I've had so many requests for a Red Velvet Cake recipe, so I'm very excited to share this recipe with you all! It's super light and fluffy, while also being perfectly moist - surely everything you want in a cake?! It has a lovely vanilla flavour, with a hint of cocoa. This easy recipe can be enjoyed any time of year, but I do always end up associating red velvet with Valentine's Day for some reason!
Although I adore the sponge of this cake very much, the cream cheese frosting is the star of the show for me. It can be hard to make thick and perfectly pipeable cream cheese frosting in the UK, as we don't have the cream cheese blocks that are sold in the USA. However, this recipe solves that issue and this cream cheese frosting is truely epic!! It pipes like a dream and is so thick and creamy.
Ingredient Tips & Equipment Information
- Make sure all your ingredients (particularly the butter, buttermilk and eggs) are at room temperature before you start baking.
- I used unsalted butter for the buttercream, for the cake I used a baking spread.
- You will need to use a professional grade food colouring to get the same shade of red that you can see in my photos. Brands I recommend are Pro Gel and Sugarflair. I have also heard good things about Colour Mill and Americolor.
- I prefer to use Philadelphia full fat cream cheese for the buttercream as it gives me the best results.
- Although I provide cup measurements, I highly recommend weighing your ingredients out using digital kitchen scales*. It is the most accurate way to measure ingredients and will ensure the best results. Digital scales are very low cost and can be purchased for around £12 ($16.50) .
- For teaspoon (tsp) and tablespoon (tbsp) measurements, please use measuring spoons* and not the type of spoons you eat with. Again this will ensure accuracy and provide the best results.
For the full recipe with measurements, head to the recipe card at the end of this post.
How to make Red Velvet Cake
To make the cake sponge, whisk together the butter and sugar, then whisk in the eggs and vanilla extract.
Whisk in the buttermilk, red food colouring, bicarbonate of soda, cocoa powder and self raising flour until smooth. Then divide the mixture between the cake tins.
Bake them for 40 minutes, then leave them to cool. To make the cream cheese frosting, mix together butter and icing sugar, then add cream cheese and vanilla extract and mix until smooth.
For the full recipe with measurements, head to the recipe card at the end of this post.
What is the best food colouring to use?
To get a bright red shade that remains strong after the cake is baked you need to use a professional grade gel food colouring. You can buy these easily from many online shops, including Amazon. I used the brand Pro Gel for this cake. Sugarflair, Colour Mill and Americolor are other popular brands.
What if you can’t get hold of buttermilk?
If you can’t hold of buttermilk, you can use the same amount of milk with 1 tbsp lemon juice added (or cider vinegar), leave it for a few minutes until it goes lumpy then it’s ready to use!
Can you make the cake with plain/all purpose flour?
Self raising flour, which is very commonly used in the UK where I am based, already contains a raising agent and a little salt too. Therefore if you want to swap it for plain or all purpose flour, you will need to add some additional baking powder and also a little salt if you like. Some people like to add salt to cake recipes and some don't, so I'll leave that up to you as it won't affect the bake. The general advice is to add 2 teaspoons baking powder (a measuring teaspoon, not the kind you stir your coffee with) per every 200g plain or all purpose flour. So for this recipe you'd need to add 3 teaspoons baking powder. Please note, I have not tested this recipe using plain or all purpose flour.
How long does the Red Velvet Cake last for and can you freeze it?
The cake will keep in an airtight container for 3 days in the fridge. You can freeze the sponges either alone, or decorated. Once the sponges are fully cool, wrap them well with cling film or put them in an airtight container with some baking paper between them. You can freeze the frosting on it’s own in a tub, or you can decorate the cake and freeze it fully assembled. To do this and avoid damage to the decoration, freeze it either in an airtight container. Or let it freeze solid on a cake board or plate, then wrap in cling film. Remove the cling film when you take it out to defrost it, if you don’t it could damage the decoration as it defrosts and softens. You can also freeze slices of the cake, again well wrapped in cling film or in airtight containers.
Can this recipe be made into cupcakes?
Yes! Please head over to my Red Velvet Cupcakes post for a recipe.
Can this cake be made in different size cake tins?
