This is a WONDERFUL red velvet cake recipe that I tweaked. The original recipe called for twice as much red food coloring, which bothered me, so I halved the amount and found the results to be exactly the same. Enjoy!

Sarah’s Red Velvet Cake TWEAKED


  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 Tbsp baking cocoa
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup butter (not margarine)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ounce red food coloring
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Sift dry ingredients together and set aside.
  3. Place butter and sugar in bowl of electric mixer and beat at medium-speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time. With mixer on low, add red food coloring (be careful not to splash it, as it stains almost everything). Add vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk in two batches. Scrape bowl and mix just long enough to combine.
  4. Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 28 – 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few crumbs clinging to the toothpick. Cool in pan for 10 minutes and then gently turn cakes out onto cooling rack to cool to room temperature.
  5. This cake pairs well with both cream cheese frosting as well as the mildly sweet frosting called Mary Kay Icing (also available here in the recipe section).


catcando33 Says... 2009-09-01 04:02:59

thanks sarah, glad to hear im not the only one that thinks 2 oz of red food coloring is alot :).... Great idea!!! Cat

catcando33 Says... 2009-09-01 04:08:37

i was wondering , as i was copying down the recipe i noticed that there isnt any vinegar in this one. did you omit the vinegar in your recipe or did this one not call for it in the beginning? Cat

Cakepro Says... 2009-09-01 15:18:38

Vinegar is not called for in this recipe. :) ~ Sherri (Cakepro)

anais_o Says... 2009-09-01 16:58:54

hi is it cocoa powder?

CookinKristi Says... 2009-09-08 19:59:53

I love this recipe, but I have a problem every time I make it. The cake looks great when it is baking, but just as it gets done, the center falls. Any ideas how to fix that? Any help is appreciated.

newlywedws Says... 2009-09-15 10:49:58

I originally posted the recipe, and removed after a bunch of frustration from other CC members who were messing up the recipe.

Yes the original did call for 2 bottles of red food colouring, and no vinegar. If you choose to omit 1 bottle of red food colouring, you will need to make up the difference in the missing liquid. The vinegar is not needed as the buttermilk lends enough acidity for it to rise.

Yes it is regular baking cocoa.

Kristi, you may want to check your oven temp.

tiggy2 Says... 2009-09-15 11:59:31

I've always made it just the way newlywedws originally posted it and it is the best red velvet cake I have ever had. I do not use cream cheese frosting.

Cakepro Says... 2009-09-17 10:12:36

As the person who tweaked the Sarah's Red Velvet cake recipe that was originally posted by newlywedws (before she got angry about people pairing it with a certain frosting and removed it), and as the person who has successfully used my tweaked version dozens of times for a couple of years now, you do NOT need to add an additional 2 ounces of liquid to this recipe. :) Sherri / Cakepro

cakesnpies1 Says... 2009-09-26 00:20:18

Its 3 in morning order due at 8.. orginal recipe i made tastes like play dough.. i'm goign to try this recipe since it has such great reviews.. have not had luck wiht red velvet at all in past.. will let you know how it turns out:)

cakesnpies1 Says... 2009-09-26 01:49:54

delicious!!!! turned out great and after having tried other recipes this is the best so far.. Seems like other recipes call for too little cocoa.. this recipe has just the right amount.. Think my customer will be very pleased.. I know i am:)

spicymustard2 Says... 2009-10-07 12:44:03

Does anyone know how many cups of batter this recipe makes? I've been asked to make a red velvet cake at the last minute and don't have much time to experiment.

LoriMc Says... 2009-12-08 20:03:57

Has anybody tried this with all purpose flour? I never seem to have cake flour on hand.

loopilu Says... 2009-12-12 05:31:24

isnt cake flour and all purpose the same thing? I have never seen cake flour anywhere?! And what size cake tin is this for?

Tilisha Says... 2009-12-31 09:38:11

Cake Flour does not have to be sifted. I love it!

BayAreaCakeFiend Says... 2009-12-31 12:55:04

OMG, I made this for Christmas and it was gone in 30 min. EVERYONE loved it and some even got thirds. I will be making it over and over. I only used 1oz of red food coloring and not subs.

sugarMomma Says... 2010-01-02 22:17:27

What other frosting do you pair it with other than cream cheese? I have a friend who wants a red velvet like his grandma used to make, and he said it had a light fluffy icing that was not cream cheese. I personally love cream cheese icing, but it's his birthday not mine. Any ideas?

