Red Velvet Cake

5 from 1 vote

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Red Velvet Cake isn’t just known for its red color. It has the perfect blend of vanilla, cocoa, and tang (from buttermilk) that makes it so dang popular! While I love a good Classic Chocolate Cake, this is a new kind of cake! Paired with my cream cheese frosting and you’ve got yourself a show-stopping dessert.

slice of red velvet cake on plate

But First, What is Red Velvet Cake?

Red Velvet Cake is commonly mistaken for chocolate cake with red food coloring added to it. But can it actually be a chocolate cake if it traditionally only has 1-2 tablespoons of cocoa powder in it? I think not.

If it’s not chocolate cake, then what is it? Although both types of cake do use cocoa, Red Velvet traditionally uses anthocyanin-rich cocoa (fancy talk for cocoa that turns a deep red when reacting with an acid found in buttermilk and vinegar, also common ingredients in red velvet).

I wanted to make a moist and super tasty Red Velvet Cake that anybody could make any time. Because of this, I subbed out the anthocyanin-rich cocoa for food coloring. But don’t worry, this recipe still has all the classic flavors and textures people love about Red Velvet Cake!

Main Ingredients Needed

Lot’s of pantry staples here for red velvet cake and some not so common ingredients. Take a trip to the store if needed, trust me, it’s worth it! Here’s what you need:

  • Vegetable Oil – this is to keep the cake nice and moist.
  • Sugar – to sweeten.
  • Eggs + Egg Whites – for structure and texture. The extra egg whites are used to keep this cake light.
  • Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder – here’s the cocoa powder that’s used to flavor the cake.
  • Baking Soda – the leavening agent for this recipe.
  • Flour – this fills out the rest of the cake.
  • Buttermilk + Vinegar – these provide that classic tang in red velvet cake and provide such good moisture.
  • Vanilla – for flavor.
  • Red Food Coloring – I used liquid food coloring but feel free to use gel coloring too. Start small and add more if you think it needs more color.

A Note About Red Food Coloring

While lots of recipes out there all for a full 1 oz bottle of liquid food coloring, I kept it modest with 3 teaspoons. Most food colorings, especially red, have an after taste that doesn’t really make for a good cake-eating experience. I used this McCormick liquid red food coloring and as you can tell by the pictures, my cake didn’t get super red (which I’m totally fine with because there was zero after taste which is how I like it). If you want a brighter red cake, simply use more food coloring! I would recommend using up to 0.5 oz which is half of the bottle. OR just use a no-taste red food coloring.

How to Make Red Velvet Cake

For full details, on how to make red velvet cake, see the recipe card down below 🙂

Step 1: Preheat Oven and Prepare Pans

Preheat oven. Line two round baking pans with parchment paper and/or spray well with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

dry ingredients in glass bowl

Step 2: Prepare the Dry + Wet Ingredients

In a large bowl, whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together to combine. Set aside. In a liquid measuring cup, stir buttermilk, vanilla, vinegar, and red food coloring. Set aside.

Step 3: Make the Cake Batter

In a separate large bowl, mix oil and sugar together until combined. Mix in eggs and egg white, one at a time, until the mixture becomes lighter in color.

Alternate adding in flour mixture with milk mixture, being sure to start and end with flour. Scrape the sides and mix again to ensure a smooth batter.

Step 4: Bake and Cool Cakes

Divide evenly between baking pans and smooth the top. Bake in the lower 2/3rds of the oven. The cake will be done when a toothpick comes out clean or mostly clean with a few moist crumbs. Cool in cake pans before trying to invert on cooling racks. Once you can handle the warm pans with your bare hands, you can flip them out. Cool completely before frosting and decorating.

red velvet cakes cooling on cooling racks

What Frosting Should I Use?

I added my Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe in the recipe card but feel free to use my Vanilla Buttercream Frosting instead! Either are great options for this cake.

