Red Velvet Cupcakes
with Piped Cream Cheese Frosting

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Piped Cream Cheese Frosting from #recipe

When it comes to red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, three things are certain:

  1. The only reason anyone eats red velvet cupcakes is for the cream cheese frosting.
  2. Cream cheese frosting can, in and of itself, be a meal. (See Exhibit A.)
  3. Tiny slathers of frosting are out. Luscious swirls are in.

Number 3 is perhaps of the most importance, as I’ve recently been on a mission to discover a cream cheese frosting with enough body to hold its piped shape way longer than it takes to polish off a dozen or two of these red velvet beauties. Today, I’m happy to report that my mission went from impossible to accomplished. So what’s the secret?

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Piped Cream Cheese Frosting from #recipe

Kick the butter to the curb and stock up on heavy cream.

After much research and several test batches, I came across Joy of Cooking‘s tutorial for a cream cheese frosting that can be easily piped into swirls, flowers, stars and more. I gave the recipe a spin, adjusted a few elements and voilà! A sturdy, yet fluffy cream cheese frosting that pipes like a dream.

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Piped Cream Cheese Frosting from #recipe

To pipe the frosting above, I used an Ateco #828 star-shaped pastry tip. And despite all of the fawning over the frosting, I’d be remiss not to draw your attention to the extra-moist red velvet cupcake that sits below the swirl. Read on for my tips on how to achieve this rich red velvet color without using an entire bottle of food coloring or a whole bag of beets.

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Piped Cream Cheese Frosting from #recipe

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Red Velvet Cupcakes with Piped Cream Cheese Frosting

Yield: About 2 dozen cupcakes

Prep Time: 20 min

Cook Time: 20 min


For the cupcakes:
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon white vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Red food coloring (See Kelly's Notes)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

For the frosting:
2 (8-oz.) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups cold heavy whipping cream (See Kelly's Notes)


Make the cupcakes:
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a cupcake pan with liners.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, white vinegar, vanilla extract and enough red food coloring until the mixture is well combined and reaches your desired color.

In a separate medium bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, 1/2 a cup at a time, mixing between each addition to avoid any lumps in the batter.

Fill each cupcake liner about 3/4 full with batter and bake for 18 to 20 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Transfer the cupcakes to a cooling rack to cool completely while you make the frosting.

Make the frosting:
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Sift the powdered sugar into the bowl, beating to combine, then add the vanilla extract.

Remove the paddle attachment and attach the whisk attachment. Scrape down any cream cheese from the sides of the bowl, and then with the whisk beating at medium-high speed, stream in the cold heavy cream until the frosting is thick enough to pipe. Please watch this video from Joy of Baking, which features the frosting recipe and addresses potential issues to prevent the frosting from being too thin.

Transfer the frosting to a piping bag fitted with your desired pastry tip. Pipe the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes and serve immediately.

Kelly's Notes:
To get the deep, dark red color in the photos, I use a gel-based food coloring. Regular water-based food colorings are less concentrated and thus require more to achieve the same rich color. If you are using the water-based food coloring in this recipe, you'll need about 3 tablespoons to achieve a good color. If you're using the gel-based food coloring, start with 4 to 5 drops and add more as needed.

This frosting recipe makes enough to pipe tall, thick swirls onto the cupcakes. If you'd rather slather the cupcakes using less frosting, divide the frosting recipe in half.

You must use a brand of heavy cream that whips easily into stiff peaks. If you're uncertain your heavy cream whips easily, whip the heavy cream separate from the cream cheese (until it reaches stiff peaks) and then fold it into the cream cheese. View the video of this frosting recipe being made on Joy of Baking.

Cupcake recipe adapted from Kiss My Bundt. Frosting recipe adapted from Joy of Baking.

Disclosure: There are Amazon affiliate links in this post.


89 Responses to “Red Velvet Cupcakes
with Piped Cream Cheese Frosting”

  1. #
    Katrina @ WVS — January 22, 2014 at 9:22 am

    These sound soooo good! I love this recipe!

  2. #
    Carmen fischer — January 22, 2014 at 9:26 am

    So adorable and they look delicious! Love the cupcake liner and how the cake doesn’t show through, is it foil on the inside? Do you have a good source for good quality lines?
    Thanks or sharing your tips, will be making these for Valentines day! :)

  3. #
    Kelli @ The Corner Kitchen — January 22, 2014 at 10:08 am

    Red velvet is always good, but the cream cheese frosting is always the winner in this relationships! Those wrappers are adorable!

