This Easy Red Velvet cake is made with buttermilk and topped with a rich and creamy cream cheese frosting. Delicious and beautiful!
This recipe was originally published 2014/01/15. It has since been updated to include clear instructions and new photos.
I once made this recipe in a baking competition. It was a Cupcake Wars style competition where I went head to head with four other crazy talented bakers.
The pressure was intense and I questioned if red velvet was the right choice. After an hour in the display kitchen, with dozens of people watching, we were ready to pass over our creations to be judged.
I got second place.
First place went to another super talented baker who killed it with the decorations. After all was said and done, each of the judges shook my hand and mentioned that if the competition was only based on flavor, I would have knocked it out of the park.
I consider that a win.
- Classic Red Velvet Flavor
- Smooth and Creamy Frosting
- Truly the BEST Homemade Red Velvet Cake
What You’ll Need:
The list for this easy red velvet cake recipe is long, so the full ingredients and measurements can be found in the recipe card below.
- Cocoa powder- Spring for a nicer quality cocoa.
- Buttermilk- Buttermilk helps to tenderize the gluten and adds a slight tang.
- Red food color- You can always skip this, but you won’t have that bold red color that is known with this recipe.
- Vanilla extract- Always use PURE vanilla.
- Vinegar- Regular white distilled vinegar.
Want another quick and easy Valentine’s treat? Try making your own chocolate covered strawberries!
Step by Step Instructions:
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of three 8 inch cake pans with parchment and grease the sides.
- In the bowl of your electric mixer whisk together your flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa, corn starch and salt. Grab a large measuring cup and combine the oil, eggs, buttermilk, food color, extract, and vinegar. Slowly mix into the dry ingredients.
- Divide your batter evenly between your prepared pans. Bake 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Frost with your favorite frosting. We like cream cheese frosting.
Tips and FAQs:
- Always use room temperature ingredients for your cake. This helps everything to incorporate without overmixing.
- I find it helpful to line the bottom of my cake pans with parchment paper to avoid the cake sticking when turning out.
- Use a cake cutter, like this one from Wilton (affiliate), to evenly cut your cake layers.
- Need an easy decorating idea? Try pipping on a few roses with frosting.
Is red velvet cake just chocolate?
Technically, this cake does include cocoa powder. However, the amount in the batter is so minimal that it does not have that classic chocolate flavor.
What is the flavor of red velvet cake?
Red Velvet cake gets its distinct flavor from buttermilk, vinegar, and small amounts of cocoa powder. The amount of cocoa is so minimal that it wouldn’t be classified as chocolate, but enough that it would not fall under the label of vanilla. Red velvet lands somewhere between the two leaving you with a moist and rich cake that tastes incredible when paired with a cream cheese frosting.
Like this recipe? You will love my:
- Homemade Red Velvet Pancakes
- Red Velvet Whoopie Pies
- Cake Mix Red Velvet Cookies
- Red Velvet Cupcakes
- 5-Ingredient Red Velvet Cookies
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Red Velvet Cake
For the cake:
- 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 5 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups canola oil
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 tablespoon red food coloring
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
For the frosting:
- 1-1/2 cups butter 3 sticks, slightly softened
- 4 oz cream cheese slightly softened
- 6 cups powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the cake:
- 1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of three 8-inch cake pans with parchment and grease the sides. Set aside.
- 2. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa, corn starch and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer or a large mixing bowl.
- 3. Using a large measuring cup, combine the oil, eggs, buttermilk, food color, extract, and vinegar. Whisk to combine.
- 4. Slowly stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, keeping the mixer on low speed, until the batter has just come together and is smooth.
- 5. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
For the frosting:
- 1. Combine the butter and cream cheese in the bowl of your electric mixer. Using the paddle attachment, beat on low speed for 2 minutes or until fully combined.
- 2. Scrape the sides of your bowl. Add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, and mix until incorporated.
- 3. With the mixer on low speed, add the cream and vanilla extract. Turn the mixer up to medium speed and allow the ingredients to blend for 4 minutes.
- 4. Scrape the side of the bowl and continue to mix for one minute more.
- 5. Frost your cooled cake.
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Comments & Reviews
Raye Y Flanagan says
Can you make a Red Velvet cake with self rising flour?
I have never tried using self rising flour in this cake recipe so I could not be sure.
Angela Walker says
I’m not certain what this cake taste like but it looks SCRUMPTIOUS… definitely plan to bake one…SOON
Thank you, Angela! It is one of my favorites.
