Red Velvet Cake Recipe (VIDEO)

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.

Red Velvet Cake slice with cake

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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.

Slice of Red Velvet Cake on a plate


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
Ingredients for red velvet cake with cocoa, flour, sugar, eggs, oil, butter, buttermilk, vinegar, baking soda

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.
Red food coloring for baking cakes

Common Questions

Is Red Velvet Cake chocolate cake?

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.

Can I use Dutch Process cocoa?

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).

What makes the cake red?

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.

What is the best frosting for Red Velvet Cake?

It was originally served with ermine icing (a flour-based, depression-era, cooked frosting). In recent years, Cream Cheese Frosting has become the most popular frosting.

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.

Up close slice of red velvet cake with fork

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.
How to decorate red velvet cake with sprinkles and frosting


  • 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.

Leftover cake on platter

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!

More Cake Recipes

If you love this Red Velvet Cake, then you won’t want to miss these top-rated cake recipes.

Red Velvet Cake Recipe

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Cooling Time: 2 hours

Total Time: 3 hours

Red Velvet Cake slice with cake

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.

Author: Natasha Kravchuk

Skill Level:


Cost to Make:



Red Velvet Cake





Calories: 401 kcal

Servings: 12 people

  1. 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.

  2. Stir then sift together 2 1/2 cups flour, 2 Tbsp cocoa powder, 1 tsp baking soda and 1 tsp salt.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. With the mixer on, gradually add 3/4 cup oil and mix on medium speed until well incorporated.

  6. Stir 1 tsp vinegar into your buttermilk then mix it into the batter on medium speed until incorporated.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

Nutrition Facts

Red Velvet Cake Recipe

Amount Per Serving

Calories 401
Calories from Fat 198

% Daily Value*

Fat 22g34%

Saturated Fat 7g44%

Trans Fat 1g

Cholesterol 48mg16%

Sodium 222mg10%

Potassium 85mg2%

Carbohydrates 46g15%

Fiber 1g4%

Sugar 26g29%

Protein 5g10%

Vitamin A 285IU6%

Vitamin C 1mg1%

Calcium 35mg4%

Iron 2mg11%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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