Southern Buttermilk Red Velvet Cake

"Don't be afraid of the deep red color-there is more than a hint of chocolate flavor in this fun and very tasty cake to serve anytime, but especially at Valentine's Day and Christmas. I have also made it into cupcakes for the kiddies to take to school and share. The frosting is buttery and not-too sweet. This is a traditional cake from Chicago to the deep south. Back East you will even find cake mixes for an easy version of "Red Velvet Cake". I tried several versions of this cake and favored this adaptation of Gale Gand's from her "Just a Bite" cookbook"
photo by Karen Elizabeth photo by Karen Elizabeth
photo by Karen Elizabeth
photo by Karen Elizabeth photo by Karen Elizabeth
photo by PharmDoni photo by PharmDoni
photo by PharmDoni photo by PharmDoni
photo by Crys804 photo by Crys804
Ready In:
1 3 layer, 8-inch cake




  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Grease and flour three 8-inch round cake pans.
  • Cream together butter and sugar with electric mixer until fluffy.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time and beat well after each.
  • Make a paste with the food coloring and cocoa.
  • (It takes a few minutes to get the chocolate to absorb liquid--be patient and keep stirring).
  • Add this paste to the butter/sugar mixture.
  • Sift together the flour, salt and baking soda.
  • Add it to the sugar/butter mixture alternately with the buttermilk, mixing well between additions.
  • (Begin and end with dry ingredients).
  • After last addition of flour mixture, stir in vanilla and vinegar.
  • Beat for another minute and then divide into 3 prepared pans.
  • Bake for about 35 minutes, or until done.
  • Cool for 10 minutes and then remove from pan to wire rack to cool completely.
  • To make icing: Mix flour and milk in small pan and cook over low heat until it is thick (stirring often--constantly near end).
  • This will take about 10 minute.
  • Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
  • Meanwhile, cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla.
  • Beat until it is very light and fluffy, about 10 minutes.
  • When the flour mixture is cooled, add it to the butter mixture and beat until just mixed.
  • Assemble the cake with a thin layer of icing between the layers and cover the top and sides of cake.

Questions & Replies

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  1. Gingerbee
    I never heard of Red Velvet Cake until my first experience in New Orleans recently. I came home and looked on Recipezaar and there it was! Thank you Sharlene for this amazingly delicious dessert. I made it today for my husband's birthday tomorrow! I only used two layers for his cake and saved the third one for him alone to enjoy. I tasted it and it is awesome. To ice the cake, I used a cream cheese icing and added some coconut and chopped nuts. Between the layers, I smeared a thin layer of the same icing and cut fresh strawberries slices to nestle in between. It came out absolutely delicious! I'll be making this over and over...Thank you again!
  2. Crys804
    I made this cake and it came out perfectly! Looked delicious, tasted even better. :D The icing was very unique. Extremely smooth. It tasted a bit like vanilla ice cream and whipped cream to me. Delicious and not too sweet! It paired wonderfully with the cake - maybe even better than the cream cheese icing that I normally use! <br/><br/>I made this cake for a friend's December birthday, and decorated it all christmassy. :) I even dyed the icing green to pair with the red of the cake - it came out beautifully - I'm uploading a picture as I write!
  3. sugarpants
    THIS is the recipe to go with! I baked two 9" layers for about 28 min, and they couldn't have come out better. Cake was light and fluffy, but with rich flavor. The frosting was surprising. When refrigerated, it solidified to a perfect texture. My guests gobbled it up completely - will definitely make again!
  4. Karen Elizabeth
    My 22 yr old daughter had heard about Red Velvet cake and was keen to try making it, so we tried this recipe, which overall has been well-reviewed. She chose to make it into cupcakes, as she wanted to share it with her friends. She found it easy to prepare, like some reviewers she found it a little dry, we dont know whether this could have been due to making cupcakes and adjusting the cooking time. However, my DH really enjoyed the cakes and felt they were perfect. She will definitely try this again, making a full cake next time. Thank you for sharing a good recipe, this was made for Think Pink, October 2011.
  5. PharmDoni
    This recipe was the best red velvet c.ake I have made. I got rave reviews and requests for more! I did not use the icing recipe because I covered the cake in fondant


  1. IGZ13
    This was delicious!! I chose to make this a 2 layered cake b/c I only had 2 8 pans. And it turned out really good. The cake was very moist and tasted great. With the frosting I used granulated sugar instead of confectioners sugar b/c I dont like the taste of confectioners sugar and when I have made Red Velvet cake in the past the recipes called for granulated sugar so that is what my family likes. Also I didnt use a full cup of red food coloring I only had 1/8 cup and it worked just fine.


I live in the San Francisco area and love it here. I discovered Recipezaar (then Kitchen) in 2001 and have been so happy to have my favorite recipes stored safely here. I am mother to 7 and grandmother to 7. I love to knit, smock, sew, etc., but my favorite hobby of the moment is traditional rug hooking. This is a sample of what I do.? It's called "November".? I dyed most of the wool myself. It is made from wool flannel, cut into strips a little less than 1/4" and then worked into a linen backing. This is my 3rd rug.
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