Red velvet cupcakes

(757 ratings)
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  • Makes: 12

  • Cooking time:

  • Costs: Mid-price

  • Skill level: Bit of effort

  • Romantic

Red velvet cupcakes are a classic treat. This easy red velvet cupcakes recipe is simple but so pretty and so simple to make. These popular red velvet cupcakes from the Hummingbird Bakery have deep red sponge and a tangy cream cheese frosting, which go so well together. Use the exact quantities and mix the ingredients well so the sponge has an even colour and texture. This recipe makes 12 cupcakes in one batch, but it's easy to scale up if you need to make more. For the cream cheese frosting, you'll only need three ingredients, so you know the topping is also quite simple to whip up. The best part about this red velvet recipe is that these cupcakes are ready in just 25 mins, so you won't have to wait long to enjoy them - perfect if you have eager children who can't wait to have a bite! These distinctive cupcakes are perfect for special occasions, like birthdays, anniversaries or any other celebrations. How about rustling up a batch as a foodie gift? Or what about dessert at a kids' party, or arrange them into cupcake tower instead of a birthday cake? Of course you can also whip up these delicious red velvet cupcakes on a lazy Sunday afternoon and enjoy them with a cuppa. This classic recipe by Hummingbird Bakery is one of our favourites and makes delicious red velvet cupcakes every time.

To make a red velvet cake instead, double the quantities below, divide between three 20cm cake tins and bake for 25 minutes at the same oven temperature. Frost with 2 quantities of cream cheese frosting and sandwich together.


For the red velvet cupcakes:

  • 60g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 10g cocoa powder
  • 20ml red food colouring (we recommend Dr. Oetker's or a paste colouring as red food colourings vary in strength)
  • ½tsp vanilla extract
  • 120ml buttermilk
  • 150g plain flour
  • ½tsp salt
  • ½tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1½tsp white wine vinegar
For the cream cheese frosting:

  • 300g icing sugar, sifted
  • 50g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 125g cream cheese, cold

You'll also need:

  • 12-hole cupcake tray, lined with large cupcake cases


  1. To make this cupcake recipe, preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/gas mark 3.
  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. 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.
  4. Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until two-thirds full and bake in the preheated oven 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.
  5. 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, at least 5 mins. Do not overbeat, as it can quickly become runny.
  6. When the cupcakes are cold, spoon over the cream cheese frosting on top.
The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook, Recipe text ©Tarek Malouf & The Hummingbird Bakers, Photography Peter Cassidy © Ryland Peters & Small.

Nutritional information

Guideline Daily Amount for 2,000 calories per day are: 70g fat, 20g saturated fat, 90g sugar, 6g salt.

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My mum baked these and they were absolutely delicious so, recipe in hand, I went home and tried them for myself. They were right when they advised Dr Oetker colouring... Morrisons' Own Brand turned mine a lovely puke green! So I forked out for Dr Oetker and made sure I bought better ingredients. They collapsed in the oven, even though I'd put in the baking powder. And they never solidified, even after half an hour. In the bin they went. Just tried them now for the third time and they are not red at all and the texture is awful. I give up. I really do.


i have attempted these cakes about 5 times. As you can see above, i tried it in a cake and cupcake, but these weren't successful. I found it too chocolatey. The next time i only added 1tablespoon of chocolate powder and the difference was phenomenal. I couldn't believe i'd made something that tasted professional, lol.The sponge truely is velvety and the colour of the cake is so appealing. With the added cream cheese topping, the whole cake is to die for. i have made these cakes for parties and my church group and everyone was making yummy noises. Its a cake i'll be making over and over again :D

Keira Campbell

This is one of my favourite recipes. I have used this recipe twice now, and both times it was a great sucess! I was asked to make a giant cupcake for a guess the weight of the cake competition, to raise money for The British Heart Foundation. The first time I made standard cupcakes as a trial run for taste etc, as well as to work out how much mixture I needed for the giant. It makes a very tasty cake and the colour is beautiful. The recipe for the frosting is perfect. Before this I'd had a few failed attempts of cream cheese frosting, but this one is perfect everytime. I had some fantastic comments on the cakes, and the giant raised £40! :0)


made these as cupcakes and made it as a sponge cake too. it was lovely, but i think i'd put a little less cocoa powder in, as it seemed to overpower the cake

Katy goodtoknow Recipes

To make your icing look like the pic above, spoon on a generous dollop, then place a small palette knife in the centre and turn your cake around to create a small well. Finish with a flick and smooth the edges with your palette knife. Recipes ed.

