Red Velvet Popcorn Cupcakes

Red Velvet Popcorn Cupcakes 4 Square

We’ve noticed that, whenever assorted cupcakes are on offer, the red velvet ones are chosen first. Even more so when they are topped with cream cheese frosting. We can get onboard with that choice but will go one better with our red velvet popcorn cupcakes.

If you love red velvet but are not sure what, exactly, that flavor is, we have the answer. It’s a yellow cake/cupcake base with a hint of cocoa. Sort of a hybrid between a vanilla and a chocolate cake. And that sweet spot in the middle is a crowd favorite for sure.

The original, early 20th century recipe, didn’t include any red food color. It was a chocolate cake that had a red tone due to the type of cocoa powder available at the time. Due to rationing of ingredients during World War II, some bakers started adding beetroot for moisture and the cake got redder as a result. But, somewhere along the line, an extract company started offering recipe cards for the cake and included their own red food color.

These days, red velvet cake is popular throughout the country but it’s still considered more of a southern recipe. In the south you might find it topped with a butter ermine frosting, which is cooked into a paste, but traditional buttercream and cream cheese frostings have become more popular.

We love it in all its forms and, we love it best with a little crunch to balance all that creamy sweetness. So, moist velvet cake, creamy frosting and crunchy popcorn – sounds good, doesn’t it. And the colors are so perfect for a patriotic celebration. Just top with red, white and blue star shaped sprinkles and light a sparkler for good measure.

Category, , Yields16 ServingsDifficultyIntermediate
Prep Time25 minsCook Time20 minsTotal Time45 mins


For the Cupcakes:
 1 stick Unsalted butter, at room temperature
 1 ½ cups Granulated sugar
 2 Eggs
 1 tsp Vanilla extract
 1 tsp White vinegar
 1 cup Buttermilk
 2 ½ cups All-purpose flour
 1 tbsp Unsweetened cocoa powder
 1 tsp Baking soda
 1 tsp Salt
 Red food color
For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
 8 oz Cream cheese, softened
 4 tbsp Unsalted butter, at room temperature
 ¼ tsp Salt
 3 ½ cups Powdered sugar
For the Topping:
 Red, white and blue sprinkles



Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.


To make the cupcakes, cream together the unsalted butter and granulated sugar, using a stand or hand mixer. Beat in the eggs, one at a time and the vanilla extract.


In a separate bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, unsweetened cocoa, baking soda and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet batter and mix just until combined.


Stir in the red food color, starting with about 3 drops, until you like the color. It can be anywhere from a light to a deep red, depending on your preference.


Line two 8-cup muffin tins with liners and fill each to about 3/4 full. Bake for 18 to 21 minutes or until a toothpick, inserted in the center, comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.


To make the cream cheese frosting, add the cream cheese, butter, salt and powdered sugar to a bowl and beat until fully combined. You can do this by hand or with a stand or hand mixer.


Fit a piping bag with a large tip (we used the Wilton 1M size) and fill with the cream cheese frosting. Top each cupcake with a swirl of the frosting. Pile popped popcorn on top of each cupcake and sprinkle on red, white and blue candy stars or other fun sprinkles. Wrap and refrigerate any leftover cupcakes.

Red Velvet Popcorn Cupcakes 2

Nutrition Facts

Servings 16

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