Red Velvet Cookies

5 from 7 votes
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Satisfy your sweet tooth with this heavenly red velvet cookie recipe. These treats are filled with rich cocoa flavor. Whether you’re a red velvet fan or just looking for a decadent dessert option, this recipe is a showstopper!

For more sweet indulgence, try my recipes for cheesecake brownies, chocolate cream pie, and homemade cream puffs.

A plate of red velvet cookies with white chocolate chips on top.

There’s something so simple and stunning about red velvet cookies. The hint of chocolate flavor and sweet white chocolate chips are the ultimate combination. Guests will love this recipe for its gourmet flavor and appearance. It’s perfect for a holiday dessert table during Christmas or as a sweet treat for Valentine’s Day.

I use natural cocoa powder to add just the right amount of chocolate flavor. A small amount adds depth to the cookie, elevated with a small amount of tangy sour cream. Using a concentrated red gel coloring adds the characteristic scarlet hue. These are delicious as is or topped with cream cheese frosting for a hand-held red velvet cake-inspired dessert.

Recipe ingredients

Ingredients needed to make this red velvet cookie recipe.
  • Flour: All-purpose flour contains 10 to 13% protein. This gives just enough gluten for structure development and a slight chewiness in the center.
  • Cocoa: Red velvet cookies are so delicious because a small amount of cocoa powder adds dimension. It’s not just a plain sugar cookie. I use natural unsweetened cocoa powder as it’s lighter in color and has natural acids to help react with the baking soda for leavening.
  • Leavening Agents: Baking soda helps the cookies spread and gives a crispness to the edges. An egg adds richness, and the whites add a lightened texture.
  • Sugar: I use granulated sugar for a clean sweetness and contrasting crunch. You can substitute about ¼ cup of packed brown sugar for more chewiness.
  • Flavoring: Vanilla extract enhances the baked aroma. Salt bumps up the cocoa flavor and balances the sweetness.
  • Sour Cream: A little acidity adds depth to the cocoa powder. Some fat from the cream also gives extra richness.
  • Color: Use red gel food coloring for a concentrated pigment. I also like how it doesn’t leave a residual dye flavor. You can use liquid red food coloring; add 1 tablespoon instead.
  • Chocolate: I like the milky cocoa butter flavor of white chocolate chips. I add them to the batter and then more chips on top after baking for an attractive surface.

See the recipe card below for all ingredients and measurements (US and metric).

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350ºF (177ºC) while preparing the cookie dough. This temperature will set the round shape once the dough is spread out onto the cookie sheet. Each tray will bake one at a time for even cooking.

Combine the dry ingredients

Bowl of cocoa powder, flour, and baking soda in a bowl with a whisk.

Step 2: The flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt are fine particles. To effectively disperse them, whisk them together first. This ensures that they will be evenly distributed into the dough.

Cream the butter and sugar

Stand mixer bowl with butter and sugar that has been mixed together.

Step 3: I use a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. A hand mixer will work, too. It’s important to use softened butter just below room temperature, 65 to 67ºF (18 to 19ºC). You want a pliable texture to trap air pockets when mixed with the granulated sugar. This will give a light and crisp texture to the final product.

Add the egg and color

Mixer bowl with an egg yolk and red food coloring.
Stand mixer bowl with a bright red cookie dough batter.

Step 4: Once the butter and sugar are creamed together, it’s time to whisk in the rest of the wet ingredients. The lecithin in the eggs helps to emulsify the fat and liquid in the dough and provides richness and aeration from the whites. The red food coloring and vanilla mix in seamlessly. I use gel coloring for its concentrated color.

Add the flour and cream

Blended flour mixture in a stand mixer bowl with red cookie dough batter.
A dollop of sour cream inside a mixer bowl with red cookie dough batter.

Step 5: The flour will be added in two phases. If you add it all at once, it will take longer to combine and develop more gluten, which creates a tougher cookie. Stir in half of the flour, followed by the sour cream. Then add the remaining flour mixture, stirring until the flour is hydrated. The result will be a deep ruby red colored dough.

Add the chocolate chips

Red velvet cookie dough batter with lots of white chocolate chips.

Step 6: To finish the dough, add ¾ cup of the white chocolate chips. Mix until it’s combined in the dough. More chips will be added layer to the surface to give a prettier appearance.

Portion out the dough

Raw cookie dough portions spread out on a parchment paper lined sheet pan.

Step 7: This is a drop cookie dough, which means it will be stickier and require a scoop or spoon to measure out—portion out 2 tablespoons per cookie, about 1 ounce in size (30 grams). Place them on the parchment paper lined sheet pan, at least 2 inches apart.

They will spread out significantly, about double the size of the raw dough. There should be about 11 per tray. Chill the dough for 30 minutes before portioning if you want a smaller cookie. I like the crisp edges of the wider cookie.

Bake

Person pressing white chocolate chips into a warm red velvet cookie on a sheet pan.

Step 8: Bake at 350 degrees, one cookie tray at a time, in the center of the oven. Bake for 6 minutes, then rotate for even cooking. The cookies are ready when the edges are set and the centers puff up, meaning it’s no longer raw. This takes about 5 to 8 more minutes.