Katy goodtoknow Recipes

What a great boyfriend Jo!

the cupcake kid

These are amazing, the best cupcakes I have ever tasted! Be careful not to overcook or they come out brown rather than the beautiful red they should be if cooked properly! Absolutely delicious, chocolatey but not too rich, light and fluffy and slightly vanilla... perfect!


Made these cupcakes the other day and they were a huge hit! I've tried a few different recipes and this one just came out deliciously moist, light and soooo yummy! Definitely using this one again!


These are just delicious, fab recipe!


These are beautiful!!


My boyfriend has just made me these for my birthday and they're cooling on the side. They smell delicious! Can't wait to try one... Or two...

Katy goodtoknow Recipes

Hi Julie - we'll try to help! We've made them with the Dr Oetker colour before and had no problems - it will be a deep, dark red like the crumbs in the pic rather than bright red. What temp did you cook them on? You could also try gel or paste colour - Sugarflair is a very good brand.

Julie Johns

I have just tried this recipe following the instructions to the letter and am really disappointed as they have come out brown. I used Dr Oertker food colouring (not natural) and the batter looked a lovely red colour before putting them in the oven so not sure why the colour has changed. Any tips would be much appreciated as this is the second time I have attempted this recipe and consider myself to be a buddy baker!

Fhiona Scott

yet to taste these, however its my 2nd recipe, 2nd attempt. Mines have turned out a nice dark blood red, I used the RED Gel food colouring bough from Morissons, the make is Home2Bake... Looking forward to them cooling down and putting on the icing and eating one!!

Katy goodtoknow Recipes

Hi Monica - what brand did you use? We've tried several and Dr Oetker is the only liquid that seems to get the right colour - it's not you, it's the brands! Or try food colour paste such as Sugarflair. Happy baking!

Monica James

After trying twice a different recipe form another site, this was my last resort!! OMG they are blooming lovely!!! However... they are not very red at all!??? More like a light brown...?? any ideas please?? I followed the recipe to the latter so what have i done wrong??

Holly goodtoknow Recipes

Hi Johanna, that's just a few cake crumbs! Break a little off the top of the sponge and crumble over the icing!

Johanna Mimouni

Nice recepie ! could you tell me what is the sprinkle you use on top ? it's very prety !

Christel Frances Villacrusis A

Just made some today. My mom, usually is my worst critic loves them. The recipe is so easy and very light, not that fattening compared to others I've read. Didn't make any frosting though since I ran out of cream cheese. I just sifted some powdered sugar on top, also using a cut out heart pattern to beautify my scrumptious red velvet! See them here-->


just made this as a cake just waiting for it to cool down looks great


Mine are in the oven, they are blue velvet cakes now as my red food colouring wasn't strong enough, I also forgot to put the egg in :P will it matter? It's gonna be a disaster a least I'll have the cream cheese frosting...


These cupcakes are amaaazing! Agree with the other comments that the mix smelt a bit odd before cooking, but the cupcakes came out a beautiful red colour and were really yummy! (We used Superfoods food colouring which is quite a strong colour). The frosting is odd to make because it looks like there's way too much icing sugar to begin with but worth the mess (icing sugar dust goes everywhere when using a handheld mixer).

Jolene goodtoknow Editor

Hi Marian6 Sorry we've got back to you so late - how did you get on? Normally cakes collapse if the oven door is opened during cooking, or if the seal on your oven is broken. We would recommend sticking to the recipe though - using the bicarb of soda rather than baking powder.


Please help me out if you know the way!! I 've made those cupcakes and both these and the strawberry cheesecake ones collapsed in the oven =( I'm very disappointed cause I LOVE RED VELVET cupcakes and now I am only left with the delicious frosting!I thought that maybe I should try to use baking powder instead of soda, but I only have until tomorrow to find out what has gone wrong, because is my best friend's birthday party and I promised her red velvet cupcakes.. PS: For those having problem with the coloring, try the silver spoon one!! =)

Katy goodtoknow Recipes

Hi Cake Maniac! Cake Days is a fab book, isn't it? This red velvet cupcakes recipe is taken from Hummingbird's first book and is exactly as it appears in that book. However I understand that some of the recipes have been modified slightly for Cake Days, Hummingbird's 2nd book.

