Red Velvet Cake

Recipe By Tessa Arias
April 3rd, 2013
5 from 5 votes
5 from 5 votes

 Red Velvet Cake is super moist with an unbelievable frosting. This is what Red Velvet Cake is all about!

Yield: 12 servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook: 40 minutes

Tessa's Recipe Rundown...

Taste: Sweet but not overly so with that tang from the cream cheese.
Texture: This is definitely the (and I hate to use this word) most MOIST red velvet cake I’ve ever tasted.
Ease: You are going to dirty dishes and spend a couple of hours to get this cake made but it is definitely worth it, especially if you or your family are red velvet lovers.
Appearance: This is what red velvet cake is all about. I’ve experimented and only red gel food coloring gives that intensely red hue.
Pros: Super moist cake with an unbelievable frosting. My go-to recipe for red velvet now.
Cons: None.
Would I make this again? Yes, especially for birthdays.

I have something to say that may shock you…

I’m not a huge fan of red velvet. I know it’s tremendously popular. But most red velvet type desserts that I’ve tasted have always been bland, dry, or sickeningly sweet. Plus, there can never be enough chocolate in my book so the tease of cocoa in red velvet cake kind of angers me if I’m being honest!

However, Jared my boyfriend loves red velvet so for his birthday recently I decided to make him a cake. I searched the web for a red velvet that promised a moist cake with a tangy and creamy frosting that didn’t just taste like powdered sugar. I’m happy to say I found a fabulous recipe that even I enjoy eating. This doesn’t mean I plan on giving up my chocolate cake anytime soon but now I have a go-to red velvet recipe.

5 from 5 votes

How to make
Red Velvet Cake

Yield: 12 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
 Red Velvet Cake is super moist with an unbelievable frosting. This is what Red Velvet Cake is all about!


For the cake:

  • 2 cups (254 grams) all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons red gel food coloring, plus more if needed
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup of plain hot coffee (or water)

For the cream cheese frosting:

  • 16 ounces (454 grams) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 sticks (227 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons heavy cream or milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 cups (500 grams) powdered sugar, sifted


For the cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  2. Butter and flour two 9-inch cake pans.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder and salt.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar and vegetable oil. Add in the eggs, buttermilk, vanilla and food coloring. Whisk in the vinegar and coffee. Gradually add the flour mixture and stir with a spatula until completely incorporated. The batter will be thin.
  5. Divide the batter equally between the two prepared pans. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Place the cake pans on cooling racks. When the pans are cool enough to touch, run a thin knife around the edges of the pans to loosen the cakes. Invert onto the cooling racks. Let cool completely.

For the frosting:

  1. n the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed until very light, creamy, and smooth. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure no clumps remain. Add in 2 tablespoons of the cream and vanilla and beat until combined. On low speed gradually add in the sugar and beat until fluffy. If the frosting is too thick, add the remaining cream to thin.

To assemble:

  1. Lay one cake layer flat side-up on a cake plate. Tuck in strips of baking paper under the cake edges to keep the plate clean.
  2. Use about 1 cup of frosting to fill the bottom cake layer then top with the other cake layer, flat side-up. Use the rest of the frosting to ice the whole cake. Serve.
  3. The cake can be covered and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Recipe Notes

For best results use gel food coloring, such as Wilton or Americolor.
Adapted from Adora's Box
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. #
    Abby @ The Frosted Vegan — April 3, 2013 at 5:18 am

    I love that Cons= none!

  2. #
    marcie@flavorhtemoments — April 3, 2013 at 8:59 am

    This looks perfect! I make red velvet cupcakes all the time, but I haven’t made them with coffee. I like that idea. I think coffee belongs anywhere that chocolate does!

  3. #
    Mimi @ Culinary Couture — April 3, 2013 at 9:58 am

    I too am not a fan of red velvet–and i HATE how much red food coloring it always uses!

  4. #
    Nicole — April 3, 2013 at 10:12 am

    My friends have always asked me to make them a red velvet… something. I will give it a try with this recipe 🙂 It looks great!

  5. #
    Rachel @ Bakerita — April 3, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    I’m not the biggest red velvet fan either (it’s always crumbly!) but this does look super moist, and I love how red it is! So pretty. Next time I need a red velvet cake, I’ll try this! Pinned 🙂

  6. #
    Tieghan — April 3, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    I have never made red velvet anything! can you believe it! So i NEED to make this!

