The Best Red Velvet Cake Recipe

I’m sharing the Best Red Velvet Cake Recipe today! This is the recipe my mom always used. It’s soft, moist and tender, with the perfect red velvet flavor!

Use my Heritage Frosting (cooked frosting) on this cake for a true southern classic!

a slice of three layer red velvet cake with frosting

This Best Red Velvet Cake Recipe you will ever try! 

My mom would always make this velvet red cake cake from scratch on Christmas when I was growing up. I never really thought too much about it, except that it was a “special occasion” cake. She would go to the trouble of making the cake, cooking the frosting, and carefully frosting it. It was a rustic beauty.

But What IS Red Velvet?

We can all see that it’s red…but what makes it “velvet”? I mean, it’s a valid question. 

Simply put it’s a cake made with buttermilk, and in my recipe also a little vinegar to really give it a tender crumb. My recipe also used oil instead of butter, which gives the cake a fluffy texture. 

It also includes a little bit of cocoa powder which gives it a VERY mild chocolate flavor. More like a vanilla buttermilk cake with a hint of chocolate. It’s unique and delicious!

How To Make Red Velvet Cake

Tips:

  1. What kind of food coloring do you need?  I use old school McCormick food coloring, because that’s what my mom used. I know there are all sorts of fancy food dyes out now, with more natural ingredients, so please feel free to use whatever you feel comfortable with. And full disclosure, my mom’s recipe calls for TWO whole bottles of the McCormick’s food coloring, but after testing it out multiple times, I feel like you can achieve a gorgeous color red with just one bottle. The are more potent food dyes out there now where you can probably use even less, but I know almost everyone can find the McCormick’s at their local supermarket, so for ease I write this recipe using that brand. 
  2. What size pans do you need? Three 8- inch round cake pans will be perfect. You can also use 9- inch pans if that is what you have, just know your layers will be thinner. You can also bake this in a 9×13 pan if you want to make a single layer cake.
  3. Do you really need to use buttermilk AND vinegar? Yep. I find that the combo of the two is what really makes the texture of this cake special.

What If You Don’t Have Buttermilk?

If you find that you don’t have buttermilk and don’t want to run to the store, you can make a buttermilk substitute very easily at home. 

I get the question a lot of you make your own buttermilk with milk and vinegar do you still need to add the extra vinegar the recipe calls for and I say yes!

Frosting a Red Velvet Cake

What Kind of Frosting is Best For Red Velvet Cake?

I know so many of you prefer your red velvet with cream cheese frosting, but I’m ALL about the Heritage Frosting on this cake, that I linked to above! BUT you can also use:

  • Cream cheese frosting, which is a classic on Red Velvet Cake!
  • Buttercream Frosting, because it’s an easy option for those who don’t want to go to the trouble of Heritage Frosting or don’t like Cream Cheese Frosting
  • Chocolate Frosting! It might seem crazy, but chocolate and red velvet go together perfectly!

The BEST Red Velvet Cake EVER!

Can You Make This Recipe Into Cupcakes?

Yes you can! It should make about 36 cupcakes. Fill the liners 2/3 of the way full and bake them at 350°F for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

The BEST Red Velvet Cake EVER!

When you cut this red velvet cake, you’ll going to be so happy. This cake just does that to your heart! It’s outrageously soft, moist, and has the perfect crumb.

Looking for more Red Velvet Recipes? 

Print

Red Velvet Cake

  • Author: Cookies & Cups
  • Prep Time Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time Total Time: 40 mins
  • Yield Yield: serves 12 1x
  • Category Category: Cake
  • Method Method: Baking
  • Cuisine Cuisine: Dessert

Description:

The Best Red Velvet Cake recipe you will ever make! A family favorite!


Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 Tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 oz. red food coloring

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat 3, 8-inch round pans with nonstick spray. Cut parchment rounds to fit in the bottom of the pans. Place the parchment rounds in the pans and coat again with nonstick spray. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment add the oil, eggs, buttermilk, vinegar, and vanilla. Mix on medium speed until combined. Add in the sugar and mix until incorporated.
  3. Next add the cocoa powder, salt and baking soda, mixing on medium speed for 30 seconds, or until no lumps remain in the cocoa powder.
  4. Turn mixer to low and add in the flour and red food coloring. Mix until smooth, 30 seconds – 1 minute, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  5. Divide the batter equally into the 3 prepared pans.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Cool in pan for 10 minutes and then turn the cakes out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  8. Frost as desired.

