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!

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

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!
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 108 votes
Print Pin Recipe
Yield: 24

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


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 1 oz. 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


  • 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.


  • 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!


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


This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.

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Recipe Rating

45 Responses
    1. Amber C

      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.

      1. Mary

        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

  1. rochelle

    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.

    1. A woman holding a camera standing in front of some shelves.

      Hi Rochelle! If you can not find buttermilk, I recommend using whole milk with a tablespoon of white vinegar. Whisk it together and let it sit for 5 minutes. You will have a great buttermilk substitute!

  2. Lin

    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!!

  3. She

    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 :)

  4. Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking

    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!

  5. Mrs. Mayhem

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

  6. Kelsey

    I’m so glad you liked this recipe. I’m such a red velvet lover and PICKY about it. Yours turned out adorable!

  7. Erika Beth, the Messy Chef

    Oh my! These made me giggle. They’re great. At first I thought it was a type of Rocky Horror mouth, but then I read on. Great post!

  8. Cut Above Bakery

    I have made Red Velvet for years from a clipping out of a Better Homes & G mag from the 60’s put out by McCormicks.

    I bake in volume now, so I use Duncan Hines Premium Red Velvet Mix in case someone needs a quick Treat. Loved your little story!

  9. Jenna

    You’ve got such a fun blog! I’m about to click over to read the stories about you smelling like an armpit and almost dying twice . . . =)

  10. Emily Z

    OMG, these cupcakes are so much fun! I haven’t gotten into True Blood yet, but I have heard that I should. I am admittedly a Twilight fan, though, and I do agree that vampires are pretty awesome. I have a red velvet cupcake recipe that I plan on making in the near future myself! Your cupcakes would also be a fantastic idea for a Halloween party!

  11. Christy

    I like the idea you came up with. Clever. So here’s my question. Did you stand on a chair or the table to take that picture of the top of the cupcake tower looking down? LOL

  12. Shannon

    LOVE True Blood!! Totally agree about Eric and Alcide, such yummy hotness! And oh “hookah” we would be such awesome friends!

    Thank you for sharing the recipe, the last couple I’ve tried have not been so good.

  13. Cydney

    Those cupcakes are awesome! I love red velvet and the fangs are the perfect touch (I know what I’ll take to the annual Halloween party this year!).

    HUGE True Blood fan, even though we don’t have cable so Lalaalalala… I have no idea what’s happened this season, I have to wait for Netflix or something! Even though the fake southern accents annoy me sometimes, it’s a fun show. I am def. not a fan of the ‘sensitive’ vampire thing… Eric all the way!

  14. The Nifty Foodie

    Oh man, I love me some red velvet!

    And heck yes, I was drooling when Alcide showed up. Major hotness!

  15. Elizabeth

    Those cupcakes are hilarious! And I love those special wrappers! I don’t have HBO so haven’t gotten into the true blood thing, but I have thoroughly enjoyed those twilight movies… How did you find my blog Jessica??

  16. Rebecca (Indecisive Baker)

    I’m a huge true blood fan as well!! While I am a Bill fan, I also can’t deny the Eric and Alcide deliciousness factor. On to the cupcakes- adorable! I’ll be on the lookout for the mold!

  17. Barbara

    Perfect cupcakes for True Blood….which had an oddly unsatisfying ending. (I’ve never been a Bill fan.) These cupcakes would help get over the seasons’ last episode!
    I’ve seen red velvet recipes before, but still haven’t made them.

  18. Anna Johnston

    Hey there Jessica :) I’ve just been giggling my way through reading this, lots of fun. Bye for now, I’m off to read some more.
    Oh yeah.., thanks for visiting my blog & saying hi. I’m guessing I’ll be popping on over regularly, so looking forward to get to know you more.
    Cheers Anna


I'm a trial & error, self taught, sugar addict who thankfully learned how to survive in the kitchen! I am also a wife, mama of 3.