★★★★★

Red Velvet Cupcakes

As beautiful as they are delicious, Red Velvet Cupcakes are my favorite way to enjoy Red Velvet Cake. Soft, moist, and easy to make, you’ll want them for Valentine’s Day, Fourth of July or anytime of year!

If you love cupcakes, our Skinny Pineapple Cupcakes are always a hit. Packed with flavor, not calories! Or give our decadent Tiramisu Cupcakes a try for dessert tonight!

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

Why this Recipe Works

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!

Ingredient Notes

To create delicious red velvet cupcakes you need a few key ingredients (scroll all the way to recipe card for measurements).

  • Buttermilk & Oil- To create cupcakes with the perfect amount of moisture, we use vegetable oil and our buttermilk substitute.
  • Vinegar- white vinegar is needed to activate and enhance the red color of these cupcakes.
  • Flour- We use all-purpose flour for todays cupcake recipe. We found cake flour to be too light to hold up to the coloring and buttermilk.
  • Cocoa Powder- Provides a slight flavor, but also helps give these cupcakes their rich red hue!

Step by Step Instructions

Step by step photo collage on how to make red velvet cupcakes.
  • Whisk together the dry ingredients. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda and salt. 
  • Combine wet ingredients. In a mixer, blend oil, milk, eggs, vanilla extract, vinegar and food coloring until combined. Slowly add in the dry ingredients, combining as you go. 
  • Add to cupcake liners. Pour batter into a muffin tin lined with cupcake liners. We use a large cookie scoop to do this step!
  • Bake at 350 F for 18 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting. 

Cream Cheese Frosting

Red velvet cupcakes on a cooling rack.

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

Whip together cream cheese with powdered sugar, butter and vanilla extract. 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.

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?

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:  try my homemade buttermilk substitute. 
  • Craving Cookies? Try our easy, 4 ingredient Red Velvet Cake Mix Cookie recipe!
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!

Ingredients

For the Cupcakes:

  • 1 ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 ¼ cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • red gel food coloring
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

For the Frosting:

  • 8 ounce cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups powdered sugar

Instructions

  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 ⅔rd 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.

Notes

  • 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! Always add a little more than you think, as they bake, the color fades slightly.
  • 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:  try my homemade buttermilk substitute
  • See blog post for more recipe tips and tricks!

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

24

Serving Size:

1

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?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

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

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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. Hi Aimee. Your recipes are the best and they always work! I just posted a review of these wonderful RV cupcakes. Could I sub the buttermilk with sour cream or would it change the texture/affect moistness?

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