red velvet cake

There are so many things I don’t get about red velvet cake: One, that despite all claims of acid plus baking soda reactions to the contrary, that a color created by food dye is considered so exciting. It could just as easily be blue, and oh, it has been. The second thing I don’t get is that it is considered chocolate cake, when a good lot of the better-known recipes hover around one or two tablespoons of cocoa (and never over a half-cup), a barely distinguishable flavor distributed over a three-layer stack. The last thing I don’t get about red velvet cake is, if at least according to my husband, the frosting is the very best part, why that same vaunted cream cheese frosting couldn’t just be put on another cake, one with a distinguishable flavor and absence of egregious amounts of food dye.

dry ingredientslooks like paint!

Obviously, I am way too analytical and quite probably, no fun at all. Nonetheless, I do know one thing well: People go ape shit over red velvet cake, and I aim to please. Thus, with my friend Jill in town for her birthday this weekend, and this aforementioned ga-ga reaction being the goal, I knew it was time for me to get over my red velvet bewilderment, at least for one night.

I’m really glad I did, though, because this cake was seriously, seriously good. Moist, every so slightly tangy and with a half a cup of good-quality cocoa, I actually recognized the underlying flavor. As for the cream cheese frosting, I have seen recipes with sugar levels ranging from one cup to one pound (I kid you not), but found the three-cup level to have a good balance of classic sweetness but not so much that your teeth feel like they’re about to stage a revolt.

flower cakeflower cakeflower cakeflower cake

But because I can’t leave well enough alone (ever), I decided that after making seven round birthday cakes in a row, I was bored and busted out the carving knife. Never one to deprive you of your right to make your own flower cake at home, I hope my most recent Microsoft Paint scratching will help you along your way. Pink piping is of course optional, but by the time you’ve painted your cake red and cut it into a flower shape, who are we kidding? The decorations just have to be pink.

how to cut a flower cake

It’s My Part-ay! Would you believe that it was but one year ago that I kissed iVillage goodbye and launched this site? Talk about a splendiferous idea! My biggest fear was that I had nothing new to offer the established food blogging genre, and that I’d quickly run out of steam. Frankly, the only thing I’ve run out of is time to blog the recipes I have on layaway, and I’d never have this much steam without you, yes You. So thank you for a fantastic year.

One year ago: White Batter Bread, Chocolate Orange Bread

Red Velvet Cake
Adapted from “The Confetti Cakes Cookbook” by Elisa Strauss via the New York Times 2/14/07

Yield: 3 cake layers

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa (not Dutch process)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups canola oil
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) red food coloring or 1 teaspoon red gel food coloring dissolved in 6 tablespoons of water
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place teaspoon of butter in each of 3 round 9-inch layer cake pans and place pans in oven for a few minutes until butter melts. Remove pans from oven, brush interior bottom and sides of each with butter and line bottoms with parchment.

2. Whisk cake flour, cocoa and salt in a bowl.

3. Place oil and sugar in bowl of an electric mixer and beat at medium speed until well-blended. Beat in eggs one at a time. With machine on low, very slowly add red food coloring. (Take care: it may splash.) Add vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk in two batches. Scrape down bowl and beat just long enough to combine.

4. Place baking soda in a small dish, stir in vinegar and add to batter with machine running. Beat for 10 seconds.

5. Divide batter among pans, place in oven and bake until a cake tester comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool in pans 20 minutes. Then remove from pans, flip layers over and peel off parchment. Cool completely before frosting.

Cupcake variation: Since this has been published, many readers have written in to express that it adapts well to cupcakes. The yield is approximately 35 cupcakes, with the liners filled only 3/4 of the way, and the baking time should be between 20 to 25 minutes, but check in on them 2/3 of the way through in case your oven gets the job done faster.

Cocoa Notes

  • Some red velvet cakes have no cocoa, others have up to half a cup. The less cocoa, the brighter the red, and the less food dye is needed to give it the desired hue. This cake has more cocoa and quite a bit of red dye, but as you cans see from the picture, it is a real stand-out red. Feel free to use less, but make sure you dissolve it in 6 tablespoons of water to compensate for any moisture lost.
  • Dutch versus Non-Dutched cocoa: This recipe uses baking soda, so it calls for non-Dutch-Processed cocoa. The reason is that Dutch-Process cocoa is neutral and will not react with baking soda, so it can only be used in 1) recipes with baking powder or 2) recipes with enough other acidic ingredients that will compensate for the lack of acidity. However, you’ll notice that this recipe has both vinegar and buttermilk in it, or quite a bit of acidity, leading me to wonder if either kind of cocoa could be used with success. I had non-Dutch on hand, so I used it, but if you only have Dutch and try this recipe, let us know if it works. Personally, I prefer the Dutched stuff because it usually is of a higher quality with a more delicate chocolate flavor.

Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from several sources

Makes 6 cups

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter room temperature
3 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl. With a handheld electric mixer, beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add sugar and vanilla. Beat, on low speed to combine. If too soft, chill until slightly stiff, about 10 minutes, before using.

Icing Notes:

  • Technique: Cake decorators will always tell you to ice a cake in two batches, first a “crumb layer” and then the more decorative one. Though I rarely bother, in this cake in particular, with its dark hue barely disguised by a thin layer of frosting, it is especially helpful. To do this, place a small amount of frosting on the cake and spread it over the entire surface that will be iced, thereby anchoring wayward crumbs in place so that they will not mess up the final product. A few minutes in the freezer or longer in the fridge will firm this up so that you have an ideal surface to build the real layer of frosting upon. (I did a rushed, half-assed one, hence the visible crumbs in the final product.)
  • Quantity: The recipe here creates an amount of frosting that allows for a thin coat between and over the cake layers. I found it to have the ideal cake-to-frosting balance for this recipe. However, you might want to double the recipe if you prefer a more decadent, padded frosting layer.

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484 comments on red velvet cake

  1. LyB

    I’m so glad you’re still blogging! Your posts are always inspiring, all of your recipes I’ve tried so far were spot on and the photography alone is worth the trip! Happy Blog-Anniversary and here’s to many more!

    1. Natasha

      Deb I wish I could send you a picture of how gorgeous my cake turned out!!! I must confess though that the red food colouring/dye is a nightmare! Like someone got hurt in the kitchen lol.

  2. Jessica

    When you announced that you were jumping the ivillage ship and rowing your own, I wondered if it could ever be as good as the stuff that I had fallen in bloggy love with. It’s so much better! You have inspired me to get over my fears in the kitchen and get cooking and I am so grateful for you, your pictures and recipes. I’ve been going back and reading the archives and at this point in time, I’m a month before the wedding. It’s fun remembering the old days (but more stories on wedded bliss!).

  3. Sarah

    Congratulations on the big one-year! I love reading you blog, and I enjoy all of the great recipes.

    And, ah, I just love red velvet cake. This wacky little restaurant on Sanibel Island called The Bubble Room has the best red velvet cake I’ve ever tried. It truly is delicious.

  4. Congrats on your blog-versary :)

    Although I can’t recommend the book in general, the Lee Bros’ recipe for red velvet cake is scrumptious. it’s got orange zest in the batter, which gives the chocolate a certain indefinable overtone that really does play off the cream-cheese icing quite well.

  5. Happy Blogiversary! I’ve enjoyed your gorgeous pictures and your always amusing posts, and I’ve been amazed at how many great things you produce in any given week. I’m looking forward to the year ahead.

  6. I must confess, I’ve mentally worked through the same thoughts about the reaction of a barely-chocolate cake. Your right it is moist, almost sinfully, nearly criminally scarlet. It’s reminiscent of when Heinz came out with green and purple ketchup, kids loved it. Let’s face it us adults are really just big ol’ kids and we love technicolor food, especially when it comes slathered in cream cheese frosting! Cute floral cake btw.:)

  7. I LOVE the first picture! And I love the shape and icing design on the cake. I have yet to make a red velvet cake but I think I must. Not sure that I want to add all that red dye though..

  8. Happy Blog-Anniversary!

    I’ve never left a comment here before, but I’ve been reading your blog everyday for a long time. I look forward to your posts each morning. The photography, writing, and recipes keep me coming back. Thank you for continuing to inspire each of us in our kitchens!

  9. I only recently found your blog and I’m…SMITTEN! lol. Your photographs are stupendous, your commentary entertaining and endearing, and the food, well…yum. You definitely have much to offer the food blogosphere. Here’s to many more years!

  10. courtney

    Oh, count me in on the gaga crowd. I think it is one of those things that if you grew up on it you love. One of our larger regional grociers, Publix, even made a red velvet cake ice cream.

    I never realized RV was chocolate until I looked up recipes for it. However the combination of chocolate and buttermilk, is just darn good if it is done right. Which it sounds like you did.

  11. Deb, WHERE WERE YOU WITH THIS RECIPE on Valentine’s Day!?!? I was absolutely determined to bake my then-Valentine red velvet cupcakes, and I guarantee you that there is nary a Betty Crocker mix in any Brooklyn grocery store. Which was unfortunate, because had I realized an entire bottle of red food coloring was necessary BEFORE I set my heart on realizing my mind’s vision of a box filled with sixteen festive red cakes, I may have given up and just bought him a package of Oreos.

    The recipe I wound up using I found on (,186,147161-243204,00.html).

    It uses shortening (ew), but I paired it with a plain ol’ butter-sugar-milk-vanilla buttercream frosting (not the one in the recipe) and cute little conversation hearts. They were not very chocolatey, but the blandness of the cake part balanced out the sweetness of the frosting, so the end result was actually quite good. And they sure did look pretty. Dang it.

    (If you look closely you will note that none of the hearts have the word “LOVE” on them because we weren’t at that place yet and clearly I am neurotic enough to pick through an entire bag of conversation hearts just to be sure not to send premature messages despite the HOURS I spent on this project. Sigh.)

    I’ve been reading (ahem, lurking) since your typepad days… Congrats on your blogiversary!

  12. Nell

    I had long been under the impression that red velvet got its red from the cocoa, until I fed my toddler a red velvet cupcake (from one of those silly cupcakes-only shops) and found out otherwise. Yikes!

    Any plans for fritters? Congrats on the NYT mention, and your blogiversary!

  13. Although you do make a really good argument, I still don’t get the whole red velvet craze. Maybe it’s because we don’t have them here in Australia. Or maybe because it just looks a little strange. I dunno – maybe if you made it for me, I might be swayed!

  14. Now I know why I was peeing red on Sunday…… ha ah hahahahahaa. No, seriously, that was some good cake. Yum! Loved it. Even more than the Empanadas that Gertie brought me from the secret Columbian place in Queens. Shhhhhh, don’t tell!



  15. graefix

    Congratulations on your one-year blogiversary! I just found your blog a couple weeks ago, and I am completely hooked. I’m thrilled to see a post on red velvet cake, as some friends and I are planning a David Lynch movie marathon. What will we be munching on? Blue Velvet cake, of course! :)

  16. Okay, first happy bloggiversary!

    Second, I’m scared Jocelyn is peeing red and needs to go to a doctor ASAP. Though, I have peed blue because of a Cookie Monster cake at a kids birthday party.

    Third, Red Velvet cake looks delish. And, it’s 3 am, so that’s all I can type.

  17. Judy from Minnesota

    I too love your blog and red velvet cake. My mom always made it with buttercream frosting so that’s how I still make it.

  18. Larry

    Hey, Lady – Happy Blogiversary. Sure glad I happened to find your site – love the photos and the commentary – gets me starting each day with a smile (except those days you don’t have a new blog – then it’s DAMN). Keep up the good work.

  19. Ok, so I have had the tasteless red velvet cake before too. While I like the cake in and of itself because it is so damned pretty, I really do prefer a red velvet that actually tastes chocolaty. In the early 90’s my mom made a recipe out of gourmet…it might have been in the holiday issue. Man! It was chocolaty and red and wonderful. Try looking for a recipe that has more cocoa powder in it…they do exist. :)

    BTW, while I love the color, I really am sold on the frosting!

  20. I never really “got” red velvet cake either, but looking at yours, I maybe ready to try again. Thanks for the inspiration and Happy..uhh.. Anniversary… Blogiversary… Whatever – a – versary!

  21. It looks so cute! I’ve actually never had red velvet cake, interesting.
    I’m surprised you liked that frosting recipe. I prefer Martha’s version, which is only the one cup of confectioners sugar. This weekend I put in an extra fourth cup and it was way too sweet for me, and I don’t mind things sweet! :)

  22. Michelle

    Red velvet cake is a staple in my Southern family and my mom makes a wonderfully fluffy and moist version. However, I thought I’d also mention my grandmother’s Italian Cream Cake, which is awfully similar but without the red food coloring or the cocoa. I don’t have the recipe with me at work but would be happy to share with anyone looking for a non-red cake with that wonderful icing.

  23. ann

    That recipe is my go-to staple when I need a WOW cake. On valentine’s day, I use the heart-shaped cake pans that take up valuable cabinet space, yet I can’t get rid of them.

  24. Sue

    Congrats! I am a new reader, but now a solid fan. Not so much a fan of red velvets though – they, like carrot cakes, are really just a vehicle for cream cheese frosting for me. That and they look like a big hunk o’ meat cake. (which reminded me of this silly thing: I am a fan of Nigella’s chocolate Guinness cake, which suits the cream cheese frosting a bit better to my mind.

    Happy 1 year!

  25. It’s really only been a year?! You’re such a pro, Deb!

    Red velvet cake is by far one of my favorite cakes. I’m glad to hear you’ve come around to it. :) I’ve been experimenting with making the color more natural through the use of pureed beets in the batter but it just isn’t quite as red. Great flavor though.

  26. this red velvet cake looks like it could blow magnolia bakery out of the water. congrats on the anniversary. here’s to more years of good writing, good blogging, and good food. (virtual champagne glasses clinking)

  27. Congratulations to you both on your one year anniversary! I am a brand new blogging newbie (oxymoronish sounding perhaps) and it’s really grand to see what all one can do with a blog. Your descriptions of the scrumptious foods, your lovely photographs along with your obvious passion for your topic are a balm to my spirit – it’s like taking a little vacation. Refreshing! Thank you. junemoon

  28. Hillary

    Ah!! I just saw you on tv and I knew you before Martha told everyone who you are!! Yay for recognizing web friends. :) Did you get to “hang” with Martha?

  29. seelife3d

    Congrads!on the one year. I think that I began reading your blog about six months or so on I Village. I pass it on all the time.

    I saw you today 9-18 on Martha too. I’ve been home sick the past few days and was surfing the morning shows and there you were.

  30. Congrats on the blog-anniversary! and being on Martha too from what everyone is saying, that´s huge, lady! (but don´t forget to ask her for some freebies from one of her lines haha).
    You were the first food blog I read, in fact, i wasn´t aware of food blogs before you mentioned you were starting one. I´m definitely glad all of your talent is getting recognized, you definitely deserve it.

  31. First, thanks for the shout-out on the blue cake, I’m flattered. I grew up with red velvet, so I love it, but I can understand how people don’t get it. That said, I’m glad you enjoyed it because it’s delicious. I always used cream cheese frosting until the time when we made it with whipped mascarpone frosting, which is just to-die-for, and somehow perfect with red velvet.
    Congratulations on the blogiversary, you seem like such a pro, I would’ve thought you’d been at it for years!

