Homemade Strawberry Cake

The one thing that sets this strawberry cake apart from others? Reduce fresh strawberry puree down and add to the best white cake batter. Kiss your boxed strawberry cake buh-bye.

This is the BEST strawberry cake!! Made completely from scratch with real strawberries! Topped with strawberry cream cheese frosting. Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

This strawberry cake completely blew me away. After years of mediocre from-scratch strawberry cakes, my expectations were pretty low. It was time to taste test my efforts. Biting into the first pastel pink forkful was the moment of truth…

This strawberry cake is made completely from scratch with real strawberries! Topped with strawberry cream cheese frosting. Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

I cried tears of joy. Or were those actual tears because I just dirtied every dish with all this strawberry cake recipe testing? Hmm.

Let’s get down to business. Homemade strawberry cake is episode 1 in Sprinkled, my new video series! Watch me make the recipe below:

I find it challenging to pack real strawberry flavor into cake without the crutch of fake strawberry flavoring. My goal was to create a strawberry layer cake made entirely from real strawberries. We’re talking strawberries inside the cake and in the frosting as well. With the help of freeze-dried strawberries, I tackled strawberry frosting. I’ll get to that below. But for strawberry cake? Things have always been pretty lackluster in the flavor and texture department.

Strawberry Cake Problems

  • Chopping up strawberries and folding into cake batter works, but then you’re just eating vanilla cake with chunks of strawberries.
  • Pureeing strawberries and folding into cake batter has potential, but the texture is always off. There’s too much liquid. How about adding more flour to make up for that liquid? Then your cake is too dense. And the flavor is always lacking.
  • Strawberry jam could work, but I prefer to start with real strawberries.

So how can we pack real strawberry flavor into cake batter without adding too much liquid? REDUCE THE STRAWBERRIES DOWN. Ding ding ding! We have a winner.

How to Pack REAL Strawberry Flavor into Cake

  1. Puree fresh strawberries.
  2. Reduce down on the stove.
  3. Let cool.
  4. Stir into cake batter.

Puree 1 pound of ruby red strawberries. You’ll need a food processor or blender for this step and again when you make the frosting.

Take that strawberry puree and reduce it down on the stove. This, my friends, is where all the magic happens. Like I mention above, you want a lot of concentrated flavor within a little amount of liquid.

You’ll begin with 1 cup of hot pink puree and reduce down to 1/2 cup. After 30 minutes, it will be very thick and very red. Add this thick and highly concentrated strawberry flavor to your cake batter, instead of the thinner strawberry puree.

The reduced strawberry puree will go into the cake batter. No need to strain the seeds first — they disappear when the cake is baked. Since the reduced strawberry puree needs to completely cool down, I suggest getting started the day before. Just let the reduced strawberry puree sit in the refrigerator overnight and make the cake batter the following day.

Strawberry Cake Batter

The cake batter starts from my white cake. This vanilla flavored cake proved to be the best jumping off point for a strawberry cake. I kept the majority of the recipe the same, but I removed some of the wet ingredients to make room for 1/2 cup of reduced strawberries. The cake is light, springy, soft, and fluffy.

The reduced strawberry puree will tint the cake batter a lovely pastel pink and, if you want, you can add a small drop of pink or red food coloring to brighten that hue. Not necessary, of course. (I added a teeny drop.) Expect a velvet-y and slightly thick cake batter.

  • No artificial strawberry flavor.
  • Nothing from a box.
  • Just pure strawberries.

The Strawberry Frosting

You can taste the fresh strawberry flavor in the baked cake, but the flavor is REALLY brought out when you combine it with strawberry frosting. Like strawberry cake, strawberry frosting has always left me feeling a little defeated. Fresh strawberries were the issue. The frosting would always curdle from the added moisture. And no amount of fresh strawberries could get me the strawberry flavor I craved. Instead of settling for artificial strawberry flavor, I took a trick from Sally’s Candy Addiction: strawberry dust! Grab some freeze-dried strawberries, grind them up, and toss it into the frosting.

(I actually added freeze-dried strawberries to cake batter as one of my test recipes. This was an awful decision and an epic fail. The cake was atrocious. Texture, taste, and appearance. Just… no. But freeze-dried strawbs are a YES for frosting!)

  • Where to buy freeze-dried strawberries? I always find them in my regular grocery store in the dried fruit aisle. Wegmans, Giant, Trader Joe’s and Target carries them. Keep your eyes peeled– they’re more commonly found that you think!

Instead of a thicker strawberry buttercream, I used my silky cream cheese frosting recipe. Tossed in the freeze-dried strawberry “dust” and milk and was left with a frosting so pink, Barbie would be jealous!

