These homemade red velvet cupcakes are light, fluffy, and incredibly simple to make! The subtle cocoa flavor in these easy red velvet cupcakes pairs perfectly with the rich cream cheese frosting!
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of the J.M. Smucker Company The opinions and text are all mine.
I don’t remember the first time I tried red velvet cake (which is unusual for me because, guys, I have a weirdly good—and specific—memory…like, I can probably tell you every kid in my 4th grade class, last names included), but I definitely remember the first time I made a homemade red velvet cake.
A friend of mine had asked me to bake a red velvet cake for her daughter-in-law, which, I didn’t think too much of at the time. I (shockingly) love to bake and I had baked homemade cakes before so how hard could red velvet cake be??
Well, it ended up not exactly being difficult to make, but red velvet cake and red velvet cupcakes, by extension, are a little different in terms of ingredients.
First of all, did you know that red velvet has just the tiniest bit of cocoa powder in the batter?
That was complete and total news to me. When I was preparing to make that inaugural red velvet cake I had no clue what flavor red velvet actually was. Red velvet = total mystery.
This mysterious red cake has just the tiniest hint of cocoa in the flavor, which makes it completely different and unique from both a chocolate cake and a vanilla cake.
Secondly, red velvet cake needs both vinegar and buttermilk.
While you can’t taste anything distinctly vinegar-y (totally a word), you need the vinegar because it enhances not only the color of the cake, but also the flavor of the cocoa.
Similarly, you need the tang of the buttermilk for flavor and texture.
Lastly, you need red dye to get that reddish color.
Now, I used liquid food coloring in this recipe because it’s what I had on hand. I used about 1 Tbsp. of food coloring but you can use more or less depending upon how intense you want the color of each cupcake to be.
That first red velvet cake I made? I didn’t believe it when the recipe called for a Tbsp. of food coloring. I used waaaay less, which resulted in a murky red-brown cake that was not appealing…at all.
I slathered it in frosting, crossed my fingers, and hoped for the best. (I’m sure that friend was really glad she asked me for that cake…at least it tasted good!)
These pretty little Red Velvet Cupcakes are kind of incredible (for a few reasons).
Cocoa powder is notorious for making baked goods dry and crumbly, but let me tell you, these are moist red velvet cupcakes, thanks to both the buttermilk and the sour cream.
These red velvet cupcakes are made with butter, which gives the cupcakes that perfect texture—light and fluffy with very little crumbs.
Between the flavor and texture, you can’t go wrong with these red beauts.
Okay, okay. Enough about the cake portion of these cupcakes. Let’s talk frosting!
Guys, this frosting is seriously as easy as one, two, three thanks to new Pillsbury™ Filled Pastry Bags. You can find them in the baking aisle of your local Walmart, and they come in three flavors:
Cream Cheese (as used in this recipe)
What’s super amazing about this frosting is that it’s incredibly convenient, as the frosting is already in a pastry bag with a pastry tip already inserted. All you have to do is open the pastry bag and you are all set to start frosting your cupcakes.
It’s a total game changer because it makes a more challenging aspect of making homemade cupcakes a total breeze. You can make fun and gorgeous cupcakes (and your kids can too!) with just one ingredient.
Easy Red Velvet Cupcakes Tips & Tricks:
- When making red velvet cake from scratch, make sure your butter and eggs are at room temperature. It really does help all of the ingredients combine properly.
- You can substitute Greek yogurt for sour cream.
- If you don’t have distilled white vinegar, you can substitute it for apple cider vinegar.
- Sift your dry ingredients! It makes for the best red velvet cake, because it helps make the cake lighter.
- Lastly, separate your eggs so you can whisk the egg whites separately. This also adds to the texture of the cake, making for a lighter, fluffy red velvet cake recipe.
Be still my heart.
- 1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 eggs, separated
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
- 1 Tbsp. cocoa powder
- 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 tsp distilled white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1 Tbsp. red food coloring, liquid
- Pillsbury Pastry Bag - Cream Cheese 16oz or homemade cream cheese frosting (recipe linked below)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners.
- With a standing mixer or hand mixer, whisk egg whites until soft peaks form (white, foamy, and very soft). Set aside.
- In the bowl of a standing mixer or with a hand mixer, beat butter until light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes. Add in sugar, and beat until well combined and all sugar granules have dissolved.
- Next, add in egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, sift all-purpose flour, cornstarch, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside.
- Mix buttermilk, vinegar, and vanilla extract together.
- Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk mixture to the butter mix, beginning and ending with flour, mixing until just combined. You do not want to over mix the batter.
- Add in sour cream and food coloring, and mix until just combined.
- Fold in egg whites, until the white is no longer visible.
- Fill each muffin cup about 3/4 of the way full.
- Bake for 15-16 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.
- Allow to cool. Frost cupcakes with Pillsbury Pastry Bag.
- If desired, I crumbled up one cupcake and used those crumbles to decorate the tops of each cupcake (totally optional).
Here are some other cupcake recipes you might love: