The Best Red Velvet Cake Recipe

This moist and tangy homemade Red Velvet Cake is layered with a fluffy cream cheese frosting for a classic dessert that you’ll savor every bite of. It’s super easy to prepare and it makes a wonderful treat for birthdays, Valentine’s Day or any other festive occasion!

A piece of red velvet layer cake on a plate with a metal dessert fork

Treat Yourself to the Best Homemade Red Velvet Cake

This glorious red velvet layer cake has a moist, tender texture and just the right amount of tang to keep you coming back for more. The cream cheese frosting is spread between each layer as well as on top to give you the perfect ratio of cake to buttercream in every bite! The sides of the cake are covered in your favorite sprinkles to complete the look.

My original recipe for this cake was oil-based, but I’ve since changed it to a butter-based cake, as not everyone loves using lots of oil. Plus, when working on new recipes, I arrived at this version by chance and fell in love with it. It’s light and lovely and I know you’ll love it too. Even people who don’t love red velvet will want to sneak seconds of this cake. I nearly devoured the whole thing on my own last time I made it!

What is Red Velvet Cake?

A lot of people think that red velvet cake is just chocolate cake with red food coloring, but that’s simply not the case. While red velvet cake does indeed use some cocoa powder, it also includes buttermilk and vinegar to give it a noticeable tang, which is the trademark of red velvet flavor. When those ingredients react with the batter, they naturally produce a reddish tint – the food coloring is there to enhance that.

A slice of red velvet cake on a plate with one bite missing

Recipe Ingredients

Let’s go over the ingredients you’ll need for the cake and the buttercream frosting. Everything can easily be found at the grocery store or created with ingredients you already have on hand.

For the Red Velvet Cake

  • All-Purpose Flour: Use a food scale to measure your flour in order to ensure accuracy.
  • Cocoa Powder: Natural and unsweetened.
  • Baking Powder & Baking Soda: To help the cake rise. The combination is the two creates the ultimate soft texture.
  • Salt: For flavor.
  • Unsalted Butter: Bring your butter to room temperature before making this cake.
  • Vegetable Oil: This works with the butter to give your cake the most amazing soft and fluffy texture and ideal moisture.
  • Sugar
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Large Eggs
  • Buttermilk: I use powder buttermilk, for convenience. You can also make this yourself in a pinch by combining a cup of milk with a tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar. If you do this, re-measure the buttermilk after you make it since you only need 1 cup.
  • White Vinegar: It’s important to use both buttermilk and vinegar in this cake – otherwise, it’ll miss the mark on red velvet flavor.
  • Red Food Coloring: I use regular food coloring, but gel icing color would work too.

For the Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Cream Cheese: Brought to room temperature.
  • Butter: Room temperature.
  • Powdered Sugar
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Sprinkles: I absolutely adore the sprinkles made by Sweetapolita. They are so unique and beautiful! The ones on this cake though are from Home Goods.
A frosted and decorated red velvet cake on top of a white cake stand

How to Make Red Velvet Cake From Scratch

I like to split my cake batter into three 8-inch pans, but you can make a 2-layer cake with 9-inch pans if you’d prefer. The amount of frosting needed for the cake should remain the same.

Make the Cake

  1. Prep for Baking: Prepare three 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper circles in the bottom and grease the sides. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Combine Dry Ingredients: Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium-sized bowl and set the mixture aside.
  3. Beat Butter, Oil, Sugar & Vanilla: Add the butter, vegetable oil, sugar and vanilla extract to a large mixer bowl and beat until the mixture is light in color and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Do not skimp on the creaming time.
  4. Add Eggs: Add the eggs two at a time, mixing until well combined after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all of the ingredients are well incorporated.
  5. Start Adding Dry Ingredients: Add half of the dry ingredients to the batter and mix until combined.
  6. Add Buttermilk, Vinegar & Food Coloring: Add the buttermilk, vinegar and food coloring and mix until well combined.
  7. Finish Adding Dry Ingredients: Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix until the batter is well combined and smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all of the ingredients are well incorporated. Do not over-mix the batter.
  8. Bake: Divide the batter evenly between the three pans and bake the cake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  9. Let Cool: Remove the cake layers from the oven and allow them to rest in the pans for about 2-3 minutes, then transfer them to cooling racks to cool completely.

