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The Best Red Velvet Cake Recipe I Have Found

Red Velvet Cake is apparently a Southern thing. I’m not Southern, so I got this recipe from Bon Appétit a few years ago, and I think it’s the best one out there.

Ed. Note Re: Pan Sizes, Batch Sizes, and Baking Times: If you are making the Thomas The Tank Engine Cake, or any other specially shaped cake and need to use pans with different dimensions, follow the guidelines on your pans to determine how many cups are needed to fill your pans, and how long you should bake your cake. This recipe makes approximately 5 cups of batter. If you are making a 15 x 19 sheet cake, for example, you will need to multiply this recipe by 1.5 to get the roughly 8 cups you need to fill it. More detailed information about how to determine batch sizes and baking times is available here.


  • 2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour (sifted, then measured)
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon red food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides. If you are making the Thomas the Tank Engine cake, or any other specially shaped cake, I highly recommend using a healthy amount of Wilton Cake Release in lieu of butter and flour to grease your pans. For shaped cakes, it is especially important that you get the surface as smooth as possible, and greasing the old-fashioned way doesn’t always work in my experience. Apply the Wilton Cake Release with a pastry brush to ensure you cover everything.

  2. Sift sifted flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into medium bowl. The way I do this is: first, I sift the cake flour onto a Silpat mat or waxed paper, and then I measure 2 1/4 cups back into the sifter. Then I add the cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into the sifter, and sift everything together two or three times, trading off from the bowl to the Silpat mat, until it’s well-mixed. This may seem anal, but this cake has a delicate flavor, so you need to make sure the cocoa is really well distributed.
  3. Whisk buttermilk, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla in small bowl to blend.
  4. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until well blended.
  5. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating until well blended after each addition.
  6. Beat in dry ingredients in 4 additions alternately with buttermilk mixture in 3 additions.
  7. Divide batter between prepared pans. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 27 minutes. Cool in pans on racks 10 minutes. Only 10 minutes, or it will stick! Turn cakes out onto racks; cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  1. Beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until smooth.
  2. Beat in vanilla.
  3. Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth.