Red Velvet Cupcakes

March 7, 2016 By Cathy — 35 Comments
Moist and delicious, these red velvet cupcakes are decorated with pretty cream cheese icing flowers.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Can you feel that? Spring is in the air! We’re going to hit 70 this week, the clocks will spring forward and I even saw my first tulip peeking through the soil. I’m not putting away my winter boots yet, but I’m definitely feeling optimistic that the worst of it is behind us. That little tulip got me thinking about the warm sun, green grass and spring flowers. And since I communicate best through food, today I’m funneling all my springiness into these sweet flower cupcakes.

Red Velvet Cupcakes


Red Velvet Cupcakes

This flower design is really quite simple. You just need a piping bag, a petal flower tip (I used Wilton  104# ) and a semi-steady hand. I’ve posted a video just below that will demonstrate that you don’t need a degree in pastry arts to master this piping technique. I find this particular design pretty forgiving. Don’t fret if one petal is a little bigger than the next…it’s not meant to be perfect. If we’re really trying to mimic nature, we know that it’s most interesting when each flower is slightly different than the next, like snowflakes. It’s these differences that make them special. I think my mom tried to communicate a similar message to me as a haughty teen, but clearly that was before I spoke cupcake.

Red Velvet Cupcakes,

Red Velvet Cupcakes

When I had my baking business, other than a straight up chocolate or vanilla cupcake, red velvet was by far the most popular flavor. It’s one of those cupcakes that you know you love, but it’s hard to describe why. You just do. A hint of cocoa, that moist, tangy crumb from the buttermilk…it all just works. Of course there’s all that sciencey stuff behind it, but sometimes all you need is a what, not a why. Add a swirl of cream cheese icing and well, it’s pretty much the perfect cupcake.

Red velvet is by far the favorite in my family. In a house divided by vanilla and chocolate we somehow come together at red velvet. I’ll never tell the vanilla half that there’s a smattering of cocoa powder in these babies. They don’t need to know that they’re secret chocolate lovers too. And oh, my favorite little chocolate lover turns 10 next month. And as much as he loves a fudgy cake, he’s already requesting red velvet for the big day. It seems he’s an unbeknownst peacekeeper. So to celebrate spring and an early happy birthday to my boy, here’s to red velvet. It’s the bridge between vanilla and chocolate and with these pretty petals, hopefully the bridge from winter to spring. Cheers to warm, sweet days ahead!

Red Velvet Cupcakes


Red Velvet Cupcakes

4.69 from 16 votes
Red Velvet Cupcakes
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
45 mins
Moist and delicious, these red velvet cupcakes are decorated with pretty cream cheese icing flowers.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: red velvet cupcakes
Servings: 24 cupcakes
Calories: 433 kcal
Red Velvet Cupcakes
  • 4 oz unsalted butter, softened (1 stick)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp red food coloring
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Cream Cheese Icing
  • 16 oz cream cheese, softened (brick cream cheese, not whipped)
  • 8 oz unsalted butter, softened (2 sticks)
  • 2 lbs confectioners sugar
  • 3 tsp vanilla extract
Red Velvet Cupcakes
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two 12-cup muffin pans with cupcake liners.

  2. Cream together the butter, oil, and sugar until light and fluffy.

  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, blending well after each addition.
  4. Add the food coloring and buttermilk and mix until incorporated.
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda.
  6. Slowly add in the flour mixture and mix until just combined.
  7. Add the vinegar and mix, then the vanilla and mix until just combined. Do not overmix.
  8. Using an ice cream scoop, divide the batter between the 24 lined muffin cups.
  9. Bake for about 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

Cream Cheese Icing
  1. Beat cream cheese and butter until fluffy, about 2 minutes on med/high speed with an electric mixer.

  2. Gradually add in confectioners sugar, mixing well to combine.
  3. Stir in vanilla extract until incorporated.
Decorate the Cupcakes
  1. Divide the icing between the cupcakes and smooth with a knife or offset spatula. Alternatively use a piping bag and decorating tip to pipe a design (see the video for an example). 

Nutrition Facts
Red Velvet Cupcakes
Amount Per Serving
Calories 433 Calories from Fat 189
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 21g 32%
Saturated Fat 13g 65%
Cholesterol 66mg 22%
Sodium 280mg 12%
Potassium 64mg 2%
Total Carbohydrates 59g 20%
Sugars 50g
Protein 3g 6%
Vitamin A 12.9%
Calcium 3.8%
Iron 3.9%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Red Velvet Cupcakes

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Filed Under: Cakes/Cupcakes, Holiday, Recipe


35 responses to “Red Velvet Cupcakes”

  1. I can totally feel spring with these cupcakes Cathy! They are so gorgeous! This year was my first taste of red velvet! I know, I must have been living under a rock right?! I love it! Can’t wait to try! Enjoy your week!

