Phenomenal Red Velvet Cupcakes


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If you were raised anything like I was, you’re scratching your head right now saying “Red Velvet cake in AUGUST?”.

Well yes, I know it seems odd. This wonderful cake is usually made around the holidays but since it’s gone mainstream I’ve seen red velvet everywhere all year long. From those fancy schmancy cupcake joints with the four inch high icing to frozen yogurt flavors and it’s even showing up in snack cakes! Still, I usually only made it around Christmastime at home out of well…habit, tradition…and a little bit of “well it never occured to me to make it any other time of year!”

This past weekend, though, my Katy Rose got her first ever taste of red velvet. Now y’all don’t go decrying my parenting skills over that, the child has had plenty of chances to try it but it was of her own accord that she chose not to eat the cake that looked like an animal had been slaughtered and stirred up into the cake batter. ~giggles~ You know, I think someone came up with that deep red color just to scare off the newbies so the diehards could have more for themselves!

So Katy Rose had Red Velvet – frozen yogurt. ~sighs~ I know, her first taste and it wasn’t even the cake!

Anywho, I’m not gonna split hairs because it was enough to get her hooked and when we were in the Opryland Hotel this past weekend she saw a Red Velvet cupcake in a bakery and just about had a dying duck fit wanting it.

I, being the loving mother that I am, refused to get it for her – because it was $6.50! I said “Katy Baby, you know we can make those at home, right?” She turned to me with eyes wide with wonder. “YOU know how to make RED VELVET?

Honestly, somedays I wonder if my children have ever met their mother.

“Yes Baby, I know how to make Red Velvet. I’ve been making it since I was a little girl and I use a really old recipe that Grandmama taught me.”

Once I told her that we could make 18 of them for about the same price of that one, she was a happy camper and we went back to our fun day out while looking forward to a nice little baking session together later.

Now let me tell you something, I LOVE cake mixes and use them often. They are a lot of fun and a whole lot of convenience. HOWEVER, this from scratch red velvet cake is above and beyond anything a cake mix could possibly produce so make time for a few extra minutes of work because I promise it will be well worth it!

If you have my cookbook, you can find more on our Red Velvet Cake and what we do different from most people (and why) by reading page 170. If you don’t have my cookbook and want a copy of all the recipes I’d ever need if stranded on a deserted island with a fully stocked Southern Kitchen, as well as learning my childhood nickname and how my Papa Reed scared me to death when he was teaching me how to drive in Toney, Alabama: click here.  I do tend to share a lot, don’t I?

Let’s get cookin’!

You’ll need: Baking Soda, Sugar, Salt, Eggs, Red Food Coloring, All Purpose Flour, Vegetable Oil, Buttermilk, Vinegar, Cocoa Powder, and some cupcake papers….

All of these ingredients are at the bottom of this post in the handy dandy printer friendly recipe thingiemawhosit so don’t go studying them here like there’s gonna be a test or something. :)

Oh yeah, Vanilla. You gotta have that, too.

This is pure vanilla but don’t go thinking I’m getting all high falootin‘ because I’ll still buy the cheapest stuff I can get my hands on. When the cheap stuff is sold out (maybe because y’all are buying it too..~sniff~ I’m s’proud!) I end up having to buy higher end stuff.

So here is my snooty little vanilla ~rolls eyes at the vanilla~

Place your flour in a medium mixing bowl.

Add salt, bakin soda, and cocoa powder.

Stir it up and strike a really cute pose.

That is a butterfly temporary tattoo on my daughter’s cheek. Those things usually only stay on a day at best, but apparently this was a good one because it was with us for several days – nigh on a week!

Mildly interesting fact: I have no tattoos and won’t ever have tattoos. There is a simple reason for this : My Mama told me I couldn’t ever get any.

Some advice stays with you. This is also why I have never ridden a motorcycle. Mama said not to. I’m not missing out on anything though. I get my rebel jollies by eating raw cake batter and occasionally looking directly at the sun. 

In a separate bowl, pour in buttermilk…

Add in Oil, Sugar, vinegar and eggs.

If you’ll notice in that previous picture I did use a Christmas patterned pyrex bowl.

It just felt odd not somehow incorporating Christmas into red velvet cake. 

Stir that up really good.

Til it is kinda like this.

Now dump the liquid into a large mixing bowl and then dump your dry mixture on top of it.

It’s all in there, I promise.

Mix with an electric mixer until smooth and blended, about two minutes.

This is my Hamilton Beach Electrics Stand Mixer. The bowl on it is much wider than the bowl on a Kitchenaid mixer so you can easily add ingredients while it’s mixing without getting mess all over everything. I’ve turned the folks at Taste of the South onto these mixers, too, and they’re using them in their test kitchens now. Oh! Speaking of Taste of the South, the debut issue with my Southern Plate Suppers column will be on newsstands as early as next week! If you’ll nose around on this page a bit you’ll see an offer where you can get a subscription to the magazine for almost half price. Each issue will feature a new column from me and a complete supper menu of never before published recipes.

