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The Most Amazing Red Velvet Cupcakes are moist, fluffy, and topped off with velvety ermine frosting for the perfect Red Velvet Cupcake you’ve been dreaming of!

Red velvet cupcake with ermine frosting with a bite taken out of it

Here it is, the recipe you have been looking for—red velvet cupcakes you will come back to every single time. So delicious, tangy, and moist. Red velvet cake is a dessert of its own. Some people think red velvet is really just chocolate cake with red coloring, but those who love red velvet know it is so much more. It has hints of chocolate, but is better known for its tangy, acidic flavor. It was originally made with beets, which added sweetness, flavor, and tanginess, along with its signature red color. If you want to try making this the old fashioned way, here is a recipe for Naturally Red Velvet Cake.

Chocolate Cake vs. Red Velvet Cake:

It is a common misconception that red velvet cake is just chocolate cake with red food coloring. Red velvet cake does have some chocolate flavor to it, but it is also slightly acidic and tangy, due to the buttermilk, vinegar, and either cream cheese or ermine frosting. In this recipe, we include the instructions for an ermine frosting that we love as a great balance to the tangy flavor of red velvet, but you can also use cream cheese frosting.

What kind of food coloring should I use?

This recipe was made and tested using red liquid food coloring. You can also use gel food coloring or a natural red food coloring made from beets. You can find a wide variety of natural food dyes on Amazon.

What is ermine frosting?

Ermine gets its name from the cute, weasel-like animal that has a white, fluffy coat. Ermine frosting is made of heated milk, sugar and flour and then whipped with butter. It is light and delicious, but not as tangy as cream cheese frosting. It will hold its shape better if it is refrigerated before and after icing. You can also use cream cheese frosting if you prefer it and like a little more tang on your red velvet cupcakes.

Buttermilk Substitute: 

Buttermilk is a key component in this cake recipe. If you don’t have access to buttermilk, you can easily use a buttermilk substitute using just 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice and 1 cup of milk.

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Ermine Icing on a wire cooling rack

Storage Instructions: 

Cupcakes should be stored in an airtight container. If you used cream cheese frosting, they will also need to be stored in the refrigerator.

If you like this recipe, you may be interested in these other delicious cupcake recipes:

Watch the video below where Rachel will walk you through every step of this recipe. Sometimes it helps to have a visual, and we’ve always got you covered with our cooking show. You can find the complete collection of recipes on YouTubeFacebook Watch, or our Facebook Page, or right here on our website with their corresponding recipes.

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Ermine Icing on a wire cooling rack
The Most Amazing Red Velvet Cupcakes are moist, fluffy, and topped off with velvety ermine frosting for the perfect Red Velvet Cupcake you’ve been dreaming of!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 22 minutes
Frosting Cooling Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 37 minutes

Red Velvet Cupcakes

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (up to 1/4 cup)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2/3 cup warm water
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons red food coloring (1 fluid ounce)

Ermine Icing

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • pinch salt
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups unsalted butter , cubed and softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Red Velvet Cupcakes

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners. Recipe makes 24 cupcakes.
  • In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, sugar, cornstarch, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  • Add eggs, buttermilk, warm water, oil, vanilla, vinegar, and red food coloring. Use a hand mixer to beat on a medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl to make sure everything got mixed in.
  • Fill each cupcake liner 2/3 full.
  • Bake for 20-22 minutes until the cupcakes meet the toothpick test (stick a toothpick in and it comes out clean). Remove from tins and cool completely.

Ermine Icing

  • In a medium sauce pan, whisk together flour sugar, and salt over low heat. Cook for 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in milk and bring to a boil. Cook until thickened into a pudding-like consistency, about 1 minute, and then remove from heat. Pour into a bowl and place plastic wrap directly on top of the mixture so no skin forms. Refrigerate until cool.
  • In a large bowl, use a hand mixer to whip butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add in cooked milk mixture 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, mixing well between each addition. Once all milk mixture has been added in, beat in vanilla and continue beating until the frosting is thick and creamy and everything is well mixed in.
  • Frost completely cooled cupcakes.
COLOR NOTE: If you want a brighter red color, use only 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder. If you want a better flavor, use up to 1/4 cup. You'll simply have much deeper brown notes to your red cake. 


Serving: 1cupcake | Calories: 369kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 70mg | Sodium: 221mg | Potassium: 92mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 35g | Vitamin A: 560IU | Calcium: 52mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Red Velvet Cupcakes
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