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


  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? 


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


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



  • 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


  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.


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 Information:

1 unfrosted slice
33.6 g
314.9 mg
28.5 g
53.7 g
3.9 g
31.4 mg

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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October 10, 2021 9:24 pm

After trying MANY Red Velvet Cake recipes, I tried this one and it turned out GREAT!!!! Loved it and it was so moist!!! I topped it with Chocolate Covered Strawberries!! It was a hit!!

October 25, 2021 5:40 pm
Reply to  Shelly

Thank you so much!!! Thank you for such a great recipe!!!!

Zena Pierce
November 24, 2021 3:09 pm
Reply to  Shelly

Can I substitute all purpose flour and use cake flour

February 13, 2021 5:03 pm

I made this recipe for the first time yesterday and it was amazing. I used three 7 inch tins and around 8ml of red gel (all I had left) and it was great. It was served alongside a cake that was ordered from a bakery and many preferred the homemade one! Easy to make and delicious.
(From Wellington, New Zealand)

January 26, 2022 4:17 pm

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?

Omolade Toluhi
January 20, 2022 8:38 am

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

January 6, 2022 12:15 pm

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?

Gail Karnes
December 31, 2021 1:11 pm

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!

Christie L Kahlig-Davis
December 29, 2021 7:03 pm

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

Miss J
December 27, 2021 3:36 pm

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.

Lucy D.
December 21, 2021 10:33 pm

If I want to substitute and use gluten-free flour, will it be the same measurements as regular flour? I see that this recipe calls for 2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour, but I want to use 2 1/2 cups of gluten-free flour. Will that be ok? I will be making this cake on Friday of this week.

Trina from Birmingham Al
December 19, 2021 1:36 pm

I have received raved reviews for this recipe from my clients..Because I like a more Christmasy Red I lessen the cocoa just a little….

I do have a quick question.. can this recipe be used for cupcakes as well?? do I need to add or substrate any ingredient(s) to make a successful conversion….like a little water or an extra egg

Lisa Dombrowski
December 18, 2021 8:16 pm

Made it super easy very good thanks for the recipe

December 16, 2021 12:10 pm

I’ve been making this cake for about a year for every birthday in my family because it is such a hit!!! Is there any way we can morf this recipe into cookies? I’ve had requests for red velvet cookies and I would love them to taste very similar to this cake recipe. Any recommendations?

December 16, 2021 7:41 am

I found this cake covered my hands in oil… it felt so greasy. It did taste nice but the oil left on my hands put me off eek

Robin Kopp
December 13, 2021 4:04 pm

Do I need to use the whisk attachment for mixing the whole cake or just the wet ingredients, and will it turn out differently if I use the paddle instead?

Robin Kopp
December 12, 2021 8:40 pm

Does this recipe require the whisk attachment for making the whole cake, of just the wet ingredients? I’ve never used the whisk attachment for cakes, but then I’m an inexperienced baker, so wish me luck

December 1, 2021 12:44 am

I made this Red Velvet Cake recipe for Thanksgiving (rather than using my grandmother’s old family recipe) and it was a HUGE hit with my family. I think this recipe will be the new family favorite! Super moist and the perfect red velvet taste and texture! I made Cream Cheese Icing as your recipe was the same as my grandmothers and that’s what my family prefers. I always double the icing recipe so there’s plenty. It was SO, SO good!! Thanks for sharing it!

November 7, 2021 2:33 pm

Hi Shelly, which vinegar should I use, wine or apple? And also, for your buttercream frosting, how much fat should the heavy cream have? Thank you!

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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