Yes! If you would like to make this cake in different size tins, please check my Conversion Guide to find out how to adjust the recipe.
Can this recipe be made gluten or dairy free?
Yes! For gluten free you can replace the self raising flour with a gluten free self raising flour blend. If you only have a gluten free plain flour blend, you will need to add additional baking powder. The general advice is to add 2 tsp baking powder per 200g flour, so for this recipe you'd need to add 3 teaspoons baking powder. You may also like to add ½ tsp Xantham Gum for better texture. For a dairy free version, use a dairy free baking spread for the cake and buttercream. You can make dairy free buttermilk by adding 1 tbsp lemon juice (or cider vinegar) to dairy free milk. You will also need to use dairy free cream cheese for the buttercream.
More tips for making the Red Velvet Cake:
- I used a Ateco 828 piping nozzle to pipe on the frosting.
- I don’t recommend baking this cake in one deep tin, as it may not cook evenly. It is best to bake it in two sandwich tins (make sure the sides are at least 2" deep).
- Make sure to store the cake in the fridge once it's been frosted.
Recommended equipment & ingredients*
- 8″ cake tins
- Mixing bowls
- Kitchen scales
- Electric hand mixer
- Cooling rack
- Piping bags
- Ateco 828 piping nozzle
- Red food colouring
*I earn a small amount of money if you buy the products after clicking on the links. You will not be charged anything extra for this. Thank you for supporting The Baking Explorer!
More red velvet recipes...
Red Velvet Cake
For the cake sponge
- 300 g Butter or baking spread
- 300 g Caster sugar
- 4 Eggs large
- 2 tsp Vanilla extract
- 3 tbsp Cocoa powder
- 2 tsp Red food colouring I use Pro Gel
- 330 g Self raising flour
- 1 tsp Bicarbonate of soda
- 170 ml Buttermilk
For the cream cheese frosting
- 225 g Butter unsalted, softened
- 225 g Icing sugar
- 450 g Full fat cream cheese I use Philadelphia
- 1 tsp Vanilla extract
- Pre-heat your oven to 160C Fan/180C/350F/Gas Mark 4, and grease and line two 8" cake tins (that are at least 2" deep)
- Mix the butter and sugar together until fluffy, ideally with an electric mixer, or you can mix in a bowl with a wooden or silicone spoon
- Add the eggs and vanilla extract, and whisk until fully incorporated
- Add the cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda, red food colouring, buttermilk and self raising flour, and whisk in gently until fully combined
- Divide the mixture between the tins, use scales for accuracy
- Bake them for 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Leave them to fully cool either in the tins or on cooling racks
- If the cakes have domed on top, level them off with a cake leveller or a serrated knife - you can use some of the crumbs from doing this for decoration
- To make the cream cheese frosting, use an electric mixer to beat the butter until smooth. Then mix in the icing sugar until the mixture is smooth
- Next, add the cream cheese and the vanilla extract and mix in until the frosting is thick and smooth. Be careful not to over mix as this can make the frosting sloppy, and you won't be able to get it thick again
- Put one of the sponges on your plate or cake stand, and pipe or spread a layer of the frosting over it
- And the second sponge on top, pipe larger rosettes of buttercream all around the edge and smaller ones in the centre
- Decorate with cake crumbs or sprinkles
- Serve immediately, store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge and eat within 3 days
A perfect cake for Valentines or any other celebration. Great recipe with really clear instructions.
Can I use 2 x 9” tins instead and do I line the bottom or the whole tin?
Hi Maureen, if you would like to make this cake in different size tins, please check my Conversion Guide to find out how to adjust the recipe: https://thebakingexplorer.com/ingredients-conversions/ I only line the bottom of my tins and grease the sides, but you know your tins best. I hope that helps!
Cat | Curly's Cooking
Such a wonderful deep red colour and cream cheese frosting is my favourite! Looks great.
Midge @ Peachicks' Bakery
What a gorgeous colour! Definite a flavour I need to have a go at making - it looks so pretty! #CookBlogShare
The COLOUR! I can never seem to get my cake to go this colour, think I'm too reserved on the food colouring. My son loves red velvet, its a treat they get a school sometime (cool school!) so am going to have a go at this recipe ... so I can be cool too!!!
