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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!

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? 

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Red Velvet Cake

Red Velvet Cake

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

Description

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


Ingredients

Scale
  • 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.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 unfrosted slice
  • Calories: 475
  • Sugar: 33.6 g
  • Sodium: 314.9 mg
  • Fat: 28.5 g
  • Carbohydrates: 53.7 g
  • Protein: 3.9 g
  • Cholesterol: 31.4 mg

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

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285 comments on “The Best Red Velvet Cake Recipe”

  1. This is hands-down the best red velvet cake that I’ve made and I’ve made hundreds. The heritage icing is also amazing!

  2. This is the best recepie for red velvet I have tried. It’s my go to recepie..n the cupcakes also turn out beautifully. Easy to make. Cant thank you enough for this Shelly !

  3. crytew1974@gmail.com

    Made the red velvet cake with heritage icing today for my husband’s birthday. The icing is delicious and the cake was fairly easy to make. I can’t wait to try it tonight. Thanks for the recipe.

  4. Nokutenda Sibanda

    Hey
    So have tried this recipe several time a but my cake always flops and it’s always so hard and oily on the to and at times bitter

  5. Hello! I recently baked this for my husband as a trial to see if he would like it–because I intend to make it (alongside banana bread and dumplings, he loves my banana bread and dumplings) for his birthday!

    It went amazing (: I had a lot of fun baking it, and he liked it a lot. I was wondering if you had any suggestions on how to increase the chocolate taste–I was thinking of adding 1/2 of a tablespoon for the next batch.

    1. Red velvet cake isn’t a chocolate cake and it shouldn’t taste like it. More chocolate favor, without changing texture, add 1/4 cup cocoa. You basically have a mild chocolate cake, dyed red.

  6. I made this for my son’s birthday tonight. (Forgot to get a picture before cutting into it then sending the leftovers home with him) This is probably the best red velvet cake I have ever had. It was moist and tender and flavorful. Everyone commented on how moist it was. This will be my go to red velvet from here on out. I used gel food coloring and iced it with cream cheese frosting.

  7. Curious why you didn’t write the Heritage Frosting recipe to make the full amount needed instead of having to increase it by half???

  8. Brooklynmoney

    When you say if we use the heritage frosting we need to increase the recipe by 1/2 do you mean the frosting recipe ingredients or the cake ingredients?

  9. Omolade Toluhi

    Good day and thank you for posting this recipe. For the oil; am I seeing one and half cups or half cup?

    1. It’s not my recipe but that’s correct about the oil, my red velvet is the same recipe but I use a little less sugar.

  10. Hi,
    I’m planning to use cream cheese frosting for the cake. Can I bake the cake one day ahead, frost and refrigerate it and cut it the next day?

  11. I made this cake today and it didn’t rise much and it sunk in the middle.. hopefully it tastes good with lots of frosting!

  12. Christie L Kahlig-Davis

    Hello. I need a 4 layer wedding cake. I just did this recipe with 2 9” pans. They didn’t rise a whole lot. Maybe 1 1/2 “ at most. Is this right. I followed recipe exactly. I used baking soda as it called for.
    Anyone know how tall the 8” came out to be per pan? Help this cake is due tomorrow

  13. I made this cake for Christmas as a sheet cake. My Nephew that is stuck on the traditional, don’t like change, call me the next day and told me I needed to bake another one just like the other one. He maked a carry out box of red velvet for his family. My Niece called and said he ate all three slices, and is waiting for me to bake another one.

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