Red Velvet Cake

Red Velvet Cake

Red Velvet Cake

Red velvet cake has always been a favorite for me. It is the last birthday cake that I made my best friend, and there is a lot of memories in that. I actually have not made it since that time until today. It was a nice way to bring back that memory. Food equals memories, and this recipe is certainly no exception to that.

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My favorite thing about this recipe is that it is actually really simple. I am always a bit amazed by that. That something that simple can taste so delicious. I am not the most elaborate baker in the world, and this cake plays to my strengths in the baking department.

Red Velvet Cake History

Velvet cakes have been made since the victorian era and the use of cocoa powder softens the flour and gives the cake a finer and smoother texture. It is very similar to a crumb cake.

Red velvet cakes specifically are said to have gained popularity around World War II when people would use beet juice in these cakes. Because pantry staples like sugar and butter were being rationed, many bakers were adding beets and beet juice. This gave the cakes the red color, and it also acted as a filler and moisturizer to keep the cakes from drying out.

If you’ve ever read my zucchini chocolate chip cookie recipe, I use the zucchini for the exact same purpose. To add moisture to the cookies. Who wants dry cookies or cake? Yuck!

Red Velvet Cake Ingredients

1 ½ cups sugar

2 ½ cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cocoa powder (Original recipe calls for one, but I like a little extra)

1 ½ cups vegetable oil

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup buttermilk

2 tablespoons (1 ounce) red food coloring

1 teaspoon white vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Red Velvet Cake Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray three 9 inch cake pans with a non-stick flour cooking spray. I personally like Pam with flour. My husband calls it Spam as a joke.

In a mixing bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. All of the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar and vanilla.

Using a stand mixer, mix the dry ingredients into the wet until just combined and a smooth batter has formed. I mixed all the wet ingredients until incorporated, and then slowly started adding in the dry ingredients.

Red Velvet Cake
Red Velvet Cake

Divide the cake batter evenly among the three pans and put them in the oven. If you are not good at dividing the cake batter evenly, you can weight it. This gives a much more precise division. I’m happy eyeballing it, but if you’re a perfectionist, weighing is the way to go. Bake until the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. This should be about 30 minutes.

Red Velvet Cake
Red Velvet Cake

Time To Cool the Red Velvet Cakes!

Remove the cakes from the pans and place on a cooling rack and let them cool completely. Removing them immediately from the cake pans is important because the edges will become overcooked and crispy if you don’t. Cooling completely is also important because the frosting will melt if the cakes are still warm.

Red Velvet Cake
Red Velvet Cake

Ready to Frost!

Once cooled the cake can be frosted. See the frosting recipe and directions below. Spread evenly around each layer of the cake. Use the remaining frosting on the outside of the cake and then garnish with crushed pecans. A great way to crush them up is put the pecans in a food processor and pulse until they are a finer or smaller consistency.

Red Velvet Cake
Red Velvet Cake

Frosting Ingredients

1 pound (16 ounces/2 packages) cream cheese

4 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I use closer to 2, but that is just me)

Crushed pecans for garnish (optional)

Red Velvet Cake
Red Velvet Cake

Frosting Directions

In a stand mixer mix the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and butter on a low speed until incorporated together. Increase the speed to high and mix until light and fluffy. This takes approximately 5 minutes. It is important that during this step to stop the mixer periodically and scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and keep everything mixing smoothly.

Chill in the refrigerator until somewhat solid before using. The frosting may be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days.


The great thing about the frosting recipe is that it can be used on any cake. I’ve saved and used it many times over. It is just that amazing.

The crushed pecans can be omitted if someone has nut allergies, or just doesn’t like them. I tend to forget about them, but they do make the cake look prettier.

As I said earlier, make sure to take the cakes out of the pans immediately. Otherwise if left in the pans, they continue to cook and the outside becomes very overdone. Nothing worse than crunchy cake, if you ask me. Last night Nathan used a plate. Put a plate over the cake pan, flip them both so the plate is on the bottom. The cake should come out very easily. From there the cake can be transferred to the cooling rack. This was much easier than trying to flip over a hot cake pan while wearing oven mitts.

In the frosting I use a little more vanilla than the original recipe calls for, but I like vanilla. Using two teaspoons is perfect for me. Nathan also enjoys it this way too. I’ve tried it both ways, and 2 teaspoons is my preference. Just adds a bit more depth to it, and also takes away from feeling too sugary.


