Red Velvet Cookies slathered with lots of cream cheese frosting are irresistibly soft and chewy, just the way red velvet fans love them. This recipe makes a big batch for lots of smiles all around.

Red velvet cookies.

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.

Fast forward to Steel Magnolias, when red velvet became even more popular as a southern dessert staple. I like the cookie version because it’s easy to make and even easier to share.

Recipe ingredients:

Labeled ingredients for red velvet cookies in various bowls.

Ingredient notes:

  • Red food coloring: Red food coloring comes in liquids, gels, and powders. The red coloring adds visual appeal but not flavor or function. So if you don’t want to use it, you don’t have to. You could also try 1 tablespoon beet powder in place of the food coloring for a slight red hue.
  • White vinegar: A little extra acid helps the baking powder do its job, but it also interacts with the cocoa powder and helps brighten the color of the cookies. No vinegar? Use lemon juice.
  • Vanilla extract: I’ve been making my own lately, and you can, too.

Step-by-step instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, mix together the dry ingredients: flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. 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 along the way, if needed. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well in between each, then add the food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla.
    Red velvet cookie dough in a silver mixing bowl.
  2. 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 (OXO cookie scoop, size 40 portioner, 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.
    Uncooked red velvet cookie dough balls on a silver baking sheet.
  3. Bake the 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.
    Red velvet cookies on a silver baking sheet.

For making the cream cheese frosting:

  1. 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.
    Cream cheese frosting in a silver mixing bowl.
  2. Next, add the vanilla and the powdered sugar. Beat until smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl down when necessary.
    Cream cheese frosting in a silver mixing bowl.
  3. Spread the frosting on the completely cooled cookies, then sprinkle any sugar or sprinkles over the fresh frosting.

Recipe tips and variations:

  • 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.
  • Chill the dough: If you like loftier cookies that don’t spread out as much, chill the dough. Make the dough the day before and pop the bowl in the refrigerator. Or better yet, scoop or roll the cookies into balls and freeze them on a sheet tray for an hour or two before baking.
  • Chocolate 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.
  • Make ahead: Make the dough ahead of time and keep it in the refrigerator up to 3 days before you bake the cookies. Without frosting, the baked cookies will stay fresh covered at room temperature for up to 5 days.
  • Storage: Because the frosting will need to be refrigerated, it’s a good idea to frost the cookies just before you plan to serve them or give them away.
  • Peppermint cookies: A recipe made the same way but with peppermint extract instead of vanilla.

Red velvet cookies on a silver cooling rack.

More delicious desserts:

Red velvet cookies with cream cheese frosting.

Red Velvet Cookies

Red Velvet Cookies slathered with lots of cream cheese frosting are irresistibly soft and chewy, just the way red velvet fans love them. This recipe makes a big batch for lots of smiles all around.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Servings 48 cookies
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Calories 171

Ingredients 

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 granulated sugar
  • 1 cup butter softened (2 sticks)
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 4 teaspoons red food coloring (see note 1)
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar (see note 2)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (see note 3)

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

Instructions 

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.

Notes

  1. Red food coloring: Red food coloring comes in liquids, gels, and powders. The red coloring adds visual appeal but not flavor or function. So if you don't want to use it, you don't have to. You could also try 1 tablespoon beet powder in place of the food coloring for a slight red hue.
  2. White vinegar: A little extra acid helps the baking powder do its job, but it also interacts with the cocoa powder and helps brighten the color of the cookies. No vinegar? Use lemon juice.
  3. Vanilla extract: I've been making my own lately, and you can, too.
  4. 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.
  5. Chill the dough: If you like loftier cookies that don’t spread out as much, chill the dough. Make the dough the day before and pop the bowl in the refrigerator. Or better yet, scoop or roll the cookies into balls and freeze them on a sheet tray for an hour or two before baking.
  6. Chocolate 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.
  7. Make ahead: Make the dough ahead of time and keep it in the refrigerator up to 3 days before you bake the cookies. Without frosting, the baked cookies will stay fresh covered at room temperature for up to 5 days.
  8. Storage: Because the frosting will need to be refrigerated, it’s a good idea to frost the cookies just before you plan to serve them or give them away.
  9. Peppermint cookies: A recipe made the same way but with peppermint extract instead of vanilla.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cookieCalories: 171kcalCarbohydrates: 25gProtein: 1gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 13mgSodium: 123mgPotassium: 25mgFiber: 1gSugar: 18gVitamin A: 328IUCalcium: 17mgIron: 1mg
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Meggan Hill

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