Red Velvet Cupcakes

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 16 minutes
Additional Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 6 minutes
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These moist and fluffy Red Velvet Cupcakes are everything you are looking for with a perfectly sweet cocoa flavor and tangy cream cheese frosting on top!

Why You’ll Love This Classic Red Velvet Cupcakes Recipe

These moist and buttery red velvet cupcakes really check all the boxes. Big cocoa flavor? Check. Tangy cream cheese frosting? Check. Pretty cupcake decorations? Check! If you’re wondering how to make red velvet cupcakes, this easy recipe is the place to start. Here are a few more reasons to give them a try:

  • Soft and moist. These cupcakes are perfectly tender due to the buttermilk, eggs, and vegetable oil!
  • Easy to make. Red velvet cupcakes come together in a few simple steps! Just mix the ingredients together, pop the cupcakes in the oven, and wait for them to bake.
  • Perfect for any occasion. You can make these red velvet cupcakes for Valentine’s Day, a 4th of July celebration, a bake sale, or just to satisfy a sugar craving!

Looking for more red velvet recipes? Try my Red Velvet Dream Cake or this Red Velvet Mug Cake!

Red velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting with a bite taken out of it.

What Is Red Velvet?

Red Velvet is a dessert from the Victorian era. The term “velvet” meant that the cake was soft with a smooth crumb. The difference between red velvet and chocolate cake is that regular chocolate cake uses a lot of chocolate, while red velvet cake uses a smaller amount of cocoa powder with a tangy acid, like buttermilk. 

A mild red color in the cake comes from a chemical reaction between acidic vinegar and buttermilk, which brings out the anthocyanin in cocoa. That natural coloring is then intensified with red food coloring. Back in the day, before food coloring was available, bakers used boiled beetroot juices to add extra oomph to the crimson hue that’s a hallmark of red velvet.

Traditionally red velvet is served as a cake, but of course you can also make red velvet cupcakes like we’re doing here. What is a cupcake if not a mini cake?

I also have a recipe for red velvet cookies and a red velvet hot chocolate recipe you might want to check out!

Ingredients for red velvet cupcakes.

Recipe Ingredients

So, what are red velvet cupcakes made of? To make this classic dessert, round up the following (for the exact amounts and the full set of directions, check out the recipe card below):

For the Cupcakes

  • Cake Flour – Cake flour contains less protein than all-purpose flour, which leads to a softer texture in the cupcakes.
  • Sugar – Regular granulated sugar is my go-to for this recipe.
  • Baking Soda – This will give your cupcakes a little bit of lift.
  • Cocoa Powder – Unsweetened cocoa powder adds a touch of chocolate flavor without being an overwhelming presence.
  • Salt – Kosher salt, table salt, and sea salt are all good options.
  • Eggs – Make sure your eggs are at room temperature so that the batter incorporates smoothly.
  • Vegetable Oil – Ensures that the cupcakes turn out extra moist.
  • Buttermilk – Full-fat buttermilk will yield the best-tasting red velvet cupcakes.
  • Red Food Coloring – To enhance the gorgeous red color!
  • Vanilla Extract – Pure vanilla extract provides the best, strongest flavor.
  • White Distilled Vinegar – Helps achieve that natural red hue in the cupcakes.

For the Frosting

  • Cream Cheese – Let the cream cheese soften and come to room temperature.
  • Butter – Also let this soften. (You can use salted or unsalted butter.)
  • Vanilla Extract – Again, pure vanilla extract is the way to go.
  • Powdered Sugar – Sift out any clumps ahead of time so that the frosting is as smooth as possible.

How to Make Your Own Cake Flour

Cake flour is very important for this recipe. If you don’t have cake flour on hand, you can make your own. You’ll need:

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch

Sift together both ingredients. This makes 2 1/2 cups cake flour, the amount needed for this recipe!

Unwrapped cupcake with cream cheese frosting.

How to Make Red Velvet Cupcakes

This red velvet cupcakes recipe is so easy to whip together! You can basically do it in 5 simple steps:

For the Cupcakes

  • Mix the batter. Sift together your dry ingredients into one bowl, then whisk together the wet ingredients in another. Next, combine the dry and wet ingredients until the mixture is smooth.
  • Bake the cupcakes. Divide the batter into cupcake liners and bake the cupcakes for about 16 minutes.
  • Let the cupcakes cool. Let the cupcakes cool until they reach room temperature and then generously frost them with cream cheese frosting.

For the Frosting

  • Make the cream cheese frosting. In a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla together until combined. Add the powdered sugar and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy (about 5-7 minutes).
  • Frost the cupcakes. Frost the cupcakes using your favorite tip and let them chill for 2 hours to allow the frosting to set.
Red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting on top.

Tips for Success

There are a few tricks to making the best red velvet cupcakes. They’re all super simple, but they make a world of difference:

  • Use cake flour. Cake flour is the key to making these cupcakes so light and fluffy. If you use all-purpose flour, you won’t get the cloud-like, soft cupcakes.
  • Don’t substitute the buttermilk. Buttermilk not only enhances the flavor of these cupcakes, but also is a big reason for why the cupcakes have an extra moist crumb. 
  • Don’t over-mix the batter. This will make the cupcakes turn out dense and tough, so make sure you only mix the batter until it is just combined.
  • Chill the cupcakes before you frost them. Make sure your cupcakes are at room temperature before adding the frosting. This way your frosting won’t melt!

