These Red Velvet Cookies with cream cheese frosting are thick, chewy and soft. They have all the flavor of red velvet cake with the delightful chewiness of chocolate chip cookies! The sugar coating keeps the outsides crispy for the perfect bite!
Look no further for the perfect chewy red velvet cookies! The interior texture is soft and moist with a hint of chocolate. I’ve rolled the outside of the cookies in granulated sugar for crunch and a little extra sweetness! Plus, the sparkle makes it feel extra festive!
Look beyond the usual Red Velvet Layer Cake or even my perfect Red Velvet Pound Cake and make red velvet cookies with cream cheese frosting instead! They are an easy dessert for Valentine’s Day, as a gift for your favorite Galentine or even as part of a Christmas Cookie platter!
Table of Contents
What are red velvet cookies made of?
Red velvet cookies have many of the same ingredients as chocolate chip cookies. The addition of a little cocoa powder and red food dye gives them the flavor of old fashioned red velvet cake!
- Granulated Sugar: Granulated sugar is here for sweetness, but if you add too much in proportion to the butter and flour, the cookies will spread rather than stay tall and chewy.
- Dark Brown Sugar: Using dark brown sugar adds sweetness along with a little moisture.
- Whole Egg: The egg is here to add fat, moisture and leavening. The fat from the yolk adds richness and helps keep the cookies chewy.
- McCormick Food Color: I used red food dye, but the choice is yours!
- All-purpose flour: All-purpose flour has just the right amount of gluten to make soft chewy cookies.
- Cocoa Powder: I use Dutch processed cocoa powder because it has a rich, deep flavor; however, traditional red velvet cake didn't use food dye. Instead, the combination of unprocessed cocoa powder and an acid like white vinegar created the red color and slightly tangy flavor. In these cookies you can use either type of cocoa powder.
- Baking Powder: Double acting baking powder will react instantly when it is mixed with an acid and then again when it is heated.
- Kosher Salt: Kosher salt is less salty than table salt and a teaspoon weighs less than other finer ground varieties.
- Butter: I use unsalted butter for baking in general, because you want to control the amount of salt you are adding.
- Cream Cheese: I use original Philadelphia Cream Cheese for all my baked goods including frostings.
- Confectioner's Sugar: Confectioner's sugar is used in American buttercreams because its fine powder allows it to create a smooth buttercream without having to be heated.
- Vanilla Extract: Vanilla Extract adds a beautiful flavor itself, and together with the heavy cream in the frosting is reminiscent of ice cream.
- Heavy Cream: I like to use full fat heavy cream, which is sometimes called heavy whipping cream.
Variations on Red Velvet Cookies
- Red Velvet Chocolate Chip: These cookies are delightful with mix ins! Throw in a cup of chocolate chips or even white chocolate chips for a fun, easy variation.
- Glaze: These cookies have beautiful cracked, sparkly tops and are gorgeous when drizzled with a glaze. Use the cream cheese glaze from my Carrot Cake Scones for a specifically elegant take.
- Colored Frosting: Use a few drops of food dye to liven up the tops of these red velvet cookies, or make a few colors and swirl them! You could even get really crazy and pipe green cream cheese frosting in the shape of a wreath for Christmas!
- Frosting Flavors: Add dehydrated strawberry powder to make the frosting naturally pink and strawberry flavor, or add cocoa powder for an easy chocolate frosting variation.
- Light Brown Sugar: If you don’t have dark brown sugar on hand, you can absolutely substitute light brown sugar in equal amounts. The flavor will be a bit less robust but you will still get all the benefits of the added moisture and caramel notes.
- Red Food Dye: You can omit the Red Food Dye if desired, however you will not get as bright of a red color.
Frequently Asked Questions
Store unused cream cheese frosting in an airtight, clean container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Buttercream can be frozen for longer storage. Once iced, cookies can be kept at room temperature for up to three days before the buttercream spoils. For longer storage, store in the refrigerator.
I store red velvet cookies in an airtight container at room temperature or frozen.
Unfrosted, these chewy red velvet cookies will keep up to 10 days at room temperature or several months frozen.
You can freeze the baked red velvet cookies for up to 2 months, or freeze the cookie dough balls/logs. Then you can bake them fresh at any time and frost after baking.
You can make as large a batch of these chewy red velvet cookies as you would like, depending on your mixer.
Roll the frozen cookie dough balls in granulated sugar right before baking. Bake at 350°F for 10-14 minutes straight from frozen! Bake until the edges have begun to brown, the centers are puffed and the outside has begun to crack. The center should look matte rather than shiny.
These cookies ship wonderfully. Package in a decorative tin or just place in a zip-top bag in a mailer box. They keep for 10 days and they stay chewy for almost as long.
Chilling the red velvet cookie dough before baking will create thicker, chewier cookies.
Chef Lindsey's Recipe Tips
Allow to cool on the sheet pan completely before frosting or enjoying. Ideally the cooling allows the crumb to set, but I am not a baking tyrant and I won’t even give a second glance if one or two disappears before cooling! Taste testing is the cook’s prerogative. 😉
Red Velvet Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting
For the cookies:
- ½ cup Butter (cold but pliable)
- ½ cup Sugar
- ¼ cup Dark brown sugar
- 1 Egg
- 1 teaspoon Red Food Dye
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla
- 1 ¼ cups All Purpose Flour
- ¼ cup Cocoa Powder
- ½ teaspoon Baking Powder
- ¼ teaspoon Kosher Salt
- ¼ cup Sugar (for rolling)
For the frosting:
- ½ cup Butter (Softened)
- 6 tablespoons cream cheese (Softened)
- 2 cups Confectioner’s Sugar
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla
- 2 tablespoons Heavy cream
Make the red velvet cookies:
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and kosher salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter, granulated sugar and dark brown sugar until a smooth paste forms. Just like with chocolate chip cookies, we don’t want to aerate the mixture too much. This keeps the cookies thick and chewy.
- Beat in the egg. Turn mixer to low and add the vanilla and red food dye. Once it incorporates, beat it well.
- Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly add the flour mixture in several additions. Let each one almost completely incorporate before adding the next. Scrape down the bowl several times. It is a delicate balance of timing. Add the dry ingredients too quickly and it will take longer to mix in and gluten will develop, but add them too slowly and the flour will be worked and gluten will develop anyway! Watch the video to see how I add my dry ingredients.
- Scoop or spoon out golf ball sized portions of the cookie dough. Roll into a ball and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.
- When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 325°F convection or 350°F standard.
- Pour about ¼ cup granulated sugar in a bowl and roll each cookie dough ball in the sugar before placing back on the lined baking sheet. Space the cookies 2 inches apart to allow for spreading.
- Bake in preheated oven 9-10 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through. The cookies will spread and look matte on top. The tops will begin to have little cracks and will no longer look shiny.
- Allow to cool on the sheet pan completely before frosting or enjoying. Ideally the cooling allows the crumb to set, but I am not a baking tyrant and I won’t even give a second glance if one or two disappears before cooling! Taste testing is the cook’s prerogative. 😉
Make the frosting:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, vanilla bean seeds until light and smooth. Switch to whisk attachment and add cream. For more detailed instructions and tips, visit my Cream Cheese Frosting for Cookies post!
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