Red Velvet Cake: Make-Ahead Instructions

The best thing about all of my cake recipes is they store beautifully if you make them ahead! Here are a few storage options:

Storing at Room Temperature

Once your cake has been baked, cooled, wrap them in plastic wrap and store at room temperature overnight. Prepare the frosting then cover and store in the fridge overnight as well. When you are ready to assemble and decorate, set the frosting out at room temperature to soften for about 30-45 minutes. Give it a quick mix to loosen it up in your mixer for about a minute, then frost away! (You may have to add a splash of heavy cream or milk to bring it back to life.)

Storing in the Freezer

If you want to make this cake even farther ahead of time, consider freezing it! Baked Red Velvet Cake can be frozen for up to 3 months. 

Wrap baked cake layers well in two layers of plastic wrap and one layer of heavy-duty foil and store flat in the freezer. To thaw, transfer from the freezer to the fridge overnight and then bring to room temperature before decorating. Do not freeze cream cheese frosting.

Same Recipe, Different Sized Cakes!

Want to make cupcakes or a 9×13 red velvet cake? Don’t worry I have the baking times right here! This Red Velvet Cake recipe will make:

  • 1- 9×13 thick cake (bake for 30-40 minutes)
  • 2- 8 or 9-inch round cakes (bake for 28-35 minutes)
  • 32 cupcakes (bake for 15-22 minutes)
red velvet cake with slices missing

More Cake Recipes to Try!

Be sure to check out all of my other cake recipes while you’re at it!

5 from 1 vote

Red Velvet Cake

Red Velvet Cake isn't just known for its red color. It has the perfect blend of vanilla, cocoa, and tang that makes it so dang popular!
servings 12 servings
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 2 hrs 30 mins

Ingredients

For the Cake

For the Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1/2 cup butter at room temperature
  • 8 oz cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 pound powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Instructions

For the Red Velvet Cake Layers:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two 8-inch round baking pans with parchment paper and/or spray well with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt together to combine. Set aside. In a liquid measuring cup, stir buttermilk, vanilla, vinegar and red food coloring. Set aside.
  • In a separate large bowl, mix oil and sugar together until combined. Mix in eggs and egg white, one at a time, until mixture becomes lighter in color, about 90 seconds.
  • Alternate adding in flour mixture with milk mixture, being sure to start and end with flour. Scrape the sides and mix again to ensure a smooth batter.
  • Divide evenly between baking pans and smooth the top. Bake 28-35 minutes in the lower 2/3rds of the oven. If you're using three cake pans instead of two, you will need to bake this cake 22-30 minutes. Cake will be done when a toothpick comes out clean or mostly clean with a few moist crumbs. Cool 15-20 minutes in cake pans before trying to invert on cooling racks. Once you can handle the warm pans with your bare hands, you can flip them out. Cool completely before frosting and decorating.

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter together. You want them very soft, at room temperature so they cream nicely together and create a smooth frosting. Add in the powdered sugar, vanilla and salt and very slowly start to incorporate. At first, it will seem like too much powdered sugar, but as long as your butter and cream cheese were soft, it should combine. Once the powdered sugar is incorporated, increase speed to whip for 1-2 minutes or until light and fluffy. If it still seems too stiff to use as frosting, add in 1-2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream.
    This makes enough to frost a two layer cake. If you've baked three layers, increase recipe by 1.5 times.

Notes

  • 1- 9×13 thick cake (bake for 30-40 minutes)
  • 2- 8 or 9-inch round cakes (bake for 28-35 minutes)
  • 32 cupcakes (bake for 15-22 minutes)
 
If you’d like a brighter red cake, use more red food coloring. Some recipes use a full 1 oz bottle, but I’d suggest using half that amount, 0.5 oz, at most. It can leave an unpleasant aftertaste, so I like to limit it. If this doesn’t bother you, go nuts with the food coloring.

Nutrition

Calories: 694kcal | Carbohydrates: 94g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 34g | Saturated Fat: 24g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 72mg | Sodium: 364mg | Potassium: 123mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 73g | Vitamin A: 579IU | Calcium: 65mg | Iron: 2mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: red velvet cake

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Recipe Rating




2 Responses
  1. Jennifer Horsthemke

    5 stars
    I made this cake today for Valentine’s Day. It was really good! It was my first time baking a red velvet cake from scratch, thanks for the recipe!

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