Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

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Red Velvet Cupcakes is a classic red velvet cupcake recipe topped with a tangy vanilla cream cheese frosting.  They’re light, fluffy and perfect for any celebration!

front shot of red velvet cupcakes on wicker pedestal

For most people, Valentine’s Day means hearts, flowers, boxes of chocolate and dinner out…but  not for me. 

My husband and I don’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day.  To me, it’s the worst day of the year to go out to eat, and I’d rather get flowers on a regular old day, not when they’re over priced.

My idea of the perfect Valentine’s Day is eating a nice meal in and hanging out with my family. 

Of course, the meal includes a delicious treat like these Red Velvet Cupcakes!

angled overhead shot of red velvet cupcakes on marble server

I didn’t understand the hype of red velvet cake until I took my first bite about 5 years ago.  I’ve never been on board with baked goods containing artificial color, so it took me a long while to try it.  

Red is my favorite color, so that helped a little. πŸ™‚

What is red velvet cake?

Red Velvet Cake has a red hue and a crumb that’s soft and smooth like velvet (hence the name). 

The cake includes a small amount of cocoa powder, which is just enough to lend a dark red brown color.  Food coloring wasn’t added originally, but sometimes beetroot was used to provide a deeper red color to the cake.

Today, food coloring or beetroot are widely used to enhance the color of the cake.

The addition of buttermilk and vinegar also set this cake apart.  Together they add more flavor and help give the cake it’s nice, soft texture.

angled overhead shot of red velvet cupcakes on marble server

What is the flavor of red velvet cake?

Red velvet cake isn’t chocolate cake and isn’t quite vanilla….it’s a hybrid if you will.  A small amount of cocoa powder gives the cake a mild cocoa flavor, yet it still tastes like vanilla.   

The cake is typically frosted with cream cheese frosting, which adds a wonderful tangy flavor.

These flavors work together so perfectly, and are what makes these red velvet cupcakes so special.

red velvet cupcakes with paper liner removed

Red velvet ingredients

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • All purpose flour
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Salt
  • Unsalted butter, softened
  • Granulated sugar
  • Egg (room temperature)
  • Buttermilk, room temperature  (make your own using regular milk plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar and let stand 5-10 minutes)
  • Red gel paste color (see affiliate link in the recipe for the exact brand that I used)
  • Pure vanilla extract
  • Baking soda
  • Cream cheese, softened
  • Powdered sugar

angled overhead shot of red velvet cupcake with paper liner removed

How to make Red Velvet Cupcakes

Place the butter, egg, buttermilk and cream cheese on the counter to allow them to come to room temperature before starting. 

Gather all of your ingredients before you start making the red velvet cupcakes as the process goes quickly.

red velvet cake batter process collage 1

red velvet cake batter process collage 2

  • Preheat the oven and line a standard muffin cup with paper liners.
  • Combine the dry ingredients.  Whisk the flour, cocoa powder and salt together in medium bowl.
  • Make the red velvet cupcake batter.  Cream the butter and sugar at medium high speed until light and fluffy.  Add the egg, mixing on low speed just until incorporated.  Combine the buttermilk with the red coloring and vanilla, stirring well.  Add 1/3 of the flour, followed by one third of the milk, and mix on low. Repeat, adding the remaining flour and milk in 1/3’s, scraping down the bowl as needed.  In a small bowl, add the baking soda to the vinegar, which will fizz up. Mix thoroughly and add this reaction to the batter, beating on low speed just until incorporated.

red velvet cake batter before and after baking

red velvet cupcakes after decorating

  • Bake the cupcakes.  Divide the batter evenly between the (12) cavities.  Bake at 350 degrees for 18-22 minutes or until the cake springs back when pressed gently, checking for doneness after 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and cool completely.
  • Prepare the frosting.  Beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth, then add the sifted powdered sugar and vanilla and beat 3 minutes or until light and fluffy.
  • Frost the cupcakes.  When the cupcakes have cooled completely, pipe or spread the frosting on them.

Recipe notes

  • Store red velvet cupcakes in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. For best results, serve at room temperature.
  • I used a Wilton 1M piping tip to pipe my frosting.
  • Cut your butter into small cubes so that it softens faster!
  • Place your egg in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes (not hot!) to bring to room temperature more quickly.

red velvet cake cut in half with paper liner removed

More red velvet recipes you’ll love!

Red Velvet Cake by CafΓ© Delites

Red Velvet Cheesecake Cupcakes

Red Velvet Cream Cheese Brownies

Red Velvet Macarons

Red Velvet Sandwich Cookies

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Yield: 12 cupcakes
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 18 minutes
Total Time: 48 minutes

Red Velvet Cupcakes is a classic red velvet cupcake recipe topped with a tangy vanilla cream cheese frosting.Β  They're light, fluffy and perfect for any celebration!

front shot of red velvet cupcakes on wicker pedestal

Ingredients

For the cupcakes:

  • 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk milk, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon red gel paste coloring
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon apple cider or white vinegar

For the Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste

Instructions

Prepare the cupcakes:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard muffin pan with paper liners.
  2. Whisk the flour, cocoa powder and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar at medium speed for 3-5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add the egg on low speed, beating just until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  4. Place the buttermilk, red gel paste and vanilla extract in a glass measuring cup and stir well to combine.
  5. Add 1/3 of the flour, followed by one third of the milk, and mix on low. Repeat, adding the remaining flour and milk in 1/3's, scraping down the bowl as needed.
  6. In a small bowl, add the baking soda to the vinegar, which will fizz up. Mix thoroughly and add this reaction to the batter, beating on low speed just until incorporated.
  7. Divide the batter evenly between each muffin cavity and bake for 18-22 minutes (check after 15 minutes), or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool in the pan 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool completely.

Prepare the frosting:

  1. Place the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on medium high speed until smooth. Add the confectioner's sugar, vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste and a pinch of salt, and mix on low until incorporated, then on medium high for about 3 minutes, until light and creamy.
  2. Pipe or spread the frosting on the cupcakes when they are completely cool.

Notes

    • Store cupcakes in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. For best results, serve at room temperature.
    • I used a Wilton 1M piping tip to pipe my frosting.
    • Cut your butter into small cubes so that it softens faster!
    • Place your egg in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes (not hot!) to bring to room temperature more quickly.

Recommended Products

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

12

Serving Size:

1 cupcake

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 377Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 55mgSodium: 255mgCarbohydrates: 58gFiber: 1gSugar: 45gProtein: 5g

Nutrition information is mean to be an estimate only. The numbers will vary based on the quantity consumed, brands used and substitutions that are made.


 

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