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Red Velvet Cake Recipe with Cream Cheese Icing

With a delicious tang from the buttermilk, hints of cocoa and a moist, light crumb. Don't forget the best cream cheese icing on this earth!
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time40 mins
Course: Dessert
Servings: 10 Slices
Author: Tricia


For the cake:

  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ounce red liquid food color (not icing gel food color)
  • 2 tablespoons natural, unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk, well shaken
  • 2 ¼ cups cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda

For the icing:

  • 12 ounces cream cheese room temperature
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter room temperature
  • 24 ounces powdered sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla


To prepare the cake:

  • Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease and flour 3 (8-inch) cake pans. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing just until the yolk disappears.
  • In a small bowl whisk together the red food coloring, cocoa, salt and vanilla until blended. Add the cocoa mixture to the creamed butter and sugar mixture. Blend on medium-low until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  • Add ⅓ of the buttermilk and blend on low until incorporated. Next add ⅓ of the flour and mix on low. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Repeat by adding ½ of the remaining buttermilk and then ½ of the remaining cake flour taking care not to over-beat after each addition. Blend on low just until incorporated. Repeat until all the buttermilk and flour are incorporated.
  • In a small cup stir together the vinegar and baking soda, until completely dissolved. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the vinegar mixture into the cake batter. Do not beat!
  • Divide the batter equally into the three prepared 8-inch cake pans and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (moist crumbs are okay - no wet batter) about 18 to 20 minutes. DO NOT OVER BAKE. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn the cakes out and cool completely on a wire rack.

To prepare the icing:

  • Combine the cream cheese and butter and beat until blended. Add the sugar and beat until fluffy. And the vanilla and mix on low until smooth and creamy.
  • I use about 2 cups of icing in between the cake layers but you can probably use more. There is enough to frost this cake without leaving the layers showing through (naked). Frost the cake as desired. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Cake keeps well up to 3 days.


Decorate the top of the cake with fresh rosemary twigs and sugared cranberries if desired. Click HERE to get recipe for the sugared cranberries.
I used three 8-inch cake pans. You can also make this cake into two 9-inch layers. Watch the baking time - dried out Red Velvet cake is not good!
Recipe adapted from my Mom's archives.