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Red Velvet Layer Cake

This stunning Red Velvet Layer Cake is sure to be the envy of the dessert table. Three made-from-scratch cake layers are sandwiched together with a thick, classic, sweet cream cheese frosting. Topped with a generous sprinkle of toasted chopped pecans, it’s guaranteed to be the belle of the ball.

Red Velvet Layer Cake

What is Red Velvet Cake?

Red velvet is in essence a chocolate cake. While red velvet tends to have far less cocoa involved than a classic all-chocolate cake, it’s most known for the color than the cocoa infused batter. The cake batter gets its rich ruby hue from food coloring introduced to the public in the late 1930’s by Adams Extract Company. The owner wanted to market and sell, more food dye. The Waldorf-Astoria in NYC also claims to be the origin of red velvet. No matter how red velvet cake began, it’s here to stay, and has been a beloved rotation through Southern kitchens for eons. Naturally, it’s my Grandma’s and my Mom who introduced red velvet to our family and I can’t remember a single family gathering that it wasn’t served. Hallelujah.

Red Velvet Layer Cake

Baking Tips for Making a Red Velvet Layer Cake

Some important things to remember when baking cakes from scratch:

  • Gather your ingredients prior to beginning the preparation so things will move efficiently and you’ll be certain to have everything you need.
  • When measuring the flour, spoon into the measuring cup and level. If you dip the measuring cup into the flour and scoop it compacts the flour which can result in a dry cake.
  • Don’t skip sifting the ingredients. You don’t need special equipment, a whisk will do the trick.
  • When creaming together the butter and sugar, this is the one time you don’t have to be concerned with overbeating. Creaming until light and fluffy will give a lighter texture to the cake.
  • When adding dry ingredients to the creamed mixture, don’t be tempted to overbeat. Beat just until evenly incorporated and the dry ingredients are fully moistened. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to be certain everything has incorporated well.
  • What’s the purpose of vinegar in the batter? Vinegar reacts with the baking soda and lends more rise to the cake.
  • Follow the recipe adjusting baking times according to how your appliance performs. Remember, baking is science but, common sense plays a part, too.


Other Red Velvet Desserts To Try

Through the years red velvet has evolved into many variations in the dessert world.

Red Velvet Layer Cake

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Red Velvet Layer Cake
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4.72 from 7 votes

Red Velvet Layer Cake

Prep Time25 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Layers Cooling Time1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time45 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: red-velvet-layer-cake
Servings: 12 pieces
Calories: 923kcal
Author: Melissa Sperka


  • 1 cup chopped pecans toasted
  • 1 cup salted butter softened
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract:
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cup whole buttermilk
  • 1 tsp distilled white vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp red food coloring
  • Frosting:
  • 3 [8] oz cream cheese softened
  • 1 cup salted butter softened
  • 3 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 6 cups powdered sugar


  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour 3 (9-inch) round cake pans or spray with baking spray. Set aside.
  • Spread pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast for 6-8 minutes until lightly golden. Set aside to cool. 
  • Using an electric mixer cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla. Beat on medium-high speed for 2 minutes or until creamed.
  • Add the eggs one at a time beating well after each addition.
  • In a separate bowl sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. My use a whisk. Add the vinegar to the buttermilk.
  • Lower the speed of the mixer and add the sifted dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk. Repeat the process beginning and ending with flour. Stop and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.
  • Add the red food coloring beating just until fully combined with the batter.
  • Use a 1 cup measuring cup to divide the batter evenly in the pans.Tap pans on the counter to settle.
  • Bake for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes back clean.
  • Cool complelely in the pans on a cooling rack.
  • To make the frosting: Using an electric mixer cream together the cream cheese, butter and vanilla. Lower the mixer and gradually add the powdered sugar. Thin if needed with cream to spreading consistency.
  • Frost between the layers, tops and side of cake. Sprinkle with toasted pecans.
  • Store chilled.


The frosting makes an ample amount to cover the cake completely. 


Serving: 1piece | Calories: 923kcal | Carbohydrates: 127g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 41g | Saturated Fat: 22g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 146mg | Sodium: 911mg | Potassium: 424mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 97g | Vitamin A: 1109IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 296mg | Iron: 3mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @melissassk or tag #melissassk!


  1. 5 stars
    I make your red velvet cake several times per year, and everyone just raves about it. I usually make a cream cheese whipped cream frosting to go with. Absolutely delicious. This Christmas, I am going to do it differently; using your red velvet recipe and my cheesecake cupcake recipe. Using my 4″ springform pans individually for both the red velvet and cheesecake, I am going to sandwich the cream cheese layer into the red velvet layers, like the Cheesecake Factory does it, and then top them with fancy piped cream cheese whipped cream. Wish me luck!

  2. 3 stars
    I followed the recipe to a T, but still ran into some problems. The recipe made way too much batter. There ended up being 4 layers instead of 3, but that could also be because the round pans I have on hand aren’t as deep as what the recipe needs. Because of added weight of the 4th layer, most of the icing in the layers got squished out. There was also way too much icing and it was very runny. I ended up throwing away half of it because it wasn’t thick or cohesive enough to stick to the side of the cake and I couldn’t put a lot in between the layers without it drizzling over. I would like to try making the recipe again as it tasted great, perfectly moist, and my family loved it, but I’m only a novice baker and don’t know how to properly adjust the recipe to fix those problems.

    1. I highly recommend you follow the recipe as it’s written, I think a couple of things were missed. There shouldn’t be too much batter if the pans were the proper size. If you aren’t used to baking, I highly recommend that you actually measure the pans that you have. Also, since there’s no liquid in the frosting at all, I’m thinking you may have used melted butter rather than softened butter. If not, then it certainly sounds as if there was liquid added. This is a classic cream cheese frosting and it works every time. If the pans you have resulted in a four layer cake rather than a three layer, that’s really not an issue. This cake can be a 2, 3 or 4 layer cake, you can divide the batter any way you choose. I also can’t imagine a 4th layer would add extra weight as you describe. Whether this is a three layer, or a four layer the actual volume of batter is the same. So, follow the recipe, measure the pans, don’t add liquid to the frosting, and it will work.

  3. 5 stars
    Hi, Melissa! I follow you on Facebook and on your email list.
    This red velvet cake is one of my family’s favorites. I just want to share a tip that I found many years ago but have never seen on any other recipes for red velvet cake.
    I sprinkle my cake pan with oil and Sugar instead of flour. It really makes it special.

  4. Thanks for sharing this recipe I couldn’t remember how to make one for a family repass, I love the lemon lovers also. I been following u for 2-3 years. Thanks Vi

  5. 5 stars
    One of the best red velvet recipes I have ever made. It is almost identical to the Fine Cooking’s Red Velvet. This is now my go to red velvet cake.

  6. Question on the food coloring. I have red food gel do would I still use 3 tbs? Or what kind of food coloring do you use?

    1. Food gel is concentrated you wouldn’t need 3 Tbsp for sure. I would suggest adding until you get your desired color using a toothpick. Ideally, you should use liquid food coloring as this is part of the liquid in this cake. Sometimes adapting isn’t best.

  7. The list of ingredients includes 4 large eggs at the top of list and then 2 large eggs toward the end of the list. Please clarify the number of eggs needed.

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