Waldorf Astoria Red Velvet Cake

Waldorf Astoria Red Velvet Cake recipe

This is the classic Red Velvet Cake recipe from the Waldorf Astoria.

The story goes that the restaurant at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City was the first to serve this cake, back when it first opened in the early 1930’s…although some would argue that it is actually one of the classic Southern cake recipes.

In any case, it is a delicious cake that has many fans.

This cake is traditionally iced with the butter cream icing below, but my favorite is to use Cream Cheese Icing.

Click here to find our Cream Cheese Icing recipe if you would prefer to use that.

Waldorf Astoria Red Velvet Cake

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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 2 cake layers / 24 cupcakes
Calories: 348kcal
This is the classic Red Velvet Cake recipe from the Waldorf Astoria.


Red velvet cake

  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups of sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 ounces red food coloring
  • 2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon distilled white vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon baking soda

Traditional Icing

  • 5 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup butter softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar


  • mixer and mixing bowl
  • Small bowl
  • 2 8-inch cake tins or 2 12-cup muffin tins
  • Sauce pan


How to make the red velvet cake

  • Heat the oven to 350° F
  • Add the shortening, sugar, and eggs to a mixing bowl.
  • Beat until they are light and fluffy (2 to 3 minutes).
  • Mix the food coloring and cocoa in a separate bowl.
  • Add the food color/cocoa mixture to the shortening mixture and mix until combined.
  • Add the flour, vanilla, vinegar and baking soda to the shortening mixture in that order, mixing in between each addition.
  • Pour into 2 8-inch cake pans or 24 muffin tins if you would like to make cupcakes.
  • Bake for 30 minutes for a cake, or 25 minutes for cupcakes.
  • Let cool completely before icing.

How to make the traditional icing

  • Cook the flour and milk until thick in a saucepan. 
  • Let cool.
  • In the meantime, beat the butter, vanilla and the confectioners' sugar together with the mixer until fluffy.
  • Add the flour mixture into the butter mixture together and mix until combined.


  • Makes enough icing for 2 cake layers or 24 cupcakes.
  • For the best texture, the flour should be sifted before measuring.
Nutrition Facts
Waldorf Astoria Red Velvet Cake
Amount Per Serving (1 g)
Calories 348 Calories from Fat 204
% Daily Value*
Fat 22.7g35%
Cholesterol 44.4mg15%
Sodium 356mg15%
Carbohydrates 34g11%
Sugar 21.2g24%
Protein 3g6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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3 Responses

  • First time I’ve ever seen almost the same recipe that my Aunt gave me back in 1967!!! Only difference is the granulated sugar was “fine granulated sugar” I put it in the blender to “grind” the granulas but stop before it turns to powdered sugar. This gives the cake and the cooked frosting a “finer texture”. Also actually “sifting” the flour also gives a better texture. All these time consuming steps make me only make this cake for very special people that appreciate the effort and the texture. The frosting just doesn’t seem to go with other cakes for some reason and the cream cheese frosting should NEVER touch this home made version of Red Velvet Cake.

    • Thanks, Connie! I had not heard of grinding the sugar granules. I’ll have to try that the next time I make it. I do always sift the flour when I’m baking cakes, but thanks for pointing it out…I should add that to the instructions 🙂

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