Georgetown Cupcake’s Red Velvet Cupcake

So the thing is, I’m about two and a half months late posting this recipe, or nine and a half months early, depending on how you look at it. Punctuality has never been my strong suit. I had the best of intentions, but it just never happened. This recipe for red velvet cupcakes comes from The Cupcake Diaries, from the sisters who own Georgetown Cupcake and the stars of the TLC show DC Cupcakes.  The book features a variety of their popular recipes as well as their memories thus far.

In all honesty, I’m always a bit skeptical of the recipes that come from books from famous bakeries. Do they really share the recipes that they use day in and day out?? Please, someone tell me I’m not the only one who shares this sentiment.

After a little bit of research, I found that red velvet cupcakes appear to be their most popular cupcake, so I started there. I have never had a cupcake from their bakery so I have no idea how this compares to the version they sell. I prepared the recipe exactly by the book, just so I knew what I was working with. I found the recipe to be slightly dry in comparison to the red velvet recipe that I normally use (will share soon), and I felt as though it could really have benefited from the use of buttermilk versus the whole milk that the recipe called for. I did however like the colour that their recipe produced as well as the amount of cocoa powder that they used.

For the icing, I opted to use my favourite cream cheese icing recipe from Cook’s illustrated because it always turns out perfectly and it’s really quick and easy to make. Its light and fluffy, has the perfect amount of sweetness, and best of all holds its shape.
So now you too can make Georgetown Cupcakes Red Velvet cupcake at home.
Red Velvet Cupcake from Georgetown Cupcake
Makes about 24 Cupcakes
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
4 tablespoons liquid food colour, preferably no taste food colour
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 tablespoons natural cocoa powder, sifted
1 1/2 cups whole milk, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
Cream Cheese Icing
Makes enough to generously frost 24 cupcakes or one 2 layer 9” cake
16 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
4 cups confectioners sugar
16 ounces cream cheese (2 bars), cold and cut into 8 pieces
pinch of salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the cupcakes:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line muffins tins with paper liners.
2. In a small bowl, whisk flour and salt together. Set aside.
3. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and the sugar together and cream on medium speed until it is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
4. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
5. In a small bowl, whisk the food colouring, cocoa powder, and vanilla together until throughly combined and no lumps remain. Very slowly add to the mixer, and mix at low speed until well combined.
6. Add in one third of the flour mixture, mix until combined, then add in one third of the milk. Mix until combined and repeat adding in the flour then milk, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.
7. In a small bowl, add the baking soda to the vinegar. Mix well and add to the batter. Mix until just incorporated, about 10 seconds.
8. Scoop batter into the muffin tin, filling them two-thirds full. Bake for 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Frost when completely cool.

For the icing:
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, cream butter and confectioners sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
2. Add in the cream cheese, 1 piece at a time, until well blended, about 30 seconds. You may need to scrape the bowl after every other addition. Add in the salt and vanilla extract. Whip the icing on high speed for about 1 minutes to make it light and fluffy.
3. Use immediately, or refrigerate until ready to use.
Good Luck and Enjoy!!
Cupcakes from The Cupcake Diaries: Recipes and Memories from the Sisters of Georgetown Cupcake and frosting from Cooks Illustrated; Holiday Baking 2010


  • Fionna

    ugh looks so goooood.

    • Jessica |Portuguese Girl Cooks


      Sent from my iPad

  • Rachel

    Hello! I made these today for a group of girls that were coming over and they absolutely loved them! thank you so much for the recipe :)

  • joanna

    what happened to the other red velvet cupcakes that u were going to share that were better than this?

  • Lola

    Thank you for the terrible recipe you put cream when you have no cream listed on your recipe.

    • Jackie

      For Lola… There is no cream in the recipe. If you read “cream butter…” or “cream in medium speed” that simply means whip the butter with other ingredients, usually using hand mixer or stand mixer with its attachment.

  • Trisha

    Tried this recipe and wondered why they did not use buttermilk which is the classic recipe. The taste is actually good but do substituting buttermilk to the whole milk make it moist?

