Red Velvet Cupcakes with Orange Buttercream


Preparation info

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These darling magenta cupcakes are brilliantly colored all the way through. No food coloring is used here. The color comes from puréeing freshly roasted beets. I tested the recipe with canned beets and the color was drab and faded. But roasting beets is easy, and you can measure and prepare the rest of the ingredients for the cupcakes and buttercream while they roast. I finely chop the roasted beets and then purée them in a food processor. Let the machine run for a couple of minutes until the purée is completely smooth.



  • 2 cups/200 g sifted cake flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. kosher or fine sea salt
  • tsp. ground cinnamon
  • cups/340 g puréed Simple Roasted Beets, prepared with red beets (3 medium or 2 large beets)
  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp/225 g granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • cup/165 ml. canola or other neutral oil
  • ¾ tsp. pure vanilla extract

Orange Buttercream

  • cups/280 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups/200 g confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tbsp. heavy whipping cream
  • ½ tsp. pure orange oil (see Cook’s Note)
  • ¼ tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 2 to 3 tbsp. fresh orange juice


  1. To make the cupcakes, position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F/180°C/gas 4. Line a 12-cup standard muffin pan with paper liners.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together the beet purée, granulated sugar, eggs, canola oil, and vanilla. Using a rubber spatula, stir in one-third of the flour mixture, continuing to stir just until the flour disappears. Do not beat or overmix. Repeat, adding the remaining flour mixture in two batches.
  4. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, dividing the batter evenly and filling each cup almost to the top of the liner. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Then carefully release the cupcakes from the pan and let cool completely on the rack, about 1 hour.
  5. To make the buttercream, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a medium bowl using a handheld mixer, cream the butter on low speed until creamy and smooth. Add the confectioners’ sugar, cream, orange oil, and vanilla and beat on low speed until incorporated, about 2 minutes. Add the orange juice, a little at a time, until the buttercream is fluffy and smooth.
  6. Spread a thick layer of buttercream on the top of each cooled cupcake, swirling it to create a decorative finish. Alternatively, transfer the frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a medium star tip and pipe the frosting on the top of each cupcake. The cupcakes can be made in advance; cover and store at room temperature for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 1 month.