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All about Red Velvet Desserts

red velvet cake roll slices

What is red velvet cake?

The origins of this eye-catching dessert have been debated since it first came on to the scene. But most sources agree that the first versions of the recipe got their red color from a chemical reaction involving the kind of raw cocoa powder that was available to bakers at the time. Because it was raw cocoa, the acid in the buttermilk turned the cocoa a deep burgundy or rust color.

Ingredients and versions of the recipe have evolved through the years, as they often do, and red velvet cake became redder through the invention of food coloring. But the inclusion of cocoa powder has stood the test of time.

red velvet cake with slice taken from it

What makes red velvet cake different from chocolate cake?

Even though red velvet cake has cocoa powder in it, you’d never confuse it for chocolate cake. The signature red color is standard across all red velvet recipes, from cookies to cheesecakes. Red velvet cakes are also often finished with a cream cheese or vanilla creme frosting, which plays off the tart buttermilk in the batter and makes a striking color contrast.

Speaking of buttermilk, you won’t find that in a chocolate cake. Some red velvet recipes even call for vinegar to give the cake a well-balanced flavor that melds sweetness and acidity. The best way to find the red velvet recipe you love most is to try baking them for yourself!

Homemade Red Velvet Recipes

From sour cream to beet juice, every baker has their signature spin on this popular cake recipe. But we think the best way to get the perfect red velvet cake is to tweak your ingredients exactly how you like to create your own signature recipe.

And you don’t need to stop at cake. Use red velvet as your foundation for cookies, cheesecake or even whoopie pies! Here are some red velvet recipe ideas to get you started.

Red Velvet Cake

You can make red velvet cake for nearly any occasion, but it’s especially popular for Valentine’s Day, Christmas, Lunar New Year and Juneteenth. The color red has many meanings and associations with holidays across cultures. No matter what you’re celebrating, this cake always looks joyful, inviting and sweet. So make it for people you love! 

red velvet roll being sprinkled with powdered sugar

Red Velvet Cookies

As delicious as classic red velvet cakes may be, it’s not always practical to transport a whole cake to picnics or school celebrations. So, if you need a more portable option, try these red velvet cookie recipes! They’re easy to pack up and pass out to a crowd — and they’re even easier to eat.

red velvet blossoms

Other Red Velvet Desserts

We’ve covered cakes and cookies, but what about other kinds of red velvet desserts? The only limits are how far you feel like stretching your imagination. Whether you want to make an elegant red and white swirled dessert or a hand-held version of the classic cake, use our recipes as a jumping-off point for your very own creations!

sliced red velvet cheesecake bars in baking tray

FAQs About Red Velvet Desserts