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? They’re more commonly found than you think. I always find freeze-dried strawberries in my regular grocery store in the dried fruit aisle. Wegmans, Giant, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Amazon, and Target each carry them.

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!

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overhead image of homemade strawberry cake on a marble cake stand

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 (285g) 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. You can make it a few days ahead of time and store it covered in the refrigerator or cover and freeze it for up to 3 months. Thaw before using in the recipe.
  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 crumbs. 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. Yields about 3 cups of frosting.
  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. Cake Flour: Sift cake flour before measuring. 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.
  3. Whole Milk: If needed, buttermilk works in its place. I don’t recommend a lower fat milk.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 until you’re left with 1/2 cup or a little over 1/2 cup. This takes at least 25-35 minutes, but could take longer depending on your pan or how juicy your strawberries were. *Do not add sugar or anything to the puree or reduced puree– it’s just pure strawberries. 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. Allow to cool completely before using in cake batter. Make sure it’s room temperature when adding to the batter. You can make the reduced puree ahead of time and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw, bring to room temperature, then use in the recipe. 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.
  6. 9×13 Inch Cake: Simply pour the batter into a greased and lightly floured 9×13 inch pan and bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. No Cream Cheese in Frosting: If you’d like to skip the cream cheese in the frosting, use my strawberry buttercream recipe instead. You’ll have enough for a thin layer of frosting, but you can 1.5x the recipe for a thicker layer.

Keywords: strawberries, pink


  1. I am new to baking and I’m wondering if this cake and frosting recipe can be used with fondant? I have to make it three or four days in advance and I have read that fondant should not be refrigerated. Any tips would be great! Thank you.

    1. Fondant will keep a cake fresh more fresh as long as it’s completely covered, however I have not tried leaving this cake out for that long. I would recommend making it no more than 2 days in advance to be sure it’s still fresh if it’s not going to be refrigerated.

  2. Hi sally.i want to use your recipe to make a watermelon cake.but i dont have freeze dried strawberries..what else pairs well with strawberry cake?can i use whipped cream or swiss buttercream white chocolate flavor?i want sth light as i will also have a second cake too.

  3. I love this recipe!!!! Its so soft and moist and tastes fabulous! Is sour cream the secret to making it so soft? The recipe came out so well!!!!!!

    1. I’m so glad you love it! The sour cream keeps it nice and moist while the cake flour and using only egg whites help with the soft and fluffy texture!

  4. Lynn Bartella says:

    My daughter’s 8th birthday is today. She requested a strawberry cake with strawberry frosting. Of course I head straight for Sally’s site to check out what there was. This cake is nothing short of spectacular. The frosting; there aren’t words that describe how brilliant. I made a double batch and did fresh strawberries between the layers and decorated with chocolate dipped strawberries. Yes, I ate several spoonfuls of just the frosting. Heavenly! Thank you Sally!

    1. I’m thrilled you enjoyed it so much and I hope she had a very happy 8th birthday!

  5. Hey Sally!
    Thanks for this delicious recipe! It has now become one of my favourite cakes! Your baby is gorgeous! It looks like it would be an amazing experience sharing your baking journey with her! ❤️

  6. I’ve made this cake several times and love it! Question–can I turn this into a cake pop? What ratio of cake to frosting to you suggest?

    1. I haven’t turned this cake into cake pops yet – but I definitely want to! Keep in mind that one 9 inch layer will make about 40 cake pops so you can cut this recipe in half if you would like. For the frosting go by feel – add it in slowly until you get the perfect consistency!

  7. Hello! I want to make this cake for my boyfriend’s birthday but I think he would prefer an other color than pink for the frosting.. (I know, I know). I understand the frosting is an important part of the flavor so what are your suggestions? Would putting strawberry frosting in between the 2 cake layers and then covering it up with your chocolate frosting be a good idea? thank you in advance!

    1. Hi Ali, You can add a touch of strawberry extract to the batter. 3/4 teaspoon should be plenty to boost the strawberry flavor of the cake. Using the strawberry frosting between the layers (and you can even add in some fresh sliced strawberries) and covering the cake with chocolate buttercream would be amazing!

  8. Can’t wait to try the strawberry cake. I’m wondering if this frosting holds up when piped?!

    1. Cream cheese frosting is often softer than regular buttercream, but I have filled my piping bag and then placed it in the refrigerator for a few minutes before piping, and it works well!

  9. Amazing cake, such intense strawberry flavor! Just made this for my daughter’s strawberry-themed second birthday and it was a hit all around. This is definitely going into the regular rotation!

  10. Hi Sally, can you make the strawberry puree ahead of time and freeze it?

    1. Sure can! Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw before using.

  11. Louisa Grizzard says:

    I just realized I did 3/4 cup of Sour cream .. Instead of 1/3 cup.
    Sooooo I hope it turns out good . Idk why I thought 3/4 of a cup.
    Only time will tell!

