Red Velvet Cupcakes

Moist, buttery, slightly tangy, and beautiful in color, this classic cupcake recipe is the perfect ‘little bite’ to share with your sweetie on Valentine’s Day.

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Red velvet anything is a favorite of mine – cake, cupcakes, pudding, pancakes, even a red velvet martini.  So delicious. And it isn’t just the red velvet part, it’s also the cream cheese frosting – and a lot of it!  It’s so sweet, yet tangy. It’s creamy and fluffy. Can you tell that I’m a little it obsessed?

Plate of Red Velvet cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting and decorated with a red heart cookie.

I think red velvet is also a flavor that is pretty tricky to get right.  It isn’t exactly chocolate, but it does have a hint of chocolate flavor. And, it’s also got a tang to it that is separate from the cream cheese frosting.

Good red velvet should be very moist and buttery and have a beautiful vanilla flavor that’s stronger than the chocolate flavor.  Simply put, it is perfection in cake form.


  • Cake flour.  It has a lower protein content, which helps to make the cupcakes lighter than all-purpose flour.  
  • Cocoa powder.  Use an unsweetened cocoa powder.  I like using natural, light cocoa powder, not a ‘special dark’ variety.  
  • Cornstarch.  Just a little bit of cornstarch helps to keep the cupcakes light and fluffy.
  • Baking soda and salt will add flavor.
  • Butter and sugar that will be creamed together until very pale in color and fluffy.  Use real butter and not margarine. Real butter adds flavor and moisture. Use white sugar – you only want the sweetness, not an additional flavor as you would get with brown sugar.
  • Oil, which will add much-needed moisture.  The butter is more for the flavor, the oil for the moisture.
  • Egg and vanilla.  Use good vanilla for the best flavor.
  • White vinegar, just a bit, will help the cupcakes rise.
  • Red food coloring – and a lot of it.
  • Buttermilk.  Use full fat and don’t mix up the powdered variety.  This is the luscious tang that red velvet is known for.

Plate of Red Velvet cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting and decorated with a red heart cookie.


Are you looking for more Valentine’s ideas?  Here are a few suggestions:

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Plate of Red Velvet cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting and decorated with a red heart cookie.



Perfect for Valentine’s Day, this classic cupcake recipe is sweet, moist, and tangy with a luscious, creamy cream cheese frosting.



For the cupcakes:

1 ⅓ cups cake flour

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

1 tablespoon corn starch

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup sugar

1 large egg, room temperature

¼ cup vegetable oil

1 tablespoon red food coloring

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ teaspoon white vinegar

⅔ cup full-fat buttermilk, room temperature

For the cream cheese frosting:

½ cup salted butter, room temperature

8-ounces cream cheese, room temperature

2 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla


Make the cupcakes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line two standard 12-count muffin tins with cupcake papers or Silpat liners.  Set aside.

Sift the cake flour, cocoa powder, corn starch, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl.  Gently stir to combine. Set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed for 5 minutes until the butter is pale in color.

Add the egg and continue mixing.  Next, add in the oil, food coloring, vanilla, and vinegar.  Mix, scrape down the sides and continue mixing until everything is fully combined.

Add in the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk.  Mix after each addition until just combined. Don’t over mix the batter or the cake will be tough.

Using a large spoon, fill each muffin tin half full.

Bake in the preheated oven for 15 – 17 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  You want the cupcakes very slightly underbaked rather than overbaked.

Remove each cupcake from the tin and cool completely on a wire rack.

Make the cream cheese frosting.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter together until very smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes.

Add in the powdered sugar and vanilla and continue to mix on low speed until the sugar incorporates into the cream cheese mixture.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl, increase the mixer speed, and whip the frosting for about 5 minutes until very light and fluffy.

Once the cupcakes are completely cool, ice each cupcake with the frosting and decorate as desired.  I like using a Wilton 1M Open Star tip. It makes a pretty swirl with the icing, but it is not necessary.  A small off-set spatula will do the trick just fine!  

Decorate with sprinkles, small candies, or small sugar cookies.

  • Prep Time: 40 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Desserts
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: Southern

Keywords: classic cupcake recipe, desserts, cupcakes, red velvet, cream cheese, cream cheese frosting

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