Red Velvet Cupcakes with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting — If you’ve ever wanted to make red velvet cupcakes from scratch that are as good as those you’d find in a bakery, try this hassle-free recipe!

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting — If you’ve ever wanted to make red velvet cupcakes from scratch that are as good as those you’d find in a bakery, try this hassle-free recipe!

Homemade Red Velvet Cupcakes

Red velvet cake and cupcakes are so popular, but so many problems tend to plague them. They’re either from a box, which feels like cheating, or they’re from scratch but are horribly dry, and you need a mixer and will dirty every bowl in your kitchen in the process.

These are the best red velvet cupcakes I’ve ever had, and the easiest recipe you’ll ever find. If you’ve ever wanted to make red velvet cupcakes from scratch that are as good as those you’d find in a bakery, try this hassle-free recipe. You’ll come out looking like a superhero baker to anyone you serve them to.

They’re made in one bowl, no mixer, no creaming ingredients, and it’s a cupcake batter that’s more like a muffin batter. Whisk together wet ingredients, fold in the dry, pour into liners, and bake. Five minutes of active work never tasted so good.

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting — If you’ve ever wanted to make red velvet cupcakes from scratch that are as good as those you’d find in a bakery, try this hassle-free recipe!

My issue with most red velvet cakes and cupcakes is that they’re dry, and dry anything just isn’t worth the calories. Why bother?

These are incredibly moist from the trifecta of moistening and tenderizing ingredients: oil, buttermilk, and Greek yogurt. I stopped at nothing to make sure they weren’t dry.

It took me quite a few batches of cupcakes to perfect this recipe. When people think that recipe development isn’t a big deal and you just throw things in a pan and it’ll work out, well, sometimes you get lucky, but most times it’s not that easy, especially for a recipe like this.

The same can be said for questions I get along the lines of, “Can I substitute coconut sugar for granulated sugar,” or “Can I use whole wheat pastry flour for all-purpose?” Well, maybe you can, and please let me know how that works for you.

Determining if I should use 1 egg, one egg plus yolk, or two eggs; butter or oil and if butter, should it be melted or creamed; buttermilk or just regular milk/cream; to include Greek yogurt or sour cream and if so, how much; how much cocoa powder gives enough pop of chocolate; what kind of leavener to use (baking soda or powder); one of each, or only one or the other, and which one; cake flour or all-purpose.

The choices can be overwhelming, but I’ve done the legwork, and the cupcakes and red velvet cake frosting are total keepers.

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting — If you’ve ever wanted to make red velvet cupcakes from scratch that are as good as those you’d find in a bakery, try this hassle-free recipe!

For baked goods that I want to soft, springy, and bouncy, like cakes, cupcakes, and muffins, I generally prefer using oil to butter because oil does a better job keeping things soft and moist.

The same can be said for buttermilk. It does a fabulous job of tenderizing and softening the texture and crumb of breads and cakes, and when in doubt, I always opt for buttermilk over plain milk or cream.

I added a couple hearty dollops of vanilla Greek yogurt. You could probably use a bit more buttermilk if you don’t keep Greek yogurt on hand, but yogurt is thicker and sweeter than buttermilk, so it makes the batter a little thicker and sweeter, and helps the cupcakes stay sweet and soft.

Many recipes for red velvet aren’t chocolaty enough. While these aren’t as chocolaty as chocolate cupcakes, the chocolate flavor is pleasantly noticeable.

They rise beautifully to the point I was worried they were rising a little too well. I filled my liners to a solid three-quarters full (this is a non-issue if you only fill to 2/3-full), but thankfully they stay contained, and the resulting cupcakes and hearty and full, not skimpy, wimpy, little cupcakes that no one reaches for.

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting — If you’ve ever wanted to make red velvet cupcakes from scratch that are as good as those you’d find in a bakery, try this hassle-free recipe!

I also made a one-bowl, no-mixer vanilla cream cheese frosting for the red velvet cake cupcakes that I simply spread on. 

These homemade red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting are soft, tender, springy, and moist. There’s just enough chocolate flavor to satisfy your chocolate cravings, without being overdone.