  32. Ann

    Thanks for a great year of inspired cooking, photography and thoughts! I hope you’ll be doing this for many years! I feel like a friend in your kitchen!
    I grew up with the red velvet cake and couldn’t understand the fascination, now with Mom’s birthday coming up soon, I think I’ll give it a go! She’ll probably like that. . .

  33. ann

    oh man, I have to post my comment after another Ann? bah. I thought I was unique! Ha, just kidding other Ann! ’cause, seriously, aren’t we all just here to wish Deb a happy blogaversary? Oh yes we are. Happy happy Deb! Mazel tov!

  34. FoodieMama

    One of the things I love about red velvet is that it’s not too chocolatey – I don’t like chocolate cakes but everyone I cook for does, so it’s a good compromise cake. I just made “brown velvet” for my son’s 1st birthday as I didn’t want him consuming that much food coloring. It tasted good but I have to admit it just wasn’t the same! Yours came out beautifully. (New reader here, btw. Love the blog!)

  35. I also never cared for the idea of red velvet cake. It’s probably cause some red food dye is made from insects, that’s what always sticks in my head when I see vibrant red candies etc. The cream cheese frosting sounds amazing though. I LOVE the flower shape, I can’t believe you didn’t need a special pan! I want to try that.

  36. Heather

    I saw you on Martha, too! She was like “Smitten Kitchen… all about things… in the kitchen!” It was funny. She has a way with words, that’s for sure. :)

  37. Dutch process cocoa turns reddish when baked, so I always use that and cut down on the icky food dye and it is still pretty red. Not the garish super bright-taste-the-food-coolering red, but dark red.

  38. I really don’t get the appeal of red velvet cakes either. I made one once, not really by choice, but just because I thought I should see what the fuss was about. And, true to form, the icing was the best part of an otherwise bland cake. The red colour does nothing for me either. At least you managed to jazz it up by making it into a flower, I love that idea!

  39. Sharon

    When I was growing up we got to choose the cake we wanted for our birthday. My brother always chose German Chocolate and I Red Velvet. It is not only a delicious cake but one that brings back fond memories. I have not had one in many years but have requested one for my 50th next year :)

  40. I have to jump out of lurking for Red Velvet Cake.

    I have made so many red velvet cakes this past year that I never ever ever want to make it again.

    Just two weeks ago I made a GINORMOUS red velvet wedding cake(layered with white) which weighed almost 15 pounds. Sadly, there was also a nine inch version, a 6 inch version and 24 mini cakes. Last year I made 300 red velvet cupcakes. After that, a restaurant had me make 24 a week for a couple of months until I stopped delivering them.

    I do not understand the love of it, and completely agreed and loved the beginning of your post. But then you fell to the red velvet side and I sighed sadly. Red Velvet is the only cake in my repertoire that has made me cry.

    Here are tips that I have learned with all my red velvetyness.

    Add as much chocolate as you want. I have made this recipe before and added an extra 1/4 c. chocolate. It does not change the texture, but it improves the taste. Use the absolute darkest best quality cocoa you can find.

    Do not make red velvet cake on a very humid day, it will make you so angry you end up on the floor drinking bourbon.

    Don’t use liquid food color, use gel.

    Do not ever ever ever drop a mixer bowl full of it on your white untreated tile floor.

    Do not ever ask me to make you red velvet cake.

  41. sassy

    I am a frequent lurker, but had to come out to say happy blogiversary!!

    And, yes, beet juice does work for this but gives it an earthy, sweet, beety flavor (which I love, but you know…). try it, not for everyone.

    i make this cake for my red food and girls valentines every year (whether i and my friends are single or not (now most of them are married and come anyway — they save money on having dinner with their husbands another day and they get to pee red all over!!).

    For this dinner, i make a beet feta tart and the red velvet on the same day so i can use the juice from the beets fresh…

  42. this is one of the prettiest cakes ever. i love how you’ve decorated it! and to answer the poster above, for whatever reason, beet juice in cake batter makes a lovely shade of pink, and then bakes out to a mealy brown. the color is not stable after baking…


  43. CC

    Thanks for making me aware now of the wide-spread range of red velvet. I’ve always thought of it as a quintessential Southern cake. Many of my regional cookbooks have multiple versions of red velvet. My love for it is based mainly on the cream cheese frosting.

  44. Many, many happy returns — you’ve been such a prolific, relentlessly fun and fascinating blogger that it’s hard to believe it’s only been a year. Your opening sentiments about Red Velvet echo what I’ve always thought, so I’ve never actually made one — but with at least 1/2 cup of cocoa, your recipe might persuade me to give it a shot. But then, your recipes always do…

  45. I would have taken you for a lifetime blogger. Your blog is fantastic…I can’t believe it has only been up and running for a year. Congrats on your success!

    I love your little diagram and I love your questions about red velvet cake. I have always pondered the same thing!

  46. julie

    I must say that I almost exclusively cook from your site now (if you can almost exclusively do anything). My good friend’s birthday is today and her fav is red velvet– so it was absolutely perfect timing for this recipe to appear. So I made it last night and it is pretty dang good. Thanks!

  47. You got that bit about people going apeshit over this cake totally right! I’ve never eaten a red velvet cake before and your recipe was my very first attempt at it. I loved it…it was one of the best cakes I’ve made in a long time. Thanks!

  48. I know everyone says that it HAS to be food dye to make it red, but do you think beets would work? I mean, the frosting is just like a carrot cake. What about a beet cake with cream cheese frosting? Hmmm . . .

    And happy anniversary to you!

  49. Hey just wanted to say THANKS so much for this recipe, I found several on the web but decided to try yours as it was so clear and explained stuff so well. FYI I used dutched cocoa and baking powder and didnt bother with the baking soda/vinegar at all, and the cake turned out fine (if a little burnt on top).

    I put extra mix into two pans as I only had two and I was running out of time, and that seemed to work ok, I was able to trim off the burnt bits and still have enuf to halve the layers and have a 4 layer cake. I did have to make double the icing tho, and could have done with more.

    Total kudos on the cream cheese icing, I really liked it, so easy to make, and tasted totally yummy, nice mix of cream cheese taste and not too sweet. Im looking forward to the rsponse to the cake when I take it in to work tomorrow :)

    Thanks from down under in New Zealand, am now a regular reader!

  50. Kelly

    I have been a red velvet fan for years and I always make a Christmas Velvet Cake this time of year – 2 red layers with a green one in between. It’s really pretty with the white icing. I made this recipe last night for a party tonight and it turned out tall and beautiful. I went ahead and cut it – to make it easier for everyone else, of course – and had to eat the slice I took out. Oh my goodness. Heavenly. Thanks for the recipe!

  51. This is lovely. We make this at Christmas. I still remember the year when we sat the frosted cake out on the porch to cool and firm up before transporting it to my grandmothers, only to find our yellow tabby cat happily licking icing off the side a few minutes later. Oops!

  52. Jen

    I made these into cupcakes last night for my boss’s birthday today. She loved them. Everyone loved them. It is amazing that red food dye would incite in people such fanaticism, but it does! Fantastic! Thanks for this recipe!

  53. Holy crap. I’ve been trying out red velvet recipes for a long time and this one is definitely the best I’ve found. I think it even challenges the one found at Cake Man Raven in Ft. Greene, Brooklyn.

  54. Natalie

    Gah…I love love this blog! So I’m thinking Red Velvet cupcakes would be lovely for Valentine’s Day..anyone taken a swing at those using this recipe?

  55. Susannah

    Help! I want to make your recipe for red velvet cake but there is something wrong with the ingredient list . There are capital A’s with the quantity measures. I will be making the cake on 1/31/08. Please correct the recipe before then. This is for my daughter’s 20th birthday. Thanks!

  56. Jane

    I made the cake and I must admit it was beyond delicious.
    Except, I made my cream cheese frosting concocted of marscapone, cream cheese, and fresh whipped cream! Delight!

  57. Izzy

    I made this recipe after I encountered a horrible cupcake yesterday and was determined to revive everyone’s mind back to good cupcakes. Everyone at my doctor’s office and job loved this recipe and I would definitely recommend it. My only apprehension was the amount of oil used (from my understanding, more oil = super moist) so I cut back by half a cup. Still came out really good!

  58. Trúc

    I decided to try this recipe over the one found on Joy of Baking and it was super yummy. I also cut down the oil by 1/2 cup and it was still moist. I used this recipe to make cupcakes and baked them at 350 for 20 min. They came out tasting a little like canola oil, so I popped them back in and baked for 5 more min and they were great!

  59. Kimster

    Ok – thank you for all the tips!!! I am making a Groom’s cake and he wants red velvet cake – this recipe looks better than the one I had – and Im going to stick with the cream cheese frosting instead of the cooked frosting I found….I do have a question – If I make this into a 1/2 sheet cake, will I need to double the recipe???????

  60. Cindy

    Amen to those things you “don’t get” about red velvet cake! I don’t get it either! I think you and I would get along VERY well! Thanks for making my day!

  61. Can’t wait to give this a full read through and attempt to make these cupcakes. I’ve been trying to pool together a few different recipes now and see which one comes out the best. I still have not been able to find a clear answer on one thing though…I understand what the role of the baking soda is in the cake (leavening) and I understand how it works (sodium bicarbonate plus an acid…buttermilk, vinegar, etc.), but by mixing the baking soda and the vinegar before, doesn’t that immediately release the CO2 and render the baking soda useless. Do you add it to the batter right away as it is foaming? Do you wait for the initial reaction to die out? Any insight would be 1000x’s appreciated…

  62. Karen

    Stepping back in time a bit… but I recently followed your recipe for the red velvet cake and cream cheese frosting. I had to come out of lurk-mode to say that it was really delicious! Moist and light, quite unlike any other red velvet I’ve tried before. I had a little trouble getting the frosting past ‘gloopy’, but I think it was just due to the fact that the kitchen was a bazillion degrees. Would adding more sugar have helped? Some fridge time did help a bit. And even though the cake didn’t quite look amazing (need a little practice there), it definitely tasted amazing! So, thank you for the recipe and all your tips!! Smitten Kitchen has certainly been a big part of my online “cooking school”!

  63. Donutty

    Thanks for the recipe. I made it for a friend’s baby shower today and it was fantastic–moist and delicious (you could really taste the cocoa). Great excuse to make it since I do occasionally have a distinct craving for rv. I did just use 3 T of red food coloring and added 3 T of water. It ended up plenty red for me. Thanks again. I’ve enjoyed your site so much since my friend turned me on to it a few months ago.

  64. Carla

    Excellent recipe. When I saw buttermilk I knew this would work. I tried it and it was flawless. My church loves Red Velvet cake and so does my family. I also added chopped pecans in my icing and layered cherry pie filling between layers. :)

  65. Woodleygrrl

    I just made this for our office potluck and it turned out fabulous. i admit that I was scared of all the canola oil. But it was perfect perfect perfect. Thanks!

  66. Kathy Nashville

    Hi Deb, I made your cake today for a late Christmas dinner and it was delicious! Red Velvet is my husband’s favorite and he loved it – so moist! I did use a different cream cheese icing – White Chocolate Cream Cheese Buttercream from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s “CakeBible” and it was great with the cake. I’m not an icing or cream cheese person, so I tried this not so sweet icing and it was the perfect match for the cake. It’s 70 and humid in Nashville today, so I think the cake will be even better tomorrow after it’s cooled off and had a chance to meld. Love your site!

  67. ROBERT

    I googled a recipe for red velvet to make for my daughters bday. however, she wants a “pink” velvet cake. i read where oprah had a pink velvet cake for breast cancer awareness made by “carousel cakes” when i called them they said it was a promotional cake and that it was discontinued. does anyone have a recipe for a “pink velvet ” cake? this is my first foray into baking although i like to cook i have never avidly baked, but my little girl (4yrs old) loves everything pink and i dont want to dissapoint her. i tried to order from various bakeries in nyc, went by cakeman ravens but he is always closed or never answers the phone, don’t know how he stays in business! others suggested red velvet cake with pink icing, but as you know, daddies little girl has specifics…any help out there?

  68. deb

    You’ll probably want to use a) less food dye and b) a vanilla cake (this one has some cocoa in it, making the red darker). You might like this Pink Lady Cake. It has strawberries ground into it, making it pink, and the same frosting filling as the red velvet cake. You can step up the pink color with a drop of red food dye.

  69. Years ago my Mom made red velvet cake with a frosting that was a cooked milk and flour mix as a base with sugar beaten in after it was chilled. I tried to make her frosting and it just wouldn’t work right. Do you have such a recipe for frosting and, if so, is there a secret to making it beat up fluffy? It was a wonderful memory but I can’t seem to duplicate it. Was the sugar powdered or refined? Thanks!

  70. adrienneleigh

    another wonderful recipe… thanks for the honest blogging & all the tips via the comments. Happy Red Velvet Valentines Day :)

  71. Kathy – I’m comparing red velvet cake recipes right now, and one of them that I’m looking at is my grandmother’s. Her frosting is exactly what you describe. Here’s the recipe:

    3 tablespoons flour, 1 cup milk, 1 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 cup butter

    Cook flour and milk until thick. Cool. Cream butter and sugar and vanilla until fluffy. Blend the creamed mixture into cooked mixture. Beat. The longer you beat it, the better it gets.

    Sorry it’s so imprecise – that’s classic for my grandmother’s recipes. I’m guessing it’s granulated sugar since it doesn’t specify either way. This is for a smaller cake recipe than Deb’s – 2 layers instead of 3. Good luck!

  72. Jen

    I tried this last night. I baked it into cupcakes and rather than the suggested amount of food die, I just used a third of what was suggested. My cakes came out looking like chocolate cake :-( and all you could taste was the food colouring! Bleh!

    I tried the food colouring in a plain victoria sponge to make plain red cakes, but I used loads less – possibly about 3 tsp, and still the cupcakes came out brown!!!! I think our UK food colouring is messed up, or completely different from the US stuff. If I still have any energy tonight I might test the plain victoria sponge with about half a tsp of food colouring and see what happens.

    After my brown disaster I am completely with you on not getting red velvet cake! I think I’ll just stick to chocolate next time…

    Apart from the colour and flavouring flavour, these cakes are great, nice and moist and airy!

  73. rose

    Best red velvet I’ve ever had, bar none. I mostly make 1/2 batches and make cupcakes. By far the actual cake is what impresses me – moist, good crumb, really red color, and delicate yet delicious flavor (its gotta be the amount of cocoa, buttermilk and vinegar!) – a huge winner in my book.
    That said, is there a way to make the cream cheese frosting thicker/more substantial? Also, is there a way to make the frosting more…unique (perhaps I’m looking for a frosting to match the “tang” of the cake)?
    Thanks for the amazing cake post!

  74. Of course you had a red velvet cake recipe. I don’t know why I bother to use google before just searching Smitten Kitchen. I don’t get it either; I’m all for dying food for the sake of art (my brother’s bright blue mint-choc ice cream is still one of the best things ever), but to consider Red Velvet Cake different than other cakes due to it’s hue is silly. But my love loves it, so I will attempt it. I realize this post is a year and half old, but I’m giving it a shot, and hereby giving you fair warning that the guidance is in your hands. ;-) If it’s not a total disaster, I’ll let you know. (Ingredients need to be packed up and brought to a cabin in the woods….)

