Red Velvet Cupcakes

As beautiful as they are delicious, Red Velvet Cupcakes are my favorite way to enjoy Red Velvet Cake. Make them for Valentine’s Day, Fourth of July or anytime of year!

Red velvet cupcakes on a wire cooling rack topped with a swirl of cream cheese frosting.

Confession time: I have never been a lover of red velvet cake.

I guess I didn’t understand the love some of you feel about red velvet. I like it okay but it’s never been my dessert of choice. 

However, after making Red Velvet Cupcakes,  I am now smitten. 

Can you be smitten with a cupcake? I think eating 4 of them is love. Yes?

Plus, that gorgeous red color makes them perfect for so many holidays: Decorated with white and blue frosting for 4th of July, sprinkled with pink and white for Valentine’s Day or served anyway at all for Christmas.

I have a good hunch that Red Velvet Cupcakes will be making many appearances in my life throughout the year. 

Red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting on a scalloped white cake stand.

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Red Velvet Cupcakes

What flavor is red velvet? Red Velvet Cupcakes are essentially  chocolate cupcakes that get their flavor and deep scarlet color from cocoa powder and a few drops of red food coloring. 

I’ve seen some recipes that use beetroot or other natural colorants too, but here I kept things simple and just used a small amount of the red coloring I had on hand in my cupboard. 

The flavor is phenomenal–but you know what my favorite thing about Red Velvet Cupcakes is? The texture. These cupcakes live up to the “velvet” in their name. Every bite is moist and almost silky smooth. No dried out crumbly cupcakes here!

Step by step photo collage on how to make red velvet cupcakes.

How to Make Red Velvet Cupcakes

STEP 1. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda and salt. 

STEP 2. In a mixer, blend oil, milk, eggs, vanilla, vinegar and food coloring until combined. Slowly add in the dry ingredients, combining as you go. 

STEP 3. Pour batter into a muffin tin lined with cupcake liners and bake at 350 F for 18 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting. 

Cream Cheese Frosting

Since I initially made the cupcakes for a Fourth of July party,  I had visions of making some marshmallow fondant and coloring it red and blue and then cutting out stars. But that didn’t happen today. 

Instead, I stuck with a simple cream cheese frosting. The same delicious frosting I use on my Red Velvet Cheesecake Cake!

The easy frosting recipe gave me more time to eat cupcakes! And what’s the point in going through all that trouble when these cupcakes are amazing without the fondant stars? 

Red velvet cupcakes on a cooling rack.

How to Make Cream Cheese frosting

Making cream cheese frosting for red velvet cupcakes couldn’t be easier.

Whip together cream cheese with powdered sugar, butter and vanilla. Use a little bit of milk to thin out the frosting to desired consistency.

This kind of icing is my favorite for topping on so many desserts, not just cupcakes. If you like it on these, you might also want to the frosting on my Gingerbread Cookie Bars and these Carrot Cake Muffin Tops. Yum!

A moist and lightly chocolate-y cupcake paired with rich cream cheese frosting is my idea of the perfect food. So go ahead. Take a bite. It looks yummy, right?

I took a bite for you too.

Red velvet cupcakes in two 6-cavity cupcake tins on a wire rack.

Cupcake Baking Tips

Want to make sure your RED VELVET CUPCAKES turn out as pretty and tasty as possible? Check out these tips and tricks:

  • Make sure to SIFT your dry ingredients first! I know, I know. I usually skip this step too. But I promise it makes a world of difference for these cupcakes. They’re supposed to be velvety–and getting rid of any lumps of flour or cocoa powder is essential to achieve that texture. Just trust me on this one and sift away. It only takes an extra minute or two! 
  • Use gel food coloring in this recipe. It is more concentrated than the liquid versions so you get that deep red color without needing to dump a ton of food dye into your cupcakes. Bonus: it’s way more cost effective!
  • After mixing the wet ingredients together, add the dry ingredients very slowly. If you add them too quickly you’ll be forced to mix the batter more. Over mixing the batter results in a tougher cupcake. Add more food coloring to reach desired color.
  • Don’t overfill your muffin tins! You want to fill them just about ⅔ of the way to the top. I use a ladle or measuring cup for controlling how much batter goes into each cup. When in doubt, be modest with your pour. You can always add more if you under fill.
  • Don’t have any buttermilk? It’s easy to make your own at home for this recipe: 
    • Whisk together 1 and ¼ cups of regular milk with a teaspoon of vinegar. Let the milk sit for a few minutes until it looks curdled. Boom! Instant buttermilk! 
Red velvet cupcakes on a white cake plate with swirls of cream cheese frosting.