Mistee Says... 2010-01-02 22:55:06

This recipe is wonderful!! Just the right amount of cocoa. I really enjoy making the cakes for others and am not a big cake eater myself..but I couldn't stop eating my cake scrapes from this recipe!!! :) Yum!!

klosenno Says... 2010-01-07 16:37:01

sugarMomma, I make mine with a butter roux frosting which i'm pretty sure is the original icing used with red velvet cakes. Super light and fluffy, no cream cheese and absolutely delicious.

Spectra Says... 2010-01-16 19:47:27

I'm excited to try this cake, since it has so many great reviews. I was just wondering, may be a newbie question, but here I go: Do you use salted or unsalted butter or does it not matter?

pattib09 Says... 2010-01-22 13:38:10

I had never tried red velvet cake, but i had a customer request it for her tasting tomorrow morning, so i thought i would try this recipe out last night before my tasting apt. I thought it was kind of dry, i dont know if red velvet should be dry as i have never had it. Tasted good though. We will see how my next batch turns out tonight!

Leahchick Says... 2010-02-03 20:02:25

Hello everyone! I am making 3 dozen cupcakes for Valentine's for a candystore to sell, and this sounds like a good recipe. Can someone tell me if the cream cheese frosting is a good consistency for decorating? If not, anyone know a good one for decorating that will taste good w/ it? Also, is this recipe ok for cupcakes, or do i need to do something to it? Thanks:)

scgirl5 Says... 2010-02-13 13:42:17

I made this recipe and my cake didn't rise, it was very flat, my baking soda is only 8 mo. old, is it too old? How long does it last? thanks for the help!

arbakes Says... 2010-02-16 22:40:17

Thanks for sharing this recipe. I have made this recipes three times now and I seem to have a problem with the batter being rather thick. Am I doing something wrong?

rene1976 Says... 2010-02-17 12:01:38

all-purpose and cake flour is not the same thing. Don't quote me on it but I think that if you use all purpose, you need to use a bit less. I know I have seen a substitution somewhere. I can't remember who asked that question. Oven temperature and over mixing plays a big part in a cake not rising right or falling. It isn't the recipe's fault. I am going to try this one for sure

crumbbuns Says... 2010-02-23 06:29:47

Baked it and LOVED IT!!!!!!!!

pacable Says... 2010-03-07 12:36:20

Just baked this and it turned out beautiful!!!!! It was the deep dark red that I was looking for in a RV cake. thanks for the post!!!!

Iluvjakencake Says... 2010-03-09 13:13:15

Cake flour is not the same as all purpose, but you can substitute it by adding 2 Tbsp. of cornstarch to the bottom of a one-cup measuring cup, then fill the cup up with all-purpose flour.

eperales0411 Says... 2010-03-11 17:33:15

I just tried this recipe today, I had never made or tried red velvet cake, and I have to say it is very good, but like other CC'ers my cake sunk in the middle, I set my oven @ 350 degrees, I think next time I will decrease my temp to 325 and bake for a little longer, also the texture of the cake is somewhat like the boxed cake mixes, a little too sponge. But overall this cake is very good, I will definetly make it again.

pixiefuncakes Says... 2010-03-18 23:51:59

I just wanted to let you know that I used your recipe and it turned out beautifully. As an "Aussie", I had only read about red velvet, but had never tasted it and was so curious. I had no problem with making it (sometimes it is hard to translate indgredients) and it tasted divine!

drowninginfondant Says... 2010-03-21 08:16:13

Can this cake be frozen?

drowninginfondant Says... 2010-03-22 13:56:27

I made this recipe today and it tastes wonderful! The batter was very thick and the first set of 9 inch cakes rose only about an 1 to 1.5, the second set rose approx. 1.5 to 2 inches. I did turn the time down to 325 and cooked it 31 min. (gas stove). I also didn't mix it as long as I normally do my cakes, just enough to stir everyithing in so maybe that had something to do with it not rising as much. Thank you for the recipe, I will definitely be making it again.

laventure Says... 2010-03-28 08:23:17

THIS IS THE BEST RED VELVET RECIPE OUT THERE, I PROMISE YOU. I only use 2 tablespoons of red food coloring and get a LOVELY color. I do add 1 teaspoon of vinegar. If you are having trouble with this cake, try baking at 325, and MAKE SURE you are using cake flour OR the all-purpose flour substitution (1 cup of all purpose flour minus 2 tablespoons plus 2 tbsp cornstarch: the gluten-free cornstarch can cut down on the protein content of the all purpose flour). THANKS FOR THE PERFECT RV RECIPE, FINALLY!!!!

