Red velvet cupcakes recipe

(3273 ratings)

These red velvet cupcakes have a rich cream cheese frosting and are under 420 calories a cake.

Red velvet cupcakes
(Image credit: Hummingbird Bakery/Peter Cassidy)
Preparation Time10 mins
Cooking Time25 mins
Total Time35 mins
Cost RangeMid
Nutrition Per PortionRDA
Calories415 Kcal21%
Sugar57.5 g64%
Fat13 g19%
Saturated Fat7.8 g39%
Carbohydrates70.8 g27%

Red velvet cupcakes take 35 minutes to make and are a delicious afternoon treat or celebratory bake. 

This is a classic cupcake recipe from the Hummingbird Bakery which they say people can’t resist. We can see why! The rich sponge has a gorgeous deep colour, cocoa flavour and the cream cheese frosting is perfectly smooth and glossy. The recipe makes 16 cupcakes but we have instructions on how to make a three-tier celebration cake if you prefer. 


  • 120g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 20g cocoa powder
  • 1tbsp red food colouring paste, such as Sugarflair ‘Red Extra’, mixed with 3tbsp water
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 240ml buttermilk
  • 300g plain flour
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 3tsp white wine vinegar

For the cream cheese frosting:

  • 600g icing sugar, sifted
  • 100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 25g cream cheese, cold




  1. Heat the oven to 180C (160C fan, Gas 4). Line a 12-hole cupcake tray with cases. Set aside.
  2. Put the butter and the sugar in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy and well mixed. Turn the mixer up to high speed, slowly add the egg and beat until everything is well incorporated.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, red food colouring and vanilla extract to make a thick, dark paste. Add to the butter mixture and mix thoroughly until evenly combined and coloured (scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula). Turn the mixer down to slow speed and slowly pour in half the buttermilk. Beat until well mixed, then add half the flour, and beat until everything is well incorporated.
  4. Repeat this process until all the buttermilk and flour have been added. Scrape down the side of the bowl again. Turn the mixer up to high speed and beat until you have a smooth, even mixture. Turn the mixer down to low speed and add the salt, bicarbonate of soda and vinegar. Beat until well mixed, then turn up the speed again and beat for a couple more minutes.
  5. Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until two-thirds full and bake for 20–25 mins, or until the sponge bounces back when touched. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean. Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the tray before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
  6. Meanwhile for the cream cheese frosting: Beat the icing sugar and butter together in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) on medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed. Add the cream cheese in one go and beat until it is completely incorporated. Turn the mixer up to medium-high speed. Continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy.
  7. When the cupcakes are cold, spoon over the cream cheese frosting on top. Use a palette knife or the back of a spoon to create a swirl of frosting on each cake.

Watch how to make red velvet cupcakes

Top tips for making red velvet cupcakes

When making the cream cheese frosting it’s important to not over-beat the ingredients as it can become very runny. You also need to make sure the cakes are completely cooled before icing otherwise it will melt and run off the cakes. For more tips on making red velvet cupcakes, continue reading below. 

How to make a big red velvet cake?

If you’d prefer a larger celebration cake instead of cupcakes, simply double the ingredient quantities and bake in three 20cm lined and greased cake tins. The sponge should take 25 minutes at the same oven temperature of 160C fan. 

How to decorate red velvet cupcakes?

The Hummingbird Bakery say: ‘For added colour contrast, crumble some extra red velvet sponge over the cupcakes.’ To achieve this you could sacrifice one of your cupcakes to crumble and make a batch of 15  iced cupcakes with extra decoration. 

What makes red velvet cupcakes red?

Traditionally red velvet cake was made with a particular kind of cocoa powder which reacted with acid in the cake to cause the deep, brownish red colour. During the Second World War, when many foods were in the ration, beetroot was added to cakes to add sweetness, moistness and red colour. Modern red velvet cakes tend to simple use red food colouring, though they generally still contain a small amount of cocoa for flavour.

The Hummingbird Bakery CookbookView at Amazon

The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook by Tarek Malouf and The Hummingbird Bakers (Ryland Peters & Small, £11.94) - View at Amazon 

You’ll find more Hummingbird twists recipes for indulgent sweet treats in this best-selling cookbook. Browse more sweet options like their blueberry muffins as well as savoury recipes including some ham and mushroom muffins. 

You might also like our red velvet cake which generously serves 12. Alternatively our chocolate cupcakes recipe is perfect for any occasion and our rainbow cupcakes are another lovely bright bake. 

This recipe is from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook by Tarek Malouf and The Hummingbird Bakers. Photography by Peter Cassidy, Published by Ryland Peters & Small, Text © Tarek Malouf and The Hummingbird Bakers, Photography copyright Ryland Peters & Small.

Jessica Ransom
Senior Food Writer

Jessica is a freelance food writer, stylist and recipe tester. She previously worked as Senior Food Writer at Future. While at Future Jessica wrote food and drink-related news stories and features, curated product pages, reviewed equipment, and developed recipes that she then styled on food shoots. She is an enthusiastic, self-taught cook who adores eating out and sharing great food and drink with friends and family. She has completed the Level 1 Associate course at the Academy of Cheese and is continually building on her knowledge of beers, wines, and spirits.