Cakes/ Classic Desserts/ Dessert/ Holiday/ Layer Cakes

Red Velvet Cake

March 13, 2018

This is the best red velvet cake you’ll ever have. This classic cake is unbelievably moist, fluffy, flavorful, and perfectly red. It’s the real thing!

red velvet cake

You know how much I love sharing my kitchen adventures on Instagram stories, and after sharing my homemade red velvet cake that I made last week, I got so many requests for the recipe, that my inbox almost exploded. I love to see you get excited about a cake like that! I can totally relate. So of course, I had to share the recipe.

I’m not even gonna tell you how many red velvet cake recipes I’ve tried in the past few months to get to the very best one, because then you’ll know how many cakes I ate, which is quite embarrassing.

This is my absolute favorite red velvet cake recipe!

This is a classic, old-fashioned 2-layer red velvet cake. It is so moist, it will melt in your mouth! And it’s frosted with the ultimate rich and creamy cream cheese frosting. It’s not just me who’s in love with this cake. Every single person I brought a piece to, said wow on the first bite.

red velvet cake

What is Red Velvet Cake

Red velvet cake is a classic American dessert, but it’s becoming more and more popular outside of the US, and for a good reason – it’s so festive and delicious.

Is red velvet a chocolate cake? Although there’s cocoa powder in the recipe, the amount is rather small and the flavor of chocolate is subtle, so it isn’t meant to be a chocolate cake. Actually, the cocoa powder is there mainly to provide a slight red color.

red velvet cake

How to Make Red Velvet Cake

A combination of ingredients such as vinegar, red food coloring, cocoa powder and buttermilk is what makes this cake so unique. It’s easy to make, I promise.

Red Velvet Cake Ingredients

All-purpose flour or cake flour? Although cake flour is usually used for classic red velvet recipes to make it light, I wanted to stick to all-purpose flour in my recipe, so that everyone can make it. I use a combination of all purpose flour and cornstarch, so the cake turns out tender and delicious. If you prefer using cake flour use 2 and 3/4 cups of it.

Red food coloring: what makes red velvet cake red is the food coloring. If you don’t use it, the cake will have a dark reddish-brown color.

Cocoa powder: I use 2 tablespoons in my recipe, which is just right to get the color and flavor that I look for. Some recipes use 3 tablespoons or more for a bit more chocolatey flavor, but in this case, I like to stick to the classic. Both Dutch-process or natural cocoa powder work here.

Oil or Butter? The first cakes I tried were only with butter, because, well, I love butter. But once I started using oil (after I saw that Southern recipes use only oil, and I got curious), I realized my cake was less dry. To enjoy both worlds I use some butter for flavor, and oil for the fluffiest texture and extra moist cake.

Vinegar: I use apple cider vinegar, but any white vinegar would work, like the ones you use for a salad dressing.

I use a classic cream cheese frosting for this red velvet cake.

red velvet cake

Products I use to make this cake

9-inch cake pans – these high quality cake pans help my layer cakes bake beautifully. Some of you asked me on Instagram how come my cakes are so flat. There are a few tricks for it, and you can read about it in this helpful guide, but I’ll be honest that I don’t bother with this. I get good results with these cake pans, and if the cakes have a dome, I slice it off with a sharp knife. It’s less trouble, and no one would notice.

Red food coloring – I always prefer using gel than liquid. I’ve tried many and this one has the best vibrant red color.

Try my Red Velvet Cupcakes and Chocolate Chip Red Velvet Cookies next!

5.0 from 9 reviews
Red Velvet Cake Recipe
Yields: 8 or 9 inch cake
 
Ingredients
Cake:
  • 2½ cups (340g) all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup (35g) cornflour/cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons (12g) unsweetened cocoa powder (any kind works)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick/115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2⅛ cups (425g) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (240 ml) vegetable or canola oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1¼ teaspoons distilled wine vinegar
  • 2-3 tablespoons red food coloring
  • 1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk
Cream Cheese Frosting:
  • 16 oz (450g) full-fat block cream cheese (not spread), at room temperature
  • 2 sticks/225g unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 4 cups (480g) powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt, optional
Instructions
  1. To make the cake: Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C. Grease two 8-inch or 9-inch cake pans that are at least 2-inches high, and line the bottom of the pan with a round piece of parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cornflour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as necessary. Beat in oil. The batter might look a bit curdled, that's ok. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well between each addition. Add vanilla and vinegar and beat until combined. Add red food coloring, until desired color is reached. With the mixer on low speed, add half of the dry ingredients and beat just until combined. Add buttermilk, followed by the rest of the dry ingredients. Do not over mix.
  4. Divide batter evenly between pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow cakes to cool in the pan on a wire rack until they're easy to handle, then remove from pan and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
  5. To make the frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and cream cheese on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy, 1-2 minutes. Add sugar in 2 additions, beating well after each addition until smooth. Add vanilla and salt and keep beating until smooth and fluffy.
  6. Assembling the cake: Set one layer on a plate with the flat side facing up (or, if your cake rose too much, cut its rounded top with a knife to make it flat). Evenly spread a thick layer of the frosting over the cake to the edge. Top with the second cake layer, rounded side up. Spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake.
  7. Store cake in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. I like to remove it from the fridge 15-20 minutes before serving so that it's soft.