LipSmack Says... 2010-03-29 11:51:21

I realize this is an old post, but I just wanted to say I made this cake for a birthday party and everyone loved it. I was very nervous because I have never even looked at a red velvet cake recipe before. So, THANK YOU THANK YOU!!! My confidence is growing :o)

jfroman Says... 2010-04-23 08:36:21

Never made or tasted red velvet cake before. Followed directions exactly- came out perfect! Also tastes yummy :) Thanks for the recipe! I plan on using it for an order with white chocolate SMBC.

melmar02 Says... 2010-05-18 14:25:15

I did not care for this recipe. I did not make any alterations. I thought it was a little dry (I love the WASC). Also, if I were to try again, I would double the recipe. I only got enough batter for 2 8"x2" rounds filled just under half way. The cake did not rise enough to fill the pans, and I wound up with a 3" tall cake. All my ingredients were fresh, so not sure what happened.

Rochelle1 Says... 2010-05-21 11:17:00

What can I do about substituting the butter milk. I tried using a table spoon vinegar and pour milk on this till it reaches one cup. When I try to make a large cake like 14" or 16" the middle falls. What am I to do?

staten93 Says... 2010-06-15 12:01:29

Rochelle you might want to try a heating core or a flower nail in the middle of your cake. When baking cakes that large it helps cook it more evenly so the middle doesn't fall.

staten93 Says... 2010-06-16 21:54:06

I just made this cake and it is wonderful. Great texture and flavor. My family wouldn't stay away from the cake scraps. I had never made a red velvet cake before and was very happy with the outcome. One I will be making again.

xtal Says... 2010-07-25 17:07:09

I made this cake just the other day. It turned out pretty good, didnt sink in the middle or anything but I personally thought it was kinda dry. No one else noticed but I'm making a red velvet for a wedding cake next weekend so I was really analyzing it. I did also think it didnt have enough flavor. What could I maybe add to give it more flavor??

xtal Says... 2010-07-25 17:08:48

ps. My family did like it. Also I will be using it again but might be adding alittle something to it. Thank you!

danawitkowski Says... 2010-09-14 11:48:55

Does anyone know if you lessen the amount of red food coloring if it's a gel food coloring? Thanks!

zaco Says... 2010-09-27 15:27:25

This is the first time I've made or tasted red velvet, and it was awesome! Even though I did a couple things differently (added sugar as part of dry ingredients so I couldn't cream it with the butter and used blue bonnet instead of butter), it still turned out amazingly and I will definitely be making again!

dcabrera Says... 2010-09-27 18:47:55

This recipe is the best I have ever had or made. I normally don't comment on the things like this, but I had too for this recipe. I attempted MANY red Velvet recipes, but this one is by far THE best. Cake layers came out perfectly even, didn't even have to torte. The only thing, is I wish it were a bit more dense. Other than that, it was great. Your search ends here. I promise.

emjay83 Says... 2010-10-15 21:37:25

Made both of the top-rated Red Velvet cakes on CC to compare them -- This is the clear winner!!! Best Red Velvet I've ever had! Nice, balanced flavor. Lovely, fluffy texture, yet not so soft that it won't stack well. Baked up beautifully. I used 1 oz. gel coloring, and it worked just fine. Tried it with vanilla buttercream, chocolate buttercream, and cream cheese icing, and all were good and brought out different flavors in the recipe. (The cream cheese is still my favorite, though!) This will be my go-to recipe from now on. Thanks so much for sharing!

newlywedws Says... 2010-10-16 11:45:36

Wow....I'm shocked that my recipe has gotten this many rave reviews :D I had to "break" my CC addiction :) for a while, so that this recipe tho not as I originally posted has gotten good reviews is very nice!

