This red velvet cupcakes recipe makes soft, moist cupcakes topped with rich cream cheese frosting. 

mini red velvet cupcakes lined up on profile with cream cheese frosting

I bake cake and cupcakes for special occasions. These red velvet cupcakes were baked with love for my sister’s senior year music recital where she sang for an hour in four different languages! Needless to say, this feat deserved cupcakes. Red velvet cake is a fan favorite thanks to is velvety soft cake and rich cream cheese frosting.

Why this recipe works: This is a classic red velvet cake recipe. It uses cocoa powder, distilled white vinegar and buttermilk to make that distinctive red velvet flavor. It’s also topped with a rich, perfectly sweet cream cheese frosting.

red velvet cupcake ingredients in bowls labeled with text

Overview: How to make red velvet cupcakes

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a muffin tin with paper liners.
  2. Whisk together dry ingredients—flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. Beat together butter and sugar. Add the egg and mix until combined.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine cocoa powder, distilled white vinegar and red food dye. Add red cocoa mixture to the batter and mix until incorporated.
  5. Alternate adding flour mixture and buttermilk to the batter. Mix just until combined.
  6. Transfer batter to prepared pan and bake for 18 to 20 minutes. Let cupcakes cool completely before frosting.

How to make cream cheese frosting

Red velvet cupcakes wouldn’t be complete without cream cheese frosting. I constantly have people asking for this frosting recipe because it is that good. The frosting is rich, creamy, not too sweet and has a prominent cream cheese taste.

This recipe calls for cream cheese, butter, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. Beat the cream cheese and butter together until light and fluffy. Add the confectioners’ sugar and mix until combined. Finally mix in the vanilla. Transfer to a frosting bag and pipe frosting on the cupcakes.

mini red velvet cupcakes with frosting, piping bag, wire cooling rack and hands frosting cupcakes
photo collage demonstrating how to alternate adding wet and dry ingredients to red velvet cupcake batter

Helpful tips

Before getting started, bring all the ingredients to room temperature. They will mix together more evenly and thoroughly. Weigh your ingredients for accurate measurements. It makes a big difference in delicate desserts like cupcakes.

Mix the cocoa powder, red food dye, vinegar and vanilla together in a small bowl. This guarantees the vinegar mixes well with the food dye to make that deep red hue.

Alternate adding dry and wet ingredients to prevent the batter from separating (begin and end with the flour mixture). Double check you have the correct oven temperature. I like to use an oven thermometer inside my oven. Finally, let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting.

red velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting on open paper cupcake wrapper

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do you use white vinegar in red velvet cake?

White vinegar is a necessity when it comes to red velvet cake and cupcakes. It is a very small amount (1 1/2 teaspoons) and you can’t taste it at all in the cupcakes. The reason you use vinegar is because it make the cupcakes even more red! If you don’t have white vinegar, apple cider vinegar can be used as a substitute.

Can you make mini cupcakes with this recipe?

Yes, this recipe will yield 32 to 36 mini cupcakes. Bake in a mini muffin tin for 12 to 14 minutes.

How do you store red velvet cupcakes?

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 days or in the refrigerator for 5 days. If you are in a warmer climate, store in the refrigerator so the frosting doesn’t melt.

Can you freeze red velvet cupcakes?

Yes. Unfrosted cupcakes may be individually wrapped and stored in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 1 month. Defrost in the refrigerator before bringing to room temperature and frosting.

Can I substitute buttermilk?

Yes. In a measuring cup, add 1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar or lemon juice. Add whole or low-fat milk and fill to the 1/2 cup measure. Stir and let the mixture sit for 5 minutes before using in the recipe.

red velvet cupcake with a bite on open paper cupcake liner

More red velvet recipes

If you like red velvet cupcakes, you will love these red velvet desserts! My personal favorite are red velvet sandwich cookies because they have cream cheese frosting in the center! Another popular recipe are red velvet crinkle cookies. If you like donuts, then you have to try these red velvet donuts drizzled with cream cheese frosting.

red velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting and a bite taken

Red velvet cupcakes are a delectable dessert to make for Valentine’s Day, birthdays and various other celebrations. What occasion are you baking these cupcakes for? Let me see on social media! Tag @ifyougiveablondeakitchen and I’ll share my favorites on Instagram.

red velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting and a bite next to fresh strawberries

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Red velvet cupcakes are soft, moist cupcakes topped with rich cream cheese frosting.

Ingredients

Red Velvet Cupcakes

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (140 g) all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ cup (150 g) granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup (57 g) unsalted butter,, room temperature
  • 1 egg,, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons (16 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons liquid red food coloring¹
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
  • ½ cup (120 ml) buttermilk²

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 cup (225 g or 8 oz package) cream cheese,, room temperature
  • ¼ cup (57 g) unsalted butter, , room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar,, sifted
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions 

Red Velvet Cupcakes

  • Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a standard 12-cup cupcake pan with liners and set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.
  • Using a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and mix well.
  • In a separate small bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, red food coloring, vanilla and vinegar to make a thick paste. Add this paste to the batter and mix well. 
  • With the mixer on low, slowly alternate adding one third of the flour mixture then half of the buttermilk (flour, buttermilk, flour, buttermilk, flour). Mix just until combined (avoid over mixing).
  • Fill cupcake liners about two-thirds full and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, whip cream cheese and butter on high speed for two minutes. Reduce the speed to low and slowly add the confectioner’s sugar until it is incorporated. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and add the vanilla extract. Mix on medium speed until incorporated (about 10 seconds, avoid over mixing).
  • Transfer to a frosting bag fitted with a frosting tip (I used Wilton tip 1A). Frost the cupcakes and serve.

Notes

Red food dye: The amount of red food dye is up to you. Two tablespoons makes a deep, rich red. If you use gel food dye, use no more than 2 teaspoons.
Buttermilk substitute: If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, mix 1 teaspoon white vinegar with regular milk, stir and let sit for 5 minutes before adding to the batter.
Storing red velvet cupcakes: Cupcakes are best when eaten the day they are made, however, they may be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Mini cupcakes: fill cupcake liners half full and decrease baking time to 12 to 14 minutes. Recipe will make 32-36 mini cupcakes.
Recommended tools: Kitchen scale, muffin tin, stand mixer or hand mixer, frosting bag and tips
Serving: 1cupcake, Calories: 274kcal, Carbohydrates: 32g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 15g, Saturated Fat: 9g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 56mg, Sodium: 221mg, Potassium: 81mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 24g, Vitamin A: 527IU, Calcium: 41mg, Iron: 1mg

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