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. 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

  11. I see you mentioned using Americolor food gels, do you use the amount in the recipe? I thought the gel colors are more concentrated?

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