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The BEST Red Velvet Cake recipe makes a signature red layer cake that is tender, moist and flavorful with perfect velvety texture! An easy, classic cake recipe! Delicious with cream cheese frosting or traditional heritage frosting.

Looking for more cake recipes? I think you’ll love my chocolate cake recipe, white cake recipe, and Mother’s cream cheese pound cake. They are all delicious and easy!

Image of red velvet cake with a lit gold candle.
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Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Classic Red Velvet Cake. This recipe make the iconic cake that everyone loves for Christmas, Valentine’s, and so many other special occasions.

Easy. It is an easy cake recipe that yields an impressive, gorgeous cake! You’ll love that it is made from scratch, yet easy as can be!

Flavor. Red Velvet Cake is the perfect combination of butter, vanilla, and cocoa with the tangy flavor of buttermilk and sweetness from the creamy frosting.

BEST Red Velvet Cake Recipe

My mother always made this delicious red velvet cake topped with heritage frosting or cream cheese frosting for my birthday and Christmas. It was always a special treat to see this velvety red cake piled high with fluffy white frosting. When Sam was little, he decided that he wanted it to be his birthday cake when he celebrates with my side of the family, too. (And Caramel Cake when he celebrates with my husband’s side of the family! Did I mention how smart he is?)

Sam: Birthday 2008

How to Make Red Velvet Cake Recipe

Image of red velvet cake ingredients

Ingredients

To make this cake, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  • shortening – Shortening yields a tender, moist cake. I use an organic shortening, but you can use your favorite brand.
  • sugar – Granulated sugar is used in this cake recipe.
  • eggs – Use room temperature egg for better mixing into the cake batter
  • red food coloring – Use your favorite red food coloring in this recipe. You can find natural and organic red food coloring options, but note that the red color may fade during baking.
  • cocoa powder – You’ll just use a little cocoa powder in this recipe. Not enough to make the cake a chocolate cake, but enough to lend a bit of flavor.
  • flour – You can use all-purpose or cake flour in this recipe. [How to Make Cake Flour]
  • salt – Just a little salt helps to flavor the cake and balance the sweetness.
  • vanilla extract – I love to use my homemade vanilla extract for the incredible flavor, but use your favorite pure vanilla extract. I don’t recommend using imitation vanilla flavoring.
  • baking soda – The baking soda reacts with the acid in the buttermilk and white vinegar in this cake recipe.
  • buttermilk – Not only does the buttermilk work with the baking soda to help the cake rise, it also adds flavor and tenderness to this cake.
  • distilled white vinegar – This vinegar works with the buttermilk and baking soda to help the cake rise. It also adds to the tenderness of the cake.

How to Make Red Velvet Cake Recipe

Photo of eggs added to creamed shortening and sugar in a glass bowl.

Cream together the shortening and sugar. Then, add the eggs one at a time.

Photo of cocoa powder and red food coloring combined for red velvet cake recipe.

Mix together the cocoa powder and red food coloring in a small bowl.

Overhead photograph of dry ingredients and buttermilk ready to be combined with wet ingredients for red velvet cake.

Add the cocoa powder mixture to the shortening and sugar mixture and mix well. Sift together the flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Stir together the vanilla extract and buttermilk in a measuring cup.

Alternately, mix flour mixture and buttermilk mixture into shortening/sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour.

Photograph of red velvet cake recipe batter evenly distributed in three cake pans.

Distribute the cake batter between the three prepared cake pans. Bake the cake layers for 25-30 minutes, until the cake layers are baked throughout. You can follow my tips for how to tell when your cake is done.

Photo of baked red velvet cake layers ready to cool on wire rack.

Remove the cake pans from the oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

Photograph of three layered red velvet cake with white fluffy frosting in between the layers.

While cooling, prepare the frosting you’ll be using. My family loves to use heritage frosting, but also loves to use my easy cream cheese frosting recipe. Once the cake layers have cooled, spread the frosting on top of each layer as you assemble the cake. Then spread the outside of the cake with frosting.

How to Store Red Velvet Cake

To store. You’ll need to store this cake in the refrigerator due to the frosting used. The cake will store well for up to 5 days.

To freeze. Wrap each cooled cake layer with plastic wrap and store in the freezer up to 3 months. To serve, thaw and frost the cake and serve as normal.

Here’s my Mama’s Red Velvet Cake recipe. I know you’ll love it!

4.80 from 5 votes

Red Velvet Cake Recipe

Dessert 50 mins

Image of red velvet cake with a lit gold candle.
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Servings 24
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Author Robyn Stone | Add a Pinch
This Red Velvet Cake recipe makes an easy to follow, classic dessert. Red velvet cake is delicious with cream cheese or cooked heritage frosting.

