Red Velvet Cupcakes

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These perfect red velvet cupcakes are moist, tender, and so easy to make! They are topped with homemade cream cheese frosting and truly are the best.

Why You’ll Love This Red Velvet Cupcakes Recipe

Need an excuse to make these perfect red velvet cupcakes ASAP? I’ve got three for you and there are plenty more where that came from.

  • So tender and moist. The use of vegetable oil instead of butter brings such lovely moisture to these cupcakes. They are moist for DAYS! As does the buttermilk. The buttermilk also works to provide an incomparable tender texture to the finished product that you’ll love.
  • Wonderful flavor. Red velvet is its own animal. It’s not totally vanilla and it’s not totally chocolate. It’s somewhere in between with the wonderful tang of buttermilk added to the mix. And then that luscious, tangy cream cheese frosting? Incredible!
  • Quick and easy. The mixing method for these cupcakes is about as simple as it gets. Combine the dry ingredients, combine the wet ingredients, and put it all together with the addition of a little hot water. It won’t take you more than 10 minutes.
  • Make ahead. These cupcakes are so moist, they are a great option for making a day or two before you need them. I always prefer to make things as fresh as I can, but there are those times you just can’t make something the day of an event. These will stay great for at least 4-5 days, likely longer, so they are a great choice for those moments.

I love these cupcakes with oil, but if you’re looking for a red velvet recipe that uses butter, check out my red velvet cake recipe (which can be made as cupcakes).

What Flavor Is Red Velvet?

Red velvet-anything tastes like a tangy lightly-chocolaty treat. People often think that red velvet cake is just chocolate cake with red food coloring, but red velvet really doesn’t have that much chocolate. It also includes buttermilk and vinegar to give it a noticeable tang, which is the trademark of red velvet flavor. 

What You’ll Need

Here’s a list of ingredients needed to make this red velvet cupcakes recipe. For precise measurements, scroll to the recipe card below.

Ingredients for red velvet cupcakes.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

  • All-purpose flour – Be sure to measure the flour correctly so you don’t end up with a dry cake. I always recommend a food scale for accuracy, but you can use the spoon and level method as well.
  • Sugar – For sweetness, but also for added moisture and a tender texture.
  • Baking soda and baking powder – Using both baking powder and baking soda gives the cake the best rise and tender texture. Learn more about baking soda and baking powder.
  • Natural unsweetened cocoa powder – I actually use very little cocoa powder in my red velvet. Just 2 teaspoons! I don’t like them too chocolatey or brown in color.
  • Salt and Vanilla extract – Both add flavor to the cake. Be sure not to leave out the salt or you’ll end up with a bland cake.
  • Buttermilk – Do not try to use another dairy product here. The buttermilk really contributes to the lovely moisture and tenderness of these cupcakes.
  • Vegetable oil – The use of vegetable oil (as opposed to butter) here makes these cupcakes supremely moist.
  • Egg – Be sure to use large eggs, not medium or extra large.
  • White vinegar – A classic ingredient in red velvet, the vinegar helps to activate the baking soda and it also contributes a touch of tang to the red velvet.
  • Red food coloring – I use actual food coloring in this recipe, but gel icing color would also work.
  • Hot water – Adding hot water to the batter wakes up the cocoa powder, helping the chocolate flavor come through.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Cream cheese – You’ll want to start with room-temperature cream cheese. If it is too cold, you’ll find yourself with a lumpy frosting.
  • Unsalted butter – Make sure the butter is softened at room temperature before making the frosting. If it is too cold, your frosting will be lumpy. If it is melted, you’ll end up with a runny frosting.
  • Powdered sugar – Powdered sugar helps to sweeten and thicken the frosting. You can adjust it, if desired, but keep in mind that adjustments change the consistency of the frosting.
  • Vanilla extract – Flavor!
Red velvet cupcakes on a serving platter. One has a bite taken out of it.

How to Make Red Velvet Cupcakes

These cupcakes are so quick and easy to throw together! Here’s a general breakdown of how to do it. Be sure to scroll to the recipe card below for more thorough instructions.

