Best Old Fashioned Southern Red Velvet Cake Recipe

by Shrabani Bhattacharyya
old fashioned southern red velvet cake

If you’ve ever had a slice of Southern Red Velvet Cake, you know just how heavenly it can be. Moist, velvety, and rich with a hint of cocoa, this classic dessert is a staple at any Southern gathering. 

But finding the perfect recipe can be a challenge. With so many variations, it’s hard to know which one will genuinely deliver that authentic taste and texture.

Well, look no further! I will share the best old-fashioned Southern Red Velvet Cake recipe to transport you back to Grandma’s kitchen. 

From the rich cocoa flavor to the iconic cream cheese frosting, every bite of this cake is pure bliss. So grab your apron and get ready to bake up a taste of the South with this mouthwatering recipe!

Ingredients You Need To Make Old Fashioned Southern Red Velvet Cake

Old Fashioned Southern Red Velvet Cake

You will need different ingredients in an old-fashioned Southern red velvet cake.

Dry Ingredients

  • CakeFlour 

In this recipe, I prefer to use cake flour. Because the original red velvet cake was made of cake flour, it also gives a good structure and original red velvet cake flavor. 

  • Baking Soda

The effects of baking soda are similar to those of baking powder but stronger. I prefer to use baking soda in this recipe. It will help you to make your cake softer and fluffier. 

  • Cocoa Powder

Cocoa powder gives a chocolaty flavor to your traditional red velvet cake. In my 

I prefer unsweetened cocoa powder for old-fashioned southern red velvet cake. 

  • Sugar 

Sugar adds sweetness to your cake. In this recipe, I prefer to use powdered sugar. 

  • Salt

Salt helps to balance the texture and enhance the flavor. 

Wet Ingredients

  • Butter

Butter gives a soft texture to your cake. In my old-fashioned red velvet cake, I prefer unsalted butter.  

  • Egg

Make sure the eggs are separated. The yolks will go into the cake as is, but the whites will be whipped until stiff peaks form. Adding this step to the cake will create another level of rise. 

  • Buttermilk

In this recipe, I prefer to use buttermilk because Buttermilk’s acidity breaks down the gluten in the cake, which makes it very tender. 

  • Oil

Oil makes your cake moist. I prefer vegetable oil in my old-fashioned Southern red velvet cake. 

  • Vanilla Extract 

Vanilla extract adds a flavor to your cake and also adds some sweetness. 

  • Red Food Color

To give red color to your cake, you need red food color. For this cake, I prefer to use a red gel food color. 

How Do You Make An Old-Fashioned Southern Red Velvet Cake?

Now, I will give you a step-by-step process of making old-fashioned southern red velvet cake.

Step 1: Make The Cake Batter

  • Mix buttermilk, eggs, oil, and vanilla extract together in a large bowl. It is okay for the oil and milk to separate. 
  • Combine all the dry ingredients, including sugar, in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cake flour, baking soda, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. 
  • Combine the ingredients at low speed until they are well combined. Add room temperature unsalted butter and mix until a sandy mixture forms, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Mix the wet ingredients in the stand mixer. Ensure all ingredients are well incorporated by scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add food coloring to the batter and mix until it is red throughout.
  • Divide the cake batter equally among three 8-inch cake pans after mixing for another 30 seconds.

Step 2: Bake 

Make two 9-inch cake pans by greasing and flouring them. If a toothpick inserted in the center has a few moist crumbs, bake for 29-33 minutes at 350°F. Turn the cakes onto a cooling rack after being removed from the oven and allowed to cool for 10 minutes.

Step 3: Make The Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Make the cream cheese frosting while the cakes cool. Put butter in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Beat the butter on medium speed for three minutes until it is light and fluffy. 
  • After that, add the cream cheese at room temperature and mix for two more minutes. 
  • Mix the powdered sugar and pinch of salt in a medium bowl with a whisk. 
  • Next, add the mixture slowly to the bowl of your stand mixer, one cup at a time. Mix on high speed after adding all the powdered sugar for one minute.
  •  Then, add the vanilla extract. Let it mix for one more minute.

Step 4: Assemble And Ice The Cakes

  • After the cakes have cooled completely, add about 12 cups of frosting to one of them. Leave about an inch bare around the perimeter of the cake. 
  • Using a 1M piping tip, add about 1 12 cups of frosting to a piping bag. On the cake, a pipe swirls around the frosting. The second layer should be repeated. 
  • Continue piping swirls on the cake with any leftover frosting in the piping bag. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

 My Tips For Old Fashioned Southern Red Velvet Cake Recipe

Now I give some tips to make your traditional, old-fashioned Southern Red Velvet Cake more perfect. 

Accurate Measurements

To ensure precise measurements of both dry and liquid ingredients, use accurate measuring tools, such as measuring cups and spoons. A dense, dry cake can be caused by too much flour.

Room Temperature Ingredients

 Butter, eggs, and milk are typically used in cake recipes at room temperature. A smoother batter can be achieved by bringing these ingredients to room temperature before mixing.

Avoid Opening The Oven Door

 Make sure you don’t open the oven door unnecessarily while baking. The texture and rise of the cake can be affected by frequent temperature fluctuations.

Test For Doneness

Use a toothpick or cake tester to check if the cake is done. You can check the cake’s readiness by inserting it into the center; the cake is ready if it comes out clean or with a few crumbs. Continuing baking for a few more minutes if the batter comes out wet, is recommended.

Cooling And Frosting 

Before frosting, allow the cake to cool completely on a wire rack after removing it from the pan. The frosting will not melt and slide off the cake this way.

How Do You Store And Freeze An Old-Fashioned Southern Red Velvet Cake?

