Red Velvet Cake vs. Chocolate Cake: Are They the Same?

Red Velvet Cake vs. Chocolate Cake

Red velvet and chocolate cakes are both beloved desserts, but what sets them apart? If you love cake, then you’ve probably encountered both red velvet and chocolate cake at some point. They each have unique flavors and characteristics, making them stand out on their own merits. But these two sweet treats have some essential differences that set them apart from one another. So, are red velvet cake and chocolate cake the same?

Red velvet cake and chocolate cake are not the same – the two differ in ingredients, methods used to make them, and their appearance, taste, and texture. Each cake has wide varieties, and both are popular cakes worldwide. However, opinions vary on which cake is better.

There are a lot of questions when it comes to red velvet cake and chocolate cake. Are they the same? What’s the difference? Which is better? Today, I’m going to answer all those questions and more. Let’s start with the basics.

Red Velvet Cake vs. Chocolate Cake: Differences

With such wide varieties available today – no matter what type of sweet tooth you have – there is sure to be something delicious out there for everyone! 

While there are several significant differences between these two desserts, why not enjoy both depending on your mood or occasion? Let’s take a look at what makes each unique and separate from one another.

Ingredients and Preparation

When it comes to ingredients, both red velvet cake and chocolate cake contain flour, sugar, eggs, butter or oil, baking soda or powder, salt, vanilla extract, and cocoa powder. However, the cocoa powder in a red velvet cake is only used for color, plus this cake also contains vinegar. It does not provide any flavor. 

The signature red hue of a red velvet cake is achieved by a chemical reaction among the ingredients or by adding food coloring or liquid dye during preparation. 

On the other hand, chocolate cakes are made with additional cocoa powder or chocolate chips to give it its signature brown hue as well as its distinct chocolaty flavor. Red velvet cakes are often topped with cream cheese frosting, while chocolate cakes may be topped with ganache or buttercream frosting. Plus, red velvet cakes are traditionally made without eggs, while chocolate cakes often contain two or three of them. 


There are several key visual differences between red velvet cake and chocolate cake. Besides, probably the most apparent difference between the two cakes is their appearance. 

Firstly, red velvet cake is typically a deeper shade of red. In contrast, chocolate cake has a deep brown color due to the extra cocoa powder added during preparation. 

In addition, the cream cheese frosting typically used on red velvet cake is lighter in color and creamier in texture than the chocolate frosting that is most common on chocolate cake. At the same time, you can also top it with anything from traditional buttercream frosting to ganache or caramel sauce. 

Red Velvet Cake vs. Chocolate Cake Appearance

Taste and Texture

There are definitely distinct differences between red velvet cake and chocolate cake when it comes to taste and texture. For one, red velvet cake tends to be creamier and has a more moist texture than chocolate cake. This is likely due to the addition of buttermilk and cocoa powder, which give the cake its characteristic deep red hue. 

On the other hand, chocolate cake is more dense, fudgy, and chocolatey, with a slightly bitter taste. One thing is sure; both cakes have a light and fluffy texture that melts in your mouth when you take a bite! 

The flavor profile of each type of cake also varies significantly; red velvet has a light cocoa flavor with notes of tanginess from the cream cheese, while dark chocolate has an intense cocoa flavor that can be slightly bitter due to its high cocoa content. 

Plus, depending on what type of frosting is used on each type of cake – cream cheese for red velvet or ganache or buttercream for dark chocolate – they may taste even more different! 


Both types of cake come in numerous varieties, such as vanilla bean-infused versions for red velvet or devil’s food for dark chocolate. Other popular varieties include black forest cake, German chocolate cake, and oreo cake. 

RELATED: German Chocolate Cake vs. Chocolate Cake: Differences & Which Is Better?

Vegan alternatives are also available for both types, so everyone can enjoy them regardless of dietary restrictions! Additionally, some recipes call for adding extra flavors like nuts or dried fruit to either kind of cake for added complexity in taste and texture. 

Besides, both red velvet and chocolate cakes come in wide varieties, such as cupcakes, layer cakes, or sheet cakes. 


When it comes to popularity, both types of cake remain strong contenders among dessert lovers around the world! Chocolate remains a classic favorite, while many enjoy experimenting with new flavors like those found in red velvet recipes, making it a great option if you’re looking for something unique yet familiar enough to please any crowd. 

However, while the chocolate cake is served in traditional bakeries, cafes, and restaurants all year round, red velvet is mainly seen in the winter.

As we have seen, plenty of delicious variations on both cakes allow bakers to explore different ingredients and create unique desserts. It doesn’t matter which side of the aisle you’re on – red velvet or chocolate – there’s never a shortage of cake options to choose from.

Still, chocolate cake is a bit more versatile because you can make it using either a boxed mix or from scratch. You can also adapt the recipe to make different flavors like vanilla or mint. With red velvet cake, you’re pretty much limited to the classic recipe.

Red Velvet Cake vs. Chocolate Cake: Which Is Better?

Well, that’s up to personal preference. Red velvet cake is lighter in flavor than chocolate cake and has a soft, velvety crumb and a subtle hint of cocoa. It’s a classic that has traversed generations, with variations like cream cheese frosting or the classic buttercream swirl.

On the other hand, chocolate cake is usually denser and more intense in flavor because, of course, it contains more cocoa powder than red velvet. You can have it as a classic layer cake or cupcake filled with decadent frosting.

The answer really depends on you. It could be that you love the soothing sweetness of red velvet batter, or you’re a die-hard fan of rich choco flavors that only chocolate cake can deliver. Either way, both cakes are tasty treats.

Can You Make Red Velvet Cake Using Chocolate Cake Mix?

This is a tricky question because you can’t really make red velvet cake using just a regular chocolate cake mix. Red Velvet cake has a distinct flavor and appearance, and to get it right, you need to use different ingredients, like cocoa powder and buttermilk.

Still, you can make red velvet cake using a chocolate cake mix, and vice versa, but the resulting cake will be much better if you use the correct mix for each cake.

You can make your own version of a red velvet cake using a store-bought chocolate cake mix; just expect it not to turn out as “red” as if you were using a special mix designed to create this signature color effect. You can always add food coloring, though, to achieve the signature deep reddish hue of this classic dessert! 

RELATED: Betty Crocker Chocolate Cake Mix Instructions & Tips

Can You Make Chocolate Cake Using Red Velvet Boxed Mix?

As far as making a chocolate cake with a red velvet boxed mix goes, it is possible. However, the taste won’t be the same since the mix contains some ingredients meant to give the cake its signature taste and color. 

Additionally, it won’t have that light and fluffy texture of a traditional chocolate cake either. It’s possible to do it with some tweaks – like adding in some cocoa powder or melted dark chocolate – but it may not be worth the effort.

Note that since there is no cocoa powder in traditional boxed mixes for red velvet cakes (only for color), your final result will lack the signature chocolate flavor associated with traditional chocolate cakes. 

Additionally, since different brands will vary in terms of ingredients used, you may end up with something that tastes drastically different from what you expect. But if you’re feeling adventurous and want to experiment, by all means, go ahead! One of the best options available on the market is Betty Crocker’s Red Velvet Cake Mix. You can either use it for your chocolate cake or improve it and prepare a slightly different, and maybe better, version of your traditional Red Velvet cake.

  • Laura is the owner of Julie's Cafe Bakery. She started this blog with her grandma Julie who introduced her to the amazing world of cooking. She likes to experiment with different flavors, and her favorite flavors combo is chicken with coconut milk, curry and peanuts!