  75. Jenn

    Hello there…I just made this cake, after months of obsessing about Red Velvet Cake. I have seen it made on TV, seen this one on your site, thought about it, wanted to do it, didn’t quite have the energy, etc. I’ve never even eaten one before! Then last week I actually HAD A DREAM that I was making one! Is that sick or what? In the dream I was doing the part with the baking soda/vinegar. Anyway, the dream pretty much convinced me to go ahead and do it before they locked me away. I have to say, this cake is tasty! Moist, almost chocalatey, not too sweet–the perfect foil for the sweet cream cheese frosting. My crumb coat layer is cooling in fridge now, but I am pretty much eating my trimmed cake scraps for dinner. Thanks for a great one!

  76. Hi,
    How do you substitute if using red paste ? Is paste more concentrated than gel ? Tried your recipe with food colouring, FANTASTIC , friends love the moist cake with a hint of chocolate !Am curious to use paste tomorrow to see the difference Tx, Anita.

    1. deb

      Paste is pretty concentrated. You should add the amount that gets you to the color you want. There’s no one right color. In the pictures you see, I have used a lot.

  77. Tried A Apple a Day recipe tonight. Have to say I appreciate yours even more so after tonight. Yours is more fluffy, and flavourful. The former is kinda wet in texture,whilst taste is okay, no wow factor. Didn’t read yr message until I baked with paste . Read somewhere, paste substitue is 1/4 teaspoon per 1 cup warm water, tried it and colour turned out a dull brown. Also, tried milk and vinegar substitute for buttermilk, no difference from using buttermilk. Also, forgot to mention, when I baked yrs the other day, used 40% less of sugar( 1.5 C)and icing sugar(8.5 oz)-family and friends kinda like the minimum sugar content- still moist though.

  78. Marie

    I made this awhile ago as cupcakes; 40 of them! I must say that this is the first red velvet cake I have ever had, and it has ruined me for any others. I have tried 3 others since, some from bakeries, and others made by friends, and none of them have been as good. Some are too dry and some do not have enough cocoa for me.
    I also have a hard time calling it a chocolate cake, but this is so much better than white cake.

  79. Eleanor

    I made these cupcakes this past weekend and they were a smashing success! The recipe yielded 30 cupcakes and they were delicious. I made them for my best friend’s baby shower and I am still fielding emails from guests who enjoyed them so much they are begging for the recipe.
    Mazel Tov on the bun in the oven!
    New Mom,

  80. kel

    hello. i was so excited to make this cake since i love red velvet cake and i LOVE to bake but for some weird reason, it came out tasting bitter=( i followed the instructions perfectly and so i tried another batch and it came out bitter again=( i was just wondering if you could tell me where i went wrong. my mom has asked me to make her an anniversary cake for a big party and i really want to use this recipe. any suggestions will help. thanks!

  81. madfelice

    I just made this and substituted a half and half mix of low fat plain yoghurt and water for the buttermilk(we were out)and it came out beautifully. I made it as cupcakes though, and will have to wait and see what the kids say after school!

  82. lkalina

    Would you consider this recipe to be dense enough to withstand holding up as a 3-tier stacked wedding cake? Thanks!

  83. Terra

    Hi, I need this recipe for a tiered cake as well would it stand the weight I am only doing 2tiers but am covering with MMF wondering if cream cheese frosting would do as well for this as buttercream and if not would buttercream taste good on red velvet?

    1. deb

      From my understanding, the proper way to tier a cake is to use dowels to support the upper tier(s). There are many sites that can explain how to do this at home. The cake is soft; I wouldn’t want to risk it getting smooshed. I’ve only made red velvet with cream cheese frosting, as that is the way the cake is traditionally made. But there’s no reason why you cannot use any frosting you prefer on it.

  84. AmyTH

    ACK! Red GEL food coloring is NOT the same as PASTE food coloring. Made this for a Juneteenth party tonight and sadly it looks like plain old chocolate cake… It still tastes delish but it does not give me the shot of color I was hoping for… Note to self and for others I hope – use the paste or pre-measured liquid… Lesson learned…

    Oh and yes I should point out that I have such faith in your recipes that this was not a test run but full on “go” for 20 people!

  85. Delayed response to the post, but found the recipe this morning looking for a reference for a piece on the Foodie Gift Hunter blog today. We’ll be cooking this later as our 4th July centrepiece, wishing all of you a happy 4th July.

    Best regards

  86. Lucy

    Has anyone tried this with dutch processed cocoa powder yet? Its really really hard to get non dutch processed where I live. Well really hard in the sense that it usualy takes some kind person in the US mailing it to me. :)

  87. I always go to my print out of this recipe whenever I want to make it. Today I came to the site to make sure I wasn’t forgetting anything for my grocery list, and I can’t believe YOU thought you wouldn’t have anything to offer. I use your recipes whenever I want to make a lasting impression on someone. Thanks for weaning me off Ramen Noodles lol! Keep up the good work.

  88. Your cake sounds quite tempting, but not with the frosting noted. I acquired the first known published recipe (it was originally from a box of cake flour) from my grandmother…it uses a cooked frosting, not cream cheese.

  89. Paula

    You’ve expressed my sentiments exactly about Red Velvet cake- the barely there chocolate flavor; the red color?! WTF. However, whenever I bake this cake, my peeps can’t seem to get enough. I use food color gel too that I get from Wilton’s. I’m so glad you modified the ingredients for the cream cheese frosting- 8 oz of cream cheese and ONE stick of butter is more than you need for a 3 layer cake or 35 cupcakes. Your recipe is similar to mine- I put two heaping T. of cocoa in the recipe- but I’m going to start instensifying the chocolate by adding 1/2 cup instead. Thanks again!

  90. PG

    Here’s an alternative from a Tel Aviv cupcake shop: “Along with chocolate and vanilla, Ms. Stein offers local flavors such as halva, chocolate citrus, and Pink Velvet, which is red velvet with pomegranate juice instead of food coloring.”

    I’d love to see that Pink Velvet recipe — sounds perfect for a baby shower, so the expectant mom can have natural instead of artificial stuff.

  91. Katrina

    Hey, Deb!
    I baked this red velvet cake recently for a work party…it was DE- wait for it – LICIOUS!! I want to make it for a friend’s birthday party this Friday. If I bake it on Wednesday, what do I need to do to store it?

  92. Willa

    Hey – just wondered what advice you can give in avoiding a bitter tasting red velvet cake. i made one quite some time ago and the cake came out awful (bitter)and i did not understand what happened. the icing was great! followed the recipe by the letter. since then, i have shyed away from red velvet….but it is one of my favorite cakes!!

  93. les

    I laughed so hard I cried after reading this. I have a friend from Mississippi that wasn’t able to make it home for Thanksgiving this year and she doesn’t bake. She asked me if I could make her a Red Velvet but with coconut. Personally I think Red Velvet is a crime against nature and my kitchen really did look like a crime scene when I was done. I couldn’t believe that there could be more food coloring than cocoa in the recipe and have it taste like anything pleasant. I used a professional gel food color though, and didn’t not use the full quarter cup.
    Also, when I work with cream cheese frosting I opt to dot it on with a pastry bag and star tip. If you get the stars close together you avoid any of the cake showing through without crumb coating. Normally I would leave it like that because it looks nice, but with this cake I pressed coconut into the top and sides after using the tip. It looked like a giant snowball, but my friend and her family loved it. I think the next time I make one I will add coconut extract to the frosting as well. When she picked it up she asked if I knew how to make a Mockingbird Cake. I think that’s my next project!

  94. LC

    You are so right that people go ape shit over red velvet cake. I, too, don’t really get it though. I made a half batch of these as cupcakes last weekend and they were immediately devoured. It was a very tense moment when it was discovered that there was only one left! Since making them I have received three, count them, THREE more requests for red velvet goodness! Tonight, I mentioned to the boyfriend that I might try making the blueberry boy bait. This was immediately met with, oh you’re baking? you really should make more of those red velvet cupcakes!. When I mentioned that we were out of red food dye but I would be happy to make him the cupcakes without them, he looked at me as if I was speaking gibberish! So I say, you know the coloring doesn’t affect the flavor right? It’s just COLORING…To which he replied, but then they wouldn’t be RED velvet cupcakes. Ha, insanity! So I sent him to the store for more red food coloring and a batch of these delicious treats are currently cooling on the counter. Thanks for another great recipe. P.S. After sharing this story with my mother, she promptly noted that she loved red velvet, hadn’t had it in years, and would be SO happy if I would make it when I’m home for Christmas…sigh.

  95. marjorie

    I was so excited to try this recipe tonight. I had made a red velvet cake from another recipe about two weeks ago, and it was so dry, I threw it away. I was encouraged to see the canola oil in this recipe and thought the result would be moist. I followed the instructions to a T, and after about 10 minutes in the oven, I could see that the layers were rising nicely, and the smell was wonderful. I had set the timer for 37 minutes rather than the 40-45 indicated in the recipe. I almost never burn anything, and I usually almost undercook baked items, and they turn out much more moist. Well, I was right not to go the entire 40 minutes because the layers turned out very hard – especially around the edges. I am so disappointed because I did everything exactly as the recipe indicated. What a waste! I would say that at about 32 minutes the layers should be tested to see if the centers are done.

  96. Lauren

    Thanks so much for this recipe! I just recently stumbled upon your site, and I have already made a few of your dishes (bourbon pumpkin cheesecake *twice*, spicy sweet potatoes, and now the red velvet cake). My mother-in-law and I, both southern belles through and through, baked your version after the recipe she has been using for years turned out a little on the dry side. We absolutely loved your recipe, and it has now replaced her old go-to red velvet recipe. I certainly can’t explain why we southerners go bonkers over red velvet, but I can explain why we loved yours – great, easy to follow instructions! Thank you for your fantastic recipes!

  97. James

    Great recipe!

    Made it with the following modifications and it turned out great:

    1. Replace the oil with 4 sticks of butter that was at 60 degrees. Creamed with sugar in the mixer until light and creamy.

    2. Used 3/4 cup of cocoa instead of 1/2 cup

    3. Lined the pan with butter that was dusted with cocoa. Still used the parchment paper

    4. Didn’t think I was going to have enough frosting so I used some greek yogurt in the frosting. Added a nice flavor and creaminess. Also added the scrapings from one vanilla bean while decreasing the vanilla concentrate in the frosting by half.

    5. Used 4 oz of food coloring. It was still plenty red.

    6. Started checking the layers for doneness at 35 minutes. Mine were done at 38 minutes.

    It was a great cake. The whole thing is gone now – my guests loved it. The southerners thought it was better than most. More cocoa, I guess. Very red!

  98. Stephanie

    Hi Deb. I just made this recipe in cupcake form and it turned out fantastic. So moist and fluffy. I was hoping the colour would be as intense as yours (in the first pic) after I had baked it, but it wasn’t. I used 1 tsp red gel food colouring dissolved in 6 tbsp of water. If I were to use the other option (6 tbsp red food colouring), do I use gel food colouring or the water based food colouring? What exactly did you use to get that perfect (and not neon-y) shade of red? Thanks!

  99. Jenny

    Hi Deb,
    So, after making the Mocha-Death Cheesecake for a family Xmas party, I made this red velvet cake for NYE for out of town friends. I used a heaping 1/2 cup of cocoa and the flavor was very discernable. I used 1/4 cup less oil than noted and the cake was/is still plenty moist, even after 2 days. I had a rose colored food coloring gel that I used with about 25 drops of the regular liquid red and the color turned out spot on with every other red velvet cake I’ve seen. I even had the luck to purchase a giant slice of RV at a brunch spot we went to, so we could accurately taste-test. This one won, hands down! Thanks for the recipe, I love the idea of brightly colored desserts, so maybe a green peppermint frosted cake should be next! :)

  100. Jenny

    Oh-also- I have a 3″or 4″ deep cake pan that I baked this in, took about 1 hour 40 min for it to bake, then i torted it (cut it into a double layer cake) after it cooled. This helps keep the cake fresh longer if you are baking this a day or so before you are serving.

  101. Rebecca

    My 15 yr. old daughter (wants to be a pastry chef) is using your red velvet recipe to make her friend’s sweet 16 cake {3 tiers stacked (either round or oval) iced with chocolate frosting then covered with white fondant}. Any suggestions for a good chocolate icing recipe to use for this application that would compliment the cake recipe?

  102. Brooke

    I used a mixture of dutch processed and not – all I had left in my cupboard was hershey’s special dark cocoa, which is half and half – and the cake rose beautifully. I think you’re right, and that this recipe would allow for either type given the buttermilk and vinegar.

    Lovely recipe! The frosting especially got many many compliments.

  103. Cheryl

    Just made cupcakes out of these using dutch (it was all i had) and they rose nicely. They were even more nice in my mouth! Thanks for the great recipe!

  104. Laurel

    Someone recently asked me to make a red velvet cake. I thought to myself, “I bet I can find a great recipe on smittenkichen.” Lo and behold…I was right. Can’t wait to try this recipe tomorrow :) Thanks, as always.

  105. Marin

    With a child with ADHD, I’m very aware of any foods with food dye, and avoid them whever I can. Every time I take my kids to Starbucks they beg for their red velvet cupcakes (which look adorable), but have a ton of red food coloring in them. They call me a mean mom, because I always say “no”.

    So what do I do? I bake red velvet cupcakes at home with beets, and they actually taste great. I even get the red cupcake papers at the baking store, so they look just like Starbucks’. Here is a recipe I like if anyone would like to try:

  106. Tiffy

    Hi Deb,
    What’s the best way to store this cake? I made this 3-tiered beaut and put it in a cake caddy. Should I leave it on the counter-top or in the fridge?
    Thanks for the terrific recipe!

  107. Shonnie

    I made this for my mother’s birthday and it turned out wonderfully. I cut the red food coloring by 1/3 and it still came out a deep dark red. I also doubled the icing because my family loves icing. Freezing the layers made the work much, much easier, I actually made the layers the week before.

  108. Tracey

    I made this cake in cupcake form this past weekend, because my stepdaughter wanted to give cupcakes to her school friends this week. The recipe is lovely, beautiful red color and nice chocolate flavor, but I got a metric boatload of cake out of it. I made 30 cupcakes and still had enough for a single 9-inch layer (and I probably could have gotten a couple more cupcakes out of what was left in the bowl, but I was out of pans). I filled the cupcake tins only 1/2 full – I’ve had overflow problems with other recipes in the past – and the cupcakes rose to the top. Same with the cake tin.

    I mentioned the blue cake to my stepdaughter, and she wants to make a green one for Halloween. With a biohazard-warning symbol on the cake. Mwah-ha-ha. It’s going to be awesome.

  109. John P

    You know, I too am bewildered by how “ape shit” (your words) people get over Red Velvet. I think it’s all in the name. Velvet must make it taste smoother. All I know is that I made cupcakes for my sister’s birthday and my dog proceeded to eat 7 of them while I wasn’t looking. So here’s hoping they are as good as my dog thinks they are.

