November 30, 2015
Red Velvet Cupcakes!
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Deliciously light & fluffy red velvet cupcakes with a gorgeous cream cheese frosting!
Red velvet cupcakes
A couple of weeks ago I posted my recipe for my red velvet cake and it was a massive success – it’s one that you were all waiting for for a very long time! I had, however, had many requests for a cupcake version, so here it is!
You will see however that my recipe isn’t just my cake recipe halved as I believe this version bakes better as a cupcake, and the other as an actual cake – so there is a difference!
I was flabbergasted with how red my cupcakes came out – such as they look like they have been edited beyond belief, but they really are that red! It’s mind-blowing! Don’t they look cute! Look at the sprinkling of the red velvet crumbs – they’re just so red!
I use this red food colouring for these cupcakes. I will emphasise on the fact that you MUST USE A GOOD QUALITY COLOURING. Use a supermarket one? They’ll probably fail. You need quite a lot of colouring to get the right red anyway, so using the better quality means they work, and also means you actually use less colouring!
Red velvet is one of those controversial cakes – it’s like why on earth does a cake need to have vinegar in it? and do I really have to use buttermilk?! But honestly – a classic ‘red velvet’ contains these ingredients – and you can’t really avoid them.
You can of course just bake vanilla cupcakes and use food colouring, but red velvet is meant to be chocolate AND vanilla but be super red – the bicarbonate, vinegar, and buttermilk help create the texture and bring the colour out more!
Bicarbonate of soda works by reacting to acid in the recipe – the rising comes from the mix of bicarbonate, buttermilk and vinegar. I always use a white vinegar for my red velvet cupcakes, but others can work such as apple cider vinegar.
One question I always get is “what is buttermilk?” or “can I just use regular milk” and to basically answer this.. you MUST use buttermilk. However, if you can’t find any in the shops (it’s usually found in pots near the cream!) you can make your own. To do this, you need to use FULL-FAT milk and mix with 1tbsp of lemon juice. Whisk it in, and leave to sit for five minutes before using!
More red velvet recipes
The reason that this recipe differs slightly to my regular red velvet cake is that when using different forms of raising agents, then you can’t always just double or half it.
So, this recipe is slightly different. However, I adore both equally! So definitely check out my other recipe if you want to make a layer cake version! I also have cookie bars and truffles so its red velvet heaven!
Cream cheese frosting
Now when this cake comes to the cream cheese frosting… things have changed a little. This recipe has been updated in April 2020. It’s quite a few worlds apart from the near five years ago it was originally posted! I will put the original recipe below in the notes, but the new version is much much better. I, in fact, LOVE IT.
So the new method, which is explained in detail on my ‘How to make cream cheese frosting – back to basics’ post – and it’s delightful. It’s beautiful. And if you ever normally have any cream cheese frosting issues that often we all do, definitely give it a read!
Baking cases and piping tips
For the cupcakes cases, I use my usual cupcakes cases as it is what I had in the drawer but you can easily make these cupcakes “fancy” by using my favourite red baking cups from Iced Jems! I love them as I repeatedly say, as they are amazing.
For the piping, I used my favourite 2D closed star piping tip – it creates the best swirl. And for the piping bags? I use these ones. I find that using the right size bag, and the right size piping tip will definitely help – especially when doing something like cream cheese frosting!
Red Velvet Cupcakes!
- 75 g unsalted butter
- 150 g caster sugar
- 2 medium eggs
- 1 tsp red food colouring (see notes)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 15 g cocoa powder
- 125 ml buttermilk
- 175 g plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 tsp white wine vinegar
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 150 g unsalted butter
- 150 g icing sugar
- 300 g full-fat cream cheese (I use Philadelphia)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat your oven to 180ºC/150ºC fan and get 12 cupcake cases ready!
- Beat together the butter and sugar in a stand mixer until smooth and fluffy like you would a normal cake!
- Add in the eggs and beat again!
- In a small bowl, mix together the red food colouring, and vanilla extract to a paste – Add this mixture to the butter mixture and beat until combined and coloured well!
- Turn the speed down so it's slow and mix in the cocoa powder.
- Pour in half of the buttermilk and beat on a slow speed. Add in half of the flour and beat again, and then the other half of the buttermilk & beat, and then the other half of the flour & beat (I realise this is faffy, but it works!)
- Finally – beat in the bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, and vinegar. Beat again briefly until everything is smooth and incorporated well.
- Spoon into the cases so it's even – I use a cookie scoop and fill the cases about 2/3 full so that it's even across them all.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the middle of the cupcakes comes out clean when poked with a skewer! Once the cakes are baked, leave to cool on a wire rack.
