gel instead of liquid food coloring. My favorite brands are ChefMaster, and Americolor super red.
  • Combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda in the bowl of your stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Mix this on low speed for a few seconds to combine.
  • Add the liquid ingredients to the dry and mix on medium speed until the batter is fully incorporated and smooth (about 1 minute). Don't forget to scrape the bowl to ensure all the ingredients are evenly mixed.
  • Divide the cake batter evenly between the prepared cake pans (I like to use my scale for accuracy).
  • Bake the cakes for 35-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the tops bounce back when lightly touched.
  • Cool the cakes in the pans for about 10 minutes, then flip them out onto a cooling rack to finish cooling.
  • If you are going to layer and frost the same day, pop the cake layers into the freezer for about an hour, no need to wrap them. Otherwise, wrap the layers in plastic wrap and freeze them for up to a week. Pro-Tip: Wrapping the cakes while they’re still warm seals in all of the moisture, making them safe to freeze.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Place the softened butter in the bowl of your stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Mix on low until it is smooth and lump-free.
  • Add in the softened cream cheese and combine on low until smooth and completely homogeneous. Scrape the bowl to make sure it is all incorporated.
  • Add in the powdered sugar one cup at a time, mixing on low to avoid throwing powdered sugar out of the bowl.
  • Add the vanilla extract and salt. A traditional vanilla flavor from vanilla extract goes well with cream cheese, but I love using orange extract or lemon extract for a unique taste.
  • If you are not going to use the frosting immediately, cover it and place it in the refrigerator.

Red Velvet Cake

  • Trim the tops of the cake layers off and save them in a bowl. You will use these to make crumbs to decorate the cake.
  • Place the first chilled cake layer on a cake board, add a large scoop of cream cheese frosting, and spread evenly across the cake layer. A chilled cake will be easier to frost with the cream cheese frosting.
  • Place the second layer of cake on top and repeat the filling and layering process.
  • Frost the exterior of the cake with a crumb coat to lock in those red crumbs. Chill the cake for a few minutes before applying the final coat.
  • Apply enough cream cheese frosting to cover the outside of the cake evenly. Cream cheese frosting can make really pretty spatula patterns, but I choose to do a simple smooth finish using a bench scraper.
  • Crumble the extra cake trimmings into crumbs and gently press them into the sides of the cake, and then sprinkle on top as well.
  • Using your piping tip of choice, pipe dollops of cream cheese frosting on top of the cake.
  • This cake will last for about 4 days in the refrigerator, I recommend covering the cake in plastic wrap after cutting so that it doesn’t dry out.

Notes

If you do not 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.
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. 
5. If you do not have buttermilk, you can create your own with one of my buttermilk substitutes
6. For red food coloring, I prefer to use Chefmaster. Use code “SUGARGEEKTEN” to get 10% off your Chefmaster purchase.

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%)
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319 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

  16. Hi what’s the red powder used for decoration?

    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 🙂

  17. 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.

  18. 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!

  19. 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!

  20. 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!

  21. 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?

  22. 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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