Make the Frosting

  1. Beat Cream Cheese & Butter: Add the cream cheese and butter to a large mixer bowl and beat until well combined and smooth.
  2. Start Adding Powdered Sugar: Add about half of the powdered sugar and mix until well combined and smooth.
  3. Add Vanilla: Add the vanilla extract and mix until well combined.
  4. Finish Adding Powdered Sugar: Add the remaining powdered sugar and mix until the frosting is well combined and smooth.

Build the Cake

  1. Remove Cake Domes: If needed, use a large serrated knife to remove the domes from the top of the cake layers so that they’re flat.
  2. Frost Initial Layer: Place the first cake layer on a serving plate or a cardboard cake round. Spread about 1 cup of frosting evenly on top of the cake.
  3. Finish Layering: Add the second layer of cake and another cup of frosting, followed by the final cake layer.
  4. Frost Exterior: Finish spreading buttercream onto the top and outside of the cake.
  5. Decorate: Press sprinkles into the sides of the cake, then pipe shells of frosting around the top edge of the cake and the bottom. Add additional sprinkles on top if desired.
A slice of homemade red velvet cake on a plate with a bowl of sprinkles behind it

Tips for Success

I have a few little tricks up my sleeve when it comes to homemade red velvet cake. Here they are!

  • Measure the Flour Accurately: If you don’t have a food scale you can use to measure the flour, fluff it up and spoon it into the measuring cup rather than scooping it up directly. Once your measuring cup is overflowing, level it off with a butter knife. This prevents the flour from getting packed in.
  • Use Room Temperature Ingredients: Make sure you let your ingredients come to room temperature whenever indicated. Otherwise, you’ll have a hard time combining them into the cake batter or the frosting.
  • Adjust the Amount of Cocoa Powder to Your Liking: I prefer using 2 teaspoons of cocoa powder for a tangier red velvet cake, but if you want to taste more of that rich chocolate flavor, you can add up to 4 teaspoons of cocoa powder. Just keep in mind that using more will darken the color of your cake.
  • Finesse Your Frosting Skills: Frosting cakes can be a challenge if you don’t have much experience. Refer to my Tips and Tricks for Frosting a Smooth Cake if you’d like to refine your skills.

Variation Ideas

Feel free to put your own spin on this classic layer cake if you’re in the mood to switch things up. Try one of the tempting variations below!

  • Use Chocolate Frosting: This cake would be just as tasty with chocolate buttercream in place of the cream cheese frosting. Especially if you follow this recipe!
  • Make Red Velvet Cheesecake Cake: You seriously have to try this indulgent homemade Red Velvet Cheesecake Cake! A creamy vanilla cheesecake filling is stuffed between two layers of this moist and fluffy cake.
A cake stand holding a completed red velvet layer cake with a red kitchen towel underneath it

Storage Instructions

Because of all the cream cheese in the frosting, this cake should be refrigerated in an airtight container. It will stay fresh for up to 3 days – but I have a hunch that it’ll get gobbled up sooner!

Does This Cake Freeze Well?

The red velvet cake layers on their own freeze well. To freeze your cake layers, wrap each one tightly in plastic wrap and freeze them in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to 3 months. Thaw them out in the fridge before building the cake.

If you’d like, you can find the original Red Velvet Cake Recipe here.

Print
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A slice of homemade red velvet cake on a plate with a bowl of sprinkles behind it
Recipe

The Best Red Velvet Cake Recipe

  • Author: Lindsay
  • Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
  • Yield: 14
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This moist and tangy homemade Red Velvet Cake is layered with a fluffy cream cheese frosting for a classic dessert that you’ll savor every bite of. It’s super easy to prepare and it makes a wonderful treat for birthdays, Valentine’s Day or any other festive occasion!