    1. deb

      I read your comment and thought, “wow, I really said ape shit?” Nothing like speaking your mind, Deb!

      I should add that I think this is a delicious recipe, about as perfect of a red velvet cake as I’ve had anywhere. But that middle ground vague-chocolate but also a little vanilla taste and its legions of fans still befuddles me. Mostly, however, while I’m reaching for another slice.

  110. Reinata

    Hi Deb – this is such a fabulous cake! I made it as cupcakes first, and everybody LOVED it, and then tried is as a cake. Though I found that my cake layers came out quite flat, whereas the cupcakes rose perfectly. The texture was great in both, though.
    Now my questions:
    1)no-one of the ‘eaters’ commented on it, but I’m finicky like this, and noticed a faint baking soda bitter taste. I tried to be even more particular about the right quantities the 2nd time round, but it still had that bitter bite. Now I think it might have to do with the cocoa I used … in South Africa I’ve not yet found ‘dutched’ or ‘nondutched’. Just Cocoa. Maybe I don’t know where to look … anyway – could that be the reason? And if so, is there a way to make/convert this recipe with baking powder than baking soda?
    2) When I made it as cupcakes, I didn’t notice it, but with te cake I noticed that it was very oily – not the cake when you eat it, but oh my the paper plate underneath! Maybe I didn’t mix the oil and sugar well enough?

  111. Erica

    Made this as cupcakes last night because I had loads of leftover cream cheese frosting from your carrot cake recipe. I halved the recipe as I did NOT need 40 cupcakes (I wound up with 20.5… the half was my “tester”), and it worked just fine. I had asked my husband to pick up red food dye at the store and he came home with the assorted colors pack (.25 oz each), so I only used that. The color wasn’t as vivid as yours (obviously), but was still reddish enough to be noticeable. I also didn’t have cake flour so I made my own with 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour + 1/4 cup cornstarch (with a half recipe I only needed 1 3/4 cups of cake flour). I guess I don’t really get the red velvet thing either. The cake was really good and super moist, but it basically tasted like a chocolate cupcake with cream cheese frosting. I guess I was hoping that the buttermilk and vinegar would give the cake a bit of a tang to go with the cream cheese. Maybe when it’s a layer cake and the cream cheese is more distributed it balances better? Anyway, great cake recipe.

  112. jessica

    I made this last night…12 cupcakes and a 4 layer 6″ cake….it was amazing!! I followed the directions exactly and it came out perfectly.incredibly moist and with a perfect crumb. I also made some cream cheese frosting but added about a tablespoon of whipping cream at the end at whipped at a high speed…made it so light and fluffy and perfect for piping. This will be my go to recipe for RV.

    I am looking for a yellow/vanilla cake with this same consistency and moistness..any ideas? Thanks for posting this great recipe!

  113. Deidre

    I made this recipe as cupcakes on the weekend for a big Canada Day party. They were a big hit! The colour came through really nicely, and they looked just fantastic with red sprinkles and mini flags on top. Thanks for another great one, Deb!

  114. Carly

    Wow! I have never made a more moist cupcake! I followed your directions to the T…except for the non-Dutch process. That’s all I had and all my grocery store had. So I used it, but also used the vinegar and baking soda. The cupcakes rose perfectly and were to die for. I came out with 34 cupcakes and also doubled the frosting recipe. I have a bit leftover in the freezer….don’t know how long it will last in there as my husband has been eating it by the spoonful! Thanks again for a great recipe!

  115. Jenn

    First let me say, I Love Red Velvet cake. Although I was very sad to see that you used the cream cheese frosting on it! I really hope that you try it again with the traditional Red Velvet Cake Frosting. It is a flour + milk slurry cooked over a medium heat until thick, cooled to room temp, then whipped together with sweet cream butter and granulated sugar. I love it. It’s more akin to a whip cream frosting and is oh so very lovely. I hope that you give it a try. I may be a cake snob, but I feel like cream cheese frosting on this cake is like a slap to the face of tradition. :-)

  116. I made this as cupcakes for my sister and her boyfriend (who are visiting this week) and it was AMAZING. I had to use whole wheat pastry flour instead of regular (all my grocery store had) and only 1oz of food coloring (sis’s bf forgot to get 3), but it still came out beautifully red and fluffy and was gobbled up by everyone who tried it. They tasted best frozen- the frosting had the best consistency at that point. Thanks – this recipe is amazing.

  117. Amy D

    sorry to keep asking silly questions, but you are my cooking guru, if I were to make these as cupcakes would I need to brush the liners with melted butter, or is the butter only necessary when using the cake tin?

    oh by the by, I think your brilliant, basically I have been telling every one I know who likes to cook that they should follow you because your recipes are great and your photos are food porn, just thought you should know

  118. Hope you’re having a pleasant day Deb! :) What would you advise for readers whose oven can only fit 1 cake pan at a time and highest degree is only 260 degrees?

  119. Amy D

    Deb, thanks again for great baking recipes, this was a great cake, every one loved it, and now think I am an inspired cook….or a crazy one- I didnt have red food coloring and used teal instead, which probably made the funniest cake I have ever eaten, paired with white frosting it didnt look too bad, but it did give me the giggles

  120. I too do not understand the allure of red velvet cake. Give me a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, a vanilla with mocha, or chocolate with peanut butter or any fun combination any day of the week. But alas it’s this week’s bday request so I will be attempting my very first red velvet. I hope he and all his friends go “ape shit” for it ;)

  121. I used double the amount of red gel food dye that you call for and my cupcakes are quite brown. They’re moist and squishy, but I really don’t get it. They taste like a bland chocolate cake. I hope they’re everything the birthday dude dreamed of, ’cause we’re not keeping the extras around here!

  122. Jill

    This might be a silly question, but I was planning on making this a layered cake with square 9in pans. How would this change the volume, if at all? What if I used 8in square pans?

  123. Jill

    Thanks! I made this for my mom’s suprise birthday last night. I have a 100% success rate with your recipes. Aside from a mishap with the beater (my kitchen looks like a scene from True Blood,) the recipe came together easily and everyone loved it!

  124. Linda

    I made this for a friend’s birthday tomorrow and it is scrumptious. Although I have glass pans and even though I reduced the temp a little bit, it came out with a tough crust. I’m going to freeze the layers (2 8″ squares) and frost them tomorrow

  125. Adelina

    I totally forgot to check out your blog when I did a search last week for red velvelt cake – Big Mistake that was!!!! I used one of the recipes I found and although I haven’t put the cake together as of today (I freeze the cake and intend to frost it sometimes on Friday), I tasted a little bit of the crumb and didn’t like how it tasted, at all! It lacks flavor, and it tastes like I poured a whole bottle of chemical solution to the batter! I’m starting to wonder if I should make a new one using your recipe! Ugh!!!!

    But thank you for sharing this recipe, I must try it!

  126. Sacha

    Was part of six different desserts for my Thanksgiving extravaganza … the cake is LOVELY … thank goodness for a red velvet cake recipe that truly uses chocolate! This made three dozen smaller-than-Crumbs-makes cupcakes, and my brother’s girlfriend and I piped cream chees frosting in dollops on top for a pretty look. Thank you so much for sharing this! It’s going in my file of go-to recipes!

  127. Amy

    Hello… I am thinking about making these in cupcake form for a coworkers “going away” party… I most certainly do not need 35 cupcakes (since I’m a bit befuddled by the Red Velvet love myself), so I was curious as to whether or not this recipe would work just as well if I did 2/3 quantities on all ingredients? Just thought I’d ask… And of course, the ubiquitous “long tome visitor, first time poster” applies here. Thanks!

  128. Adrianna

    Still getting comments a few years later! :)
    Just wondering, do you know why red-velvets use vinegar to make the cake rise, instead of baking powder? Especially if you’re not supposed to be able to taste the vinegar anyhow… does it rise differently or develop a different crumb?

  129. Renee

    hi deb-
    i LOVE your site and came here first looking for how to come up with a recipe i want to try. i am going to a holiday party next weekend and want to combine two of my favorite things – red velvet cake and cheesecake – all in cupcake form. i want to use this recipe for the red velvet part but have you ever tried to fill cupcakes with a ball of cheesecake? if so, any hints/tips?? i’ll pipe on cream cheese frosting so it doesn’t have to be pretty but i’m stuck on the filling, i’d love your advice! thanks and even more thanks for an awesome site!

  130. Renee

    Yay! Thank you! I was wondering if that one would work so now I will definitely try it out. I’ll let you know how they taste, thanks again!

  131. Renee

    okay, i know you’re not a fan of the red velvet but let me tell you – this cake recipe with the cheesecake fill that you recommended topped with a generous piping of white chocolate cream cheese frosting was HEAVENLY. and i don’t even really LIKE white chocolate but it was perfect with these. thanks again for your insight into the filling, great call!!!

  132. Michelle

    Oh my goodness!
    I baked cupcakes today using this recipe and they turned out to be the most delicious red velvet cupcakes I’ve ever had!
    I split the recipe in half and made a total of 18 cupcakes, but as a big chocolate fanatic I kept the original 1/2 cup of cocoa powder ;)
    They turned out delicious and my mother, who not only detests these cupcakes but also is a health-conscious fiend, ended up eating 3 of them!

    Thanks for the recipe.

  133. jen m

    I just made this for my son’s birthday party with some alterations:

    – very moist with 1/2 cup less oil
    – dutch-processed cocoa worked perfectly fine in this recipe
    – tasted great with 3/4 cup cocoa but didn’t look nearly as red as yours (I used gel)
    – used two 10-inch cake pans, perfectly done after about 30 min in a convection oven at 300 degrees
    – tried cream cheese frosting @ joy of baking because it has less sugar… big mistake, it’s way too thin, couldn’t thicken it even with an extra cup of confectioner’s sugar, I’m still staring at it wondering what to do (help?)
    – your frosting reached the perfect consistency in 3 min, a little bit on the sweet side, next time I would swap 1 cup sugar with another 8oz cream cheese

    Thanks a lot for sharing, deb!

  134. Hi Deb,
    i dont really get red velvet cake either… but my husband too seemed ga ga for it….
    i made the cupcake version & my you werent kidding when you soad 3/4 full…
    your website has really been a great help-… i used to read through at least 5 recipes before settling on whichever one seemed “best”… but now i just go to your site :) am eagerly awaiting for your cookbook!!

  135. Charity

    I never really got the red velvet thing either. Probably because in the south it is made with not enough cocoa and too much red food coloring and crisco frosting. Makes me gag just thinking about it. However, I made this recipe today as cupcakes with vanilla bean frosting. These are probably the best cupcakes I’ve ever had. I’ve already eaten two and am seriously considering a third. Maybe after the kids are in bed so I don’t have to hide while it eat it…

  136. Cheri

    Hey Deb!

    I tried out your recipe in a 6 inch pan, I made 4 layers with about 1 cup of batter sitting in the fridge! The cake got pretty good reviews from my friends but they felt that the cream cheese frosting was a little on the sweet side.

    A couple of nights ago, I tried a Red Velvet Cupcake at Robert Timms and I swear I tasted and bit into raspberry seeds. I haven’t heard about any red velvet recipes that use raspberries though?

  137. Love the recipe. I made it a few days ago and turned out great. The flavor is great and very moist. However, the color was not even. I used the icing color from Wilton but it wasn’t very easy to dissolve in the water. I was wondering what kind of food coloring do you use? which one is the most appropiate for this cake?
    Thank you!

  138. Monica

    My granddaughter wants a red velvet cake for her birthday on the 23rd of this month. I would like a real old fashion recipe without any kind of food dye. If anyone has one can you please send to It would be a great surprise for her. Thank you very much.

  139. Jenna

    @ Monica #169 – I’ve heard of some old-fashioned red velvet cakes made with beet juice/ blended & strained raw beetroot or blended maraschino cherries instead of red food colouring. Being from New Zealand I haven’t tried any version of this cake but the red food colouring does put me off a bit!

    I like Smitten’s more chocolate-y version here – I’d probably try that with the beetroot (kind of like a chocolate-zucchini cake, I guess). Still with the cream-cheese frosting :)

  140. DebbieK

    I’m confused and a little concerned… I tried to make this cake last weekend as a birthday cake for my roommate, and also a trial run for a cake I will be making for a friend’s wedding next month. But my red velvet cake came out rather brown looking… not what I was going for at all!! Is there a specific brand of cocoa that might be better to use?

  141. LA


    Made this recipe, but the cake turned out so dry we had a hard time swallowing it. Already knew that our oven runs hot, so made adjustments for that and used vegetable oil instead of canola. Would that have made much of a difference??? Ugh, am throwing the cake away after using about a billion dollars of ingredients :(

  142. Stephanie

    I made this recipe and…for one, I need to preface this response with the fact that I have tried many different Red velvet cake and cupcake recipes…some were good…some dry…some just fell short…others were nowhere near the traditional recipe. The majority of the recipes I’ve found are a disappointment.

    Now, that being said…this recipes falls in the awesome category. The cake was moist. It had a deep chocolate flavor, and an equally as deep rich red color. I did make a couple of adjustments, but they weren’t (in my opinion) drastic. I didn’t have buttermilk so I substituted Greek yogurt and a whole milk blend. I used Grape Seed oil instead of Canola. Also, I didn’t have white vinegar, so I subbed apple cider vinegar. This Red Velvet Cake recipe is a keeper. Thank you so very much for your post and your passion. I’ll be checking back for others. Thanks!

  143. nico

    i just made this cake today, we baked it for 40 minutes, and that was too long. the cake ended up burnt a little on the top. i just read in the comments that other users had the same issue. so i urge anyone trying this cake, CHECK THE CAKE AT ABOUT 30 minutes to see how it’s turning out.

  144. Nada

    I made this cake a couple weeks ago, on the day Hosni Mubarak stepped down from presidency. My family is Egyptian (living in the US) so we had a little party to celebrate – we decorated the cake with the Egyptian flag using strawberries, blackberries, and white chocolate (tinted & piped for the eagle). Here’s a picture:

    I only had dark cocoa on hand so I reduced the amount to about 1 tbsp and only used 2 oz. food coloring. The cake was still a really rich red. Other than that I followed the recipe as written.

    Overall a huge hit & a great way to celebrate an exciting day in history!

  145. Sara

    I too was confused about the lack of cocoa in most recipes until I read an article on Red Velvet Cake in a Holiday Baking issue of Cook’s Illustrated. According to the article, Red Velvet Cake isn’t actually a chocolate cake; the cocoa is just there for coloring. Originally (again according to the article), the red coloring came from a reaction between the cocoa powder and buttermilk and/or vinegar. These days of course we enhance the color with food dye.
    Just thought that was an interesting tidbit…

  146. Yaronit

    Hello, I just tried making this cake and it didn’t really rise at all, only came up to about 1/3 of the cake pan… I have three flattish disks and am wondering if you know what I could have done wrong? My vinegar was from 2009 but I didn’t think it would matter too much. This isn’t the first time my cake has not risen, it’s happened a few times recently…help.

  147. Annabelle

    Hi, I have been visiting your website for cupcake recipes and have tried two of them and they were so delicious! Thank you for sharing them!

