Festive Red Velvet Layer Cake With Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting

Amy Manes
by Amy Manes
1 8-inch cake
1 hr

What is more festive for Christmas than a bright, red velvet layer cake covered in delicious peppermint-y cream cheese frosting?! If you are looking for a fun holiday dessert that truly encompasses all the flavors of the season, this red velvet layer cake is just the thing you need! If you have some extra time on your hands for baking this season, this red velvet layer cake is SO worth the extra time and effort! This would be the perfect festive treat to bring to any holiday gathering. It’s great for feeding a larger crowd and will look so Christmas-y on any dessert table!

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Alright, I’m sorry but I have another fun peppermint and chocolate recipe for your Christmas! I couldn’t resist doing some sort of fun layer cake. Especially this year when I feel like we all will have more time on our hands to bake something extra yummy!

This red velvet layer cake is tangy with a slight cocoa flavor. To take things up a notch, I topped off this holiday dessert with gobs of peppermint cream cheese frosting and red velvet cake crumbles! I mean… just look at it. Doesn’t it just get you into the Christmas mood?

How to Make Red Velvet Layer Cake

This is the first red velvet cake that I’ve ever made and let me tell you – I think may I have outdone myself this time!!

I searched the internet for dozens of red velvet recipes and landed on a version that requires buttermilk. I really love the addition of buttermilk in cakes because it makes them so tender and adds just the right amount of tang to offset any sweetness from the frosting!

For this cake, you’ll want to use full-fat buttermilk. Having added fat content in your cake ingredients really makes for the moistest and most tender cake layers!

I was going to stick with just boring old cream cheese frosting for this red velvet layer cake. I thought the red cake layers spoke for themselves! But then I had the idea to add just a touch of peppermint extract to the frosting for a festive twist on a classic! It is SO good.

I still added vanilla extract into the frosting as well. It gives it the most delicious peppermint-y and toasty vanilla flavor combo that reminds me so much of Christmas.

High Altitude Baking Adjustments for Cake

The baked goods that I always have the most trouble with at high altitude are definitely cakes and cupcakes. They are just so delicate and the slightest tweak in ingredients can mean all of the difference between a sunken in, under – baked cake and the most beautiful and fluffy cake layers!

You will have to play with ingredients for this red velvet layer cake depending on your altitude. It is a bit of a science to get down just the right adjustments for where you live! Here are the adjustments that I made based on my altitude, and my cake layers turned out PERFECTLY. So fluffy and fully risen!

For reference, I live at an altitude of about 5,800 feet:

  • Decrease granulated sugar by 2 tbsp.
  • Increase flour by 2 tbsp.
  • Decrease baking soda to 1/2 tsp.
  • Increase baking temperature to 360° F
  • Decrease baking time to 25 – 28 minutes

Pretty simple switches! I’ll also note them in the cake recipe below for easy reference. If you live anywhere above 3,000 feet, the adjustments above will likely make a hug difference in your cake! If you live around 7,000 feet or above, you may have to do some more adjusting. I’d recommend decreasing the baking soda to 1/4 tsp. and going from there!

I hope that you make this red velvet layer cake for your Christmas celebrations this year! With the peppermint cream cheese frosting, it is oh-so festive and oh-so delicious!

If you’re looking for another festive Christmas recipe to bake this season, check out my Dark Chocolate Peppermint Brownies! They are made with some of the best baking cocoa around, in my opinion!

As always, be sure to tag me in your photos on Instagram if you make my recipe or use in your photos! I love to see what you are baking.

Festive Red Velvet Layer Cake With Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting
Recipe details
  • 1  8-inch cake
  • Prep time: 30 Minutes Cook time: 30 Minutes Total time: 1 hr
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For the Red Velvet Layer Cake
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs (room temperature)
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup full-fat buttermilk (room temperature)
  • 1 (1-oz) bottle of liquid red food coloring
  • 1 tbsp distilled white vinegar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
For the Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 16 oz. full-fat cream cheese (room temperature)
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 5 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 – 1 1/2 tsp peppermint extract (use more if you want a stronger flavor)
  • Salt, to taste
For the Red Velvet Layer Cake
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour three 8-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper rounds. You can also spray with Pam for Baking, which is my favorite way to prep pans!
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy (about 3-4 minutes). Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, alternating with the buttermilk. Begin and end with the flour mixture. Beat until just combined after each addition. Do not overmix.
Stir in vinegar, vanilla and red food coloring. Divide batter evenly among the three pans.
Bake for 28 – 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes, then remove the cake layers from the pans to cool completely on a wire rack.
Once cakes are full cooled, use a serrated knife to level out cake layers. Reserve scraps to crumble on top of cake for a garnish.
Prepare peppermint cream cheese frosting. Spread between the cake layers and then frost the outside of the layers with a thin coat of frosting (called a crumb coat). Put cake in freezer for 10 minutes to set the crumb coat.
Continue frosting cake with remaining frosting. You may have some leftover frosting. If so, you can freeze and thaw for a different cake!
For the Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth (about 2 minutes).
Add the powdered sugar, vanilla extract, peppermint extract and salt (to taste). Beat on low for 30 seconds and then increase the speed to high and beat for 3 minutes until completely combined and creamy. The frosting should be soft, but not runny. Add more powdered sugar if needed. Frost cake.
  • High Altitude Adjustments (please note, this recipe was tested at 5,800 feet):
  • Decrease granulated sugar by 2 tbsp.
  • Increase flour by 2 tbsp.
  • Decrease baking soda to 1/2 tsp.
  • Increase baking temperature to 360° F
  • Decrease baking time to 25 – 28 minutes
Amy Manes
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  • Sharon Sharon on Dec 19, 2021

    I have a better icing for the cake. I cook flour and milk. Then I cream butter and sugar. Combine these ingredients together and beat with electric mixer. It is like whip cream, so delicious. Icing cake. I put mine in the Frig. My family says it’s like eating a Red Velvet Cake with whip cream on it. They love ❤️ this! Anyone wanting the recipe just tex me at sdcarr48@gmail.com Merry Christmas 🎄

    • See 3 previous
    • Bobbi Bobbi on Oct 17, 2023

      Please send recipe for whip icing, thank you

  • Zps9781763 Zps9781763 on Dec 19, 2021

    Can I skip the food coloring? I don’t think it adds any flavor and I don’t want to go to the store!

    • Lillian Lillian on Dec 19, 2021

      Leaving out the food coloring should not change the taste of the cake. Your layers may be a little bit chocolaty looking. You may have a beige cake, but the taste should be the same. Do you have green food coloring?