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 servings

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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.

Notes

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

Yield

24

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 645 Total Fat 33g Saturated Fat 13g Trans Fat 0g Unsaturated Fat 18g Cholesterol 68mg Sodium 311mg Carbohydrates 86g Net Carbohydrates 0g Fiber 0g Sugar 75g Sugar Alcohols 0g Protein 3g

66 thoughts on “Red Velvet Layer Cake

    1. Hi Kiran,

      I would store this in the fridge, because it’s frosted with a cream cheese buttercream. Hope that helps, happy baking!

  1. Hello,

    I noticed that you have 1 tsp of salt listed for the cake recipe but the directions don’t say when to add it. Is it listed by accident? Thanks!!

    1. Hi Kiesha,

      So sorry about that! The salt is added in with the baking powder. I just updated the instructions to reflect this. Thank you for pointing that out!! <3

  2. I loved this recipe! It was my first red velvet cake I’ve made, but both me and the client loved it! I think I doubled the batch for 3 8” layers and it turned out great. I also doubled the icing and had way too much. I’ll be making the recipe into cupcakes for a Christmas baking contest this weekend and will be using the leftover icing. Thanks so much!!!

  3. 5 stars
    Can’t wait to try! A couple discrepancies I see… Written recipe states 1 cup buttermilk and (3 )6″ cake pans. Your video indicates 1 1/2 cups buttermilk and (3) 7″ pans. Could you clarify please? I will be using 7″ pans . Thank you!!!

    1. Hi Daniel!!

      I updated the recipe after a few more tests, but sadly I had already shot the video :/ My recipes are always more up to date than my videos, if there ever is a discrepancy between the two! It’s 1 cup of buttermilk, and you can use 6 inch or 7 inch pans. I’ve updated the recipe to reflect that you can use either pan size! I find that 7 inch pans bake for about 27 minutes in my oven, and 6 inch pans bake for 30 minutes with this recipe. Hope that helps, happy baking πŸ™‚

  4. Hey Chelsy
    Thanks so much for this recipe
    I wanted to ask
    If I wanted to make this recipe with your regular 4 layers with 7″ pans with the normal height your cakes usually have ,do u double the recipe .
    Thanks ??

  5. Hey Chelsy
    Thanks so much for this recipe
    I wanted to ask
    If I wanted to make this recipe with your regular 4 layers with 7″ pans with the normal height your cakes usually have ,do u double the recipe .
    Thanks ??

    1. Hi! If you want to make 4, 7-inch cake layers with this recipe, I’d recommend making 1 1/2 batches! Doubling it would make some really tall cake layers that would take a lot longer to bake. 1.5 batches should work great 4 layers that size. Happy baking!

  6. 5 stars
    Hey Chelsy
    Thanks so much for this recipe
    I wanted to ask
    If I wanted to make this recipe with your regular 4 layers with 7″ pans with the normal height your cakes usually have ,do u double the recipe .
    Thanks ??

  7. I wanted to provide some insight into using a bundt pan with this recipe! I tried it out in two different bundt pans, first one of the nice detailed ones and then a very simple rounded shape one. You DEFINITELY need to coat that pan because this recipe is so moist. It did not work well in the detailed pan and totally stuck despite me liberally coating it/flouring it. If you have a tube pan like they use for angel food cake I highly recommend this instead with a ring of parchment. It will make it MUCH easier to remove. I wonder if maybe the recipe that was just posted for the red velvet cupcakes (the grinch ones) would be better suited for the bundt pan as it has half butter instead of all oil. I plan on trying that next as I have so much frosting left over πŸ™‚ I ended up piecing together the top broken off pieces and then just covering it in frosting to mask the issue. No one seemed to mind but they raved on how moist and good the cake was! thank you for the recipe!

    1. Bailey you are the best πŸ™‚ Thank you for following up and sharing this!!

      It is a super moist recipe, so that doesn’t surprise me. I’m impressed by your perseverance, and happy to hear it still tasted great!

      My cupcake recipe might work better, but I’m not really sure! Clearly I just need to develop a proper red velvet bundt pan recipe for us! haha guess I know what I’ll be doing after Christmas πŸ˜› Happy holidays, and happy baking!! <3

    1. Hi Kayla,

      I haven’t tested it out myself, but I’d think it should still work. If you try it, you can use the same amount of coconut oil as the recipe calls for vegetable oil, just be sure to melt it so it’s a liquid before you add it into the batter. Hope that helps, happy baking!!

  8. Hi, Chelsy! I love your cake recipes and buttercream frosting! I made this recipe for Thanksgiving and it was great! One question, though. Anytime you mention buttermilk in your recipes, are you talking about cultured or uncultured buttermilk? (Sorry if you have answered this before) Thanks!!

    1. Hi Jacie,

      I’m so happy to hear that!! I use cultured buttermilk. That’s actually a great question! I’ve never gotten it before, or specified that in my recipes!!

      I’ll update the recipe card to reflect that πŸ™‚

  9. Just made this and it came out fantastic. I made it on Monday, served it on Wednesday and it was still excellent. Stored it in the fridge but took it out the night before to serve room temperature. Everyone loved it!!

  10. Hello!
    I would love to make this cake for my baby shower, I am having a son. Was wondering if you think replacing the red gel coloring with a blue one will be okay?
    Thank you for your help and any tips!

    1. Hi Nathalie,

      That’s an awesome idea! I think it would work great to swap the red gel food coloring for blue πŸ™‚ Hope your cake and baby shower turn out wonderfully! <3

  11. So i tried your red velvet cake recipe and the comments from my family and friends has been amazing! Thank you so much. Love from Nigeria.

    1. Hi Melissa,

      This recipe isn’t quite as sturdy as my vanilla or chocolate cake layers, but it should hold up in a wedding cake as long as the tiers are properly supported! Just be sure to also use a sturdy buttercream with it πŸ™‚

    1. Hi Melissa,

      This recipe isn’t quite as sturdy as my vanilla or chocolate cake layers, but it should hold up in a wedding cake as long as the tiers are properly supported! Just be sure to also use a sturdy buttercream with it ?

  12. Hi Chelsy, I am looking to bake this for a 10” cake as I am making my best friends wedding cake. Would you suggest doubling the recipe and cooking it for longer? Ive never had to bake a 10” cake before πŸ™‚ love your recipes. Thank you
    Lisa

    1. Hi Lisa,

      For a 10 inch cake you’ll definitely need to at least double it! How many layers do you plan to make? I have a great post on figuring out how much batter you need for different sized cake layers here: https://chelsweets.com/2019/04/22/how-much-cake-batter-per-pan/

      In terms of baking them, I suggest adding a couple heating cores / flower nails (like these: https://amzn.to/2NMFsuP) into the center of each pan with the batter, to help the cake layers bake more evenly and quickly. I hope that helps, please let me know if you have any other questions!!

Let me know what you think!