Refrigerate the cake, covered, for 3-5 days. (It needs to be refrigerated in the fridge because of the cream in the icing.

Allow the cake layers to cool completely before wrapping in plastic wrap if made ahead of time. Refrigerate for 1-2 days before icing. The frosted cake will be kept in the fridge for 3-4 days. 

Allow the cake layers to cool completely before wrapping in plastic wrap and freezing for up to 1 week. Wrap in an additional aluminum foil layer if freezing for over a week. 

Freeze the cake layers wrapped in plastic and metal for up to 3 months. Remove from the freezer and place in the refrigerator to thaw overnight. To freeze a fully decorated cake, flash and freeze it for 20-30 minutes or until the frosting is set. 

Remove from the freezer and cover in plastic wrap completely. Store in the freezer for up to 1 week. Wrap in an additional layer of aluminum foil and freeze for up to 2 months if freezing for over a week. 

Remove from the freezer and place in the refrigerator to thaw overnight. The following day, remove from the fridge and uncover. Allow to come to room temperature before serving. 

Variations And Substitutions Of Old Fashioned Southern Red Velvet Cake

Buttermilk substitute

Buttermilk is made by mixing milk with lemon juice or vinegar. One cup milk + 1 tbsp lemon juice, white vinegar, or apple cider vinegar. Put the two together, let them sit for 5-10 minutes, and you have buttermilk. 

Dairy Free Option

A non-dairy buttermilk can be made by adding a tablespoon of vinegar to your favorite dairy-free milk. Use the cream cheese of your choice for the frosting.

Gluten-Free Option​ 

In place of all-purpose flour, use a gluten-free flour that is 1-to-1. Follow the recipe card’s measurements.

Vegan Option

You can substitute your favorite vegan butter and egg replacement for the dairy-free option. If you want to use eggs, I recommend flax eggs. This recipe would include 4 tbsp flax seeds and 10 tbsp water.

May I Make A Sugar-Free Red Velvet Cake?

Yes. You can easily make sugar-free red velvet cake by replacing some key ingredients. In a sugar-free red velvet cake, you will need

Almond Or Oatmeal Flour

In place of cake flour, you can use almond or oatmeal flour. Which can make your cake gluten-free. 

Granulated Sweetener

To prepare a low-carb, sugar-free cake, use a zero-calorie, zero-carb sugar substitute like monk fruit or erythritol.

Unsweetened Almond Milk Or Whole Milk 

Instead of buttermilk, you can use unsweetened almond or whole milk to make your sugar-free red velvet cake.

old fashioned southern red velvet cake

Old Fashioned Southern Red Velvet Cake Recipe

Serves: 8 Prep Time: Cooking Time:
Nutrition facts: 360 calories 83g fat
Rating: 5.0/5
( 2 reviews )


Cake Ingredients

  • unsalted butter - 1/2 cup(at room temperature)
  • powdered sugar - 1-1/2 cups
  • Eggs -3 large 
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder - 2 tablespoons
  • Gel red food coloring - 1.1 oz bottle
  • Salt -1 teaspoon
  • vanilla extract -2 teaspoons
  • Buttermilk -1 cup
  • cake flour -2-1/4 cups
  • baking soda - 1-1/2 teaspoons

Frosting Ingredients

  • cake flour - 5 tablespoons
  • Milk -1 cup
  • Unsalted butter- 1 cup , (room temperature.)
  • Powdered sugar - 1 cup
  • Vanilla Extract - 1 teaspoon


For The Cake

  • Cream butter and sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy. Each egg should be added one at a time, mixing after each addition.
  • In a small bowl, combine cocoa powder and food coloring; add to butter mixture and mix well.
  • Combine salt, vanilla, and buttermilk in a small bowl; alternate adding cake flour and butter mixture until well blended.
  • Add  baking soda and fold into batter by hand
  • Bake the cake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until done in two greased and floured 9-inch cake pans. Frost with Cooked Buttercream Frosting after the cake has cooled completely. It is not necessary to refrigerate the cake.

For The Frosting

  1. Whisk milk into flour in a small saucepan. The mixture should be heated over medium-high heat until it boils. You need to cook and stir until the mixture thickens (about the consistency of cake batter). Cool completely after removing from heat.
  2. Mix butter and sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy and smooth (about 3-4 minutes). Continue mixing vanilla and cooked flour mixture until creamy, well combined, and spreadable. Don't worry if it doesn't seem like it's coming together - it will. Keep mixing!


Bottom Line

The old fashioned southern red velvet cake recipe is a classic dessert with a rich history and a delicious taste. This recipe has been passed down through generations and is a favorite among cake lovers. 

The secret to its success lies in combining all ingredients, which create a moist and tender texture. Whether baking for a special occasion or simply indulging in a sweet treat, this red velvet cake will surely impress. So why try it and experience the joy of biting into a slice of this timeless dessert?


What Is The Real Flavor Of Red Velvet Cake?

Red velvet cake is an American dessert made from a red vanilla sponge, buttermilk, and cocoa, which gives it its unique flavor and a light chocolate taste.

What Is The Best Cocoa Powder For Red Velvet Cake?

Natural cocoa is the best cocoa for red velvet cake. Almost melt-in-your-mouth tenderness is the result. The red velvet cake is also more vibrant when made with natural cocoa. A natural cocoa powder has the best chocolate flavor of any cocoa powder since it is less processed.

How Long Does Red Velvet Cake Last?

Cream cheese frosting makes red velvet cake ideal for refrigeration. It will stay fresh for about five days. It is best to serve it after it has been out of the fridge for 1-2 hours.

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