Red Velvet Cookies with cream cheese frosting is absolutely the most delicious way to make the people you love feel warm and fuzzy inside. These crimson beauties are irresistibly soft and chewy, just the way red velvet fans love them.
Bring a little sweetness into your neighbor’s, teacher’s, or co-worker’s life with a fantastic cookie… or three. White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies, Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies, or buttery, jam-filled thumbprints are some of the most popular. For cookie lovers everywhere, Culinary Hill has collected the best cookie recipes ever, like these little-known Fruitcake Cookies, perfect for nibbling on with a strong cup of tea in the afternoon.
Need a way to express some love, gratitude, or just some warm wishes in general? Homemade red velvet cookies for all your friends! These lovely red and white treats are easier to make than a layer cake or cupcakes, and taste just as delicately chocolatey and rich. Slather on an easy cream cheese frosting, or load up the dough with chocolate chips—it’s your choice.
Originally, red velvet flavor came about as an offshoot of devil’s food cake. “Velvet cake” was more of a soft, smooth-textured chocolate cake served during the Victorian era. When wartime rations made ingredients like chocolate scarce, the cake was made with cocoa powder and beetroot, to add moisture and color to the cake. Fast forward to Steel Magnolias, when red velvet became even more popular as a southern dessert staple. Remember that groom’s cake?
As-is, it’s a big recipe. One batch makes 4 dozen cookies—that’s at least 40 smiles for everyone you know. Need more smiles? Better double it up.
Making cookies for everyone on the block? Just click and slide the number next to “servings” on the recipe card below to adjust the ingredients to match how many you’re feeding—the recipe does the math for you, it’s that easy.
What you need to make Red Velvet Cookies:
- Cocoa powder. Unsweetened cocoa powder (not cocoa mix!)
- Baking powder.
- Red food coloring. In place of food coloring, try liquid, gel, or beet powder as an alternative.
- White vinegar. A little extra acid helps the baking powder do its job, but it also helps brighten the color of the cookies. No vinegar? Use lemon juice.
- Vanilla extract.
Cream cheese frosting for the cookies:
Totally optional, but also totally delicious.
- Cream cheese.
- Powdered sugar.
- Vanilla extract.
- Red sugar, sprinkles, etc. Sanding sugar, a specialty ingredient used in baking, is a little coarser, which adds sparkle to your cookies when sprinkled on top.
How to make Red Velvet Cookies:
It’s helpful to have a standing mixer or a handheld mixer to make these cookies, as well as a couple cookie sheets, parchment paper, and a cookie scoop (such as OXO medium cookie scoop) or size 40 portioner.
These instructions walk you through the basics without giving you specific ingredient amounts, which are all listed below in the recipe card. That’s so you can double the recipe without getting confused!
- First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, mix together the dry ingredients: flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.
- Next, using a mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the sugar and butter on medium speed until pale and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl alongtheu way, if you need to.
- Then add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well in between each. Next, add the food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla.
- After all the wet ingredients are blended, slowly add the dry ingredients to the bowl. Occasionally, scrape down the sides of the bowl as you go. (At this point, if you’re adding chips, they get added right after the flour.)
- When mixed throughly, the dough is ready to go. With a cookie scoop (or one heaping tablespoon at a time) roll out the dough into 1 1/2-inch balls. Then place the cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet at least 2 inches apart—for approximately 12 cookies per baking sheet.
- Bake the Red Velvet Cookies for 10 to 12 minutes at 350 degrees, until the edges are slightly golden brown. Let the cookies cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then move them to a wire rack to cool completely before icing.
Making the cream cheese frosting:
Because this frosting will need to be refrigerated, it’s a good idea to frost the cookies right before you plan to serve them.
- To make the cream cheese frosting, wash out that mixer bowl; you’ll need it. On medium speed, beat the softened cream cheese and butter until very creamy, about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Next, add the vanilla and the powdered sugar. Beat until smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl down when necessary.
- That's it! Spread the frosting on the completely cooled cookies, then sprinkle any sugar or sprinkles over the fresh frosting.
Tips for amazing Red Velvet Cookies:
- Use room temperature ingredients. Cookie dough is always better when you start with room temperature ingredients, especially butter, eggs, and cream cheese. If you forgot to leave the egg out, warm it up by placing it in a cup of warm water for 4 to 5 minutes.
- Make ahead. You can make the dough ahead of time and keep it in the refrigerator up to 3 days before you bake the cookies. Without frosting, they will stay fresh covered at room temperature for up to 5 days.
- Chill the dough. If you like loftier cookies that don’t spread out as much, chill the dough. You can make the dough the day before, and pop the bowl in the refrigerator, or scoop or roll the cookies into balls and freeze them on a sheet tray for an hour or two before baking.
- Add chips. After all, red velvet is sort of, kind of a chocolate dessert. Add up to 2 cups (per batch) of white, milk, or semi-sweet chocolate chips to the dough. Yum!
- Food coloring. Red coloring is actually optional in this recipe, so if you don’t want to use it, don’t! It adds to the visual appeal, but not to the flavor. An alternative to red food coloring is beet powder, which is a natural food coloring, and, if you can believe it, one of the original ways used to color a red velvet cake. Add 1 tablespoon per batch of cookies to the dough, and your cookies will be slightly red.
Red Velvet Cookies
For the cookies:
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup butter softened (2 sticks)
- 2 large eggs
- 4 teaspoons red food coloring
- 2 teaspoons white vinegar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the frosting:
- 8 ounces cream cheese softened
- 1/2 cup butter softened (1 stick)
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Red sugar for sprinkling, optional
To make the cookies:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- In a standing mixer fit with the paddle attachment on medium speed, or with an electric hand mixer, beat sugar and butter until pale and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of bowl as necessary.
- Add eggs and beat well. Beat in red food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla extract. Gradually add the flour mixture. Scrape down the sides of bowl as necessary.
- Working with 1 heaping tablespoon of dough at a time, roll dough into 1 1/2-inch balls and lay on prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart. (I use the OXO medium cookie scoop, a size 40 portioner, and do 12 scoops of dough per baking sheet).
- Bake until the edges are golden brown, about 10 to 12 minutes. Cool on pans 5 minutes, then cool completely on wire racks. Repeat with remaining cookie dough (Yield: about 48 cookies).
To make the frosting:
- In a standing mixer fit with the paddle attachment on medium speed, or with an electric hand mixer, beat cream cheese and butter until creamy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of bowl as necessary.
- Gradually add powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth. Spread frosting on cooled cookies. Store in the refrigerator or store unfrosted cookies in an airtight container for up to 5 days.