Let’s Review

The tricks to homemade strawberry cake and frosting made with real strawberries? (1) Reduced strawberry puree in the cake batter and (2) freeze-dried strawberries in the frosting. Have fun baking!

Homemade strawberry cake

Homemade Strawberry Cake

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 6 hours
  • Yield: serves 10-12
  • Category: Cakes
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


The one thing that sets this strawberry cake apart from others? Reduce fresh strawberry puree down and add to the best white cake batter. Kiss your boxed strawberry cake buh-bye.


  • 2 and 1/2 cups (250g) sifted cake flour (spoon & leveled)*
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1.5 sticks; 170g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 and 3/4 cups (350g) granulated sugar
  • 5 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (75g) sour cream or plain yogurt, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) whole milk, at room temperature*
  • 1/2 cup reduced strawberry puree (see note)*
  • optional: 1-2 drops red or pink food coloring

Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 cup (10-12g) freeze-dried strawberries*
  • one 8-ounce block full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick; 115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3 cups (360g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 12 Tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • salt, to taste


  1. Make the reduced strawberry puree and allow it to cool completely. See note.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease and lightly flour two 9-inch cake pans.
  3. Whisk the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside.
  4. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on high speed until smooth and creamed, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Beat in the egg whites on high speed until combined, about 2 minutes. Then beat in the sour cream and vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients until just incorporated. With the mixer still running on low, slowly pour in the milk *just* until combined. Do not overmix. Whisk in 1/2 cup of reduced strawberry puree, making sure there are no lumps at the bottom of the bowl. The batter will be slightly thick. Stir in food coloring, if desired. (I use 1 small drop.)
  5. Pour batter evenly into cake pans. Bake for around 24-25 minutes or until the cakes are baked through. To test for doneness, insert a toothpick into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, it is done. Allow cakes to cool completely in the pans set on a wire rack. The cakes must be completely cool before frosting and assembling.
  6. Make the frosting: Using a blender or food processor, process the freeze-dried strawberries into a powdery crumb. You should have around 1/2 cup. Set aside. In a large bowl using a hand-held or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese for 1 minute on high speed until completely smooth and creamy. Beat in the butter until combined. Add the confectioners’ sugar, strawberry powder, 1 Tablespoon milk, and vanilla and beat on medium-high speed until combined and creamy. Add 1 more Tablespoon of milk to slightly thin out, if desired. Taste, then add a pinch of salt if needed.
  7. Assemble and frost: First, using a large serrated knife, slice a thin layer off the tops of the cakes to create a flat surface. Discard (or crumble over ice cream!). Place 1 cake layer on your cake stand or serving plate. Evenly cover the top with frosting. Top with 2nd layer and spread the remaining frosting all over the top and sides. Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes before slicing. This helps the cake keep its shape when cutting– it could slightly fall apart without time in the fridge.
  8. Cover leftover cake tightly and store in the refrigerator for 5 days.


  1. Make Ahead Instructions: The cake layers can be baked, cooled, and covered tightly at room temperature overnight. Likewise, the frosting can be prepared then covered and refrigerated overnight. Light it sit at room temperature to slightly soften for 10 minutes before assembling and frosting. Frosted cake or unfrosted cake layers can be frozen up to 2 months-3. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before decorating/serving.
  2. Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer | Ninja Food Processor | Measuring Cups | Egg Separator | Glass Mixing Bowls | 9-inch Cake Pans | Marble Cake Stand | Eat Dessert First Fork
  3. Cake Flour: I strongly suggest using cake flour in this recipe. It’s sold right next to the all-purpose flour in the baking aisle. And you use it a lot in my recipes! In a pinch, you can use this homemade cake flour substitute.
  4. Whole Milk: If needed, buttermilk works in its place. Do not substitute a lower fat milk.
  5. Where to Buy Freeze-Dried Strawberries? I always find them in my regular grocery store in the dried fruit aisle. Wegmans, Giant, Trader Joe’s and Target carries them. Keep your eyes peeled– they’re more commonly found that you think! Do not use the chewy/gummy dried strawberries. You need FREEZE-dried strawberries which grind into a powder. If you can’t find them anywhere, just leave them out of the frosting and add another 1/2 cup of confectioners’ sugar.
  6. Reduced Strawberry Puree: puree 1 lb of strawberries. You should have a little over 1 cup. Stirring occasionally, simmer the puree over low-medium heat for 25-30 minutes until you’re left with 1/2 cup or a little over 1/2 cup Allow to cool completely before using in cake batter. I always make the reduced puree the day before so it has plenty of time to cool down. I cover and place in the refrigerator overnight. Use 1/2 cup in the cake. Discard any leftovers or spoon on ice cream/yogurt/add to smoothie. Yum! You can use frozen strawberries, but they will take longer to reduce even if you thaw them first.
  7. 9×13 Cake: Simply pour the batter into a greased and lightly floured 9×13 pan and bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. Cupcakes: Fill cupcake pans 2/3 full with batter. Bake for 20-22 minutes. Makes 2 and 1/2 dozen cupcakes. For 14-15 cupcakes, follow my strawberry cupcakes recipe, which is adapted from this strawberry cake.
  9. Food Coloring: If you want, you can add 1-2 small drops of pink or red food coloring for a lovely pink shade to the baked cake. I add 1 small drop of pink gel food coloring.