Ingredients

For the Red Velvet Cake

  • 2 1/4 cups (293g) all-purpose flour
  • 24 tsp natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (112g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups (310g) sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup (240ml) buttermilk
  • 2 tsp white vinegar
  • 4 tsp red food coloring

For the Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 16 oz (452g) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (172g) butter, room temperature
  • 10 cups (1150g) powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Sprinkles

Instructions

Make the Cake

  1. Prepare three 8 inch cake pans with parchment paper circles in the bottom and grease the sides. Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C).
  2. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium-sized bowl and set aside.
  3. Add the butter, vegetable oil, sugar and vanilla extract to a large mixer bowl and beat together until light in color and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Do not skimp on the creaming time.
  4. Add the eggs two at a time, mixing until well combined after each. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated.
  5. Add half of the dry ingredients to the batter and mix until combined.
  6. Add the buttermilk, vinegar and food coloring and mix until well combined.
  7. Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix until well combined and smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated. Do not over mix the batter.
  8. Divide the batter evenly between the three pans and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  9. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool for about 2-3 minutes, then transfer to cooling racks to cool completely.

Make the Frosting

  1. Add the cream cheese and butter to a large mixer bowl and beat 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.
  4. Add the remaining powdered sugar and mix until well combined and smooth.

Build the Cake

  1. Use a large serrated knife to remove the domes from the top of the cakes so that they’re flat, if needed.
  2. Place the first cake on a serving plate or a cardboard cake round.
  3. Spread about 1 cup of frosting evenly on top of the cake,
  4. Add the second layer of cake and another cup of frosting.
  5. Top the cake with the remaining layer and frost the outside of the cake. Refer to my tutorial for frosting a smooth cake, if needed.
  6. Press sprinkles into the sides of the cake, then pipe shells of frosting around the top edge of the cake and the bottom. Add additional sprinkles, if desired.

Notes

  • Makes 12-14 slices.
  • To Store: Refrigerate cake in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
  • To Freeze: Wrap each cake layer tightly in plastic wrap and freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw on the counter before building cake. Freezing frosting is not recommended.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 Slice
  • Calories: 853
  • Sugar: 107.6 g
  • Sodium: 252.3 mg
  • Fat: 37.6 g
  • Carbohydrates: 126.2 g
  • Protein: 6.6 g
  • Cholesterol: 131.4 mg

Keywords: red velvet cake from scratch, what is red velvet cake, how to make red velvet cake

More Easy Red Velvet Recipes

Can’t get enough red velvet? Today must be your lucky day! The recipes below are sure to keep you satisfied.

Red Velvet Berry Trifle
Red Velvet Ice Cream Cake
Creamy Red Velvet Cheesecake

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Recipe rating

148 Comments
  1. Fanny

    I would like to know if I can make this cakes 3 6″pans.
    I have to make tomorrow.
    Thanks for your delicious recipes

    1. Fanny

      Hi made it 3 6″pans baked 30 _35 min.
      I omitted vainilla extract and I add I tbsp red velvet extract ,2 teaspoon super red gel color.
      Omg the cake was bright Red and beautiful ,moist and delicious .Perfect red velvet cake.

  2. Rita

    I tried this version but really prefer the original oil-based recipe. This knew has a different texture and is not as moist. So glad I took a screen shot of the original recipe. I will continue to use the old one. 🥴

    1. Lindsay

      The pdf of the old version is also above the recipe card, if you ever need it. Sorry you didn’t like this one quite as much. Oil based cakes generally are more moist and have a different texture than butter-based cakes, but unfortunately the old version would sometimes give people issues. I was unaware that so many loved the old version before I shared this new one. It’s always nice to leave comments when you like a recipe, so the creator knows and is less likely to change it. 🙂 This new version should work more universally for everyone. Thanks for the feedback!

