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Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting made from an easy and moist recipe that will quickly become a family favorite! This cake is a classic for weddings, showers, and any event. 
A slice of red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting on a plate.

What is Red Velvet Cake?

Red velvet cake…is it a Southern classic or the product of a food coloring manufacturer’s marketing scheme? No one seems to be sure, although I found some interesting information on this site: The History Kitchen.

Homemade Red Velvet Cake

My entire family loves this Southern Red Velvet Cake, and we have sampled quite a few. David used to think the moist red velvet cake recipe from Piccadilly’s was the best, but then he met me and tasted the one from Yoder’s Deitsch Haus Restaurant—known to those of us from Macon County as The Mennonite Restaurant or just Yoder’s—and he was converted.
A whole frosted Red Velvet Cake on a cake stand with a blue ribbon woven through the sides of the stand.

Southern Red Velvet Cake

But then…we had the Southern Red Velvet Cake from Gabriel’s Bakery in Marietta, and we thought, “Oh, this is the best!” So for years, we would go back and forth on which was the best because we never had them both at the same time. I decided a bake-off was in order. I had cookbooks with the two recipes, so I made two Red Velvet Cakes at the same time and conducted a blind taste test with David, me, and 5 of our neighbors.

You may also like… Best Chocolate Cakemy adaptation of the famous easy Hershey’s one-bowl chocolate layer cake!

Two red velvet cakes side by side on cake stands.
Guess what the results were? Six out of seven picked the Yoder’s red velvet cake recipe! But we had no trouble devouring both because both are absolutely divine and very similar. What I love about both recipes is that they are uncomplicated. Some Red Velvet Cake recipes have you doing multiple steps to make the cake, like mixing the food coloring with the cocoa, or the vinegar with the buttermilk, or both, and it’s just not necessary. The cake is not that difficult to make.

Is Red Velvet Cake Chocolate?

This is a misconception that a lot of people have, but Red Velvet Cake is not supposed to be a chocolate cake. The best red velvet cake recipes do include cocoa, but not a lot and not really enough to make the cake taste like a chocolate cake. The addition of cocoa is just enough to lend a subtle cocoa flavor. 

Tools for Making the Best Red Velvet Cake Recipe

There’s nothing fancy involved with making this recipe. You need standard cake pans and I love these from Fat Daddio’s. I have replaced all my cake baking products with Fat Daddio’s pans because they are inexpensive and the quality is good. You’ll need either a stand mixer like this one from KitchenAid, or a good quality hand mixer. And don’t forget a pretty cake stand if you don’t have one. I love this one! If you plan to transport the cake, you might want to order some of these cardboard cake rounds and some cardboard cake boxes. I keep various sizes of both so that I can easily drop off a cake to a friend if needed.

Red Velvet Cake Ingredients

  • Cake flour
  • Baking soda and salt
  • Cocoa powder
  • Unsalted butter
  • Vegetable oil
  • Granulated sugar
  • Large eggs
  • Vinegar
  • Full-fat buttermilk
  • Vanilla
  • Red food coloring
**Cook’s Tip: One 1-ounce bottle of red food coloring will turn the cake a light red while two will give it a deeper red. I use two. 

Ingredients for Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Butter
  • Cream cheese
  • Powdered sugar
  • Salt
  • Vanilla
**Cook’s Tip: Imitation vanilla is clear so you can use it for the frosting if you want it to be a little whiter. I rarely have imitation so I use regular. 

How to Make Red Velvet Cake – Step-by-Step with Tips

Step 1.

Preheat oven to 350° and grease and flour three 9″ round cake pans, then line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper and grease and flour the parchment paper. **Cook’s Tip: The parchment paper is an extra step to make sure your cake doesn’t stick to the pan. It works every time!

Step 2.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa. Set aside.

Step 3.

In a separate large mixing bowl or stand mixer, cream the butter and oil for about 3 minutes then add the sugar. Cream together until light and fluffy.

Step 4.

Add eggs and vinegar and mix until just combined.

Step 5.

Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk to egg mixture, mixing after each addition. Add vanilla and food coloring, mixing well.

Step 6.

Pour batter evenly into prepared cake pans and bake for 20-25 minutes or until done. **Cook’s Tip: You can use a small measuring cup or a ladle to help ensure even distribution of the red velvet cake batter.