Ingredients  

  • ½ cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs room temperature
  • 2 ounces red food coloring
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 ¼ cups flour all-purpose or cake flour
  • 1 scant teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 350º F. Prepare three (8-inch) cake pans with nonstick baking spray or by thoroughly greasing and flouring. Set aside.
  • Cream vegetable shortening and sugar together until light and fluffy, about three minutes. Add eggs one at a time, completely incorporating after each addition.
  • Make a paste of food coloring and cocoa powder and add to the mixture. 
  • Sift together flour and salt in a separate medium bowl, set aside. Pour buttermilk and vanilla into a measuring cup, set aside. 
  • Alternately, mix flour mixture and buttermilk mixture into shortening/sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Scrape down sides of mixing bowl to ensure all ingredients are well incorporated.
  •  Reduce speed of mixer and stir in baking soda, making sure incorporated into batter. Then, stir in the vinegar, taking care not to beat hard or over mix.
  • Evenly distribute into cake pans and bake 25-30 minutes, until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Cool cake thoroughly before frosting.

Notes

We prefer to frost with Heritage Frosting or Cream Cheese Frosting.
from Favorite Recipes of Home Economics Teachers, Desserts Edition, 1963

How to Store Red Velvet Cake

To store. You’ll need to store this cake in the refrigerator due to the frosting used. The cake will store well for up to 5 days.
To freeze. Wrap each cooled cake layer with plastic wrap and store in the freezer up to 3 months. To serve, thaw and frost the cake and serve as normal.

Nutritional Information

Calories: 142kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 15mg | Sodium: 78mg | Potassium: 38mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 36IU | Calcium: 16mg | Iron: 1mg

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This cake will be a favorite on your holiday dessert buffet, next birthday celebration, or family dinner.

Enjoy!
Robyn xo

This recipe was originally published on November 7, 2010.

Cake Recipes

Robyn Stone

Robyn Stone is a wife, mom, blogger, recipe developer, and cookbook author. Welcome to Add a Pinch where I share thousands of delicious, tested and perfected easy recipes that the whole family will love.

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Recipe Review




Comments

  1. I always make a red velvet cake for my mom and my brother on their birthdays. My great grandmother made them all the time when I was little for my mom and once I was old enough I always helped and now that she has passed I am the red velvet cake baker! 🙂

  2. I LOVE that this recipe is from 1963 Home Economic’s teachers. How fun! Red Velvet is my favorite flavor ever, along with spice cake.

  3. How did you get it to be such a rich, gorgeous red color?! Mine always comes out more brown than red! Looks DELISH!

  4. Red Velvet Cake is so special. I bake it for Mom’s birthday when I am able to be with her. And she will be staying with us in a few weeks, over her birthday – this cake is already on the menu! It’s a wonderful kick-off to all the beautiful holiday baking.

  5. Happy Birthday to your sweet! Oh gosh, cake looks so elegant and beautiful red! I’ve to try this someday. 🙂

  6. I have never made a red velvet cake in my life. It looks really yum though. I must admit that I kind of hate the taste of red dye. I recently read somewhere that you can dye the cake with beet juice. I think I could try this with some beet juice coloring instead of red dye. I bet it wouldn’t be all that hard. I may have to try it. Of course the gluten free part will probably prove harder than the coloring! But the cake is gorgeous. Did you have the surprise? I hope little buddy had a great time celebrating his big day!

  7. Gorgeous! My eldest daughter that just celebrated her birthday last week always wants a red velvet cake too! Can’t wait to try this recipe!

  8. This cake is GORGEOUS!! As are your pictures of it.

    Passed down recipes are truly the best kind. Thanks so much for sharing one that is close to your heart. Happy Birthday to your Little Buddy!!

    Happy Monday!! 🙂

  9. Oh, I’ve always wanted to make red velvet cake, and never gotten around to it. I think I should give this a try!

  10. That cakes looks perfectly moist! Small confession-I have never tried red velvet anything-yikes, but yours looks great.

  11. Hi Robyn!

    I did a mix between a blue velvet cake and your recipe for the best white cake ever. It came out PERFECT! It was a gift for my boyfriend! I wish I could send you a picture. I made a sweet cream cheese frosting with grated white chocolate. The filling was blue pastry cream with blueberries. I knew something funny would happen after everyone ate the cake… surprise in the bathroom! Everyone had a blue experience haha! Anyway, I wanted to thank you for all your recipes, I love your cakes and breads, are perfectly moist and addictive. Hugs from Peru!

  12. please Robyn some of your recipes require Crisco which is hard to find here. Can I use butter instead or do you have any other recommendation? please reply

    1. Any vegetable shortening or you can go back to basics and use lard. Lard is really good for pastries and is actually healthier for you than shortening.

  13. 5 stars
    just made this……….lovely with the heritage frosting…i am tempted to eat it before everyone else…. cant wait for their comments.
    thanks for these tasty recipes

  14. Hi Robyn,

    I tried this recipe today, the cakes are still cooling and the frosting is nearly ready but I too note the cakes were not red but brown in colour, what colouring did you use ?

    Kind Regards
    Saema x

  15. How can I make this cake purple rather than red. Would everything be the same except for the food coloring?

    1. I just did a lovely purple one and it cam out great, I used the violet gel color the half ounce bottle but not quite the whole thing and the color was great

  16. 5 stars
    Love this blog and always look forward to it! Made this cake with the cream cheese frosting this week for a holiday luncheon. It’s pretty easy to make but very showy, especially after it has the first cut taken out. Some people asked about a brown color instead of red. I used two 1 oz. tubs of Red Wilton Gel Food Coloring (no flavor) and it was wonderfully red! Perfect for Christmastime. The recipe for cream cheese frosting is very generous and probably made the cake! (The gel food coloring is at my local Wal Mart.) Thank you for sharing this Robyn!