Notes:

I use my recipe for Heritage Frosting on this cake. Please note, if you use my recipe you will need to increase the recipe by 1/2.

You can also use my Buttercream Frosting

Also, if you are not using liquid food coloring, the amount that you will need will change. If you use a gel coloring add until the desired shade of red is reached. I use McCormick’s brand coloring in this cake, as this is what my mom used in her recipe.

Keywords:: red velvet cake, frosting, cake, red velvet, recipe, cream cheese frosting, heritage frosting, springform pan

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Hi! I’m Shelly and I’m an addict. Of the buttercream sort. I started this site a few years ago as a way to justify my sugary, buttery obsession with desserts. It has worked out well for me so far, because as it turns out you guys all love sugary, buttery desserts too! It feels good to know you're not alone, doesn’t it?

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184 Comments
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Cinthya Hernandez
January 13, 2021 3:27 am

Hello! This recipe sounds delicious! How would I have to adjust the recipe to make a 3 layer 12 inch cake? And would this cake hold up well under fondant?

Amal Husseini
January 9, 2021 3:31 pm

Can I change the food coloring to make a blue velvet cake?

Savannah
January 8, 2021 10:30 am

I found this recipe a few years ago and have been getting consistent requests for it since! Holidays, birthdays, baby showers, you name it. I use your cream cheese frosting recipe and it never disappoints. Thank you for an awesome recipe!

Chase
December 28, 2020 6:57 pm

Recipe is close to cakeman raven recipe red velvet

Kerry
December 7, 2020 3:33 am

Baffled why this didn’t work out for me. I copied the exact measurements and it not only took double the time to cook but the icing remained very loose and a yellow colour. Gutted given everyone else’s reviews are to positive

Priscela Perez
December 3, 2020 8:59 am

Hi do any of the ingredients have to be at room temperature?? I’d like to try making this cake.

HoneyDee242
December 1, 2020 10:34 pm

Hi, how much gel food coloring should I use

Brianna
December 1, 2020 8:30 pm

Does this cake need to be stored in the fridge or stay at room temp?

Quinica Burnett
November 29, 2020 8:56 pm

Can I use peanut oil??

Nozy
November 28, 2020 2:55 pm

Hi
If I use 4 cups of cake flour , must I increase the amount of baking soda?

Fsy
November 12, 2020 8:32 pm

Hi, I’m making red velvet cake from Duncan Hines mix. What steps should I take to make it more denser and delicious?

Swiss
November 11, 2020 11:43 am

Tried this recipe mmmmmm yummy my family loves it. By the way, i used a wire whisk coz was lazy to use a hand mixer but the cake still turned out perfect, so i will be making this again ang just use wire whisk thanks for sharing this recipe.

Tiffany Allen
November 1, 2020 7:38 pm

I am a novice baker, and I have just started making scratch cakes. All I want to say is, Thank you so much for this easy recipe. The cake came out delicious. My family loved it. Your grandmother was an awesome baker and I’m glad she shared the recipe with you and you shared it with me. Thank you again

Jackie
November 1, 2020 1:08 am

Hi Shelly,
I was caught up writing my review and forgot to ask the 1 question I had. How does this cake freezes? Will it retain it’s moisture once thawed?

Jackie
November 1, 2020 1:06 am

Hi Shelly. I used this recipe for the first time on April 18, 2020 and have made it 4 more times since. This is by far the BEST Red Velvet recipe I have used and the only one I will ever use. I shared it with my best friend and she agrees. She baked 3 for her sisters as a Mother’s Day gift. So this cake has already been requested to be on the table for Thanksgiving. Thanks.

Shelly Hi! I’m Shelly and I’m an addict. Of the buttercream sort. I started this site a few years ago as a way to justify my sugary, buttery obsession with desserts. It has worked out well for me so far, because as it turns out you guys all love sugary, buttery desserts too! It feels good to know you're not alone, doesn’t it?

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