Red Velvet Cupcakes

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These gorgeous red velvet cupcakes have hints of both chocolate and vanilla with rich red color, making them an exquisite treat. A smooth, tangy cream cheese frosting ties the flavors together.

red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese on a wire rack with a green napkin underneath

What better way to celebrate a special occasion than with red velvet cupcakes. They are miniature versions of my red velvet cake with a light and fluffy texture. And the flavor is unlike any other.

I’ve made many different versions of red velvet desserts over the years including this red velvet cheesecake. But, these cupcakes are my very favorite.

The recipe uses both butter and oil so the cupcakes are buttery rich, extra moist, and incredibly fluffy. These single-serve cupcakes taste exactly like a classic red velvet cake.

A lush cream cheese frosting adorns the top. But, you can change up the frosting if you’re not a fan of cream cheese. My simple Swiss meringue buttercream would be an excellent substitute.

Next, try my green velvet cupcakes for a fun twist!

Why this recipe works:

  • The perfect balance of chocolate and vanilla is used along with a subtle tang that is well known in red velvet.
  • Butter and oil are used to keep the cupcakes soft and fluffy without compromising the rich flavor.
  • Tangy cream cheese frosting ties all the cupcake flavors together leaving you with a sensational dessert experience.
red velvet cupcake with a bite taken out so the fluffy inside is visible

How to make red velvet cupcakes

Red velvet is a mix between chocolate and vanilla flavors with a touch of tanginess that lingers at the end. There’s chocolate, vanilla, vinegar, and buttermilk in the cupcakes. Each one plays an important part in how the cupcakes taste.

The ingredients

  • Butter and oil: The combination of butter and oil ensures the cupcakes have the best texture and taste. Use vegetable or canola oil with a high-quality butter.
  • Sugar: Regular granulated sugar is all you need here.
  • Eggs: You need 3 large eggs that are at room temperature. Set them out 30-45 minutes before you start making the recipe.
  • Vanilla extract: Use pure vanilla extract of the highest quality. Or you can use homemade vanilla extract.
  • Flour: I find that cake flour is best. It’s lower in protein content and produces a soft, lighter crumb. My favorite is Bob’s Red Mill.
  • Cocoa powder: You only need a couple of tablespoons of unsweet cocoa powder to add a hint of chocolate flavor.
  • Leavening: Baking powder and baking soda are added to give the cupcakes rise. The baking soda will react with the cocoa powder, buttermilk, and vinegar to produce a perfect red velvet cupcake.
  • Buttermilk: Use full-fat buttermilk for the best results and make sure it’s at room temperature just like the eggs.
  • Vinegar: You only need 1 tablespoon of white vinegar.
  • Red food coloring: I used an entire 1-ounce bottle of liquid red food coloring. You can use gel food coloring if you wish.
red velvet cake batter in a glass bowl and baked red velvet cupcakes in a muffin pan

The instructions

Red velvet cupcakes use the creaming method for mixing. This results in a sturdy yet soft cupcake texture.

Step 1: Mix the wet ingredients

First, cream the oil, butter, and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix well after each addition. Then, mix in the vanilla extract.

Step 2: Mix the dry ingredients

Add the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to a separate bowl. Use a whisk to stir it all together until everything is well combined.

Step 3: Combine the wet and dry ingredients

Add half the flour mixture to the butter/oil mixture. Mix until almost fully combined.

Add the buttermilk followed by the remaining flour mixture and mix until just combined. Mix in the vinegar and food coloring until fully combined.

Step 4: Bake the cupcakes

Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners and fill each one ⅔ full with batter. Take care and don’t overfill the cups. The batter rises quite a bit during baking and cups that are too full may overflow.

I like to use a 3-tablespoon cookie scoop to portion out my batter.

Bake the cupcakes at 350°F for 15-18 minutes. Or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached.

Step 5: Frost the cupcakes

Cool the cupcakes in the pan for 10 minutes then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. Frost them with my silky cream cheese frosting. I use a Wilton 1M piping tip to pipe a rose on top of each cupcake.

If you’re not a fan of cream cheese frosting, try using my Swiss meringue buttercream instead.

rich red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

Make ahead and storage tips

  • The cupcakes can be made ahead 1 day in advance. Keep covered and store at room temperature.
  • The frosting can also be made 1 day in advance. Keep covered and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  • Frosted cupcakes can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.
  • Unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and frost before serving.