    I do have a question. Do you have preference on the type of cake pan. I seen you used a darker material of cake pans and the lighter aluminum cake pans.

    I was a two different cooking store and they suggested different cake pans. Of course William Sonoma suggested their Goldtouch non stick cake pans.

    Sur la table suggested chicago mettalics as being the best? I want one that I could pass on to my daughter one day that is worth buying. If you could have suggestion it would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you again :)

    1. deb

      I have no preference. Well, I like pans that are non-nonstick (and likely the only ones that you’ll be able to pass on, because eventually nonstick always nicks or scratches or peels and you have to get rid of it) but they don’t do well with a lot of dishwasher detergents so have to be handwashed. But it’s not easy these days to find pans that aren’t nonstick so I really just get whatever I can find. I’ve enjoyed pans from both the brands you mentioned.

  148. Charm

    When I asked my second grader’s teacher what I could make for her birthday cake, she requested red velvet, not one of my usual repertoire. I thought we’d taste test a few recipes and see which she preferred. I tried yours first since you offered the best explanation for your proportion of ingredients. And it was a HUGE hit. She even liked the frosting, which I found a tad on the sweet side. We found one recipe (from Epicurious) too dry although I thought it’s mascarpone icing superior (sorry). Another Epicurious recipe was tasty enough but the cake was unpleasantly spongy.
    We liked your recipe so much I am even thinking of making it again for a mom’s morning at school next week.
    Thank you very much for a very successful recipe.
    Great site, too.
    Wishing you the best.

  149. Jenn

    Every year I make my daughter’s cake and obsess over the best recipe. This year I’m making a castle cake for her 4th birthday’s Cinderella theme. Can I use blue food dye and the ½ cup of cocoa and get a decent color blue for the cake?

  150. Charm

    As a follow-up to my earlier comment, I made this cake exactly as you command. I sliced each layer in half and made a voluptuous six layer monster red velvet cake which required two (and probably really should have had a third) recipes of frosting to cover it adequately. It was (was, sigh) beautiful and absolutely delicious.
    My only observation is that 40 minutes baking time would have resulted in the fire department being called. Because the batter in the pans (3-9inch ones) was pretty minimal to my eye, I set the timer for 25 minutes. It probably would have been done in 20 because the edges were over done. (But hey, if it weren’t for those imperfect bits, the baker would never get to taste her own wares, would she?)
    Other than that, I followed your recipe exactly. You helped me create a thing of beauty. Thank you!

  151. Shirley

    I just made this into cupcakes and they were extremely greasy. I took one of the cooled cupcakes and squeezed it. Grease poured down my hand. I followed the directions exactly. Any thoughts? I knew 2 cups of oil seemed like a lot.

  152. Kristin G

    Deb, I made this recipe for the second time yesterday, and it is definitely the best red velvet cake I have made (and maybe even tasted!) The only adjustment I made was to adjust baking time — I agree with Charm, mine were done in about 22 minutes. It is delicious and beautiful. Thanks so much, it’s a keeper.

  153. Cindy C

    Thanks for posting your recipe and information you provided. I have been wondering the very same as you! Many of my friends like Red Velvet Cake. I am not a big fan, but I did enjoy a friends Red Velvet wedding cake, made by a professional baker. It was not bright red, but a darker hue and had the most incredible flavor and texture. Your picture drew me in, your comments peaked my interest and your recipe clinched it. I made it today for cupcakes. The only things I did differently was to use butter instead of oil, because I don’t care for the flavor/texture of oil in most cakes and I cut down the amount of food color, also because of flavor. They turned out wonderfully, got rave reviews from everyone who ate them and were exactly the flavor and texture I desired. In reading some of the reviews, I would just like to say that baking is a science and you have to do/measure as instructed. It helps to have the proper equipment, too. Patience and love, don’t rush through. And please remember, this is not fool proof or like making a cake from a box. You will be richly rewarded.

  154. Cindy C

    Oh yes. . . I frosted them with White Mountain Frosting, which is a boiled frosting, turns out similar to marshmallow cream. Beautiful!

  155. Noelle

    Deb, I love your blog. I swear about it. The Chocolate Stout cake changed my life. As did the sweet potato swiss chard gratin. Anyway, I was wondering, do you have any suggestions for a natural red food dye? I’ve been told that beet powder/juice would work but I worry that may affect the taste…Thanks so much!

  156. Noelle

    Oops.. not swear about it, but swear by it-how embarassing!

    Also, what are your thoughts on using a mascarpone frosting? Specifically relating to a red velvet, mascarpone frosting wedding cake? I wonder if it would hold up to decorating/heat (My future hubby and I do NOT condone fondant and we aren’t big fans of super sweet frosting…and we both adore mascarpone-PS. I struggled whether to post these questions on the wedding cake posts or on the red velvet posts).

    1. deb

      Hi Noelle — I’ve never made a mascarpone frosting but if you post that question on a wedding cake board, I’m sure you’ll get lots of responses.

  157. Terri

    Hi, I just made this red velvet cake for a “try out” before a wedding. The bride has has asked for 3 9 x 13 red velvet cakes. (In addition to 6 more of different flavors). I am not going to be decorating them (she has a dummy cake). Any suggestions on filling the pans. I am thinking almost 2/3’s. I will be filling each cake (I am trying out different frostings as we speak, any other suggestions that do not include cream cheese?)
    These cakes takes awesome!!!!! 9 inch only took about 20 minutes….Thanks so much for your site :)

  158. Kim

    Red velvet cake is so much better (imagine that, but yes, it is) with a cooked flour frosting. Perhaps it depends on what part of the country you are from, but putting cream cheese frosting on a red velvet cake is a bit no-no where I come from!!!

  159. Maria

    Thank you! So delicious! We did three 8″ rounds and had enough left over for half a dozen small cupcakes. Best yet: my girls looked like little monsters licking the bowl! (Actually, the frosting may have been the best part…..)

  160. steph

    This makes an amazing red velvet! I made this as a sheet cake and used the traditional flour-based frosting. I was hesitant about using oil instead of butter (Joy of Baking recipe), but this recipe is far superior!

  161. Wow! I made these for my daughter’s birthday and she was so proud of me! I used the mini muffin tins to make 50 small cupcakes (cooked for about 15 minutes) for her to bring to school, and I still had enough batter left for a single-layer cake for our family celebration that night. I only had about 3/4 oz. of food coloring and it looked just as red. I also added a drop of red food coloring to the frosting–after all, it was a 9-year-old girl’s birthday.

  162. JulieP

    I made these last week – as cupcakes (mini and regular). First time – ever maybe! – making cupcakes from scratch. They came out awesomely – moist and DEE-licious!! I’m making them again this weekend!!!!! Thanks!

  163. mapleleafmeg

    My daughter has been asking to make cupcakes so we tried this recipe.
    I don’t like the taste of red dye so I’ve never made red velvet cake. Anyway, I didn’t have red gel dye but I had about 1 tsp of bright pink so I decided to try it, dissolving it in water to get the right amount of liquid.
    The colour was beautiful, a dark rich reddish brown instead of bright red.
    I read ALL 229 comments and am happy to know I can reduce the oil a bit and still have a moist cake.
    The taste was great, my daughter was happy and we will make this again for sure!!

  164. Anna

    I want to make a variation on the Whisk Kid’s Rainbow cake…and would love to do a red velvet recipe (this one!) but with the multiple colors. I’ll be using wilton gel food coloring and want to get really vibrant colors as well as do them in thin layers. Any tips before I try it out? My main question though, is have you ever frozen this cake? As I’ll be doing so many layers and want time to frost it, and always have an easier time putting together and frosting layers when they’re frozen…I’d love to be able to do it for this one too. Have you tried this before? Thanks!

  165. Oblivion

    Yes, can it withstand being covered in Fondant? I’m attempting to have a red velvet wedding cake and I need to transport it too. Trying to see if it will work or maybe get some input.

  166. Emily

    Have you ever tried a red velvet with a mascarpone cream cheese frosting? Let me tell you, the mascarpone takes it to a whole new level of delish. It’s very light and it seems like you’re eating really thick, sweet foam, which is weird, but it’s not really because it’s great! It’s unfortunate, because when my sister makes a red velvet cake with mascarpone cheese cream frosting, I tend to cut baby tiny slice after baby tiny slice, convinced that my 10 mini super baby slices don’t equal a full slice. And also I pretend they have no calories since I don’t actually get out a plate to eat them off of.

  167. Dear Deb,

    I would like to make a four-tiered red velvet cake for a friend’s birthday, and I (as an inexperienced baker) was wondering whether I could simply multiply the ingredients of the recipe by 4/3. Would that work or would that transgress a secret code of baking?

    And thank you for your website. I’m a quiet but die-hard fan.

  168. nora

    Hope I’m not re-stating what other people have said:
    I’m pretty sure that red velvet originally had no food coloring in it, and that the tiny smidge of non-dutch process cocoa created the deep red hue–which is effectively the challenge of making perfect redvelvet. Using just enough chocolate to make the cake red, but not brown, and maintaining that velvety, earthy something makes this cake a cut above standard vanilla.

  169. Nat

    Well, I’m glad to see comments are still being made. :) My sister asked me to make a red velvet cake for Thanksgiving, and like you Deb, I really don’t understand the red velvet phenom, but figured I would oblige her. I’m a sucker for authentic and as far as I can see (minus the food colouring) this seems pretty authentic, so i’m going to try your recipe. I’ll come back and let you know how it turns out. By the looks of all the comments, seems I will have to check out the rest of your site as I stumbled across this from Google. Cheers

  170. Marcela

    On Dutched vs. non-Dutched cocoa powder, from Cooks Illustrated: “[…] we chose two recipes (for devil’s food cake and hot pudding cake) that call for a particular type of cocoa–one Dutched, one natural. We noticed no difference in leavening among the four samples in either of these applications. And, across the board, the two Dutched cocoas beat out the two natural cocoas in terms of both flavor and texture.”

    So I’m going to try using Dutched cocoa when I make the cake this afternoon. Keeping my fingers crossed that the Cook’s advice is right and that the fact that this recipe uses such large amount of cocoa won’t make the leavening difference more apparent.

  171. Nat, I’m by no means technical when it comes to food prep, but I heard once “it’s all in the quality of the ingredients”. I totally agree. I also like to stay as close to the original as possible. So I used organic Dutch processed cocoa. I made cupcakes and they passed the brother test. My brother is a dessert connoisseur, who my sister tells me, orders his red velvet cupcakes from California…we live in Toronto. I’m so glad I stumbled across this site. I was worried about what to do with the rest of the buttermilk…but buttermilk biscuits (minus the chives) to the rescue!!

  172. Ann number 3 (4?)

    This was my first time making red velvet cupcakes, and they turned out pretty good! Thank you Deb for these wonderful tips, ideas, and pretty easy to follow methods.

    I was looking at another recipe and they used butter, no oil. So I tried half butter, half oil and I think mine are a bit more dry than they should be. =/

    Oh well! It’s a learning process!

  173. Nat

    well Deb, thanks a lot!! My sister is a hairdresser and does my hair. she used to do it for free, but since the cupcakes were so superb, it looks like I may have to barter to get my hair done!!! LOL!!! And here i thought I’d have this cocoa sitting around for a while! I guess not. :)

  174. Lee

    Hi, excuse my little knowledge about creamcheese (im from Asia and baking is not popular in my country :( )

    Your first picture shows a very smooth and SOFT WHITE mixture of the frosting.
    I’d tried several recipes for creamcheese frosting and it all ended up firmly frozen when i place it in the fridge. It’s kinda yellow, not as white as in your picture.

    So i’m wonderring about a few things and hope you can explain to me somehow:

    1. is there smt wrong with my process? I thought it was all about mixing well butter and cream cheese with a right proportion of each
    2. I even tried using Philladenphia (kinda the best type of cream cheese in town) once but it doesnt get any better. It’s still yellow and too firm once frozen.
    3. My friend says that there’s a kind of cream cheese that has no sour or salty flavor but cant find it anywhere on the internet or in stores. Does that type of cream cheese really exist and if so, what’s its name?

    Thanks :D

    1. deb

      Vanilla extract is a big culprit in making frostings not look purely white, so you can always use less if the color bothers you. So are butters which are more “yellow” than others. But, no, cream cheese is not purely white and I think the off white tint is more clear in the later photos in this post. Your friend might be thinking of Neufchatel cheese (in a package like this, not the fancier aged stuff from Normandy), which is more mild than cream cheese. However, I have almost no experience working with it — it’s my hunch that it would swap fine, but I cannot say this with absolutely certainty.

  175. I just made this cake with the cream cheese butter cream frosting on the inside for layers and a thin layer on the outside, then I decorated the cake all over with butter cream roses – I’m stoked! The cake is so moist and delicious! Can’t wait to give it to my girlfriend today for her birthday! Thanks! :)

  176. Ariel Retuta

    Hi, Deb… I’m baking this cake for somebody’s birthday tomorrow.. What is the best way to store the cake? Should I leave the cake in the oven (off of course) over night and frost it tomorrow upon delivery? I don’t have a proper cake … case, as you would call it? I’m reluctant to put a frosted cake in the fridge for fear of it drying out.

  177. Sara Kaun

    It’s okay to substitute canola with vegetable oil. Canola is a type of vegetable oil while vegetable oil is a blend of various oils that could include canola.
    Canola oil has no noticeable taste while vegetable oil can take on the slight taste of the blended components.

    Don’t worry about this – no one will notice – just make sure the veg oil is clean :).

    Happy Baking!

  178. Marit

    So…a few years later, I stumbled upon this while looking for a recipe to use for red velvet cupcakes. When I’d only had Starbucks’ version of red velvet cake, I was completely with you: what’s all the fuss? But then I was persuaded to have some in an expensive restaurant, and…heaven. The texture, the frosting, the subtle contrast of flavors…I was in love. And still am, especially with the unique texture of this cake. Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  179. This is fabulous and indeed well-suited to cupcakes. The cream cheese frosting is perfectly-not-too-sweet. We freeze our extra cupcakes, and after dinner, pop a couple in the oven to heat up, not usually bothering with frosting at all. Delicious!

  180. NoviceBaker

    I rarely comment on the web, but felt compelled to do in this case because this cake really is perfect and the recipe is very much appreciated. I came across this page on a search for a moist version of what has been historically (at least my history) a dry cake. I initially wanted to do a purist version for a section of family that holds red velvet cake to be sacred, but found those recipes to be lacking in some respect. This seemed the perfect compromise between tradition and taste, and everyone was pleased with the outcome. Thanks for posting this recipe nd providing your invaluable notes.

  181. Saskeah

    I am relieved after reading the above comment posted by “marjorie” – I’ve been baking this recipe all afternoon, and after letting the cakes cool and removing them from the pans, they seem extremely dry, especially on the bottom and edges. Like marjorie, I followed this recipe to the T, and I ended up removing the cakes at 35 minutes. I’ve used the oven for other projects and have never had this problem, so I don’t think that it’s a temperature issue. Kind of a shame.