I made this today and it worked out brilliantly. Best red velvet cake I’ve had. I’d definitely recommend this recipe I’d you like red velvet cake.
Thank you so much Elaine!
Hello! Looks solo red! Do you think you could cook it in 3 tins instead of 2? Can't wait to try it xx
Hi Suzie, yes I think you could do this, the thickness of the layers will be less and they will take less time to bake. I hope you enjoy the cake!
I absolutely loved this recipe - the cake was so delicious and moist. Can I bake the same cake in a 2lb loaf tin? How should I adapt the quantities?
Hi Gemma, I'm so happy you enjoyed it! I've been experimenting with a loaf cake version but I've not been happy with it yet, I will share it when I've perfected it! Feel free to try it yourself in the meantime 😀
This is best recipe for red velvet cake. Very moist and delicious. You can eat the whole by your self. Thank you will try more recipes. Don't normally like cheese cream but this is epic.
Amazing recipe! So easy to follow and comes out so lovely and moist. Excellent cream cheese frosting... to die for!! Best red velvet cake I’ve had 🙂 Defo a must try!
This recipe was super easy to follow! It tasted good too. I’ve always been a little afraid of baking red velvet cake because recipes always would be too complex and there would be too many components.
This was simple, easy to follow and luxurious!
Thank you for sharing!!
Sorry forgot my rating - definitely 5 STARS!
Thank you for this lovely feedback!
Thank u so much.i tried the recipe and it came out perfect.I just modified it by adding a cake gel 1 and half tea spoon.and because i don like much sugar so i reduced the sugar by 10% so it was 270g.
Very good and easy recipe.
Hi Hajra, I so pleased to hear you enjoyed the cake! And I'm glad it still worked well with the reduced sugar. Sugar contributes more than just sweetness to cake, it also helps them stay moist and soft.
Hi there I need help I'm after making this cake a 10in tin what would you recommend for the recipe please? Thank you
Hi Kayleigh, you can use my free cake converter to adjust the recipe for your tin size! It's available here: https://view.flodesk.com/pages/641e13c2674bc7e38a12bffc
Hello and thank you for your lovely recipes! I tried to download the converter but nothing arrived vi email...🤷🏼♀️
Hi Sylvie, have you checked your junk mail?
I made this cake for my neighbours 40th birthday. Such an easy cake to make and it was very moist everyone loved it. This will now be my go to recipe for Red Velvet Cake. Thank You
Hi. I have made it today for a birthday tea party. It is just fantastic. Clear recipe and easy to follow
Thank you so much for your lovely feedback Patricia!
Hello, I have tried this recipe and it is great.
I just wanted to know if it is study enough to be a tiered cake, as in it being the bottom tier, will it crumble if there is another cake on top because I tried a different recipe and it collapsed on me.
Would I need to replace the self raising flour and use plain flour?
How do I go about converting the recipe to fit two 10" tins?
Hi Dannielle, I'm so happy you like the recipe! I have never used it as a tiered cake, so I don't know sorry. I only like to say yes if I've tested a scenario, but I haven't in this case. If you want to use plain flour instead of self raising, you will need to add 2 tsp baking powder to the recipe. If you would like to make this cake in different size tins, please check my Conversion Guide to find out how to adjust the recipe: https://thebakingexplorer.com/ingredients-conversions/ I hope that helps!
This was the BEST red velvet cake recipe I've ever tried! Moist, and the cream cheese frosting was just perfect. It wasn't too sweet or too cheesy either like other cream cheese frosting recipes I've tried. I will definitely be making this cake again the whole family loved it!
This was the BEST red velvet cake recipe I've ever tried! The whole family loved it. The cream cheeae frosting was heaven 🤤 fluffy and stable. It wasn't too sweet or too cheesy either. Just perfect and I'll definitely be making this again. Thank you Kat for such a delicious recipe!
