These red velvet cookies are soft and pillowy. Light and fluffy. Slathered with the most delicious and rich cream cheese frosting. Giving it the perfect balance. Red velvet has always been one of my favorites flavors! Spoiler alert: Did you know red velvet is just chocolate with red food coloring? That always blows my mind. Either way, it’s absolutely delicious and the perfect festive treat for Valentine’s Day or anytime!
They can be made into cookies like shown in the photos OR you can put icing between two cookies and make them into whoopie pies! Also absolutely delicious but I love the icing on top of them because then you can make them fun and festive with sprinkles!
What you need for red velvet cookies with cream cheese frosting + substitutions:
- Unsalted butter- You can use salted butter as well if that’s what you have! Just decrease the salt in the recipe to 1/2 tsp instead of 3/4 tsp. Also, room temperature butter is very important, it helps the cookies get the right consistency!
- Brown sugar- Brown sugar gives it that caramel note and adds the perfect sweetness as well as giving them that deep rich brown color. You can use light or dark. I used light!
- Granulated sugar- A classic in any recipe. You can use white sugar, cane sugar, whatever you prefer. I haven’t tested coconut sugar.
- Eggs- Eggs help bind a recipe and really help give it taste and texture. Make sure these are room temperature as well (on the counter for at least an hour) to help the recipe bind together better. I don’t know if flax eggs would work as an alternative.
- Vanilla extract- No baked good recipe is complete without vanilla extract in my opinion. It’s key!
- All-purpose flour– I typically bake with all-purpose flour. Almond and coconut flour do not have the same measurements so they will not work in this recipe. However, gluten-free 1:1 all-purpose flour should work just fine. Make sure to find one with xantham gum, I love Bob’s Red Mill, but any should do.
- Cocoa powder- Cocoa powder is what makes the cookie chocolate flavored which is what red velvet is. A chocolate dessert with red food coloring!
- Sea salt- Salt is key in a baked good, because it really helps to bring out the flavor!
- Baking powder- Helps to inflate the cookies!
- Baking soda- Helps to produce a light and fluffy and perfectly cooked cookie.
- Buttermilk- This is what gives the cookies the soft pillowy texture. You can easily substitute 3/4 cup whole milk mixed with 1 tsp white vinegar or apple cider vinegar. Mix the two ingredients in a bowl and set aside for about 5 minutes to let it curdle. Non-dairy milk will not lend the same result.
- Red food coloring- This is what gives the cookie the signature red color. I love gel food coloring, but any red food coloring works!
Tips for making red velvet cookies with cream cheese frosting:
- Make sure not to overbake the cookies- They bake pretty quickly and puff up fast! They have more of a dense cake consistency than a regular cookie so you want them to be puffy and soft but a little springy to touch in the middle.
- Let them cool completely before frosting- If the cookies are still warm the frosting will melt all over them and won’t turn out as pretty!
- Refrigerate the dough- I know this is always the worst, but it really makes a difference. It’s easier to scoop out the dough and also helps the flavor to develop in the cookie!
Alright, let’s get to making the recipe! Enjoy friends!
Red Velvet Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting
- Sheet Pan
- Large mixing bowl
- Medium Mixing Bowl
- Stand mixer or hand mixer
- Measuring spoons
- Measuring cups
For the Cookies:
- ½ cup unsalted butter room temperature
- ¾ cup light brown sugar
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup cocoa powder
- ¾ tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- ¾ cup buttermilk
- red food coloring
For the Frosting:
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 4 oz cream cheese room temperature
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter room temperature
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- pinch of sea salt
For the Cookies:
- Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
- In a large mixing bowl or stand mix, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add in the egg and vanilla extract and mix until combined.
- Next, add in the flour, cocoa powder, sea salt, baking powder and baking soda and mix until well combined.
- Lastly, slowly pour in the buttermilk and mix while adding it in until the dough is soft.
- Add in as much food coloring as needed and mix until the batter is the red color you desire!
- From here, I find it easiest to refrigerate the dough for about 30 minutes to make it easier to scoop out. It’s not required but certainly makes it easier.
- When you’re ready, scoop dough onto a lined baking sheet (either parchment paper or a silpat). I love using this cookie scooper because I find it easier to you. You can also just scoop out with a big spoon. I made large cookies and my batter came out to 12 cookies. Feel free to make them smaller!
- I scooped out 6 cookies on the pan. They spread quite a bit while cooking so make sure to spread them out.
- Bake for 8-11 minutes. For large cookies like mine, they took 11 minutes. If you’re making them smaller, check them earlier. You want the tops set but soft. They’ll continue to cook when you take them out so don’t over bake!
- Once done, cool on the baking sheet for about 10 minutes and then move to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the Frosting:
- Meanwhile, in a medium mixing bowl cream together the butter, cream cheese and vanilla extract.
- Add in the powdered sugar and sea salt and mix until well combined. Set aside.
To assemble Cookies:
- Once cookies are completely cooled, spread icing on top of the cookies. Sprinkle with sprinkles of your choice and enjoy!