  182. Kylee

    I made this cake for my best friend’s daughter’s first birthday a couple weeks ago – it was a HUGE hit. I made two deep 8-inch layers, and two thin 6-inch layers (so the little girl could have her own cake). I didn’t change anything about the cake, and it worked wonderfully!! I doubled the frosting (using one package of regular cream cheese and one of reduced fat) and dyed a small amount pink (with some leftover red food coloring) for writing. I couldn’t be more pleased – every single piece of cake (except what was in the baby’s hair) was eaten and enjoyed. My roommates even ate the pieces I trimmed from the tops of the layers. Thank you!!

  183. Olivia

    Deb! Your stuff is the best – I made a red velvet cake once NOT from your website, and it was a total fail. Now I’m ready to make one again, so I’m sticking true. But, I make treats for “cocktail” parties, so I’d love to make cookies/whoopie pies instead — I’ve used the famous cake-mix-into-cookies trick that works rather well, but would love to try a better base. What goes into making a cake recipe into cookies? Worst case, I could do mini cupcakes…but they’re too small, and big cupcakes are too intimidating while boozing…nothing is a party treat like a cookie. Please! Thanks.

  184. Humanus Genus

    This was amazing! I used raw sugar and about half the amount though, it was far too much. Straightforward, simple instructions. I took this to a Christmas Party and people went mental over it! Definitely keeping this one to whip out on special occasions!

  185. Katherine

    Deb, I have a question and I need a very honest answer. I have to make a red velvet cake this Saturday- I’ve never made one before. Like you, I just don’t get the craze- I’m hoping I will be converted as well. Here’s the deal, I think the reason I’m not in love with them is that they always taste dry. (If mine comes out even slightly moist, I could easily take all the business from the local bakery- talk about over-priced cardboard) Now, I have researched several recipes. I’m sitting here with my James Beard book on my lap, Buddy Valastro’s version in another tab, and a print out of Paula Dean’s (not a fan of hers but I figured with something like this she might be the authority). The two cups of oil in your recipe is freaking me out. I trust you over the over sources…but all that oil?! I do not have time to make a practice cake, I have one shot. I don’t want a dry cake- but 2 cups of oil?! Is this thing going to be greasy?

    Also, there is no cake flour in london- for every cup of flour i just replace 2tbs with corn starch right?

    PS- those soy ginger meatball were much better with the added bread and water- thank you for the tip!

    thank you!

    1. deb

      Hi Katherine — Thanks. Sometimes spam gets in (that’s what those ??? and other gibberish comments are) but when I come back through the new comments every few days I clean them all out. Hopefully, they’re gone now.

      The 2 cups of oil are correct though I agree it’s high for a cake, even one of that size. But I didn’t find it greasy. And it was *very* moist. I think it will convert you, too.

  186. I tried making red velvet cake a couple of times but never can find a recipe anywhere close to my absolute favorite: Cakeman Raven’s Red Velvet Cake in Brooklyn. I’m excited to try this recipe and see how it compares! Does anyone know of any other NYC places with amazing dynamite Red Velvet Cake?

  187. Nicole

    Okay, never been a fan of red velvet myself… but this recipe is AWESOME! It definitely has a rich, chocolate undertone, but it’s subtle and well balanced against the acidic notes. I’ve really never tasted anything quite like it, and least of all anything going by the name ‘red velvet’, which I always assumed to be some sort of plain and oily cake packing all the red 40 one should consume in a decade into a single lackluster serving… I like being proved wrong. I added 1/4 cup less oil, which was probably a judicious choice for cupcakes as the papers were only a little greasy on the bottom, not saturated with oil when they left the pan. Haven’t iced them yet, but man, these are pretty good by themselves. Thank you for this recipe! I’ll be making this again, somehow humble cupcakes seem much more elegant this way.

  188. Dang. These are GOOD. I made my own birthday cupcakes (actually I hate cupcakes, but I knew I’d eat the entire cake so I prefer to think of these as portion-controlled mini cakes) last night and wow. Delicious. I only added 4tbsp of food coloring and did the frosting with neufchatel cheese and it was perfect. Thank you!

  189. Kathy

    Hi, I saw a couple of posts were asking if you can cover this cake in fndant, but I never saw an answer. So…can you successfully cover this cake with fondant?

    1. deb

      Hi Kathy — I have never worked with fondant before but if you’ve successfully covered other cream cheese frosted cakes before, I see no reason why it wouldn’t work here too.

  190. Rainy

    I was searching for a red velvet cake recipe, with oil instead of butter and, thereby stumbled onto your website. This is one Ah-ma-zing recipe!!!! Thanks for bringing this one Deb! Just finished baking these, and not only do they look good, but they filled the house with this wonderful gooey, chocolatey smell… OOH! I had fun with this one! I hope the ones I made these for have just as much fun!

  191. Ayumi

    Hi Deb, my cake had a lot of air pockets. I’m not sure what did I do wrong. Did you have the same problem too? Should I have drop the pan for a couple of times to release any air bubbles? Thank you~

  192. heather

    I am so glad to read your reaction to the frenzy about “red velvet cake”. I agree with you 100%! I really don’t get it except, like you, if that’s what people want well I aim to please. The name of the cake is so misleading given the ingredients e.g. lots of red dye, little cocoa and the cream cheese icing – I put that on many of my cakes.

    Thanks for your comment. I no longer feel alone in my lack of “wow wee” for red velvet cake. LOL

  193. Angela

    One thing I noticed about this was that was a great deal more cocoa than any other recipe I have ever seen. I think it makes it taste less like red velvet and more like a chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting.

  194. This was a great recipe. Perfect turn out on this one. I only used 4 tablespoons of red dye and it worked perfectly. Also, the recipe states that 6 tablespoons of red dye is equivalent to 3 ounces. That is not correct. 1 ounce is almost 3 tablespoons.

    Other than that, it’s a great recipe! Icing was perfect. Moisture was perfect.

  195. Meg

    Hi Deb, I have made this recipe into cupcakes many times and they are so delicious. I love that there is a generous amount of cocoa powder in the recipe; it makes the cake taste wonderful and not “just red” like most recipes. :) I was wondering, could you replace the red food coloring with green to make green velvet cake for St. Patrick’s Day? Thank you!

  196. Megan P

    Great recipe! Although it took 20 minutes to bake, not 40. I didn’t even have to use the conventional setting. I hope it’s not burnt. T_T

  197. Helen

    Am baking this cake right now–only making 2 layers since I only have 2 pans. Will let you know how it turns out, but I did want to underscore what other poster wrote: 1 oz = 3 Tbs. I ended up using 6 Tbs/ 2 oz of red dye which, from the look of the cakes, seems like plenty.

  198. Mercedes

    i must say i am EXTREMELY happy to know that, as another baker, you also do not “get” red velvet cake….i for one, do not understand it at all, except as you sad, everyone absolutely loves it. :D

  199. Billy

    RV cake is to die for! Always has been my favorite cake. I must say, and no disrecect intended, you have the wroing icing. CC icing is great, on other cakes, but to me, it does not complement the RV cake. The best icing is the fluvvy cooked icing. It is wonderful, when done right. As my cousin Susan says, “RV cake should have white fluffy icing and be eaten off of fine china”. I totally agree!
    Again, I mean no disrespect at all. CC icing is great on carrot cake and Italian cream cheese cakes, but please, not on my RV!

  200. Sandra

    1 tsp = 5cc , 1oz=30cc. 3 tsp per tbs = 15 cc per tbs. Therefore, 2 tbs (30cc) in 1 oz. How do you come up with 3?

  201. deb

    To reitorate, 1 fluid ounce (a liquid volume, measure; most confusingly, we have both liquid and weight ounces here) is 2 liquid tablespoons. There are 8 ounces or 16 tablespoons in a liquid cup.

    See also: Google, an online calculator, etc.

    Sandra — I initially misread your comment, so sorry if my response was confusing. Thanks.

  202. eileen

    Followed the recipe to the tee, baked it and everyone loved it! Thanks Deb :) just one concern, some inner parts of the red velvet cupcakes turned out uncooked – too moist and undercooked even after I baked them for 30~40minutes. Is it something wrong with my oven setting? Also, how do I make the red velvet redder? It was more of a dark tone of red, should I reduce the cocoa?

    1. deb

      Baking times are just estimates as different pan weights and materials and different ovens really bake things at different speeds. The only way to ensure every time that you’re not removing an underbaked cake from the oven is to insert a tester and look for it to come out clean. The baking time can give you an estimate of when to start checking. (I usually start checking 5 to 10 minutes sooner than a baking time suggests.)

      To make the cake redder, either use more dye or reduce the proportion of cocoa (adding another tablespoon of cake flour for each tablespoon of cocoa you remove). Most bakeries with bright red red velvet cakes are using a ton of food dye to make them so.

  203. Melissa

    Hey Deb, I was wondering, would you be willing to add the above info about the difference between Dutch process and non-Dutch process to the “tips” or some other appropriate page? I remember making another recipe from the site that called specifically for one, and I had the other. For whatever reason, I had a hard time finding the one I needed (maybe it was around the holidays – I remember supermarkets carrying it, but empty shelves). I kept wondering what the difference was. I just happened to look at this recipe today and came across the definition of Dutch process vs. non-Dutch process.

    And feel free to scold me if it is posted somewhere – I did a quick look and couldn’t find it.

  204. Brianna

    Hi Deb!

    Despite not quite understanding the red velvet craze, on request I made this cake for my sister’s 18th birthday and it was perfect! Unbelievable! Everyone loved it. Thanks!

  205. Shannon

    Made this cake for my red velvet cake obsessed friend’s birthday yesterday and she absolutely loved it! Thanks so much for the awesome recipe! It was easy to follow and the cake was super moist. Will bake again…but all to myself :P

  206. Rose

    Hi Deb,
    What is the consistency of this cream cheese frosting? Will it hold its shape if I pipe shell borders with it? Please reply soon as I am planning to make this by end of this week. Thank you..

    1. deb

      Rose — Yes, Philadelphia what I usually use in baking. The blocks, not the whipped tubs. It’s not the firmest frosting but I had no trouble piping with it (I used it for the decorations on top).

  207. Haidee

    Hi Deb!
    Congrats on 6 years of delicious food-blogging!!!! Red Velvet cakes are not common here (Nigeria) but a friend of mine has asked for it specifically so I’m gonna give it shot. Look forward to sharing my results with you. Love your blog!!

  208. WHOA WHOA WHOA. I just made this cake this weekend for a birthday party and it was amazing! I totally agree with Deb about adding more cocoa–although it takes way more red food coloring to get the right color, it tastes waaaaaaaaaaay better. The cake was moist and the frosting was also amazing.

    I definitely doubled the frosting recipe because who doesn’t like cream cheese frosting???!!!

    The end result was a perfectly balanced, not too too sweet red velvet cake that everyone LOVED.

    Thanks again!

  209. Lizzy

    I, too, have always been skeptical of the red velvet mystique. I tried my hand at this recipe this weekend just for kicks, and it’s fabulous! I would definitely up the cocoa (because more cocoa is not a bad thing in my book). I only had a little food coloring so I made sure to make up for the balance with water. This cake turned out to be lovely and moist. I’m glad I gave it a shot! Thanks for the recipe!

  210. Jon

    This has been my favorite Birthday cake for 40 years.
    I have made it with the Dutch process cocoa with no trouble.I agree with the added cocoa and have been doing 1/2 cup addition for some time now.
    I also substitute 1/2 cup almond flour for the last 1/2 cup flour.
    The frosting I have always used is 1 cup cream cooked with 1/4c flour,cooling then adding butter (or shortening), sugar and vanilla extract or almond oil.Creamy, slightly sweet and melts like, well…, butter in your mouth.

  211. Nina Hunt

    I realize this comment has nothing to do,with red velvet, but I could not fiend a place to,simply ask the question i.e. is there a recipe for roast duck? Could not find,

    Love this blog. Heard you on DR show. Great blog and wonderful book as well

  212. Emily

    Hi Deb! I am planning on making this cake with a cheesecake sandwiched in between two layers (ridiculously decadent – I know – but it’s what my darling boyfriend desires most for his birthday). I’m a bit worried that the cheesecake layer won’t support the red velvet cake layers – do you have any advice? I’m considering freezing all layers before assembly but also don’t want to mess with the flavors. Thoughts?

  213. Sara

    Oh, crap. I should have read the comments. DO NOT USE the Betty Crocker gel that’s at most grocery stores. It will not work. I put in at least twice the required amount of gel (when I realized the liquid dilution wouldn’t work) and it’s still mostly brown. This is my second attempt at red velvet, and so far I’m 0-2. (It didn’t help that I dropped the bowl of frosting and it shattered all over my kitchen floor, but that’s not the recipe’s fault.)

  214. I have a question about this cake or I guess about any cake which requires more then one cake pan. I don’t know how old my oven is or how good it is but whether I put the second cake pan on top or put both side by side they never come out right. If one is on top of the other then one of them is under baked. If they are side by side then the sides that are touching are cooked more then the sides that are away from each other. I was thinking of baking them one at a time. If I do this, what should I do with the other half of the batter. Should I leave it out or refrigerate it. Is this a bad idea in your opinion. How do you place your cake pans in the oven? I hope this post does not come up as all question marks like the above :(

    1. deb

      Hi Anna — You can just rotate the pans between racks and 180-degrees halfway through. Most ovens are uneven. Most baked goods benefit from rotation.

  215. Mahnoor

    Help!! want to make this cake soon for my anniversary, will it be alright if i half the recipe and bake it in two 8 inch pans? and i would also like to know the answer to the above comment as i have a small oven too! Thank you for your delicious recipes..:)

  216. Deb,
    In your book you have a red wine velvet cake and you use mascarpone frosting with it. I was wondering which would be better with this red velvet cake, the mascarpone or the cream cheese frosting? I notice some of the people in your comments mention mascarpone frosting and they like it better. I do not have experience with either frosting but you made this cake in 2007 and I wanted to know what your frosting opinion is today.

    1. deb

      Hi Anna — I would use the one you prefer. The macarpone was my “grown-up” take on cream cheese frosting. It’s creamier, with a milder tang than cream cheese. It’s not completely smooth. That said, I am a grown-up (or, so my ID suggests, sigh) and I love cream cheese frosting. It’s really about whether you want the classic red velvet taste (these days, cream cheese frosting) or something different that I think complements the wine/chocolate well. Happy baking!

  217. Kym

    Hi, Deb,

    We love RV cakes around here, but I’m in search of a flavorful and moist recipe! I e made several of your cakes, and I’m going to give this one a try this weekend.

    Our favorite RV cake is from Chops (aboard Royal Carribean), and they have a thin layer of chocolate between the layers beneath the frosting. Are you familiar with this option/technique? I’m wondering if its possibly ganache?

    I would love your thoughts as I attempt to create a master cake for my family!


  218. Sophie

    Whenever I make red velvet cake, it always turns out to be pink velvet- no matter how much food coloring i use. Do you know why this would happen?

  219. Katie

    Hiya. Just made your RV cake with – waaaiiit for iiiitttt – yes – Dutch Cocoa (oooh, aaaaah). Have not yet tasted it, but the cakes have risen perfectly and look lovely and moist, so I suspect you’re absolutely correct about the acidity being high enough with the vinegar.