MY family liked it. I was personally hoping for a lighter texture, maybe next time I will beat the egg whites and incorporate. I honestly think it could have done with another Tablespoon of cocoa which I may also try next time. I Also added mini chocolate chips, I thought that was good. What I like about the recipe is that it's a red velvet cake recipe that doesn't use oil
Hi Susan, I'm so glad your family liked the recipe. Wishing you well with your future adaptions 🙂
Hi, I wonder if you know how deep the layers come out with this recipe please?
Hi Sharon, they are quite deep, I use a tin that is 2 inches deep to bake each layer. I hope that helps!
Mine turned out quite dark colour, more like a chocolate cake. Did I use too much cocoa? Recipe didn't say level, so I went with heaped. Any advice?
Hi Sophy, it does sound like you used too much cocoa powder. A tbsp measurement should always be levelled (unless otherwise stated), if you heap the spoon you are adding more than a tbsp. It is also best to use proper measuring spoons, and not the kind of tablespoon you eat soup with for example. It could also be related to the food colouring you used, I recommend using a professional grade colouring. Brands I use regularly are Pro Gel and Sugarflair. I hope that helps!
This turned our perfectly, moist, tender and the most gorgeous flavour!
Thank you Katie! That is so lovely to hear 🙂
This turned out beautiful both taste and texture, best recipe I've tried. I followed the recipe but need to make a 12" cake. I've used the converter and increased the mixture by 2.25. My tin is 12 x 4 round. I was planning to put all the mixture in 1 tin and increase cooking time will this be ok and any idea how much I should increase the cooking time and is the oven temperature the same? The cake is for a wedding.
Hi Sian, I'm so happy you liked it! I wouldn't advise doing the whole cake in one tin, especially if you've increased the mixture so much. It will be very hard to get such a large and deep mixture to bake evenly. I would advise doing it in seperate batches or more than one tin. I hope that helps!
Thank you so much for coming back to me. If I mix half of the 12” mixture and put it in the 12x4” tin do you think that would work?
If I don't have the nozzle or piping bags, would I be able to spread the frosting on the top and middle of the cake instead?
Just wanted to say this is THE BEST red velvet recipe. I get SOOO many compliments when I make it. Everyone loves it.
Hi, I am making the 10inch cake and not sure about the eggs if I multiply by the 1.56 like it says I get 6.24 eggs.
But looking at the egg conversion chart it says 10 so I have confused myself.
Hi Kay, yes you're right it's 6 eggs to make a 10". I'll add a note to the conversion chart as the egg section only applies to my cakes that have 3 eggs per layer. Red velvet cake is a bit different and has less. Sorry about any confusion caused!
The best and easiest Red Velver Cake. I have made it already 3 times for one of my daughte's friends and it's always a smash hit
Fab!! Can I freeze this cake?? If so for how long?
Hi Ella, yes you can freeze it, check the post above there's a paragraph of details all about freezing it 🙂
Wow what a crowd pleaser!!!! I don’t even like RVC and the only baking I’ve done is making fairy cakes!
The method was so easy to follow and all in all a great looking cake and great taste too.
I made it the night before and placed in the fridge for an office work party. It was all good.
The only red velvet cake I’ve had was gritty which is probably why I don’t like RV. But the feedback I got was that it was NOT gritty at all.
I was told the cake was not too sweet which everyone was so amazed about. Everyone loved it! Ppl even went for seconds.
This was my first time attempting a cake and that being a red velvet cake.
Thanks sooo much!!!
Thank you so much for such lovely feedback! I'm so pleased it was enjoyed so much by everyone!
Very good moist and tasty cake. It had good height such that the two layers could have each been cut in two to give four layers if you wished. The cream cheese frosting wasn't too sweet and even worked well with plant based Philadelphia. I also replaced the buttermilk with soya milk plus a squeeze of lemon. It's great to find a recipe where everything worked.
Thank you so much for your lovely feedback! I'm so pleased to know the frosting worked well with the plant based cream cheese.
Hi, do you not need to add cider vinegar ?? most recipes I have looked at add vinegar to the bicarb and then add it to the cake .
Hi Angela, the purpose of the vinegar in traditional red velvet cake was to make the cake turn red as it, along with the buttermilk, reacted with the cocoa powder to make the cake go red. However nowadays, as we use red food colouring to get a much brighter red shade, it is not necessary.