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Easy Southern Semi Homemade Red Velvet Cake Recipe

Red Velvet cake is a classic in southern cuisine and here is a delicious and incredibly easy recipe that you’ll want to make over and over again!

red velvet cake sliced to show red center

I always crave Red Velvet Cake around Christmas or Valentine’s day with that stunning crimson color revealed once you cut into it.

But I never knew about Red Velvet Cake until I met Trent 30 years ago. Coming from the southern United States, I quickly learned how popular this dessert was!

It’s a moist crumb, buttery but not too rich, and perfectly delicious! One of the best cakes I’ve ever eaten!

red velvet cake sliced to show red center with a bite ready on a fork

This Easy Red Velvet Cake recipe was one I knew I had to learn and master and I was surprised at how simple it was.

When I fell in love with Trent, I quickly realized that he came from a family of food lovers.

Remembrances of times past with his family often included the incredible meal they shared. And when I ate his momma’s cooking – I knew why!

Seeing that this was my husband’s favorite recipe of his mother’s, I took to the task of learning it quick!

Semi Homemade Red Velvet Cake Recipe

slice of red velvet cake

Shortly after we were married, we moved from our newlywed apartment in Nashville south to Birmingham. We hoped it would help get a good start financially by working for the family business.

There was a brief time when we were fortunate to live in his parent’s basement for about 6 months. It was during that season that I was like an annoying fly, buzzing around my mother-in-law. It was the best way to learn how to make this moist cake.

So I watched and learned intently from her cooking skills.

What a blessing it was!

Not that my mother wasn’t an excellent cook, but I lacked the drive and desire when I had to opportunity to learn from her before I was married.

Plus, most of the time spent in the kitchen with my Mom involved hours of singing together instead of cooking lessons.

Precious moments of family harmony that I’ll cherish forever!

red velvet cake sliced to show red center

Today, I wanted to share this with you.

Maybe you can surprise your sweetheart with this cake on Valentine’s Day or wow your friends for a special occasion. They’ll swoon over how yummy it is!

Semi Homemade Red Velvet Cake Ingredients

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  • Butter Cake Mix – We prefer Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker, but you can use your favorite brand of cake mixes.
  • Cocoa Powder – The key ingredient and secret to all classic red velvet cake recipes and gives the box mix a richer flavor
  • Vanilla
  • Buttermilk – If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, look at the cake recipe card below for a great buttermilk mixture substitute.
  • Red Food Dye – This is what gives it that beautiful, vibrant red color.
  • Butter – Salted or unsalted, your preference. Softened.
  • Large Eggs
  • Vinegar
  • Baking Soda

For the Frosting:

  • Cream Cheese – Softened.
  • Butter – Softened. I like unsalted butter for the icing.
  • Powdered Sugar
  • Vanilla
  • Nuts – Classic recipes call for nuts, but this is optional. You can use your favorite nut, but we prefer pecans.
Iced red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting with pecans

To make this recipe, you’ll need either an electric mixer or stand mixer.

How to Make this Easy Red Velvet Cake

  1. Prep – Preheat your oven. For this recipe, you’ll need either an electric hand mixer or stand mixer, and 2 greased 9-inch cake pans.
  2. Combine the Dry Ingredients – In a medium bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine together the box mix and cocoa powder.
  3. Add Vanilla Extract, Buttermilk and Red Food Coloring – Carefully mix on a low speed until well blended being careful not to overmix.
  4. Add Butter and Eggs – Next add the softened butter and eggs. Mix together on a medium speed until the butter is fully incorporated.
  5. Add Baking Soda and Vinegar – This creates a fun chemical reaction when mixed to together, so bring the kids over when you start this step.
  6. Beat – Mix on high speed for 4 minutes.
  7. Fill – If you want cake layers, divide the cake batter and fill your prepared 9-inch pans evenly. I have also made this as a sheet cake before as well.
  8. Bake – in a 350 degree heat oven.

Use the cake baking time to start on the Cream Cheese Frosting.

Easy Red Velvet Cake Recipe - here is a delicious and incredibly simple recipe that you'll want to make over and over again!
Yield: 16 Slices

Easy Red Velvet Cake

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Additional Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes

I always crave Red Velvet Cake around Christmas or Valentine's day with that stunning crimson color revealed once cut. This Semi Homemade Red Velvet Cake recipe was one I knew I had to learn and master and I was surprised at how easy it was.


  • 1 box Duncan Hines butter cake mix
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 oz red food coloring
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp vinegar
  • 1 tsp baking soda


Making the Cake

  1. Mix together the cake mix, 1 tsp cocoa powder, 1 tsp vanilla and 1 cup buttermilk until well blended.
  2. Slowly add food coloring and blend gently until incorporated.
  3. Next add the softened butter and 3 eggs and mix together.
  4. Add 1 Tbsp vinegar and 1 tsp baking soda.
  5. Beat for 4 minutes.
  6. Pour into two greased 9 inch baking pans.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Allow the cake to fully cool before icing. Follor the instructions on how to make the cream cheese frosting.