    I’ll let you know how it tastes tomorrow (damned birthdays never come quickly enough)… :)

  220. jen

    Hi there ! i’ve been looking for a great red velvet recipee and i came across yours! id like to give this recipe a go, but im not sure about the cake flour required! my grocery stores contain “plain cake flour” and “self raising cake flour”! so which one would i use for this recipee ? please reply soon ! :):):)

  221. Mira

    I have never tried red velvet cake before and I just had to and given I trust your recipes most (ever since I made ratatouille’s ratatouille), I made this few days ago for my birthday and am I glad I did! Everybody loved it and even though it was a pain in the ass to convert all the measures it was worth it. I just wish I had the right cream cheese, where I live they only sell it as a spread and it’s too runny. Could you give me an advice on how I could make the frosting thicker?

  222. Jessica

    I really wanted to love this cake (as I have loved so many of this site’s recipes in the past), but it did not turn out well for me. I made three deviations from the recipe, and I wonder if that’s what did it. (1) Without cake flour, I used regular flour (taking out 2 tbsp for each cup). (2) I used regular cocoa (aka, not Dutch processed). (3) I mixed the ingredients the wrong way–adding wet to dry instead of dry to wet. The cake turned out… eh tasting, and NOT red! Why didn’t it turn red? There was the right amount of dye… I also feel that the recipe for the icing was half the size it needed to be.

  223. Katherine

    I’ve enjoyed reading your site and your recipe for RV cake. I’ve become known among family and friends for my RV cakes over the past several years. A few years ago Mom conceded and said mine was better than hers. Using my grandmother’s recipe for years (which calls for significantly less cocoa but still has all the flavor and moistness a RV should have), I’ve been able to make the cake as different colors for various events, including a well-balanced and distinctive purple with gold frosting. Thanks for sharing.

  224. Cage

    love the blog, love the dialogue and so glad to hear you’re not a RVC person either. I don’t get it. Give me a good white cake, or a fine chocolate cake….RVC has never impressed me.BUT my friend loves it, and for her birthday that is what I”m making. Glad to have a trusted source for this recipe. Thanks for posting.

  225. SadieBee

    I have been making red velvet cake since, well I’m too old to remember(just turned 47). I have tried many, many recipes over the years. My mother is even has her “go to” that is tried but true.

    I really enjoyed making this cake with my daughter. It rose so high that I was unable to use the cover of my cake plate (surely a compliment to the recipe). It is moist and tender, and the texture is amazing. I didn’t even need a crumb layer. The icing is superb also. It is easy to make, and easy to spread. Even my husband who likes a little cake with his icing thought it was “nice” (high praise from him, indeed).

    Just wanted to say thank you! This one is definitely a keeper!

  226. Jules

    I made this cake recently and thought I’d throw in my two cents, just for anyone other prospective cake makers. I made this with regular all-purpose flour and it turned out fine, and I also used just over half the listed amount of food coloring (that’s what I happened to have) and it still turned out a nice, vibrant red. The cake itself was great–by far the best red velvet cake recipe I have tried. I also very much recommend doubling the frosting…my cake looked quite sad without the extra. Thanks again for another great cake recipe!

  227. Linda

    My first cake failure in years. Tasted like soap. Not sure if it was because I made my own buttermilk. My first smitten kitchen recipe that didn’t work. I am going to try nigellas now

  228. Rachel

    I used about a quarter of the red food coloring (it still looked red), all purpose flour, and curdled low fat milk with vinegar in place of buttermilk, and used two 9-inch rounds. I was afraid it would be dry around the edges because I baked it longer to get the middle to set, but it was absolutely delicious and moist. Huge hit, and my kiddos aren’t fans of too much icing so liked this proportion better than the typical iced cake.

  229. Nicole

    Deb, this is by far one of my favorite recipes!!!!! Often though I don’t need three layers. Seeing this one in metric/weights would make scaling it down sooooo much easier.

  230. Hello! I’m making this cake for my son’s soccer team (the Red Dragons, gotta make a Dragon’s Blood Cake!), and need to use a half-sheet pan.

    Should I double the recipe? Do you think that’s enough?

    I cracked up at your wondering about the excitement over this cake–I don’t get it, either! But at least yours is more chocolate-y. Your creamy lemon spaghetti has become a staple dinner at my house! Thanks!

  231. Juliet

    Hi deb, I’m making a red velvet cake on Friday, to be eaten on Saturday. What’s the best way to keep it fresh? Should I store it overnight frosted or unfrosted and should it be kept in the fridge or at room temperature. Would appreciate any advice! Thanks :)

  232. Keerthi

    Hey Deb- Tried this cake for my son’s bday yesterday. the cake was perfect. Ran into some trouble with the frosting(I live in India and the temparature touched almost 40C yest and the frosting started to run). I had to stick the half frosted cake in the fridge for an hour and frosted it again.

    The end result was perfect! Great recipe

  233. Lucretia

    I’m making my friend’s wedding cake next month and she wanted red velvet. Where else would I look but you! I just got it put in the oven and I can’t stop licking the spoon :) So good! I’m so excited to see how it turns out!

  234. GTD

    Followed the recipe till I got to the food color; here I used the India tree brand…the 2.2 oz bottle of red… for half the serving size of ur recipe. Sadly I ended up with a caramel colored batter! really bummed. Wonder where I messed up.
    PS: love ur book

  235. deb

    Hi Lisa — I have not made this as a bundt before and sadly, it doesn’t look like anyone else that’s commented here has either, so I have little advice to offer. :( Not all cakes translate well to bundts, but it’s worth finding out. Bundts I’ve baked elsewhere on the site bake for 35, 45, 55, and 60 minutes, so it’s hard to estimate, but it would likely be in that range. If you can report back with your results, I am sure many people would be happy to hear them should they want to try the same later. Thank you!

  236. Vanessa

    Hey Deb!
    I searched and searched the web for a red velvet cake since a customer asked me for one and this one is the ONE! I made it two days ago, brought it to work, got so many compliments and it was gone by lunch time! I used a different cream cheese frosting, but the cake itself is so good and wonderfully moist! I dissolved 1 tablespoon red food gel in 6 tablespoons of water and got a nice red color :) Thanks!

  237. Safrina Nishad

    Hi Deb,

    Thanks for such a wonderful recipe.

    I wanted to make it slightly healthier as it already uses oil and so much of it. So I’m making a natural beetroot pate with a splash of vinegar to substitute the colouring. Just one question, do I still proceed with the recipe as it is?

  238. melissa

    i tried this cake today to taste test for my sons shark party next month. it was soooo good. nice and moist. the color was a little dark, so i think im going to reduce the cocoa powder and add a bit more red. so glad i tried this recipe first and i dont have to try 8 million other ones since this is the one for me!

  239. Leah

    I made this last night as a red layer in an Valentine’s Day ombre layered cake, and I followed the 1 tsp gel + 6 TBL water instructions, and it just turned out chocolate colored, not red at all! Did I do something wrong?

    It is super delicious, despite not following the red theme of the day. It certainly won’t go to waste.

  240. Megan

    Deb, this has become one of my go-to recipes, but I just found the PERFECT red food coloring! I ran out of no-taste red and tried Wilton Rose gel food coloring, and the cake turned out a deep perfect red. The batter had a slight taste, but the finished cake didn’t have that gross bitter taste from the coloring.

    I’ve also made this cake blue using a Wilton gel coloring, and although it took a lot of color it was beautiful.

    Red cake:

    Blue cake (with cheesecake layer in middle):

  241. Amy S

    Hello, I wanted to make the frosting in advance. How do you suggest I store it and when I am ready to use, should I leave it out to return to room temperature if refrigerated? Thank you.

    1. deb

      Store it in a container. It will probably need to be re-whipped. If you can do so while it’s still cold, you should, otherwise let it warm up a little.

  242. Payal

    Made this today, years after it was posted and must reiterate for anyone intending to do so: since your batter will darken on baking, you need a truly hefty dose of food colour. My cake looked a stunning red pre-baking but ended up a chocolate hue when done. Also, I ended up with quite a significant ‘dome’ on top thanks to uneven rising; if anyone has ideas on how I can encourage flat, even rising on my cake, I’d love to hear. One other note: I used dutch process cocoa with no ill effect. Tasted delicious, decidedly among the best red velvets I’ve sampled.

  243. Kelly

    I agree that your kitchen will look like you just murdered someone while you are baking it, but this is a great cake that is well-worth the effort. I’ve made it many times and it is always a crowd-pleaser.

  244. Love this recipe, I’m definitely going to give it a shot. I’ve never made red velvet cake before, but yours looks amazing! My sister-in-law is a major fan of your website, it’s about time I checked it out :)

  245. Alice wong

    I made these today in a small batch of 8 cupcakes as I wanted to test the recipe first. It came out perfect! Moist and fluffy and at just the right sweetness. Recipe’s a keeper. Thanks for sharing!

  246. W.

    I made this for my mom’s birthday and it was a great success! I had the same experience as other posters re: baking time — I took the layers out at 35mins and could have taken them out even sooner. Otherwise, everything that I worried about (frosting too sweet, cake too oily…) came together perfectly. I’ve learned that when I follow a Smitten Kitchen recipe, I can just relax and trust the process. Thanks, Deb!

    Also, to answer previous posters’ questions re: storage, I’m sure this wasn’t the best way, but I kept mine uncovered in the fridge for one night, and then in a cake caddy in the fridge after that…no problems at all, and was still delicious and moist even on the third day.

  247. Ava

    I halved the recipe to make 16 good sized cupcakes and oh my god they were glorious. They took 25 mins in the oven and they came out perfectly moist, fluffy and definitely delicious! This was my first attempt at red velvet cake but it was better than any I’ve tried before and the frosting was positively delectable! Thank you so much for this amazing recipe! :)

  248. Katie P

    Could I use butter instead of oil? I want to make cake pops out of these but I find cake made with butter results in cake pops that hold shape better. Or perhaps a mix of oil and shortening?

  249. Christopher

    Just made this cake a few days ago and love it. Best red velvet recipe I have tried. I altered the frosting just a tad: for in between the cake layers I made a white chocolate buttercream with roasted pecans and for the top and sides I did a vanilla cream cheese with finely shredded coconut. It was heavenly!
    I live in at high elevation in Utah and have to alter most things I bake. For this cake I decreased the soda, increased the milk,and baked at a higher temp and it worked great. Thanks for all of the great recipes!

  250. Tessa

    Just in case anyone was wondering…. this does not work with green food coloring. hahaha! We didn’t have red so we tried greeen (still a festive color) but the green color and the brown cocoa didn’t work well. Our batter just looks like a slightly off brown colored chocolate cake batter. The batter tastes great though! I’m sure it’ll be delicious. Just a heads up to anyone who thought they could make it green instead like I did. Oh well, every recipe is a learning experience!

  251. Vinitha

    Hey Deb,

    This recipe is absolutely fantastic, however, I had a question for you would I be able to make one 10″ cake and one 8″ cake from this recipe? Also would i be able to stack the cake ?I need to make this for a birthday party on Saturday. Hope you can help

  252. Stephanie

    I just made this into mini bundt cakes, so cute! It made 32, but I think they would have been a little neater if I had put less batter in and gotten 40 instead. This was my first time using these pans. They were in the oven for about 24 minutes.

  253. Aric

    Is there any way I could get the dry measures by weight rather than volume? Cake flour varies substantially depending on how packed it is.

  254. Mel in Durham

    Anybody else out there making RV cake for valentines day?! Just took my layers out of the oven, they look more brown than red but smell wonderful! I took two of the layers out after just 25 minutes and the last layer (which ended up with more batter in it) after 35. I used the gel coloring with water and also several healthy squirts of fluorescent red dye but at least from the outside, they don’t look too red. As long as they taste good, I’ll be happy. Thanks for another great recipe, Deb.

  255. Molly

    Made a half batch of this as 18 cupcakes last night. I followed the directions exactly with the following exceptions: I used half non-Dutch cocoa and half Dutch, and I only used 1 Tbsp. of food coloring instead of 3 (I just didn’t have enough). These are fantastic! Moist, cocoa-y, and much more interesting than most red velvet cakes I’ve tried. I’m going to use this recipe to make a 2-layer 10″ square cake this weekend.

    1. deb

      sandra — This makes 3 9-inch layers. A 10-inch pan will make thinner layers with the same recipe. So, it’s really a matter of whether you’re okay with a thinner cake or whether you want the full height of the 9-inch cake, in which case I might scale the recipe to 125% to 150% so you have extra batter.

  256. Meg

    Dear Deb, this is one of my family’s favorite cakes. I’ve made it Many times! I’m planning on making if for my aunt’s retirement next week. I’m wondering about scaling it up to the same size as your Fudgy Chocolate Sheet cake. I don’t mind having extra batter for cupcakes. Any tips on the best quantities to scale up to?

    Your biggest Irish fan!
    PS cannot wait for your next book whenever it is!

  257. Christina Limin

    I’ve tried using Beet juice, it made the cakes more of an orangey colour and my kids said it tasted horrible.. lol… funny how beets were the original way to colour this delectable cake. I just continued to use silver spoon brand red food colouring (UK Product) and the cupcakes came out beautifully coloured and tasted fantastic :-) the UK doesn’t carry cake flour so I had to make my own.. using corn starch and flour mixed together.

  258. deb

    Meg — Thank you. This makes a 3-layer 9-inch round cake. Generally speaking, 2 9-inch round layers make 1 9×13 layer (i.e. that quarter sheet size I used for the fudgy cake). If you’d like this to be 3 layers, like the original, I’d double the whole recipe. Enjoy!

  259. Loolubell

    My moms/grandmas/(maybe even great grandmas) recipe doesn’t have any chocolate in it. And the icing is not cream cheese – it is cooked on the stove, cooled, then the cake is frosted. It is my favorite cake ever! I’ve made it in green and blue.

  260. Tracy

    Hello, excited to make these this weekend for Valentine’s Day….. Just a quick question regarding altitude…. Are there any adjustments you would make?

  261. Made this yesterday, much to my fiance’s ever-loving Red Velvet delight. (It was his birthday). He gave it the seal of approval. I thought it was delicious, but my favorite part is (always) the icing. (Chocolate rarely pushes my buttons. I know, the horror!).
    Thanks for another winner, Deb. I’ve been reading since (at least) 2009, and have NEVER had a flop. I so appreciate the work you put in to the recipes you publish.

  262. Roxanne

    Thanks for an amazing recipe. In case this helps someone else, I used Americolor Super Red gel coloring, and Ghiardelli natural cocoa powder — 2 teaspoons of Super Red with water to total 6Tbsp yielded a rich red color. I didn’t notice the taste while eating the cupcakes, but there is an aftertaste that lingers hours in my mouth — but I have exquisitely sensitive senses of taste and smell. No one else complained and raved how delicious the cupcakes were! I used two different not-very-sweet frostings (each on half the cupcakes) – a traditional ermine (cooked flour) frosting and the NYT frosting for red velvet cake (mascarpone, cream cheese, whipped cream, powdered sugar, vanilla).

  263. Carleen E.

    Hi Deb – my friend and I have become obsessed with making a red velvet cake as a lamb cake – you know, one of those old-school Easter cakes in the shape of a three-dimensional lamb. I’m scouring Etsy for cast-iron lamb cake molds at night after I get the kiddos to bed. Anyway, this recipe sounds perfect for our project! But I’m wondering if you have ideas for us on any modifications for and / or baking time in a cast iron lamb mold … ?! Thank you! p.s. LOVE LOVE LOVE your blog!