Phne Says... 2010-10-20 03:50:23

Hi, I'm thinking of making this cake for my fiance's birthday cake, but have just been given a 3D sphere mold that I've never used before and was wondering if this recipe is suitable for a 3D mold. I understand that batters for 3D molds have to be fairly dense to hold the shape - do you think this recipe would be suitable? Thanks.

Tor1985 Says... 2010-10-21 07:19:38

I can't wait to try this recipe, I've never baked RV before so I'm hopinh it turns out! Thanks

dcabrera Says... 2010-10-26 08:31:47

Is there any way to make this recipe a bit more durable? What do you guys recommend? I've made it before and love it. I just need it a tad bit more dense.

StephsCakes72 Says... 2010-11-26 05:32:19

I made this for our family Thanksgiving dinner. I wanted to try a new recipe, so I tried this one and WOWOWOWOW. Was it good. It was so moist. So fluffy. *Excuse me as I wipe my mouth*. It was just that wonderful. Everyone loved it. I mean EVERYONE. I only wished I had made more.

Torts Says... 2010-12-04 16:32:17

Mine came out a little dry but it was probably something I did wrong (only my second scratch cake; maybe I overcooked it?). Everyone said they loved it- the flavor was really great but I think next time I'll add a little more liquid... just a tad.

SweetArt5 Says... 2011-01-31 17:17:43

I made this cake, my second attempt at a red velvet. I found it to be a little dry and not very tasty. I don't know if it's me or the cake itself since I've never had a red velvet anything before. It looks beautiful, didn't rise very high but still makes a nice statement when stacked and iced. Was hoping for a better outcome but will keep trying. Definitely better than the first one I tried, the cupcakes came out like hockey pucks on top but also had no taste and very dry. Oh well.

glesgagal Says... 2011-02-10 20:28:01

How much cake does this recipe make? What size pans do I need to use? thanks.

Catpack Says... 2011-05-03 10:22:00

I've posted this question under Mary's icing as well. I made my own fondant, which is VERY sweet, so I'm looking for a coating to under the fondant and also a filling for this cake that will suit the fondant.

hollykb Says... 2011-05-14 21:42:49

Does anyone know if this cake will hold up for a sculpted cake (and also, hold up under fondant?). Thanks!

hrodriguez Says... 2011-06-02 18:45:32

Someone requested red velvet cake for a baby shower and after attempting three different recipes for red velvet, this one was BY FAR the best red velvet cake. I was not a fan of red velvet but I definitely became one after this cake. It was moist, delicious, and a beautiful color. I made it with a special cream cheese filling and buttercream icing, everyone loved it.. I mean loved it. It is going in my book of favorites. Follow the directions exactly, use quality ingredients, and I think you shouldn't bake this one TOO far in advance so it can be it's freshest. Red velvet seems to be a little more dense than ordinary yellow cakes. But believe me, this one is DELICIOUS!!

bmcd17 Says... 2011-06-13 10:25:35

I made this cake this past weekend and it turned out great. The batter was a little thick, but I had no problems with how it baked. It did not rise a lot, but baked evenly for me. It was moist as well. I will definitely bake it again. Everyone who tried it loved it!

SnowBabe Says... 2011-07-28 12:12:40

I just baked this cake . It made a 9 inch round cake for me. I then tweaked it for a 8 inch round cake. I put a little sour cream and used Wilton's food coloring and not the liquid. I also used less flour. With the cake batter of my first cake it had a really flour taste to it. I also added another 1/2 cup of sugar. We will see which one tastes better but they both seem to be cooking fine !

