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Red Velvet Cupcakes with Buttermilk

I shared my favorite red velvet cake recipe earlier this year and it led to lots of questions about red velvet cupcakes. After a bit of recipe testing, I was finally happy with this recipe for red velvet cupcakes with buttermilk.

I’ve made a few tweaks to this recipe so that it makes the most tender and delicious red velvet cupcakes possible 🙂

image of beautiful red velvet cupcake, decorated with red velvet crumbs

I also cut my cake recipe in half, which allows this red velvet cupcake recipe to perfectly make one dozen cupcakes.

The Secret Ingredient: Buttermilk

Anyone who has made my cake recipes before knows I am obsessed with buttermilk.

I love baking with it and use it in most of my recipes! It makes such tender cake layers and adds so much moisture! It also gives my baked goods a delicious tang.

While I love using it in other recipes, I think it absolutely essential in any red velvet recipe.

It’s a quintessential part of the classic red velvet taste we know and love. That’s why I named this recipe red velvet cupcakes with buttermilk!!

image of red velvet cupcakes being scooped into cupcake liners

While buttermilk can be found in most grocery stores, some parts of the country or foreign countries don’t sell it. If you’re having a hard time getting your hands on buttermilk, don’t worry.

You can make your own buttermilk! For each cup of buttermilk that the recipe calls for, use 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice plus enough whole milk to fill 1 cup. 

Oil Vs. Butter, or Oil & Butter?

While my red velvet layer cake recipe uses oil as the only fat, this cupcake recipe uses both butter and 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 butter cakes and cupcakes, that’s not the texture I associate with red velvet.

I loved the texture of my cake recipe with all oil, but I found the bottom of the cake layers to be a tiny bit oily. I didn’t want that to happen to these cupcakes, especially since they’d be baking in paper liners.

So, I decided to split the difference and make these cupcakes with equal parts butter and oil. The result is a fluffy, tender cupcake with the perfect amount of moisture.

image of moist red velvet cupcake, cut in half to show moist crumb

Red Food Coloring

When you make anything red velvet, you expect it to have that gorgeous, deep red color when you bite 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 bright red, red velvet cupcake

I’ve found that you need to use about half a bottle of liquid food coloring to get that deep red color, so be sure you have enough on hand if you go this route.

Any Color Velvet Cupcakes

While we’re on the topic of color, these cupcakes aren’t limited to just being red. Baking for a baby shower? Make pink velvet or blue velvet!

Or maybe your favorite color is purple (like me)? Purple velvet cupcakes it is!!

This cupcake recipe can be made in any color, just be sure you have that shade of food coloring on hand. I used this recipe to make both red and green velvet cupcakes for my grinch cupcakes, and they turned out perfectly.

Don’t be afraid to get creative and taste the rainbow!!

The Cream Cheese Frosting

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

My cream cheese buttercream is a dream to frost with. It’s thick, has great structure, and pipes like a dream.

image of red velvet cupcake frosted with a giant swirl of cream cheese frosting

I love frosting cupcakes with it because it’s stiff enough to pipe a big, beautiful swirl on top of a cupcake. And that is exactly what I did for these red velvet cupcakes with buttermilk!

Decorating These Red Velvet Cupcakes

Speaking of frosting, I used a Wilton 1M frosting tip to pipe these massive swirls of cream cheese frosting.

However, when I was done, I felt they like they needed a little something else. I ended up crumbling one cupcake with a fork to create some red velvet crumbs.

I sprinkled these over the top of my frosted cupcakes, almost like sprinkles. The crumbs adds a great pop of color, along with some additional texture!

This decoration also is super easy to do and give the cupcakes such a classic look.

Tips for Making Tender, Moist Cupcakes:

  • Ingredients at room temp mix together better. Set out any cold ingredients ahead of time.
  • Properly measure your flour (spoon into the cup measure and then level) or use a kitchen scale to measure your dry ingredients.
  • Once you add the flour, mix your cupcake batter just until the ingredients are incorporated. This will ensure your cupcakes are tender and fluffy.
  • Use a cookie scoop to easily fill your cupcake liners. It also makes sure your cupcakes end up being the same height.
  • Bang your cupcake pan on the counter before putting it in the oven. This brings any air bubbles that are trapped in the batter to the surface.
  • Seal off the top of your piping bag with a rubber band to prevent any frosting from seeping out the top of the bag and make the piping bags easier to use.
image of beautiful red velvet cupcake, decorated with red velvet crumbs

Making These Red Velvet Cupcakes in Advance & Storage Tips

Make your cupcakes in advance! If stored unfrosted in an airtight container, they can last for 2 days at room temp, up to a week in the fridge, or up to 3 months in the freezer.

Make your frosting ahead of time too or save any leftover frosting! It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, or in the freezer for up to a month. Be sure to give it a good stir once it thaws to get the consistency nice and smooth again.

Frosted cupcakes can sit out at room temperature for up to 3 hours or be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days in an airtight container. However, I find frosting them right before serving is best.

Let Me Know What You Think!

If you try these red velvet cupcakes with buttermilk, I’d love to hear what you think of them! Please leave a rating and let me know your thoughts in the comments section.

Don’t forget to tag me @chelsweets and use #chelsweets on social media so I can see your amazing creations!

