Red Velvet Cupcakes

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These luxurious red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting are tender, fluffy and delicious. Make these easy Valentine’s Day cupcakes in just 35 minutes! They’re perfect for sharing with the special people in your life.

📌 PIN RED VELVET CUPCAKES

Red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting decorated with Valentine's Day candy sprinkles.

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🧁 ABOUT RED VELVET CUPCAKES

Wondering why this dessert is called red velvet? In the 1800s bakers would add cocoa to cakes to help break down the coarse flour. The result was a smooth velvet-like texture. The addition of cocoa along with acidic ingredients created a natural reaction that tinted the cakes, giving them a reddish hue. Today we use red food gel to deliver that bright red color.

This particular recipe produces the best red velvet cupcakes. The taste and texture is amazing. These elegant Valentine’s Day desserts with swirls of frosting and red heart sprinkles look like they came straight from a bakery.

And we all know how much a dozen Valentine’s Day cupcakes can cost at a bakery – about $3.50 each. So making these cute treats at home is a real money-saver. And you can easily double the recipe.

Serve red velvet cupcakes for school Valentine’s Day parties, church socials, family get togethers, and other special events. These are also Christmas cupcakes. Switch up the candy sprinkles to match the occasion. And while you’re baking up goodness, try these vanilla chocolate chip cupcakes.

Six red velvet cupcakes on a Valentine's Day dessert table with a bottle of milk.

🛒 INGREDIENTS

Red Velvet Cupcakes

  • WHOLE MILK: This ingredient adds delicious moisture to the cupcakes. But you can use 2% milk if that’s what you have on hand.
  • VEGETABLE OIL: This ingredient adds richness, making these red velvet cupcakes more luscious than other recipes that use butter.
  • LARGE EGGS: These bind the ingredients in the batter together so the cupcakes are tender and moist rather than dry and crumbly.
  • PURE VANILLA EXTRACT: This ingredient enhances both the flavor of chocolate and the sweetness. I prefer Mexican vanilla extract as it has a delicious aroma and buttery taste.
  • WILTON GEL FOOD COLORING: To achieve the intense red color (bright and not dull) that bakeries use for their red velvet cupcakes, it’s important to use red gel food coloring instead of the liquid type.
  • GRANULATED SUGAR: Provides sweetness while locking in moisture to help keep the cupcakes soft and moist.
  • ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR: This ingredient provides structure. It’s important to use the fluff, sprinkle, level-with-a-knife method for measuring flour, as too much flour will result in dry cupcakes.
  • COCOA POWDER: Adds a bit of chocolatey flavor to the cupcakes. This is a must-use ingredient for a true red velvet cupcake flavor.
  • BAKING POWDER: This ingredient adds volume and improves texture. It’s what helps the cupcakes rise so they’re light and airy.
  • SEA SALT: Intensifies the flavor of chocolate.
Ingredients for red velvet cupcake recipe.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • BUTTER: Provides the frosting with thickness and structure so the frosting will hold its form when piped onto the cupcakes.
  • CREAM CHEESE: Is a classic pairing with red velvet cupcakes. It gives the frosting creaminess and tang.
  • POWDERED SUGAR: Gives frosting thickness and structure so it’s not limp and droopy. Add more or less, depending on the desired consistency.
  • PURE VANILLA EXTRACT: Enhances the flavor of frosting.

❤️ WILTON VALENTINE SPRINKLES: For decorating (optional).

Ingredients for cream cheese frosting.

📖 RECIPE STEPS

Make Red Velvet Cupcakes

RECIPE PREP: Adjust oven rack to the center position. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 12-well cupcake pan with paper liners.

  • STEP 1: In a large mixing bowl, add milk, vegetable oil, eggs, vanilla extract, and red gel food coloring. Whisk well to combine.
  • STEP 2: Add granulated sugar. Whisk to incorporate. Add flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Whisk just until no large lumps remain. Do not over-mix or the cupcakes will not be fluffy.
  • STEP 3: With a 1/4 metal measuring cup, evenly divide the cupcake batter between the wells of the prepared cupcake pan. Bake 16 to 18 minutes, or until a cake tester (or toothpick) inserted into the middle of 3 cupcakes comes out clean.
  • STEP 4: Transfer cupcakes to a wire rack. Cool completely (about 1 hour) before applying the frosting. Even if the top of the cupcakes are cool to the touch much earlier than that, they will still be shedding heat from their middles. If frosted too early, the icing will get droopy.
How to make red velvet cupcakes from scratch in 4 easy steps.

Make Cream Cheese Frosting

  • STEP 1: In the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until fully combined. The texture should be smooth with no lumps.
  • STEP 2: With the mixer on low speed, slowly add powdered sugar, a pinch of salt, and vanilla extract. Once combined, stop the machine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Turn the mixer to high speed. Beat 1 minute or until frosting is light and fluffy.
Metal bowl of a stand mixer with fresh, whipped, cream cheese frosting.

Frost and Decorate Red Velvet Cupcakes

  • STEP 1: Transfer cream cheese frosting to a piping bag fitted with your favorite metal tip. Pipe frosting onto the cooled cupcakes, leaving a 1/4-inch border all the way around so the red-colored cake is visible.
  • STEP 2: While the frosting is still wet, apply Valentine sprinkles and candy hearts.

👩🏻‍🍳 RECIPE FAQ

These are the most commonly asked questions when making this red velvet cupcake recipe, and the most helpful answers for recipe success.

Origin of red velvet cupcakes?