Here it is, all mixed up.

It isn’t really this dark but the sun refuses to bend itself and bounce across my kitchen in order to shine in this one little corner.

Stubborn sun.


This is Katy Rose, squeezing in an entire bottle of red food coloring.

Yes, you need a whole bottle, most recipes use two bottles!

Of course you can make this cake without the food coloring. Just like you can draw a unicorn without the horn, or have Santa Claus ride a bicycle instead of a magical flying sleigh..


You can do it, but it t’ain’t fittin’ and it t’ain’t right. 

Here is our red food coloring and some of that uppity vanilla.

Notice how the vanilla is staying off in it’s own little corner as if it is too good to associate with the red food coloring. pfft!

Mix that up really well with the electric mixer again until it is deep red and fully blended.


Get something cute to put cupcake papers into two pans for ya :)

This will make about 18 or so.

Fill your cupcake papers about 3/4 full.

Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes, or until cupcakes spring back when lightly pressed with a finger in the center.

Allow to cool before icing.








I don’t have photos of the icing because Karo and I got a little involved in having fun and I set the camera down somewhere to enjoy the moment. I did use an icing bag with a 2D tip in it though. I just use an even pressure and outline the outside of the cupcake top, then continue circling around until I get to the center.

The recipe and instructions for icing are below though, and it’s really easy. you just dump everything in a bowl and beat the mess out of it until it’s smooth and creamy :) If you want to see how I make cream cheese icing, you can visit my Chocolate Velvet Cake Post for photos.


Don’t feel like you have to put the icing on pretty like I did here. My original goal was to pile it up really high like the ones Katy had saw in the Opryland Hotel but my icing kept wilting down..then it dawned on me that trying to have a stiff and full cream cheese icing in August, especially while decorating cupcakes in the sunroom, is not the easiest thing to do :)

Slather the icing on there with a knife and just don’t worry about it. ENJOY!

Phenomenal Red Velvet Cupcakes
  • 2 +1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1+1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1+1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ounce bottle red food coloring
Cream Cheese Icing
  • 8 ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ½ cup butter (or margarine), at room temperature
  • 1 pound confectioner's sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.
  2. In a separate large mixing bowl, mix together sugar, buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vinegar. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and beat on medium speed until well blended.
  3. Add vanilla and entire bottle of red food coloring to batter and mix again on low speed until well blended and uniform in color.
  4. Line 2 - 12 cup muffin tins with papers. Fill each paper about ¾ full with batter. Will end up with 18-20 cupcakes.
  5. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes, or until center springs back when pressed lightly with finger. Allow to cool completely before icing.
For Icing
  1. Cream together cream cheese and butter. Add sugar and vanilla and beat with electric mixer until smooth and creamy, scraping down sides as needed. Ice cooled cupcakes.
  2. Can be left at room temp but I love it refrigerated!
Makes about 18-20 cupcakes.


Oh wow! Here is a thought with an impact! Can you imagine?

“How would your life be different if…You walked away from gossip and verbal defamation? Let today be the day…You speak only the good you know of other people and encourage others to do the same.” 
― Steve Maraboli


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  1. Diane F says

    O boy! Red velvet cupcakes! I have to make these for my little brother he loves red velvet! I made the pumpkin roll cupcakes today and they turned out great!!! Can you possibly post a recipe for peanut butter and jelly cupcakes????

  2. Carmell says

    Christy, you did it again! These are fantastic!! We are having a birthday party for our son who is turning 16 this weekend. He requested Red Velvet Cupcakes and I knew your recipes are ALWAYS phenominal, and these are nothing short of wonderful! Thank you for posting this incredible recipe. As always, thank you!
    😉 KARO~ THANK YOU for inspiring your momma! *Keep up the good work!*

  3. CARMEL says

    The cupcakes were a hit! I also made some chocolate cupcakes and used this same icing and added a few tablespoons of cocoa until I thought it had a nice chocolate flavor. My husband loved the chocolate version! Thanks so much for your recipe!

  4. Karen Belcher says

    I have so much fun reading your post, you are a great writer and you make me look forward to making your recipes!! I have recommended your website to several people. Thanks so much for passing on the joy!!