Angela Walker says
I don’t think I’ve ever read so many negative responds. What pessimist! You people need to go and have SEVERAL SEATS!
Thanks for the support! I think it’s good to hear other opinions and suggestions. Apparently there is a strong feeling against cream cheese frosting 😜
I don’t care how beautiful your cake is, if I smell cream cheese frosting anywhere near red velvet, I walk away.
I have ordered a slice of RVC In a restaurant one time, one bite and I needed a napkin to remove that bite from my mouth. I had asked the waitress what type of frosting was used on the cake and she didn’t know, and apparently no one in working that night could answer the question.
The description on the menu simply stayed “with a light fluffy frosting”. Yuck
This recipe also tastes great with a vanilla buttercream if you aren’t a cream cheese fan. There are also a few great suggestions from readers in the comments.
The cream cheese frosting is just the best I had ever tasted. Not sweet and so different especially with the red velvet cake. I don’t know , just maybe it wasn’t well done for others. It’s just the best on a red velvet.
Hi mimi. Thank you for taking the time to comment. I love this cream cheese frosting. It has adjusted and changed slightly throughout the years, but this version is my go-to. I’m so glad you like it as much as I do.
My icing came out horrible! Tasted like SWEEET butter; barely tasted the cream cheese, unfortunately. And my icing ingredients did not mix to a nice consistency. I wonder what I did wrong. But the cake alone (minus frosting) was great!
So weird that the frosting didn’t stay together in a smooth consistency. Did you use a stand mixer or a handheld?
I just made it again and can see how you got more of a buttery flavor. I really love the more buttercream-ish slightly tang of this version. But I’ll add a few notes to get a more tangy version in the recipe card. Thanks for commenting and giving me some ideas to better the recipe. And I’m glad you loved the cake.
Sally G says
I’m sorry, but the only frosting suitable for Red Velvet Cake is Ermine Frosting. The cream cheese is too heavy and tart for the delicate Velvet Cake. It is the original recipe from the last part of the 19th century/first part of the 20th century.
Hi Sally, that’s a great suggestion. I’ll have to try Ermine Frosting on this cake one day. We still love cream cheese on ours, but just a personal preference.
@Jesseca, I love cream cheese as well but ermine (aka boiled icing) is also amazing. It’s also a bit easier to do on a whim since you don’t have to wait for cream cheese to get to room temp (which I usually not only forget to do but then forget that I have cream cheese out because ADHD lol)
Definitely recommend trying it! And I will definitely be trying your recipe(s) 🙂 I found it via Google news/suggestions feed and am excited to look around!
For sure adding ermine frosting to my must-try list. It sounds good! And welcome!
Well I’m sorry but ermine frosting is GROSS and a frosting only an old person would love. This frosting is delicious so you’re missing out. Too bad for you.
I have to agree. We made ermine frosting and were not a fan.
Beverly Miller says
Corn startch…. I see it in the ingredients, but not listed in the dry ingredients to add to the cake…. Help! I wanted to make this recipe, but not sure if it even goes in!
Thanks for catching that, Beverly. You whisk it in with the other dry ingredients. I have fixed the recipe.
I also don’t get what’s so wonderful about red velvet but it’s my daughter’s FAVORITE and she wants me to make one for her 18th birthday Saturday. What icing recipe did you use? That’s my favorite part of a cake and this looks delicious!
I’m also not in on the red velvet craze, but after seeing these pictures, I just want to be. It’s so pretty! I’d eat it. 🙂
Holly C. says
This would be perfect for my Valentine’s Day dessert. I’ll see if my husband will make it. 🙂
this is one of my favorite cakes!
Thanks for the shout out! I don’t “get” red velvet as a flavor but it is gorgeous!
I have to be honest I don’t see the hype in Red velvet cake, but these pictures are amazing. And I bet yours is the best Red Velvet ever.
marissa | Rae Gun Ramblings says
It’s so true some times people just want a prettier chocolate cake, now me I just want the chocolate piled on 😉
I have to admit, I am not sure why people love Red Velvet Cake, but it is SO gorgeous. OK, just talked myself into it. Now I need cake. 🙂
I love everything about this! It looks so yummy and delicious! If I wasn’t on this diet, I would totally be driving over to eat some right now. 🙂 Pinned
Yvonne @ TriedandTasty says
Love the pictures. Like LOVE them!!!