Sure! Making a red velvet cake may seem daunting at first, but the process is actually quite simple. This article will guide you through each step, from gathering the ingredients to putting on the finishing touches. So, grab your apron and get ready to create a deliciously moist and velvety dessert that is sure to impress your friends and family. Let’s get started!


To make a delicious and moist red velvet cake, you will need the following ingredients:


  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Red food coloring (about 1-2 tablespoons, depending on desired intensity)


  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Before we dive into the baking process, it’s essential to have everything prepped and ready. Here’s how to prepare the cake and frosting before you begin.

Preparing the Cake

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
  2. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans, making sure to remove any excess flour.

Preparing the Frosting

  1. In a mixing bowl, cream the softened cream cheese and butter until smooth.
  2. Gradually add powdered sugar, one cup at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  3. Stir in vanilla extract until the frosting is light and fluffy. Set aside.
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Mixing the Batter

Now it’s time to mix the batter for your red velvet cake. This is where the magic happens! Follow these steps to achieve a velvety, luscious batter.

Combining Wet Ingredients

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, distilled white vinegar, and vanilla extract. Set aside.

Combining Dry Ingredients

  1. In a medium-sized bowl, sift the all-purpose flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together.
  2. Set aside the dry ingredients once they are well combined.

Adding Food Coloring

  1. It’s time to make your red velvet cake truly red! Start by stirring in 1 tablespoon of red food coloring into the wet ingredients. If you desire a more intense red color, gradually add another tablespoon until you reach your desired shade.

Mixing the Batter

  1. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the softened butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy.
  2. Beat the eggs into the butter mixture, one at a time, ensuring each egg is well incorporated.
  3. Gradually add the combined dry ingredients into the butter mixture, alternating with the wet ingredients, mixing well after each addition.
  4. Mix until all ingredients are well incorporated and the batter is smooth and velvety.

Baking the Cake

With your batter mixed to perfection, it’s time to put it in the oven and let the sweet aroma fill your kitchen. Follow these steps to bake the red velvet cake layers.

Preparing the Pans

  1. Divide the batter equally between the prepared cake pans, ensuring an even distribution.
  2. Smooth the tops of the batter with a spatula or the back of a spoon.

Pouring the Batter

  1. Gently tap each cake pan on the countertop to eliminate any air bubbles.
  2. Carefully place the cake pans in the preheated oven.

Baking the Cake

  1. Bake the cake layers for approximately 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  2. Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for about 10 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Making the Frosting

While the cake layers are cooling, let’s shift our focus to making the creamy and tangy cream cheese frosting that pairs perfectly with the red velvet cake.

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Preparing Cream Cheese

  1. In a mixing bowl, ensure the cream cheese is softened to room temperature.
  2. This ensures a smooth and lump-free frosting.

Softening the Butter

  1. Similarly, soften the butter to room temperature.
  2. Softened butter blends effortlessly to create a silky frosting.

Combining Cream Cheese and Butter

  1. In a large mixing bowl, beat the softened cream cheese and butter until well combined and creamy.

Adding Flavorings

  1. Stir in the vanilla extract, which enhances the richness of the cream cheese frosting.

Gradually Mixing in Sugar

  1. Gradually add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, until fully incorporated.
  2. Ensure each addition is mixed well before adding more.

Beating the Frosting

  1. Continue beating the frosting until it is light, fluffy, and smooth.
  2. A well-beaten frosting makes for easier spreading and a delectable final result.

Assembling the Cake

Now that you have your fully cooled cake layers and fluffy cream cheese frosting ready, it’s time to assemble the red velvet cake into a work of art.

Cooling the Cake Layers

  1. Allow the cake layers to cool completely on the wire racks.
  2. Cooling ensures that the frosting won’t melt when applied.

Frosting the Cake

  1. Place one cake layer on a serving plate or cake stand.
  2. Apply a generous amount of cream cheese frosting on top of the first layer.
  3. Use a spatula or the back of a spoon to spread the frosting evenly, right up to the edges.

Stacking the Layers

  1. Carefully place the second cake layer on top of the frosted bottom layer.
  2. Align the edges of the layers for a perfect result.

Decorating the Cake

  1. Using the remaining cream cheese frosting, frost the sides and top of the stacked cake.
  2. Once frosted, you can enhance the cake’s appearance by adding decorative touches like sprinkles, chocolate curls, or additional red velvet crumbles.

Tips and Variations

To ensure your red velvet cake turns out beautifully, here are some handy tips and variations you can consider:

Tips for Success

  • Room temperature ingredients, including eggs, cream cheese, and butter, are crucial for a well-blended batter and frosting.
  • Sifting the dry ingredients helps break up any lumps and ensures even distribution.
  • Tap the cake pans gently on the countertop to remove any air bubbles from the batter.
  • Let the cakes cool completely before frosting to prevent the frosting from melting and sliding off.
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  • For an extra flair, you can add chopped pecans or walnuts to the cake batter.
  • Instead of a traditional cream cheese frosting, try a vanilla or buttercream frosting for a different taste experience.
  • Consider experimenting with different food coloring options, such as pink or blue, to create visually stunning variations of the classic red velvet cake.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

While making a red velvet cake can be a delightful experience, it’s important to steer clear of these common pitfalls:

Overmixing the Batter

Overmixing the batter can result in a dense and tough cake. To avoid this, mix the batter until all the ingredients are just combined, being careful not to overdo it.

Overbaking the Cake

Leaving the cake layers in the oven for too long can lead to a dry and crumbly texture. To avoid this, regularly check the cake’s progress starting around the recommended baking time and remove it as soon as a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Adding Too Much Red Food Coloring

While the vibrant red color is a signature of red velvet cake, adding too much food coloring can intensify the flavor and potentially leave an unpleasant aftertaste. Start with the recommended amount and gradually add more if needed, taking care to not exceed the desired hue.


What is the difference between red velvet cake and chocolate cake?

Red velvet cake and chocolate cake may appear similar due to their shared ingredient, cocoa powder. However, what sets red velvet cake apart is the addition of buttermilk, vinegar, and red food coloring. This combination results in a distinct tanginess and a rich, vibrant red color.

Can I use a different frosting instead of cream cheese frosting?

Absolutely! While cream cheese frosting is the classic choice for red velvet cake, you can explore other options. Vanilla or buttercream frosting complement the cake’s flavors beautifully. You can even get creative and experiment with different fruit-flavored frostings.

How long does a red velvet cake stay fresh?

When properly stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, a red velvet cake can stay fresh for up to five days. However, for the best taste and texture, it’s recommended to consume the cake within three days. Remember to allow the cake to come to room temperature before serving for optimal enjoyment.


Congratulations! Now that you understand the process of making a red velvet cake from scratch, it’s time to put your newfound knowledge to the test. With a moist and velvety cake base, tangy cream cheese frosting, and a touch of red, your homemade red velvet cake is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. So gather your ingredients, follow the steps, and enjoy the delightful experience of savoring your very own red velvet masterpiece. Happy baking!

Jenny Jones

By Jenny Jones

Jenny Jones is a passionate culinary enthusiast hailing from the heart of the South. Born and raised in a small town known for its rich culinary traditions, she developed an unwavering love for Southern cooking from an early age.