Tips for Success

  • Make sure to properly measure the flour. Don’t just scoop the flour out of the container with the measuring cup. Instead, lightly spoon the flour into the measuring cup and level it off with the back of a knife. Or measure by weight for more accurate results.
  • Sift the flour and cocoa powder to remove any clumps. Do this after they have been measured.
  • The amount of food coloring is up to you! I used 1-once liquid food coloring. Feel free to use less or more.
  • Buttermilk is required. It’s needed in order to react with the cocoa powder and baking soda. Full-fat buttermilk will work best but low-fat will be okay if that’s all you can access.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

4.68 from 98 votes
rich red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting
These gorgeous red velvet cupcakes have hints of both chocolate and vanilla with rich red color, making them an exquisite treat. A smooth, tangy cream cheese frosting ties the flavors together.
Jen Sobjack
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Serving Size 28

Ingredients

For the cupcakes

  • ½ cup (120 ml) canola oil, vegetable oil can also be used
  • ¼ cup (57 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 ½ cups (300 g) granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 ¾ cups (330 g) cake flour, sifted
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder , sifted
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 ounce red food coloring, 1 bottle

For the frosting

  • 1 cup (227 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 16 ounces (453 g) cream cheese, softened and cut into pieces
  • 4 cups (480 g) confectioners sugar, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • teaspoon salt

Instructions

Make the cupcakes

  • Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line two 12-cup muffin pans with paper liners. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, beat together the oil, butter, and sugar for 10 minutes on medium speed, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing for about 20 seconds after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.
  • In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir with a whisk. Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture alternating with the buttermilk, begin and end with the flour mixture. Beat until well blended. Add the vinegar and food coloring. Beat until fully incorporated and no streaks remain in the batter.
  • Fill the prepared muffin cups ⅔ full. (There may be enough batter leftover to make 4 extra cupcakes.) Bake for 15-18 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out with only a few dry crumbs.
  • Cool the cupcakes in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Frost as desired.

Make the frosting

  • In a large bowl, beat the butter and cream cheese together until smooth and creamy.
  • Add the sugar, vanilla, and salt. Beat on low speed until just incorporated. Turn the mixer to high speed and beat until smooth.

Notes

  • Make sure to properly measure the flour. Don’t just scoop the flour out of the container with the measuring cup. Instead, lightly spoon the flour into the measuring cup and level it off with the back of a knife. Or measure by weight for more accurate results.
  • Sift the flour and cocoa powder to remove any clumps. Do this after they have been measured.
  • Buttermilk is required. It’s needed in order to react with the cocoa powder and baking soda. Full-fat buttermilk will work best but low-fat will be okay if that’s all you can access.
  • The amount of food coloring is up to you! I used 1-once liquid food coloring. Feel free to use less, more, or leave it out completely.
Make ahead tip
  1. The cupcakes can be made ahead 1 day in advance. Keep covered and store at room temperature.
  2. The frosting can also be made 1 day in advance. Keep covered and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  3. Frosted cupcakes can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.
  4. Unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and frost before serving.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cupcake | Calories: 332kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 57mg | Sodium: 140mg | Potassium: 90mg | Fiber: 0.4g | Sugar: 29g | Vitamin A: 511IU | Calcium: 46mg | Iron: 0.3mg

The nutrition information provided is for convenience and as a courtesy only. It is not guaranteed to be accurate because nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator and input the exact ingredients and brands you used in the recipe.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American

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Recipe Rating




66 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I made these red velvet cupcakes 🧁 They are soft moist & delicious 😋 😍 The only downside is the frosting is way too much for this amount of cupcakes 🧁 I think half would be been perfect…I will freeze the leftover frosting.

  2. 5 stars
    They taste great and have a great texture! They do come out with a round top though if you’re looking for a flat cupcake.

  3. Can you use all purpose flour instead of cake flour?

    1. Jen Sobjack says:

      I don’t recommend it.

  4. Hello!!! I live in Mexico and we don’t have buttermilk here! What could I use instead?

    1. Jen Sobjack says:

      You can make homemade buttermilk by adding 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice to 1 cup of whole milk and let it sit for 5 minutes.

      1. Thank you! I will try that!

    2. Alejandra Córdova says:

      Hi! I’m from Mexico too! For this recipe I made my own buttermilk like this: 1 cup of milk (full fat) & then I added 1 tbsp of white vinegar, I mix them and it has to turn like cream, lightly think and worked very good! Saludos!!!