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Yield: 12

Red Velvet Cupcakes

image of red velvet cupcake

These red velvet cupcakes with buttermilk are easy to make & absolutely delicious! They're frosted w/ the best cream cheese frosting and are a total crowd pleaser!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 19 minutes
Additional Time 30 minutes
Total Time 59 minutes

Ingredients

Red Velvet Cupcakes

  • 1/4 cup butter, melted (57g)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil (56g)
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk, room temperature (80ml)
  • 1 large egg, room temperature (56g)
  • 1 1/2 tsp white vinegar (6ml)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (4ml)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (200g)
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (155g)
  • 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder (4g)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (3g)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda (3g)
  • 1 squirt of red gel food coloring or 1 1/2 tsp liquid food coloring

Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting

  • 3/4 cup or 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature (170g)
  • 1/4 cup full-fat cream cheese, room temperature (56g or 2 oz.)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (4ml)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (3g)
  • 3 cups powdered sugar (375g)
  • 1 Tbsp heavy cream or whipping cream (15ml)

Additional Tools

Instructions

Red Velvet Cupcakes:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F / 175°C and line a standard sized muffin tin with 12 cupcake liners.
  2. Whisk together 1/4 cup melted butter and 1/4 cup vegetable oil in a large bowl.
  3. Add in 1/3 cup buttermilk, 1 egg, 1 1/2 tsp white vinegar, and 1 tsp vanilla extract. Whisk until combined.
  4. Add 1 cup granulated sugar and whisk for 30 seconds to help the dissolve the sugar.
  5. Sift in 1 1/4 cups flour, 1 tsp cocoa powder, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp baking soda. Whisk until just combined.
  6. Add the red gel food coloring and mix until the batter is a deep shade of red and evenly colored.
  7. Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners and bake for about 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs.
  8. Remove the cupcake pan from the oven and let them cool in the pan for 10 minutes.
  9. Carefully remove the cupcakes from the pan and place on a wire rack to finish cooling.

Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting:

  1. Beat 3/4 cup butter and 1/4 cup cream cheese on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment or hand mixer until smooth.
  2. Add in 1 tsp vanilla extract and 1/2 tsp salt. Beat on a medium speed until the ingredients are fully incorporated.
  3. Slowly mix in 3 cups of powdered sugar and 1 Tbsp of heavy cream on a low speed.
  4. If the frosting is too thick, add in additional cream (1 tablespoon at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (1/4 cup at a time).
  5. Place frosting in a piping bag fitted with a Wilton 1M (or open star) frosting tip.

Red Velvet Cupcake Decoration:

  1. Once the cupcakes are fully cooled, remove one cupcake from its liner and use a fork to crumble it into tiny pieces in a small bowl. If you don't want to crumble an entire cupcake, trim the tops off of a few cupcakes and crumble. Set aside.
  2. Pipe large swirls of buttercream frosting on top of each cupcake.
  3. Sprinkle the red velvet cupcake crumbs on top of the frosting and enjoy!

Notes

Making Mini Red Velvet Cupcakes

If you want to make mini red velvet cupcakes, this recipe can be baked in mini muffin tins! It makes about 36 mini cupcakes, and they only need to bake for 10-12 minutes at 350 F / 175 C.

Tips for Making the Best Red Velvet Cupcakes

  • Ingredients at room temp mix together better. Set out any cold ingredients ahead of time.
  • Properly measure your flour (spoon into the cup measure and then level) or use a kitchen scale to measure your dry ingredients.
  • Once you add the flour, mix your cupcake batter just until the ingredients are incorporated. This will ensure your cupcakes are tender and fluffy.
  • Use a large cookie scoop to easily fill your cupcake liners. It also makes sure your cupcakes end up being the same height.
  • Bang your cupcake pan on the counter before putting it in the oven. This brings any air bubbles that are trapped in the batter to the surface.
  • Seal off the top of your piping bag with a rubber band to prevent any frosting from seeping out the top of the bag and make the piping bags easier to use.

Red Velvet Cupcake Variations

To make gluten free red velvet cupcakes, swap in your favorite gluten free flour blend for the AP flour this recipe calls for and be sure to over-mix your batter and let it sit for at least 30 minutes before baking for best results.

Making These Red Velvet Cupcakes in Advance & Storage Tips

Make your cupcakes in advance! If stored unfrosted in an airtight container, they can last for 2 days at room temp, up to a week in the fridge, or up to 3 months in the freezer.

Make your frosting ahead of time too or save any leftover frosting! It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, or in the freezer for up to a month. Be sure to give it a good stir once it thaws to get the consistency nice and smooth again.

Frosted cupcakes can sit out at room temperature for up to 3 hours or be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days in an airtight container. However, I find frosting them right before serving is best.

Nutrition Information

Yield

12

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 450Total Fat 24gSaturated Fat 12gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 10gCholesterol 66mgSodium 327mgCarbohydrates 57gFiber 0gSugar 46gProtein 3g

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I’ve made this recipe twice and for some reason they keep sinking in the middle, I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.

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This was the most disappointing recipe I have made in years. I bought speciality items as you prescribed; the cake batter itself is blah, no chocolate taste, no moistness. I haven’t made a scratch batter in years; I had planned on ‘special treat’ for my husband, my neighbor, my daughter & family. Don’t have the slightest idea why you had a good rating. Far too much frosting for 16 cupcakes; even that couldn’t save the recipe.

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