The smooth, rich homemade cream cheese frosting is the perfect complement to the cupcakes, and adds the right amount of zip and tang.

So good, so easy, so soft, fluffy, and moist. Perfect for Christmas, Valentine’s Day, or any old Tuesday.

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting — If you’ve ever wanted to make red velvet cupcakes from scratch that are as good as those you’d find in a bakery, try this hassle-free recipe!

What’s in Red Velvet Cupcakes? 

To make the red velvet cupcakes, you’ll need: 

  • Egg
  • Granulated sugar
  • Buttermilk
  • Canola oil
  • Vanilla Greek yogurt
  • Vanilla extract
  • All-purpose flour
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Baking soda
  • Salt
  • Red food coloring

And to make the red velvet cake frosting, you’ll need:

  • Cream cheese
  • Unsalted butter
  • Vanilla extract
  • Confectioners’ sugar
  • Milk

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting — If you’ve ever wanted to make red velvet cupcakes from scratch that are as good as those you’d find in a bakery, try this hassle-free recipe!

How to Make Red Velvet Cupcakes

Simply whisk together the wet ingredients, then stir in the dry ingredients. Add in just enough food coloring to turn the batter red. 

Fill your muffin cups 3/4 full, then bake the red velvet cupcakes until risen and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 

While the red velvet cupcakes cool, make the homemade cream cheese frosting. If your frosting is too thick, add a splash of cream or milk to gradually thin it out. 

Frost the cooled cupcakes with the red velvet cake frosting and optionally garnish with sanding sugar. 

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting — If you’ve ever wanted to make red velvet cupcakes from scratch that are as good as those you’d find in a bakery, try this hassle-free recipe!

Is There a Buttermilk Substitute I Can Use? 

If you’re the type of person who doesn’t tend to keep buttermilk on hand, you can make your own by adding about 2 tablespoons vinegar or lemon juice to 1 cup regular milk, letting it stand 10 minutes to curdle, and then use as indicated.

Or, you can buy a tub of Powdered Buttermilk and it’s shelf stable for years. It’s the perfect solution for that once-in-a-blue moon recipe you make that calls for buttermilk. 

Can I Make a Red Velvet Cake Instead of Cupcakes? 

Although I haven’t tried it, I surmise this cupcake batter could be used as cake batter. I’m guessing a 9-inch square cake (not a 9-inch round pan because they’re smaller and it could overflow) would be about right.

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting — If you’ve ever wanted to make red velvet cupcakes from scratch that are as good as those you’d find in a bakery, try this hassle-free recipe!

Can I Freeze Cupcakes? 

Yes, you can bake these red velvet cupcakes and freeze them for later. I recommend freezing just the cupcakes and making a fresh batch of cream cheese frosting when you’re ready to thaw and enjoy them. 

How to Store Red Velvet Cupcakes

The homemade red velvet cupcakes will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 3 days. I personally am comfortable storing cream cheese-frosted items at room temperature, but if you prefer to store in the fridge, that’s fine. Just note that the fridge will dry the cupcakes out much more quickly. 

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting — If you’ve ever wanted to make red velvet cupcakes from scratch that are as good as those you’d find in a bakery, try this hassle-free recipe!

Tips for Making Red Velvet Cupcakes

The batter makes enough for about 14 cupcakes, but because I have a small oven, I can only fit one 12-cup muffin pan in my oven at a time. The remedy is to either lick the bowl (I’m still alive after a lifetime of raw dough and batter eating); discard the batter (that’s criminal), or bake an adorable mini loaf in a mini loaf pan that fits on the same oven rack as the muffin pan (score!).

I use my mini pans all the time for a 13th or 14th cupcake, extra muffin batter, or for mini cakes. Best money you’ll spend this year and you get 4 mini pans for $10 bucks.

I used light cream cheese, which makes frosting softer and runnier. If you want to pipe your frosting on, use full-fat. However, given that this is an easy, breezy, one-bowl, no-mixer cupcake batter, to break out a piping bag seems like a cruel trick.

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting — If you’ve ever wanted to make red velvet cupcakes from scratch that are as good as those you’d find in a bakery, try this hassle-free recipe!