  4. #
    Happy Valley Chow — January 22, 2014 at 11:13 am

    The picture of the paddle attachment oozing red velvet batter looks like an episode of Dexter haha. Those cupcakes just look absolutely perfect, great recipe and tips!

    Happy Blogging!
    Happy Valley Chow

  5. #
    Julie @ Lovely Little Kitchen — January 22, 2014 at 12:30 pm

    Your frosting looks like cream cheese perfection! Pinning to try this one soon!

  6. #
    Christine @ Cooking with Cakes — January 22, 2014 at 1:43 pm

    those are the most even looking cupcakes ive ever seen – VERY impressed!! lol

    • Kelly Senyei replied: — January 22nd, 2014 @ 7:23 pm

      Haha! Thanks so much, Christine :)

  7. #
    Michelle @ Life on the Horizon — January 22, 2014 at 2:41 pm

    Absolutely beautiful! I LOVE cream cheese frosting!

  8. #
    Angelyn @ Everyday Desserts — January 22, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    I thought I was the only one who trouble piping cream cheese frosting! This recipe looks perfect though – pinned!!

    • Kelly Senyei replied: — January 22nd, 2014 @ 7:22 pm

      Thanks so much for sharing the cream cheese frosting love, Angelyn!

  9. #
    Cassie — January 22, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    These are gorgeous, Kelly!

  10. #
    Elizabeth @ Confessions of a Baking Queen — January 22, 2014 at 6:39 pm

    I made a strawberries and cream cake a few weeks ago with a similar cream cheese frosting and I was in love, so delicious. I have been yearning to make something with that frosting again and this might just be it! These cupcakes are stunning, the frosting swirls couldn’t be more perfect!!

  11. #
    Samantha — January 22, 2014 at 6:53 pm

    Looks great! I love to pipe pretty frosting!

  12. #
    carmen — January 22, 2014 at 9:06 pm

    Thanks for the reply Kelly, will definitely give these liners a try!

  13. #
    Noma — January 22, 2014 at 10:11 pm

    Piped perfection, Kelly! These look delicious. Love the whipped cream ingredient in the
    frosting…who would have thought?

    • Kelly Senyei replied: — January 22nd, 2014 @ 10:46 pm

      Thanks so much, Noma! The heavy cream really does wonders and makes the tangy frosting so light and fluffy :)

  14. #
    Tieghan Gerard — January 22, 2014 at 10:16 pm

    So pretty! I am loving red velvet these days!

  15. #
    Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking — January 22, 2014 at 11:07 pm

    Look at that perfectly piped frosting! Absolutely gaw-geous, Kelly. Red velvet is my favorite… a total classic!

  16. #
    Becca @ Crumbs — January 23, 2014 at 4:41 am

    These look gorgeous! I love the cases, so cute

  17. #
    Sophia Purvis — January 23, 2014 at 5:19 am

    Made a Red Velvet Cake for my Mum last year for mothers day or her birthday its one of her favourites
    So l’ll have to try this recipe for her her special day They look so nice love the icing

  18. #
    Joyce Jackson — January 23, 2014 at 8:53 am

    They looked delicious I must try this recipe

  19. #
    Jay jay — January 23, 2014 at 8:54 am


  20. #
    dina — January 23, 2014 at 9:24 am

    there’s nothing like a red velvet cupcake!

  21. #
    Sommer @ASpicyPerspective — January 23, 2014 at 9:55 am

    So very pretty! These cupcakes sound amazing and the cream cheese frosting just makes it even more amazing!

  22. #
    Mimi @ Culinary Couture — January 23, 2014 at 1:06 pm

    I’ve gotta try that cream cheese frosting! It looks luscious!

  23. #
    Zainab@ Blahnik Baker — January 23, 2014 at 7:59 pm

    These cupcakes are so beautiful!! I need to try your cream cheese frosting with heavy cream. That swirl is to die for :)

  24. #
    justine — January 26, 2014 at 9:20 pm

    Hi, thanks for the recipt. My daughter always asks for red cake I’m gonna try this one tomm. By the way what is the exact amount of cream cheese needed for the frosting?

    • Kelly Senyei replied: — January 26th, 2014 @ 9:24 pm

      Thanks, Justin! It’s two, 8-ounce packages, so 16 ounces total. Enjoy!

