Every time I make red velvet cupcakes I am reminded of how delicious they are, and wonder why I don't make them more often. These are technically small batch cupcakes, as they only make twelve, which is a good thing because you will definitely eat them all in one sitting.
What are red velvet cupcakes?
Red velvet is SUCH a classic flavor. Traditionally, the "red" in red velvet comes from a really anthocyanin-rich cocoa. Anthocyanin is a PH-sensitive antioxidant that reacts to acids. And in this case, that acid is vinegar. Overtime, the rich red color we see now has been enhanced with red food coloring.
Is red velvet different from chocolate?
Yes! Totally! Just because the red velvet cupcakes have cocoa powder in it, does not mean it tastes like chocolate. This recipe only requires one and half tablespoons of cocoa powder, while chocolate recipes require much, much more.
Traditionally, red velvet cupcakes or red velvet cake are served with a cream cheese icing, which I LOVE. So that is what I do here.
For the cake:
- All purpose flour is the flour of choice for these cupcakes. It gives it the best texture and crumb
- Cocoa powder is necessary in red velvet! Cocoa powder helps deepen that red color we love
- Baking soda helps the cupcakes cake rise perfectly. It reacts with the cocoa powder and vinegar in this recipe
- Salt brings out all the other flavors
- Unsalted butter I love a mixture of butter and oil in cake/cupcake recipes, as the combination makes cakes SUPER moist (sorry)
- Vegetable oil same as above!
- Granulated sugar is the sweetener of choice for these cupcakes
- Eggs build structure, bind the ingredients together, and add moisture
- Red food coloring enhances the red color of the cupcakes
- Whole milk is a common ingredient in all cake-based desserts. It thins out the batter to get a cake-like crumb
- White vinegar is added to the milk, which basically creates a buttermilk. This acidic mixture reacts with the cocoa powder to deepen the red color in the cupcake and reacts with the baking soda to make the cupcakes rise
Important note: even though mixing whole milk and vinegar creates buttermilk, do NOT use store bought buttermilk. Yes, buttermilk is acidic, but the vinegar in this recipe was measured specifically for pairing with whole milk. If you use buttermilk and vinegar, they will be way too acidic and will affect the cupcakes ability to rise. So I suggest following the recipe instructions.
For the frosting:
- Cream cheese frosting is typical when it comes to red velvet cupcakes, so that's what I chose here!
- Unsalted butter plus cream cheese makes for a smooth and delicious cream cheese frosting
- Vanilla extract just adds a little flavor
- Powdered sugar adds the sweetness to the frosting
- Milk or heavy cream may need to be added to get the desired consistency
Other recipes you may like
I hope you guys love these red velvet cupcakes! Another cupcake recipe you may like are my Death by Chocolate Cupcakes.
Red Velvet Cupcakes
- 1 ¼ cups (157 grams) all purpose flour
- 1 ½ tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder regular, not dutch processed
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ cup (57 grams) unsalted butter room temperature
- ¼ cup (50 mL) vegetable oil
- ¾ cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 eggs room temperature
- ½ tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp red food coloring
- ½ cup (120 mL) whole milk room temperature, see note
- 1 tbsp white vinegar see note
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 8 oz cream cheese room temperature
- 1 cup (226 grams) unsalted butter room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 7 cups (840 grams) powdered sugar
- 1-2 tbsp whole milk or heavy cream
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a cupcake tin with cupcake liners.
- In a small bowl, combine the whole milk and vinegar. Set aside. See note.
- In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
- In a medium-sized bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and oil together on medium-high speed until combined. About 2-3 minutes.
- Add the granulated sugar and beat on medium speed until combined and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well on low speed in between each addition, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl if necessary.
- Add the vanilla extract and red food coloring and mix on low-medium speed until combined. With the mixer on low, add half of the dry ingredients. Once almost fully incorporated, add half of the milk/vinegar mixture and mix until almost combined. Repeat this with the other halves of the dry ingredients and the milk/vinegar mixture. Do not over mix.
- Divide the batter evenly amongst the cupcakes. The batter should be the perfect amount for 12 regular-sized cupcakes. Fill the liners until they are ½-3/4 of the way full.
- Bake the cupcakes for 16-18 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
- While the cupcakes are cooling, make the cream cheese frosting. Beat the cream cheese and butter together on medium speed until combined, smooth and no more lumps exist. Add the vanilla extract, powdered sugar, and milk and mix on low speed at first for 30 seconds (so the powdered sugar doesn't go everywhere) then mix on medium-high speed for 1-2 minutes until the frosting is smooth and combined.
- Once the cupcakes have cooled completely, frost and enjoy!
Tried this recipe? Make sure to rate and review and tag @sturbridgebakery on Instagram!