This sour cream red velvet cake is so moist and delicious, you’ll want to make it ALL the time. Add cream cheese buttercream and you won’t be disappointed.
Hey there! Before you scroll, there’s lot’s of important stuff in the post!…including the FAQ section, which may answer any questions you might have about this recipe. Enjoy!
Just take a look around the internet and you’ll find tons of recipes for red velvet cake. Most of those recipes call for buttermilk, which is fine and I love it in cakes, but I’m even more of a fan of sour cream in cakes.
I just think it’s one of the best ways to add moisture to your cakes. So, I set out to make a sour cream red velvet cake and I really think I hit the jackpot with this one.
Ok, since we talked about buttermilk earlier and since we’re not using it in this recipe, I have a story and a question for you. I think this might be a southern thing, but I’m not really sure.
One of my dad’s favorite snacks was cornbread and buttermilk. Now, if you get grossed out by buttermilk, just scroll on past this part of the post. Just warning you now.
My dad would take cornbread, put it into the bottom of a tall glass and then pour buttermilk over it. He’d take a spoon, break up the cornbread and then just eat it all mixed up in the buttercream.
He’d then leave the glass on the coffee table, apparently just to gross everyone out. The buttermilk would make these lines on the glass and it was just…ewww.
Here’s my question…is this just a southern thing? Did anyone else’s parents do this? Or maybe do you do it? Just curious. I’m not sure whether that or my dad’s sardine snacks were worse. Ok, my point is we’re not using buttermilk in this cake. Yes, I know that was a weird segue, but here we are.
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LET’S TALK ABOUT SOME OF THE INGREDIENTS IN THE SOUR CREAM RED VELVET CAKE:
Sour cream: So, as the name of this recipe implies, we’re using sour cream instead of the normal buttermilk in this red velvet cake. The sour cream just makes it super moist.
Cocoa powder: There’s just a hint of cocoa powder in this cake as well (which is normally the case in a red velvet cake). And contrary to what some people might say, red velvet cake isn’t just chocolate cake with red food coloring in it. There isn’t much cocoa powder here…just enough to give it a slight flavor to it.
Vinegar: This is the additional ingredient that makes it a velvet cake. This, along with the cocoa powder helps give the cake a red tint and the additional acidity of the sour cream, really gives it that red velvet flavor.
No taste red gel food coloring: I used ‘no-taste’ red gel coloring in this cake. There are different brands out there, but I just used the one I had available near me, which was the Wilton brand. You can grab it here.
I like using the gel food coloring because it’s more concentrated. You’re not having to add so much of it and it’s not going to add any unnecessary liquid to your cake batter.
I only used about a tablespoon of the gel coloring, which was slightly over half the container. You can always add more if you want a really bright red color, but I tend to go a little lighter on the food coloring, just because I’m sure it’s not exceedingly good for your body. (Um, like sugar, butter and flour are?) Anyway, it was my effort to at least be a little health conscious.
ICING FOR THE RED VELVET CAKE:
Now, one of my favorite things about red velvet cake is the cream cheese buttercream that’s slathered all over it. You’ll want to try my recipe here: Cream Cheese Buttercream Recipe
MIXING METHOD FOR THE SOUR CREAM RED VELVET CAKE:
The mixing method for this cake is the creaming method, which essentially just means you’ll whip up the butter and sugar together until it’s really fluffy…incorporating as much air as you can in this process to get a nice fluffy cake.
After that, you’ll add in your eggs one at a time and then alternately add in your dry and liquid ingredients.
TIPS & FAQ’S FOR THE RED VELVET CAKE:
You want to spoon your flour into your measuring cups. Don’t just scoop it out of your flour container directly into your measuring cup, because that will pack down the flour and you’ll end up adding too much flour to your cake.
I think sour cream is best, but if you can’t get it, you can substitute by using yogurt. Try to get the full fat version of yogurt though. (And using milk in place of the sour cream will get you a cake that’s not nearly as moist.)
Whole milk isn’t ‘cream’. It’s just milk that hasn’t had the fat removed like 2% or skim milk has. It’s best to use whole milk if you can get it because the fat will help make a moist cake. If you can’t get it, then just use the milk you have on hand.
Gel food coloring is better because it’s concentrated and you don’t have to add as much. You can probably get away with using the liquid although you will have to use a lot more. Whichever you choose, make sure to get the ‘no taste’ food coloring.
Be very careful not to mix your cake batter for too long. Scratch cakes are different then making a mix cake and if you mix them too long, the cake will be dense and possibly not rise at all. Only mix just until all the ingredients are well combined. You don’t have to get every tiny lump out.
Ok, now to the recipe.
