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Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Red Velvet Cupcakes with cream cheese frosting is a classic recipe that everyone will love. They are perfect for any celebration, from Valentine’s Day to Christmas, from birthdays to weddings, and even just as an everyday treat.

A red velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting

These red velvet cupcakes are the perfect serving size of sweet treat for any occasion. The cupcakes are soft and moist. The cream cheese frosting is not too sweet and the tanginess compliments the light cocoa flavor in these cupcakes well.

If you love everything red velvet, be sure to try these Red Velvet Cookie Cups with cream cheese filling, these chewy and delicious Red Velvet White Chocolate Chip Cookies or these buttery Red Velvet Madeleines.

How to Make Red Velvet Cupcakes

This cupcake recipe is almost the same as my mini red velvet cake recipe. The only difference is while I used both butter and oil in the cake batter for a buttery flavor, I only use oil in this cupcake batter to get a better dome on the cupcakes.

Why didn’t you use butter in these cupcakes?

I’m not shy about my butter. But for this particular recipe, butter — contains about 20% water — which adds too much liquid to the batter. The tops of the cupcakes deflate after they come out of the oven. Though the taste is still fantastic, they just didn’t look as good.

Using just oil in these cupcakes keep them extremely moist while getting a nice dome on the final product.

The red velvet cupcake batter

A collage of photos showing steps to make red velvet cupcake batter

Making the cupcake batter (Photos 1 – 6)

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking powder.
  2. Whisk sugar and salt into the sifted flour mixture.
  3. Beat buttermilk, vegetable oil, egg, vanilla extract, and liquid red food color together in a large mixing bowl with a whisk.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the liquid mixture.
  5. Mix with a whisk until smooth.
  6. Divide batter among 12 cupcake cavities using a large ice cream scoop.
  7. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean with just a few crumbs attached. Allow to cool completely before adding frosting.
Baked red velvet cupcakes in a muffin pan

Baked red velvet cupcakes (Photo 7)

Can I make these into mini red velvet cupcakes?

Yes, you can use this same batter and bake it in a mini cupcake pan to get at least 2 dozens mini cupcakes, possibly with a few extra. The baking time will shorten to around 10 minutes.

Substitution tips

Buttermilk: buttermilk is a typical ingredient in red velvet cake. If you don’t have buttermilk, you could use enough milk + 1 teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice to make ¾ cup in this recipe. Sour cream will also work as a substitute.

Red food color: you can’t make red velvet cake red without red food color. I like using McCormick brand liquid red food color because I get a consistent red. You could try gel food color to reduce the amount you need to use, or beet powder if you want to go natural.

If you chose to use beet for your coloring, add enough to the wet ingredients to get a red liquid mixture (photo 3), start small and adjust as needed to your liking.

Oil: any flavorless oil will work in this recipe. I typically use vegetable or canola oil. Olive oil will work as well.

Cocoa powder: cocoa powder gives these cupcakes a light hint of chocolate. For this recipe either natural or Dutch-process, both will work fine.

Frosting: I prefer my red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting for that signature tanginess. But I know some of you may not like cream cheese, in that case, try this swiss buttercream frosting.

Red velvet cupcakes on a brown table top and white linen

Storing and making ahead

Can I keep these cupcakes on the counter overnight?

You can keep unfrosted cupcakes on the counter overnight. Be sure to cover them so they don’t dry out. However, if you have added frosting to your cupcakes, it is best to store them in the fridge since you don’t want to risk the frosting going bad.

How long do red velvet cupcakes last?

Frosted cupcakes will last up to a week if stored properly. You should definitely refrigerate frosting cupcakes. If you store them in an airtight container in the fridge, they could stay moist for up to a week.

How far in advance can I make these cupcakes?

While the cupcakes can last up to a week, I always prefer to make them just a day or two ahead so I can serve the freshest cupcakes to guests. If you worry about fridge space, make the cupcakes the night before, cover and keep them on the counter, then make the frosting the day of the party.

You don’t need to refrigerate frosted cupcakes if you plan to serve them within a few hours. However, during a hot day, you may want to refrigerate or at least keep them in a cool place so the frosting doesn’t melt. Any leftover should be stored in the fridge.

If you are planning to make the cupcakes a few days ahead of your event, I suggest you frost the cupcakes and refrigerate them. The frosting will act as a barrier to keep the cupcakes moist longer in this case.

Can I freeze red velvet cupcakes?

Yes, these cupcakes freeze well and will last for up to three months. Wrap them well to keep the freezer smell out. Thaw in the fridge overnight or on the counter for a couple of hours.

A red velvet cupcake with a bite taken out

More cupcake recipes with cream cheese frosting

If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment, send me a photo, rate it and don’t forget to tag me @wildwildwhisk on Instagram. I’d love to see what’s cooking up in your kitchen. Cheers!