Cream Cheese Frosting
- Make sure your butter is at room temperature, and make sure to use actual butter and not a spread.
- Beat your butter and icing sugar together until light and fluffy - like you would a normal buttercream. I beat them together for about 5 minutes.
- Add in your full-fat cream cheese (That has been drained if needed), and beat for about a minute.
- Scrape the bowl well, and add in the vanilla. Beat again for another minute.
- Scrape the bowl again finally, and beat again if needed. It should be a thick and smooth frosting once finished!
- If you want to use some cake crumbs to decorate, level off any peaked cupcakes, or core a couple out slightly and crumble up. This isn't essential, but red velvet cake crumbs make the best sprinkles!
- Using your piping bag and piping tip, pipe your cream cheese frosting onto the cupcakes.
- Once piped on, sprinkle over the cake crumbs!
- These cupcakes should be stored in the fridge for up to 3+ days due to the cream cheese frosting!
- I used...
- This recipe was updated in April 2020. The cake recipe is the same, apart from using the better food colouring!
- The original cream cheese frosting recipe was:
- 75g butter, room temperature, 150g icing sugar, 2-3tbsp whole milk/double cream, 1x 180g Philadelphia full-fat cream cheese
- You can use self raising flour instead of plain flour - if so, also leave out the baking powder. I prefer using plain flour for red velvet cakes though.
Find my other Cupcake & Christmas recipes on my Recipes Page!
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Mine turned out brown! More like chocolate cupcakes. I followed to recipe to a T but think I should of added more red colouring
To achieve the red, you need to use a high quality red food colouring, such as the one linked! Hope this helps! x
I made these gluten and dairy free. I followed the recipie with free from alternatives and made buttermilk with oatmilk and apple cider vinegar. Unfortunately we just made normal buttercream with some vegan spread but the cakes were gorgeous still. Great recipie!
Hi Jane, I have been asked to make pink velvet cupcakes. Do you think it would work if I omitted the cocoa powder & used 15g extra flour, & used pink instead of red food colouring?
I’ve just made these and followed all the instructions to a T. However they’ve all come away from the cases? Why has this happened and what I can do to stop it from happening next time please. Thank you
Hiya! Sometimes, this can be down to the cupcakes being under baked and/or sweating, and also due to poor quality cases. Hope this helps! x
These are amazing!! Best ever red velvet cupcake recipe, made these for mothers day and they turned out brilliantly!! Used the red food colouring that was recommended, it was perfect!
these had a wonderful texture but i couldn’t taste any of the cocoa even before frosting them, just like plain vanilla sponge. is that normal for red velvet? I admit I’ve never had any myself before this but i always thought it was predominately chocolate flavoured.
Hiya! What brand of cocoa powder did you use? Some brands don’t taste as strong as others! x
Hi! I’m not sure how it will affect red velvet cupcakes but when doing any sort of chocolate sponge cupcakes I pour in a teaspoon of instant coffee powder mixed with just enough hot water to dissolve it and it helps bring out a deeper chocolate flavour, this also balances out the little bit of dryness in the cake mix that you can sometimes get when making sponge cupcakes when using cocoa powder. Hope this helps!
Can I use large eggs instead of medium? And if so, would it still be 2? Thanks!
Hiya! Yes – 2 large will be fine! Enjoy! x
Is it possible to make these gluten free please? Should I just substitute the flour for gluten free flour?
It is definitely worth try and if you substitute the flour also add 1/4 teaspoon of Xantham Gum x
Hi Jane ,
I’m wondering if i can use this cupcake recipe as a cake and can it be frozen then taken out when needed 😊
Would this recipe work with oil instead of butter? Or would it alter the texture or not work?
Would these quantities work for a 2 layer 6inch cake? Thank you. Ps can’t wait to see your book!
Hi jane love your recipe. With the cake having buttermilk in would they need to be stored in the fridge (without the cream cheese frosting) just not sure how it should be stored
No they don’t as the cakes are baked so it’s not a fresh ingredient any more x
Needed birthday cupcakes for after a sports activity. I made these two days before needed, iced on the day of eating. I substituted buttermilk for kefir as that’s all I had in the fridge. Cakes were a hit, light, moist and absolutely yummy I also made the lemon drizzle cupcakes which I’ve yet to try however, everyone loved them both . Will definitely make again. Thank you!
Hi jane, I absolutely love all of your recipes, this one is the best! Can you tell me if it’s possible to make these as a big cake, instead of cupcakes?
