Southern Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

By December 12, 2018 No Comments


Red Velvet Cake needs no introduction. It’s simply without question the holy grail of holiday cakes. It’s beautiful, magical, mysterious, romantic, and undoubtedly one of the best tasting cakes that I ever put in my mouth!

Let’s dive deeper into this fabulous cake. What makes it so mysterious? What gives it that unique flavor like none other? The combination of ingredients in red velvet cake have always fascinated me. The red velvety layers are made with buttermilk, cocoa, vanilla, vinegar and red food coloring. Buttermilk makes the layers extra moist and flavorful. It’s one of those Southern things and a required ingredient for red velvet cake. Just a little bit of cocoa is added to give it a mild chocolate flavor. It also has vinegar and red food coloring which adds acidity and makes the beautiful rich red coloring.

The layers are dense, but yet moist and soft and covered with a thick billowing blanket of sweet, creamy, buttery cream cheese frosting. And the Southern version of red velvet cake is always topped with pecans. It’s the crowning glory!

But not all red velvet cakes are created equal. Some red velvet cakes are way too dry. But, no worries on this recipe. I have you covered because this is my Aunt Peggy’s recipe and it’s absolutely the best. It’s so moist that it will literally melt in your mouth.  Aunt Peggy was kind enough to share her recipe and tips to making the most amazing red velvet cake!

Here are her tips:

  1. Cake flour. Using cake flour is 100 % recommend for red velvet cake. Cake flour is much lighter than all-purpose flour or plain flour. Cake flour gives the layers a soft- crumb like texture. Cake flour is sold at all major grocery stores. Just look for it on the baking aisle.It’s usually in a box.
  2. Red food coloring. We have found that McCormick’s red food coloring is simply the best to give the layers that beautiful bright rich red color. Also the vinegar helps to brighten the red color.
  3. Unsweetened cocoa powder. The right amount of cocoa is very important This recipe calls for 2 tablespoons which is just the perfect amount. Too much cocoa will make the layers too dry and we don’t want a dry cake, do we?
  4. Buttermilk is a must. Buttermilk has a higher fat content than regular milk making the layers extra moist and flavorful. Plus it

improves the texture of the layers. (Note: buttermilk is required to make the perfect red velvet cake!)

  1. Beat the eggs before. To prevent over mixing the batter, beat the eggs in a separate bowl before add them to the sugar and oil. It’s a good idea to do this anytime that a recipe calls for a lot of oil and this  recipe does (1 ½ cups) another reason why this cake is super moist!!
  2. Don’t over bake. All ovens are different. Some cook quicker than others so be sure to check and make sure you don’t overcook the layers. Over cookin will make your cake dry. It’s better to have layers a little undercooked rather than overcooked.

You can use any kind of frosting for the red velvet cake, but to me cream cheese frosting taste the best with red velvet cake. This recipe makes a little extra. Hey, you can’t get enough yummy frosting, can you? Not me, especially a delicious thick homemade cream cheese icing. I could eat it by the spoonfuls. Any way if you don’t eat all the extra frosting, you’ll have enough to decorate the cake a little more.

I love to make holiday cakes look pretty. To make the red crumbs on top of the cake, I leveled off the cake layers with a large serrated knife and then crumble the thin piece of layer to sprinkle on top.

I also added fresh raspberries for garnish too. I love raspberries on a red velvet cake. sometimes I even add a few to the batter as well.

I hope this cake brings you as much joy as it has to our family. If you have any questions about this recipe or if you make it, please leave a comment. I would love to hear from you.


Southern Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Author:
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 23 to 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours (includes cooling)
  • Yield: 12 servings
  • Category: desserts



  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ cups vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (1-ounce) bottle red food coloring (McCormick)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 2 ½ cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 16 ounces (2-8 ounce packages) full-fat cream cheese softened to room temperature
  • ¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) salted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 8 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream or whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ⅔ cup finely chopped pecans


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray or lightly grease two 9- round
    cake pans. Set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, Using an electric mixer, beat sugar and oil together until sugar dissolves.
  3. Add beaten eggs and vanilla; beat well.
  4. Stir in red food coloring.
  5. In a small bowl, combine buttermilk and vinegar together.
  6. Sift together flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa.
  7. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture while alternating with the buttermilk and vinegar ending with flour mixture. Beat until until just combined. Pour batter into prepared cake pans.
  8. Bake for 22 to 25 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Cool in pans. (Be careful not to over bake) Frost with Cream Cheese Frosting.
  9. Make the frosting: In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk or paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Slowly add the confectioners’ sugar and 2 tablespoons of cream. Beat for 2 minutes. Add the vanilla and 1 more tablespoon of the cream if needed to thin out. Beat on high speed for 2 more minutes.
  10. Assemble and frost: Using a large serrated knife, slice a thin layer off the tops of cake to create a flat surface. Crumble the thin layers and set aside for garnishing. Place 1 cake-layer on your cake stand or  serving plate. Evenly cover the top with frosting. Top with second layer and spread the remaining frosting all over the top and sides of cake. Sprinkle cake crumbs on top of cake and sprinkle ground pecans on top for garnish. Top with fresh raspberries if desired.


Make ahead/freese tip: Cake can be made ahead 2 or 3 days. Store covered in the refrigerator. Let the frosting sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving. Cake can be frozen for up to 2 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator.





Hi, my name is Aletia. I am a true blue Southern girl, cookbook author, entrepreneur, self-taught food photographer and lover of chocolate.