  • Prep. Preheat oven to 350°F and prepare a cupcake pan with liners.
  • Combine the dry ingredients. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder, and salt.
  • Combine the wet ingredients. Whisk together the buttermilk, vegetable oil, vanilla extract, eggs, vinegar, and food coloring.
  • Put it all together. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
  • Add water. Slowly mix the water into the batter.
  • Bake. Fill the cupcake liners halfway and bake for 16-20 minutes.
  • Cool. Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan for a couple of minutes before turning them out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
  • Make the frosting. Beat together the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Mix in half of the powdered sugar followed by the vanilla extract and then the remaining powdered sugar.
  • Frost and decorate. Pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes. If you’d like, crumble one of the cupcakes and use the crumbled as a garnish for the others.
Red velvet cupcakes on a wire rack.

Tips for Success

  • Measure your flour correctly. I highly recommend using a food scale. If not, check out my post on how to properly measure your flour, to be sure you don’t over measure and end up with dry cupcakes.
  • More chocolate? If you prefer a slightly more chocolatey flavor, you can add up to 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder. Just keep in mind they will get much darker in color.
  • Don’t over-mix. When combining the wet and dry ingredients, be careful not to over mix the cupcake batter. Over-mixing can cause the glutens in the flour to overdevelop, which can give you tough, dense cupcakes.
  • Cool completely. Before frosting the cupcakes, make sure they have cooled completely. If they are still warm, the frosting will slide right off of them.
  • Room temperature dairy. For the frosting, it is important to start with room-temperature cream cheese and butter. Cold dairy is a one-way ticket to a lumpy frosting. So think ahead and allow them to soften at room temperature ahead of time.
  • Thicker cream cheese frosting. I know it’s tempting to reduce the amount of powdered sugar, but cream cheese frosting can tend to be on the softer side. If you want it pipe-able, I recommend using the amount of powdered sugar listed.
Closeup of red velvet cupcakes on a serving platter.

Proper Storage

If you find yourself with leftovers, seal them in an airtight container that is tall enough to accommodate the frosting (an airtight cupcake carrier would be ideal) and store them in the fridge. They will keep for at least 4-5 days. You can also freeze them for up to 3 months.

Red velvet cupcakes are best enjoyed cool (but not cold) or at room temperature. So be sure to remove them from the fridge 30 or so minutes before diving in. If they are frozen, allow them to thaw in the fridge first.

More Red Velvet Desserts

On a red velvet kick? I thought so! That’s why I put together the following list of red velvet dessert recipes for you to go nuts over. Happy baking!

Watch How to Make Red Velvet Cupcakes

Read Transcript

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Red velvet cupcakes garnished with red velvet crumbles.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

  • Author: Lindsay
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 16 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 16 minutes
  • Yield: 12-14 Cupcakes
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American


These perfect red velvet cupcakes are moist, tender, and so easy to make! They are topped with homemade cream cheese frosting and truly are the best.


Red Velvet Cupcakes

  • 1 1/4 cups (163g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (207g) sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp (5g) natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 2 tsp red food coloring
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) hot water

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 oz (226g) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (112g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups (460g) powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


Make the Cupcakes

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C) and prepare a cupcake pan with liners.
  2. Add the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt to a large mixer bowl and combine. Set aside.
  3. Add the buttermilk, vegetable oil, vanilla extract, eggs vinegar and food coloring to a medium sized bowl and combine.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and beat until well combined.
  5. Slowly add the water to the batter and mix on low speed until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to make sure everything is well combined. Please note that the batter will be very thin.
  6. Fill the cupcake liners about half way and bake for 16-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.
  7. Remove the cupcakes from oven and allow to cool for 2 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack to finish cooling.

Make the Frosting & Assemble

  1. Combine the cream cheese and butter in a large mixer bowl and mix until well combined and smooth.
  2. Add about half of the powdered sugar and mix until well combined and smooth.
  3. Add the vanilla extract and mix until well combined and smooth.
  4. Add the remaining powdered sugar and mix until well combined and smooth.
  5. Pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes. I used Ateco tip 844. You can sprinkle some cake crumbs over the top, but you will have to sacrifice one cupcake for the cause.
  6. Store the cupcakes in an air-tight container in the fridge until ready to serve. Best served cool, but not cold, or at room temperature. Best if eaten within 3-4 days.


  • Serving Size: 1 Cupcake
  • Calories: 460
  • Sugar: 46.3 g
  • Sodium: 115.3 mg
  • Fat: 25.5 g
  • Carbohydrates: 57.3 g
  • Protein: 3.2 g
  • Cholesterol: 38.6 mg


About Lindsay

I'm a wife and a mom to twin boys and a baby girl! And I've got a serious sweets addiction! Bring on the treats!

Scripture I’m Loving

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29