Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

in Cakes & Cupcakes, Valentine's Day

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

It’s more than just a lightly chocolate-flavored red cake or the subject of a line from one of my favorite movies, Steel Magnolias. Done right (read: not in the shape of an animal), a red velvet cake is rich, smooth, and incredibly decadent. Incredibly decadent if it’s topped with cream cheese frosting. Its origins are murky but although it seems to mostly be attributed to the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in NYC, the cake has been a Southern dessert menu staple for at least all of my lifetime.

We used the blood-red cake as the “spoon” for cream cheese frosting on our Halloween Cupcakes this year. And believe it or not, it’s not just the frosting that makes the cake such a favorite. The alternating layers of ruby red and bright white in an over-the-top tall slice of red velvet cake make a dramatic statement after dinner.

And the cream cheese frosting rocks, too :)

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Moist, tangy red velvet cupcakes topped with cream cheese frosting.


  • For the cupcakes:
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cubed and softened
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup (2 oz) red food coloring
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 Tbsp white vinegar
  • For the frosting:
  • 8 oz cream cheese (no need to soften)
  • 5 Tbsp butter, softened
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 - 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar


  1. *To make the cupcakes:
  2. Preheat oven to 350. Line muffin tin with baking liners or grease and flour the muffing cups.
  3. Cream butter and sugar on medium-high for two minutes. Mix in one egg at a time, beating after each addition.
  4. Turn mixer off and add food coloring and cocoa powder to bowl. Turn on low until just incorporated and then beat on medium for 4 minutes.
  5. Sift together the flours, salt, and baking soda and set aside. Stir buttermilk and vanilla together. Add dry ingredients to the bowl in three batches, alternately with the buttermilk in two batches, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Beat on medium until just combined. Add sour cream and vinegar and beat on low until combined.
  6. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full and bake for 25-35 minutes until the cupcakes test done with a toothpick. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes and then cool completely on a rack.
  7. *To make the frosting:
  8. Cream cream cheese, butter, and vanilla on med-high speed. Sift the powdered sugar after measuring.
  9. Add the powdered sugar to the bowl in batches, beating on low until just combined and then beating on high until desired consistency is reached.
  10. For a stiffer icing, add more powdered sugar.


Yields: 24 cupcakes

Adapted from The Pastry Queen and The Gourmet Cookbook

Estimated time: 1 hour

28 comments… add one

  • Wow! These look great! Red velvet cake is one of my ultimate favs! It’s a shame I don’t make it more often!

  • That cupcake look gorgeous… I am a little disappointed its not in the shape of an Armadillo! lol! Its much more classy, however!

  • It looks wonderful, nice photo!

  • Deborah

    I love red velvet cake. And I love Steel Magnolias!!

  • Red Velvet with Cream Cheese – died-and-gone-to-heaven cake. I can’t think of anything better – any left? Does it ship?
    I have to make my own!!!! Wait, then I get to eat it all…. Okay!

  • That cream cake looks amazing, so pretty! Bet it tasted great too!

  • I heart red velvet cupcakes!

  • JEP

    What a delicious photo!

  • It’s so pretty. Have you tried red guava cake? Yum.

  • Silvara

    I made these over the weekend as a Valentine’s Day themed treat – they came out so well!! 😀 I subbed light sour cream and light cream cheese to attempt to make it slightly healthier and it still tasted awesome. Made about 26 in all but I wasn’t complaining and have given many away to friends and family that are wanting me to make more! 😀

  • Lynn

    i’ve made this for my friends and they loved it! I couldn’t find sour cream and using natural yogurt as substitute and it came out so well, full of flavour and more depth. far way better than my usual RVC recipe.this will be is my go-to-RVC-recipe after this =)

    • I agree! 0% Fage is now my favorite sour cream substitution. It’s healthier and the baked goodie comes out just as moist!

  • Laura Wifler

    I absolutely LOVE this recipe – I’ve made it many times and it always turns out perfect! I’m thinking about making it into a cake instead for our Christmas dessert – if so, how exactly would I do that? Sorry if it’s a silly question, I just want to make sure it turns out right!


    • This recipe will make 2 8- or 9-inch layers. Or a single 9×13. Or 3 very tall layers for a 6-inch cake. Pour the batter into pans sprayed with baking spray and bake for ~25 minutes. You’ll want to check it 5 minutes before that to see how it’s doing in your oven and then adjust your baking time from there. Temp stays the same. Good luck!

  • Thank you so much for sharing your recipes! I made your strawberry cake for a bridal shower and it was amazing! Does the cream cheese frosting need to be refrigerated?

  • vanesa

    What food coloring do you use for these cupcakes??? Looks sooo yummy!!!


    • Use either Wilton gels No Taste Red or Americolor gel paste. I’m an Americolor convert now – it gives you more color with less product used.

  • Mary

    I was just wondering if this frosting was pipeable? And, say, if I piped them tonight and served them tomorrow at home temperature would the piping look and taste the same?

    • Mary

      Sorry, I mean room temperature.

    • The frosting is soft but it will hold shape, like the “loops” you see in the picture. If you use a star tip or something similar well-defined edges or small/fine details, you might lose some detail. Pipe one, let it set and see how it reacts at your temp. You might need an extra 1/2 cup of powdered sugar, depending on humidity/temp, etc. Good luck!

  • Mary

    So I just wanted to let others know how this frosting worked out. I made up the frosting on a hot night and refrigerated it for about an hour. Then I filled a piping bag with enough for only 6 cupcakes (otherwise the bag gets too hot) and put the rest of the frosting in the fridge until I needed it. I used a star nozzle. As soon as they were all piped I popped them straight into a contained and into the fridge. The next day (which was very very hot) I took them out for a party and left them out and they did not melt or lose their shape. They were perfect. I’m using this recipe all the time. Thanks.

  • Jeri

    I have Americolor gel paste coloring at home. If you’re using that instead of liquid food coloring, would you still use 2 oz for this recipe? Thank you in advance!

    • Start with a small amount, about the size of a dime. Let it mix and then add a bit more at a time.

      • Jeri

        Thank you for the quick response!

  • Suki :)

    Hi there! Tried making your strawberry cake recipe and it tasted really good! Thank you :) Would like to try this red velvet one as well :) Just a quick question! If I would like to make a red velvet cake (instead of cupcakes) with cream cheese frosting, do I use the same measurements of ingredients? And what size tin should I use? :))

    • Yep, just use 2 9-inch round pans or a single 13×9 pan. Check the cake at ~20 minutes and judge from there how much longer it needs.

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