  25. #
    kiran — January 26, 2014 at 9:54 pm

    Loved the presentation, it helps beginners a great deal!
    Could you please tell me which brand of cream cheese and heavy cream to use? I tried couple of times with cream cheese spread but it didnt set well.

    • Kelly Senyei replied: — January 26th, 2014 @ 9:58 pm

      Thanks, Kiran! It’s just regular ol’ cream cheese (NOT the low fat version) and I just used basic heavy cream, but make sure it’s cold. You have to whip it long enough to the point where stiff peaks form. Hope that helps!

  26. #
    Shauna — February 2, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    is it two 8oz. packages of cream cheese for the frosting or just 8oz of it??? thanks :D ;)

    • Kelly Senyei replied: — February 2nd, 2014 @ 12:08 pm

      Hi Shauna! It’s two 8-ounce packages. Enjoy!

  27. #
    Shauna — February 2, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    wait sorry i see now that someone else already asked that! I am so silly haha! thanks anyway!

  28. #
    sana — February 3, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    This is the love!!!
    When you say powdered sugar, do you mean icing sugar? Or just regular sugar which is finely powered. Sorry I’m fairly new at this.

    • Kelly Senyei replied: — February 3rd, 2014 @ 3:56 pm

      Hi Sana! Powdered sugar is the same as confectioners sugar (a.k.a. icing sugar). Enjoy!

  29. #
    cheryl — February 3, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    they look wonderful and I am a big butter/cream cheese icing user and would love to try your recipe, but here is my dilemma. I don’t have a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or whisk attachment :( boohoo. I do have a cheap stand mixer with beaters though!! Do you think it would still work? Thanks for all your insight!

  30. #
    sana — February 10, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    Thanks for replying! :-D have a good day!

  31. #
    ana — February 11, 2014 at 3:38 am

    I made this recipe and tasted like oil O.O

  32. #
    Kassidy — February 12, 2014 at 10:26 am

    Does the frosting HAVE to be served immediately? I am wanting to make the frosting and cupcakes the night before and serve it the next day. Any suggestions?

    • Kelly Senyei replied: — February 12th, 2014 @ 10:50 am

      Hi Kassidy – You can make the cupcakes and frost them but store them in the fridge overnight. Or, make the frosting, store it in the fridge and then frost the cupcakes the next day. Hope that helps!

  33. #
    Kassidy — February 12, 2014 at 10:52 am

    Thank you!!

  34. #
    Aly — February 12, 2014 at 3:07 pm

    By the comments it looks to me that you would store the cupcakes in the frig, correct?? I just don’t want spoiled cupcakes! Thanks!

    • Kelly Senyei replied: — February 12th, 2014 @ 3:19 pm

      Hi Aly – Yes, because of the cream cheese frosting, you should store them in the fridge. Enjoy!

  35. #
    Andrea — February 12, 2014 at 8:11 pm

    Hi I was just wondering if I were to make the frosting the same day as the cupcakes should I keep them refrigerated or could I leave them on the counter. I usually don’t refrigerate my cakes, so would you recommend just frosting them the day they will be eaten

    • Kelly Senyei replied: — February 12th, 2014 @ 11:13 pm

      Either works! But to make sure the frosting doesn’t soften or melt at all, keep them in a cool, dry place, or just pop them in the fridge.

  36. #
    Megan — February 14, 2014 at 2:07 am

    Tried these for Valentine’s Day. The frosting was more liquidy than any other recipe I’ve ever tried, despite following directions and beat at high speed for several minutes. Pretty disappointed.

    • Kelly Senyei replied: — February 14th, 2014 @ 2:32 am

      Hi Megan – I’m sorry you didn’t like the recipe. I’ve made this frosting many times and it’s never been runny. It’s very thick and stiff. Did you definitely use heavy cream? And was it cold?

  37. #
    Megan — February 14, 2014 at 9:21 am

    Yes, I used heavy whipping cream and it was straight out of the fridge. I thought the “frosting” tasted too much like whipped cream and not enough like cream cheese as well.

    • Kelly Senyei replied: — February 14th, 2014 @ 10:31 am

      Hi Megan – I’m sorry you didn’t like the taste or texture of the frosting. I’ve made this recipe many times, as have countless others who’ve posted here, without any issues. I have a classic cream cheese frosting you’re welcome to try:

  38. #
    Angie — February 14, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    I also tried the icing recipe for cupcakes– after “beating with whisks” for 10 minutes, I conceded… A runny icing! I followed the recipe exactly, with cold whipping cream. I may put in fridge, but worry that I it does pipe, when I serve them for a party, the will begin to “melt”. Thoughts?

