Light & fluffy, perfectly moist Red Velvet Cupcakes topped with tangy cream cheese frosting. The only red velvet recipe you need!
A few months ago I received an email asking if I had a recipe for red velvet cupcakes. And sadly, I had to say no.
Yes, I’ve obviously taste tested my fair share of red velvet cupcakes and played around with other peoples’ – but I didn’t feel like my own recipe experiments were any better than red velvet cupcakes from the bakery. So clearly, I had to do some kitchen research.
Now – I love red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. It’s a deliciously soft cupcake with a mild chocolate flavor that’s somewhere in between vanilla and chocolate cake. But if the recipe isn’t just quite right – you miss the mark and end up with a bland taste and eerily red color. Obviously which neither I wanted.
So – after a few months, multiple recipe and about 1000 questions to my taste testers (How fluffy would you say these cupcakes are? On a scale of a pretty red color to a neon, garish red color – where do these land? I’m totally normal and not annoying in the least…..) This is the PERFECT red velvet cupcake recipe.
And these cupcakes are everything you’d hope and dream for.
- They’re light & fluffy in texture
- Perfectly moist with an extra soft crumb
- Have that delicious hint of cocoa for the quintessential red velvet flavor
- Are piled high with cream cheese frosting
Seriously, you’re going to love them.
So let’s get on with the baking geekery/ cupcake science.
First of all, What Makes Red Velvet Red???
The key ingredients in red velvet cake are the cocoa, baking soda, vinegar, buttermilk and of course the red food coloring. (Ok – obviously there are other important ones, but these ingredients give the cake its name). Turns out, red velvet cake wasn’t originally bright red and dyed with food coloring like it is today. When the acid in the buttermilk and vinegar react with the cocoa – they can give the cocoa a slightly reddish tinge. Then over the years, red food coloring was added to the recipe to exaggerate the red color.
Then for that Light & Fluffy Velvety Texture???
Once again, the vinegar and buttermilk are key players here. The buttermilk creates a super soft, ridiculously moist crumb. Then when the acid from the vinegar and buttermilk react with the baking soda – it’s, poof! Lots of little air bubbles. These air bubbles help to lift the cake and keep it light and fluffy, yet still velvety smooth.
And for the Final Hurrah – CREAM CHEESE FROSTING!!!!!
Seriously, do we need to say more??? I think cream cheese frosting is the best/most important reason for making red velvet cupcakes. It’s like a fluffy, pillowy soft mountain of cream cheese goodness. (Or when I asked Jay to describe it, “super tasty”….. Clearly, the engineers have all the best words). To keep the frosting thick – I added a little shortening to the recipe since shortening stays solid at room temperature. So you get cream cheese icing perfection: tangy, smooth, not crazy sweet & can hold up well to being piped or spread with a flat edge knife.
So now red velvet lovers…. we eat. Well, bake then eat. Or bake, then eat. Then bake and eat again – if you’re completely obsessed like me.
Ps…. If you like these red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, make sure to try these favorites too:
- Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
- Red Velvet Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Fudge Brownies with Chocolate Frosting (there’s cream cheese in the frosting!!!)
PPS…. I got these AMAZING sprinkles from Sweetapolita’s Sprinkle Shop. Everything is so beautiful on her blog, her recipes are to die for, and her sprinkles and the prettiest tiny dots of happiness you’ll ever find.
- 1 and 2/3 cup cake flour sifted
- 2 tablespoons natural cocoa powder
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 to 2 tablespoons liquid red food coloring
- 3 tablespoons sour cream
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons distilled vinegar
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter softened to room temperature
- 2 tablespoons shortening
- 1 cup cream cheese softened to room temperature, 8 oz
- 4 and 1/2 to 5 and 1/2 cups powdered sugar , sifted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1-2 tablespoons whipping cream
- Preheat the oven to 350F degrees and line 2 muffin tins with muffin papers. You'll end up with about 16-18 cupcakes total.
- In a large bowl sift together the cake flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In a separate large bowl using a hand-held or electric mixer on medium speed, beat together the oil, sugar, eggs, vanilla and food coloring until combined. You'll need 1-2 tablespoons of red food coloring depending on how vivid you'd like the color to be. I used 2 tablespoons in these photos. Once combined, turn off the mixer and stir in the sour cream, buttermilk and distilled vinegar. With the mixer on low, and in the flour mixer and beat until combined.
- Turn off the mixer and spoon the batter into the prepared muffin papers, filling each about 2/3 full. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-18 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes, before removing from the pan and continuing to cool on a wire rack.
- While the cupcakes are cooling, you can make the frosting. In a large bowl using a hand held or electric mixer on medium speed, beat together the butter, shortening and cream cheese until well combined and no lumps remain. Add in about 1/2 cup to 1 cup of the sifted icing sugar at a time until well combined. Then at the end beat in the vanilla and whipping cream. You may need to add in a little extra icing sugar or whipped cream depending on the consistency.
- Frost the cupcakes using either a flat-edge knife or a piping bag. I used a 1M star tip, but if your icing is too thin you may need to use a round tip instead, such as a 12.