Red Velvet Cake

12 servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes

Red Velvet Cake is unbelievably MOIST and fluffy, made with cocoa powder, buttercream, and sour cream, ready to frost in only 45 minutes!

It’s almost time for Valentine’s Day, and today we’re sharing our favorite V-day recipes like Red Velvet Cupcakes, Chocolate Lava Cake and Chocolate Truffles.

Red Velvet Cake slice on plate

Red Velvet Cake is a CLASSIC recipe, made from sour cream and buttermilk for an incredibly moist and velvety texture, along with cocoa powder and food coloring to help give it the signature red color.

Make this cake with Cream Cheese Frosting, and top with chocolate shavings, cookie crumbs, red sprinkles or cake crumbs if you like trimming the tops of your cake layers flat.

This red velvet cake recipe is also perfect for making layer cakes, cupcakes, or even cake pops. You can use piping tips for the cream cheese frosting to add decoration to the top of the cake, or just decorate with extra red velvet crumbs!

Red Velvet Cake Collage

What makes Red Velvet Cake different from Chocolate?

Red velvet cake has its signature red color, but it’s more than just chocolate cake with red food coloring. Red velvet cake also has acidic ingredients like buttermilk and sour cream, which react with the cocoa powder to turn it red and give it a fluffy texture. Some red velvet cake recipes also contain vinegar for this reason.

Most dutch-processed cocoa powders you’ll find nowadays are treated differently when they’re produced, so it’s hard to get the red color from just the ingredients, which is why you’ll see red food coloring in most recipes now.

Chocolate cake also has more cocoa, while red velvet cake just puts enough in for flavor and color, but it’s not a true chocolate cake.

More Red Velvet Decorating Ideas

  • Frost the red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting, then top with mini chocolate chips, meringue cookies, or white chocolate chips.
  • Add cream cheese frosting between each cake layer, then dust the top with confectioner’s sugar or drizzle with Chocolate Ganache.
  • After frosting, top with chopped pecans, walnuts, or almonds.
Red Velvet Cake Collage

More Cake Recipes

Red Velvet Cake Slice on plate with fork

Tips for Making Red Velvet Cake

  • You can use gel or liquid food coloring for this dessert, but you may need to add more liquid than gel to get the color you want.
  • Cake flour gives cakes a lighter and finer texture compared to all purpose flour. If you don’t have cake flour flour, you can substitute 1 cup (14 tablespoons) of all purpose flour, plus 2 tablespoons cornstarch.
  • Because this cake is similar to chocolate cake, you can add more flavor with a tablespoon of espresso powder or bold instant coffee powder.
  • Beetroot used to give red velvet cake its red color, when other ingredients weren’t regularly available. Now you’ll find food coloring in its place but you can still use it as a natural alternative.
  • Watch your cooking time and temperature to keep this red velvet cake recipe as moist as possible. The cake is done baking when a toothpick comes out clean. Check it about 5 minutes before it’s supposed to be done, just in case, then increase the baking time as needed from there.
  • Use good quality cake pans to make this red velvet. Good pans will conduct heat better, and your cake will turn out with better texture and won’t burn on the bottom.
  • Buttercream is ideal, but if you don’t have it you can curdle regular milk with ½ teaspoon of lemon juice. Let it sit for a few minutes before using for this red velvet cake recipe.
  • Add some sprinkles or food coloring into the cream cheese to make the frosting more decorative.

How to Store Red Velvet Cake

  • Serve: Red Velvet Cake can be left unfrosted at room temperature, but if you frost it with dairy based frosting, refrigerate it after two hours.
  • Store: Red velvet cake can be stored at room temperature, but if you add cream cheese or buttercream (dairy-based frosting) I would recommend refrigerating your red velvet cake for up to a week. If you don’t have frosting and just leave this Red Velvet Cake wrapped on the counter, it will last 2-3 days.
  • Freeze: You can also freeze this cake fully decorated. Freeze for an hour or so uncovered, then when the frosting is frozen, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for up to 3-4 months.
Red Velvet Cake slice on plate

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Red Velvet Cake

Red Velvet Cake is unbelievably MOIST and fluffy, made with cocoa powder, buttercream, and sour cream, ready in only 45 minutes!
Yield 12 servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Author Sabrina Snyder


  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter , softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 ounce red food color
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • Cream Cheese Frosting


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Sift the flour, cocoa powder and baking soda into a large bowl and add the salt to it.
  • In a stand mixer whisk together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then add in the eggs one at a time.
  • Whisk in the sour cream, milk, red food coloring and vanilla then add in the flour until just barely mixed in (do not overmix).
  • Pour into two 9-inch cake pans and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean and let cool completely before frosting.



Note: click on times in the instructions to start a kitchen timer while cooking.


Calories: 431kcal | Carbohydrates: 54g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 106mg | Sodium: 238mg | Potassium: 127mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 34g | Vitamin A: 690IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 52mg | Iron: 0.9mg
Red Velvet Cake Collage

Photos used in a previous version of this post.

Red Velvet Cake Slice
Red Velvet Cake
Cream Cheese Frosted Red Velvet Cake
Classic Red Velvet Cake

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.


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  1. My husband’s favorite cake is red velvet, so I was excited to make this for him and surprise him. It turned out so good! He absolutely LOVED it!

  2. I LOVE red velvet anything!! But, this cake is to die for!! It’s soft & moist & I love the layer of frosting in the middle.

  3. I have been trying since long time for Sending Cakes to France to my beloved. Through this e-gift portal I have been able to fulfill my dreams. Very helpful customer service. Cake reached on time with proper care and zero mishandling. I am truly in love with their Same Day Shipping facility.
    -Brigitte Garnier, Orléans

  4. Absolutely the best red velvet cake! I’ve made different variations and this one is by far my family’s favorite. Thank you for sharing.

    1. I’m making this for a birthday party this weekend. I was thinking about using both expresso powder and chocolate chips folded into the batter to make it extra special but I’m concerned using both will make the chocolate flavor overpowering. What do you think?

    1. I’ve not tested a vegetarian version of this recipe so I’m not comfortable giving a recommendation. If you decide to try, I’d love to know what works. Thanks!

  5. My wife and I made this together yesterday and can I just say it turned out fabulous. Nice and moist, great texture, very rich and yummy.