What Frosting Goes With Red Velvet Cake

It’s no secret – red velvet cake is delicious, whether you’re making it from scratch or sprucing up a boxed version. But no cake is complete without the right topping. This begs the question, what frosting goes with red velvet cake?

The best frostings with red velvet care are cream cheese and ermine frosting. These frostings are the “classic” options for this type of cake, with a light texture and delicious flavor that isn’t too overwhelmingly sweet. 

Hello! My name’s Michelle, and I’ve been baking for the past ten years. My brother raves about red velvet cake. Naturally, I’ve made a few in my kitchen. I’ve discovered which two frostings are definite musts when baking this type of cake.

Let’s get frostin’!

Top 2 Frosting Options for Red Velvet Cakes

No cake is complete without the frosting, but there’s definitely a right way and wrong way to go about it. Let me take the guesswork out by introducing you to the top two frosting choices for red velvet cake!

1. Ermine Frosting

Also referred to as “boiled milk frosting” or “flour frosting,” ermine frosting is a delicious option that was the original choice for these kinds of cakes. It’s made with a combination of flour, milk, butter, and sugarno powdered sugar or eggs are required.

The perk of using ermine frosting is that it’s not overly sweet or thick, which can be the case with other types of buttercream, such as American buttercream. And while it can still be piped and colored, it has a lovely, silky smooth texture with the right level of sweetness.

It’s true that ermine frosting is a bit more challenging and time-consuming to make, but it’s well worth the time and hassle when indulging in your cake. 

Go ahead and try this “original” frosting – your palette will thank you.

2. Cream Cheese Frosting

Although ermine frosting was the traditional choice for red velvet cakes back in the day, it has since taken the backseat to cream cheese.

I mean, think about the last time you ordered red velvet in a restaurant. What did it come with? More than likely, it was cream cheese!

The perk of using cream cheese frosting is that it has the perfect pairing of sweetness and tanginess – ensuring that the sweetness doesn’t become overwhelming.

This combo works best when plopped on top of red velvet cake, which is why it’s used too often. Add an extra zing to this frosting by adding lemon juice and zest!

3 Alternative Frosting Options

If ermine frosting doesn’t appeal to you and you dislike cream cheese, don’t worry – you’re not entirely out of luck. Although ermine and cream cheese are the ideal go-tos for this type of cake, a few other options will get the job done.

1. Vanilla or Chocolate Buttercream

Buttercream is another popular choice. It is made with butter, powdered sugar, and heavy cream. It’s rich, thick, and very sweet, which many people are big fans of.

When it comes to topping for this kind of cake, you can go with vanilla or chocolate buttercream. While red velvet is not chocolate cake (although some people intertwine the two), it still pairs well with the flavors of chocolate frosting.

If you’re feeling really daring and want to try something out of the box, many people claim that this cake pairs well with coffee buttercream. I haven’t tried it personally, but it sounds terrific. (If you try it, please let me know how it turns out!)

2. Swiss Meringue Buttercream

If you want something lighter than buttercream without sacrificing the rich buttery flavor, swiss meringue buttercream may be right up your alley.

Swiss meringue buttercream is made with egg whites and regular sugar. The result is a silky smooth texture, a lightweight consistency, a decadent flavor, and an undeniable glossy sheen. 

3. Mascarpone Frosting

Lastly, we have mascarpone frosting. Mascarpone frosting can best be described as a frosting that tastes like cream cheese but has a less tangy flavor. Instead, it’s a sweet and airy option with a pinch of acidity that plays well with the cake flavors.

Tip: Avoid Whipped Cream Frosting

Although some people love whipped cream frosting on top of their cake, it’s not the best choice for this type of cake. The texture and flavor don’t pair well. 


Who knew there were so many excellent frosting choices for red velvet cake? You’re sure to impress the guests at the next bake-off! But hey, before you take off to whip up a yummy cake, why not check out these frequently asked questions – asked by readers just like you?

What can you decorate a red velvet cake with?

You can decorate your cake however you please. There’s no “right” or “wrong” way to decorate it. However, the traditional way to decorate this kind of cake is to keep it simple and clean. Toss on some piping and cake crumbs for a dash of the vibrant coloring.

Does red velvet cake with buttercream frosting need to be refrigerated?

You don’t need to refrigerate this type of cake. It can sit at room temp for up to three days. For those who want to extend the longevity, have a warmer kitchen, or are concerned about leaving your cake at room temperature, you can always stash it in the fridge.

What is the actual flavor of red velvet cake?

Red velvet cake has a very light chocolate flavor, which is why so many confuse it with chocolate cake or claim it is chocolate cake “with red food coloring.” There is also a subtle tanginess, creating its standout flavor.

Ermine and Cream Cheese Frostings are Winners!

When it comes to frostings for this type of cake, the two best options are ermine and cream cheese frosting. However, you can get by with some other favorites, such as vanilla buttercream, chocolate buttercream, swiss meringue buttercream, or mascarpone frosting.

What is your favorite frosting to put on top of red velvet cakes?

About Michelle
I have been a lover of sweets since day one. This led me on a self-taught baking journey starting at the age of 13. It's been over 10 years since the start of my baking adventures, and I’ve learned a lot along the way. Now, people rave about my delectable treats, whether it’s a chocolate cake or a strawberry crepe.

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