  5. Sarah grace says

    Oooh I’ll have to make these sometime! But I won’t add the food coloring (I know, ain’t right) since I’m not keen on consuming that much dye, and I’m not sure we have that much food coloring! I’m gonna be my mother’s favorite child when I make these! :)

    I’ve been going through your site and saving a lot of recipes :)

    • Eva says

      it reacts with the soda to help lift the cake, and it also works on the cocoa (more so original type of cocoa) to deepen the red colour as I understand it Red Velvet is simply a chocolate cupcake that is redder in colour, most likely because they used vinegar and soda and buttermilk to make it, the acids and alkaline mix of the cocoa powder, soda, buttermilk and vinegar combining to make the cupcakes light and the colour red instead of brown. Of course these days it has to be RED so added food colouring!

  6. Kat Watts says

    I can’t wait for Friday. My son will be turning 6. We will have so much fun with these. They sound fabulous! I do have a very basic question. Do the eggs need to be room temperature?

  7. Manasa says

    Hey.. Sorry if I sound really dumb..
    I’m new to baking but am absolutely determined to bake red velvet cupcakes for my friend’s birthday next week..

    I was going through your recipe n came across the ingredient ‘buttermilk’. Can u please tell me how to make that? It isn’t available in stores where I live (Delhi, India).
    I googled it n came up with quite a few different ways to make buttermilk which has only successfully confused me a hell lot more about what to do 😀

  8. Mandy says

    Hi there! I made your chocolate velvet cake for my son’s birthday last year and it was delicious. This year he wants a homemade red velvet cake and I was hoping you had a recipe for it since the other cake was so good. I found your red velvet cupcake recipe and was wondering if it would make a 2 layer cake out of the recipe. I have a ton of cookbooks and none of them have a recipe, so frustrating, lol! Please help!


  9. larissa says

    there so long that I wanted to eat this red velvet and economies are hard to find here in Brazil … recheita enjoyed this and I will do right now would also like to buy your book … has the edition in Portuguese?
    Katy continues inspiring his mother girl
    ps: I loved your tattoo and her blouse

  10. Vicki says

    With the stand mixer, what speed do you mix the cake. My stand mixer says to use a lower speed than a hand held mixer because the stand mixer is stronger. Do you make adjustments like that when mixing cakes?

  11. trisha cresthull says

    Hi Christy, i have read this red velvet site 3 times very carefully in hopes to find the section to subscribe to your magazine or cookbook for almost half off the price. Please tell me how i can subscribe at nearly half price. Yon can PM me if you will. I love all your recipes. Looking forward to hearing from you. Hugs and Blessings to you and yours. Trisha

  12. Elizaberh says

    Hi Christy,will make these for my grand-daughter who will be coming for the holidays,then off to med school-we are so blessed she has done it mostly on her own.I will make extra for her trip home. Thanks for the give-aways I just never win.God bless.

        • says

          Okay, now I realize coming out of the gate here that this may sound crazy but… Mama and Tookie (her friend who originally gave her this recipe) absolutely SWEAR by freezing the cakes first for moistness. After they are cooked and completely cooled, they wrap them really well or put them in zipper seal bags and freeze them completely. THEN they ice them and both of them swear up and down that this makes the cakes moist. Tookie makes miniature red velvet cakes for Christmas and often even makes them in October, freezing them for over a month before icing and giving away.

    • lailabakes says

      I dropped it to 1 cup and 2 Tbsp (9 liquid ounces) and the cake is moist and absolutely beautiful in texture. 1 1/2 cups oil made my paper liners all greasy so I dropped the oil a little every time I made it. At 1 cup it seemed too low and dried the cake. however, for all oil based cakes, I now use foil cupcake liners.

  13. Katherine M. Scott says

    Wow! These we amazing! 5 stars, for sure. My sister wasn’t feeling well, so I decided to make her red velvet cupcakes. I made them in a loaf shape, and went over to her house. I handed them to her, and she bit in to one. She paused, then took another bite. She did not look up until she had two. Finally she looked at me and was absolutely speechless. So I asked her how they were, and she handed me one. I took a bite and tasted something so wonderful I couldn’t speak either. I had to get going, but before I left, my sister stopped me and gave me a hug. She asked me to send her the recipe, and so I sent her this link once I got home. She was a bit better the next day, but I still decided to make her another batch. I shared this with recipe with my friends and make these for my kids ALL the time. Thank you for posting this recipe! :)

  14. Carol says

    I know a lot of folks think Red Velvet Cake needs cream cheese frosting. However i grew up with it having something called Ermine Icing. It’s a cooked concoction of flour and milk and sugar and butter. I can’t do Red Velvet without it. Have you ever tried it?

  15. Paula Austin says

    Hi Christy,
    I love my Hamilton Beach Electrics Mixer too! Both my daughters have the Kitchen Aid Mixer ,they say they love my better. If your looking for a great mixer , you will love this one. It also comes in colors. Can’t wait to make the Red Velvet Cupcake . It’s my daughter’s favorite cake and her birthday is in February.


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