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting — If you’ve ever wanted to make red velvet cupcakes from scratch that are as good as those you’d find in a bakery, try this hassle-free recipe!!

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting

If you’ve ever wanted to make red velvet cupcakes from scratch that are as good as those you’d find in a bakery, try this hassle-free recipe!

Yield: 14
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Cooling Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour

Ingredients

Red Velvet Cupcakes

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk (or Powdered Buttermilk, use 2 1/2 tablespoons + 2/3 cup water)
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla Greek yogurt (plain Greek yogurt or sour cream may be substituted)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened natural cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch salt, optional and to taste
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons red food coloring, or as needed

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1/2 cup cream cheese, softened (I used Trader Joe’s soft spreadable light)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 to 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, or as necessary
  • splash cream or milk, only if necessary
  • sanding sugar or sprinkles, optional for garnishing

Instructions

Make the Cupcakes

    1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a Non-Stick 12-Cup Regular Muffin Pan with paper liners; set aside. You will likely have batter for a 13th or 14th cupcake, and I baked it in this cooking-sprayed mini loaf pan because my oven is small and that setup works; discard extra batter if that’s easier.
    2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the first 6 ingredients, through vanilla, until smooth.
    3. Add the flour, cocoa, baking soda, optional salt, and whisk until just combined; don’t overmix.
    4. Carefully whisk in the food coloring, making sure to add only as much as necessary to color the batter a deep shade of red; adding more than necessary can leave an aftertaste.
    5. Using a medium 2-inch cookie scoop, place about 2 heaping tablespoons of batter per cupcake into each of the 12 cavities so they’re solidly 3/4-full. I poured the excess batter into a mini loaf pan.
    6. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until domed, set, springy to the touch, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean, or with a few moist crumbs, but no batter; don’t overbake. My cupcakes were on the large side of normal because I generously filled liners to 3/4-full, and they took exactly 20 minutes. If yours are filled more shallow, start checking at 18 minutes.
    7. Allow cupcakes to cool in pan for about 15 minutes before removing. I baked the mini loaf for 20 minutes. While cupcakes cool, make the frosting.

    Make the Cream Cheese Frosting

    1. Combine first 3 ingredients in a large mixing bowl, add about 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, and whisk to combine or beat with an electric mixer until smooth.
    2. Continue adding sugar until desired frosting consistency is reached. If you add too much sugar and need to thin frosting out, add a splash of cream. Because I used light cream cheese, the frosting stayed on the runnier side. If you want frosting thick enough to pipe, do not use light cream cheese.
    3. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons frosting to the top of each cupcake and smooth with a knife. Optionally transfer frosting to a piping bag and frost the cooled cupcakes. I like the Wilton 1M tip for cupcakes.
    4. Optionally, garnish each cupcake with a sprinkle of sanding sugar or pinch of sprinkles.

Notes

  • You may have a small amount of frosting left over. It will keep airtight in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
  • Cupcakes will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 3 days. I personally am comfortable storing cream cheese-frosted items at room temp, but if you prefer to store in the fridge, that’s fine, but note the fridge will dry cupcakes out much more quickly.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

14

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 404 Total Fat: 14g Saturated Fat: 4g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 9g Cholesterol: 29mg Sodium: 142mg Carbohydrates: 67g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 1g Sugar: 54g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 4g

More Valentine’s Day Recipes:

Red Velvet Chocolate-Swirled Brownie Bars — These easy, no-mixer brownie bars are in between a bar and a brownie. Not supremely fudgy to give them true brownie status, but much fudgier and richer than your typical bar, and not cakey! 

Easy Chocolate Pots de Creme – No-bake, no-cook, and made in a blender in 5 minutes!! The PERFECT dessert! Rich, decadent, a chocolate lover’s dream, perfect for special occasions, and guaranteed to impress!!

Red Velvet Poke Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting — The cake is fast, easy, and it’s a poke cake so it’s automatically super soft and moist.

Soft Frosted Valentine’s Heart Cookies — These easy cookies are soft, chewy, dense, made in one bowl, and you don’t have to roll them out.