I hope you enjoy this red velvet cake recipe as much as I do! If you’ve made this, please feel free to let me know what you thought of it in the comments. I always enjoy hearing about your experience. Check out my other dessert recipes!

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  • Jessica

    Looks delish and you seem like a GREAT COOK! I don’t think mine would come out looking that good lol 😂🙈 thanks for sharing! I hope you have a great weekend!!

  • Ashley

    I’ve never been able to get that rich red in my red velvet anythings! TOTALLY going to try this recipe out tomorrow on my day off! Been craving sweets uncharacteristically recently!

  • Madi Dearson

    Here is a confession – Never had this cake though it always sounds sooo good. I know it’s going to sound weird but I’m going to try without the red color. My husband and kids just wouldn’t know what t do with a red cake:)

    • The Prepping Wife

      Go for it, Madi! There is nothing wrong with changing up a recipe here and there to fit into your life. I do it myself all the time 😀

  • Megan | Ginger Mom and Company

    Sounds delicious! I need to find an alternative to the regular food coloring. My husband and I avoid food dyes and that’s the one thing that has always turned me off to Red Velvet. If I can find an alternative, this is definitely high up on my list of things to make 🙂 Great recipe!

    • The Prepping Wife

      Beets and beet juice is an excellent alternative. During WWII when pantry staples were being rationed, that was what was used to still give the moisture and color. Beets don’t have much flavor, so it works perfectly. I don’t know how much you would want to use because I’ve never done it before myself. I’ve always simply used the food coloring. When you use the beets instead of food coloring, the red will be much more muted and not vibrant, but it is still red. If you make it that way, please come back and let me know how it went for you. I would love to be able to add that in as an alternative for the recipe, and learn more about your results, Megan!

    • The Prepping Wife

      It really is simple, Alpana! That is actually one of my favorite things about it. I’ve never been big on super complicated desserts. I have one I’ve done that is complicated, but I really draw the line when I can’t just sort of throw everything into the stand mixer and have it come out ready to bake. Lol.

  • Nati Macchiato

    Thank you so much for sharing such a gorgeous recipe – this looks delicious + I’m so excited to try it out myself ! I’ve actually never tried red velvet cake so I’m looking forward to letting you know how it goes + whether it’s my new favourite sweet treat !

    have a lovely Sunday !

    Nati x

  • Alyssa

    Red velvet is my favourite cake! The recipe and photos look delicious. It has made me so hungry!! I will be trying out this recipe soon.
    Thank you for sharing with us.

      • The Prepping Wife

        If I didn’t have a stand mixer, I would never bake. It is the one kitchen staple, as far as I am concerned. I am lazy and will not mix by hand or use the handheld electric beaters. With the stand mixer, I can just throw everything in and multitask as it is mixing. That is easily my favorite part about it. It is a staple in my house, and definitely worth the money.

  • Eden

    I haven’t baked anything in ages, but this cake looks fantastic. I don’t think I’m qualified to do all that layering, but I’m going to give it a shot! Thanks so much!

  • Lauren | My Favorite Job Title Is Mom

    I love red velvet cake, so this post was making me drool! My sister and made a red velvet cake from scratch once as part of our duplication of the Cheesecake Factory’s Red Velvet Cheesecake. It definitely took a lot of effort, but it did taste better than a red velvet boxed cake mix!

  • clio

    It looks so bright and colourful, it reallly is an outstanding pretty cake 🙂 I never tried a red velvet cake before, and your recipe actually makes it look like something I can easily do !

  • Scott J DeNicola

    Just reading the title made my mouth water! I love me some red velvet cake. I am not a big cake person but red velvet and vanilla icing is right in my sweet spot! Definitely going to give this one a try!

  • Jennifer McCormick

    I will be sharing this recipe with my tween daughter who loves to bake! I always wondered where the red for red velvet came from and now I know! I think I’ll try subbing out the red food coloring and trying it with beet juice.

    • The Prepping Wife

      I have never tried it with the beet juice, so I am really curious to hear your thoughts once it is made. Please follow up with me and let me know!

