My Red Velvet Cookies are a nod to the classic cake with soft and chewy (and bright red!) interiors, flavored with a subtle tang and crackly surfaces with powdered sugar coating. Recipe includes a how-to video!
Not to brag or anything (she said, smugly patting herself on the back), but I have really come a long way. From a self-proclaimed hater of all things red velvet to perfecting the ultimate red velvet cake, red velvet cupcakes, and now red velvet cookie recipe.
And these really are the ultimate red velvet cookies! Not only do they have plush, perfectly-hued, pillowy-soft interiors and a subtle red velvet tang, I’ve also managed to capture the essence of red velvet cake’s best friend: cream cheese frosting.
When I first started developing this recipe, I knew that wanted to incorporate the frosting in one way or another, but I found that actually frosting the cookies didn’t work very well. It was a little messy and a little awkward, a hassle of an additional step that ended up competing with the cookie rather than complementing it. Then there was the trouble of worrying about refrigeration, which preserved the frosting but dried out the cookie.
Instead, I decided to incorporate the frosting right into the very crumb of the cookie, using a full brick of cream cheese in the cookie dough (and a dusting of powdered sugar on top for that perfectly sweet finish). This effectively rolled the flavor and essence of both the cake crumb and the finishing frosting into one, all of the classic taste of red velvet cake bundled up into one bright red two-bite-sized cookie. It’s absolute red velvet perfection, and I think you’re going to love it.
What You Need
Here’s what you need:
- Butter. Use unsalted butter (and then we’ll add salt, this gives us best control over the flavor). It should be softened, but not so soft that it’s melting or the exterior is greasy.
- Sugar. A blend of granulated sugar and brown sugar gives this cake the best flavor. I love using brown sugar to deepen the flavors
- Cream cheese. This should also be softened before you use it. Use only classic, brick-style cream cheese. Do not substitute low fat and don’t use the spreadable kind that is sold in tubs!
- Vinegar. Since this is a classic red velvet ingredient, I wanted to incorporate it into the cookies, too. A small splash deepens the tanginess of the cookie (don’t worry, it’s not overwhelming, just a subtle, red-velvet-esque flavor).
- Cocoa powder. As with the cake, red velvet cookies have a present but subtle chocolate flavor. A tablespoon and a half is all you need here.
- Baking powder. Despite the fact that we are using acidic ingredients (vinegar, cream cheese) we do not need baking soda, only baking powder is needed to give the cookies just the right amount of lift and spread.
- Red Food Coloring. I recommend gel food coloring if you have it. You can use much less than if you were to use liquid food coloring.
You’ll also need vanilla extract for flavor, a single egg and all-purpose flour. As always, this is just an overview of the ingredients needed, be sure to scroll down to the recipe card for full measurements etc.!
Tips for Making Red Velvet Cookies
This cookie dough is remarkably simple to make, the most difficult part is the patience you need waiting for it to chill. Here are a few tips to make sure yours turn out flawlessly every time:
- Gel food coloring is better for coloring the dough than liquid. It’s more potent and you can use a lot less to get a vibrant color. Too much liquid food coloring can actually alter the taste and texture of the red velvet cookies.
- Always make sure to measure your flour properly or your cookies won’t spread in the oven.
- The dough must chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours. Otherwise, it will be too sticky (plus the time in the fridge helps the flavors develop!).
- Even after chilling, the dough still will be sticky (just not too sticky to manage). If it’s sticking to your hands too much, just dust your hands with powdered sugar before rolling.
- Never place cookie dough on a hot baking sheet. It will cause the cookies to begin to melt prematurely and will make them spread too much.
- The cookies should still appear a bit soft/underbaked at their centers when you take them out of the oven. Let them cool completely on the baking sheet where they’ll finish cooking, resulting in perfectly soft cookies (otherwise they tend to over-bake and end up a bit dry!).
Frequently Asked Questions
After making the cookie dough, you can store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days before scooping and baking. Once baked, store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature and enjoy within 5 days.
You can make these cookies without the white vinegar, simply omit it without making any other changes. The cookies won’t have quite the same depth of flavor/classic red velvet tanginess, but they’ll still be good!
Yes, you can leave out the food coloring without making any other changes. The cookies will be a ruddy brown color instead.
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Let’s bake together! Make sure to check out the how-to VIDEO in the recipe card!
Red Velvet Cookies
- ¾ cup (170 g) unsalted butter softened
- 8 oz (227 g) cream cheese¹ softened
- 1 cup (200 g) light brown sugar, firmly packed
- 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 ½ cups (312 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ Tablespoons natural cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- Red food coloring I prefer gel food coloring
- Powdered sugar for rolling
- In a large bowl using an electric mixer (or in a stand mixer), cream together butter, cream cheese, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until light, fluffy, and well-combined.¾ cup (170 g) unsalted butter softened, 8 oz (227 g) cream cheese¹, 1 cup (200 g) light brown sugar, firmly packed, 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
- Add egg and stir to combine, then stir in vinegar and vanilla.1 large egg, 1 teaspoon white vinegar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- In a separate, medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.2 ½ cups (312 g) all-purpose flour, 1 ½ Tablespoons natural cocoa powder, ½ teaspoon baking powder, ¾ teaspoon salt
- With mixer on low-speed, gradually add flour mixture to butter/cream cheese mixture until completely combined. Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl as needed to ensure ingredients are well-combined. Stir in red food coloring until you have a red dough.Red food coloring
- Cover bowl with plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours and up to 5 days.
