Authentic 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 Never Miss A Cake
Total Time: 40 mins
Serves: 8 cups

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

Select an option below to calculate how much batter or frosting you need. Adjust the servings slider on the recipe card to change the amounts the recipe makes.

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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.

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

Authentic 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!
4.96 from 380 votes
Print Rate Never Miss A Cake
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 30 mins
Total Time: 40 mins
Serves: 8 cups
Calories: 446kcal


Red Velvet Cake Ingredients

  • 14 ounces (397 g) all-purpose 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

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 or vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1/4 tsp) salt
  • 26 ounces (737 g) powdered sugar sifted


  • Stand Mixer
  • Paddle Attachment
  • Whisk Attachment


Red Velvet Cake Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350ºF (177ºC) and prepare three 6″ x 2” cake pans with cake goop or your preferred pan spray. Make sure your cold ingredients are all room temperature.
  • In a separate container, whisk together your room temperature eggs, oil, room temperature buttermilk, vinegar, melted butter, vanilla, and food coloring and set aside. 
  • Add in the flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa powder, and salt into the bowl of your stand mixer. Mix it with the paddle attachment until it is combined.
  • Next, add your egg mixture into your flour mixture and mix it on medium speed for about 1 minute until it is combined.
  • Divide the batter into your cake pans and bake the cakes for about 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out cleanly. Baking times may vary depending on your oven and pan sizes.
  • Cool your cakes in the pans for 10 minutes before flipping them out onto a cooling rack. Cool them completely at room temperature or wrap them in plastic wrap and freeze them for an hour before frosting. You can freeze them for up to 1 week if needed.

Cream Cheese Frosting Instructions

  • Sift the powdered sugar to remove any lumps. This is optional, but definitely recommended.
  • Place the softened butter in the bowl of your stand mixer with the whisk attachment and cream it on low until it’s smooth and has no lumps. I like to use a hand mixer for cream cheese frosting because I find it to mix more smoothly and incorporate less air.
  • Add in the softened cream cheese in small chunks and mix it on low until it is smooth and combined.
  • Next, add in the sifted powdered sugar one cup at a time until it is combined mixing on low.
  • Then, add in your orange extract (or vanilla) 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 hours) before the cake is served. 


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.


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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318 comments on “Red Velvet Cake Recipe

  1. Hi Liz, I don’t see my question from yesterday, but the cakes turned out beautifully! If I need a recipe, I always check your site first! Merry Christmas

  2. 5 stars
    Hi Liz, Thank you so much for this recipe, best Red velvet cake I’ve ever made! so moist and flavourful!
    Only thing is I struggle to pipe cream cheese frosting as its very soft. Do you think your swiss meringue buttercream would go well with the red velvet cake?

  3. 4 stars
    I wanted to love this recipe, yet my first go at it was not successful. I’m an experienced baker, and this recipe was incredibly easy! I had very high hopes! The layers both fell at the 30 minute mark. No open doors, and my oven is the correct temp. I’m not giving up, and am going to try this again.

  4. 5 stars
    I’ve tried many RV recipes and this is the best!! 😍

  5. Hi , the recipe looks s0 interesting. I have 2 questions
    1. I do not have buttermilk what is the alternative
    2. Can I half this recipe? use 2 6″ pans

  6. 5 stars
    My cake came out delicious but the color was not on the bright red side can you tell me what I did wrong?

    I used a cheap brand of red food color

    1. The cheap brand is most likely the issue, I use Americolor gel colors in my cakes for the best color.

  7. 5 stars
    Made this for Valentine’s Day. It was my first time making a Red Velvet Cake. It was easy to follow and I love that you have the amounts in grams as I only try to bake now using a scale. The cake was delicious and the cream cheese frosting was so good. I had Orange Oil, not extract so used half the amount. What a amazing flavor it gave not only to the frosting but to the overall cake eating experience. This will definitely be made again. I did have on hand the deep red no taste food coloring your suggested and it worked well.

  8. 5 stars
    Hi, I love cake and this is the best tasting red velvet ever!! I made this for Valentine’s Day and used red. My daughters 3rd birthday is coming up and she wanted a mermaid cake. I wanted to use electric purple and turquoise from americolor. If I switched out the colors would it be bright, should I use less coloring to have it kind of like your rainbow cake or would it be really dull and off putting? I don’t want it to be too deep of a color. I made your rainbow cake for my sons birthday and it came out soo beautiful!! Thank you for sharing your recipes with us!! I also use your fondant recipe and the kids thinks it’s delicious marshmallow candy, I have to wait for them to sleep otherwise they keep asking for one “last piece” and I won’t have enough to finish covering the cake. Thank you, Angela.

    1. It will not be bright with this recipe because of the cocoa powder. For bright colors check out my rainbow cake and I would use that recipe

  9. 5 stars
    You are such a blessing! I’m a proud chef and I know I can always count on your recipes. Full proof every time! Love the conversion table for different cake sizes!
    So thankful for you!

  10. 5 stars
    Just made this recipe now. It came out great. Easy to follow. Thanx a lot. Now I have a red velvet recipe I can trust

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