  7. #
    Ariel — April 14, 2013 at 10:45 am

    I want to make this for my boyfriends birthday.I dont understand the fraction 11/4 cup of confectioners sugar?Also 12 ounces of greek yogurt? I dont have a scale in my house. Maybe its the diffrent metric systems because im canadian.

  8. #
    Kenny Salberg — April 27, 2013 at 6:20 am

    Sponge cakes are thought to be the first of the non-yeast-based cakes and rely primarily on trapped air in a protein matrix (generally of beaten eggs) to provide leavening, sometimes with a bit of baking powder or other chemical leaven added as insurance. Such cakes include the Italian/Jewish pan di Spagna and the French Génoise. Highly decorated sponge cakes with lavish toppings are sometimes called gateau; the French word for cake..

    Most recent posting from our web site

  9. #
    Zareen — June 1, 2013 at 4:37 am

    Hey Tessa! i tried this cake and it was absolutely amazing! the only thing is my icing was runny and i had a hard time icing the cake as i didnt have the stiffness. i left it in the fridge as well for about an hour and it was still runny. What did I do wrong? 🙁

    • #
      Tessa — June 8, 2013 at 1:33 pm

      Hmm… maybe the cream wasn’t whipped enough?

  10. #
    Elizabeth — June 7, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    My mum used this recipe for my birthday cake and it turned out terrible. There was too much sugar and the no lining in the tin made it stick even more. And it wasn’t my mums baking as she has been baking for over 40 years and ran a cake business. Shame.

    • #
      Tessa — June 8, 2013 at 1:36 pm

      Hi Elizabeth,

      If you look at other red velvet cake recipes you’ll find that 2 cups of sugar (what’s called for in this recipe) is about the average for the cake as it is meant to be sweet. Same with the icing, you need sugar to balance the tang of the cream cheese. You could try reducing the sugar by a 1/4 cup or a 1/2 cup to suit your flavor profile. As for the cake sticking… using butter and flour to coat the pan always works perfectly for me.

  11. #
    Jackie — June 12, 2013 at 12:25 am

    Hi Tessa

    What brand of red food gel did you use in this recipe.

  12. #
    Joie — July 8, 2013 at 2:18 am

    Hi, How much tsp of coffee will I use for half a cup of water if I’ll be using(powdered or instant coffee). Thank you.

  13. #
    zara asif — August 31, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    you make your coffee with milk or water?

  14. #
    Krystle — September 6, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    This cake has turned out perfect for me every time 🙂
    Thank you so much for this recipe I have been looking forever for one to come out completely red and this one is perfect!

    As for people who are Canadian 1 1/4 cup is equal to 300 ml or 300 grams
    And 12oz is roughly one package of cream cheese
    I am Canadian but I studied to be a baker and know metric and imperial measuring systems

  15. #
    Holly — December 10, 2013 at 7:20 pm

    Found your recipe through Pinterest – and so glad I did! It was wonderful and has actually gotten better after being in the fridge a day.
    I just wanted to say thanks for the great recipe!

    Oh – the one tinnny problem I had was my cream cheese frosting was a little lumpy, but I’m guessing that was because it wasn’t very softened when I mixed it up! Rookie mistake. Still tasted deelish though and let’s face it, that’s all that matters! Thanks again 🙂 happy holidays!

    • #
      Tessa — December 15, 2013 at 9:41 am

      Yes, sometimes too cold cream cheese can create lumps. You should be able to beat the heck out of this cream cheese frosting with an electric mixer until the lumps are gone, though. Glad you enjoyed the recipe otherwise!

  16. #
    Kathy Hudson — December 16, 2013 at 8:52 am

    I made this Red Velvet Cake this pass weekend and I must say this truly is the very best I have ever made. Every one said it was great! I too have been looking for a moist Red Velvet Cake for a long time and I have found it.
    I did not try the Cream Chees Frosting becasue I alread have one I love.
    Love this cake. I am trying the Chocolate Cake next week and will let you know on that one as well.
    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe with all of us!
    Merry Christmas!


    • #
      Tessa — December 16, 2013 at 10:18 pm

      So glad to hear that!! Hope you enjoy the chocolate cake. Merry Christmas!