  3. Candice

    I am still confused. The red velvet cake from 2017 is quite a bit different than this one. I just want to know if I got this right. The amounts of flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, eggs are different. In this version above, you have added 1/2 cup butter and the same amount of vegetable oil. The liquid has been cut by 1 cup since the hot water is not used in the recipe above to bloom the chocolate. Have I got this right or am I wrong? Thank you.

  4. Candice

    Have you changed the red velvet cake recipe? The one I have uses 1 cup of hot water and it is not listed in the recipe or when to add it. Thank you.

    1. Candice

      I must of somehow got the cheesecake confused with the red velvet cake! Thank you so much for clarifying my confusion. I appreciate it. Thank you.

  5. Chipo Phiri

    Hello dear, I’m just from trying this recipe and I followed all the instructions as they are but it came out brown like a chocolate cake and it was flat. What could have been the problem?

      1. Lindsay

        Are you sure you used 4 teaspoons of cocoa and not 4 tablespoons? Not sure why else it’d be particularly brown. Maybe the brand or type of food coloring?

  6. Chipo Phiri

    Wow! Thank you very much for the recipe. I’m a beginner in baking and I’m looking forward to receiving more recipes and learn more from you, I will try this one today. Thank you very much.
    I also like your step by step instructions, it’s very helpful.

    1. Lindsay

      I’m probably not the best person to ask since I don’t make wedding cakes. I would assume that any cake should be fine as long as it’s properly doweled.

  7. sandy james

    Hi Lindsay,
    I would like to try your Red Velvet cake recipe for a 1/2 sheet cake (size of pan 18”x13”x2”)
    your recipe scale is x1, x2, or x3 what recipe size would I use for this size pan? this cake looks so good.Thank You

  8. Sherry

    I love your recipes! I would like to make a red, white and blue velvet cake that I saw on a baking show. Can I eliminate the cocoa from the white and blue layers and just put it in the red layer? If so, how much cocoa do you think?

    1. Lindsay

      Glad you enjoy the recipes!

      That would really require some testing to be sure otherwise it’s just guess. I’m sorry.

  9. Nhu

    How come I never can see your video with the same recipe on one page? I just want to know the speed when mixing with the mixer. You barely say it on your written recipes

    1. Lindsay

      If there’s a video for a recipe, it will be right above the recipe itself. Not all recipes have videos. I pretty much always use a medium speed unless I say otherwise. On this recipe, I often just use a whisk because the mixer is not necessary.

  10. Iram

    Hiya, I’ve used your chocolate cake recipe before and it’s literally the best! Wanted to try out red velvet and was wondering could you swap white vinegar for apple cider vinegar?

  11. cheryl cote

    Was wondering if this could be done in two layer 9 inch pans? or does it make difference ratio frosting cake layer?

  12. Jay

    Hi Lindsay,

    This recipe looks delicious! I was wondering if you’ve ever tried making this recipe with gluten free flour? Do you happen to know if it will work the same? I plan on baking a cake for a friend who is gluten free and have read elsewhere that usually 1-to-1 flour works in most recipes,

  13. Ayeesha

    I tried baking this cake today and it turned out great. The cake was very moist although I felt that the cake and the icing were way too sweet. With the icing is there anyway of compromising the sugar amount without ruining the consistency? Otherwise the cake was amazing, thanks for posting!

    1. Lindsay

      Glad you enjoyed it! Unfortunately, there’s nothing I can do about the frosting. Feel free to read more about it in my post on Cream Cheese Frosting, but the problem is the cream cheese. It’s just soft and to have a good consistency to work with, you’ve got to add powdered sugar. You could reduce it, but it might make it hard to work with.

  14. Emma

    Hi Lindsay, I realized there was an extra vinegar in the recipe. I use the homemade buttermilk (full cream and vinegar) do I still need to add the additional vinegar?