- Once dough has chilled and you are about ready to bake your cookies, preheat oven to 350F (175C).
- Scoop cookie dough by 1 ½ Tablespoon-sized scoop and roll between your palms to form a smooth ball (dough will still be sticky, to make it easier to roll you can dust your hands with powdered sugar).
- Roll through powdered sugar and place cookies 2” apart on parchment paper lined baking sheets.Powdered sugar
- Transfer to 350F (175C) preheated oven and bake for 13-14 minutes. Allow to cool completely on baking sheet before enjoying.
StoringAfter making the cookie dough, you can store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days before scooping and baking. Once baked, store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature and enjoy within 5 days.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.
Can I bake this in a 8 inch square pan as a red velvet cookie bar? Can we still sprinkle icing sugar and bake then as a topping?
I haven’t tried baking it in one large cookie like that so I can’t say for sure how it would turn out. I think it will work, but I’m not sure on the bake time. You could sprinkle sugar on top afterwards. Let me know how it goes. 🙂
These sound delicious! I would like to make Red Velvet Whoopie Pies using the Wilton Whoopie Pan. Do you think this recipe would work? Do you have any recommendations as to any adjustments you might suggest? If you don’t think this recipe will work for the Whoopie Pies, do you know of another red velvet recipe that might work? Thanks so much for your help.
Hi Beverly! These cookies are a little different than your traditional whoopie pie sandwich cookie. These cookies will hold up well to being a sandwich cookie, but won’t really be a traditional whoopie pie. I haven’t used a whoope pie pan either so I can’t say for sure how to use it.
hi Sam, can I use alkalized or dutch cocoa powder instead? thanks.
Hi Rea! That should be fine, enjoy!
Hello, Sam! I’m really forward to trying this recipe! I just wondered if it would be ok to freeze the dough into balls and then pop them into the oven whenever I’m craving them like with chocolate chip cookies? Wasn’t sure if it would be ok because of the cream cheese in it. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!:)
Hi Jane! I haven’t tried freezing them myself, but I don’t see any issues if you freeze them. 🙂
OK! I’ll give it a try and let you know how it goes! Thanks!:)
Chameria Nichelle Fisher
Hi Sam My Name Is Chameria I,m 17 Years Old Can I Make These Red Velvet Cookies For Christmas Next Year In 2021 In December Of 2021 For Santa And Whole Entire Family.
Yes that sounds delicious, enjoy! 🙂
My powdered sugar seem to melt on cooking, so the final product did not have the beautiful red/white contrast. They taste good but are all more or less uniform color – red with translucent white areas. What did I do wrong?
Hi Linda! Unfortunately this does happen sometimes. You can try rolling the cookies more generously in the powdered sugar or even dusting them when they come out of the oven. “)
Would it be better if we use icing sugar to roll (cornstarch +powdered sugar). will it help the coating come more like the pics?
Powdered sugar and icing sugar are the same in the U.S. (sugar and cornstarch). So yes I would use the icing sugar. I’m sorry for any confusion. 🙂
Can I reduce the cream cheese to 4 oz in this recipe?
Only if you reduce all of the other ingredients in half as well 😉
I’m baking as much as I can for a charity bake sale. So I’m doing as much as possible ahead of time. Could I freeze the dough during the chilling phase, and then bake the cookies the day (or two) before the sale? Thanks for this recipe, it sounds delicious!
That should work just fine for these cookies. 🙂
Hi sam!.tried this one, ’twas undeniably delicious but too sweet to my taste. Was wondering if i could reduce the sugar in your recipe? Thanks!!
I’m so glad you enjoyed them so much, Vienna! I haven’t tried reducing the sugar but I think it could work. 🙂
What are your thoughts on rolling these in granulated sugar and then adding a Hershey’s Kiss like you do for the Blossom cookies?
Sounds delicious! I think that would work just fine 🙂
I’ve made these twice now, and as much as we love the “worst chocolate chip cookies” around here, I have to say that THESE are the true “ruin your life” cookies! We cannot stop eating them! This one is going down as a family favorite for sure. Thank you!
I am so glad you have enjoyed them so much, Leslie! Sometimes it’s hard for me to choose a favorite so I just make a bunch of different kinds of cookies! 🤣
We loved these. They were soft and slightly chewy. Absolutely yummy!!! We liked it more without the powdered sugar.
I have 4 kiddos and they have never agreed on ANYTHING. But here I am making a second batch of these because they all wanted it!! We all love it
That is so awesome! 🙂
Could I add white chocolate chips to this ?
Yes that will work just fine. 🙂
Yes!! Been waiting for this recipe, haha! Sorry cannoli (can’t wait to make yours!) , you’ll have to wait I’m making these today! Thank you 🙂
😂 The poor cannoli will be there when you are ready. I hope you love the cookies! 🙂
Made these last night, absolutely delicious! I LOVE the addition of the cream cheese, it pairs perfectly with the cookie, and they are also beautiful! Thank you for this recipe it’s definitely a keeper 🤍
Thank you so much! I’m so glad you enjoyed them. 🙂