  17. #
    Andrea — December 19, 2013 at 9:19 pm

    I’d like to try this recipe, but 2 cups of liquid (1 c. oil, 1 c. buttermilk) sounds like too much in comparison to 2 c. flour. Just wan to make sure it’s not a misprint. Thanks.

    • #
      Tessa — December 20, 2013 at 9:04 am

      Nope, no misprint. Feel free to read some of the comments above yours, this is a crowd pleasing recipe!

  18. #
    Nadiyah — December 24, 2013 at 6:06 pm

    Hello! This cake looks delicious and I plan on making it very soon. I live in Colorado, so I was wondering if you had high altitude adjustments.

    Merry Christmas!

  19. #
    Shavonda — December 24, 2013 at 9:13 pm

    Could I omit the coffee?

  20. #
    Megan — January 23, 2014 at 9:05 pm

    I made this cake and it turned out really oily and tasted odd to me. Also, an two tablespoons of vanilla seems like entirely too much, are you sure that’s right?

    • #
      Tessa — February 4, 2014 at 10:02 am

      Hi Megan, I’ve fixed the vanilla amount to 2 teaspoons. I once made red velvet cupcakes that had a weird oily taste and when I did some investigation to figure out why it was because my vegetable oil had expired. Maybe the same thing happened to you!

  21. #
    Shannon — February 4, 2014 at 9:50 am

    Can’t say I’ve ever seen anything call for 2 Tbsp of vanilla ~ before I add that much, is this correct or should it read 2 tsp.?

    • #
      Tessa — February 4, 2014 at 10:01 am

      Hi Shannon, thanks for pointing that out! It is 2 teaspoons NOT 2 tablespoons – I fixed the error 🙂

  22. #
    Sarah — April 25, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    I made this cake and it turned out terrible! I’m not a novice baker either. It just had a very very oily, greasy taste to it. Not sure what the problem was, but it was definitely not a success over here 🙁

  23. #
    Lindsey — May 20, 2014 at 6:18 am

    Sorry Tessa, I hate oil in cakes 🙁 . It is absolutely nothing compared to the rich melt-in-your-mouth feel of butter. Can I use melted butter instead of oil in this recipe? Or just creamed butter and sugar?

    • #
      Tessa — May 22, 2014 at 10:42 am

      I’ve never tried this recipe with butter instead of oil so I can’t say for sure. I’d definitely try creaming the butter and sugar together if you give it a go.

  24. #
    Elizabeth — May 20, 2014 at 8:46 am

    I have a question for you – if I were to make these into cupcakes, do you know what the adjusted cooking time should be?

    • #
      Tessa — May 22, 2014 at 10:41 am

      About 15 to 20 minutes.

  25. #
    Felicia — May 23, 2014 at 11:51 pm

    Is you red Velvet cupcake cupcake recipe better or is this one better?

    • #
      Tessa — May 24, 2014 at 1:53 pm

      They’re both great in their own ways!

  26. #
    Ali — October 18, 2014 at 3:02 am

    Dear Tessa,

    I only began to learn to bake one month ago. This cake was my first try. I have since made 10 cakes using this recipe. I have a long waiting list of people who want one. I quote “this is the best red velvet cake we have ever tried”

    I also have a friend who doesn’t like red velvet but she loved this cake. Thank you so much for putting this recipe together. I know you will appreciate this comment as much as I have appreciated all the comments from friends and family.

    My wife also loves this cake (and that the fact that her Husband is baking it)

    Thank you so much.

  27. #
    Maya — February 28, 2015 at 6:20 am

    If I were to add more cocoa powder, and ditch the food coloring, baking powder, and vinegar, would that for sure make a chocolate cake?

  28. #
    rooha — April 13, 2015 at 10:18 am

    i have made this cake a couple of times and it is THE BEST VELVET CAKE i have tasted…i don’t even like red velvet cake but this just melts in mouth…i got so many compliments when i made this…..i have one question about the colour though..i wanted to make a reddish red velvet instead of dark red so should i omit coffee and just use hot water or should i reduce the amount of colour…i get exact colour you have..i use sugar flair extra red…im making it in a day so please reply if u can thank you very much

  29. #
    Salma barkat — February 8, 2016 at 5:27 pm

    Hi tessa
    I tried to make this cake but it’s color was brown more than red i didn’t know why 🙁

    • #
      Tessa — February 9, 2016 at 8:51 am

      Exactly what kind of food coloring did you use?