More Easy Dessert Recipes

Yield: 24 cupcakes

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Total Time 38 minutes

As beautiful as they are delicious, Red Velvet Cupcakes are my favorite way to enjoy Red Velvet Cake. Make them for Valentine's Day, Fourth of July or anytime of year!


For the Cupcakes:

  • 1 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • red food coloring
  • 2 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

For the Frosting:

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 cup powdered sugar


  1. For the cupcakes, sift dry ingredients. I don’t usually follow that step in other recipes, but it’s important in this one!
  2. In mixer, blend oil, milk, eggs, vanilla, vinegar and food coloring until combined. Slowly add in dry ingredients. Add enough red food coloring to your desired color level!
  3. Pour 2/3rd full into cupcake liners. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 18 minutes (or 10 minutes for mini muffin, or 30 minutes for two-9inch cakes).
  4. For the frosting, beat butter and cream cheese until fluffy. Add in remaining ingredients and beat until creamy and desired consistency. Add in more milk if needed.


To pipe frosting, refrigerate for 30 minutes prior to piping on cupcakes

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 333Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 36mgSodium: 240mgCarbohydrates: 38gFiber: 0gSugar: 27gProtein: 3g

*Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate. Please see a registered dietitian for special diet advice.

Did you make this recipe?

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Recipe originally published July 1, 2011. Photos updates 2020.

Easy, beautiful Red Velvet Cupcakes are moist and delicious. Topped with perfect Cream Cheese Frosting.

About Aimee

Aimee is a dessert lover (specifically rice krispie treats), workout enthusiast, self-taught foodie, and recipe creator.

Learn more about Aimee.

Affiliate Disclosure:**There may be affiliate links in this post! By clicking on them, or purchasing recommended items I may receive a small compensation. However, I only recommend products I love! Thank you for supporting Shugary Sweets! See my disclosure policy for more info**

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Posted on February 24, 2020

Comments & Reviews

  1. My friend asked for red velvet cupcakes for her birthday and I remembered that you had shared your recipe on “A Little Birdie Told Me…” a while back. I pulled up the feature, printed your recipe, and now have the cupcakes in the oven. Thanks again so much !


  2. Oh my, these look delicious! Love the addition of the buttermilk.

    You’re more than welcome to link this and any other cupcake related post you have at the month long Cupcake Link Party!


  3. I’m with you — never really been a huge fan of Red Velvet cake, largely because of the massive quantities of red food coloring. Some recipes call for 1 to 2 bottles! Eeek! Your recipe sounds great! Love the buttermilk and the scant amount of gel food color.

  4. Hi! These look so good! I am a new follower!I would love it if you stopped by blog, take a look around and if you like what you see, follow me back! Thanks!
    Have a great holiday!


  5. Love red velvet cake – even better in portable form! Thanks for linking to Fat Camp Friday, see you next week!

  6. Love your red velvet cupcakes. So pretty and festive. Thanks for sharing on A Well-Seasoned Life’s Sweet Indulgences Sunday.

  7. My name is Ali and I am from Child Protection Services.

    I was alerted by a reader that your children have ingested food coloring. Did you know the risks …..



  8. I’m not a big fan of red velvet, but these cupcakes are adorable! And my sister loves red velvet cake…maybe I can surprise her with these for her birthday. 🙂

  9. Super festive for the 4th. I found you from Paisley Passions linky. I hope you can swing by Momtrends and share this treat.


  10. 🙂 laughing…me too, the thought of so much red food coloring has always kind of made me shy away from red velvet cake. But those look amazing! I think I’ll give them a try!

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