The BEST Red Velvet Cake recipe makes a signature red layer cake with rich buttery, vanilla, and a bit of cocoa flavor, along with the tang of buttermilk, all topped with creamy Heritage or cream cheese frosting. A delicious, classic cake that is easy to make and tender with a perfect velvet crumb.
Red Velvet Cake is certainly an impressive cake! Standing tall and topped with either Heritage Frosting or Cream Cheese Frosting, it’s a favorite for Christmas and other holidays, birthdays, and special occasions. While it’s simple to make from scratch, it’s much more than just a red-colored layer cake. The flavor of this cake is unique and scrumptious, and the texture is velvety delicious!
Table of Contents
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
Classic Red Velvet Cake. This recipe makes 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 buttermilk flavor and sweetness from the creamy frosting.
BEST Red Velvet Cake Recipe
My mother always made this delicious red velvet cake, usually topped with heritage frosting, for my birthday and Christmas. Seeing this velvety red cake piled high with fluffy white frosting was always a special treat. When Sam was little, he decided that he wanted it to be his birthday cake when he celebrated with my side of the family, too. (And Caramel Cake when he celebrated with my husband’s side of the family! Did I mention how smart he is?)
How to Make Red Velvet Cake
Ingredients for Red Velvet Cake
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 eggs 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 red may fade during baking.
- cocoa powder – You’ll 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 baking soda to help the cake rise, but 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.
Cream together the shortening and sugar. Then, add the eggs one at a time.
Mix together the cocoa powder and red food coloring in a small bowl.
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.
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.
Remove the cake pans from the oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
While cooling, prepare the frosting you’ll be using – either heritage frosting or 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 keep 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 for up to 3 months. To serve, thaw and frost the cake and serve as normal.
More Favorite Cake Recipes
Looking for more cake recipes?
Here’s my Mama’s Red Velvet Cake recipe. I know you’ll love it!
Red Velvet Cake Recipe
- ½ cup (92 g) shortening
- 1 ½ cups (297 g) sugar
- 2 large (100 g) eggs, room temperature
- 2 ounces (56.7 g) red food coloring
- 2 tablespoons (10.5 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 ¼ cups (270 g) flour, all-purpose or cake flour
- 1 scant teaspoon (2.8 g) kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon (4.7 g) vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon (6 g) baking soda
- 1 cup (227 g) buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon (14.37 g) distilled white vinegar
- 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.
How to Store Red Velvet CakeTo 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 for up to 3 months. To serve, thaw and frost the cake and serve as normal.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
This cake will be a favorite on your holiday dessert buffet, next birthday celebration, or family dinner.
This recipe was originally published on November 7, 2010.