  30. #
    Mary Ann — February 21, 2016 at 9:53 pm

    Not a real red velvet cake… icing is cream cheese… true red velvet has a european butter cream icing.

  31. #
    Abi — May 11, 2016 at 3:43 pm

    Dear Tessa,

    I saw your recipe and immediately recognized it as my all time favorite red velvet cake by “Divas Can Cook”. I notice you said “adopted from Adora’s box”. She mentioned in her post that she got it from ” Divas can cook”. I thought you might not have known this. Just thought I should let you know, so you can give the right person credit for creating such a wonderful cake 🙂

  32. #
    Kat — May 18, 2016 at 6:35 pm

    If I substitute the oil with butter should I use the same amount? I don’t reckon the butter would do anything but improve the taste?

  33. #
    Margarita — July 25, 2016 at 11:24 am

    I don’t like coffee so I don’t own any. Is there a substitute for coffee and still taste good?

  34. #
    Palwasha — August 30, 2016 at 9:21 am

    Tessa, how do I get the cream cheese to look at smooth? Don’t we require butter for it?

  35. #
    Daniela — October 11, 2016 at 3:16 am

    Hi Tessa, This cake looks amazing, and although I am not a fan of red velvet, my best friend is and I wanted to surprise her with a cake on her birthday! I was wondering how the frosting holds up, and if you could keep it out of the fridge? I’m just concerned about the cream in it. Thanks 🙂

  36. #
    Jihan — January 25, 2017 at 10:03 pm

    Ive been baking alot of times and i tried different variations or chocolate cake..your recipe is really good in chocolate cake i have good compliments..Now im going to try ur recipe in red velvet cake!!!

  37. #
    Kim Nay — March 12, 2017 at 4:53 am

    Hi Tessa, Thank You for all of your wonderful recipes. I live in Sweden, I was wondering what kind of measuring cup you use in your recipes, is it a metric cup or a US cup or is a UK cup?

  38. #
    Nina — September 5, 2017 at 9:36 am

    Hello ! I made this as my birthday cake. For my first velvet cake ever I was sceptical of the vanilla/chocolate/coffee mix but I’m glad i followed the recipe for once because it is scrumptious ! But since I can’t follow a complete recipe to a T to save my life, I replaced half the cream cheese by greek yogurt (it was too much cream cheese for me) and it still tasted amazing !
    Thanks for this recipe (and all the others) !

  39. #
    K — November 2, 2017 at 1:21 pm

    Do you use King A AP flour?

  40. #
    Angela Schwenn — November 4, 2018 at 1:42 pm

    This became my go to recipe from the first time that I made by it. Nothing but rave reviews! I even converted a few people who swore they didn’t like red velvet cake. I like using LorAnn’s red velvet baking emulsion in my recipe. Uses very little color. Gone are the two ounce bottles of food coloring! Thanks so much for sharing.

  41. #
    Speedy — November 6, 2018 at 10:33 am

    I been making this same Red Velvet Cake recipe for over 4 years from Diva can Cook. This is the same recipe!!!!!

  42. #
    Elena — March 20, 2019 at 4:46 am

    Hi Tessa! I’m dying to try out this recipe, but here in Spain there is no buttermilk. Using a substitute would make a lot of difference in the cake? Which one would be the best to use?

  43. #
    sadiqa — April 6, 2019 at 8:15 pm

    can i use caster sugar instead of granulated sugar…if yes how many grams?

  44. #
    Trishant — May 14, 2019 at 1:29 am

    great for cake i ever taste. thanks for sharing this recipe.

  45. #
    sarah — April 3, 2020 at 11:55 am

    The best red-velvet cake there is. Not too sweet at all like many are. my entire family ADORE this

  46. #
    MaKobe — April 23, 2020 at 10:16 pm

    what if i wanted to add walnuts how much would i add??

  47. #
    Cristy — February 21, 2021 at 2:20 pm

    Fantastic Red Velvet cake, not too sweet! The frosting recipe is yummy! I will make half the frosting recipe next time, as it was too much for my preference and I ended up having extra.

    • #
      Tessa — February 22, 2021 at 2:51 pm

      So glad you enjoyed this cake!

  48. #
    jj — February 23, 2021 at 3:17 pm

    this made the most unbelievably moist cake! it was not too sweet and friends and family raved!

    • #
      Tessa — February 24, 2021 at 2:11 pm

      I’m so glad you enjoyed this cake recipe!

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