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These Red Velvet Cupcakes topped with Cream Cheese Frosting are fabulous and decadent. They have a tender crumb with just the right amount of chocolate flavor. Plus, this red velvet recipe is dye free! A perfect sweet treat for any occasion or holiday!
Red Velvet Cupcakes Recipe Ingredients
- Canola Oil
- White Distilled Vinegar
- Pure Vanilla Extract
- Unbleached All Purpose Flour
- Baking Soda
- Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
- Beet Powder
- Salted Butter
- Cream Cheese
- Powdered Sugar
- Canola Oil: Vegetable oil can be used.
- Buttermilk: If you don't have buttermilk, make your own by adding 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to a measuring cup then fill with milk to 1 cup. Let sit for at least 5 minutes.
- White Distilled Vinegar: Apple cider vinegar can be used. The vinegar helps make the cupcakes airy and brighten the color.
- All Purpose Flour: You can use cake flour, but you will need to add an extra ¼ cup. Cake flour will make the cakes a bit more lighter.
- Beet Powder: Beet powder can be found in health food stores or online. If you can't find any you can use 1 oz of liquid or 1 powder packet of dye free, natural red food coloring. If you don't need to be dye free you can use 1 oz of liquid red food coloring or 1 teaspoon of red gel food coloring.
- Salted Butter: The salted butter really helps balance the sweetness of the frosting. You can use unsalted butter but I suggest adding ½ teaspoon of salt to the frosting.
- Milk: you can also use water or a milk alternative.
This post was originally posted on 2/9/2015 and updated on 2/3/2022.
How to Make Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
- In a stand mixer, or with hand beaters, beat together the canola oil, buttermilk, eggs, vinegar and vanilla extract until smooth.
- Add the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, cocoa powder, and beet powder and mix until thoroughly combined.
- Using a large scoop divide the batter evenly into paper lined cupcake pans, about ⅔ full.
- Bake cupcakes in a preheated 350°F oven for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean and the cake springs back when touched. Note: the color will fade a bit while it's baked.
- Cool cupcakes in pans for 5 minutes and then remove and cool completely.
- Once cooled, make the frosting by beating the butter and cream cheese together in a stand mixer until fluffy.
- Add 1 cup of powdered sugar with the vanilla extract and beat together until well mixed.
- Add remaining powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, alternating with the milk and beating until everything well combined.
- Once it's all well combined, bump up the speed of the mixer to medium and beat for 1-2 minutes until light, fluffy, and creamy.
- Add frosting to a piping bag with desired tip or zip top bag with the corner snipped and pipe the frosting on cooled cupcakes. Or you can use an offset spatula or butter knife and spread the frosting on top of cupcakes.
- Decorate with any desired sprinkles.
Tips for Red Velvet Cupcakes
- Always fluff your flour before measuring, then add flour to measuring cup with spoon and level it off. Packed flour can add too much flour which will result in dense and dry cupcakes.
- Use room temperature ingredients. It helps create a more light and fluffy texture.
- Use a scoop to fill the cups so that every cupcake is the same size and they will all bake evenly.
- Rotate the pan half way through baking to ensure even baking and level cupcakes.
Storing: The frosting has cream cheese so it can spoil, so the cupcakes should be kept in the refrigerator when not being served. The cupcakes will last 3-4 days in the fridge before they dry out too much. Take the cupcakes out about 30 minutes before serving so they can come to room temperature.
Freezing: The freezer will preserve the freshness of the cupcakes and not dry them out. Place the cupcakes in an air tight container that is tall enough to not smash the frosting. Label, date and freeze the cupcakes for up to 4 months.
Thawing: Again, since the frosting has cream cheese, the cupcakes should be thawed in the fridge. They will take a few hours to thaw, then pull them out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving to take the chill off.
FAQs About Red Velvet Cupcakes Recipe
Red velvet cupcakes are mostly a white cake base with a hint of chocolate and slight tang from the buttermilk. The most prominent flavor will be the cream cheese frosting that pairs so well with the flavor of the cupcakes.
Traditionally red velvet is made with buttermilk, cocoa powder and vinegar along with all the other essential cake ingredients. But those 3 ingredients are what makes red velvet so special.
Fortunately, natural food colorings that have no synthetic dyes have become more readily available at stores and online. You can use a natural red food coloring, or you can use beet powder or beet juice. The beet options are a great natural substitute because they have a very minimal affect on the flavor of the cake.
More Sweet Cake and Cupcake Recipes:
- Homemade Chocolate Cupcakes
- Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
- Chocolate Zucchini Cake
- Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Frosting
- Chocolate Peppermint Sheet Cake
- Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
- Coffee Cupcakes with Mocha Buttercream
- Pumpkin Pie Bundt Cake
- Almond Cake with Simple Chocolate Frosting
- Glazed Lemon Pound Cake
Red Velvet Cupcakes
- Stand Mixer or Hand Beaters
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.
- In a stand mixer with paddle attachment or with hand beaters, beat together canola oil, buttermilk, eggs, vinegar and vanilla extract.
- Add flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, cocoa powder and beet powder. Mix until thoroughly combined.
- Using a large scoop, divide the batter among 24 cups evenly, about ⅔ full.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, until cakes spring back or a toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.
- Cool completely then frost.
For Cream Cheese Frosting
- In stand mixer or with hand beater, beat together the cream cheese and butter until smooth and fluffy.
- Add 1 cup powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth.
- Add remaining powdered sugar one cup at a time, alternating with the milk, beating well until all is combined.
- Once all is combined, increase speed and beat for 1-2 minutes until frosting is airy and fluffy.
- Add frosting to piping bag and frost cupcakes, or frost using a offset spatula or butter knife.