Red Velvet Cake Recipe is a classic must-have in your dessert arsenal. The super moist and slightly chocolaty cake, covered in a tangy cream cheese frosting, is the perfect way to end a great meal.
It is by far my most favorite cake flavor, and for good reason!If you love red velvet, you’ll want to try The Best Red Velvet Cupcakes, these Red Velvet Brownies with Cream Cheese Frosting, or this Red Velvet Pound Cake.
Red Velvet Cake Recipe
Red Velvet Cake is not just a white cake with red dye.
It has a distinct and complex flavor from the addition of cocoa powder and buttermilk in the cake batter plus the signature tanginess from the silky cream cheese frosting.
This red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting is an impressive dessert that is actually fairly easy to make. It is perfect for birthdays, Valentine’s Day, holidays and everyday occasions.
How do you make red velvet cake?
To make the cake batter, you will need a couple of mixing bowls and a whisk.
No electric mixer or stand mixer is needed for the cake, but you’ll need it for the frosting.
- In a medium mixing bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking powder to get rid of any lumps and ensure a smooth batter.
- Mix sugar and salt in with the sifted flour mixture.
- Beat buttermilk, vegetable oil, eggs, vinegar, vanilla extract, and liquid red food color together in a large mixing bowl with a whisk.
- Add the flour mixture to the liquid mixture, and whisk until smooth.
- Divide batter into two 8” cake pans and bake at 350°F for 35 minutes.
Why is vinegar used in red velvet cake recipe?
If you’re worried about the taste of vinegar in your cake, I can assure you that you won’t be able to tell.
Just a teaspoon of vinegar is used in this cake batter to ensure the baking soda will react and help the cake rise.
Baking soda is basic while vinegar is acidic, these two ingredients react to form carbon dioxide gas, which gives rise to the cake.
However, I always add a little baking powder as well to give it an extra push in the oven.
What kind of frosting should I use?
To me, a red velvet cake isn’t complete without its signature tangy cream cheese frosting.
This particular cream cheese frosting is not too sweet, and the tanginess compliments the cake flavor well.
The simple cream cheese frosting is made with just four ingredients:
- Cream cheese
- Unsalted butter
- Pure vanilla extract
- Powdered sugar
All the ingredients for the frosting are creamed together in a stand mixer or with a handheld electric mixer for the best results.
You can attempt to make the frosting by hand, but it will take a bit of elbow grease for sure.
Make sure the cream cheese and butter are at room temperature but not melted.
If the ingredients are too soft, the frosting may come out slightly runny. Don’t try to fix it by adding more powdered sugar.
This will make it too sweet (unless you like very sweet frosting). Just pop it in the fridge to set up a little before frosting the cake.
If you prefer a frosting that is less tangy and a little sweeter, my runner-up recommendation is a Swiss buttercream frosting.
It is an egg white base buttercream, that is just as silky and creamy, without the tang. But keep in mind, cream cheese frosting is the more classic choice.
Other tips for perfect red velvet cake
- A kitchen scale can be very useful when you want to divide the cake batter precisely. This red velvet cake recipe will give you approximately 675 grams of batter for each 8” cake pan. This will also help both cakes bake evenly in the oven.
- Brush the cake pans with melted butter as well as line the bottoms with a piece of round parchment paper, cut to fit the cake pan you are using. Then brush the parchment paper with melted butter also. This will ensure easy and clean release of the cake.
- I like McCormick brand liquid red food color, the one you can get at the grocery store. It gives a consistent and vibrant red color to this cake each time I make it.
Looking for more delicious cakes? Try these!
Red Velvet Cake Recipe
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder natural or dutch processed
- 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cup buttermilk room temperature
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vinegar
- 2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoon liquid red food color
- Melted butter for cake pans
- 1 lb cream cheese room temperature
- 8 oz unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
Make the red velvet cake
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Brush melted butter on two 8” round cake pans. Line the bottom of the cake pan with a piece of round parchment paper and brush the parchment paper with butter as well. Set aside.
- Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking powder into a medium mixing bowl. Add sugar and salt to the flour mixture, and mix thoroughly with a whisk. Set aside.
- Add buttermilk, oil, eggs, vinegar, vanilla extract, and red food color to a large bowl. Beat with a whisk until combined. Add the flour mixture to the liquid mixture, and whisk until a smooth batter forms.
- Divide batter evenly among the two prepared cake pans and bake for 35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean with just a few crumbs attached. Use a kitchen scale to divide the cake batter if you want to be precise, approximately 675 g of batter per pan. This will also help the cake bake evenly.
- Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 10 - 15 minutes. When you can touch the cake pans, use a butter knife to loosen the sides, flip the pan over to remove the cake from the pan. Peel off the parchment paper, and allow the cakes to cool completely on a wire rack before adding frosting.
Prepare the cream cheese frosting
- In a large mixing bowl or a stand mixer bowl, cream butter and cream cheese together until thoroughly mixed and creamy.
- Add vanilla extract and beat to combine.
- Add powdered sugar and stir until incorporated, gradually increase the mixer speed and beat until fluffy. Use right away.
Assemble and frost
- Place the first layer of cake on a cake stand or plate, spread 1 cup of frosting on top with an offset spatula. Place the second layer on top of the frosted first layer, and spread another cup of frosting on top using the same offset spatula. Then add the remaining frosting on the side.
- If desired, add just a thin layer of frosting on the side of the cake and pipe the rest on top for decoration as pictured, using a pastry bag fitted with an open star piping tip.
- Refrigerate the frosted cake for at least 30 minutes before serving to allow the frosting to set.
All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods and portion sizes per household.