Classic Red Velvet Cupcakes

Earlier this year I decided to enroll in a culinary program to learn more about the foundations of baking and pastry. It's been fun and I've learned a lot, especially in the bread baking courses (I'm looking at you, baguettes). I thought it might be fun to share a few approachable, classic recipes straight from my syllabus.

This blog has no shortage of red velvet cake recipes. You can find two of my favorites here and here - and even my blue velvet cupcake recipe from years ago when I first started blogging. But I consider this recipe to be the gold standard of red velvet cakes; unaltered and directly from my course textbook. It is made as any good red velvet cake should be, using buttermilk, baking soda, vinegar, a little cocoa powder and red food color. This recipe makes about 2 dozen cupcakes, or a 9-inch double layer cake.

I occasionally use these brioche molds from King Arthur Flour to make my cupcakes look extra special. I think they suit these red velvet beauties well. They are made of super sturdy paper and they can stand alone on a baking sheet instead of in the cavities of a cupcake tin (I used the cupcake tin because it was handy at the time).

Sifting the flour is important for a light texture in these cupcakes.

I always make sure to fill cupcake liners only 2/3 full, but it's especially important when using the brioche molds. Overfilling them will result in some verrrry interesting-looking (okay, ugly) cupcakes.

I often get asked what kind of red food color I use for my red velvet cakes, and Durkee brand is my top choice. I first started using it after I saw some eye-popping red cakes at a local restaurant. I inquired about the food coloring and surprisingly, the staff spilled the beans. I always keep an extra large bottle on hand. It's what I used to make this red velvet groom's cake last year. 

All red velvet fanatics should make these just once to see what the pastry school version of red velvet is like. The flavor and texture is absolute perfection, if you ask me. The cream cheese frosting is the traditional topping, but I ate three-ish cakes plain. After frosting, I garnished the cakes with Ovation Chocolate Sticks - a mint flavored version is available in bulk here on Amazon, though I found the orange cream variety in the gourmet food aisle at Tuesday Morning.

One more thing! Some of you have been asking how the First Friday art show went, and all I can say is - wow! We had a crowd, and the treats were gone in a snap! I had so much fun and loved meeting everyone. You can see a few pictures of the reception  here .

Classic Red Velvet Cupcakes
Yields 20 to 24 cupcakes or one 9-inch double layer cake

The butter, buttermilk and eggs should all be brought to room temperature before using them in this recipe.

Red velvet cake
2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon white vinegar
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 1/4 tablespoons cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
2 1/4 tablespoons liquid red food color (I like Durkee brand)

Cream cheese frosting
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature (I recommend Philadelphia brand)
4 cups confectioners’ sugar (about 1 pound)*
Milk or cream

Make the cakes: Preheat the oven to 350° F.
If making cupcakes, line a muffin tin with baking cups. If making cakes, grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.
In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, mix the buttermilk, eggs, vanilla and vinegar.
In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar.
Sift the cocoa into a small bowl and add the red food color. Stir until a paste forms (this will take a couple of minutes to incorporate). Add to the creamed butter mixture.
Add alternately the dry ingredients and the buttermilk mixture to the creamed butter mixture. Make sure you scrape down the bowl when adding the ingredients.
For cupcakes, scoop out the batter into lined muffin tins, about 2/3 of the way up, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the cake springs up when touched.
For cakes, divide the batter between two pans making them both the same to ensure even baking. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until the cake springs back when touched or pulls away from the sides of the pan.

Make the frosting: In a large bowl, beat the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar. Beat on high until smooth for about 2 minutes. If the mixture seems too lax (a common problem with cream cheese frosting), add more confectioners’ sugar a little at a time until thickened. If the mixture seems too thick, add milk or cream a little at a time until the desired consistency is achieved. Spread the frosting onto the cupcakes or transfer it to a piping bag and pipe mounds of frosting onto the cupcakes.

If making a layer cake, level the cakes with a serrated knife or cake leveler before filling and frosting the cake.

Garnish as desired.

*I always use more confectioners’ sugar in my frosting so it stands up well when piping. Be sure to have extra icing sugar on hand if you plan to pipe on the frosting using a piping bag and decorator tip.

link Classic Red Velvet Cupcakes By Published: Classic Red Velvet Cake Recipe


  1. Gorgeous! I love a good classic red velvet cake/cupcake! I do like the brioche mould idea it adds a bit of fun.

  2. Wonderful decoration!

    Have a great weekend :)


  3. Whatever happened to the inclusion of weight measures on the blog though? ­čś»

    1. Hi Claire!
      I appreciate your reminders and diligence on this subject. I know it seems like such a simple task, but it is not convenient for me. We are working on a metric conversion recipe template for this site (so it will be convenient for me) but until then, conversions could be done by blog readers as there are literally hundreds of sites dedicated to metric baking conversions. Here is one of my favorite sites for conversions -



  4. The cupcakes look gorgeous! Quick question. How much is 12 tablespoons of butter in grams? It would be really helpful for people like me, if u could include weight measures in your recipes. Thanks sooo much for sharing :)

    1. Hi there, and thanks for your question - 12 T of butter equals about 180 g. Hopefully metric can be added at a later date. Until then, you can find some helpful conversions here.


  5. They look irresistible! So beautifully decorated.

  6. Your red velvet cake (heart shaped) has been my favorite and go-to for years. I'm going to try this new one now and I think I will be converting as well!!

  7. I'm not usually a red velvet fan, but these look irresistible! I will definitely be making these soon!

  8. What gorgeous cupcakes! Love the decoration with chocolate cigars :)

  9. Classic Red Velvet Cupcakes are my absolute favorite cake creation in the world! Your batter is consistent and gorgeous! I also went to culinary school to learn baking. Which school did you attend? Follow my foodie adventures at scribbling gourmet.com.

  10. Beautiful little cakes and photography, I love the idea of using the brioche molds. They do look extra special.

  11. Made these for Canada Day. The cake came out beautifully and I received lots of compliments on the cream cheese icing. I even tried piping the maple leaf shape on top. One comment about the recipe write up was that it didn't specify where to add the paste....pretty obvious, but it made me read through things again just to be sure. Lovely recipe! Thank you so much for posting and providing inspiration!

    1. Thank you Rebecca! I have added the instruction.


  12. So, so glad I came across this recipe! You’re great, Heather! It look very attractive, colourful and appetizing. I will do it at this weekend.

  13. What did i do wrong? They are raw in the middle :(
    Tried it twice at 180 degrees celcius x

    1. Oh no! I'm sorry that happened to you! That's definitely the right temperature. It's hard to say what went wrong. I wonder if your cupcake tin capacity is a little larger than standard.

      If they are baking on the outside and not the inside, then cover the pan with cupcakes with foil and place them back inside the oven. Bake them longer, starting at 5 minute intervals and check their centers with a toothpick tester.

      I hope my reply helps. It really sounds like they need to bake longer. I appreciate you trying the recipe.


  14. How long can these cupcakes be kept in room temperature with the frosting on it?

    1. Hi! The cupcakes can sit at room temperature (about 70F) for several hours. Some people say it's okay to leave a cream cheese-frosted cake on the counter for 2-3 days, but I don't follow that. After 4-6 hours I put the cake(s) back in the refrigerator.


Privacy Policy