Hey! Ahh this makes me so happy, thank you so much! Have a look at my red velvet cake recipe for this!xx
How long does it normally take to cream the butter and sugar? I found cause there’s more sugar than a standard cupcake, it takes a lot longer even with my kenwood mixer. 🙈 I’ve used room temperature butter but it tends to be still yellow and flat after 20minutes of mixing – and advice?
20 minutes is way too much, it just needs to be combined and starting to beat together well is all!
Love making your cakes!
I’m looking to make the Red Velvet Cupcakes, but for gluten free. Would use Gluten free flour..Have you tried this? Any suggestions?
Hi can I use apple cider vinegar instead of white wine vinegar as that’s the only vinegar I have?
Hiya! Yes you absolutely can! x
Would these still work if I used lactose free substitutes e.g cream cheese, butter?
I haven’t tried if I am honest! Sorry!
Would these still work if I substitute the butter, cream cheese etc. for lactose free versions? X
Honestly I am not sure as I haven’t tried it with lactose free versions!!
Hi, what cookie scoops do you use for your cupcakes?
The most amazing cupcakes, I think these are the best I’ve ever made! Thank you so much for the gorgeous recipe! The only slight issue I had was it only made 11 cupcakes for me (I probably over-filled) and too much cream cheese frosting (probably because I don’t like too much frosting on the cakes). I only had the pro-gel red colouring but they turned out very red!
Hi Jane! I’m very new to baking and I attempted these red velvet cupcakes for the first time! I’m so glad I bought the red food colouring you suggested because it gave the cakes SUCH a pretty shade of red.
While I was filling the cupcake cases, I couldn’t help but think that the red colour of the mixture was too similar to ketchup haha. In the history of baking, has there ever been a ketchup cake? I’m one of those people who taste the batter off of anything that has been used to mix it 😂and not gonna lie, each time it tasted weird so I was slightly worried…
In the end, these cakes were so moist even after 2-3 days, so soft and turned out to be a vivid red (not ketchup red) and I’ve got your red velvet cake recipe bookmarked for next time! Everyone in my family was a fan! I did generously top the cupcakes with your cream cheese frosting and everyone said that the sweetness was perfect too!
Would I be able to use colour splash Colouring?
You can definitely try it, it may just not be as vibrant. Hope this helps! x
This was my first time making red velvet and it went great I’m so happy with them! The only thing for me is that I found the cream cheese frosting a bit too overpowering and was wondering if there is anyway to tone down the cream cheese taste?
Changing the recipe will alter the end results of the frosting so is risky – you can try mascarpone however which is naturally sweeter?
If i wanted to do 6 cupckes can i half ingredients
Hi Jane ♥️ could you help me with the measurements for just 6 cupcakes please?
Thank you x
As the recipe uses two eggs, you can simply halve it!
These cupcakes are perfect but my icing has come out horrendously runny and I’ve put loads more sugar in since and kept it in the fridge but it won’t hold any shape when piped. Normally my butter icing is perfect but really stressed out by this😢
Cream cheese frosting is completely different to buttercream so more icing sugar doesn’t fix it. You’d need to watch my YouTube video on my cream cheese frosting to work out what happened! x
Hi Jane, my cupcakes are in the oven and they look unreliable already, the red food colouring you recommended is insane!! I was just wondering if I just top these with vanilla buttercream and store in an airtight box at room temp will they last longer or is the use by time still the same?
They’d last at room temp but about 3-5 days (or whatever you deem okay!) x
If substituting Milk and Lemon for buttermilk do I still use 125ml of milk?
I really want to make these but someone’s allergic to cheese? What should I do for the icing instead or can’t you change it?
I would just use a simple vanilla buttercream!!
Hiya. I was wondering if there is an alternative for using the white wine vinegar please? Or can we not use at all? Thank you x
Apple cider vinegar works well, but you need something as a replacement as it’s a key ingredient x
I love your recipes they are amazing
Was thinking of making this as a two tone cupcake.. can the food colouring be added in later? As in make the mixture then halve it to add a colouring to each ?
It can do, it just needs to be really good quality colouring still x
Hi Jane this recipe was amazing the cupcakes came out very fluffy and soft but the only downside was that I had a slight bitter taste when eating them.
I used the exact same red food coloring that you recommended and added just 1tsp.
Do you think I should add just half a tsp next time?
The bitter taste can often come from the bicarbonate more than the colouring (you’d need quite a lot of colouring to get a taste), but red velvet does have a slightly different taste overall x
Can you freeze these cupcakes until you need them ? I want to make 2/3 week before need them ?
Love your recipes.
Yes you can! X
A fab recipe as always!
I used slightly less cream cheese for the frosting and added more vanilla and icing sugar as it wasn’t quite right flavour wise.
Otherwise, they went down a treat! Will be making them again soon!