Cake Maniac 123

Adding to my earlier comment below the cupcake batter always smells delicous and they come out bright red in colour never brownish

Cake Maniac 123

I have the most recent hummingbird cookbook (cake days) and have made this recipe several times and it makes the perfect cupcakes, they taste exactly like the ones from their stores and i have recieved nothing but high praise for them< however i think the recipe may be slightly different on here than in the recipe book

dastardly cupcakes

I've made these a couple of times now. The first time I used supermarket own food colouring and they didn't go at all red but tasted very nice. Second time I used Dr Oetker as recommended and they tasted very odd! Had a weird after taste. I sniffed the Dr Oetker food colouring and it was definitely that that was giving the cakes this odd taste. I currently have a batch in the oven that I've tried to turn red by using professional colouring gel instead.


I've made these a number of times, and they are delicious although they always make more than twelve(thank goodness because they go so quick!), see the results here:

Vyzie Taur

I made these yesterday and although the mixture smelt vile before it was cooked (as I think has been mentioned above) they turned out ok, even if they were more brown than red. I frosted them, took them into work and they went down a treat! Everyone absolutely loved them so a success all round I think :) Will be making more of these in the future!

The Baking Kid

I tried this recipe yesterday and have to say that it was not too bad. Whilst the batter was in the mixer it smelt revolting but once they were baked came out pretty well. I took the advice of some of the other comments and reduced the amount of cocoa powder by 1 tsp which worked. The cream cheese frosting was also nice. I have never tried red velvet before so had noting to compare it to but was pleased with the result.


Just tried this recipe and they taste awful! I followed the method exactly and used the correct amount of ingredients and cooked for the time suggested but the cakes have turned out a brown/red colour and taste disgusting! the cakes have been binned and now im left with a bowl of frosting. Gutted! :o(


Always made the red velvet and it wasn't too great, used this recipe last week and it turned out just perfect, was a hit. Making it again this weekend for a friends barbecue.

Katy goodtoknow Recipes

Hi Emma. Sorry to hear that - I've made these cakes several times and they've turned out well, but the recipe is quite fiddly and you do need to follow it exactly - they also have a moister, denser sponge than an English fairy cake. I'm not sure why they would've collapsed in your oven, did you open it during cooking time?

Katy goodtoknow Recipes

Hi NuttyNut - sorry you didn't like the cakes themselves. The actual sponges are not too sweet, to contrast with that lovely sweet frosting, and they should taste chocolatey but not overwhelmingly so. I've found, like commenters below, that diff brands of colouring work better - I recommend Dr Oetkers for best results...


I just finished making theses cupcakes. The Cream Cheese Frosting is really nice. As for the cupcakes......EURGH! They taste really bitter - too chocolatey - and the sponge did NOT go red! :( They just looked brown. I will use the frosting in future, but try a different sponge mixture. 2/10


Forgot to mention... I made a buttercream instead of cream cheese frosting as I wanted to attempt a different type of frosting..this cake is very very rich so make sure there are enough people to eat it!


Ok... So I made this yesterday and tweaked the recipe slightly due to limited availability of synthetic red food colouring in the uk. I was making an actual cake not cupcakes so doubled the quantities of everything as mentioned above. I used dr oetker bright red gel tubes....6 of them....that's 60 ml instead of the 40ml that I calculated... Initially I added two tubes to make the paste with cocoa powder and added drops of water as the gel is too thick. I added two more tubes before the buttermilk went in and then a further two, after the buttermilk...I wanted to gradually add it in to make sure I had the right colour. I haven't tested this on cupcakes so I can't comment on how it works for cupcakes. Also I only had two 20cm cake tins so divided the mixture into these two and baked for 40 minutes checking the oven every 5 minutes from 25 mins. I hope this helps u cake came out BLOOD RED and tasted absolutely divine!!!!


I love these red velvet cupcakes. This looks so good. But like many of us, mine don't look like the picture :(


Tried this recipe a few times now, mainly to play with various colourings to get the perfect red... The cakes have always tasted fantastic with a beautiful texture (main thing I guess!!). I have tried Dr Oetker liquid and gel, Silverspoon, Waitrose own and all I could get was a ''rusty brown'' with a funny smell. The smell disappears after baking though. I have now found the secret ingredient to get a luscious red.... It was worth experimenting!! Frosting is gorge with a little vanilla essence added too! No more trips to Hummingbird for me!


Hi. Did anyone used wilton food colour? I would love to try this recipe tomorrow and have only wilton at home. Thank you.


Just made the cakes but used SugerFlair paste - they are fantastic, beautifuly red with a gorgeous texture & mild chocolatey taste - This recipe will be made again & again!!


Oh my god, that's load of cupcakes. Did you feed a whole village of cupcakes lovers? Thanks for sharing!