Red Velvet Gooey Butter Cookies — These chocolate chip red velvet cookies have a secret ingredient — cake mix! These cookies are super ooey gooey and ultra rich! 

Valentine’s Day Vanilla Pudding Sugar Cookie Bars – A sugar cookie crust topped with creamy vanilla pudding, whipped topping, and sprinkles!! A luscious and EASY Valentine’s Day dessert that will put everyone in festive spirits!!

The Best and Easiest Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes — One bowl, no mixer, so easy! The warm, gooey, fudgy chocolate lava cake center is heavenly! Better than any restaurant versions! Best chocolate cake EVER!!

Valentine’s Frosted Sugar Cookie Bars – Sugar cookie bars are so much FASTER AND EASIER than making sugar cookies!! The sprinkles and tangy cream cheese frosting help to make the bars a PERFECT Valentine’s Day treat!!

Recipe originally published November 18, 2013 and republished January 29, 2020 with updated text.

248 comments on “Red Velvet Cupcakes with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting”

  1. to be honest, my cream cheese frosting is runny. How to make it thick, sweet with a hint of sourness? Thank you! I love your blog. 

  2. Hi Averie,

    This recipe is AMAZING and so super duper easy !! I have been using the same ol’ recipe for ages now, and came across your page and wanted to give these a try.. So glad i did they are so soooo moist and perfect!! Just made these for a birthday. Im kicking my old recipe to the curb LOL this will be my new “go to” recipe! However i do wanna add next time i will add 1/2 teaspoon salt, i found them a little too bland for my tastebuds to just add a pinch ;-) i just sprinkled a little sea salt very lightly over them and they were perfect!

    Thank you!

    • Thanks for trying the recipe and I’m glad it came out great for you and that you’re kicking your old recipe to the curb! And yes, always salt to taste – your sea salt on top sounds perfect!

  3. Can I use olive oil instead canola/vegetable oil? Cause I don’t have it right now. Thanks before.

  4. Great recipe, used butter instead oil and doubled the amount of cream cheese. Baked in a heart shaped tin and worked perfectly. Yummm!!

  5. i love these red velvet cupcakes. Made some with buttercream frosting – yum

  6. This is my second time using this recipe. This time I omitted the cocoa powder and replaced the vanilla extract with strawberry essence. I also only used two drops of red food coloring for a barely pink cupcake. They are still delicious!

  7. I have a hard time finding scratch cupcake recipes that come out moist and not dry.  Red velvet is also not my favorite, but I was asked to make some.  Thank goodness for your recipe!  This is going in my recipe book for sure.  I also plan on trying any other cupcake recipe you have!  

  8. Hi Averie :)
    Love ur blog so much, ive made so many recipes of it i cant even count! i check out ur blog almost on a daily basis, its one of my favorite blogs ever <3
    Im sorry if u have already been asked this but theres just too many comments to read through, will this recipe work as a layer cake when doubled?

    Thanks so much for all ur recipes <3

    • Thanks for all your compliments and support! I really appreciate it all :)

      As for a layer cake when doubled, I do believe someone has tried successfully but like you, there are so many comments to read :) I know on many of my cupcake recipes people have made cakes and on my cake recipes, people make cupcakes, so as long as the pans seem to be filled appropriately and not too much or too little batter, and you bake til the cake is set, you should be good to go. LMK how it works if you try it!

  9. Hello. Since here, South Italy, finding buttermilk is more difficult than spotting a ufo, I’m wondering: you wrote 1 cup of milk and 2tbs of lemon or vinegar. But the recipe calls for 2/3 cups of buttermilk…should I adjust the 2tbs vinegar to the 2/3 cups or should I just use the 1 cup you mentioned? Thank you

    • You should make 1 cup’s worth of buttermilk using the vinegar method. Then you should take 2/3 of that and use it for the recipe. It’s too hard to try to measure liquids in such small amounts when doing fractions of a cup which is why I wrote it the way I did.

  10. Hi Averie, I just came across your blog and been enjoying the variety of recipes you provide. Thank you for sharing these recipes :) by the way I was wondering why some of the recipes have a print version while some do not. The lemon bars recipe have it and this and the other lemon recipes and cupcakes don’t have it. I would really appreciate it to have the recipe in the print version. Thanks. Also, I read your about page and was happy to know that I am reading a food blog from a fellow San diegan :) well actually I live in chula vista but close enough he he….