    • Jade

      I’ve made this recipe at least 30 times and each time it tastes moist. Just be sure to not overbake because I noticed any cakes get dry when you overbake. I’d make sure the butter is at room temperature that you can make a thumbprint on it; the key is to cream the butter and sugar at least for four minutes.

  • Brenda

    What brand of food coloring did you use?

    • Jade

      They used McCormick’s red food coloring.

  • dorie

    i made these red velvet cupcake this weekend i also thought the cupcakes were a little dry was just wondering if anyone has tried the buttermilk yet? i also wonder if this is the true recipe from the cupcake gals?

    • Jade

      I’ve made this recipe at least 30 times and each time it tastes moist. Just be sure to not overbake because I noticed any cakes get dry when you overbake. I’d make sure the butter is at room temperature that you can make a thumbprint on it; the key is to cream the butter and sugar at least for four minutes. Never used buttermilk because that’s what Georgetown uses, whole milk,

  • Carriemack

    I saw an interview with Katherine and Sophie where they said only 4 people know their real recipes. That makes me think the recipes they publish are dumbed down versions and not the real thing.

    • Jade

      Really? I’ve seen many of their interviews and they say it is their recipes.

  • Tammy

    Double check the cocoa measurement, I think it should be tablespoon instead of teaspoon…

    • Jade

      It says tablespoon.

  • Priya

    Hi could I use milk instead of buttermilk? Can I also use regular sugar as I do not have the granulated one. Another thing, I needed this recipe for 4 people , this seems like for more than a dozen mentioned above thanks.

  • Emily

    Hi! These look awesome and the pictures are amazing. I want to make them, do you suggest using the buttermilk instead of the whole milk? Will it change the consistency of the cupcake?

    • Jessica |Portuguese Girl Cooks

      Hi Emily, you could use either one. I myself prefer buttermilk as I prefer the texture and the moistness it provides. Enjoy!!

  • Caroline

    These look gorgeous! I’m going to make these for my son’s birthday…red velvet is his favorite!

  • Heather

    This is a go to recipe for our household. We love it! Thank you for sharing. :)

  • tinarie

    Which frosting recipe from Cook’s Illustrated? The only one I found was a light frosting. Could you give me the correct name or recipe? Thanks so much.

  • Jennifer Reed

    The cupcakes were yummy but the real standout was the cream cheese icing. It was by far the best I’ve ever made AND tasted. It was so smooth and creamy and had none of that overwhelmingly sweet sugar taste most cream cheese frostings have.

  • Tiphani

    If substituting buttermilk for the regular milk, would you still use the same amount?

    • Jessica |Portuguese Girl Cooks


      • Sheri

        if using buttermilk instead of reg milk, would you still add the apple cider vinegar?

        • Jessica |Portuguese Girl Cooks

          Hi Sheri, yes you still add the vinegar.

  • Kylie

    Any tips on how to get the frosting to go in a perfect swirl?

    • Jessica |Portuguese Girl Cooks

      I would recommend using a pastry bag and tip. Then apply even pressure as you pipe starting from the outer edge of the cupcake and working inwards and up. I find using larger tips works best for nice cupcakes. My favorites are Wilton 1M and atecco #807 (plain tip and what I used for these cupcakes). Hope that helps!

  • Aom

    I added some lime in the icing and I just love it. But I don’t know what i’ve done wrong as it had strong flour taste. Should I try mixing in some cake flour + replace wholemilk with buttermilk as suggested?

  • Ulla

    I love the sweet little decoration on the icing!

  • cutepie

    dont make thids it comes out wrong it will look like poop

    • Jessica |Portuguese Girl Cooks

      What went wrong? Maybe I can help you.

  • shalise

    your icing doesnt say how much vanilla to add

    • Jessica |Portuguese Girl Cooks

      Hi Shalise. 2 teaspoons for the icing.

    • katy

      it does just read the recipe

  • Anonymous

    I’ve only had their cupcakes shipped to me across the country in San Diego and even traveling that far they are incredibly moist so that makes me think their recipe in the book isn’t the real one. Good idea adding the buttermilk!