My Red Velvet Cupcakes are carefully crafted to be moist and fluffy, yet sturdy. Pair them with ermine frosting or use your favorite frosting. Recipe includes a how-to video!
The BEST Red Velvet Cupcakes
Red velvet cupcakes are a cute and portable dessert that’s perfect for Valentine’s Day or Christmas. They are so festive and instantly recognizable, not to mention totally irresistible. My recipe is incredibly easy to make (no mixer needed!) and is carefully designed to yield fluffy, sturdy results every single time.
I chose to frost my cupcakes with ermine frosting, which is the classic pairing for red velvet cake. It’s a cooked frosting that is easy to make and great for people who don’t like super sweet frostings. If this isn’t your thing–don’t worry! I’m including a few other options that pair nicely below.
Before we get into the recipe though, let’s go over why I’m sharing a separate red velvet cupcake recipe when I already have a red velvet cake recipe!
Red Velvet Cake vs. Cupcakes
While I know it may be tempting to just pour my red velvet cake batter into cupcake tins and bake away, this unfortunately won’t turn out very well. Sure, the cupcakes will be tasty, but they will also be flat (great for cake, not for cupcakes), a bit too delicate and moist for paper liners, and will fall apart so much (in a soft, velvety way) they will need to be eaten with a fork.
A fork kind of defeats the purpose of a cupcake, doesn’t it?
With hopes of a perfectly domed, fluffy, and flavorful cupcake in mind, I made a few tweaks to my cake recipe to make the perfect red velvet cupcakes. Each recipe has been designed for a specific purpose (this is the same reason I have separate recipes for carrot cake and carrot cake cupcakes!).
If you enjoy the science-y part of baking, keep reading. Otherwise, skip to the next section!
Changes made to develop this cupcake recipe:
- More granulated sugar, less brown sugar, and no additional egg yolk. This prevents the cupcakes from being so tender and rich that they cling to their liners. It also lightens up the crumb, which helps the tops dome nicely.
- More flour, which contributes to the cupcakes’ sturdiness.
- Slightly more cocoa powder (you can decrease the amount to 1 ½ Tablespoons if you want the exact same chocolate flavor).
- Whole milk and vinegar instead of buttermilk, which I found it works best here and got the highest ratings from my taste testers.
- Half the batter, so you get an even dozen cupcakes. You can always double or even triple the recipe though!
What You Need
Now you understand why I say these red velvet cupcakes are carefully crafted! So, if you want yours to turn out like the pictures, it is critical that you don’t make any substitutions, particularly with these ingredients:
- Flour. Use all-purpose flour and make sure to measure your flour properly. Do not use cake flour.
- Cocoa powder. Use natural cocoa powder and do NOT substitute Dutch process cocoa. You can read more about the differences between the two in my Dutch process vs. natural cocoa powder post.
- Baking soda. Similar to the cocoa powder, do NOT substitute baking powder here. There is a critical difference between the two, and substituting baking powder for baking soda will negatively affect your cupcakes.
- Food coloring. You could absolutely leave out the food coloring, just note that the cupcakes will, of course, not look red (they’ll be a ruddy brown, instead). For a true red velvet color, I recommend using gel food coloring; you don’t need much, and it produces a vibrant color. Liquid food coloring will work too; you will need 1 oz. Some people have successfully made this recipe using beet powder for coloring, but I have never tried it.
SAM’S TIP: With many cake recipes you have to worry about over-mixing the batter, but it’s actually easier to under-mix this one. Over-mixing is still possible here, but because we’re using a modified version of the reverse creaming method, it’s much less likely to happen. Make sure you combine your ingredients very well and have a smooth batter before you divide it into your cupcake liners.
Remember, this is just an overview of the ingredients I used and why. For the full recipe please scroll down to the bottom of the post!
How to Make Red Velvet Cupcakes
- Create a milk mixture – Combine the milk, vinegar, and food coloring in a large measuring cup.
- Combine the dry ingredients – In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
- Stir in the fats – Add the melted butter and oil and stir until incorporated.
- Add some flavor – Stir in the egg and vanilla until combined.
- Add the milk – Gradually add the milk mixture to the batter and stir until totally smooth.
- Bake – Portion the batter into a lined cupcake tin, filling each ⅔ of the way full. Bake for 17 minutes in a 350F oven.
- Cool completely – Let the cupcakes cool in their pan for 10 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.
- Add frosting and enjoy! Frost your completely cooled cupcakes as desired.
SAM’S TIP: Don’t over-fill your cupcake liners or they may overflow and cave in on themselves (similar to my chocolate cupcakes). If you have excess batter, bake it separately or discard it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Just as with the cake version, red velvet cupcakes have a subtle chocolate flavor, slight buttery undertones, and a very faint acidic tang that lingers. The cupcakes have a plush texture, but the crumb itself isn’t significantly different from many other cupcakes you might have tried.
Store these cupcakes in an airtight container. They’ll keep at room temperature for up to two days, or in the refrigerator for up to a week (keep in mind the refrigerator has a tendency to dry out cupcakes!). You can also freeze your cupcakes for several months.
If you like red velvet, give my red velvet cookies a try!
Let’s bake together! I’ll be walking you through all the steps in my written recipe and video below! If you try this recipe, be sure to tag me on Instagram, and you can also find me on YouTube and Facebook
Red Velvet Cupcakes (Soft, Sturdy, Domed Cupcakes!)
- ¾ cup (177 ml) whole milk
- 2 teaspoons white vinegar
- ¾ teaspoon red gel food coloring (I use Americolor "red red" or "super red"
- 1 ¼ cups (155 g) all-purpose flour I don't recommend substituting cake flour or any other flour
- ¾ cup (150 g) granulated sugar
- ¼ cup (50 g) light brown sugar firmly packed
- 2 Tablespoons (12 g) natural cocoa powder
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- ¼ cup (60 ml) canola oil may substitute vegetable oil or another neutral oil
- 1 large egg room temperature preferred
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 batch Ermine frosting (click the link for the recipe, or scroll down to the notes section for some other frosting recommendations)
- Preheat the oven to 350F (175C) and line a 12 count cupcake tin with paper liners. Set aside.
- Combine milk, vinegar, and food coloring in a large measuring cup, stir together and set aside.¾ cup (177 ml) whole milk, 2 teaspoons white vinegar, ¾ teaspoon red gel food coloring (I use Americolor "red red" or "super red"
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugars, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt until well-combined.1 ¼ cups (155 g) all-purpose flour, ¾ cup (150 g) granulated sugar, ¼ cup (50 g) light brown sugar, 2 Tablespoons (12 g) natural cocoa powder, ¾ teaspoon baking soda, ½ teaspoon salt
- Add melted butter and oil and stir well, until ingredients are well-combined (the mixture will be thick).4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, ¼ cup (60 ml) canola oil
- Add egg and vanilla extract and stir until combined.1 large egg, 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- Gradually add the milk mixture and stir until all ingredients are combined and batter is smooth.
- Fill each cupcake liner ⅔ of the way full with batter, (do not overfill or cupcakes will collapse, if you have leftover batter discard it or bake separately). Transfer to 350F (175C) preheated oven and bake for 17 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with moist crumbs (not wet batter). Allow to cool for 10 minutes in cupcake pan then transfer to cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.1 batch Ermine frosting
Other Frosting Recommendations:Ermine frosting is the traditional, old-fashioned frosting used with red velvet cake/cupcakes, but here are a few other favorites:
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.