Red velvet cupcakes recipe with dreamy cream cheese frosting. This is a small batch cupcake recipe that makes just 4 red velvet cupcakes. Recipe can be doubled or even quadrupled to serve more people!

 red velvet cupcakes recipe small batch

Red Velvet Cupcakes Recipe

I’ve been making these red velvet cupcakes quite a bite lately. These red velvet cupcakes are even on the menu for a sweet friend’s wedding in a few months! This leads me to believe that my red velvet cupcake recipe is worthy of an update on this site. Make no mistake:  the recipe from 3 years ago is flawless, if I do say so myself. The little ‘redo’ I’m referring to is the photo. A cupcake as sweet as this one deserves a photo that makes them look as delicious as they taste.

Can I count the reasons my red velvet cupcake recipe needs to make it into your repertoire?  For one, I’m Southern, and I think I know what I’m doing with red velvet.  Red velvet contains a touch of cocoa powder and buttermilk, and if you see a recipe without either one of those ingredients, slowly back away.

red velvet cupcakes recipe

The recipe only makes 4 cupcakes, so you won’t have to face the extra calories of the leftovers.  Not only can you decorate with mini chocolate chips, but you can stir 1/4 cup into the batter if you want an extra chocolate kick. My friend from St. Louis taught me this trick, and since Missouri is arguably considered the South, I’ll let it slide.

What is red velvet and how is it different?

As a Texan, I always feel the need to ‘educate’ a bit on what red velvet cake is and what it is not. Red velvet cake is a buttermilk-based vanilla cake with a small amount of cocoa powder added. If a red velvet recipe does not have buttermilk in it, please, run in the other direction.

I also want to say that red velvet is not a plain white cake with food coloring added. Are we clear on that? I don’t know why that bothers me so much, but it does! I don’t want you to miss the true red velvet flavor and magic that is tangy buttermilk meets soft, tender cake with a slight touch of cocoa.

Red velvet cake recipes use an unusual chemical reaction to make the cake rise: vinegar and baking soda! As it turns out, the acidity in the vinegar allows the red food coloring to become even more vibrant while baking. The acidity of the cocoa powder comes into the reaction, too, and produces a soft and tender cake that has the texture of velvet!

Can you double this recipe for red velvet cupcakes?

For those of you that ask, YES, you may double and triple this recipe, but only under one condition:  you must share.

If you double this recipe, bake it in a 6″ round cake pan for a single layer red velvet cake cake. I learned this from my mom, who upon me posting this red velvet cupcake recipe, immediately doubled it to bake in a 6″ cake pan. If you’re doing this, I would also double the cupcake frosting recipe, and you will have enough for a single-layer cake.

how to scale down cupcake recipe

Speaking of cake, I have a double layer red velvet cake recipe for two on this site for Valentine’s Day.

Also, if you double this recipe and bake it in a single 6″ cake pan, you will have enough red velvet cake to make my red velvet cake truffles! I make those several times a year–for Valentine’s Day, with green food coloring for St Patricks’ Day, and at Christmas!

If you’re needing other red velvet recipes to use up the bottle, try my red velvet sugar cookies, too!

I think I’ve properly inundated you with red velvet recipes, so I’ll leave you the recipe below. If you bake these red velvet cupcakes, let me know in the comments below.

Yield: 4 cupcakes

Red Velvet Cupcakes

red velvet cupcakes recipe

Red velvet cupcakes recipe that makes just 4 cupcakes.

Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes


For the cupcakes:

  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 teaspoon red food coloring
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon flour
  • 2 teaspoons cocoa powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

For the cream cheese frosting:

  • 3 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 6 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon buttermilk


  1. In a cupcake tin, place 4 cupcake liners on the outside edge. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. In a medium bowl, beat together the canola oil, sugar, buttermilk, egg white, red dye, vinegar, and vanilla using an electric mixer.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder.
  4. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, while mixing.
  5. Divide the batter between the four cupcake liners and bake for 20-22 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
  6. Beat together all icing ingredients using an electric mixer. Frost cupcakes when cool.


See below for instructions on how to double or triple the recipe.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 357Total Fat: 27gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 37mgSodium: 245mgCarbohydrates: 27gFiber: 0gSugar: 25gProtein: 3g

Did you make this recipe?

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 Notes: to make 12 cupcakes, use the recipe in the card with the following amounts. For the cupcakes, 3/4 cup oil, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 6 tablespoons buttermilk, 1 whole egg PLUS 1 egg white, 1 tablespoon red food coloring (or 2 teaspoon red food gel), 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1/4 teaspoon vinegar, 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, 1/4 teaspoon PLUS 1/8 teaspoon baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon salt. For the frosting, 8 ounces cream cheese, 3/4 cup powdered sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 2 teaspoons buttermilk (if needed).