***I write recipes using volume (cups) measurements because here in the U.S., this is what people are used to seeing and using. For weight in metric measurements, click the ‘metric’ button under the ingredients in the recipe card. The weights are converted by a program, not me, and it’s a best guess. Please note that because I develop recipes using ‘cups’ I can’t guarantee that weighing the ingredients will produce the exact same results.
Sour Cream Red Velvet Cake
- 2 ½ cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3 tablespoon cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup sour cream
- ½ cup whole milk
- 1 teaspoon vinegar
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup unsalted butter (room temp)
- 1 ¾ cup sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon no taste red gel food coloring (can use a bit more for a darker red color)
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Grease and flour two 8" round cake pans.
- In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, cocoa and salt. Whisk together and set aside.
- In another bowl, mix together the sour cream, milk, vinegar and vanilla. Whisk well and set aside.
- Now in your mixing bowl, mix the butter until creamy.
- Add the sugar and whip until fluffy. (About a couple minutes.)
- Add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each one, but only just until combined.
- Alternately add in the dry and liquid ingredients. Start with ⅓ of the dry mixture, mix just until combined. Add in ½ the liquid mixture, mix until combined, then another third of the dry mixture and mix only until combined. Add in the last ½ of the liquid mixture, mix, then add in the last third of the dry mixture and mix just until combined. Be careful not to over mix here because you'll need to mix in the red food coloring next.
- Add in the red food coloring. If you want your cake to be a deep red, add a little more red food coloring. Mix until the food coloring is well incorporated.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 325 degrees for about 50 minutes. Start checking at 45 minutes. The middle should spring back when touched and a few crumbs should stick to a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake.
- Cover with cream cheese buttercream. (Grab that recipe on the blog.)
How to Share
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Don’t forget to grab the recipe for the Cream Cheese Buttercream!
I hope you try this one out and if you do, let me know how you like it!
This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Items & Tools Used to Make the Sour Cream Red Velvet Cake:
- KitchenAid Mixer
- 8″ cake pans
- Large Icing Spatula
- Icing Bags
- 2D Icing Tip
- Cream Cheese Buttercream Recipe
Don’t Forget to Pin it for Later!
Hi Kara, I know i’m a bit late trying this red velvet cake recipe but I was wondering can you please explain what speed I should put my mixer to when mixing in the wet and dry ingredients? My Kenwood stand mixer has 6 speeds. Does mixing just until incorporated mean you keep it at a low speed? And once I’ve added the food colouring, should I increase the speed? Sorry for all the Qs- I’m new to baking as you can tell! Thanks, love your work 🙂
Hi Sandra. I’m happy to help. These stand up mixers give us so many speed options, right? Here’s what I do: I normally mix most everything on medium/low or just medium unless I”m creaming the butter and sugar together in which case, I’ll mix on maybe medium high, so I get more air incorporated. Generally when I mix cake batter, I start by turning the mixer on low but just for a few seconds, so that whatever ingredients I’ve added don’t splash out at me, then I’ll switch it to medium/low (the next speed up) or just medium (the next speed up from that). When I mention mixing until just incorporated, that’s more about the amount of time you mix. You can start at low, just to make sure no ingredients fly out at you, but then switch to medium/low or medium and just mix it long enough for the ingredients to be just mixed together. You don’t want to mix too long because that’s what causes problems with the cake texture. Once you add your food coloring, you can just mix on low for a couple seconds, then go up to medium low or medium and mix until the coloring is mixed throughout. Just be careful not to mix for several minutes. That’s too long. I hope this helps!
Thank you for replying so swiftly Kara! That’s incredibly helpful- I aim to make the cake within the next couple of weeks so trying to make sure I know what I’m doing first! so I don’t waste ingredients. Thanks a million!
I totally understand and you’re so welcome. I hope you love it! Please let me know if you have any problems. ?
Hey Kara Jane, I wanted to let you know that I have now made your red velvet cake at least four times and it’s been a huuuge hit with my family and everyone who’s tasted it! Thank you for providing a recipe for a red velvet that actually holds together well and isn’t too fragile, while still being moist- I think the sour cream is a fantastic idea rather than the usual part butter part oil combo. 🙂
Can I ask- I would like to try this as a tiered cake, so if I make just one layer of a 12 inch tier at one time (as my oven wouldn’t be big enough to do the 2 together), would 3/4 of each ingredient of the original recipe work? (So basically instead of doing two 8 inch cakes I would be doing one 12 inch.) And if I scale the recipe down, do I also need to mix the ingredients for a little less time?
Thank you so much.
Hi Sandra, that makes me so happy that you love the cake!! For a 12″ cake pan, you could do a 3/4 recipe, but that might be kind of a pain to measure and may or may not come out right. If it were me, I’d probably just make an entire cake recipe and then when I fill the pan, if I had any batter left over, just make a couple cupcakes with that extra batter. It probably wouldn’t be much batter left over though (if any). Also it’s good to use a heat core or at least a flower nail in the middle of your pan, so it’ll bake up evenly…and watch your time, since you may have to bake it a bit longer. If you do decide to just do 3/4 of the recipe, you really don’t need to worry about mixing it for less time. Just mix until the ingredients are well combined, but I don’t think cutting it down that small of an amount will make a huge difference in mixing times. Hope this helps!