The Adams Extract company claims they created Red Velvet cake to promote their red food coloring. But the Waldorf Astoria Hotel claims to be the original creators. In 1943, when a red velvet cake recipe was included in “The Joy of Cooking” cookbook, the concept was introduced worldwide. Because of the cake’s gorgeous red color, making them as party cupcakes became a Valentine’s Day tradition.

How to make red velvet cupcakes fast?

Use a box of red velvet cake mix and a store-bought container of cream cheese frosting. In a pinch, add red food coloring, 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, and a drizzle of vanilla extract to boxed vanilla cake mix prepped according to package instructions.

Do I need to refrigerate red velvet cupcakes?

Yes. If not immediately serving red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting they must be refrigerated for food safety. During parties this dessert should be served at room temperature, so they can be kept out of the fridge for a few hours as long as they remain in a cool location away from direct sunlight. After that, store cupcakes in an airtight container and refrigerate up to 2 days.

Can I freeze red velvet cupcakes?

Yes, unfrosted red velvet cupcakes can be frozen. After cupcakes have cooled completely, wrap each in plastic wrap. (This must be done within 2 hours after baking.) Arrange them inside an airtight container and freeze up to 1 month. To defrost, keep the top of the cakes covered, but unwrap the bottom of the cupcakes so they’ll remain dry. Place the desserts on a cooling rack and defrost at room temperature for 4 hours. Prepare cream cheese frosting. Frost and decorate cupcakes as desired.

Are red velvet cupcakes perfect for Christmas?

Yes! Red velvet cupcakes are not just for Valentine’s Day! They’re served during the Christmas holiday season. After piping on cream cheese frosting, sprinkle the tops with Christmas jimmies or sprinkles. I like using red and green jimmies, plus tiny candy-cane shaped sprinkles.

Homemade red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and Valentine candy sprinkles and red hearts.

❤️ MORE VALENTINE’S DAY RECIPES

If you enjoyed these red velvet cupcakes, you’ll also love these festive desserts. They’re ideal for Valentine’s Day and special occasions.

Print out the recipes you want to save and add them to your collection. For additional safe-keeping, pin them to Pinterest.

Red Velvet Cupcake with paper wrapper pulled down.

RATE THIS RECIPE ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The loves in my life adore these luxurious Valentine’s Day cupcakes! Elementary school parents also appreciate this easy recipe. For Valentine’s Day parties, these red velvet cupcakes are a real crowd pleaser.

If you too are crazy in love with this yummy bakery-style recipe, give it a 5-star rating in the comments. Then be a recipe hero! Share it with a friend.

Gold Line: Sprinkles of Inspiration | confettiandbliss.com

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Homemade red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and Valentine candy sprinkles and red hearts.

RED VELVET CUPCAKES


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Description

These luxurious red velvet cupcakes are fluffy, tender and delicious. The luscious cream cheese frosting is irresistibly tasty. Make these easy Valentine’s Day cupcakes in just 35 minutes!


Ingredients

Units Scale

RED VELVET CUPCAKES

  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon Wilton red gel food coloring
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 4 ounces cream cheese (from a block, not from spreadable tub), softened
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch of salt, if needed

 

 


Instructions

RED VELVET CUPCAKES

RECIPE PREP: Adjust oven rack to the center position. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 12-well cupcake pan with paper liners.

  1. In a large mixing bowl, add milk, vegetable oil, eggs, vanilla extract, and red gel food coloring. Whisk well to combine.
  2. Add granulated sugar. Whisk to incorporate. Add flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Whisk just until no large lumps remain. Do not over-mix or the cupcakes will not be fluffy.
  3. With a 1/4 metal measuring cup, evenly divide the cupcake batter between the wells of the prepared cupcake pan. Bake 16 to 18 minutes, or until a cake tester (or toothpick) inserted into the middle of 3 cupcakes comes out clean.
  4. Transfer cupcakes to a wire rack. Cool completely (about 1 hour) before applying the frosting. Even if the top of the cupcakes are cool to the touch much earlier than that, they will still be shedding heat from their middles. If frosted too early, the icing will get droopy.

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until fully combined. The texture should be smooth with no lumps.
  2. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add powdered sugar, a pinch of salt, and vanilla extract. Once combined, stop the machine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Turn the mixer to high speed. Beat 1 minute or until frosting is light and fluffy.
  3. Transfer cream cheese frosting to a piping bag fitted with your favorite metal tip. Pipe frosting onto the cooled cupcakes, leaving a 1/4-inch border all the way around so the beautiful red-colored cake is visible. While the frosting is still wet, apply Valentine sprinkles and candy hearts.

Notes

RED FOOD COLORING: To achieve the intense red color (bright and not dull) that bakeries use for their red velvet cupcakes, it’s important to use red gel food coloring instead of the liquid type.

FOR FOOD SAFETY: After the cream cheese frosting is applied, the cupcakes can remain out of the fridge for up to 2 hours. During this time they must be kept in a cool place away from direct sunlight. Afterwards, arrange red velvet cupcakes inside an airtight container and refrigerate. They’ll stay fresh for 1 to 2 days. 

  • Prep Time: 15 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 Minutes
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American
Gold Line: Sprinkles of Inspiration | confettiandbliss.com

RED VELVET CUPCAKES > JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Have you ever enjoyed homemade red velvet cupcakes? Does the thought of these tender desserts with luscious cream cheese frosting make you salivate with delight? Share your thoughts on this easy recipe in the comments.

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