The Dr Otker food colouring has a funny aftertaste! I am going to try Sugarflair paste on my next attempt! I have made Red velvet loads and loads of times and the food colouring has always ruined the flavour!! (I have been putting a chunk of white chocolate in the middle of each cake and everyone loves it!)


Hi! Does any one know the quantities and cooking time to make a giant red velvet cupcake? Thanks


can you use dr oetkers natural red in this recipe?

Mandy Melrose Robinson

These were amazing this is the exact same recipe as my mom, love them, I used a food colouring gel about a teaspoon full and that did the trick also added a drop of water to make the paste as well :)

Vicki Keane

Just a tip... if you dont have buttermilk you can use normal milk but add 1tbs of white wine vinegar to it and let it stand for 5 mins... great alternative

Helena Fleur Rea

I made this recipe on the weekend using Silver Spoon food colouring and they came out absolutely perfect. I also used low fat natural yoghurt as a substitute for buttermilk as I couldnt find any. Results were amazing. They tasted just like the ones from the Hummingbird Bakery and the sponge was a gorgeous red colour. Will definitely be doing this again. I am also not a very good baker and found the recipe easy to follow.

Anyla Katanolli

This is the first time I've ever baked cupcakes (minus yesterday where they turned out mediocore). I could not believe the results!!! They came out PERFECT!!!!! I was so shocked as to how lovely and red they came out. I used Silver Spoon colouring. I also added a bit of colouring to the frosting to make it pink. I love this recipe!

Sita Meena Arulampalam

never use the natural colouring because it is not heat stable! I use sugarflair which work perfectly everytime!

Sita Meena Arulampalam

Sugarflair pastes are the best because they are heat stable its what I always use and come out perfectly! Used them most recently for a rainbow cake and the colours were so vibrant!

Sita Meena Arulampalam

Its often the cases you are using not the cake itself. Some cases are known to peel away! Hope this helps xx

Thea Naicker

I find that this recipe works better with 2 eggs rather than one. The end result is a much more lighter and fluffier cake than a one egg recipe. Just a thought to those trying out the recipe a second time. I also didn't mix the cocoa powder and colouring separately, rather I sifted the cocoa into the wet ingredients and added the food colouring in as well.

Kerry Whittington

I've just finished a batch and what can i say this is the best recipe for red velvet cake ever.The sponge is so light and fluffy and deep red,this recipe is for 12 cupcakes but i will have to use double quantities as 12 are not enough for my lot,but if you want the best ever red velvet cake then use this recipe,if yours do not turn out well then i'm sorry you should not be baking cakes as this recipe is foolproof.

Ann Coppell

I have just tried once again to make these cupcakes-they taste great but have shrunk away from the cases in a drastic fashion and are cracked on top. It's happened every time, i've stuck to the recipe completely and not opened the oven during cooking, not even to turn the tray. I baked them for 20 mins and they didn't seem cooked so put them back in for another 3 mins. I'd love to bake them for friends but they look so horrible-advice please!

Kirsty McKenzie

i used this recipe pretty much to the letter and they turned out beautiful only thing different i used was the food colouring i used silver spoon and had to use and had to use about 2/3 of a bottle and they are beautlifully red and the sponge is lighter than air. the frosting is a little sickly but im sure thats just my tastes, but overall really good for a first attempt. also i would hand beat the icing sugar and butter my kitchen and living room is covered in icing sugar. literally.

Jessica Davies

Just waiting for these babies to cool down. The look lovely and deep red and I used Dr Oetker Red food colouring liquid, about 1/2 bottle (20ml-ish). Does anyone know what is/how to make the lovely cream moussey centre the hummingbird cakes have??

Rachael Eagling

I just made these using Dr Oetker Gel Colourings, they are not very red at all and I had to use 2 whole tubes to get the 20ml the recipe states. Not very impressed with the gel colours and will go back to the liquid in future. I made some on Saturday using the 'romantic red velvet cupcake' recipe from this site and they came out much better and much redder. My search continues for the perfect red velvet cupcake recipe.

Julie Johns

Also, I am not sure if it was on this page or another website that it advised not to use the natural Dr Oertker food colouring but that is all they have listed on their website. Do you advise using the natural one?

Julie Johns

Thanks for your reply, I have just checked the bottle of food colouring and it was 'natural'. I think I must have made a few mistakes too as they were hard on top and when I tried to remove one of the paper cases, it was pretty much stuck. If I were to use colour paste instead, as it is so thick should I still mix it with the cocoa powder and vanilla extract?


Thank you so much!


This recipe is amazing! My girlfriend loves the cupcakes, they taste exactly like the hummingbird cakes!