We don't always have buttermilk on hand, but have used a substitute many times. If you don't have buttermilk, you can try this substitute:

1 cup milk minus 1 Tablespoon
1 Tablespoon white vinegar

Allow it to sit for a minute and it will curdle to the same texture as buttermilk.

I've used it for years and it has always worked!

Nutrition Information



Serving Size


Amount Per Serving Calories 269Total Fat 23gSaturated Fat 11gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 10gCholesterol 83mgSodium 291mgCarbohydrates 13gFiber 1gSugar 11gProtein 5g

Frequently Asked Questions

Why add White Vinegar to Red Velvet Cake?

Adding vinegar to a cake mix seems like an odd ingredient. Since you are adding baking soda for leavening, the white vinegar helps with that process.

How to Make Easy Cream Cheese Frosting

This tangy cream cheese frosting pairs beautifully for the perfect red velvet flavor!

This cream cheese icing is absolutely delicious and would work for lots of other recipes.

  1. Cream the Butter and Cream Cheese – Use your paddle attachment on your standing mixer to make the creamed butter and cream cheese process quicker.
  2. Add Vanilla – Mix thoroughly.
  3. Add Powdered Sugar – With the mixer on medium speed, gradually add the powdered sugar a little at a time.
  4. Fold in the Nuts – We prefer pecans, but have used walnuts as well.

Once the cake is out of the oven, allow it to cool to room temperature on a wire cooling rack before icing.

Since the cake is moist, you may want to apply a crumb coat around the outside of the cake before fully icing.

Iced red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting with pecans
Easy Red Velvet Cake Recipe - here is a delicious and incredibly simple recipe that you'll want to make over and over again!

Easy Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

One of my favorite recipes is my Red Velvet Cake, and it wouldn't be complete without the delicous Cream Cheese Frosting. Here's an easy recipe you can make with or without nuts.


  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened.
  • 1 stick butter, softened.
  • 1 box powdered sugar (3 1/2 cups)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup nuts - we prefer pecans


  1. Cream the softened butter and cream cheese in a mixer or with beaters.
  2. Add 1 tsp vanilla and mix thoroughly.
  3. Add 3 1/2 cups of powdered sugar gradually.
  4. Fold in 1 cup of nuts. We prefer pecans, but have used walnuts as well.


Our boys weren't the biggest fans of nuts when they were growing up. So I have made this recipe many times without nuts and it has held up fine!


  • This is a tender crumb cake, so be gentle when icing the cake.
  • If you are stacking the cakes, you can add a thin layer of icing without the nuts as an option between each cake layer.
  • We like to store our leftover cake in the refrigerator. That rich consistency takes wonderful chilled.
  • You could add some shaved white chocolate to the top or sides for an added flair.
  • If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, try this buttermilk substitute: Add 1 Tbsp white vinegar to 1 cup of regular milk and allow to sit for a few minutes.
  • Red Velvet Cupcakes would be a fun option as well!

This super easy Red Velvet Cake Recipe is a true southern favorite and, of course, a definite crowd pleaser!

This is by far the best cake I have ever had and is a continual staple in our home, especially during the holiday season.

We like to serve our red velvet cake cold, so we store it in the fridge in an air tight container.

Good luck with giving this recipe a try – I know you’ll love this moist red velvet cake.

I’d love to know if you try this delicious dessert and what you and your family think!

Happy Baking!

Super easy Red Velvet Cake Recipe - here is a delicious and incredibly simple recipe that you'll want to make over and over again!

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  1. Hey MaeLee – this is the best comment ever! I am so glad that you’ve gotten rave reviews!

    I have made them in cupcake form and followed the box directions as a guide for temp and time and then check them with a toothpick. I hope that helps! And Happy Birthday to your girl!

  2. Hi! I have made this recipe many times and it has always been a favorite for anyone who tries it! My daughter loves it so much she has asked me to make it in cupcake form for her birthday party at school. Do you happen to know how long I would need to bake them?

  3. The cake was good, although I still prefer my Mom’s recipe from scratch. I did make her traditional boiled milk (ermine) frosting for the cake, as that’s my favorite. I like cream cheese frosting too, but to me the ermine frosting tastes better with this cake.

  4. Hi Rita – sorry your batch didn’t turn out. Unfortunately, I don’t have much to offer because I’m a die-hard rule follower and rarely, if ever, stray from the recipe. The issue may be using the red velvet cake mix as a base instead of the Butter cake mix that my recipe calls for.

