This is the best red velvet cake with cream cheese recipe that you'll ever make. It's super moist, tender with a beautiful velvety texture, and covered with delicious cream cheese frosting. Despite its fancy looks, it's very easy to make. And we're going to make everything from scratch!
What Is The Actual Flavor of Red Velvet Cake?
This cake is famous not just because of its amazing looks and its velvety texture trademark but also its layers of flavors!
It's buttery, and tangy and has a mild chocolate taste with vanilla undertones. These amazing flavors are brought up another notch with a delicious cream cheese frosting!
The red color traditionally was a mere red-brown or crimson color, due to using natural cocoa powder. These days red food coloring is used to highlight it more.
Although if you want to make it without food coloring, you can simply opt it out or use beetroot powder.
Why This Recipe Works
Because I've tested this recipe for more than 5 times and if you follow my instructions and tips, it'll never fail you!
I'm using a secret ingredient to get the cake super moist and tender. By adding oil! Butter gives the buttery flavor (obviously!) but oil is a game changer when it comes to making the cake super moist and tender.
I've also improved my cream cheese frosting so that it has more structure and this way it's extremely easy to pipe with! We know with layer cakes, that is important.
Ingredients For This Cake
Oil - Although it doesn't lend any flavor like butter, this is the secret ingredient that's going to make a moist red velvet cake, and the best ever. Just a bit goes a long way!
Natural cocoa powder - Unsweetened. Don't use Dutch-processed cocoa powder as we want something on the acidic level to react with the baking soda.
Red food coloring - Use gel because it's more concentrated and you won't be needing much. Don't use the liquid as you'd have to use more, and it'll affect the batter's consistency, which we don't want.
Cream cheese - Use the block, full fat, and I highly recommend the Philadelphia brand. I use it all the time like in my other cream cheese frosting in my lemon blueberry cake recipe.
*See recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
1. Sift dry ingredients. Sift the flour, natural cocoa powder, and salt into a bowl and set aside.
2. Add food coloring to buttermilk. Whisk the buttermilk and red food coloring gel until there are no lumps, and set aside.
3. Cream butter and sugar. Add butter and sugar into a standing mixer bowl with the paddle attachment, and whisk for 5 minutes on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.
4. Add eggs, oil, and vanilla extract. Mix them together for a minute or two until they are well combined.
5. Add dry ingredients and buttermilk. Incorporate the dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk, mixing well after each addition. Mix vinegar and baking soda in another bowl and pour into the batter. Fold gently with a spatula.
6. Bake. Pour the batter into the pans and spread evenly. Hit the pans on the kitchen top several times to release air bubbles. Bake at 350ºF (175ºC) for 25 minutes. Flip onto a cooling rack after 5 minutes and cool completely.
7. Make the frosting. Mix butter for 5 minutes at medium-high speed. Gradually add sifted confectioners’ sugar on low, then mix for 5 minutes at medium-high speed. Mix in cream cheese for 1-2 minutes. Place frosting in a piping bag.
8. Assemble the cake. Slice off the cake's dome and reserve it for decoration later. Place a layer on a cake stand, some frosting, and another layer.
9. Pipe the frosting. Using a piping bag, pipe frosting all around and on top of the cake, and smooth it out using an offset spatula.
10. Decorate. Press the crumbs from the cake's dome all around and pipe dollops of frosting on top. Enjoy!
Recipe Expert Tips
- Measure correctly. I highly recommend a kitchen scale (it's more precise!). Use the spoon and level method if using cup measurements.
- Make sure the ingredients are used at the temperatures specified. This will make sure they mix easier, without over-mixing them.
- Cutting butter and cream cheese into smaller cubes will help blend them easier with other ingredients. It also speeds up the butter comes to room temperature.
- Sifting the flour and cocoa powder will make the cake lighter and prevent lumps from the cocoa powder.
- Never over-mix once you add the dry ingredients to the wet. This prevents hard cakes.
- Hit the pans on the kitchen counter several times to release the air bubbles so that we have a smooth velvety texture cake.
