Red Velvet Cupcakes

24 servings
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes

Red Velvet Cupcakes are 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 your favorite cake recipes including Easy Chocolate CakeVanilla Pound Cake and New York Cheesecake.

Red Velvet Cupcakes on various stands

Red Velvet Cupcakes are one of the most popular desserts ever, made with buttermilk and sour cream for an unbelievably light and fluffy texture, topped with homemade Ccream Cheese Frosting. These are perfect to bring to a holiday party, and once you do you’ll start to 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 collage of batter preparation

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Red Velvet Cupcakes just chocolate?

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.

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.

How do you make Red Velvet Cupcakes moist?

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. You can also make these cupcakes with half white sugar and half brown sugar to add some additional moisture to the cake.

Can I make Red Velvet Cupcakes without Buttermilk?

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.

How do I decorate Red Velvet Cupcakes?

Decorate Red Velvet Cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, buttercream frosting, red sprinkles, chocolate ganache (then dust with powdered sugar), crushed cookies, mini chocolate chips, berries, or chocolate shavings.

How do I make Low Fat Red Velvet Cupcakes?

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.

Red Velvet Cupcakes before and after baking

More Delicious Dessert Recipes

Red Velvet Cupcakes top view

Tips for Making Red Velvet Cupcakes

  • 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.
  • 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 it’s best to use a paper-lined tin to prevent the red velvet from sticking, and make cleanup easier.
  • 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 than 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.
  • 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.

How to Store Red Velvet Cupcakes

  • Serve: If you decorate the cupcakes with cream cheese frosting or buttermilk frosting, do not leave them at room temperature longer than 2 hours.
  • Store: Red Velvet Cupcakes can be stored in an airtight container on the counter for 2-3 days. If you keep them in the refrigerator, red velvet will keep for about a week.
  • Freeze: 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.
Red Velvet Cupcakes with frosting being piped

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Red Velvet Cupcakes

Red Velvet Cupcakes are soft and moist with an incredible red color, made with sour cream and buttermilk, and ready in under 45 minutes!
Yield 24 servings
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 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 the 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).
  • 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.



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 Cupcakes Collage

Photos used in a previous version of this post.

Red Velvet Cupcakes
Classic Red Velvet Cupcake
Red Velvet Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

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. 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!!!!