While the cookies are still hot on the pan, quickly press the remaining chocolate chips on top. I usually add three to five per cookie. I wait to add them because white chocolate tends to brown in the oven when exposed on the surface. Adding them later makes for an attractive appearance. The chips gently melt into the warm cookie to set them.

Cool the cookies

Step 9: Let the cookies gently finish cooking on the warm pan for 5 minutes. This could be the time it takes to add the chips. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. The finished cookies will be crispy around the edges and softer in the center.

Flavor variations

This delicious recipe for red velvet cookies is easy to customize! Try these exciting options:

  • Chocolate: Instead of white chocolate chips, add different types of chocolate like milk, semi-sweet, dark chips or chunks, or chopped ruby chocolate. Instead of chips, add a drizzle of chocolate sauce over the cookies.
  • Flavor: Almond extract or coconut would complement the cocoa flavor. For a Christmas-inspired taste, add a few drops of peppermint or mint. Add warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice.
  • Nuts: Instead of chocolate, or in addition to, add chopped walnuts, almonds, or pecans.
  • Frosting: Cream cheese frosting, sugar cookie frosting, or a sugar cookie icing would pair nicely instead of chocolate chips on top. Sprinkles, crushed candy canes, or nuts would adhere well to the frosting.

Frequently asked questions

Can I use Dutch-processed cocoa powder?

Dutch-processed cocoa powder can be used and give a darker color and sweeter taste. It’s processed with an alkaline solution to make it less acidic. However, make sure to keep the sour cream in the recipe. The acidity in the cultured dairy is needed to react with the baking soda to create bubbles in the cookie for rise.

Can I use beetroot juice instead of food coloring?

Beetroot juice, puree, or powder can be used as a natural food coloring to replace the red food coloring. Add enough until the deep red color is reached. If you add 1 tablespoon of juice or more, add the same amount of flour to absorb the added moisture. This will prevent an overly sticky dough.

Can I freeze the red velvet cookie dough?

The cookie dough can be portioned and stored in freezer bags or an airtight container for up to 1 month. You can bake from frozen, but add a few extra minutes. The cookies will likely not spread as much.

Several red velvet cookies on a white plate served with a glass of milk on the side.

Recipe Science

Using liquid food coloring instead of gel

Two major types of food coloring can be used to make vibrant red velvet cookies. Liquid food coloring is more diluted and used to dye easter eggs. Gel food coloring is more concentrated and is my preferred choice for the best hue. You’ll need three times as much liquid food coloring. Add 1 tablespoon of liquid red coloring to swap out the 1 teaspoon of red gel coloring.

Red Velvet Cookies

If you're a fan of the classic red velvet flavor and love indulging in sweet and chewy cookies, then my red velvet cookie recipe is perfect for you.
5 from 7 votes
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time50 minutes
Servings 22 servings
Course Dessert
Cuisine American

Ingredients 
 

  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon table salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened to 65 to 67ºF (18 to 19ºC)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon red gel food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips, divided

Instructions 

  • Preheat the Oven – Set the oven rack to the middle position and the heat to 350ºF ( 177ºC). Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
  • Combine Dry Ingredients – In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • Cream the Butter and Sugar – In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add softened butter and sugar. Beat on medium-high speed (setting 7) until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  • Add the Egg and Color – Add the egg, red food coloring, and vanilla. Beat over medium speed (setting 5) until combined, about 30 seconds.
  • Add the Flour – Add half of the flour mixture, and mix on low speed until just combined. Mix in the sour cream. Add the remaining flour, and mix until combined.
  • Add the Chocolate – Add ¾ cup of the white chocolate chips. Stir on low speed until just combined.
  • Portion – Scoop out 2 tablespoons of dough (1 ounce or 30 grams). Evenly space the cookie dough, at least 2 inches apart on the baking sheets, they will spread, about 10 per tray.
  • Bake – Bake one sheet at a time for 6 minutes, then rotate. Continue to bake until the edges just set and the tops are slightly glossy, about 4 to 6 minutes. Remove the tray from the oven and immediately press some of the remaining chocolate chips on top of the warm cookie. Bake the remaining tray of cookies.
  • Cool – Leave the cookies on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Notes

  • Using Liquid Food Coloring: Add 1 tablespoon of red food coloring because it is diluted in color.
  • Chewier Cookie: Add ¼ cup of brown sugar and ¾ cup granulated sugar (instead of 1 cup granulated sugar). 
  • Thicker Cookie: Chill the dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. 
  • Make Ahead: The dough can be prepared up to 2 days in advance and refrigerated. Portioned dough balls can be frozen for up to 1 month. Bake from frozen, but add a few extra minutes. They will not spread as much. 
  • Storing: Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Cookies can be frozen for up to 2 months.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 22 servings
Calories 159kcal (8%)Carbohydrates 22g (7%)Protein 2g (4%)Fat 7g (11%)Saturated Fat 5g (25%)Polyunsaturated Fat 0.3gMonounsaturated Fat 2gTrans Fat 0.2gCholesterol 14mg (5%)Sodium 60mg (3%)Potassium 42mg (1%)Fiber 0.4g (2%)Sugar 14g (16%)Vitamin A 148IU (3%)Vitamin C 0.1mgCalcium 22mg (2%)Iron 1mg (6%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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  1. Maverick says

    Cured my red velvet cookie cravings!! I love the chewiness when substituting some brown sugar. Thank you so much for that tip!!