Design to Dish: The Best Red-Velvet Cupcakes

By Melissa of  Lulu the Baker

birthday party bridal shower girls night out theme

While I was browsing Minted a few months ago, I found this darling invitation for something called a “Red Velvet Revelry.” I love the idea of building a whole party around such a rich, decadent dessert! Everything about red-velvet cake is show-stopping, from the deep color to the delicious, tangy flavor. It’s the perfect centerpiece for a luxe birthday party, bridal shower, or girls’ night out, and it’s a great party theme that works any time of year.

After having a few not-so-stellar red-velvet cake experiences, I just didn’t see what all the fuss was about. The cakes and cupcakes I ate were always dry and a little lacking in flavor. Then, I found a recipe for red-velvet cake that was tangy and rich, with subtle chocolate and buttermilk flavors, and everything changed! The cake baked up light and fluffy and moist—it changed my mind forever about red velvet cake! I’ve modified the recipe a little over the years and now have a go-to red-velvet cupcake recipe that is always a big hit! Read on for the recipe…

1. Red Velvet Revelry Invitations from Minted
2. Chocolate-Covered Strawberries from The Savage Feast
3. Gorgeous red and pink flowers via Style Me Pretty
4. Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting, recipe below
5. Red and pink balloons via Snippet & Ink
6. Red Velvet Revelry party decor suite from Minted

red velvet birthday party bridal shower girls night out theme

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from Southern Cakes by Nancie McDermott

For the cupcakes:
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
2 Tablespoons red food coloring
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar

For the frosting:
1 brick cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
a pinch of salt
cream or half-and-half

Line 30 cupcake tins with paper liners. Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl, combine flour and salt, and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat until combined. In a small bowl, combine cocoa powder and food coloring, and beat the mixture into the main bowl. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture, beating until just incorporated, then add 1/2 of the buttermilk, again beating until just incorporated. Repeat until all of the flour and buttermilk have been added. In a small bowl, combine baking soda and vinegar, then fold the mixture into the main bowl. Divide the batter evenly among all of the baking cups (I use my ice cream scoop!). Bake 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Remove the cupcakes from the oven and allow to cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt, and beat until smooth. Beat in cream or half-and-half as necessary to reach desired consistency. When the cupcakes are completely cool, frost them. You can either pipe on a thin layer of frosting, or spread it on with a frosting spreader.

Find more of Melissa on her blog.

  1. Lani

    Hi! What brand of cocoa powder and red food coloring did you use for these cupcakes?

    • Heather Lee

      Hi Lani! Just checked with the author Melissa, and she said she used Hershey’s Cocoa Powder and McCormick’s red food coloring.