Keywords: strawberries, pink


  1. Hi Sally,

    I just made this and it was really good, I loved that the flavour of the strawberries came through. I was wondering if you’ve tried doing the same with other fruits like mangoes or blueberries? I’ve been thinking lots about trying to get the flavour of mangoes to come through in baked goods but wasn’t sure how it would impact on the texture. Would love to know if you’ve experimented with other fruits and with what kind of results..

  2. Hi Sally! I need to make a cake for a birthday party where there will be 15-18 people. So I think I need 3 9-inch layers. Would it work out OK to make 1 and 1/2 of this recipe?

    1. For three layers I recommend making one recipe and then make another half in a second batch. Working with too much batter at once usually causes the cake to be under or over mixed!

  3. HI Sally, My 14 yr old daughter and I are loving your baking challenges. We made bagels- It was super fun, easier than we thought and we loved the time we spent in the kitchen together. We recently discovered that our baking powder was clumping so we sift all our dry ingredients each time we bake now with great results. After we sift and measure the cake flour here could we sift all the other dry ingredients together again?

    1. Hi Deana! I recommend sifting the baking powder and cake flour separately, then combining them. No need to sift them after they have been mixed together. Great question!

      1. Could this recipe be converted to a 12 x 17 inch jelly roll /half sheet pan? I would love to make it for large crowd and easily cut into small pieces….as well as have to cake to icing ratio of jelly roll size cake. What modifications might you make? I always tell people that I’ve never made a single recipe off your site that was not totally delicious!! Thanks so much for all your fantastic recipes!

      2. Absolutely! This cake batter, as written, fits nicely into a 12×17 inch pan. Bake until the top springs back and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

  4. Strawberry cake is one of the families favorite so I tried yours. The better already looked and smelled good and I’m afraid I may use too much of the reduced purée
    I had to improvise because I went to three stores who had freeze dried fruit but not strawberries. Are used 2 tablespoons of nest quick strawberry milk powder and finish the cake with strawberry syrup swirls
    Can’t wait to taste it tonight

  5. Hey Sally! Could I make this as a sheet cake, instead? I’m looking for a Valentine’s treat to send to my husband’s office that will actually feed all his coworkers haha!

  6. hello! I’m on the hunt for a good strawberry cake recipe for my sister’s baby shower and found this one. I would like to add some lemon zest to the batter or a lemon simple syrup on top before I ice the cake with cream cheese icing. I have already tried to convince my sister to no avail that lemon curd would be delicious inside. Would adding lemon zest or simple syrup derail your recipe? Also would lemon juice ruin a cream cheese icing? Thanks.

    1. Not in the slightest! Some readers have added up to 2 Tablespoons of lemon zest and 1 Tbsp of lemon juice without changing anything else in the recipe. Lemon cream cheese frosting is delicious and I have a recipe you can use right here. This amount would be perfect for the strawberry cake.

  7. Hi Sally,
    Can you make this cake with your Best Strawberry Frosting rather than the cream cheese frosting? Have you tried it? Is it too sweet? Thanks.

    1. I have and it’s still delicious! If you are worried about the frosting being too sweet you can add an extra pinch of salt to it!

  8. This is my husband’s FAVORITE cake! Thank you sooooo much for this recipe. It came out perfect thanks to your wonderful detailed instructions!

  9. Sally, could I use a raspberry puree in this cake instead of strawberries (still reducing the raspberry puree down, I’m assuming)? I really love raspberry and would love to make a pure raspberry cake! And what would you suggest I do for the frosting? Would the frosting from your lemon cupcakes with raspberry frosting work? And should I double or 1.5x the recipe to get enough to frost this entire cake? Thanks!

    1. Raspberry puree works like a charm in this recipe! Substitute the same amount for the strawberry puree and reduce it down. You can buy freeze-dried raspberries! I know they are readily available in most grocery stores these days. Or 1.5x the raspberry frosting recipe. Let me know how it turns out!

      1. Thanks, Sally! I will let you know how the cake turns out. I will make it as soon as I find some good raspberries…if only it weren’t the middle of winter! Waiting until summer would be an eternity, so I hope I’ll find some reasonable raspberries in the stores soon!

