The PERFECT Red Velvet Cupcake recipe. This recipe has been carefully engineered for soft, moist, fluffy, yet sturdy cupcakes that won’t fall apart when you take them out of their liners. Buttery cupcakes with a subtle chocolate flavor! I’ve included plenty of tips and a how-to video!
As I promised when I shared my red velvet cake recipe earlier this week, I have a perfect red velvet cupcake recipe to share with you today.
While I know the temptation is real to just pour the cake batter from my first recipe into cupcake tins and bake away, unfortunately I found that work out quite as well as I’d hoped. Sure, the cupcakes my cake batter made were tasty, but they rose flat (great for cake, not for cupcakes) were a bit too delicate, a bit too moist for the paper liners, and they fell apart (not in a dry, crumbly way, but in a soft, velvety way) and needed 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 went back to the drawing board and made a few tweaks to make the perfect red velvet cupcake. Similar to my cake recipe, but different, each is designed for a specific purpose (this is the same reason I have separate recipes for carrot cake and carrot cake cupcakes!).
The Difference in My Cake and Cupcake Recipe
My red velvet cupcake recipe uses more granulated sugar and less brown sugar and I’ve also eliminated the additional egg yolk that the cake used. These changes help keep the cupcakes from being quite so tender and rich and helps prevent them from clinging to their liners. It also doesn’t weigh the crumb down so much, which helps the tops to dome nicely.
I also used a touch more flour in this recipe, which contributes to the cupcakes’ sturdiness, and slightly more cocoa powder (you can decrease the amount to 1 ½ Tablespoons if you want the exact same chocolate flavor). You might also notice that I wrote this recipe using whole milk and vinegar rather than buttermilk. By doing this I opt to essentially make my own buttermilk. All things considered, it’s a bit less vinegar than I use in my cake recipe, but I found it works best here and this version got the highest ratings from my taste testers.
This red velvet cupcake recipe also makes approximately half the batter that my cake does so you get an even dozen cupcakes. It may easily be doubled or even tripled.
What do Red Velvet Cupcakes Taste Like?
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.
I paired my red velvet cupcakes with ermine frosting (a classic choice). If you’re using this frosting, keep in mind you need to make a roux (it’s easy and I walk you through the steps!) which will need to cool, so I recommend making this before beginning your cupcakes so it’s ready by the time they’ve cooled.
Here are a few other great options:
- Cream cheese frosting (👈🏻 another classic option, this is tied for first choice with the ermine!)
- Swiss meringue buttercream
- Buttercream frosting
- Cookie dough frosting (if you want to be a little different and extra decadent)
Storing Red Velvet Cupcakes
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 for several months.
Tips for Perfect Red Velvet Cupcakes
- Do not overfill the cupcake liners! Don’t fill higher than ¾ of the way full (this is important, I stress this same thing with my chocolate cupcakes!). If you have excess batter, discard it. If you overfill your liners the cupcakes tend to overflow and then actually cave in on themselves.
- I recommend gel food coloring, you don’t need much and it produces a vibrant color. Alternatively liquid food coloring will work, use 1 oz of red food coloring.
- You could leave out the food coloring, but I swear the cupcakes just don’t taste as good (coming from someone who does not love using food coloring!). They will be a light brown/slightly reddish color. You really need food coloring for true red velvet cupcakes.
- Make sure to measure your flour properly!
- While with many cake recipes you have to worry about over-mixing the batter, it’s actually easier to under-mix this one. While over-mixing is possible here, because we’re not exactly using the traditional creaming method that I often use, 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.
- This recipe may be doubled or tripled for more cupcakes.
More Recipes You Might Like:
- Dark Chocolate Cupcakes
- Vanilla Cupcakes
- Black Bottom Cupcakes (another old-fashioned favorite!)
- Pumpkin Cupcakes
Let’s bake together! Don’t forget to watch the how-to VIDEO in the recipe card!
Red Velvet Cupcakes (Soft, Sturdy, Domed Cupcakes!)
- ¾ cup whole milk (177ml)
- 2 teaspoons white vinegar
- ¾ teaspoon red gel food coloring (I use Americolor "red red" or "super red"
- 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour (155g) I don't recommend substituting cake flour or any other flour
- ¾ cup granulated sugar (150g)
- ¼ cup light brown sugar firmly packed (50g)
- 2 Tablespoons natural cocoa powder (12g)
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- ¼ cup canola oil may substitute vegetable oil or another neutral oil (60ml)
- 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.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugars, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt until well-combined.
- Add melted butter and oil and stir well, until ingredients are well-combined (the mixture will be thick).
- Add egg and vanilla extract and stir until combined.
- 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.
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.