  2. Yay to spring!! It’s supposed to be gorgeous this week and I must say, I can not wait! But, I’m also thinking I might not get a whole lot accomplished, because I’m pretty sure I will want to stay outside all day. These cupcakes are beyond beautiful, Cathy!!! Red velvet everything was my favorite growing up and I cream cheese frosting is still my all time favorite, so you know I am swooning over these cupcakes!! Just perfect, friend! Pinned! Cheers!

    • Cathy says:

      I know Cheyanne – it’s going to be impossible to stay inside. Time to break out the grill! Cream cheese icing is my fave too…not too sweet and perfectly creamy. If only it were calorie-free!

  3. These are positively gorgeous! Love the video too!! xoxo

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Rebecca! Having fun with the videos. Definitely simpler to show how to do it rather than describe it. Cheers!

  4. These are THE MOST GORGEOUS cupcakes I’ve ever seen! I love everything red velvet and I’m pinning these for later. Your video is very helpful too!

  5. These cupcakes are so pretty and I love your icing technique very clever.

  6. cakespy says:

    Could these possibly be any prettier? We all need a cupcake now and again, and these look like a great one for a treat. 🙂

  7. diorella says:

    Hi, what brand and number of piping tip did you use for these cupcakes? These look really beautiful and I’d love to attempt this! Thanks in advance!

  8. Lauri says:

    I was wondering what the baking time would be if I made this as a cake? Like in a 9 inch circle pan. These are gorgeous!!

  9. Pam says:

    I just wanted to say thank you. I have been searching and searching for the perfect way to decorate the tops of my cupcakes for a wedding shower. I’m so excited to see how easy these flower tops are to do. Thank you for sharing via the video!!

    • Cathy says:

      I’m so glad that you like the design Pam. When I had my baking business I often used the flower design for weddings and showers. They were pretty and easy to execute. I’m glad you found the video helpful. Send me a photo if you make them!

  10. April says:

    Do these need to be refrigerated?

    • Cathy says:

      They can be left, covered, at room temperature for a day or two. Any longer, store in the refrigerator. Just be sure to let them come to room temp before serving.

  11. Suzanne Spidell says:

    I searched the internet for a “traditional” red velvet cupcake recipe with fresh ingredients such as buttermilk. I followed your recipe exactly and it is fabulous! Made my cupcakes for a work Valentine’s Day event and cant wait to hear the response. My husband loved them and taking some to my Grandaughter for Valentine’s Day! Thank you!

    • Cathy says:

      Wow Suzanne! That’s so lovely to hear. Glad you and your husband enjoyed them and hope they were a hit at work!

  12. These are SO pretty! I just love them. Thanks for the recipe and the video!

  13. Eb says:

    Hi is the batter supposed to be really thick? Maybe I did something wrong.

    • Cathy says:

      If the batter sits for a bit before you put in the pan, it will thicken. It’s definitely not supposed to be runny, as batters go, it’s on the thicker side. How did they bake up?

  14. Helen says:

    My granddaughter who is twelve made these for her aunties bridal shower and insisted on using the same decorating technique, she has never done this before, she did an amazing job, rave reviews on the cupcakes too. I had tried a few red velvet recipes before, this is the best ever. Wish I could send a picture.

    • Cathy says:

      Hi Helen. I would love to see a photo! So impressed with your granddaughter and appreciate your kind words. Glad you enjoyed the cupcakes!

  15. Lynette says:

    Delicious! I’ve tried many recipes but there’s always something missing. This has everything you are looking for in a red velvet cupcake: deep rich flavor, beautiful texture, very moist. This recipe is a keeper!

  16. Mary says:

    Beautiful cupcakes and I really want to try the pretty flower frosting. What size Wilton tip would I use on mini cupcakes? 102 / 103? Also, I don’t understand why there’s vinegar in the recipe. I’ve done red velvet cupcakes before and when I used vinegar, I tasted it. Can I use apple cider vinegar? Thanks for time!

    • Cathy says:

      Hi Mary. I used a Wilton 104 tip for regular cupcakes so yes, I would recommend 102 or 103 for minis. You need acid (vinegar/buttermilk) to react with the baking soda in the recipe for the cake to rise and achieve that light, tender crumb. You can substitute apple cider or leave it out if you prefer, as there is buttermilk in the recipe. I don’t detect a vinegar taste in my cupcakes and I do recommend using it to achieve the best rise and texture, but you should still have a tasty cupcake without it if you have an especially sensitive palate. I hope you enjoy!

  17. Lisa says:

    Is the wet batter supposed to be gritty? Should the buttermilk be room temp?

    • Cathy says:

      The batter should be smooth, not gritty and the buttermilk can be cold. The batter will thicken a little as it sits, but shouldn’t be gritty.

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