Name a better combination than rich, buttery red velvet cupcakes and tangy cream cheese frosting. I'll wait. That's right, there is none. Red velvet always has and always will be my all time favorite cake. It's just SO good.
In fact, I love red velvet cupcakes so much that it's what I request every year on my birthday (literally every year)! But being a food blogger, I made them myself this year so I could take this fun sparkler photo.
So what makes red velvet so special? Apparently some people don't get the hype around red velvet cake because "it's just regular cake with red food coloring, right?" wrong. Red velvet cake contains both vinegar and buttermilk which react with the cocoa powder to create a deep maroon color which is how red velvet got its name. These days extra red food coloring is added to give us a much brighter red color (which actually began as a marketing ploy in the 1920's). The vinegar and buttermilk also lend more flavor to the cake that regular chocolate cake doesn't have. Also, the cream cheese frosting. Duh.
I don't know about you, but I hate when frosting is sickeningly sweet. So you'll notice that this cream cheese frosting has a lot less sugar than other recipes. It's sooo much better, I promise. But if it's not sweet enough for you, just add additional powdered sugar 1 tablespoon at a time until it's your desired level of sweetness.
- To decorate all of my cakes and cupcakes, I use this Wilton Decorating Kit* and I love it! It’s super easy to use and has a ton of tips in different sizes. For these cupcakes, I used the 4B tip*.
- Always let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting!! If you don't, you'll get cream cheese puddles on top which is no fun.
If you make these red velvet cupcakes, please leave us a star rating at the bottom of the page! This provides helpful feedback to both me and other readers. Happy baking!
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Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Red Velvet Cupcakes
- ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1-2 teaspoons red gel food coloring, adjust as desired
- 1 ½ cups cake flour, substitute all purpose flour
- ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon espresso powder, optional
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup buttermilk, substitute whole milk
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
Cream Cheese Frosting
- ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 8 ounces cream cheese
- 1 ¾ cups powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1-2 teaspoons heavy cream, as needed for desired consistency
- Preheat oven to 350°F and line a 12 cup cupcake pan with cupcake liners.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter and sugar until smooth. Add in the eggs and vanilla extract and whisk until fully incorporated.
- In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Mix half of the dry ingredients into the egg mixture, then add in the buttermilk and vinegar. Once incorporated, add in the remaining dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
- Fill cupcake liners ⅔ of the way full (about ¼ cup of batter). Don't overfill as the cupcakes will rise quite a bit.
- Bake for 18-22 minutes at 350°F or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting
- Make sure both your butter and cream cheese are fully at room temperature or else it won't combine smoothly and you'll end up with cream cheese lumps.
- Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and cream cheese until smooth.
- Add in the powdered sugar and vanilla and beat on low speed until fully combined. Then increase the speed to high and whip for 2-3 minutes until the frosting is light and fluffy. Add in 1-2 teaspoons of heavy cream as desired to reach your desired consistency.
- Frost cooled cupcakes.
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