    • Kelly Senyei replied: — February 14th, 2014 @ 4:26 pm

      Hi Angie – You can put the frosting in the fridge and it’ll definitely firm up. Did you stream in the cold heavy cream and have the whisk attachment on your stand mixer?

  39. #
    Angie — February 14, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    Yes– not sure what went wrong? I switched the paddle to the whisk when I added the cold heavy whipping cream. Oh well! I always have some baking crisis when prepping for a party…

    • Kelly Senyei replied: — February 14th, 2014 @ 4:38 pm

      That’s so odd, Angie. Not sure what the issue could’ve been but you could try increasing the speed of the mixer so the heavy cream whips/thickens faster?

  40. #
    Terri — February 14, 2014 at 8:21 pm

    I follow the recipe exactly as it’s written and the icing was very runny : (

    • Kelly Senyei replied: — February 15th, 2014 @ 11:57 am

      Hi Terri – Did you use cold heavy whipping cream and also the whisk attachment (at medium-high speed)?

  41. #
    Terri — February 14, 2014 at 8:21 pm


  42. #
    Susan — February 15, 2014 at 3:42 am

    LOVED this recipe! The frosting is especially wonderful. I made it for my son and his friends for Valentine’s Day, and they had a blast sprinkling colored sugars, tiny silver balls, and other V-day sprinkles on top. Thanks for sharing that info about the cupcake liners, too. Mine bled through and looked terrible…

    • Kelly Senyei replied: — February 15th, 2014 @ 11:56 am

      Awesome! So glad you enjoyed the recipe, Susan!

  43. #
    Terri — February 15, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    Hi Kelly!! I followed the instructions as written. Not sure what made it so runny but I will definitely try it at least once more : ) Thx for replying!

  44. #
    Macy — February 18, 2014 at 1:30 pm

    I’ve debated posting this because I don’t want to seem unappreciative for all the hard work you do sharing your wonderful recipes with us, but the frosting didn’t work for me either. I followed the directions exactly and beat the frosting for 20 minutes before finally giving up. I piped it on the cupcakes anyway but it was liquidy and slid right off. I put them in the fridge overnight and they will be fine to serve but they didn’t hold their shape at all. I wonder if it will only work with a kitchen aid mixer?

    • Kelly Senyei replied: — February 18th, 2014 @ 3:49 pm

      Hi Macy – I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy the recipe. But you should whisk the frosting at medium-high speed for a max of 5 minutes. Was your machine at medium-high? If you whisk it too slowly, the frosting will be too thin, as the heavy cream won’t have a chance to thicken.

  45. #
    Maricar — February 20, 2014 at 2:52 am

    Hi there

    This recipe sounds amazing and planning to use to make cupcakes for my little niece birthday party. Just a quick question, will the icing last if we leave it outside? I’m just imagining that this will be staying in the table and not the fridge during the day.


    • Kelly Senyei replied: — February 20th, 2014 @ 10:10 am

      Hi Maricar – You can leave the cupcakes out for an hour or so, but if it’s warm out, I definitely wouldn’t recommend it. The piped shape will last, but I’d rather be overly cautious on having dairy sit out, especially if little tummies are going to be eating the cupcakes :)

  46. #
    Christine Smith — February 22, 2014 at 4:50 pm

    Baked up a batch of these cupcakes and really looked forward to making the icing. Followed your directions to a tee. In spite of whipubg the mixture for over 12 minutes (in total) on my Kitchenaid, it just wouldn’t firm up. Tried all sorts of remedies, including adding for icing sugar and it’s still a runny messy. Even added some butter and cornstarch. Still runny. Totally unsuitable for piping. So, I’m afraid all my xpensive ingredients were wasted. And, my cupcakes are heading to the party naked.

    • Kelly Senyei replied: — February 22nd, 2014 @ 5:31 pm

      Hi Christine – I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy the frosting recipe. I’ve made this recipe many times and always been able to pipe it. Did you stream the cold heavy cream in very slowly?

  47. #
    Ann — March 1, 2014 at 3:35 pm

    I live in mexico and cant find heavy whipping cream. Will regular whippimg cream work? Thanks

    • Kelly Senyei replied: — March 1st, 2014 @ 6:45 pm

      Hi Ann – I’ve never tried this recipe with anything but heavy whipping cream, so I can’t say for certainty if that would work.