The absolute best red velvet cake. Classic, extremely moist, fluffy, flavorful, and perfectly red.

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58 Comments

  • Reply
    Angeliki
    March 19, 2018 at 2:18 am

    Hi Shiran! I love your recipes, your blog is what turned me into a fan of baking! 🙂 I wanted to ask, because I’m from Cyprus and we don’t have buttermilk, is there anything I can substitute it with?

    • Reply
      Shiran
      March 19, 2018 at 2:35 pm

      Thank you so much, Angeliki! You’ve just made my day 🙂 I hope you enjoy this recipe just as much.
      Buttermilk Substitutes: (1) Take 1-cup measuring cup and pour in 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or fresh lemon juice. Add milk until it reaches one cup. Stir and let sit for 5 minutes. It will look curdled and that’s fine. That’s your buttermilk. (2) use 3/4 cup plain yogurt plus 1/4 cup milk. Mix them together, and use it instead of the buttermilk.

  • Reply
    Angeliki
    March 20, 2018 at 3:54 am

    Great! Thank you! 🙂

  • Reply
    Shiran
    March 25, 2018 at 6:59 am

    Thank you so much, Payal! Unfortunately I don’t have much experience baking without eggs, so I can’t recommend any substitutes.

  • Reply
    Lorraine Sarfati
    April 3, 2018 at 4:42 pm

    Hi Shiran, awesome recipe! question regarding sifting the powdered sugar. is it 4 cups of sugar before or after it has been sifted? i’m new to baking,and just want to make sure i have all the details correct.

    • Reply
      Shiran
      April 4, 2018 at 2:28 pm

      Hi Lorraine, it’s before, so you need to first measure the sugar, then sift.

      • Reply
        Lorraine
        April 5, 2018 at 9:38 pm

        Thank you!

  • Reply
    Simone
    June 5, 2018 at 1:42 pm

    Hi Shiran! Your recipes are awesome! I have not yet tried them out but I going to try them. But I get stuck with the butter.
    Can you please tell me what I can substitute the butter with? What will happen if I add oil instead of butter? Will it lessen the taste ?
    Thank You!

    • Reply
      Shiran
      June 6, 2018 at 9:32 am

      Hi Simone! Thank you so much! In some recipes you can use coconut oil instead, but it depends on the recipe. Using only oil might work but since I haven’t tested it I can’t guarantee the result. It changes not only the flavor, but also the texture.

  • Reply
    Valerie
    June 16, 2018 at 10:00 am

    Hi Shiran,
    Tried your recipe today..loved it! But the cheese frosting was liquid. It flew between the layers. Do you any advise please?
    I used the spread cream cheese because I could not find block cream cheese.
    Thank you ?

    • Reply
      Shiran
      June 17, 2018 at 3:58 am

      Hi Valerie, the spread doesn’t work well in frostings, because it’s not stiff enough, that’s why it happened. I also mentioned it in the recipe instructions. If you can’t find block cream cheese, you can use another frosting such as vanilla buttercream or whipped cream frosting.

      • Reply
        Valerie
        June 18, 2018 at 2:50 am

        Thank you. I’ll try the vanilla buttercream frosting next time.

  • Reply
    Vanessa
    July 8, 2018 at 2:58 am

    I have only one 9 inch pan so can I bake one layer after another layer or can I reduce the ingredients quantity to half to yield a one layer cake ?

    • Reply
      Shiran
      July 11, 2018 at 8:18 am

      Hi Vanessa, both options are fine, but if you half the ingredients to make one layer cake, just keep in mind that the cake will be a bit short.