Topping Ideas

There are so many ways to decorate your red velvet cupcakes! Here are a few ideas to get the ball rolling:

  • Frosting. I used a large closed star tip for frosting the cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. You could also try vanilla buttercream frosting, or even chocolate buttercream!
  • Sprinkles and add-ons. I like to crumble up one unfrosted cupcake into crumbs and sprinkle them on top of the other cupcakes. I also add a few heart sprinkles, but feel free to use your favorite kind!
  • Nuts. You could also try topping your cupcakes with crushed pecans (or your favorite nut).
Frosted cupcakes with red velvet crumbs on top.

How to Store Red Velvet Cupcakes

You can store these red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. If they’re unfrosted, you could try leaving them in an airtight container at room temperature for 1-2 days, but with the cream cheese frosting, you’ll want to make sure they’re refrigerated.

Can I Freeze This Red Velvet Cupcake Recipe?

Sure! You can freeze red velvet cupcakes without frosting for 2-3 months in an airtight container. Let them thaw overnight in the fridge before you frost them!

Red velvet cupcake with a bite taken out of it.

More Cupcake Recipes

Want to try out some more easy cupcake recipes? These are some of my favorites!

Red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese.
4.5 from 113 votes
Print Pin Recipe
Yield: 24 cupcakes

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Moist Red Velvet Cupcakes feature a hint of sweet cocoa flavor, and are topped with tangy cream cheese frosting! They're perfect for any occasion.
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time16 minutes
Additional Time30 minutes
Total Time1 hour 6 minutes

Ingredients

For the Cupcakes:

  • cups cake flour
  • cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cups vegetable oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons red food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 8 ounces butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups powdered sugar

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Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line muffin tins with cupcake liners, set aside.
  • Sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa powder, and salt into a medium bowl, set aside.
  • Beat eggs, oil, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla, and vinegar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until well combined.
  • Add dry ingredients and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each cup three-quarters full.
  • Bake until a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean, about 16 to 18 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool 10 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely.
  • For the Cream Cheese Frosting: In a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla together until combined. Add powdered sugar and beat until frosting is light and fluffy, about 5 to 7 minutes. Frost cupcakes using your favorite tip and chill for 2 hours to set frosting.

Notes

  • Yield. Makes 24 cupcakes.
  • To store. You can store these red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. If they’re unfrosted, you could try leaving them in an airtight container at room temperature for 1-2 days, but with the cream cheese frosting, you’ll want to make sure they’re refrigerated.
  • To freeze. You can freeze red velvet cupcakes without frosting for 2-3 months in an airtight container. Let them thaw overnight in the fridge before you frost them!

Nutrition

Serving: 1cupcake, Calories: 369kcal, Carbohydrates: 34g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 25g, Saturated Fat: 8g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 16g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 46mg, Sodium: 257mg, Sugar: 22g

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5 stars
First time making this recipe and it was a success! The cake is moist and flavorful.

5 stars
Love these! So delicious!

The best Recipe

I just tried the recipe, and I loved it, thank you so much! now my go-to recipe!

Hello can I double this recipe?

5 stars
Good

Sorry but this was my worst cupcake recipe☹️Too much oil!

For the icing did you mean 8 ounces? That’s 2 sticks of butter isn’t it?

I just made this recipe (halved it) and the cupcakes came out great. I was worried about oil and not butter but it worked out great! Thanks.

I baked a double batch of these for my granddaughter’s bake sale at school. The cupcakes are delicious!
Thank you for sharing your recipe

Hi,
I am thinking of trying this recipe.
What number is the tip you used on the cupcakes?

hello miss Jessica! by the way I’m Rochelle from Philippines. when you say that don’t substitute the buttermilk you suggest that we have to buy buttermilk? but here in our country we don’t have liquid buttermilk I always saw powdered buttermilk. can you help me with this? thank you so much.

So excited to make these! Can you clarify how much red food coloring, please?

I just made your Red velvet Cupcakes last night for Valentines Day…so moist and yummy! So I decorated it with Red little hearts, We LOVE …LOVE them!! Thanks Jessica!!

Hi Jessica, I love your blog. Your recipes are delicious and I’m a huge fan of yours! I’ve tried these cupcakes yesterday for a girls’ night. My friends love them! Thanks 🙂

Hi Jessica, can I use this recipe as is and make a cake? What adjustments should I make to cooking time?

Fun! Love these 🙂

Yum! I wish my baking creations looked that pretty! You should try these banana chocolate chunk cupcakes. They are incredible!

Seriously…so so so cute! Wish I was at the party…

Ahh, these are hilarious! My sister in law is nuts for the show, and I think she’d love these. I can’t possibly think of any way to mail them across the country to her, though! Thanks for sharing these, Jessica. You have some lucky friends!

*gasp* I LOVE these cupcakes! I need to find that mold and make the lips & fangs candy. They are so super cute!

Love these! What a great idea, they’re so perfect for Halloween!

Hello, can I cut this recipe in half to make 12 cupcakes?

Perfect for Halloween, too!

Haha, these are so cute!! I’m not much of a True Blood fan but these cupcakes are just adorable!

Thank You For Being Here!

Jessica
For the past 15 years, Jorge & Jessica have loved getting to share their families' favorite recipes with all of you. They live in Florida with their 3 kids.