Step 7.

Frost with cream cheese icing or cooked white icing.
A slice of red velvet cake on a plate with a fork.

Important Tips for Making the Best Red Velvet Cake

  1. Be sure you use cake flour. It will give the lightest, most consistent texture to this cake.
  2. Use full-fat buttermilk and don’t do a buttermilk substitute. I know everyone says you can do the milk and vinegar thing, but when you’re making a recipe like this that calls for one whole cup of buttermilk, it’s important to use the real thing for the best flavor.
  3. The butter and oil combination is important! Oil makes a moist red velvet cake but butter gives the most flavor. The recipe I adapted from used only oil so I tweaked it a bit.
  4. Don’t be tempted to use more cocoa.
Southern Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting comes from an easy and moist red velvet cake recipe that will quickly become a family favorite!

Southern Red Velvet Cake

Yield: 16
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Southern Red Velvet Cake comes from an easy and moist red velvet cake recipe that will quickly become a family favorite!

Ingredients

Cake

  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cocoa powder
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 cup full-fat buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1-2 oz. red food coloring

Frosting

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 8 oz. block regular cream cheese
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour 3 9" round cake pans, then line the bottom with parchment paper and grease and flour the parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa. Set aside.
  3. In a separate large mixing bowl or stand mixer, cream the butter and oil for about 3 minutes then add the sugar. Cream together until light and fluffy.
  4. Add eggs and vinegar and mix until just combined.
  5. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk to egg mixture, mixing after each addition. Add vanilla and food coloring, mixing well.
  6. Pour batter evenly into prepared cake pans and bake for 20-25 minutes or until done.
  7. Frost with cream cheese icing or cooked white icing.

Frosting

  1. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter until creamy. Add cream cheese and beat until mixed with butter and fluffy. Add sugar a little at a time, scraping down the sides and bottom of bowl, beating just until blended. Add vanilla and salt and mix well.

Notes

Tips for Making the Best Red Velvet Cake:

  • One 1-ounce bottle of red food coloring will turn the cake a light red while two will give it a deeper red. I use two bottles. 
  • Imitation vanilla is clear so you can use it for the frosting if you want it to be a little whiter. I rarely have imitation so I use regular. 
  • Be sure you use cake flour. It will give the lightest, most consistent texture to this cake. 
  • Use full-fat buttermilk and don't do a buttermilk substitute. I know everyone says you can do the milk and vinegar thing, but when you're making a recipe like this that calls for one whole cup of buttermilk, it's important to use the real thing for the best flavor. 
  • The butter and oil combination is important! Oil makes a moist red velvet cake but butter gives the most flavor. The recipe I adapted from used only oil so I tweaked it a bit. 
  • Don't be tempted to use more cocoa. 

Slightly adapted from Favorite Recipes from the Clearview Mennonite Church, Volume II, Mrs. Miriam Brenneman's recipe.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 16 Serving Size: 16 Servings
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 706Saturated Fat: 29gCholesterol: 155mgSodium: 515mgCarbohydrates: 67gSugar: 49gProtein: 7g

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Read about Red Velvet Cake: Wikipedia: Red Velvet Cake
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Aaron

Friday 6th of December 2019

Is that a enough icing for 3 layers?

Lucy Brewer

Saturday 7th of December 2019

Yes, but if you want a generous amount of frosting then you should do one and a half batches or even double.

Eve

Thursday 15th of October 2015

Hello Stacey. Just curious. the picture of the red velvet cake that is not the recipe that you gave actually looks just like the cake at Picadilly's that I've been looking for. What is the difference in the recipes? thanks.

Lucy

Thursday 15th of October 2015

Hi Eve, I don't have the recipe for the Piccadilly red velvet cake, only for the Mennonite Restaurant and Gabriel's bakery.

Stacy

Wednesday 4th of June 2014

I love reading your blog because the recipes are good old fashioned southern recipes that I have grown up loving. But then, I saw where you were talking about Macon County and read your bio. What a small world because my inlaws are from Montezuma and my Mother in law still lives there. What a small world!! :) I especially love your blog now. (And Yoder's!)

Lucy

Wednesday 4th of June 2014

Thank you so much, Stacy! It is a small world! That is so cool. Who are your in-laws? I would be willing to bet we have mutual acquaintances...

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