    1. Isn’t it a gorgeous cake?! I’m so glad you enjoyed it for your Christmas luncheon. I love that cream cheese frosting it, too. Sometime, try the heritage frosting that we also use on it. I think you’ll love it just as much!

    2. Hello. Please tell me how you were able to bake such a beautiful color red for your cake. Mine was brown. God bless Xiomy

    3. Hi Xiomy,
      Sorry yours didn’t turn out as vibrant red as mine. I would think it has to do with your red coloring, without knowing any of the other details.

  17. Hi,

    Can i use unsalted butter instead of vegetable shortening? Any other substitutes?
    Will the quantity remain the same?

    1. Lard works and is healthier than shortening. Any time a pastry recipe calls for different kinds of fat it’s because of the different melting temperatures. Shortening and lard both melt at a higher temperature so when used in pastries it gives them time for the texture to set before it melts, leaving lots of air pockets so it’s light and fluffy.

  18. Hello… Can I replace butter with vegetable shortening? From where I live vegetable shortening is not easily available …if so how much?

  19. I make a red velvet cake for my daughter every year for her birthday, she just turned 27. I could not find my usual recipe for red velvet cake and when i searched the web found this one. It did not dissappoint anyone. My daughter was thrilled and I will be using this recipe from now on. It is super easy and quick. Thanks for posting.

  20. Hi Robyn, I’m from Brazil and I’m always looking different recipes and I happened to find your website.
    I already made your White cake, Chocolate Cake, and the white and chocolate frostings.
    The white cake recipe I divided and put some food coloring to do also a red velvet cake and it was delicious!
    Now I took the Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe and The Red Velvet Cake Recipe!
    But I have a question: this recipe doens’t have baking powder. That’s it? And what’s the vinegar for?
    Congratulations! I became your fan ;* kisses

  21. Hi, thank you for the recipe. May i ask how much heritage frosting is required to fill and decorate the red velvet cake? I would love to make this for my husbands birthday on valentines day. Thank you

  22. Would this recipe work just as well for cupcakes? How many cupcakes do you think it would yield? Thanks in advance!

  23. I made the delicious chocolate cake and today I amgoing to bake the Red Velvet cake .
    HOW WOULD IT TURN OUT IF YOU PUT BOILING WATER IN THE RECIPE?

    1. I was thinking the same thing. I prefer using butter but I don’t know how much to use in place of the shortening.

    2. Normally you can swap equal amounts. I want to try it first using her grandmother’s original recipe before I change anything up but may once I get the full experience…
      ????????????????

  24. Hi Robyn, I am really looking forward to making this recipe this weekend. I’ve tried some of your other cakes – and they are the best on the web. Thanks so much for sharing. Just wondering, does this cake work well if frozen, or am I best to just make it the day before? Thanks a million.

    1. Hi Maria, I have some desserts here on my site that do not have added sugar. You can search “sugar free” in my Recipe Index under Cooking to find those on my site. Thanks so much!

  25. 4 stars
    How long should I mix the cake? I forgot bake-even strips and remembered them about halfway through. The sides were crispy at 25 min and the cake was dense. Trying to figure out what I did wrong. I made your chocolate cake and it was so moist! The batter on this one was thicker and I’m wondering if that’s why it was dryer. Suggestions?

  26. 5 stars
    Hi! Can you give the break down if I wanted to use this for cupcakes? I love all of your recipes and swear by them. This weekend however, I went rouge because I needed to make RV cupcakes and they turned out more like RV brownies with not a ton of flavor. Thanks!

  27. Hello Robyn! Thank you so much for the recipe. I haven’t tried it out yet but I know I can always trust your recipes. Please i’ll like to ask for what type of food coloring to use for this red velvet cake? Is it liquid, powdered or gel coloring?

    1. Hi Lucy,
      This is a family favorite recipe we have loved for years! I usually use liquid food coloring and its what my mother has used for the many years that she’s been making this. I hope you enjoy this cake as well. Thanks! xo

  28. I absolutely love your chocolate cake recipe. Tried the red velvet cake recipe for cupcakes and they were really good but would rather use a different recipe for cupcakes? I’m making them again right now with the cake recipe.

  29. Hi Robyn thanks for this. I tried your chocolate cake recipe and its d best so far. Can I replace vegetable shortening with vegetable oil. Same measurement?

    1. Hi Bee, I’ve not tried vegetable oil in this cake yet. I’m so thrilled you love the chocolate cake! xo

  30. I’m so excited to make this! I was thinking about making cupcakes instead of a cake. How many cupcakes would a full recipe make? BTW – I’ve made a number of your other recipes and they’re all AMAZING! 

  31. Hello Robyn, Can I make this in a 9 inch pans? I bought them for your chocolate cake “the best one ever” and it was yummy . Thank you