Hello, great recipe! I wondered how the icing would cope if I added colour mill food colouring? Want to make Christmas themed red velvets with green icing 😍 thanks xx
I’ve never used colour mill colours, but as long as they are really strong and you don’t need much it would be fine! x
The recipe is lovely and the cream cheese frosting is really beautiful, but my cakes look like chocolate cupcakes not red velvet? I’m sure I added plenty of red colouring? Maybe I put too much in although it was quite pink before I added the cocoa? I just need to have another go I suppose!
What exact brand of colouring did you use? x
I had the same issue , I used a hole tube of Dr Octor brand yet it still ended up a red-brown after adding the cocoa. Taste good tho, but wanted the ‘red’ effect for the grandkids who helped to make the cakes.
Hey! As mentioned on the recipe post you need to use the colour linked, super market ones will not work xx
If I was to double this recipe would that be ok for 2 x 8inch tins. As this is more up to date than your red velvet cake.
I still stick by the red velvet cake sponges for the cakes – but which cream cheese frosting you use is up to you!
So the 2 layer red velvet cake recipe would this be ok for 3 6inch tins.
Thank you so much for your help. I’ve found my love of baking again.
Would I be able to add white chocolate chips to these or would that mean I had to alter the recipe? X
You should be able to yes! I would maybe add 150g worth! x
Hi could I double this recipe or would it ruin the rising agents.
As long as you measure accurately, it will be fine xx
I made the large cake version of this and it was so amazing! I’ve just tried these cupcakes and it didn’t work for me at all – the cakes were lovely but the frosting came out like water, and I’m not sure why? I followed the recipe, used full fat Philadelphia, but somehow it just came out more like a soup than frosting, it just poured right through my piping bag 🙁 I ended up pouring the rest of the bag of icing sugar in to try and thicken it up, and left it in the fridge for a couple of hours. The ratio of cream cheese to icing sugar is very different in both recipes, I’m guessing that’s why, for the big cake it’s meant to be much thicker??
This is a new and up-to-date recipe that I much prefer and find is much better – there’s a full post about it on my blog and video on my YouTube channel that can help you!
Brilliant! We made those today and they are delicious! The frosting is perfect! We used Sainsbury’s colouring so they didn’t come out very red or red at all 😅 but will definitely get the Rev one Des one from amazon xx
I made them yesterday. They are just AMAZING. And the creamcheese frosting is absolutely PERFECT
Can’t wait to try these!
I have the Christmas red sugar flair food colouring, would this work ok in this recipe? X
Yes that should be good!! x
OMG, these are to die for!!!!! Another completely winning recipe, thank you!
Would it be possible to use this recipe to make mini sandwich cakes, or would I need to change it?
BTW, we’re trying your white chocolate and raspberry cheesecake tomorrow!!!
Hey! Yes it would happily make 10-12 mini cakes (depends on your mini sandwich tin as they can vary in size slightly!) x
I really want to make red velvet cupcakes but I can’t get buttermilk. What would you recommend as a substitute?
Theres notes on the post about making your own!!
Turned out perfectly! Super fluffy, with a thick and pipe-able icing – can’t ask for anything more
Love your recipes, am i able to halve this recipe? Thanks x
Hey! Yes as this mix uses 2 eggs half should be okay! x
Could I possibly use Clover Margarine for the cupcakes? Will this margarine affect the cupcakes as Clover brand is made with buttermilk?
(Obviously stick to an unsalted butter block for the frosting)
For the sponge it should be absolutely fine x
Hi Jane! My sister wants a red velvet giant cupcake for her birthday cake! Would I need to alter the amounts in this recipe for a giant version? I’ve got the silicone mould! Thank you! Jen 🙂
Hey! I’m not 100% sure as the giant moulds can vary slightly – it may need a bit more? x
I am hoping to try this recepie this week but for two lots two days apart. Do you think it would be OK to make the full mix, bake half and store the other half of the uncooked mix in the fridge over night or would this ruin the texture? If not able to store the uncooked mix would unfrosted cakes be still as fresh if stored in the fridge over night? Thank you 😊
I would 100% not recommend storing the raw batter – you could easily store the actual cakes for a couple of days though! x
delicious recipe! I wanted to make mini versions as the normal size ones turned out so well. Would the cooking time be the same for 24 mini cupcakes at the same temperature? X
Mini cupcakes are usually about 10 minutes! x
I made these cupckaes today and they came out gorgeous. For the frosting I used less cream cheese and I squeezed the water out of it. The consistency was perfect compared to the last time I made soupy cream cheese frosting . Thanks Jane for the recipe ❤
Just made these Red Velvet Cupcakes. Followed your recipe. Absolutely divine!!! Even brought the redcolouring you mentioned and yes it is brilliant. Thank you so much Jane you are helping me through a difficult stage in my life. Live your recipes xx
These were amazing! Thank you for the fantastic recipe. My friend claimed that these were better than the Hummingbird bakery red velvet cupcakes (which are her favourite).
