This homemade Small Red Velvet Cake recipe is a moist and delicious 6 inch red chocolate cake from scratch without cake mix. Decorate with cream cheese frosting for a classic combination.

Close up of small red velvet cake on cake stand

I knew as I worked on my 6 inch cake recipes, I would have to make Small Red Velvet Cake eventually.

You see, red velvet and I haven’t always gotten along. What really turned me off of red velvet for years was ordering a red velvet flavored latte from a national coffee chain.

All I could taste were chemicals. Not wanting to waste coffee and money, I tried to sip through it. Finally about halfway I gave up and threw the rest away.

Over the years I slowly warmed back up to red velvet. My rule now is it must be an actual baked good such as my Small Batch Red Velvet Cupcakes, Red Velvet Sugar Cookies and Red Velvet Bars and not be red velvet flavored random crap.

With Valentine’s Day coming up shortly, what better time than now to share my Small Red Velvet Cake recipe?

This is a 6 inch red velvet cake I’m happy to stand behind. No funky chemical taste like that mistake of a latte I bought.

It’s perfect for February because it’s red for Valentine’s Day and makes dessert for two.

Ok maybe there’s a slice or two leftover, but it IS an easy one layer red velvet cake.

Of course it’s not only reserved for February. Make it for birthdays, anniversaries, 4th of July (add blueberries on top for red, white, and blue!), or even dessert after a romantic dinner for two at home.

Slices of red velvet cake on white plates

What is red velvet cake?

While researching red velvet cake recipes for testing, I realized not every recipe was the same.

Some used only butter. Some used on oil. Some used both butter and oil. Some used a lot of cocoa. Some only used a tablespoon. One recipe even used only egg whites.

So let’s talk about what red velvet cake is exactly. It’s not a small vanilla cake with red food coloring, yet it’s not just a chocolate cake with such a small amount of cocoa powder.

Red velvet cake is a subtle chocolate cake flavored with buttermilk and vinegar then enhanced in color with red food coloring.

6 Inch Red Velvet Cake on white cake stand

What is the difference between chocolate cake and red velvet cake?

The difference between chocolate cake and red velvet cake is the amount of chocolate used.

Chocolate cakes like my small chocolate cake recipe have a deep rich chocolate flavor, thanks to melted chocolate and cocoa powder. The brown color is also too dark for red food coloring to shine through.

Red velvet cake uses a small amount of cocoa powder, allowing the red to shine through. It’s not meant to be a rich chocolate cake.

Close up of slice of 6 inch Red Velvet Cake

Ingredients For Small Red Velvet Cake

You’ll need the following ingredients for your 6 inch red velvet cake:

  • All-Purpose Flour: I chose all-purpose flour rather than cake flour because it’s more common in home pantries. Make sure you know how to measure flour by using the spoon and level method, not the scoop and pack method.
  • Cornstarch: Since we’re not using cake flour, cornstarch makes up for the gluten difference. If you’re using cake flour, swap this for additional cake flour.
  • Cocoa powder: As mentioned earlier, cocoa powder is what gives red velvet cake its subtle chocolate flavor. Make sure you’re using natural unsweetened.
  • Baking soda: This leavening agent is what helps the cake rise because it reacts with the acidic buttermilk.
  • Salt: Used so your cake isn’t bland.
  • Granulated sugar: Needed to sweeten the cake.
  • Vegetable oil: Using a neutral oil means the tangy buttermilk flavor will shine while also making a moist cake. Butter would overpower with its flavor.
  • Egg: Use a standard large egg at room temperature.
  • Red food coloring: I used liquid food coloring, the kind you add by the drop. You can also use gel or paste, but the amount used will vary. The color will bake out a little, so make your batter a little brighter than what you want.
  • Vanilla: Really enhances the other flavors
  • Buttermilk: Because buttermilk is acidic, it’ll activate the baking soda, which is what causes your cake to rise properly. Only have regular milk? Add lemon juice or vinegar then wait 5 minutes or until curdled.

The chemical reaction among cocoa powder, buttermilk, vinegar, and baking soda help give red velvet a natural deep maroon color, which is often enhanced with food coloring.

If you’re ever reading a red velvet recipe without those ingredients, run. Don’t make it.

Buying A 6 Inch Cake Pan

In order to make this small red velvet cake recipe, you need to buy a 6 inch round cake pan. Easy enough, right?

A 6 x 2 inch round cake pan has a volume of 3 cups and holds about 2 cups batter (leaving room at the top for the cake rising).

You can buy one online from Amazon (affiliate link) or from your local craft store in the cake decorating aisle.

Got a 6 inch springform pan instead? Make my Red Velvet Oreo Cheesecake.

Close up of small red velvet cake on cake stand

How To Make Small Red Velvet Cake

Here’s how to make your red velvet cake for two from scratch:

  1. Sift together your flour and cornstarch then stir in your cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.
  2. Beat together your oil and sugar until smooth.
  3. Beat in your egg, food coloring, and vanilla, scraping down your bowl if necessary.
  4. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, adding the flour in 3 additions and the milk in 2 additions (begin and end with dry ingredients).
  5. Pour the batter into your 6 inch cake pan lined with parchment paper.
  6. Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs (but not wet batter).

Servings In A 6 Inch Cake

Serving sizes are subjective, especially if you only want a small bite. Generally 6 inch cakes can be sliced into 4-6 slices, making it about 4-6 servings per 6 inch cake.

However, if you slice your mini red velvet cake small enough, you can push for 8 slices, equaling 8 servings.

Ultimately serving size is up to you depending on how small you cut your 6 inch cake.

How To Decorate A Small Red Velvet Cake

Traditionally you frost 6 inch red velvet cake with Small Batch Cream Cheese Frosting, which makes just enough to frost a 6 inch cake without leftovers.

Although not traditional, you can also make Small Batch Buttercream or even Small Batch Chocolate Frosting.

More Small Cake Recipes

Craving more 6 inch cake recipes? Check out my other favorites:

Close up of small red velvet cake on cake stand

Small Red Velvet Cake

Yield: 4-6 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 23 minutes
Total Time: 43 minutes

Homemade Small Red Velvet Cake recipe is a moist and delicious 6 inch red chocolate cake from scratch without cake mix. Decorate with cream cheese frosting for a classic combination.


  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons red food coloring (I used McCormick brand)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk (or substitute whole milk with 1 teaspoon lemon juice added)
  • Small Batch Cream Cheese Frosting (get recipe here)


  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease one 6-inch round cake pan then line the bottom with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and cornstarch then whisk in cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the sugar and oil until moistened and smooth, about 1 minute.
  4. Beat in the egg, food coloring, vanilla, and vinegar.
  5. Add the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk, adding the flour in 3 additions and the milk in 2 additions (begin and end with dry ingredients).
  6. Transfer the batter to the pan. Bake 20-23 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with a few crumbs (no wet batter). Cool for about 15 minutes, run a knife along the edge of the pan to loosen, and invert onto a cooling rack. Cool right-side-up.
  7. Top with Small Batch Cream Cheese Frosting (get recipe here).

    To store frosted cake, refrigerate in an airtight container. Let sit at room temperature for 15-30 minutes before serving.


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First published on February 6, 2020