  15. Emma

    Hi Lindsay, I use homemade buttermilk (full cream and vinegar). Would it still be necessary to add the extra vinegar?

  16. Lucy

    Hi Lindsay, I have made this cake twice using this recipe but it ends up flat and raw even after testing with a toothpick to check if it is ready. I have followed the recipe to the letter but i can’t seem to figure out where i go wrong.

  17. Taeya Belle

    Hey, Lindsay! I just made this cake for my family and it was awesome! Thanks so much and I love the scriptures you posted! 🙂

  18. Belma

    I just made this today for my boyfriend & I’s anniversary! We figured since COVID-19 has really limited our food options, we could cook ourselves. I decided to make this for dessert and it was D E L I C I O U S! We had to go back for seconds… and maybe even thirds 😉 thanks for sharing!

  19. Rifa

    Hi, please can you confirm whether this recipe can be doubled so that you have 2″ deep layers? And also can it be covered in fondant?

  20. CC

    Any advice for keeping the cake together as you frost it? I have leveled each layer and the layers move the more I frost it and looks terrible. Amazing flavor tho!

    1. Lindsay

      Could it be that the frosting is a little soft? If things are moving around too much, it’s usually an issue with the consistency of the frosting. Cream cheese frosting can be a little tricky. If it’s a little thin, you could try adding some additional powdered sugar or you could chill it for 15 to 20 minutes and it’ll firm up a little bit but still be workable. I hope that helps!

      1. Axelia Meissner

        Hi Lindsay, when I added the cocoa powder to my batter it made it seem more brown than red. Would it be ok to omit the cocoa powder in the future? Thanks a lot! 

      2. Lindsay

        You can omit it, but it wouldn’t be a true red velvet cake that way. Maybe try adding a little less? Or a little more red color? Naturally adding brown cocoa is going to make it not a true and total red.

  21. Aimen

    Hi Lindsay! Such an amazing recipe. Best red velvet tried so far. I was just wondering if I could bake it as a single cake instead of separate layers. For how long should I bake it? Thanks.

    1. Lindsay

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it! It should be fine as one layer. For a 9×13, I’d try baking it for about 25 minutes.

    1. Lindsay

      The water adds more moisture to the cake. Hot water helps cocoa bloom. It doesn’t have to be hot if you don’t want as rich of a flavor.

      1. Lydia

        I’m so sad this didn’t work for me. The only thing I did differently was double the recipe. I feel like the hot water made it too thin and the cake ended up sooo gummy and flat. Womp womp. 

      2. Lindsay

        I’m sorry to hear that. I have a few recipes that are very thin batters like this one, so the water shouldn’t be an issue. I’m not sure what the problem was though. If you ever decide to try it again, I might just double check your baking soda and baking powder.

  22. Jennifer Pena

    Let me start by saying that I do not care for red velvet cake but made this for my son’s birthday. I could not stop eating it! It is the most delicious red velvet cake I have ever tried! I have always used Cakeman Raven’s recipe, however, his recipe has been replaced! You are my go-to for all sweets! I am going to get rid of my cookbooks and just count on you to show me the way to sweets! Thank you!

  23. Erin

    Hey Lindsay, I just had an inquiry about this cake…from what I have gathered, it seems like one of the primary aspects of red velvet cake is it’s buttery flavor. In the majority of other recipes I’ve seen, there is both butter and oil in the ingredients listed. I was curious as to why you have no butter in your recipe; I’m sure it still tastes awesome, but does it have that buttery flavor that seems to be so important in red velvet cake? Thanks! 🙂

    1. Lindsay

      I’m not sure that I’ve ever known red velvet to be known for the buttery flavor, but more the flavor of the buttermilk/vinegar/cocoa combination and cream cheese frosting. I personally don’t miss the butter, but you could certainly try a couple versions and see what you prefer.

Lindsay
About Lindsay

I'm a wife and mom to twin boys, a baby girl and a sweet black lab with a serious sweets addiction! Bring on the sugar!

Scripture I’m Loving

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12