  10. I made this for my daughters 2nd birthday! I had to give away the remaining pieces so I wouldn’t overindulge! The only thing, mine was more brown than pink. But the flavor was delicious and I loved that it baked perfectly round and flat and held up amazingly!

  11. Can you say jealous, that I am not eating this already! I need to check my pantry and grab some strawberries so I can make this tomorrow. The only problem is we have a large family so I might have to make two or it might all be gone after one meal.

  12. Hi Sally
    I’m planning on making this for my daughter’s 1st birthday this week, but I’ve never seen freeze dried strawberries where I am. Do you think the reduced puree can work in the frosting as well? I will be using buttercream.

  13. This one’s a winner — literally! I made this for my office’s Valentine’s bake off and walked away with first place. For a novice cake maker who felt very intimidated by taking on a cake, that was an amazing feeling.

    Thanks for this delicious recipe and slew of resources, Sally! Your thorough directions, thoughtful recipe notes, and ‘Sprinkled’ video helped me feel confident to take on something new, and I’m so glad I did. 🙂

  14. I just made this for my Mom’s 91st birthday and it’s a winner! I’m not a baker at all, but got inspired to actually make a cake after watching the British baking show. Your directions and helpful hints were perfect for someone who cooks but doesn’t bake! Thank you!

  15. The cake and frosting was fabulous!!! Everyone loved! I made it in our Mickey Mouse mold cake pan so I could have it be like Minnie for my daughter’s 4th birthday. Hardly in cake leftover! Thank you!!!

  16. I’m planning a little girls birthday cake. She has asked for strawberry but the boxes stuff just….well sucks! It will involve stacking maybe 3-4 9in round layers and then carving. Would this cake hold up to carving? I know scratch cakes vary wildly in density and not all of them are great for carving!

  17. I plan on making this tonight for my daughter’s birthday tomorrow. She will be over the moon excited!! Quick question– I wonder if I can use the leftover puree (after reduction) as a filling (along with the frosting)? Thank you for your amazingness!

  18. Today is my birthday and I jokingly told my boyfriend to make me a strawberry cake before I went to work this morning. This heavy equipment operator who’s never baked before spent five hours making this cake to surprise me when I got home. It is literally the best cake I’ve ever had, thank you so much for the recipe!

  19. Hi! I need to make a square version of this cake to decorate for my son’s birthday. Are you using 9” circular pans or 8”? I was going to make two 9×9 square layers and want to make sure I make enough batter. Thanks!

  20. I have to tell you what a blunder I made with this cake… So, I thought the recipe called for 1/2 cup of corn meal (I didn’t have cake flour), so ummmm, well… I made the batter and right before I was going to pour in the strawberry mixture I realized what I had done, and decided to pour raspberry jam into the mix and make muffins, and they were amazing!!!! So, I went back and made your recipe just the way you said to… Loved it, so now I have 2 recipes that I can use… yippee!

  21. Hi sally, I made just the purée and frosting part of this recipe to go with a white cake recipe I have to make for my daughter christening. The frosting on top of a layer of purée is totally amazing and definately the best filling I’ve ever had! The only problem is the filling was quite soft and am worried that after I made my tall layer cake then the filling might squish out of it! Any tips on firming it up? I’d rather stick to cream cheese icing rather than regular icing as it’s less sweet and so delicious

    1. Hi Halina! Just so I understand– you are filling the cake with puree AND strawberry frosting? I haven’t done this and I imagine the two together are soft. You can try freezing or refrigerating the cake before adding more cake layer(s) on top. That should help during assembly.

      1. Yes- I’ve spread a layer of strawberry purée (it’s a thick paste so this works well) and then piped a layer of the strawberry cream cheese frosting on top- before adding another layer of cake. Soo delicious. But even without the purée, the frosting is quite soft so I’m worried that additional layers of cake might “squish” the frosting out from between the cake layers due to the weight. I need the frosting to be a bit firmer and not sure how I should achieve this- (? Less butter, more icing sugar?)

  22. Sally, Every year I ask my son what cake he wants for his birthday. This year he said Strawberry cake. Not shortcake, just Strawberry. I thought, oh dear, I don’t want to make a box cake, it won’t taste right. So the only website I thought of was yours! The freeze-dried strawberries was a challenge but I found Banana-Strawberry freeze-dried mix and picked out the strawberries! Worked! Sally I just want to thank you! The cake was amazing! Delicious! My Son LOVED IT and so did everyone else! Everyone said it was so good! It looked amazing as well! Thank you for all your amazing recipes! Next week another birthday and another cake!:)

  23. I made it. Pink coloring is a must or it comes out a very unappetizing tan color. I added strawberry extract instead of vanilla and I have to say it still didn’t taste very strawberry to me. I’m slightly embarrassed to say I prefer the taste of strawberry cake with jello, but was happy to test this recipe.

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