Just wondering , would I be able to use self raising flour?
Hiya – so that may result in a different texture and may make them slightly explode as the raising agent is different in these! x
Absolutely bloody amazing!!! So worth getting the food colouring you suggested. Just love this recipe and used it loads.
Hi. Would stork/baking spread work as an alternative to unsalted butter?
Not for the frosting – for cakes you can easily use a baking spread, but for frosting you should always use block butter!
Can I halve this recipe to make 6 cupcakes? If so, can you please provide an estimate of the reduced baking time?
Thanks so much!
The baking time remains the same, as the cupcakes are still the same size!
I can’t get hold of any white wine vinegar. Is there is any other vinegars I can use instead?
Apple cider vinegar is good – or any other white vinegar that’s similar!
Thank you for this wonderful recipe.
I’m having difficulties getting hold of the sugarflair colouring. I’ve ordered online but it won’t come in time. Is there any other colouring you would recommend after sugarflair. I have Wilton, but the colour still doesn’t seem to come out that lovely bright red? X
Generally, I do only use the sugar flair as it’s by far the best – sometimes the Wilton one is darker, but it would still be much better than a shop-bought one!
Love this recipe made the best cupcakes I’ve ever made the sponge is so light and fluffy! Will definitely be using this as my go to red velvet recipe!
Would I be able to use vanilla extract instead of vanilla bean? The extract that you would normally use in vanilla cupcakes or something
What can I substitute the white win vinegar with?
Someone has asked me to make red velvet cupcakes and decorated with sugar roses…two questions, would the flowers work on cream cheese or woild they bleed and go soft. Also would they be ok out of the fridge if i was making on the sat amd being eaten on the sun?
Depending on what the flowers were made of, they might bleed, but they’d have to be kept in the fridge as cream cheese frosting needs to be in the fridge x
I would be using floral paste do you think this wouod be ok?
I can’t say for certain I’m afraid as I’ve never personally done it, but I’ve heard of colours leaking from fondant onto frostings x
Just made this and by far my favourite cupcake recipe! The sponge is really soft and moist, cream cheese frosting is perfect, not too sweet and sickly!
They look amazing, will try them today (not Christmas, but sure they will still go down well).
Do they freeze well?
Ahh thats fine, they’re perfect for year round!! And yes they do x
Hi. Would stork/baking spread work as an alternative to unsalted butter?
Made these today as a birthday treat for a friend. Absolutely gorgeous cakes. Recipe was easy to follow. Needless to say there aren’t many left now!
[…] lovely and delicate. If you wanted to try some Cream Cheese Frosting with them then use it from my Red Velvet Cupcakes recipe, but I find it annoying sometimes so will always choose […]
After finally finding the best red velvet recipe from your red velvet cake I was even more impressed with your cupcake version! I did however use a different cream cheese frosting recipe, one that I’ve always found really reliable in the past and the results were great.
Hi Jane. Absolutely love your blog and I’ve been trying out so many new recipes using it, and they’ve all gone so well… Except for this one.
I copied the recipe to a T but the buttercream turned out really liquidy. If I tipped the spoon it just dropped straight off it, and I ended up spreading it onto the cakes. I have no idea why this happened, help!!
Chances are is that you over beat the mixture too much – with cream cheese frosting you have to be really careful not to beat it like crazy as it’ll loosen it. Also, the cream cheese might have had some excess liquid in it which wouldn’t have helped… sorry you had troubles!
This looks amazing! I can’t wait to try!!! Thanks for the great recipe.
Aww its okay!! Thank you too! 🙂
Yuuum! Perfect for Xmas 🙂
Thank you! And I agree! 🙂
Love red velvet cupcakes! They are definitely common around this time of year with the holidays.
The perfect colour! 🙂
It’s so hard to find a reliable Red Velvet recipe – thank you for both of your’s Jane 🙂 my sister wants me to create red velvet brownies for her over Christmas, wish me luck! X
Its such pressure for it to work, mostly it doesn’t come out red as people used the wrong colour! Hahah yes thats on the list for me too – red velvet eeeeeverything. Good luck!! 🙂 x
Hi Jane if I cant get hold of buttermilk could I use double cream instead? These look yummy x
You can make you’re own buttermilk very easily – double cream wouldnt work 🙂 x
Thank you! 🙂