You just can’t beat a classic, and these tender and moist red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting are about as good as it gets.
Do you love red velvet cake as much as I do? It’s height as a food craze may be over, or maybe not? But either way it’ll always be one of my faves. I love its gorgeous crimson color, unique flavor, and soft velvety crumb.
These red velvet cupcakes frosted with rich cream cheese buttercream frosting are both adorable and delicious, and quite simple to make too! They’re perfect for birthdays, holidays like Christmas and Valentine’s Day, and any other special occasion.
What is Red Velvet, anyway?
Red velvet cake is so much more than just a red cake, though its color is certainly its most famous quality. Red velvet cake recipes are very different now from when it was originally created over a hundred years ago, but they tend to have this common flavor profile— a unique blend of vanilla with a hint of cocoa, and a tasty tang from buttermilk.
Red velvet cakes are also known for their tender “velvet” texture and these cupcakes are no exception. Using vegetable oil keeps them super moist, too.
What about the red food coloring?
In order to get that vibrant red color that red velvet cake is known for, I use an entire 1 ounce bottle (3 tablespoons) of liquid red food coloring. If you want to use gel food coloring, use 2 teaspoons. If you’re hoping to leave out food coloring altogether, a simple google search for naturally-dyed red velvet cake has lots of solutions.
How to make these red velvet cupcakes
This is a pretty basic recipe! And you can do it all— bake and frost— in well under an hour.
- Combine wet ingredients in one bowl.
- Sift together dry ingredient in another bowl.
- Mix together until combined. You can use either an electric mixer or a whisk and elbow grease.
- Portion into a lined or greased cupcake pan.
- Bake until tops bounce back.
- Make the cream cheese buttercream frosting while cupcakes are baking and cooling.
- Frost as desired, with a knife or spatula, or a piping tip and pastry bag.
Tips for Cupcake Success
- Use a measuring scoop to portion equal amounts of batter into each cup so they bake evenly. (This is the one I use.)
- Don’t fill more than 2/3 full. Cupcakes use the walls of the cupcake liners or muffin pan to help them rise. If you overfill the liners, there’s too much batter and not enough space to climb. The batter will spill over the sides and you’ll be left with flat cupcakes.
- Resist the urge to open the oven and peek during baking. The small cupcakes are more susceptible to sinking due to a drop in temperature.
- Using your oven light, look to see when the cupcakes are domed and appear to be set. Then open and touch lightly. If they spring back, they’re done.
- Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, or until they’re cool enough to handle, then transfer them to a cooling rack. The heat from the pan will overcook and dry out the cupcakes if left in too long.
Watch how to make these red velvet cupcakes
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Note: This recipe was originally published in May 2011.
Red Velvet Cupcakes
For the cupcakes:
- 1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour (210 grams)
- 1 cup granulated sugar (200 grams)
- ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (21 grams)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup vegetable oil (198 grams)
- ⅔ cup buttermilk , well shaken (150 grams)
- 1 large egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 3 tablespoons red food coloring (a 1 ounce bottle)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the frosting:
- 8 ounces cream cheese , at room temperature (227 grams)
- ½ cup butter , at room temperature (113 grams)
- 4 cups powdered sugar , sifted (454 grams)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1-2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners or grease with butter or cooking spray.
- In a medium bowl, sift flour, sugar, cocoa, salt, baking powder, and baking soda together.
- In another bowl whisk together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, red food coloring, and vanilla.
- Pour wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients and whisk until combined and smooth.
- Fill cupcake liners ⅔ fill and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes. Let cool in the muffin pan 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- To make the frosting, beat together butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla and heavy cream and beat on high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Frost cooled cupcakes as desired.