Red Velvet Cupcakes Recipe

When you make red velvet cake from a box, you don't need to come to terms with just how much food coloring is needed to turn a chocolate cake red. If you make your cake from scratch, as recipe developer Hayley MacLean does here, you'll see just how much is needed — up to 2 whole tablespoons in all. MacLean does say, though, "You can choose to use less food coloring if you like," but admits "I just love making these cupcakes bright, bold, and full of color." If you like, though, you can dial the amount back to just a tablespoon, or even less, if you don't mind a less-vivid cake.

MacLean describes these cupcakes as "fun and festive [with a great, light chocolate flavor," adding that "red velvet is traditionally a mixture of vanilla and chocolate, and these hit the mark perfectly with both flavors being present and balanced together perfectly." The sweet cupcakes, she says, are nicely balanced by the tangy cream cheese frosting, as well. Just in time for Valentine's Day, let's hop right into this red velvet cupcake recipe!

Assemble the ingredients for red velvet cupcakes

In addition to the red food coloring, you'll need your standard from-scratch cake stuff. The dry ingredients include all-purpose flour, sugar (both granulated and powdered), baking powder, baking soda, and, for the light chocolate flavor, a small amount of cocoa powder. The not-so-dry ingredients are butter (make sure this is at room temperature), eggs (room temperature's good for these, too), milk (keep this in the fridge until you use it), vanilla, and cream cheese.

If you want to make the cupcakes look pretty, you can always top them with sprinkles. Another suggestion MacLean has is to "use chocolate shavings or curls for a fun decorative touch."

Make the cupcake batter

Before you get started, preheat the oven to 350 F. Whisk the dry ingredients together in a big mixing bowl along with ¼ teaspoon of salt. Beat the soft butter into the dry ingredients (MacLean likes to use a hand or a stand mixer for this part) until thoroughly combined. At this point you should have something vaguely resembling sand.

In a separate bowl, mix the wet stuff: the eggs, milk, red food coloring, and 2 teaspoons of the vanilla. Slowly stir this mixture into the "sand" to make the bright red batter.

Bake the cupcakes

Line a muffin pan with paper cupcake liners. If you haven't got any of these, use a lot of grease and flour or nonstick cooking spray, but note that paper liners do make everything easier. Pour the batter into each liner until it reaches about ⅔ of the way up the sides, then put the pan in the preheated oven and bake the cupcakes for 15 to 20 minutes. When you think they are done, test them with a toothpick just to make sure. If you stick one in the middle of a cupcake and it comes out clean, you should be good to go. Let the cupcakes cool on a wire rack.

Frost the cupcakes

While the cupcakes are baking or cooling, you can make the frosting. Beat the remaining butter — which should be really quite soft by now — together with the cream cheese, then stir in the remaining vanilla and ¼ teaspoon salt. Add the powdered sugar a cup at a time until your frosting is smooth and spreadable. The ingredients call for 3 cups, but you may need only 2 or perhaps 2 ½. When the cupcakes are cool, frost them, decorate as desired, then enjoy.

As MacLean says of these cupcakes, they "are perfect to share with loved ones on Valentine's day ... sure to be a hit that captures all the sentiment of the holiday." While she says they "are great all on their own," she also feels they "go best with a big glass of milk to help wash [them] down." If you're not feeding a crowd, she says that the cupcakes should be good in the fridge up to five days. They can't be kept at room temperature, though, since the cream cheese frosting does necessitate refrigeration.

Red Velvet Cupcakes Recipe
5 from 41 ratings
These red velvet cupcakes are sweet, slightly chocolatey, and perfect for Valentine's Day.
Prep Time
Cook Time
red velvet cupcakes with sprinkles
Total time: 30 minutes
  • 1 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, divided
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons red food coloring
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
Optional Ingredients
  • sprinkles
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and ¼ teaspoon salt.
  3. Beat ½ cup of butter into the dry ingredients until a sandy mixture forms.
  4. Combine the eggs, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, milk, and red food coloring in a separate bowl.
  5. Slowly add the wet mixture to the dry mixture, stirring until well combined.
  6. Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners. Fill the cupcake liners with batter until they're ⅔ full.
  7. Bake the cupcakes for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Once the cupcakes are finished baking, allow them to cool completely on a wire rack.
  8. Beat the remaining butter together with the cream cheese. Add the remaining vanilla extract along with ¼ teaspoon salt to the butter mixture, beating until smooth.
  9. Stir in the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time until the desired consistency is reached (you may not need all of the sugar).
  10. Spread the cream cheese frosting on the cupcakes. Decorate with sprinkles if desired.
Calories per Serving 407
Total Fat 20.3 g
Saturated Fat 12.1 g
Trans Fat 0.5 g
Cholesterol 88.3 mg
Total Carbohydrates 53.3 g
Dietary Fiber 0.7 g
Total Sugars 40.8 g
Sodium 129.3 mg
Protein 4.4 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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