With a shiny, crackly top, fudgy middle, and a gorgeous red hue, these Red Velvet Brownies are a must-have recipe for Valentine’s Day, Christmas, and just about anytime!
Why you want this recipe:
- One bowl recipe
- Excellent for beginning bakers (and no stress for the rest of us!)
- Perfect red velvet flavor
- Beautiful red color
- Absolutely gorgeous!
What is red velvet?
Red Velvet refers to a mild chocolate flavor with a slightly tart edge to it. As opposed to other chocolate cakes, which get their flavor from melted chocolate, red velvet gets its flavor from cocoa powder. Added acid gives it that tang.
- In this recipe: You can expect that classic red velvet flavor. These brownies avoid a deep chocolate flavor in favor of a lovely mildness with a little tang!
Basically, a velvet cake is any cake with a soft, fluffier texture. The title has come to mean not just soft of fluffy, but any dessert that has a smooth or silky texture.
- In this recipe: Maybe the best part of this recipe is the texture of the brownies. They are dense and fudgy, but have a smooth, melt-in-your-mouth feel!
The most obvious part of a red velvet dessert is its color. Modern red velvet desserts have a vibrant red color. That wasn’t always true — the original red velvet cakes of the early 20th century were more of a dull brown with a slightly red tone!
- In this recipe: We’re going modern here! These brownies use gel food coloring to achieve a bright and beautiful red velvet color.
History of Red Velvet
There were quite a few different velvet cakes floating around America at the turn of the century, including velvet Devil’s food, and mahogany cake, which was the forerunner of red velvet. At some point, a baker decided to add a little acid to their mahogany cake and noticed that a chemical reaction made the cake take on a faint red hue. The red velvet cake was born!
The original red velvet cakes were more of a brown-red. That coloring came from the reaction between the acid (usually vinegar) and the cocoa powder of the time. Cocoa powder in the early 20th century was non-Dutched, which means that it would change color when exposed to the acid.
The red velvet cake was passed from baker to baker for most of the early 20th century. It is often associated with Southern baking, and was widely used in the South.
Red velvet’s big break came from the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in the mid-1930s. The hotel’s chefs adapted the red velvet cake recipe to create their own version, adding a cooked ermine frosting. Diners loved the combination of tangy and sweet, and pretty soon red velvet cake came to be associated with high class dining.
Later, during WWII, food coloring was invented. Bakers started adding it to their cakes in order to brighten that deep red color. Eventually ermine frosting, which is time-consuming and takes some hard work, was replaced by the much easier cream cheese frosting. And thus the modern-day red velvet cake was born!
What do I need for Red Velvet Brownies?
Butter or Margarine
This recipe has been tested with both butter and margarine. There is a difference in texture, although both create a pretty darn good brownie! Unsalted butter results in a slightly more dense brownie. Given that these are already pretty fudgy red velvet brownies, that’s something to consider!
Also called white sugar, this helps create a chewy brownie.
I tested this many ways, and the best results came from a combination of white and brown sugar. The brown sugar helps create dense, fudgy brownies. Balancing the chewiness of the white sugar and fudginess of the brown sugar gives these brownies a silky texture that’s worthy of the velvet part of their name!
Egg yolks provide fat, which helps create a tender crumb in these homemade brownies. The egg whites provide protein, which gives the brownies structure.
There is more than the usual teaspoon of vanilla extract in these brownies, but there’s a good reason for that! With the mild chocolate flavor, the vanilla works hard to bring a rounded taste to these brownies that is both decadent and light.
This recipe has been tested with all-purpose flour. I can’t speak to how any other flour will work. If you try something else, leave a comment for others!
Given that there’s just a hint of cocoa flavor in these brownies, we’re not using as much cocoa powder as in regular brownies. I used Dutched cocoa powder in testing.
Red Food Coloring
That gorgeous bright red color comes from the red gel food coloring. The more coloring you use, the brighter color you’ll get. I used 1 oz of food coloring in the brownies in the pictures.
Don’t forget the salt! Salt helps balance the sweetness, giving the brownies a depth of flavor.