  264. Lisa

    I tried to do this cake as a purple velvet and the cocoa completely took over the purple color! Cake tastes good but looks like a chocolate cake!

  265. Kara

    Hi Deb!

    I was wondering if you have any advice about using this cake recipe and icing recipe to make a naked cake? My friend requested it for a birthday cake, which will be served alongside a wedding cake at her wedding this weekend. Any advice would be appreciated!

    (Sorry for the email and the comment, but I saw your note about posting a comment for specific recipe questions).

    Thank you!


    1. deb

      Kara — A naked cake just doesn’t have frosting on the sides, yes? So, thicker filling, nothing on the sides, and perhaps a neat trim. If you want to go full Milk Bar on it, she uses a clear plastic to set up the layers…

  266. Elana

    Just made these as cupcakes for my girls birthday!! Used Dutch Processed cocoa powder and unbraced All Prpose flour. Turned out light, moist and yummy with good chocolate taste. Definitely a keeper!! Thank you.

  267. NYCAmatureBaker

    I agree with your entire first paragraph, (and have eaten blue velvet cake too!) but I also aim to please. Red velvet cupcakes have been requested for a Colorado Christmas. Please let me know how to adapt for high altitude.

  268. Miki

    We decided to make muffins using half the ingredients. They tasted great (even to me, a fellow red velvet skeptic) BUT they weren’t very red. Maybe a little chestnutty in shade. Any ideas why?

  269. Layla

    Hello, I’m a very good cook. But a very poor baker. I’ve halved recipes before and had them come out wrong, and am afraid to do that here but we never need 30 cupcakes (introverts). Can someone please post for me a adjustment for 1/2 this recipe? I would really appreciate it.

    This will be my first time making red velvet anything.

  270. Perfect cake, and thanks to you I’m no longer a Red Velvet virgin! This was my husband’s request for birthday cake. We made the cupcake version so people can top it with either vanilla buttercream, or cherry pie filling (ewwww…I know, but this was a family tradition for him that none of the rest of us can wrap our heads around!).

    I used the 1 tsp red food coloring in 6 tbsp water and dutch process cocoa and they’re perfect!

  271. Tiffany

    This took me 2 tries, unfortunately, because the first time I baked for 40 minutes and the cakes were completely burnt! I’m not sure why the baking time was so off for me because I have followed many other recipes with no problem. I was determined to make this for Valentine’s Day so I tried again and this time only baked for 28 minutes. Other than that, best red velvet cake I have had. Very moist, chocolatey, and not too sweet.

  272. Nick

    Like others I have to say the baking time on this recipe is much too long. I realize the blame is mine, but I’ve made easily 100 recipes from Smitten and never had a problem with baking times. (I also have a calibrated thermometer in my oven) I would update this recipe to start checking at 25-30 minutes. Mine were done at the 32 minute mark.

    Also the frosting recipe is simply not enough to frost the cake. Maybe a more skilled cake decorator could lay on a perfect super thin layer, but I went as thin as I could and ran out before fully frost the bottom layer

  273. Julia

    You’re supposed to cook the frosting! With milk and flour, let it cool, then add the sugar and whip it until it’s emulsified and beautiful.

  274. I have been following and cooking along for years. I have never run across a recipe of your I didn’t love. But this (cup)cake is the all time winner when I bring dessert to parties. However, I opt out of the red food coloring so I am known for always coming to a party with a giant batch of ‘brown velvet’ cake. Everyone gets a chuckle and then stuffs their face. Thank you so much for so much great food over the years.

  275. Lin

    My daughter requested red velvet cake for her 12th birthday this year, so of course I came straight here. The batter was as gloriously red as the blood of my enemies (wow that escalated quickly) and it was tasty and moist. Thank you for sharing your wisdom!!

  276. Linda Fouche

    Baked this over the weekend. 40-45 minutes is a very long time. I baked for 35 minutes. Next time will reduce the baking time down to 25-30minutes. Anyone else have this problem.

  277. Rosa V. (liltrukr)

    Hi , I’m wondering with this red velvet cake if you can give us the amount of the SquarePants like an eight and a 10 and a 12 for the measurements and amounts for this red velvet cake hope to hear from you soon.

  278. Rosa V. (liltrukr)

    Hello, does anyone know how I can get the right measurements for square pants size 8 “by 8″ by 3″high /10″ by 10” by3 high/ and 12″by 12 “by 3” high square pads for this cake, I’d really appreciate it so much and thank you.

    1. J A

      The instructions for cupcakes are under the icing directions:

      “Cupcake variation: Since this has been published, many readers have written in to express that it adapts well to cupcakes. The yield is approximately 35 cupcakes, with the liners filled only 3/4 of the way, and the baking time should be between 20 to 25 minutes, but check in on them 2/3 of the way through in case your oven gets the job done faster.”

  279. Margot

    This looks like a great recipe. Have you ever baked it in a bundt pan before? I am wondering if the bake temperature would be the same. Would likely have to adjust the bake time.

    1. deb

      I have not made this as a bundt before and sadly, it doesn’t look like anyone else that’s commented here has either, so I have little advice to offer. :( Not all cakes translate well to bundts, but it’s worth finding out. Bundts I’ve baked elsewhere on the site bake for 35, 45, 55, and 60 minutes, so it’s hard to estimate, but it would likely be in that range. Baking temperature is the same.

  280. elainesl

    I made 2/3 of the recipe with the goal of 24 mini-cupcakes. I had batter left over, so half a recipe might have been enough. The frosting was excellent and I made a half recipe. I felt it needed a little tang, so I added 1 tsp fresh lemon juice.

    For the cakes I used gel food coloring dissolved in extra water, per the directions. I was concerned about overbaking the minis, so I reduced the temp. to 325 and checked for doneness after 10 minutes. Total baking time was approx. 13 minutes, but of course, ovens vary. I am not a strong fan of red velvet—I just don’t get it—but the mini cupcakes were a big hit. They were moist and with vibrant color (though the texture was not as “velvety” as I expected).

  281. Serra

    If I wanted to make this cake in more of easter colors, can I just leave out the cocoa and use different concentrations of the food coloring? I made it for xmas and it was a hit and I prefer to stick to your recipe :)

  282. Morgan

    Well I tried this recipe and it was a complete and literal flop. The cakes fell in the middle, they came out reddish brown instead of red, and the edges were crunchy. It also had too much chocolate flavor for me, as I don’t like chocolate cake. I think I’m a pretty decent baker so I don’t know why this recipe failed. I made The NY Times red velvet cake recipe two weeks ago and that came out great – I will stick with that one next time.

    1. deb

      Interesting — this recipe is from the NYTimes, although it’s possible they have more than one. I’m sorry it didn’t work out.

  283. Bubborina

    Can’t wait to try this cake! How much is 1 cup cake flour in grams that you’ve used here in this recipe?

  284. Gabriella

    I made this and it’s definitely more brown than red. I followed the directions perfectly. Any idea why i don’t have a red cake?

  285. J A

    I just made this cake but cannot bear knowing it has all the sugar it calls for so I put 1 1/2 cups sugar and I substituted 1/4 cup of the buttermilk for 1/4 c.strong coffee. This brings out the chocolate and also minimizes the sweetness. The batter tasted great. Waiting to ice it now.

  286. Megan

    Hi Deb,
    Any last minute tips on whether/how this might scale up to a sheet cake? Just double up?! Use any excess for cupcakes?!
    Many thanks : )

  287. Monica

    I just made this, some as cupcakes and the rest as a cake. It tasty delicious but they are brown. I used all natural food coloring, could that be the problem? The cupcakes did deflate a bit after sitting at room temperature. Still, yummy and super easy recipe!

  288. Made these as cupcakes for Valentine’s day. I usually spray my liners with PAM, but this batter has so much oil no spray needed. Seventeen minutes was perfect in my oven. Yield 42 regular size cupcakes.

  289. Serra

    I made this cake before and it was amazing.
    I was wondering what would happen if I leave the cocoa out so I can get easter pastels – would I need to adjust anything else?

  290. Kori

    I tried turning this into a cupcake recipe, but they didn’t form that nice dome shape you want your cupcakes to have. They kind of spread all over the place. They were still delicious though! I love the frosting! I know you might not see this since this post was from a while ago but do you have any advice?

    1. deb

      It’s just the recipe. This is an old-fashioned-style cake with a very wet batter. It doesn’t dome but it’s more moist. The cakes that dome more tend to be less plush. The frosting can create the dome.

  291. Brittany

    I have the same. exact. thoughts. about Red Velvet! LOL
    We have friends that looove Red Velvet, so tried this cake and added 1 cup of mini semi-sweet chocolate chips like a local cupcake shop adds. We got RAVE reviews!

  292. Susan

    Hello! I’m a huge fan and, when I make this cake, I’m immensely popular! I really appreciate your putting gram measurements in some of your recipes. Since I moved to DC, I must have some humidity in my flour because relying on cups rather than grams to measure makes a big difference. I’ve searched through the blog to find your gram measurement for cake flour. Please forgive me if I’ve missed it. How many grams do you use for a cup of cake flour (in this recipe)? Is it always the same for your other recipes that use cake flour? Thank you so much. Absolutely love your blog!

    1. deb

      In fact, I’ve gotten very mixed weight readings on cake flour. The box indicates that it would be 128 grams per cup, i.e. about the same I get for all-purpose (130 grams), though, so I’d go with that.

  293. Isabel

    I made this a couple weeks ago for a friend’s birthday (as cupcakes, because we figured they would be a safe choice in quarantine- individually portioned desserts make it easier to stay 6 ft apart). They tasted delicious, but I had a really weird problem. For some reason, on the bottom of the cupcake it looked indented, like someone molded it by creating a perfectly round pocket on the bottom of each of the cupcakes. And the pocket wasn’t IN the batter, the cake itself looked totally normal. No, this was on the bottom of the cupcake. Any idea why this might’ve happened? I’m perplexed.

    1. deb

      I’ve never experienced it, but I do wonder if it just was a smaller air pocket that expanded while baking. I know some people like to drop their pans of batter on the counter several times to release any trapped air bubbles before baking, maybe that would prevent it.

  294. Kitty

    Wow! My first ever red velvet cake (I knew I should start with your site). I have to tell you all that I enjoyed this process very much; the kitchen looks like I’ve murdered a small animal! Yes, the red dye splashed, so did the flour, the buttermilk, the batter in general is more or less everywhere. I even used the splatter guard on my Kitchen Aid and it still flew into the air over the shield! Honestly, it was wonderful!
    Tips for the wonky: 2.5 cups batter per cake, in my good gas oven the two layers in dark pans reached 210 degrees and the light pan was 196 degrees when finished and it took 30 minutes (the layer in the light pan was a better consistency and color), also, double frosting for sure!

  295. Heather

    Oh, Smitty, red food coloring, REALLY?
    Can’t you dream up something better, like beets or red wine or apple skins or red grapes skins or something?

    1. deb

      There are lots of natural dye suggestions on the web, for red velvet cake and others. But I’m not personally looking for purity of ingredients the once every five years I make a red velvet cake.

  296. FR

    Happy Blog Anniversary! I am turning 12 and I love to bake, and I am about to make my birthday cake with this recipe! My aunt suggested that I try your website! Fingers crossed it works out.

  297. I know this is an old recipe so I am not sure you will see this. I want to make this for my daughter’s birthday cake. I have three 8 inch cake pans and it seems a waste to buy three 9 inch ones. Should I convert somehow? Maybe just make some cupcakes? We have just made the gingerbread yule log and it was a huge success!

    1. deb

      I don’t remember the exact fullness of each cake layer and whether an 8″ instead of 9″ will overflow — I don’t think so, but why find out if I’m wrong? I’d pour off 4 or 5 cupcakes. I don’t think anyone will mind the snacks.

  298. Cristen Hemmins

    I’ve just put this cake in the oven and realized I may have misunderstood the dye part. “6 tablespoons (3 ounces) red food coloring or 1 teaspoon red gel food coloring dissolved in 6 tablespoons of water”—I took that to mean you didn’t have to use the 6 T water unless you used the red GEL stuff. Was that right? Your comment later made me think maybe I was supposed to add whichever version of the dye I used to the water.

  299. Zhaleh

    Red velvet’s more recent move into the mainstream has definitely given rise to recipes that make it seem like and odd and pointless confection. The red velvet I grew up eating was based on a beautiful marriage of beets, cocoa and buttermilk, which made for a beautiful, rich, earthy flavor and velvety texture that literally cured any feelings of loss or lack. This is why the cake was originally made during winter holidays, for repasts, or for other occasions that require a building up of strength and stamina. The cream cheese frosting was usually only on it for the aesthetics of Christmas dinner; it was often otherwise served without a frosting or with a simple glaze, like a pound cake. Find yourself an old, Southern Black lady’s recipe and I guarantee the cake will make much more sense.

  300. Ann Ellis

    I made this with my granddaughter for her 8th birthday party. We had such fun making it. For the kids party we used two layers, saving one for the family-only party the next day (cut in half horizontally so still two layers).
    A huge success. Parents and kids loved it. I mentioned your blog!
    Doubled frosting as suggested.
    I remembered my grade 8 Home Ec class where you put 4 strips of wax paper along 4 sides of the cake platter before you frost. You can make a mess: slide them out when done!

  301. Doris

    This is my favorite cake minus the cream cheese frosting. My always made cook frosting and it’s the best and I ask for every year for my birthday. Can you put half of that in 9×13 pan and put rest in round pan. Thanks

  302. Christine Soto

    I do not own three 9-inch cake pans. Would this turn out well if I used a 9X13 rectangular pan? Or is there a way to downsize this recipe to make only a 2-layer cake? Thanks

  303. Mary

    This cake was amazing! I only had one bottle of food coloring, so 1/3 of what the recipe calls for, and it was a gorgeous red color. And I’m grateful for the recommendations to increase the frosting – I doubled it and it was just the right amount for three huge layers, not too much at all. Otherwise I followed the recipe to the letter, and I’m grateful as always to Smitten Kitchen for making me look so good as a baker.

  304. Zoe

    Dearest Deb — thank you thank you thank you for sharing this recipe! I live in SC, make cake as a side gig, do not understand the allure of red velvet cake, and regularly get asked for red velvet cake which I have not offered. Because bleh. And then I was asked to make cake for someone who my daughter really respects and it’s his 80th birthday and guess what? Red velvet is his favorite. Sooooooo, I searched. The Kitchn had yours coming in second place so I made the first place cake yesterday — holy hell was it horrible. Disgusting even. I make cake ALL THE TIME and I know how to read and follow a recipe. This recipe did not work. So, today, I tried yours. I made a couple of modifications (half cake flour and half AP as I need it to be a bit sturdier; half butter as I was traumatized by the oil in yesterday’s cake and subsequent oily grossness, and Dutch process cocoa as I agree it should work — and it did). Even I like the resulting layers — my children love them. So, thank you from the bottom of my red velvet meh-ing heart!
    And I just received your newest book in the mail and am super excited to read it and cook!