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
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter softened (170g)
- 8 oz cream cheese¹ softened (227g)
- 1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed (200g)
- 1 cup granulated sugar (200g)
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (312g)
- 1 ½ Tablespoons natural cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 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.
- Add egg and stir to combine, then stir in vinegar and vanilla.
- In a separate, medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and 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.
- 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.
- Transfer to 350F (175C) preheated oven and bake for 13-14 minutes. Allow to cool completely on baking sheet before enjoying.