How do I make Red Velvet Brownies?
|Step 1 | Cream the butter and sugars
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and the brown and white sugars. You can use an electric mixer, or cream by hand. If you choose to cream by hand, make sure that your butter is room temperature.
|Step 2 | Wet Ingredients
Add the vanilla and eggs and mix them in well.
|Step 3 | Dry Ingredients
Now, add the cocoa powder, flour, and salt. Mix until well combined. Unlike other brownie recipe I’ve made, this brownie batter is extremely thick. The first time I made these, I thought I might have overdone it. Not so, though! That thick batter is going to turn into decadent red velvet brownies.
|Step 4 | Food Coloring
Add in your food coloring and mix well. You can continue adding coloring until you get the color you want. Remember that as your batter bakes, the color will dull slightly.
|Step 5 | Bake
Grease a 9×13 baking pan or line it with parchment paper. Pour the red velvet brownie batter into your prepared pan. You’ll bake these brownies at 350° for 35-40 minutes. A knife inserted into the center will come out clean.
|Step 6 | Cool and Enjoy!
The best way to eat these brownies is to let them cool completely. When they come out of the oven, they will be very gooey. Like really, really gooey. Leaving them to cool for an hour or so lets them set up. This is one of the rare baking recipes that might actually be better the next day!
Blue/Green Velvet Brownies
Sub in the food color of your choice to create a different color. Green velvet is perfect for Christmas and St. Patricks’ Day!
Red Velvet Oreo Brownies
Spread half the batter in the pan. Over the brownie layer, add a single layer of Oreo cookies. Then, cover with the remaining batter. Sprinkle crushed Oreos on top, then bake as directed.
Chocolate Swirl Red Velvet Brownies
Before adding the food coloring, reserve 1 cup of batter. Use Aurelia at Philosophy of Yum’s technique to create gorgeous chocolate swirls in your red velvet brownies. You can start at step 3, or watch her video to see how to get those defined swirls! Once you’ve swirled your batter, you can bake them as directed in the regular red velvet brownie recipe.
Frostings and Toppings
While this red velvet brownies recipe works very well on its own, you can dress it up with one of these topping ideas:
The classic! This cooked frosting is whipped into airy perfection. It was the original topping for red velvet cake, and works perfectly for these brownies. This recipe from Sugar Geek Show is easy to follow.
Cream Cheese Frosting
The other classic! The tanginess of this super-easy frosting goes perfectly with red velvet flavor. Sugar Spun Run has an excellent version that’s perfect for beginners.
Cookies and Cream (Oreo) Frosting
I can eat this Oreo frosting from Two Sisters by the spoonful! The cookies and cream flavor, as well as the black and white contrast, make this an excellent complement for these brownies.
Dark Chocolate Frosting
This recipe for buttercream frosting has a dark chocolate variation that is just so good! Add 1/4 cup dark cocoa powder (like Hershey’s Special Dark), and increase the milk by 1-2 Tbsps.
Sprinkle chocolate or white chocolate chips on top of the batter before baking for a melted burst of deliciousness in every bite!
Your brownies will keep for up to 1 week in an airtight container.
Yes! If the finished brownies are uncut in the brownie pan, then you can freeze them slightly — just hard enough to be a block — then remove them from the pan and wrap tightly with plastic wrap and foil. Finally, you can put it in an airtight freezer bag.
If the brownies are cut, you can wrap each brownie square in plastic wrap, then foil, then place them in an airtight freezer bag.
These will keep for up to 3 months in the freezer.
To defrost, place the brownies on the counter until thawed.
If you have questions about substitutions, check the ingredient notes above (the “What do I need for red velvet brownies?” section). If the substitution you’re interested in isn’t covered there, feel free to leave a comment or use our Contact Us form to email me.
The ULTIMATE Red Velvet Brownie Recipe
- 1 cup butter or margarine
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- 1 ½ cups brown sugar
- 4 eggs
- 4 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 6 tbsp cocoa powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 1-2 oz red gel food coloring
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugars.1 cup butter or margarine, 1 ½ cups granulated sugar, 1 ½ cups brown sugar
- Add eggs and vanilla and beat well.4 eggs, 4 tsp vanilla extract
- Add flour, salt, and cocoa powder. Mix well.2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, 6 tbsp cocoa powder, ½ tsp salt
- Add food coloring until you get the color you want. Remember that the color will become a little more dull during baking.1-2 oz red gel food coloring
- Grease a 9×13 or line with parchment paper. Pour the batter into the pan and smooth it with a spatula.
- Bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes or until knife inserted into center comes out clean.
- Allow brownies to cool, then cut and serve!