  • Lyosha

    red velvet is not my favorite but it sure is the most fancy cake there is! It looks perfect on pictures and on table. Your recipe is very detailed, it will be easy to follow

  • Sharon Wu

    my brother’s birthday is coming soon and i would love to surprise him with this delicious red velvet cake! thank you for sharing

  • Debra Roberts

    Ok…I have always wondered what makes a red velvet cake so special? Isn’t it just food coloring? I assume you could make this cake any color you wanted, right? I always hear people say “I love red velvet cake”…but isn’t it just a chocolate cake with red food coloring? Or is there something particular to the recipe that makes it taste different? I have always noticed that when I eat red cake icing, there is a distinct bitter flavor that is stronger than plain or even the lighter food colors. Does this red coloring give the cake any sort of after-taste? Sorry for all the questions, but I have always wondered 🙂

    • The Prepping Wife

      It is made with buttermilk and white vinegar, which is what gives it the distinct taste you’re thinking about. It isn’t the coloring of it. But the red color usually means it has that tangy taste to it. The difference between a velvet cake and a chocolate cake is the cocoa powder. It softens the flour and gives it a different texture/consistency. It comes out more like a crumb cake and is less dense than a traditional chocolate cake.

      The red coloring really gained popularity back in WWII because pantry staples like butter and sugar were being rationed. Beets and beet juice were used to add moisture to these cakes, and of course beets colored the cake red. These days most people just use food coloring for a really bright and rich red color. But the beets is where that originated from.

  • Lina

    I love red velvet cakes! I have not baked in months and need to get back into it. Will keep with one on my list. Thanks for sharing!

  • Angela Greven | Mean Green Chef

    We love red velvet cake too! This looks delish and I will definitely be making this in the near future, thanks so much for sharing! 🙂

  • Sarah

    This looks AMAZING! I love a good red velvet cake, and it looks crazy moist in the photos where the completed cake was sliced. We are going to have to give this recipe a “go” sometime in the near future! I think we have everything but the cream cheese in the kitchen now, so next weekend might just be the time – for our anniversary. Thanks for sharing such a nice, detailed recipe!

  • Tracy Kelly/ Lazy Homemade

    I absolutely love red velvet cake! And the cream cheese frosting is my favorite part! Can’t wait to give this recipe a try, it looks amazing!

  • Lindsay Brown

    I’m totally in cake baking mode right now due to the crazy cold temps we are experiencing up here in Alberta at the moment (need me some comfort food!) so I am definitely going to try out this recipe! It looks amazing! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Deb Roberts

    I have never made a RV cake and always thought there was some other ingredient that made it red; had no idea it was simply food coloring. I think I could eat a whole bowl of that icing though!

  • Nicole Anderson | Camping for Women

    I’m also someone who dislikes dry cake and love the moist texture. Red Velvet cake has been a favorite of mine for many years although I haven’t ever made one myself before. Noting that you say you don’t regard yourself as a great baker gives me hope that I might be able to successfully pull this off. Certainly love the way you have laid out this recipe as it does look easy to follow. Fingers crossed as I attempt this one in the hope that it comes out looking as good as yours!

  • Melanie williams

    Check you out baking up a right treat in the kitchen. you have done an amazing job of this red velvet cake and I bet that it tastes so so good. My hubby would love this x

  • Kat

    This cake looks so delicious. I never knew what red velvet cake was until I went to the US for the first time. it’s not really a thing where I grew up, but it’s so tasty, especially with the frosting to go with it. Definitely one of the best sweets out there.

    • The Prepping Wife

      This is easily a favorite of mine as well, and so simple to make! I’m a sucker for a good cream cheese frosting too. I could eat just frosting if I let myself.

  • Stephanie S

    Yum! I’ve always thought red velvet cake was so delicious. This recipe seems simple, and so I think I’ll make this very soon. My oldest daughter has a little easy bake oven, and one of the cakes that came in the kit was a little red velvet cake. (Of course they were miniature cakes) but they were so good. I am sure my family will enjoy this recipe. Thanks so much for sharing.

  • Stella

    This cake looks so tasty, I almost wish I could make it. I say almost because my baking skills are terrible and nothing ever comes out as it does in pictures. I lose my patience. But, luckily I have friends who bake, so I will be forwarding this recipe.

  • Nkem

    I’ve never made a red velvet cake before. The way you made it gave me some ideas! Plus, it looks just so delicious. Thanks for making my mouth water!

  • Meki (Redefining Us)

    I am honestly such a big red velvet fan! I just got myself an oven at home and I never tried backing this one as I did not know that the ingredients needed are right in my cupboard!!! Thanks for sharing this – I will give this a try soon 🙂

  • Subhashish Roy

    Wow this looks real yummy. Red is not such a common color which is used in cakes that I see around. So it not only looks different it to me adds to the look. Would love to taste sometime.

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