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Looking for a way to show just how much you care this Valentine’s Day? If so, you can’t go wrong with a decadent red velvet cake. This layered cake is a staple recipe to keep in your back pocket for any birthday parties or the final sweet treat to a romantic date night. With a rich chocolate flavor, a fluffy texture and a tangy cream cheese icing, this dessert was made to impress.

What’s the difference between red velvet cake and chocolate cake?

While red velvet cake is very similar to chocolate cake, there are a few factors that set it apart. Apart from the signature red color, red velvet cake also has vinegar added into the batter which results in an extra light and fluffy cake paired with the buttermilk. The buttermilk and vinegar combo + the cream cheese frosting gives that signature tang to the cake that really sets it apart from classic chocolate cake.

What’s the best food coloring to use?

The more concentrated your food coloring, the better for this cake. You want to generously color the chocolate batter so that after baking it’s a beautiful bright red. The 2 tablespoons called for in this recipe is assuming you’re using a classic water based dye like McCormick. If you have a gel based dye, which are usually more pigmented, you will be able to use less food coloring, possibly around half as much.

Frosting options.

Personally, we think the classic red velvet and cream cheese combo is unbeatable. The tanginess of the cream cheese paired with the chocolate and slight tang of the buttermilk is why this duo is a classic pair. But, if cream cheese just really isn’t your favorite, try our classic buttercream instead! Tried this yet? Let us know how it went in the comments below!

Editor’s Note: After reviewing comments of the cake being dry, we retested and updated the recipe on January 13, 2022.

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10 – 12 serving(s)

For the cake

  • Cooking spray

  • 1 c.

    (2 sticks) butter, softened

  • 1 c.

    granulated sugar

  • 2

    large eggs

  • 1 tsp.

    pure vanilla extract

  • 2 c.

    all-purpose flour

  • 1/3 c.

    Dutch-processed cocoa powder

  • 1 tsp.

    baking soda

  • 1 tsp.

    kosher salt

  • 1 c.


  • 1 tbsp.

    distilled white vinegar

  • 2 tbsp.

    red food coloring

For cream cheese frosting

  • 2

    (8-oz.) blocks cream cheese, softened

  • 1/2 c.

    (1 stick) butter, softened

  • 4 c.

    powdered sugar

  • 1 tsp.

    pure vanilla extract

  • 1/4 tsp.

    Pinch kosher salt

  • Nutrition Information
  • Per Serving (Serves 12)
  • Calories676 Fat39 gSaturated fat23 gTrans fat1 gCholesterol134 mgSodium423 mgCarbohydrates76 gFiber1 gSugar58 gProtein7 gVitamin D1 mcgCalcium79 mgIron2 mgPotassium186 mg
  • Note: The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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    1. Step 1Preheat oven to 350°. Line two 8″ round cake pans with parchment paper and grease with cooking spray. In a large bowl using a hand mixer (or in the bowl of a stand mixer), beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition then add vanilla.
    2. Step 2In another large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Add half the dry ingredients to wet ingredients, beating until just combined. Add buttermilk, vinegar, and red food coloring, beating to combine. Add remaining dry ingredients.
    3. Step 3Divide batter between prepared cake pans and bake until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
    4. Step 4Meanwhile, make frosting: In a large bowl using a hand mixer (or in the bowl of a stand mixer), beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add powdered sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and salt and mix until combined. Add more powdered sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, if necessary, until frosting is thick and a nice spreadable consistency.
    5. Step 5Assemble cake: Using a serrated knife, level tops of cakes, reserving the scraps for decorating. Place one layer on cake stand or serving platter, then top with a thick layer of frosting and second cake layer. Frost top and sides of cake. Crumble reserved cake pieces and press onto sides of cake.

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Headshot of Makinze Gore

Makinze Gore

Food Editor

Makinze is currently Food Editor for Delish, where she develops recipes, creates and hosts recipe videos and is our current baking queen.. Reigning from Oklahoma, she’s also our go-to for all things regarding Midwestern cuisine. She’s also our expert pie crimper.

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