Baker’s Tip: Vinegar may be a signature ingredient in many red velvet cupcake recipes, it is actually just used for leavening in conjunction with baking soda. Vinegar creates an acidic environment, reacts with the basic baking soda to help the batter rise. The buttermilk in this cupcake batter will work the same way as buttermilk is also acidic.
A red velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Red Velvet Cupcakes with cream cheese frosting is a classic recipe that everyone will love. They are perfect for any celebration, from Valentine’s Day to Christmas, from birthdays to weddings, and even just as an everyday treat.
4.5 from 4 votes
Print Rate
Course: Cake, Cupcakes, Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 17 minutes
Total Time: 47 minutes
Servings: 12 cupcakes
Calories: 421kcal
Author: Trang



  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (162 g)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoon cocoa powder (11 g)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar (136 g)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk (172 g)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (102 g)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon red food color


  • 12 oz cream cheese (room temperature, 340 g)
  • 6 oz unsalted butter (room temperature, 170 g)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cup powdered sugar (125 g)


Make the red velvet cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Line a regular size muffin pan with cupcake liners and 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, egg, 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 twelve cupcake cavities using a large ice cream scoop and bake for 15 - 17 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean with just a few crumbs attached.
  • Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 10 - 15 minutes. Remove cupcakes from the pan, and allow 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.
  • Frost the cooled cupcakes using a pastry bag fitted with a round tip, or simply add frosting with an offset spatula or butter knife


  • This recipe also makes over 2 dozens mini cupcakes. Reduce baking time to around 10 minutes.
  • Vegetable oil, canola oil or olive oil will work in this recipe.
  • If you don’t have buttermilk, use enough milk + 1 teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice to make ¾ cup.
  • I like using McCormick brand liquid red food color. You could try gel food color to reduce the amount you need to use, or beet powder if you wish to go natural.
  • If using beet powder for your coloring, add enough to the wet ingredients to get a red liquid mixture to your liking.


Serving: 109g | Calories: 421kcal
Tried this recipe?Mention @WildWildWhisk or tag #WildWildWhisk!

Red velvet cupcakes Pin image

This post was originally published on 6/7/2017. The post has been updated and republished on 1/31/2020 with the latest improvements, extra tips and process photos to help you in the kitchen.


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  1. Ola
    June 10, 2020 /

    Hi, this recipe looks very good and I really want to make this. For the cocoa in the cupcake should I use dutch process cocoa powder or should I use regular cocoa powder?

    • Trang
      June 11, 2020 /

      Hi Ola, I’ve given notes within the post about cocoa powder and either will work.

  2. Saba
    May 5, 2020 /

    Hello there! I tried this recipe today and the cupcakes came out really moist and delicious! However, i struggled with the cheese cream frosting. The first batch I made, I think the butter separated which means I whipped the icing a little too much. The second batch came out runny! I have no idea what I am doing wrong…help!

    • Trang
      May 6, 2020 /

      Hey Saba, was your butter “softened” or “melted”? Especially with the weather warming up now, it’s easy to let your butter sit on the counter and accidentally soften too much. You want it to be just soft enough to whip but not runny. Check out my post for cream cheese frosting for my troubleshooting guides.

  3. Melanie
    January 31, 2020 /

    5 stars
    This is one of my favorite recipes. Just the right flavor.

    • Trang
      January 31, 2020 /

      Thank you Melanie!

  4. Sbongile khoza
    September 25, 2019 /

    Do you have a recipe book for this amazing cakes and cupcakes I really need to buy one of ur books if u hv or how can I follow you you are the best🎉

    • Trang
      September 25, 2019 /

      Hi there! I don’t have a book, but thank you so much for asking. For now, all my recipes just live on my site, you can subscribe to email to follow me and get a notification when I post a new recipe or follow me over on Instagram and Facebook 🙂

  5. Sbongile khoza
    September 25, 2019 /

    Woooow tnx for sharing this amazing recipe

  6. Neha
    May 31, 2019 /

    Hi, what will be the measurements if I want to bake the whole red velvet cake for birthday instead of cupcakes? Is it given somewhere else on this site? sorry I am the new user.

    • Trang
      May 31, 2019 /

      Hi Neha, the recipe was developed to bake 12 cupcakes and not an entire cake. But roughly this same recipe will make a 2 layer 6” cake if you have 6” cake pans or double the recipe and make 2 layer 8” or 9” cake using the respective size cake pans. Note that I’m giving you these suggestions based on my experience baking other cakes since I have not converted this specific recipe to a full cake. Baking time will differ depending on pan size, make sure to check accordingly so you don’t over bake. Use these times as guidance only as it can differ for different cake batter, 20 mins for 6” cake pan, 30-40 mins for larger cake pan.

  7. Karen
    February 16, 2019 /

    I love it.

  8. Zara
    October 24, 2018 /

    Hi, am so tempted to try this
    I would like to know if the frosting becomes loose for this amount of sugar?

    • Trang
      October 24, 2018 /

      Hi Zara, the frosting is very sturdy. I’ve been making this cream cheese frosting for years and it never melts on the cupcakes. Of course, if it’s a hot day, it should be store in the fridge but for a few hours outside, it should be fine. You can see from the photos, the frosting pipes beautifully!

  9. Toccara
    March 1, 2018 /

    3 stars
    Can you help me figure out how to make your RED VELVET CUPCAKES WITH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING without the red food coloring…would 1 tablespoon of beet juice be an equalant to 1 tbsp of food dye? I appreciate your help.

    • Trang
      March 1, 2018 /

      5 stars
      Hi there, I have never used beet juice instead of red food color. I don’t think it will come out very red unless you use a lot of it because the color is not as concentrated as food color. But I have used whole raw beet before and the taste was awful. I know some people bake cake with whole cooked beet, I think that would taste much better since I actually love cooked beet and it has a sweeter taste. It will give you a red color, although it won’t be as vibrant, but it will work. Here are some suggestions:
      1. Use cooked beet, 1/2 cup pureed, reduce buttermilk to 1/2 cup.
      2. Use beet powder, I’m going to estimate 1 to 2 tablespoons. Add more if the color of the batter is too light.

      I hope these help!

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