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Grandma’s Red Velvet Cake

It's just not Christmas at our house until this festive cake appears. This is different from other red velvets I’ve had; the icing is as light as snow. —Kathryn Davison, Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Total Time
    Prep: 30 min. Bake: 20 min. + cooling
  • Makes
    14 servings


  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 bottles (1 ounce each) red food coloring
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2-1/4 cups cake flour
  • 2 tablespoons baking cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 cups butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar


  • Preheat oven to 350°. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 5-7 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in food coloring, vinegar and vanilla. In another bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating well after each addition.
  • Pour into 2 greased and floured 9-in. round baking pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 20-25 minutes. Cool layers 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
  • For frosting, combine water and cornstarch in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until thickened and opaque, 2-3 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Beat butter and vanilla until light and fluffy. Beat in cornstarch mixture. Gradually add confectioners' sugar; beat until light and fluffy. Spread between layers and over top and sides of cake.
Nutrition Facts
1 slice: 595 calories, 34g fat (21g saturated fat), 115mg cholesterol, 564mg sodium, 71g carbohydrate (52g sugars, 1g fiber), 4g protein.


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Average Rating:
  • MissKarla
    Dec 21, 2020

    A perfect cake with just a touch of chocolate flavor. As said many time before, the original frosting is made with flour and milk. CetaceaSFB frosting recipe is close to what mine is, I just do 1 cup each of butter and sugar..... To have the experience of a true Waldorf Astoria Red Cake, you need to try the original frosting at least once. You won't want cream cheese frosting again on this cake. Four stars just because of the frosting....

  • Kelley
    Dec 10, 2020

    So glad to see this recipe posted here. This is the one my dear mother in law always made. Very few recipe books share this recipe any more. My daughter and I make this one and it's still my favorite. Thanks for sharing this.

  • rdacla86
    Jun 10, 2020

    Cake was excellent but frosting recipe has way too much butter. 2cups is that correct? Will throw out frosting recipe and go to my regular buttercream

  • Suzanne
    May 9, 2020

    This is the same recipethat I and my family have been making for at least 100yrs. The icing is the same the only difference is we use evaporated milk,gives it really flavor. Someone mentioned cream cheese was the original to be used....that is incorrect, the cooked milk is the original and cream cheese replaced it as it supposedly easier....its a recipe from the south....

  • Cheryl
    Nov 2, 2019

    My grandmother always made this cake for birthdays and holidays. If you look at the “original “ recipe it calls for the frosting made with milk and flour. Cream cheese frosting is not the original. The “proper” name for the cake is Waldorf Astoria Red Cake.

  • CetaceaSFB
    Oct 20, 2019

    My grandmother passed her recipe to my mom, who passed it to me. This is my favorite cake, and has been my birthday cake for 59 years. I'm with Jane (Oct 16,2019), this is the icing always used on our Christmas cakes and my birthday cakes. Frosting: 1 cup milk ¼ cup flour 1 ½ cups granulated sugar 3/4 cup butter, (1 1/2 sticks room temperature) 1 tsp vanilla Over medium low heat cook milk and flour until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, set aside; let cool. Cream together sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and blend in well. Add cooled Milk sauce; beat until stiff. Frost cooled cake Good stuff! :)

  • debragoins
    Oct 17, 2019

    Karila, when there's acid, as in buttermilk, use baking soda. I always stir my soda into my buttermilk....that's the way my grandmother taught me.

  • Jane
    Oct 16, 2019

    I’m 80 and was making the red velvet cake when I was in my 20’s. I thought I had the original recipe. The frosting wasn’t like the one here but possibly had the same results. It was one cup of milk and one-third cup of flour cooked until thick and then cooled completely. The sugar was granulated sugar beaten with the butter until fluffy. I think the butter is two sticks, not two cups, and then the cooled milk flour mixture and one teaspoon vanilla was added and beaten until it became very fluffy and silky. Takes quite a bit of beating.

  • PeebsnJay
    Oct 16, 2019

    The cake recipe part is fine, but it's not a true red velvet cake if it's frosted with buttercream frosting. A true red velvet cake will always have a cream cheese frosting!

  • Mary
    Oct 16, 2019

    No comment left