  48. #
    Jeri — March 4, 2014 at 8:48 pm

    I’m with the others, this is unbelievably runny… I need it for tomorrow morning, not sure what I am going to do.

    • Kelly Senyei replied: — March 5th, 2014 @ 7:46 am

      Hi Jeri – Did you have the stand mixer going at medium-high speed while you slowly whisked in the heavy creamy? I think this may be the issue some are experiencing. The heavy cream has to whip quickly in order to hold its shape.

  49. #
    Maria G. — March 24, 2014 at 1:24 am

    Hello –
    I, too, followed this recipe to a ‘T’ and got a runny frosting. :-(
    I have a kitchenaid Professional 550 Stand Mixer. I whipped the very cold heavy whipping cream with my mixer in speed 10. Slowly pouring it on the side of the bowl while the whip mix at high speed.

    Do you have any idea if I can still salvage my current icing or do I just throw them away.

    One thing I want to clarify, do you beat the heavy whipping cream and powdered sugar, in a separate bowl under ice until stiff and then cut and fold the creamed cream cheese?

    Really disappointed.

    • Kelly Senyei replied: — March 24th, 2014 @ 8:27 am

      Hi Maria – Thanks so much for your comment. Based on the split reviews on this recipe, I will be making it again this weekend and provide any updates.

  50. #
    Kelly Senyei — March 24, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    Hi everyone,

    Based on the split reviews with some people saying the frosting worked great and others saying it was too runny, I am sharing a link below to Joy of Cooking, which shows the frosting recipe being made:

    It’s important to use heavy whipping cream, rather than regular or light whipping cream, as the fat is what helps thicken the frosting. Please note how slowly it’s also added to the bowl.

    I hope this helps clarify the technique on the frosting recipe!

  51. #
    Cheryl — March 27, 2014 at 4:40 am

    Hi:) can I use cake flour for this recipe?

    • Kelly Senyei replied: — March 27th, 2014 @ 6:58 pm

      Hi Cheryl – I’ve never tried this recipe with cake flour, so I can’t say for certain if that would work.

  52. #
    Grace — March 27, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    Can I put food coloring in the cream cheese frosting to make it pink?
    or can I mix the cream cheese frosting & make a butter cream & mix the 2 together?
    thank you

    • Kelly Senyei replied: — March 27th, 2014 @ 6:57 pm

      Hi Grace! Yes, you can add food coloring to the cream cheese frosting to make it pink. Enjoy!

  53. #
    ping roque — March 29, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    Dear Kelly,
    Thank you for sharing your recipe.
    It was a hit, my girls loved the whipped cream cheese, it’s so light and the yummiest version ever. And the cupcake recipe was amazing. Thank you.

    • Kelly Senyei replied: — March 29th, 2014 @ 7:13 pm

      Awesome! So glad you enjoyed the recipe!

  54. #
    laura — March 30, 2014 at 1:58 pm

    I made these cupcakes and followed the recipe exactly and the cakes came out really oily, is this normal?

    • Kelly Senyei replied: — March 30th, 2014 @ 8:16 pm

      Hi Laura – No, the cupcake batter doesn’t result in an oily cake. It’s a very moist cupcake but it shouldn’t be oily. Did you follow the recipe exactly?

  55. #
    Camille Garcia — April 5, 2014 at 12:02 am

    hi kelly, i love recipe of your red velvet. :)

  56. #
    Angela Ott — April 7, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    These actually turned out really well for me! I had to Macgyver a little because I don’t have a functioning stand mixer so I ended up using the dough hook attachments on my hand mixer to whip up the cream cheese :D I was also a little worried since some people had said their frosting turned out runny so I actually whipped up the cream a good amount (until it was forming…I guess what would be called soft peaks) and then mixed it in with the cream cheese and sugar mix. Turned out perfect for my mothers birthday!! Thank you for the recipe!

    • Kelly Senyei replied: — April 7th, 2014 @ 8:50 pm

      Awesome! So glad you enjoyed the recipe, Angela!

  57. #
    Zainab — April 11, 2014 at 1:08 pm

    Do i have to use a stand mixer or would a hand mixer be fine?

    • Kelly Senyei replied: — April 11th, 2014 @ 1:11 pm

      Hi Zainab – I’ve never made this recipe with a hand mixer before, so you’ll just want to make sure you follow the instructions for how long to beat everything. Enjoy!


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