      • Reply
        Noor
        October 28, 2018 at 3:17 am

        I have only one pan too. Can I bake all the batter together and then cut it through once cooled for spreading icing?

        • Reply
          Shiran
          October 28, 2018 at 10:20 am

          It’s possible, but it depends on the height of the cake pan. Make sure it’s 3-inch tall, and don’t fill the pan more than 3/4 full so the batter won’t overflow. Also, the baking time will be longer.

  • Reply
    Vanessa
    July 8, 2018 at 3:42 am

    Hi Shiran,
    Can I halve the ingredients or bake each layer one after other since I have only one 9 inch pan ? also can I use powdered sugar ?

    • Reply
      Shiran
      July 11, 2018 at 8:20 am

      I recommend using granulated sugar, and not powdered sugar. It will change the texture of the cake.

  • Reply
    Kemi
    August 16, 2018 at 11:09 am

    Thanks for the knowledge. I tried your receipt but it came out oily, what could have happened?

    • Reply
      Shiran
      August 20, 2018 at 8:04 am

      It’s hard to tell exactly what went wrong, as it can be many things. Be sure to measure out your butter/oil carefully, whisk the mixture properly, and also, don’t leave your butter at room temperature for too long, just until it’s nice and soft but not melty.

  • Reply
    maci
    August 18, 2018 at 9:36 am

    does it matter if i skip the distilled wine vinegar? i couldn’t find any!

    • Reply
      Shiran
      August 20, 2018 at 7:51 am

      It’s best to stick to the recipe and use white vinegar or apple cider vinegar. If you can find any, you can use lemon juice instead.

  • Reply
    Dee
    September 2, 2018 at 2:10 pm

    Hi love this, my go to recipe.
    Thank you for sharing!!!!

    Could this be used for cupcakes?

  • Reply
    Molu
    September 17, 2018 at 7:32 pm

    Hi Shiran! I just found out your blog and made this lovely cake for my wedding anniversary.. it turns out super moist & delicious that my hubby can’t stop eating just 1 slice.. thank you so much for sharing this recipe, love from Indonesia 🙂

  • Reply
    Rosa
    September 18, 2018 at 11:03 am

    can you use cake flour instead of all purpose flour?

    • Reply
      Shiran
      September 24, 2018 at 8:54 am

      Yes, omit the flour and cornstarch, and use 375 grams of cake flour instead.

  • Reply
    San
    September 26, 2018 at 8:13 am

    If I bake them in 8 inch pans, does the cooking time change?

    • Reply
      Shiran
      September 30, 2018 at 9:21 am

      It will take just a bit longer but the baking time will be similar.

  • Reply
    Indri
    September 29, 2018 at 8:48 am

    Just made this cake for my husband and he love it! thanks for the recipe ??

  • Reply
    Josie co
    October 4, 2018 at 6:50 pm

    What do you mean by ” don’t over mix” ?

    • Reply
      Shiran
      October 7, 2018 at 7:21 am

      Hi Josie, it means not to mix too much, just until the ingredients are incorporated. This results in a lighter cake.

  • Reply
    Favour
    October 13, 2018 at 2:11 am

    Hi shiran… I love your work so much…. Please what can I use in place of the distilled wine vinegar

    • Reply
      Shiran
      October 14, 2018 at 8:02 am

      Thank you so much! A classic red velvet cake uses white vinegar or apple cider vinegar. If you can’t find any, you can use lemon juice instead (same quantity).

  • Reply
    Jennifer Lovejoy
    October 14, 2018 at 6:49 pm

    So I Googled Homemade Red Velvet Cake From Scratch recipes and ran into yours. I was looking for a simple to the point recipe and found yours with the explanations very informative!! I’m planning to home make 2 red velvet cakes to give to a couple people as part of their Christmas from me, and am purchasing a poinsettia cake spray to decorate the top of the cake with and candy ivy leaves to decorate the sides and top of cakes with as well–thats my perfect finishing piece is the ivy leaves! I’m in my pre-planning process right now, so I even went to Walmart and collected ideas for the cake pan to use, all my tools I’ll need, ect. Then I thought now if I can just find the right recipe. I’m excitedly eager to try your recipe out! Let me know how I can send you pictures of how it looks and how beautifully I decorate it bc I’m sure you’ll love to see the end result like I already am! Thank you for your recipe! 🙂

    • Reply
      Shiran
      October 15, 2018 at 5:15 am

      Hi Jennifer! I’m sure the cake will be amazing. I would love to see some photos, you can share them with me on Instagram or email me at prettysimplesweet@gmail.com

  • Reply
    Nelisha Hosein
    October 24, 2018 at 11:16 pm

    hi hi. i am going to try this soon and was wondering what type of foo d colouring do you recommend? liquid, or gel/paste? thank you.

