Red Velvet Cupcakes

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Red Velvet Cupcakes and soft and moist with an incredible red color, made with sour cream and buttermilk, and ready in under 45 minutes!

We love making classic dessert recipes, and these cupcakes bring up all our favorite cake recipes including Easy Chocolate CakeVanilla Pound Cake and New York Cheesecake.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Red Velvet Cupcakes are my all-time favorite dessert, made with buttermilk and sour cream for an unbelievably light and fluffy texture, topped with my homemade cream cheese frosting. This is my go-to when I need something to bring to a holiday party, and I even get special requests for this red velvet!

This red velvet cupcake recipe is also super kid-friendly because they’ll love decorating them for Valentine’s Day.

You can use a few drops of food coloring in the cream cheese frosting to make it pink, then top with red sprinkles or chocolate candies. Or you can make a layer cake with chocolate ganache, and a dusting of powdered sugar.


Red velvet cupcakes are similar to chocolate cake, with less cocoa and the addition of red food coloring. You can make this cake without food coloring and it will taste the same, but it won’t turn out with the signature color that red food coloring brings.

But traditional red velvet cake recipes also use buttermilk and other acidic ingredients, like vinegar or sour cream, to give the cake a much richer taste and texture. This also used to provide a natural red color due to the ingredients reacting with each other.


  • Make sure your oven is cooking at the temperature you’re setting it to. You can do this by using an oven safe thermometer to double check. If it’s off, adjust your temp up or down accordingly.
  • Set an oven timer for a few minutes less then you think the red velvet cupcakes will take to cook, just in case. Overcooking the red velvet will dry it out.
  • This recipe already has ingredients that are naturally higher in acid, like buttermilk and sour cream, which helps make the red velvet texture moist and fluffy.
  • You might want to refrigerate red velvet cake depending on what type of frosting you’re using, but bring it back to room temperature before serving.
  • Make these cupcakes with half white sugar and half brown sugar to add some additional moisture to the cake.


If you don’t have buttermilk, you can use regular milk with ½ teaspoon of lemon juice for red velvet cake. Let the milk sit with the lemon juice for a few minutes before using it. The acid in buttermilk plays an important role in a red velvet cake’s texture and rise, so we’re trying to mimic that acid with this substitute.

Classic Red Velvet Cupcake

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  • Cream cheese frosting
  • Buttercream frosting
  • Red sprinkles
  • Chocolate ganache (then dust with powdered sugar)
  • Crushed cookies
  • Mini chocolate chips
  • Berries
  • Chocolate shavings



Red velvet cupcakes can be stored in an airtight container on the counter for 2-3 days. You can also freeze these cupcakes for 3-4 months. These will actually freeze better if you decorate them first because the frosting protects the cake.

If you decorate the cupcakes with cream cheese frosting or buttermilk frosting, I recommend refrigerating them. In the refrigerator, red velvet will keep for about a week.


  • Use an ice cream scoop with a release button to divide the red velvet batter into the cupcake tin. This will be faster, and ensure that all of the cupcakes are the same size.
  • Red velvet is similar to devils food, with the difference being the use of cocoa powder and the addition of food coloring.
  • This red velvet cupcakes recipe uses cake flour because it turns out lighter than all purpose flour, but you can substitute it with 1 cup (14 tablespoons) of all purpose flour, plus 2 tablespoons cornstarch.
  • You can grease your cupcake tin, but I like to use a paper-lined tin to prevent the red velvet from sticking, and make cleanup easier.
  • Traditionally red velvet only appeared red because of a reaction between the buttermilk, vinegar, baking soda, and cocoa powder. Modern dutch-processed cocoa powder won’t have the same effect, and a red velvet cupcake recipe will call for red food coloring.
  • Gel food coloring or liquid food coloring will both work for the red color in this recipe (the coloring itself provides no taste). Typically you will need less of the gel coloring then the liquid food coloring. You can also find recipes that use beetroot to color the cake instead of food coloring.
  • Add more flavor to these cupcakes with a tablespoon of instant coffee or espresso powder.
  • Make this velvet cupcake recipe low fat by substituting the butter with applesauce and using light sour cream. Keep in mind that this may affect the texture, as the fat adds a lot of moisture. You can also lower the fat in the cream cheese frosting by using Neufchatel cheese instead of cream cheese.
  • These velvet cupcakes are done when a toothpick comes out clean. You can use this recipe to make cupcakes, or make a full cake by using round cake pans and increasing the cooking time slightly.

Red Velvet Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting

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Red Velvet Cupcakes

5 from 7 votes
  • Yield: 24 servings
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Course: Dessert
  • Cuisine: American
  • Author: Sabrina Snyder

Red Velvet Cupcakes and soft and moist with an incredible red color, made with sour cream and buttermilk, and ready in under 45 minutes!


  • 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


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

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. Sift the flour, cocoa powder and baking soda into a large bowl and add the salt to it.

  3. In a stand mixer whisk together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then add in the eggs one at a time.
  4. Whisk in the sour cream, milk, red food coloring and vanilla then add in the flour until just barely mixed in (do not overmix).
  5. Scoop with an ice cream scoop into cupcake liners, ¾ full and bake for 18-20 minutes, let cool completely and ice with cream cheese frosting.

Recipe Notes

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

Nutrition Information

Yield: 24 servings, Amount per serving: 431 calories, Calories: 431g, Carbohydrates: 54g, Protein: 6g, Fat: 21g, Saturated Fat: 12g, Cholesterol: 106mg, Sodium: 238mg, Potassium: 127mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 34g, Vitamin A: 690g, Vitamin C: 0.2g, Calcium: 52g, Iron: 0.9g

All images and text © for Dinner, then Dessert.

Keyword: red velvet cupcakes

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

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  1. I’ve never used cake flour before but glad I did! These cupcakes were amazing. I made them birthday cupcakes for my brother because red velvet is his favorite and thought it would be a nice change up from cake. So they were birthday day cupcakes and I also made your Cream Cheese Frosting and Chocolate Ganache and made some cupcakes with each and some with both. Needless to say, we all liked certain ones better but they all disappeared. Very good.

  2. Hi! This is great recipe and I’ve made it twice. I get 24 cupcakes from this recipe so is it a misprint that says 12 servings?

    1. Thank you for catching that. I’ve adjusted it to read correctly now. So glad you are enjoying the recipe.

  3. Hi! Quick question, I wantt o make this today with my daughter but I don’t have cake flour so I will substitute with 1 cup of white flour and 2 tablespoons of cornstarch but do you substitute each cup that the recipe asks or it is 1 cup for the whole recipe?

  4. The flavor was nice with more chocolate flavor than traditional red velvet, but this was disappointingly a little drier than anticipated. I was very careful not to overmix!

    1. I’m so sorry. A dry cupcake can indicate that the dry ingredients weren’t measured accurately. Make sure not to scoop your flour but to spoon it into your measuring cup. Also, try cutting your bake time just a bit. It could be that your oven runs a bit hot. Hopefully those help for next time.

  5. Thanks so much for the lesson on red velvet cake. I had no idea about the buttermilk making it fluffy. These cupcakes look so light and delicious. Can’t wait to make this recipe.

  6. These are divine! I highly recommend making these for any upcoming parties or just to enjoy for yourself. Yumm!!!!