- Don't over-mix the cream cheese with butter and sugar for the frosting as it will lose its ideal piping-consistency texture.
How To Serve And Store
Serve - Bring the frosted cake to room temperature (if stored in the fridge) for 30-60 minutes before serving, to experience its true and delicious taste.
Store - Tightly wrapped, unfrosted cake last up to 5 days in the fridge. The frosted cake lasts up to 4 days in the fridge, just know that it'll not taste as fresh as the days go by.
Frosted and unfrosted cakes last up to 3 months in the freezer, in an air-tight container.
By using red food coloring. Traditionally it was a mere red-brown or crimson color due to using natural cocoa powder. To make red velvet cake without food coloring, you can use beetroot powder.
The best is gel food coloring because it's more concentrated and you don't need much. Liquid food coloring is the opposite and adding too much will affect the batter's consistency, which we don't want.
Not enough red food coloring. Use gel food coloring as it's more concentrated.
Nope, it's more than that. It has a mild chocolate flavor with a vanilla undertone, it's tangy and buttery. It has so many delicious layers to it!
You can bake the cake, wrap it tightly with cling film, and store it in the fridge for 5 days before frosting it, or freeze it for up to 3 months. You can frost the cake 2-4 days in advance and have it chilled in the fridge, but just know that it's not going to taste that fresh. Or you can bake the cake, frost it, and freeze it for up to 3 months.
Related Cake Recipes
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Red Velvet Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting
Dry Ingredients for Cake
- 2 ¾ cup all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoon unsweetened natural cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
Wet Ingredients for Cake
- 1 cup buttermilk , room temperature
- 1 tablespoon gel red food coloring
- ½ cup unsalted butter , room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs , room temperature
- ½ cup oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1 cup unsalted butter , room temperature
- 1 lb confectioners' sugar , sifted
- 8 oz full fat cream cheese , cold from the fridge
- Butter and line 2 of 9-inch round cake pans. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (175ºC), using top and bottom heat, no-fan assisted.
Dry Ingredients for Cake
- Sift all dry ingredients into a bowl. Set aside.
Wet Ingredients for Cake
- Whisk buttermilk and red food coloring until there are no lumps. Set aside.
- Add butter and sugar into a standing mixer bowl. Use the paddle attachment and whisk for 5 minutes at medium-high speed until light and fluffy.
- Add in eggs, oil, and vanilla and mix well.
- Add in dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk. Mix well after each addition. Remove the mixing bowl from the stand mixer.
- Mix apple cider vinegar and baking soda in a bowl and add into the mixing bowl. Immediately fold everything together using a spatula.
- Pour the batter evenly into the pans. Spread evenly and hit the pans on the kitchen top several times to release air bubbles.
- Bake for 25 minutes on the lower ⅔ rack until they're fully cooked or a skewer inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean.
- Flip the cakes onto a cooling rack after 5 minutes and cool completely.
Cream Cheese Frosting
- Add butter into a standing mixer bowl, and whisk for 5 minutes on medium-high speed using the paddle attachment.
- Gradually add in confectioners sugar, mixing on low speed. Once incorporated, whisk on medium-high speed for 5 minutes.
- Add in cream cheese and mix everything for 1-2 minutes, or only until well combined. Place frosting in a piping bag.
- Cut the dome of the cakes to get evenly flat tops. Grate the domes into fine crumbs to use for decoration later.
- Spread some frosting on a cake stand, and place one cake on top. Pipe the frosting on top and place another cake on it.
- Pipe the frosting all around and on top of the cake. Using an offset spatula, smooth out the frosting. Pipe dollops of frosting on top and press some crumbs on the side. Enjoy!
- Scrape the bowl's sides and bottom with a spatula to make sure everything is well-mixed.
- Use a portable oven thermometer to ensure the correct oven temperature.
- For the cake, don't over-mix the dry and wet ingredients to avoid a hard cake.
- For the frosting, don't over-mix the cream cheese to avoid the frosting losing its structure, leading up to difficulties in frosting the cake later.
Originally published on May 5, 2018. Updated with improved text, recipe, and pictures on Feb 18, 2023.