red velvet cupcakes lined up on parchment paper overhead image
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Red Velvet Cupcakes

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A retro flavor that only gets better with time! Red velvet cupcakes are the most moist, tender, and soft cupcakes! Perfect for birthdays, holidays, or just an indulgent treat.

red velvet cupcakes frosted on serving tray head on view

What is red velvet cake?

The idea of red velvet anything dates back to at least the 1800s and made a huge comeback during the Great Depression. Red velvet is chocolate cake that features less cocoa than traditional chocolate cakes, and it’s texture is best described as velvety! It’s maybe the most moist, soft, and tender cake around, with a very subtle and simple chocolaty flavor.

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    If you’re a cake nerd like me, here’s a full article on the history of red velvet cake!

    red velvet cupcakes bite from one cupcake overhead image

    Red velvet cupcakes ingredients:

    Red velvet cake and cupcakes have pretty much the same ingredients as a regular chocolate cake, with the exception of red food coloring and vinegar.

    To make these cupcakes, you will need:

    flour: just for structure, nothing special
    cocoa powder: not as much as you would find in a regular chocolate cake recipe. A little goes a long way in terms of flavor, and adding too much cocoa can actually drown out the red food coloring
    baking powder & baking soda: using both helps yield an extra fluffy, light, and airy cupcake!
    salt: to balance out the sweetness
    butter & oil: a bit untraditional. Most recipes include just butter, but the combination of butter and oil helps give an even velvet-ier texture! The butter adds flavor and richness, while the oil adds moisture and softness
    sugar: for sweetness!
    eggs: also not too special
    sour cream: another untraditional ingredient, but it helps make the cupcakes unbelievably moist!
    buttermilk: now *this* is a very traditional ingredient! if you don’t have any on hand, here’s how you can make your own substitute
    vanilla extract: for flavoring
    white vinegar: another classic add in. The vinegar really helps drive home the velvety texture! The acid reacts with the baking soda to create even more bubbles and airiness in your cake
    red food coloring: you can use either gel or liquid food coloring. Gel colors more vibrantly, without having to add as much, so you would only need 1 teaspoon. Liquid food coloring is more diluted and muted, so you would need 2 teaspoons of it. This recipe can handle a few extra drops, but don’t try to add tooooo much food coloring or your cupcakes may develop an “off” flavor!

    red velvet cupcakes frosted on wire rack

    How to make red velvet cupcakes:

    1. Combine dry ingredients. Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder & soda, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

    2. Cream together butter, oil, and sugar. It may look grainy, but that’s fine!

    red velvet cupcakes butter, sugar, and oil creamed together

    3. Add eggs in. One at a time, and whisk well after each addition.

    red velvet cupcakes eggs whisked into butter and sugar mixture

    4. Add in your sour cream, vinegar, food coloring, and vanilla. Whisk to combine and distribute the food coloring evenly.
    5. Add dry ingredients and buttermilk. Alternate adding the flour mixture and buttermilk, starting and ending with dry ingredients. Again, some lumps are fine! Just make sure there aren’t any dry ingredient spots or streaks.

    6. Portion and bake. Divide batter into your cupcake tin and bake until cooked through. Cool completely before frosting!

    7. Frost with cream cheese frosting or your choice of frosting.

    red velvet cupcakes on marble serving board head on view

    Red velvet cake frosting:

    Keeping things classic, you’ll usually see red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting or ermine frosting (a less sweet buttercream), but that’s not to say you can’t experiment with different pairings!

    Red velvet flavor also goes well with vanilla buttercream, chocolate buttercream, or chocolate ganache. I’ve personally never tried it with any other styles of frosting, but I’m sure you can find a few more delicious pairings floating around out there!

    red velvet cupcakes bite from one cupcake

    Red velvet cupcakes storage:

    Red velvet cupcakes keep for quite some time thanks to how incredibly moist they are! Keep stored in an airtight container for maximum freshness.

    Unfrosted cupcakes will last up to 4 or 5 days at room temperature, or a week in the fridge. Frosted red velvet cupcakes should be kept in the fridge, and they’ll also last around 1 week.

    red velvet cupcakes halved and lined up overhead image

    Check out some of these other recipes!

    sour cream vanilla cupcakes
    funfetti cupcakes
    chocolate cupcakes
    no bake chocolate biscuit cake

    sour cream pound cake
    sour cream glazed donuts
    annnnnd be sure to check out what’s the difference between cupcakes and muffins?

    Red Velvet Cupcakes Recipe

    A retro flavor that only gets better with time! Red velvet cupcakes are the most moist, tender, and soft cupcakes! Perfect for birthdays, holidays, or just an indulgent treat.
    Prep Time 10 minutes
    Bake Time 15 minutes
    Total Time 25 minutes
    Servings 12 to 14 cupcakes


    • 1 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
    • 1/4 cup vegetable oil, or any neutral flavored oil
    • 1 cup granulated sugar
    • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
    • 1/4 cup sour cream
    • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
    • 1 teaspoon red gel food coloring or 2 teaspoons liquid food coloring
    • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    • 3/4 cup buttermilk * see notes
    • cream cheese frosting, or your choice of frosting


    • Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line a 12 count cupcake tin with paper liners, and set aside.
    • In a small bowl, whisk together your flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
    • In a separate large bowl, combine butter, oil, and sugar. Beat together using a wooden spoon or an electric mixer until relatively smooth and combined. It may be slightly grainy, but that's normal!
    • Add your eggs to the sugar mixture, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add in the sour cream, vinegar, food coloring, and vanilla, and whisk to combine.
    • Alternate adding your dry ingredients and buttermilk to the sugar mixture. Make sure to start and end with the dry ingredients (so 3 additions of dry ingredients, and 2 additions of buttercream), and whisk between each addition until just combined. Take care not to over mix!
    • Divide the batter evenly into your cupcake tin. You may need to do 2 batches, so just make sure that each cup is filled no more than 2/3 of the way full.
    • Bake the cupcakes in the center of your preheated 350°F oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a tooth pick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting!


    * If you don’t have buttermilk, you can make your own at home! Here’s how.


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