    We just made this recipe the other week using a Duncan Hines Butter Cake mix and it was perfectly sweet. Hope that helps!

  5. Hi! I saw your recipe and was eager to try it. I had a red velvet cake mix by Duncan Hines so I used that and followed your recipe. When I tasted the batter it wasn’t sweet at all, but salty. So I’m added sugar and tasted it and it was fine but when it baked it didn’t turn out well. Has to dump it. The cupcakes sank and the other pan it never baked.

  6. Sorry about that – my site was being updated and it temporarily took down the recipe. If you revisit and refresh your page, it should be there now.

  7. The recipe isn’t showing 🥴

  8. Yay, Rosie! So glad you are trying this! You will love how easy it is to make! Let me know how it turns out.

  9. I am making this for a groom’s cake for this Sunday! Wish me luck 🤞 the groom loves Red Velvet 🍰

  10. Glad to know you enjoyed it and found a quick and easy solution when times a crunch! Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  11. This was an easy cake to make. It came out looking just like the picture. It does taste good, but it doesn’t taste as good as my homemade cake. I would bake this again for a quick and easy dessert. Thanks for the recipe.

  12. Hi Judi – thanks for seeing this oversight – it should be 3 1/2 cups of powdered sugar. I will fix the post. Hope your cake turns out – it is super yummy!

  13. Just curious – how many cups if powdered sugar? Box sizes vary, so are we using a box of 3-1/2 cups of sugar? I really want this cake to be perfect, and the frosting is almost the best part! It is a birthday cake for a dear friend. Thank you! It looks heavenly!

  14. Oh my goodness! That is the greatest compliment ever! Thank you for sharing that with me. I’m honored that you’ve added this recipe to your regular circulation. Have an awesome day!

  15. I have made this recipe for red velvet cake several times now. My cousin who is a professional baker said it’s some of the best red velvet cake she has ever had.

  16. Can I do this with whole milk instead of buttermilk?

  17. One trick I use is to measure out 1 cup of milk, and then take out 1 TBSP. Replace that tablespoon with 1 TBSP of vinegar. Let it sit for a minute and it will curdle to the same texture as buttermilk. I’ve done this for years and it always works!

  18. I couldn’t find buttermilk anywhere. Can I substitute it for half half?

  19. Hi Della! Thanks for emailing me! I wasn’t aware the recipe plug in had disappeared! You should be able to find it up on the blog again. Let me know how you like the cake!

  20. I’m dieing to make this cake I have all the ingredients. I just want to know how to put it all together

  21. Thank you so much for this, Sammie! Your kind words made my day. I hope this is a recipe you and your family will enjoy for years!

  22. My husband asked for a red velvet cake for his birthday… I do not bake, like ever… but I made this and he LOVED it!! He even convinced our daughter to have me make this cake for her birthday rather than an ice cream cake from DQ!

  23. Hey there fellow Alabamian!! You’ll have to let me know how the recipe turned out! This is one of my all time favs to make and share.

  24. I am trying this recipe tonight for Thanksgiving. I’m excited because I love red velvet cake. I will have to notify you of what everyone think. Ohhhhh yes by the way… I am an Alabamian as well. 😁

  25. Looks delicious! Thanks for sharing at the To Grandma’s House We Go DIY, Crafts, Recipes and more Wednesday link party!

  26. Hi Natalie! You are so sweet! Thanks for pinning and let me know what you think when you make one.

  27. It sounds and looks amazing, thank you for sharing the recipe at The Really Crafty Link Party. Pinned!

  28. This cake looks so good! I could eat a piece right about now! 🙂 I pinned this recipe! I’d love to make it later! I love that it is an easy recipe! I love these kind of recipes! Thank you for sharing!

  29. The color is so pretty and I love the nuts in the frosting. Thank you for sharing with us this week at Celebrate Your Story and we hope you will join us again next week.

  30. Thanks Julie! Glad to know that there are other Red Velvet lovers like us out there. Let me know what you think if you try this recipe!

  31. Looks yummy… Good Red Velvet desserts are my fave! (Have you tried the Nothing Bundt Cakes red velvet… oh my goodness!) I will need to try your recipe, and share with my niece, who is also a RV lover… we always try the red velvet stuffs!

  32. Thanks for your input Ellen. Bravo for pursuing your health! I appreciate you taking the time to comment and hopefully you can find a version that fits your eating lifestyle.

  33. Perhaps this should be called a ‘Heart Attack Cake’!
    Gee, can’t you come up with a little healthier version? Or, at least, comment on it’s incredible unhealthy fat content?
    Box butter cake mix is LOADED with trans fats. Then you add butter, butter and MORE butter!
    I didn’t expect a vegan, organic, low fat recipe, but this is downright GREASY!

  34. This is looking delicious. I love Red velvet cake. Thanks for sharing its recipe.