mitzi229 Says... 2011-08-15 20:28:57

I was wondering if I take away the red food coloring and the cocoa powder would it be a plain vanilla cake? I love this red velvet cake it comes out so moist and fluffy. I have been searching for a vanilla cake with this same consistancy and have had no luck. Please Help! Thanks so much

jannanners Says... 2011-09-02 09:01:45

I baked this lastnight... I followed this recipe exactly (and doubled it) but it came out VERY dry and crumbly. At first it looked perfect, but as I was trimming it, I noticed that the texture was just not right. I double checked my ingredients and did everything exact. I didn't over mix, or over bake?!?! I can't figure it out?!! any suggestions? I need this cake for a wedding on Sunday. I did test this recipe a couple of months ago, and as cupcakes it turned out GREAT... the bride chose this recipe over 2 others... but now it is not turning out how I remembered it. Maybe if I add 1 more egg?? please help :(

lrlt2000 Says... 2011-12-02 20:13:19

I just made this recipe as cupcakes to test for next week. . . this was my first attempt at scratch baking and it turned out great! I halved it and it yielded 12 cupcakes slightly rounded. I substituted 1 tsp of the flour for 1 tsp of beet powder then decreased the red color by about 1 tbs and added 1 tbs of buttermilk.

I had one issue with the way this recipe reads (but I should have read through it first ;)): the first line states to "sift dry ingredients together." Since the flour, sugar, cocoa, salt and baking soda are all listed first, I put all those dry ingredients together! I had to toss it :( The ingredients are also not in order. Again, novice mistake in not reading it through, but most recipes read in order of the instruction steps.

The texture of this recipe as cupcakes was very light--almost dry (but not in a bad way). It would definitely need to be more dense to hold a shape or for a large cake. I'm no expert on scratch baking yet, so I would hesitate to modify this to add density. I might instead "cake squash" to get some density. I am making 6" round 5" high cakes next week in addition to the cupcakes, so I will comment on the way those turn out (with the cake squashing, of course :)).

Cakepro Says... 2011-12-03 03:25:37

Hello lrlt2000, In baking, sugar is actually considered a wet ingredient. :) Strange, but true.

I've been using this recipe for many years now, with the most impressive cake being an 11-tier, stacked construction, fondant-covered cake. It most definitely is stable (or dense, as you put it) enough for large cakes. I regularly baked half-sheet red velvet cake quite frequently when I my bakery was open. Please don't squash the cake. There is a big difference in the texture and crumb of scratch cake and boxed cake. :)

Happy baking, Sherri (Cakepro)

lrlt2000 Says... 2011-12-03 08:31:49

Thanks, Sherri. How can I make it more dense without squashing? Should add an egg or more butter? I do like the fluffiness but would like it a tad more like a moist pound (but of course not fully :)). Thanks for the education on sugar!

lrlt2000 Says... 2011-12-03 12:39:09

Sherri, I wanted to add that after I wrapped and refrigerated the cupcakes overnight, the texture did change! They were not as fall-apart light and fluffy as they were right after cooling (when I first tried one). They were that little more dense that I desired, so I guess I'll just make sure I wrap and refrigerate my cakes before torting/filling. Is that what you usually do?

Cakepro Says... 2011-12-03 22:40:48

No, I don't refrigerate cakes after baking. It would be an unnecessary step, and the fridge dehydrates baked goods, so it's contrary to both good time-management and product quality.

Baking cakes from scratch is very much a science. So many things are to be taken into consideration: adequately cutting the sugar into the butter in the creaming phase, not overworking the flour, making sure all ingredients are at room temp so your batter temperature is correct going into the oven, not opening the oven door during the baking process and dropping the temp, pulling the cakes when they are done and not over- or under-baked, etc. If you are used to boxed mixes, you'll find that the texture, crumb and cell structure are very different in scratch cakes. Scratch baking is a science learned from experience, so keep on baking! And when you're trying a new recipe, try doing it the first time as written without tweaking. You did not need to add additional buttermilk nor should have you removed any flour to compensate for the other changes you made.

CristinaTimony Says... 2012-01-19 08:34:45

Has anyone made this 2-3 weeks ahead and froze until time of frosting? I usually wrap in plastic wrap then seal in an airtight freezer bag, and do not have any problems with my cakes drying out, but, I am not sure how this would work for Red Velvet. Thanks in advance!

Krista512 Says... 2012-02-17 11:58:41

Love this cake!!! Tried it yesterday and it was so yummy!!! A tad questionable as far as stacking and carving but i'm going to try some time. I got a 6 inch round, 24 mini cupcakes and 10 regular cupcakes.

Serena4016 Says... 2012-07-22 15:23:15

I just made cupcakes from this recipe last week. They were AWESOME!!! This is now my go to red velvet recipe!! Thank-you!!

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