    • If you look in the recipe card section of the recipe in the right hand corner, there’s a large PRINT RECIPE button that you can print directly from for all recipes from about mid 2011 and newer. Anything older than 5+ years ago, it’s a little iffy if they are printable, but you can always copy/paste the recipe in an email to yourself. Glad you’re enjoying the recipes.

  11. Hi Averie, thank you for the response. I am using mobile and I tried using a different browser and it works. By the way I just finished baking the lemon loaf (Starbucks copycat) that you have posted. It is now cooling :) I would try this recipe next.

  12. Thank you for this incredible recipe! This is my “go-to” for red velvet cupcakes (and I love that people think they’re difficult to make)! Easy enough to make with my four year old niece, but so delicious and pretty that I’m always being asked to make them when it’s someone’s birthday at work!

    • Thanks for trying the recipe and so glad it’s your go-to and what a compliment that you’re always being asked to make them for bdays! And you’re right, people think red velvet is difficult but not this recipe!

  13. I made these today for my sons birthday. Not only did he love them, but so did everyone else. Thank you, Averie!

    By the way, I used Philadelphia Whipped Original for the frosting, and I never had issues with runny frosting. Also, the link to the Wilton 1m tip, is no longer valid. It will take you to their website but not the item. Thought you might care to know. I used a baby knife to spread the frosting and it worked great…but it would have been more professional looking if I had a tip to use. Would love to invest in one. Any recommendations?

  14. I’ve made these cupcakes 4 times and they always turn out perfect! They’re simply the best. I don’t feel the need to search for any other red velvet recipe, I’m sure no other can be this easy and delicious. Thank you so much :)

  15. I am amazed that Averie Cooks has a tiny oven!!! You are constantly whipping things up to bake. I imagined you’d have a state-of-the-art stove and oven! ;) well at least we know your camera is good…I love your pictures as much as your recipes!!

  16. I have two, 6 cavity pans instead of one 12. Is this okay or does it need to be one 12? thanks!

  17. Hi averie

    What do I do if I don’t have Greek yogurt??what to substitute it with? Will they still come out good if I don’t use it? Would really like to try your recipe, but unfortunately don’t have Greek yogurt

  18. Hi Averie

    I don’t know if you saw my comment, but haven’t received a reply from you yet as regards to what one does if you don’t have Greek yogurt? How to substitute it.. hope to hear from you soon thanks?

  19. Sorry about the second msg lol, and if I don’t have sour cream either?

  20. Hi Averie,
    I was wondering how far in advance can you make the cupcakes?

    Thanks

    • Fresh is always best so make as close to serving as possible is my recommendation. I mean you could probably make them a week out…I just don’t think they would taste at their prime.

  21. You’re recipes are just the best! Easy, quick and perfect. i definitely trust your blog! though instead of greek yogurt i used natural yogurt. still came out perfect. Love from Kenya.

  22. Thank you for a lovely recipe! I made these for an event 2 days in advance and they were still beautifully soft and moist on the day. Looking forward to trying more of your recipes.

  23. Averie,I’m soooo happy to have come upon your website as it’s now my dessert bible. These cupcakes were perfection. I baked for exactly 18 minutes. I doubled the icing recipe as we like lots. Everyone at the table agreed they were superb.

    Rating: 5
  24. Hey Averie just a quick questionm do you check your blog every day because all the replys were on the same day and what do you dp if your batter is sticky and the batter doesnt taste good?

    • Sometimes replies all come the same day because it’s a seasonal recipe and everyone has questions around the same time of year, i.e. red velvet for xmas or Valentines.

      I am on my own blog behind the scenes about 8 hours a day, 7 days a week.

      If you batter doesn’t taste good, I think you probably mis measured something, something was old, i.e. a bad egg, not sure.

  25. Thank you and I am making this recipe for christmas today but even though the batter does not taste good the ccupcakes stilll do so thank you and Merry Xmas

    Rating: 5

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