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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Nikita
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)

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Porsh
June 15, 2021 3:11 pm

Can this be made as a sheet cake

Sarah Silveria
June 11, 2021 10:59 am

Just wondering why you use the whisk attachment instead of the paddle?

Grace
May 30, 2021 12:59 am

Hi! How long is the shelf life of the cake in the freezer?

Grace
May 30, 2021 12:25 am

Hi! Can I freeze this cake? Also how long is the shelf life of the cake of it’s frozen?

Sandra B
April 9, 2021 8:02 pm

I used this recipe and didn’t enjoy it. The cake was way too oily. If I were to remake this recipe I would definitely put less oil and add more sugar. Sorry shelly.

Denise
April 8, 2021 1:06 pm

Hi Shelly,

Can I use a bundt pan to make this cake?

Chin
March 27, 2021 8:35 pm

I made this for my friend and everyone loved it and I used mascopone and whipping cream frosting. It was so light and fluffy frosting. I also decreased to 1cup

Last edited 2 months ago by Chin
Jasmin
February 12, 2021 1:13 pm

Hi Shelly, can I use cake flour instead of all purpose flour?

Tee
February 12, 2021 8:43 pm
Reply to  Jasmin

Hi Jasmin, I used cake flour (red box) and it came out wonderful…. Had no issues.

Regina Hargro
March 30, 2021 6:22 pm
Reply to  Jasmin

Can you use cake flour rather the all purpose flour.

Winnie
February 12, 2021 7:05 am

Hi, I cooked this in a tin with a removable bottom and a lot of the oil dripped out the bottom, is this normal?

Tee
February 11, 2021 8:21 pm

I made this cake on Sunday. I must say this is the best recipe I have ever tried. This cake came out so very moist and delicious. Recipe is very simple and easy to follow. I didn’t have any white vinegar, so I used Apple Cider vinegar. I will add this cake recipe to the other favorites I have. .. Thank you…

Jenni
February 10, 2021 12:05 pm

I made this yesterday. I made cupcakes and they turned out great. They were very moist. I used my Pampered chef silicone floral mold.

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Jenni P
February 7, 2021 1:00 pm

I am going to make this recipe this week for my daughter’s teacher’s. I am going to use a silicone floral cupcake pan from Pampered chef. I was wondering how long do you this it should bake for? The pan is 12 cups so I know I would have to make at least two pans.

Maricris Gatdula
January 31, 2021 9:03 pm

Hi! what type of vinegar should be used?

Hala
January 29, 2021 8:57 am

Did what you said but the batter still came out brown? 🙁

Sheeva
February 21, 2021 3:35 am
Reply to  Hala

hey! you probably didn’t add enough food coloring/dye. it takes a LOT to make it a bright red color

Jen Capobianco
January 26, 2021 9:26 pm

Hi, when I turn the cake out on to a rack, do I remove the parchment right away or leave until finished cooling? I’m worried about it sticking to the rack. Thanks! I looks amazing.

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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