Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Who can resist red velvet?!?

Ha – apparently, my friends and I cannot.  :)  I ended up making two batches of red velvet cupcakes to take to a handful of events with friends this weekend, and they were a definite hit!  People’s eyes always seem to light up whenever the hear the words “red velvet”.  And then for those like me, hearing anything having to do with “cream cheese frosting” just seals the deal.  So irresistible!

Part of the fun of the weekend was that I ended up using two of my favorite recipes for these — partly because I wanted to compare taste, and partly because I was short on time and out of food coloring halfway through the weekend!  So you may have guessed — one recipe was made completely from scratch (including two little bottles of red food coloring), and one was based from a box mix (kicked up a notch!).

While I’d love to tell you that I thought the homemade cupcakes were far and above better, I could actually hardly taste a difference.  Both were wonderfully moist, full of that rich chocolate-y flavor, and of course, that gorgeous color of red.  And both paired perfectly with that luscious cream cheese frosting.  Although let’s be honest — what wouldn’t?!  :)

So for those of you who like to go 100% homemade, or those who want to save a few minutes of prep (and rounding up red food coloring and cake flour), I’ve included both recipes below!  Just scroll down to the bottom of the post for the cake mix recipe.  So in honor of Valentine’s Day this week, I love them both!!

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Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Two great Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting recipes — 100% homemade, or a box mix recipe kicked up a notch. Both irresistible!


Cupcake Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour (not all-purpose flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 oz. red food coloring (two bottles)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients:

  • 1 lb (2 blocks) cream cheese (not softened)
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, at room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted


To Make Cupcakes:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 muffin tins with cupcake papers.

Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl; set aside. In a small bowl, mix food coloring and cocoa powder to form a thin paste without lumps; set aside.

In a large bowl, using a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about three minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then beat in vanilla and the red cocoa paste, scraping down the bowl with a spatula as you go. Add one third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beat well, then beat in half of the buttermilk. Beat in another third of flour mixture, then second half of buttermilk. End with the last third of the flour mixture, beat until well combined, making sure to scrape down the bowl with a spatula.

In a small bowl, mix vinegar and baking soda. (Yes, it will fizz!) Add vinegar mixture to the cake batter and stir well to combine. Fill cupcake cups with cake batter until they are about 3/4 full. (I like to use an ice-cream scoop for this!) Bake for approximately 20-22 minutes, rotating pans halfway through. Cupcakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Check early and don’t overbake!

Cool the cupcakes in their tins on a wire rack for 10 minutes then remove and allow to cool completely before frosting.

To Make Frosting:
To make the frosting, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed until well combined and smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Mix in the vanilla extract. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar until totally incorporated, increase the speed and then beat until smooth. Frost cooled cupcakes as desired.

Recipe adapted from Pinch My Salt

All images and text ©

If you make this recipe, be sure to snap a photo and hashtag it #gimmesomeoven. I'd love to see what you cook!

Ali’s Tip:

Here is the alternate recipe using a red-velvet cake mix!


  • 1 (18.25 oz.) box red velvet cake mix
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 4 eggs


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 baking cups with paper liners.

Add the first three ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low to medium speed until moistened, about 30 seconds.  Add eggs one at a time, until the batter is well-mixed. Increase speed to high and beat until thick, 2 minutes longer.

Pour or scoop the batter into the paper liners until they are 3/4 full. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cupcakes cool on a wire rack.

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81 comments on “Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting”

  1. I have tried these cupcakes (from scratch) and they turned out grate ! I substituted the buttermilk by plane milk and used all-pupose flour. The frosting was a bit too liquid to my taste, but still tasted great.

  2. Aaaah, using food colouring in a red velvet is what i call blasphemy. They’re called RED velvet because of the chemical reaction between the cocoa powder and the vinegar, which makes the cocoa powder turn slightly red. 

  3. These cupcakes look amazing!  I am curious-how much cocoa powder do I use?  The recipe above does not state.


  4. I made your cupcakes for a party and they went down really well. This was my first attempt at red velvet and I thought they were great! The only thing I changed was the icing – I used only half of the amount of cream cheese because I’ve made similar icing and it usually ends up too runny for me (with this variation it piped beautifully!!). Thanks for the recipe!

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  8. Do you recommend putting these in the refrigerator after frosting or can they be left out? Making them a day ahead of time…thanks!

    • Hi Kristen! We think we would keep them in the fridge if you’re making them a day ahead of time. Just make sure you take them out a couple hours before serving, so they can come to room temp, or so most of the chill comes off (unless you prefer them cold) – either way is fine! We hope you enjoy! :)

  9. Hi! Are you using red liquid food color or gel color?

  10. Hi Ali,

    Can’t wait to make these next week for Valentine’s Day! What kind of food coloring did you use? This is my first time making red velvet so I want to make sure I get the color right! Thanks :)

    • Hi Maggie! We just used a regular red food coloring (McCormick’s — found in the baking aisle) — nothing fancy! :) We hope you enjoy these!

  11. Does this recipe half well? It seems as though it would…

    • Hi Amber! Yes, this definitely halves well. We hope you enjoy the cupcakes!

  12. Hi! To make a double batch do you just double everything? I’m a newbie. LOL

  13. I made these for a friends son’s graduation party this weekend and they turned out great. I will save the recipe. I did not use the frosting recipe as I didn’t want that much cream cheese since I was piping frosting on the cupcakes.

    Rating: 5
    • Thanks for sharing with us, Lisa — we’re so glad to hear they turned out well! :)

  14. Always scratch for me until I did the cake mix one. Was a pro for years but hey, I may be older but open to change!!! Love this one from a mix! Sooooo easy! My critical family didn’t notice the difference😂

  15. Made these cupcakes without the frosting for my boyfriend’s birthday and it’s definitely now my go to red velvet recipie..
    Didn’t have buttermilk so I substituted with whole milk and few drops of lemon juice… worked perfectly well..

    Rating: 5
  16. Best thus far !!

    Rating: 5
  17. Great recipe, very easy to make! I didn’t have buttermilk so I subbed it out with natural yogurt and normal milk, it worked very very well. Love this recipe will use it time and time again!

    Rating: 5
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  21. For making the red velvet cupcakes from a box mix, you state using an 18.25 box mix. All the cake mixes are 15.25. Would the amount of ingredients be the same? Thanks.