Filed Under: Cakes & Cupcakes

Not-so-Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Recipe By Tessa Arias
November 9th, 2010
4 from 1 vote
4 from 1 vote

Treat yourself to these delicious Not-so-Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting.

Yield: 2 1/2 dozen cupcakes

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook: 20 minutes

Tessa's Recipe Rundown...

Taste: Mildly sweet cake with a hint of chocolate complimented by a tangy cream cheese frosting.
Texture: The cake is light and spongy while the frosting is rich and creamy.
Ease: While cupcakes are fairly easy, especially if you have a stand mixer, they do involve a few steps that can become time consuming. Scratch cupcake recipes are best reserved for weekends or holidays for most people.
Appearance: Hm. Haha. You really have to use red food coloring to get that vivid red hue, there is no way around that. I don’t think I’m willing to add artificial coloring to my homemade treats so I’ll forgo appearance for quality. If you pipe the frosting with a beautiful decorating tip I think these cupcakes still look cute.
Pros: Delicious!
Cons: Not an everyday treat, requires red food coloring for desired appearance.
Would I make this again? Probably for a special occasion like a baby shower or valentine’s day.

Treat yourself to these delicious Not-so-Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting.

Not-so-Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Not-so-Red Velvet Cupcakes

I might have been a little delusional when I made these cupcakes. I naively thought that “natural” food coloring (made from concentrated liquid vegetable colorants) would give me the brilliant red color that defines the famous red velvet cake. Instead I got an awkward slightly red, entirely weird color for which I have no words to describe. Oops. At least they tasted good. Very good.

4 from 1 vote

How to make
Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Yield: 2 1/2 dozen cupcakes
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Treat yourself to these delicious Not-so-Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting.



  • 1 1/2 cups of sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter, room temperature
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 1/3 cups of cake flour
  • 2 tablespoons of Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup of buttermilk*
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of red food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon of distilled white vinegar


  • 1/2 cup of butter (1 stick), room temperature
  • 8 oz of Philly cream cheese (1 package), room temperature
  • 1 1/2 - 3 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract


For the cupcakes:

  1. 1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Beat the butter and sugar in an electric mixer for 3 minutes on medium speed until light and fluffy, scraping edges down as necessary. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each is fully incorporated.
  2. 3. In a large bowl, sift together the cake flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl or large measuring cup whisk together the buttermilk, vinegar, vanilla extract, and red food coloring.
  3. 4. Add a fourth of the dry ingredients and mix, then add a third of the wet. Continue adding in a dry, wet, dry pattern, ending with the dry ingredients.
  4. 5. Using a spring-loaded ice cream scoop or spoon, fill batter into cupcake liners, about 1/2 to 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Rotate the pan after the first 15 minutes of baking to ensure even baking.
  5. 6. Allow to cool for one minute in the pan then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting:

  1. 1. Cream the butter and cream cheese together, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure even mixing.
  2. 2. Add the vanilla extract and mix.
  3. 3. Add the powdered sugar, continually taste to get to desired sweetness (I only used 1 1/2 cups). Fill frosting into piping bag or ziploc bag and pipe onto cooled cupcakes. Alternatively, spread frosting onto cupcakes with a small offset spatula or knife.

Recipe Notes

*You can make your own buttermilk by adding a tablespoon of distilled white vinegar to milk and letting it stand for about 10 minutes.
From Simply Recipes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Tessa Arias

About Tessa...

I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)

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Recipe Rating

  1. #
    claire — November 10, 2010 at 8:54 pm

    sorry about the red color… thats a bummer!

    I also add choc chips to my red velvet cupcakes- YUM!

  2. #
    whozyerdanny — November 11, 2010 at 12:58 am

    I use color which I purchase from and indian/asian market. I find them to be much more vibrant than the stuff made here.

  3. #
    Karen — June 14, 2016 at 7:13 pm

    Tessa if making recipe as stated with Wilson red gel food coloring will batter be the deep red of traditional red velvet? Making for bridal shower and red velvet with cream cheese frosting is my future daughter in laws favorite. Thanks!

  4. #
    KareninStLouis — December 26, 2016 at 1:04 pm

    From what I have read, the reddish tint comes from the effect of the interaction of the baking soda and vinegar on the cocoa. However, this is impeded if you use Dutch processed cocoa. Nonetheless, the artificial bright red does require artificial food coloring.

  5. #
    Aleen Eidinger — February 7, 2017 at 5:14 pm

    I have made beautifully red velvet cupcakes with pureed beets. You must roast them rather than boil so they don’t bleed out all their color. One of Paula Deen’s sons has a recipe. They are good…a little earthy, but good.

  6. #
    RedHairedLady (Laura) — November 23, 2018 at 6:31 pm

    I made these yesterday for Thanksgiving. They were delicious.

    But I’m amazed you managed to get 30 cupcakes out of this recipe. Is that a misprint? I only had enough batter for 24, and that was with the liners filled less than half full each.

    Same with the frosting – there was only enough for a light piping on 24 cupcakes, using the full amount of sugar listed in the recipe. No way could I have frosted 30 cupcakes.

    I followed the recipe exactly, and measured out the flour and sugar using a kitchen scale, so I’m not sure why I got so many less cupcakes.

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