This homemade Red Velvet Cake is soft and moist with an irresistible Cream Cheese Frosting. This is the most requested cake recipe on our site.
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We love making cakes for special occasions and Red Velvet is a classic choice for Valentine’s Day, Birthdays, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Watch the video tutorial and see how easy it is to make this bakery-quality Red Velvet Cake recipe.
Red Velvet Cake Video
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What is Red Velvet Cake?
Red Velvet Cake is said to have originated during the Great Depression and is known for its soft, velvety crumb and its signature red or red-brown colored chocolate cake layers. Red velvet cakes have common ingredients like cocoa powder, buttermilk, vinegar, butter, flour, and red food coloring.
The color in this cake relies on the natural reaction of 3 key ingredients (vinegar, cocoa, buttermilk) so you don’t have to rely on a ton of food coloring. P.S. Get exact measurements and print the recipe below.
- Cocoa Powder (not dutch process) – naturally turns a dark red when it reacts with buttermilk and vinegar.
- Vinegar – activates baking soda and adds extra acid to help maintain the red color in baking.
- Buttermilk – adds moisture, flavor, and keeps the cake light and fluffy.
- Butter and Vegetable Oil – Add moisture to the cake to form a soft crumb.
- Red Gel Color – makes the cake a more vibrant and bright red.
- Flour, Eggs, Sugar, Salt – cake baking basics
The Best Food Coloring
We highly recommend using gel food coloring rather than a liquid one. We purchased the 12-color starter kit which is great for any baking project.
- Gel is more concentrated so you need less of it. This cake calls for just 1/2 teaspoon of super red #120 gel color and you could get away with using 1/4 tsp and still maintain a nice color.
- Gel is thicker which means it’s less likely to water down your batter or frosting.
The cocoa in red velvet cake makes it a chocolate cake, but there is only 2 Tbsp of cocoa powder so it isn’t as chocolatey as a classic Chocolate Cake.
We do not recommend Dutch Process cocoa because it is an alkalized cocoa powder and won’t react correctly with baking soda. Stick with a natural cocoa powder like Hershey’s (not Special Dark).
Natural cocoa turns a dark red when it reacts with buttermilk and vinegar. Adding a little red food coloring makes it a more vibrant red color.
To Get Even Cake Layers: Use a kitchen scale when dividing the batter into prepared pans to ensure they are even. This will ensure even cake layers.
How to Decorate Red Velvet Cake
The signature red color of the cake layers is what makes Red Velvet Cake famous so we keep the cake decorations simple.
- Reserve some frosting in a piping bag fitted with a large open star tip (Wilton 1M) and refrigerate for a few minutes for easier piping.
- Crumb Coat the Cake with frosting which glues down the crumbs and seals in the moisture of the cake. Apply extra frosting with an offset spatula to fully coat the top and sides if desired.
- Apple red sprinkles around the top and bottom 1 1/2″ borders of the cake.
- Add red icing sugar in the same pattern to fill in some of the spaces.
- Pipe frosting in puffs or rosettes around the top border of the cake.
- To Refrigerate: You can fully assemble and refrigerate the cake for 3-4 days.
- Freezing a Whole Cake: You can freeze a fully assembled cake in a cake box (cover box with foil to prevent freezer burn).
- Freezing Cake Layers: You can freeze the layers and freeze cream cheese frosting separately. Cool cake layers to room temperature then place plastic wrap between layers to prevent sticking. Wrap completely in plastic wrap and a sheet of foil.
- To Thaw: Thaw a fully assembled cake or cake layers, in the refrigerator overnight. Bring to room temperature for 2 hours before serving.
Storing Leftover Cake: To store leftover cake, place a piece of plastic wrap directly over the sliced part of the cake. This will ensure the layers do not dry out. Bring the cake to room temperature for 2 hours before serving.
Red Velvet Cake is a show-stopping cake and it’s surprisingly easy to master at home. Plus, you’ll want that Cream Cheese Frosting on all of your cakes and cupcakes!
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Red Velvet Cake Recipe
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Cooling Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 3 hours
This homemade Red Velvet Cake is soft and moist with an irresistible Cream Cheese Frosting. It’s perfect for Valentine’s Day, Birthdays and Christmas.
Cost to Make:
Red Velvet Cake
Calories: 401 kcal
Servings: 12 people
Preheat oven to 350˚F with racks in the center of the oven. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans with butter and dust with flour, tapping out the excess.
Stir then sift together 2 1/2 cups flour, 2 Tbsp cocoa powder, 1 tsp baking soda and 1 tsp salt.
In a bowl with an electric mixer, beat together 1/2 cup softened butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar for a few minutes until sugar is moistened and the mixture looks powdery like snow.
Mix in two eggs, adding them one a time, and beating well to incorporate between each addition. Beat in 2 tsp vanilla extract until blended.
With the mixer on, gradually add 3/4 cup oil and mix on medium speed until well incorporated.
Stir 1 tsp vinegar into your buttermilk then mix it into the batter on medium speed until incorporated.
Add flour mixture all at once and mix on medium speed just until well blended and no streaks of flour remain, scraping down the bowl as needed.
Add 1/2 tsp gel red food coloring or add it to reach desired color and mix just until blended, scraping down the bowl as needed.
Divide evenly between prepared pans and bake at 350˚F for 30 minutes. Let rest in cake pans for 20 minutes then invert onto a wire rack and let cool completely to room temp before assembling with Cream Cheese Frosting.
Red Velvet Cake Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 198
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 7g44%
Trans Fat 1g
Vitamin A 285IU6%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.