You’re a star, thanks very much! I will go with the original recipe amounts + heating core, that all sounds like a sensible plan ? By the way, I forgot to ask- is the recipe for 2 inch or 3 inch deep cake tins? I’ve been using 2 inch ones but my 12 inch tin is 3 inches deep.
My cake recipes are written for 2″ deep pans, but actually your 3″ pan will probably work out perfectly if you just make one entire recipe instead of the 3/4.
Hi Kara, I made this for my son’s first birthday party today and it was absolutely amazing and everyone commented how moist and tasty it was. I’ve tried other red velvet cake recipes with buttermilk and oil but am not a big fan of those ingredients in cakes. Thank you so much for sharing it and the detailed instructions and notes. I will definitely be making it again many times and have a few people wanting the recipe!
Oh yay! I’m so glad you loved it and thanks so much for the wonderful review!
Do you have a recipe for a red velvet cake roll?
I sure don’t. I’m sorry! 🙁
Hi Kara! I would like to try this in a bundt pan! Do you think this will make enough batter to fill a NordicWare pan? Do you foresee any issues with making the recipe as you have listed and just changing the baking time as needed?
Hi Rachel, I think this one would be fine baked in a bundt pan…well an average size bundt pan as long as it’s not an oversized one or a mini one. I don’t really think you’d need to change anything other than probably baking it for a little more time. You’ll probably need to grease and flour the pan super well though…Hope this helps!
This cake looks amazing. Have you ever made mason jar cakes with this recipe?. Layered cake and frosting in a jar.
Thanks! I haven’t tried that with this recipe, but it should work just fine. I do have another post on my site on how to make mason jar layer cakes. For that post, I used a doctored cake mix for time’s sake, but I do go over an easy way to make them. You can see that post here: https://iscreamforbuttercream.com/easy-mason-jar-cake-gifts/
Hi! I’m not a baker but I’ve been wanting to “master” just one cake for family intimate gatherings. I like super mega moist cake. Red velvet cake has always been my first choice. Thank you for sharing your recipe because I cannot seem to find a buttercream in my city. (I’m from Philippines) I’d like to make it small; like a mini cake. So, I just have few questions:
Can I split or divide the mix/measurement in half? (IDK if I’m using the right words)
Can I use the oven toaster for baking?
Yes you can just make half the batter if you like. I don’t know about making it in a toaster oven though as I’ve never tried it that way.
I want to make your red velvet cake bit turn it into a chocolate cherry chip red velvet cake. What are your suggestions if I add in some cherry juice to the batter? Replace the vanilla extract for this?
I don’t think replacing the vanilla extract with cherry juice would be enough cherry flavor. You might be able to sub out about 1/4 cup of the milk for cherry juice. I haven’t tested this out, so I can’t really promise but it might work. You’d probably get more cherry flavor by adding in a couple tablespoons of cherry jello though.
Your comment about cornbread and buttermilk made me smile. I am from Southern Missouri. My dad loved cornbread and buttermilk. He alway wanted me to try a bite and I wouldn’t. He passed away in 2017. Your comments made me flashback to happy memories.?
Oh Jamie, I’m glad it brought back happy memories! I don’t get why they liked it so much, but let me just say that you weren’t missing anything by not trying it. I fell for it and gagged every time. hahaha! 😉
I am going on an hour now with the cakes in the oven but they are nowhere near done. What did I do wrong? ☹️ I followed everything exactly.
Oh no! Something is very wrong. This cake should be fully baked around 45 minutes at 325 degrees. Perhaps the oven is off, or wasn’t preheated? It should be at 325 Fahrenheit. Maybe you’re at a high altitude? If it’s still nowhere near done at an hour, then something is definitely wrong. By the time it finishes baking, it will probably be super dry because it baked for so long. Double check the oven temp with an oven thermometer and make sure that it’s accurate and that it was preheated. Let know know what happens!
I have not made the cake yet but I plan to next week for Christmas. My Dad was from Arkansaw and he ate cornbread and buttermilk just like your dad did. Thank you for the recipes.
Hi Sharon, thanks for your comment. Awe that’s a special memory about your dad…it must be a southern thing. 😉
Can these be made into cupcakes?
This recipe should be fine to use as cupcakes. I have not personally tried it out myself, but I see no reason why it wouldn’t work with a couple of changes. First, change the baking temperature to 350 degrees. Fill cupcake liners about 2/3 of the way full and you’ll bake for less time…start checking them around 20-25 minutes.