I tried this for the first time yesterday, and used Sugarflair velvet red food colouring paste. For some reason the cupcakes have turned out quite dry and taste pretty average to be honest although do have a very rich red colour. Taste nothing like the actual Hummingbird cupcakes sadly :( must be a real art to it.


I made these cakes and have to say it's the worst recipe for cakes ever. Horrible texture and flavour.


I made the cupcakes from the recipe above, but after speaking to the owner of Hummingbird I went and bought SugarFlair colouring from the local cake shop instead of Dr. Oetker, as that's what he recommended. Colour was really vibrant and they tasted great!


just got the conchineal food colouring how much did you put in the hummingbird recipe. I made some earlier which came out a brownie/red using hummingbird going to try again using conchineal many thanks Debbie x


Most important thing ant thing with red velvet is to use natural cocoa powder with has not been Dutch processed (this changes the Ph to an alkaline and the chemical reaction makes the colour brown instead of red) if you use natural cocoa powder which is acidic it will be a lovely red.


I made a batch for my friend's birthday, following the recipe exactly. They didn't fast right at all the icing was fine but the cake tasted too vinegary. Now noone's eating them. Has anyone got any advise for what to do with all these cupcakes? Seems a shame to throw them all away :( What went wrong with the recipe? I guess I'll have an experiment with less vinegar next time.


I have just looked this receipt up on the hummingbird website and it differs from the one above: 10g of coca powder instead of 20g 20ml red food colouring instead of 40ml and this receipt uses 1 1/2 teaspoons of white wine vinegar and they dont. Everything else is word for word on both sites I am very confused


Hi everyone , I have been making Red Velvet Cakes as both cupcakes and cake, I always use either Silver Spoon for the best Ted coursing or I go online to Amazon and get it from the lady on the apprentice who has a cake shop in St Albans. You must not use natural red food colouring, this is why it goes rusty colour. Hope that helps


Hello everyone. I am currently making BLUE velvet cupcakes as it's my brother's 21st birthday and he is a massive DR WHO fan... so let's just see if they come out nice and blue :) .... fingers crossed.... :P

Miss A

I used your tips i.e. 2 eggs and put the cocoa and food colouring into the bowl of wet ingredients (just so i have less washing up to do!) and the cupcakes turn out amazing! Thank you Thea


Hi Maggles, we'd recommend using Sugarflair food colouring paste or Dr Oetker have food colouring gels too. Thanks, Jessica


The problem is that the food colouring that Hummingbird recommended with their book is no longer available and the 'natural' ones just don't cut it. Hence why people aren't getting the same colour results.


Can you please tell us what this secret ingredient is (to get a luscious red) ?


Hi i wanted to make red velvet cupcakes and I have purchased the dr oetker red food colouring gel. Any suggestions if this will make cupcakes nice red colour and will I need to use the whole tube. Thanks


Lovely recipe but be warned these are half quantities compared to the hummingbird book. The good to know tip about using the recipe to make a cake won't work. You'll need to double up to get enough batter.


I made them to the recipe and they came out perfect. Beautifully rich red colour. I used the artificial conchineal red colouring from Sainsburys to get the colour right and my friends said they were better than the Hummingbird Bakery's as they were so moist! She laughed when I told her it was their recipe I used! Very easy to follow and I've tried loads of red velvet recipes and this one is the best by far.

Charlotte Gunn

Hi Marijvan, this recipe was taken from the Hummingbird Bakery's official cookbook so it's their published version of the recipe. Thanks, Charlotte


Just wanted to ask which red food colour did you use for your cake. I have made this serveral times with different red food colours and still can't get that blood red colour.

Pria Bhagat

Hi. Just wanted to know if I can use white vinegar instead of white wine vinegar?


We are all being so GULLIBLE.Why would any commercial outlet pass on their trade recipe to the public-they'd go out of business if we could replicate these commodities.Second batch hopeless. Realised on cross-referencing HB recipes on the net-they ALL fluctuate ingredients/quantities slightly!!!!!


erm YUK. iv tried these before and they were absolutely awful, after reading everyones comments i thought i must have done something wrong so i did it again... nope, still nasty. they taste extremely like butter. i didnt use bicarb soda and a bit of self raising but that shouldnt have made much of a difference. another batch in the bin :(


Hi, I just made these twice! The first time I used natural food colouring - oops... so made them again and they came out of the oven beautifully but on leaving them to cool I came back and they had sunk and shrunk so were really small! They taste pretty good but the sponge is quite dense, not nearly as light as I would expect, any suggestions? Thanks!

Shamima Faleel

Should we add baking powder to this recipe

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