Red Velvet Layer Cake

Red velvet cake…it has eluded me for so long!! You’ve been asking me to share my favorite red velvet layer cake recipe, and I’ve wanted to. I wasn’t procrastinating, I just hadn’t made a red velvet cake I was truly happy with.

I made an oreo red velvet cake based on my vanilla layer cake recipe, which was good. It had great structure, tasted great, but the texture was the same as my vanilla layer cake recipe.

It’s a butter cake recipe, and a bit denser than I like a red velvet cake to be. While I thought it tasted great, it just wasn’t quite what I imagine when I think of a classic red velvet cake.

I wanted moist, spongy, tender cake layers, sandwiched between generous layers of cream cheese frosting. So I continued my red velvet experiments.

I tried tons of different recipes to see what ratios I preferred, played around with the amount of leavening agents, and went through 4 iterations of recipe testing.

And here we have it. A delicious red velvet cake recipe that is super moist, and has a delicate, tender crumb.

image of sliced red velvet cake, decorated with cake crumbs

Oil Vs. Butter, or Oil & Butter?

While most of my cake recipes use butter as the fat, this recipes uses oil. Butter can add a lot of flavor to a cake, but oil adds a lot of moisture. Not to say that a butter cake is dry, but the texture is far from that of a cake recipe made with oil.

Oil gives the cake a fluffier texture. While I love a good butter cake, that’s not the texture I associate with a red velvet cake. That’s why this cake recipe uses only oil.

Red Food Coloring

When you make a red velvet cake, you expect it to have that gorgeous, deep red color when you cut in. I’ve found that it’s a lot easier to achieve that using gel food coloring.

I prefer americolor, but any gel food coloring will work! If you don’t have gel food coloring on hand, you can also use liquid food coloring.

image of red velvet cake batter being whisked together

I’ve found that you need to use an entire bottle of liquid food coloring to get the deep red color, so be sure you have a full bottle if you go this route.

The Cream Cheese Frosting

This red velvet cake recipe would taste great with just about any frosting, but I wanted to stick with the classic combination of cream cheese frosting and red velvet cake.

My cream cheese buttercream is a dream to frost with. It’s thick, has great structure, and pipes like a dream. It’s wonderful for layer cakes, because it is stiff enough to support the weight of the cake layers.

image of border being piped on red velvet layer cake

This cream cheese frosting recipe is also stiff enough to pipe a beautiful border around the top of the cake, which is exactly what I did for this cake!

Decorating This Red Velvet Layer Cake

While I love making challenging cake designs, sometimes it’s nice to just make a classic layer cake. I kept things simple with this cake, and used crumbled cake tops to decorate the sides of the cake.

This cake decoration screams red velvet! It’s also super easy to make, and gives the cake such a classic look.

image of red velvet layer cake

Tips for Making Tender, Moist Cakes:

  • Don’t overmix your batter, and stir until the flour is just combined into the batter
  • Be sure to properly measure your flour (spoon into the cup measure, then level), or even better, use a kitchen scale when making the cake batter
  • Make sure your ingredients are at room temp
  • Bang your pans on the counter before popping them into the oven, to bring any air bubbles that are trapped in the batter to the surface
  • Don’t over bake you layers! Keep an eye on them, and be sure to set a timer

Let Me Know What You Think!

If you try this red velvet layer cake recipe, I’d love to hear what think of it! Please leave a rating, and let me know your thoughts in the comments section πŸ™‚

Surprisingly, my husband actually ate this cake! He rarely tries my cakes, but he had several bites of this one πŸ˜› I think that means he approves!

image of happy husband with red velvet layer cake
Yield: 24

Red Velvet Layer Cake

Red Velvet Layer Cake

This classic red velvet layer cake recipe is moist, tender, and delicious! It's frosted with the best cream cheese frosting, and is irresistable!

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 26 minutes
Additional Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 16 minutes


Red Velvet Cake

  • 1 cup vegetable oil (224 grams)
  • 2 eggs (112 grams)
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature (228 grams)
  • 1 Tbsp white vinegar (9 grams)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract (6 grams)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar (400 grams)
  • 2 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder (8 grams)
  • 1 tsp salt (6 grams)
  • 1 tsp baking soda (6 grams)
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (325 grams)
  • 2 squirts of red gel food coloring (or 1 Tbsp liquid food coloring)

Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting

  • 2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature (452 grams) - 4 sticks
  • 1 cup full-fat cream cheese, room temperature (225 grams or 8 oz.)
  • 11 cups powdered sugar (1375 grams)
  • 1 tsp salt (6 grams)
  • 2 Tbsp heavy cream (or whipping cream) (29 grams)
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract (12 grams)

Additional Tools

  • piping bag
  • wilton 1M frosting tip


Red Velvet Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degree C).
  2. Grease and line three 6-inch, or 3 7-inch cake pans.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the vegetable oil, eggs, buttermilk, white vinegar and vanilla extract.
  4. Add granulated sugar, and whisk for 30 seconds to help the dissolve the sugar.
  5. Mix in the cocoa powder, salt and baking soda, and whisk until no clumps remain.
  6. Add red gel food coloring, and mix until the batter is evenly colored a deep shade of red.
  7. Mix the flour into the batter in two installments.
  8. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans, and bake for 27-30 minutes.
  9. Remove pans from oven, and allow them to cool in the pans for 10 minutes.
  10. Carefully flip the layers out of the pans, and place on a wire rack to finish cooling.
  11. Level the cake tops with a serrated knife once they're fully cooled.
  12. Use a fork to crumble the cake tops, and cover and set aside.

Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting:

  1. Beat the butter and cream cheese on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until smooth.
  2. Add in the vanilla and salt, and beat on low until the ingredients are fully incorporated.
  3. Slowly mix in the powdered sugar on a very low speed, 1 cup at a time. Alternate with small splashes of cream.Β 
  4. If the frosting is too thick, add in additional cream (1 tablespoon at a time).
  5. If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (1/4 cup at a time).
  6. Cover the cream cheese frosting with a piece of plastic wrap, to prevent a crust from forming until you're ready to use it.

Red Velvet Cake Assembly:

  1. Stack and frost cake layers on a greaseproof cake board, using a dab of frosting to help stick the first cake layer to the board.
  2. Add an even layer of buttercream between each cake layer.
  3. Add a thin coat of frosting around the cake, to fully cover the cake layers. Smooth using a bench scraper, then chill the cake in the fridge (20 minutes) or freezer (5 minutes) until the frosting is firm to the touch.
  4. Add a second, thicker layer of frosting to the cake, and smooth using a bench scraper.
  5. Carefully press the reserved red velvet crumbs along the side of the cake with you hand.
  6. Place the remaining cream cheese buttercream into a frosting bag fit with a Wilton 1M frosting tip.
  7. Pipe a border around the top of the cake.


These cake layers can be made in advance! Learn how to properly wrap and freeze cake layers here.

If you have extra buttercream you don't use, it can be stored in the fridge.

Nutrition Information



Serving Size


Amount Per Serving Calories 594Total Fat 29gSaturated Fat 13gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 15gCholesterol 68mgSodium 314mgCarbohydrates 83gFiber 0gSugar 71gProtein 3g

119 thoughts on “Red Velvet Layer Cake

  1. Would this recipe be able to be converted into a gluten-free recipe by subbing the flour for a gluten-free flour with xanthan gum?

    1. Hi Katie,

      Yes! Just be sure to mix the batter really well (i.e. overmix!) to help give the cake structure, and let the batter sit for at least 30 minutes before baking to give the GF flour time to absorb some of the moisture from the batter. This will help prevent a gritty texture. Hope that helps, happy baking!

  2. Hi,
    Can I use this Red Velvet cake recipe for a wedding cake , or would it be to soft? I am using fondant to cover the cake.

    1. Hi Jeanene,

      As long as the cake is properly supported, this works great in a tiered fondant cake! Hope that helps, happy baking!

  3. Just wanna ask and clarify one, do i really need to put 11 cups of powdered sugar? Wouldn’t be too sweet? Thank you

    1. Hi Louriecel,

      This is an american based frosting recipe, which is based on a standard ratio of 2 cups of powdered sugar for every stick or 1/2 cup of butter or fat. If you want to add less powdered sugar you can, but it will change the consistency of the frosting and make it more difficult to decorate with. If you want to try a less sweet frosting I’d recommend using my swiss meringue buttercream or my russian buttercream recipe. Hope that helps, happy baking!

  4. Would you recommend this particular red velvet recipe to be used in a wedding cake or would you make alterations to support the weight?

    1. Hi Melissa,

      As long as the tiers are properly supported, this recipe should work great in a tiered cake!

    1. Hi Sandra,

      This recipe would actually work great to make 2, 9″ cake layers! Just keep an eye on them as they bake, as they might take slightly longer to bake through. Hope your cake turns out great πŸ™‚

Let me know what you think!