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Red Velvet Cupcakes Recipe
Prep Time
45 mins
Cook Time
18 mins
Total Time
1 hr 3 mins

These buttermilk Red Velvet Cupcakes are so light and fluffy with a subtle buttery flavor. Topped with sweet and tangy cream cheese frosting, these bright red cupcakes are sure to be a hit! 

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: red velvet cupcakes
Servings: 12 -13 Cupcakes
Author: Michelle
Red Velvet Cupcakes
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large 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 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 Tbsp red food coloring, liquid
Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 8 oz cream cheese (brick style), softened to room temperature
  • 2 - 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • salt, to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners. 

Separate The Eggs
  1. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites, and allow the egg whites to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. (Eggs separate better when cold, but egg whites whip better when at room temperature.)

  2. Once they have reached room temperature, use a hand mixer or a standing mixer to whisk egg whites until soft peaks form (white, foamy, and very soft). Set aside.

Red Velvet Cupcake Batter
  1. In a bowl of a standing mixer (or a large bowl with a hand mixer), beat butter until light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes. Next, add in granulated sugar and beat until fluffy (about 1 minute).

  2. Add in the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Set aside. 

  3. In a separate bowl, sift all purpose flour, cornstarch, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside.

  4. Mix buttermilk, vinegar, and vanilla extract together. 

  5. Alternately add the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients into the butter mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. (I add 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, then mix until *just* combined. Then I add half of the wet ingredients, and mix until *just* combined. Then I repeat the steps.)

  6. Add in sour cream and food coloring, mixing until just combined. 

  7. Lastly, gently fold in the egg whites until the whites are no longer visible. 

  8. Fill each muffin cup 3/4 of the way full. (This batter makes about 12-13 cupcakes.)

  9. Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.

  10. Allow the cupcakes to cool for a few minutes in the muffin tin, then carefully remove the cupcakes and allow them to continue cooling on a wire rack. 

Cream Cheese Frosting
  1. With a mixer, beat cream cheese until light, fluffy, and smooth. 

  2. Next, add in the butter and beat until well combined. 

  3. Add in 2 cups of powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Beat until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. (If the frosting feels too thin, add in the remaining 1/2 cup of powdered sugar.)

  4. Next, add a pinch of salt, if desired. (I use very little, but the salt helps offset the sweetness of the frosting.)

  5. With a knife or piping bag, frost each cupcake. 

  6. If desired, I crumbled up one cupcake and used those crumbles to decorate the tops of each cupcake (optional).

  7. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

Storage: You can store frosted cupcakes in the fridge in an airtight container for 3-5 days. Because of the cream cheese frosting, these cannot be left out at room temperature for more than a few hours. 

Substitutions: If you don’t have buttermilk, you can use a combination of milk + lemon juice or milk + vinegar. For this recipe, mix 1/2 cup 2% or whole milk with 1 tsp lemon juice or vinegar. Let it stand for 5 minutes. 

Additionally, if you prefer, you can use vanilla buttercream or chocolate buttercream.