    • Reply
      Shiran
      October 25, 2018 at 5:11 am

      Hi Nelisha, I use this one.

  • Reply
    Caroline
    October 30, 2018 at 12:59 pm

    Hi! This recipe looks to die for. It looks fluffy and light. Since tomorrow is Halloween, I am going to be making a bloody, rich cake. My first thought was red velvet. So, here I am! But just a quick question, can the red food coloring be gel? Or can it be the small bottles that come in a four-pack (red, yellow, blue, and green)? Anyways, thanks in advance!

    • Reply
      Shiran
      October 31, 2018 at 6:39 am

      Hi Caroline, I use the gel kind. There’s a link to the one I use above the recipe.

  • Reply
    Natalie
    November 1, 2018 at 12:06 pm

    Hi Shiran.

    I love your recipes, they are always so yummy! Can you freeze the Red velvet cake?

    Many thanks,
    Natalie

    • Reply
      Shiran
      November 4, 2018 at 7:03 am

      Thank you so much, Natalie! Yes, you can freeze it, and then thaw it in the fridge for several hours before serving.

  • Reply
    Stella
    November 3, 2018 at 7:03 am

    Hi Shiran!! Your recipes are awesome and really they are pretty simple nd sweet… stay blessed with more recipes ??.. I’m planning to make a red velvet cake for a birthday.. got a quick question.. red food colour, gel means how much shud we use for this recipe?? Thanks in advance

    • Reply
      Shiran
      November 4, 2018 at 8:18 am

      Thank you so much, Stella 🙂 I use gel too, so use the amount mentioned in the recipe.

  • Reply
    Glenn Puput
    November 6, 2018 at 5:18 am

    Hi, im from Indonesia. i tried this recipe with beetroot colouring and it turn into brown color after baked. could you give some tips with beetroot colouring?

    • Reply
      Shiran
      November 7, 2018 at 5:38 am

      I have no experience baking with beetroot food coloring, sorry!

  • Reply
    aya
    November 14, 2018 at 1:04 pm

    why you don’t use baking powder?

    • Reply
      Shiran
      November 17, 2018 at 1:31 pm

      Hi Aya, not every recipe uses baking powder. This recipe uses baking soda as a leavener.

  • Reply
    aya
    November 14, 2018 at 2:21 pm

    please answer my question thanks in advance?

  • Reply
    Sophia Lejtman
    November 15, 2018 at 11:54 pm

    Thanks so much for posting this recipe! It came out perfect! I used soy milk, left out the corn flour, and used liquid food coloring. I made dairy free frosting with tofutti cream cheese, 1 Tbs. Vanilla and 1 cup sugar. Topped with ground walnuts. Definitely my go to site for great easy recipes. Keep up the good work!:)

  • Reply
    Jane
    November 22, 2018 at 12:26 am

    Can we use normal butter instead of unsalted butter

    • Reply
      Shiran
      November 22, 2018 at 3:41 am

      Regular butter is unsalted butter. If your butter is not salted, then it’s ok to use.

  • Reply
    Jane Charita
    November 23, 2018 at 3:10 am

    Is it a good idea if i also use sugar syrup before putting frosting? thanks

    • Reply
      Shiran
      November 27, 2018 at 5:45 am

      Hi Jane, the cake is super moist so there’s no need to add sugar syrup.

  • Reply
    Susie
    November 28, 2018 at 11:12 am

    I am, as we speak, on stage three of making recipe but the ratio of granulated sugar and butter isn’t turning light and fluffy, and I’ve been beating for around eight or nine minutes. I added a spot of hot water but it’s still not creaming. I measured them exactly per recipe. This is for my three tier ruby wedding anniversary Saturday!! I’m going to just crack on with the rest of it and hope for the best. Help ASAP.

    • Reply
      Shiran
      November 29, 2018 at 1:18 pm

      Hi Susie, I hope your cake turned out delicious. It’s enough to beat the butter and sugar for several minutes in the mixer.

  • Reply
    Linda Mallard
    December 9, 2018 at 1:19 pm

    My husband is diabetic can I use a sugar substitutes with this cake and frosting.

    • Reply
      Shiran
      December 9, 2018 at 2:16 pm

      Sorry Linda, but I don’t have much experience using sugar substitutes.

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