slice of red velvet cake on a plate

Southern Red Velvet Cake from Scratch

  • Author: Emma
  • Prep Time: 50 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
  • Yield: 20 slices 1x


Enjoy a tall slice of moist, fluffy red velvet cake this Christmas or Valentine’s Day.  With a few simple tips and tricks, you’ll be able to make this famous Southern sweet treat completely from scratch.  It’s the perfect showstopping end to a holiday meal with family and friends!



  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled (320g)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (18g)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened (115g)
  • 1 1/2 cups caster sugar (300g)
  • 1 cup light-tasting olive oil (236 ml)
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar (15 ml)
  • 2 tablespoons liquid red food coloring (30 ml)
  • 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature (236 ml)
  • 3 cups boiled milk frosting or cream cheese frosting


Making the Cake (40 minutes + 15 minutes baking + 45 minutes cooling)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Lightly butter three 9-inch cake pans and line their bases with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk together the cake flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder, then sift to remove any lumps.
  3. Beat the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until very light yellow and fluffy, about 5-8 minutes on medium-high speed.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a flexible spatula, then add the olive oil and mix for 2 minutes on medium speed.
  4. Blend in the eggs and vanilla, then scrape the sides of the bowl and the beater.  Mix in the vinegar and food coloring or natural food dye until well combined.
  5. Add half of the dry ingredients and gently fold them in with the spatula.  The best way to fold is to scrape around the edges of the bowl in one stroke, then cut through the center of the batter.  Repeat until mixed.  Fold in all the buttermilk, then fold in the remaining dry ingredients.  Be careful not to overmix, but be sure there are no white lumps or streaks in the batter.
  6. Gently divide the batter among the prepared cake pans.  Tap each pan on the counter a few times to get rid of any large air bubbles in the batter.
  7. Bake the cakes at 350 F for 15 minutes, switching the pans around after 10 minutes to ensure an even bake.  The cake is done when its surface just barely springs back when gently touched, and when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  8. Let the cakes cool for 10 minutes in the pans, then remove from the pans and let cool completely on wire racks, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Decorating the Cake (10 minutes)

  1. Slowly peel the parchment paper off of the cakes, being careful not to crack the soft cakes.
  2. Set one cake on a large, flat plate and spread a layer of icing on top.  Repeat with the following two layers.
  3. Crumb coat the sides by spreading a layer of icing on, then scraping most of it off.  Carefully spread more icing over the crumb coat, smoothing with an angled spatula.
  4. Serve the cake in slices, and store leftovers in an airtight cake carrier for up to 3 days at room temperature.


  • Be sure to measure the flour accurately, as too much flour will result in a dry cake.  If you’re using measuring cups, spoon the flour into the cup and level the top with a knife.  Preferably, use a kitchen scale to get a more accurate measurement.
  • Make sure all the cake ingredients are at room temperature before you begin.  Take the buttermilk out of the fridge 45 minutes to 1 hour before you start.  Warm up the eggs by submerging them in warm water for 10 minutes, and soften the butter by microwaving it in short intervals.
  • Be careful not to overbake the cake, or it will be dry.  Mine was perfectly done at 15 minutes, but your oven will probably bake a little differently.  Always test a couple minutes before the timer beeps if you’re unsure.
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Southern, recipe

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