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The Best Red Velvet Cupcake Recipe makes soft, tender red velvet cupcakes studded with white chocolate chips and topped with a smooth Strawberry Cream Cheese Buttercream. Lightly chocolatey, luscious, and perfect for any occasion!

Red velvet cupcake with a peeled cupcake wrapper.

These red velvet cupcakes are phenomenal baked with just the classics, but the vanilla and caramel notes of the white chocolate chips round out these soft and satisfying cupcakes. 

If you’re a white chocolate lover, be sure to also check out my cloud-like White Chocolate Raspberry Mousse and white chocolate macadamia nut cookies. Or if you like to keep it classic, stick with slices of Flourless Chocolate Decadence Cake or ramekins of Crème Brûlée!

What makes this the best recipe:

  • This recipe’s ingredients prioritize taste and texture. This cake uses sour cream for an incredibly moist crumb, Dutch-processed cocoa powder for a superior cocoa flavor, and a drop of red food dye so we get the best taste and presentation.
  • Soft, fluffy cupcake crumb. After the butter and sugar are carefully creamed, mix the ingredients until only just combined. This is what creates soft, luscious, and unforgettable cupcakes.
  • Perfected by a pro pastry chef. No-fuss step-by-step process with the perfect ratio of ingredients, by weight and by volume!

Professional Tips

  • Sift your dry ingredients. Since we are using cake flour, this is one of those rare times when sifting is absolutely essential. Cake flour is quite fine and will clump easily otherwise.
  • Fill the cupcake liners 3/4 full. Unlike muffins, which you want tall and rounded, you want flat cupcake tops or just a slight mound in the center. The only way to achieve this and eliminate overflow, is by not overfilling the liners.
  • The key to beautiful, professional cupcake frosting is using a large piping tip. Use the largest tip you own. I love Ateco 888, Ateco 849 (closed star), and the Ateco 869 (French star), or use the Ateco 809 for a plain round tip.
Red velvet cupcakes with pink frosting.
These Caramel Apple Cupcakes are a moist cinnamon cake filled with a spiced apple compote and are frosted with an easy salted caramel buttercream!
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Ingredients

  • Granulated Sugar
  • Butter: I use unsalted butter in my baked goods so I can keep track of the salt content.
  • Light Brown Sugar: Using light brown sugar adds sweetness along with a little moisture.
  • Whole Eggs: Whole eggs add fat, moisture and leavening when beaten into the creamed butter and sugar. They also emulsify the batter, which helps create a tender texture.
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Red Food Dye: Just as in my Best Red Velvet Cake Recipe, you could replace the red food dye with water if you’d like, but the resulting cupcake will not have that beautiful bright red color. And we love that gorgeous red, especially for Valentine’s Day Desserts!
  • Sour Cream: The extra fat and the low liquid content in sour cream help add flavor, lock in moisture, and lower gluten.
  • Water
  • Cake Flour: I use cake flour because the lower gluten content and finer texture are essential for getting that light, airy cupcake! If you don’t have cake flour, then substitute all-purpose flour.
  • Cocoa Powder: I use Dutch processed cocoa powder, which means it has been treated with an alkaline solution. This neutralizes the acidity, and so it will not react with baking soda or baking powder. You could use standard unsweetened cocoa powder or natural cocoa powder if needed. The flavor would be slightly more acidic and the color would be lighter.
  • Baking Soda & Kosher Salt
  • Mini White Chocolate Chips
  • Cream Cheese: I use original Philadelphia full-fat cream cheese for all my buttercreams. You could use low-fat cream cheese, but not whipped.
  • Confectioners’ sugar
  • Lemon juice
  • Strawberry Jam: If you have just a bit of extra prep time, my Quick Strawberry Jam will take this buttercream to the next level! You could also use your favorite store-bought variety.

See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.

Substitute the cream cheese frosting & other variations

How to Make Red Velvet Cupcakes

Further details and measurements can be found in the recipe card below.

Make the cupcakes:

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350°F (standard) or 325°F (convection). Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners, this recipe makes 12.

If using flimsy cupcake liners, I like to double up for the insurance.

Step 2: In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients: cake flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Sift & set aside.

Step 3: In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream and water until no lumps remain.

Step 4: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on high for 1 minute. Let it stand for 2 minutes, and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Continue beating for 2-3 minutes more or until the mixture is light in color and fluffy. 

Step 5: Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and food dye in with the last egg.

Step 6: Reduce the mixer speed to low, and alternately add the flour mixture and sour cream mixture. I find that it is best to begin and end with the flour mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. I did this in three additions. Stop mixing as soon as the last of the flour has incorporated.

Step 7: Mix in the chocolate chips on low speed just until distributed. You can do this by hand with a spatula or spoon if you wish.

Step 8: Scoop the batter into the prepared cupcake tins. The liners should be about ¾ full.

I use an ice cream scoop to make my portioning process more easily even. 

Step 9: Bake in the  preheated oven for 12 to 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few clinging crumbs. After 2 minutes in the tin, remove to a wire rack and let cool completely before frosting.

Cooling on a wire rack will stop the cooking process and also keep them from getting soggy. It also helps keep them from sticking to the liners!

Make the buttercream & assemble:

Step 10: Using a stand mixer or an electric mixer, cream together cream cheese, butter and sugar until smooth. Add lemon juice, jam, and {optional} food coloring. Mix to incorporate.

Step 11: Fit a piping bag with your favorite tip and fill with buttercream. Frost and enjoy! 

Chef Lindsey’s Recipe Tip

If your cupcake batter is too dry, there’s a good chance your ingredients ratio is off. The easiest way to get accurate measurements is to use a kitchen scale! For the most tender cake, only mix your ingredients until they are just incorporated. I also fold in my chocolate chips by hand.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you store red velvet cupcakes?

Store unfrosted cupcakes well-wrapped at room temperature or in the freezer. Unfrosted cupcakes will keep at room temperature for 3 days, in the fridge for a week or frozen for up to two months! Store unused frosting in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Once frosted, cupcakes can be kept at room temperature for up to three days.

Why add vinegar to red velvet cake?

White vinegar reacts with baking soda, which aids in leavening the cake. The vinegar also interacts with non-alkalized cocoa powder to create that famous red velvet color. This particular recipe uses sour cream, which reacts with the baking soda instead of vinegar or buttermilk. Using sour cream yields a more delicious cake than vinegar. If you forget to add an acid, your cake will be less fluffy. It would also be less red, as you are missing a key chemical reaction component.

What is the flavoring in red velvet cake?

Red Velvet cake has a subtle chocolate flavor from the cocoa powder but a slight tanginess from the addition of buttermilk, white vinegar, or sour cream. Too much red food dye will make it taste artificial. Oftentimes the most predominant flavor is the cream cheese buttercream, which is sweet and a little tangy.

Red velvet cupcake on marble countertop.

If you tried this recipe and loved it please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it goes in the comments below. I love hearing from you; your comments make my day!

Red Velvet White Chocolate Cupcake unwrapped closeup
5 from 2 ratings

Best Red Velvet Cupcakes

The Best Red Velvet Cupcake Recipe makes soft, tender red velvet cupcakes studded with white chocolate chips and topped with a smooth Strawberry Cream Cheese Buttercream. Lightly chocolatey, luscious, and perfect for any occasion!
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 40 minutes
Servings: 12 people

Ingredients 
 

For the Cupcakes:

For the Buttercream:

Instructions 

Make the cupcakes:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (standard) or 325°F (convection). Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners, this recipe makes 12.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients: cake flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Sift & set aside.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream and water until no lumps remain.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on high for 1 minute. Let it stand for 2 minutes, and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Continue beating for 2-3 minutes more or until the mixture is light in color and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and food dye in with the last egg.
  • Reduce the mixer speed to low, and alternately add the flour mixture and sour cream mixture. I find that it is best to begin and end with the flour mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. I did this in three additions. Stop mixing as soon as the last of the flour has incorporated.
  • Mix in the chocolate chips on low speed just until distributed. You can do this by hand with a spatula or spoon if you wish.
  • Scoop the batter into the prepared cupcake tins. The liners should be about ¾ full.
  • Bake in the  preheated oven for 12 to 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few clinging crumbs. After 2 minutes in the tin, remove to a wire rack and let cool completely before frosting.

Make the buttercream & assemble:

  • Using a stand mixer or an electric mixer, cream together cream cheese, butter and sugar until smooth. Add lemon juice, jam, and {optional} food coloring. Mix to incorporate.
  • Fit a piping bag with your favorite tip and fill with buttercream. Frost and enjoy!

Notes

Yield: 12 cupcakes
Adapted from: Southern Living’s red velvet cake recipe
Technique – Stop mixing as soon as the last of the flour mixture has disappeared so you don’t over-develop the gluten in your cupcakes.
Variations – Use a different frosting. Consider my  Favorite Cream Cheese Buttercream or even a Chocolate Buttercream Frosting! Add 2 tablespoons of whiskey for a bourbon buttercream variation. 
Storage – Store unfrosted cupcakes well-wrapped at room temperature or in the freezer. Unfrosted cupcakes will keep at room temperature for 3 days, in the fridge for a week, or frozen for up to two months! Store unused frosting in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Once frosted, cupcakes can be kept at room temperature for up to three days.

Nutrition

Calories: 707kcal | Carbohydrates: 64g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 49g | Saturated Fat: 30g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 152mg | Sodium: 338mg | Potassium: 213mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 49g | Vitamin A: 1548IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 106mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Calories: 707
Like this? Leave a comment below!

Before You Go

I hope you enjoyed this professional chef tested recipe. Check out our other delicious, chef-developed Cupcake Recipes. Or keep it cozy with my list of Winter Dessert Recipes!

Red Velvet White Chocolate Cupcakes with Strawberry Cream Cheese Buttercream
Red Velvet White Chocolate Cupcakes with Strawberry Cream Cheese Buttercream

Hi, I’m Chef Lindsey!

I am the baker, recipe developer, writer, and photographer behind Chef Lindsey Farr. I believe in delicious homemade food and the power of dessert!

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2 Comments

    1. Hi Susan! I accidentally included baking powder in the instructions, when it is not in the ingredients. Thank you for commenting and saving future confusion! These cupcakes just use baking soda! I’ve updated the recipe card. Happy baking!