  12. Made this cake with my daughter (4) today and had so much fun. I have celiac so we made the cake flour with GF flour and cornstarch. She had a lot of fun spooning out the flour and blending it all up. Baking is one of my favorite things to do with her!!! In other news, I feel the cake came out dense (although really delicious!!), was this because there would have been too much moisture? I reduced the strawberries for over 40 minutes. Thoughts? Thank you in advance, and I look forward to trying more of your recipes and following your blog!!!

    1. Hi. I also have Celiac. I’ve been baking gluten free for over 20 years. Not sure what kind of gluten free flour you are using, that can make a difference. But more importantly, omit the cornstarch and bloom some sprouted flax seed to use instead. Also, my strawberries do not simmer down as she says in the recipe. For starters, my 1 pound of strawberries purees down to a lot more than one cup. So make sure you only use 1 cup of the puree to simmer down. Mine takes at least an hour to reduce to 1/2 cup and you do want as much moisture out as possible. I make this recipe often and it never turns out dense. Good luck!

      1. Thank you! Measuring a cup of strawberry from the purée is a great suggestion! I have had GREAT luck with everything else, people keep telling me the apple cider donuts are the best they have ever had (thank you Sally! ). So after reading blogs I think I just must have had too much liquid. After researching what the cornstarch does, I no longer use it with the gluten free flour since from what I understand the cornstarch is used to deactivate the gluten (‍♀️), but thank you for that information!

        Happy baking!!!!

  13. Most fluffy most white strawberry cake ever!!! And delicious. I made cupcakes with it and had a little leftover batter and made a tiny cake. Ate it all without frosting… lol but I have question, what if you just wanted a white cake recipe, what do you substitute the strawberries for?

  14. Hi Sally!
    My daughter asked for a pink cake for her birthday so here I am! I would like to make it into a layered sheet cake. Would it be better to make it in a 9×13 and then cut or can I bake in two sheet pans? What size should I use and how should I adjust the recipe?

    1. Hi Jenna! Make sure you add pink or red food coloring to the cake for a lovely pink color. (Tint the batter until you’re happy with the color.) I recommend making the 9×13 inch cake, then carefully and slowly slicing in half once the cake is completely cool to make two layers.

    2. Omg I made this cake yesterday for Sunday Dinner. It was a hit. I loved the strawberry flavor. I definitely will be making again

  15. Best strawberry cake I’ve ever had!I didn’t have freeze dried strawberries for the frosting but used strawberry jam to taste and it was delicious! Thanks for such a great recipe!

  16. Brooke Bolstad says:

    Would this recipe work for light carving? I need to cut a cake shaped like a C and it will be un iced on the sides (one of those trendy alphabet cakes) and I want o make sure this will hold up and not crumble. Thanks!

    1. I haven’t tried to carve this cake but it should work! I would recommend slightly chilling the cake so that you get nice clean slices and then bring it back to room temperature before frosting and serving. Enjoy!

  17. Delicious cake!! I had the best ever Strawberry Cake at a restaurant in Nashville (Margot Cafe) a few years ago and have been trying to duplicate ever since…BONANZA with your recipe.
    Thanks so much…brilliant ideas.

    (I wrap the round cake pans with damp paper towels wrapped with foil…fold around pan and crimp off. The cake bakes evenly..flat on top and sides are not over browned…perfect!!! You can also buy from Wilton..cake wraps. Mine are DIY)

    1. I’m thrilled you enjoyed this recipe so much! And I keep meaning to get the cake strips – I will have to try your DIY version – thanks for the tip!

  18. Rainey Anna Fox says:

    Oh.my.glob. incredible cake.i made it! Followed your directions exactly and it turned out perfect.probably the best cake I ever made and I’m sure I made hundreds by now. I’ve been raving about your website for a long time..I truly love your recipes.thank you for this.girl, you rock. I wish I could post a photo of this but even a photo cannot do justice to the flavor, the perfection of texture and soooo pretty! Thank you. Huge fan.enormous fan.love you!

  19. Hi Sally!

    I’m going to be making a passion fruit cake for my sisters birthday. I want a good cake as a basis, do you think I could use this recipe and sub the strawberry purée for passion fruit, or do you have any suggestions? Thank you!

    1. I have never made this with passion fruit but you can certainly try it! Please let me know how it turns out!

  20. Hi Sally. I’ve made this cake several times and it’s always come out great. I’ve even made it using raspberries and have made the frosting in the blueberry flavor though the blueberry didn’t shine through like the other two. I left maybe two/three comments regarding this cake letting you and others know just how good it is and the con to using freeze dried blueberries. It’s been a a month or so since I’ve made this recipe and after reading your notes again tonight I’m a bit confused. I could have sworn you said it was ok to make the cakes and freeze them *unfrosted* so long as we make sure to wrap them up really well with plastic wrap and then put them into zip lock bags. I did just that but when I came to the recipe tonight to see how I needed to defrost them now it says in the notes that the entire frosted cake can be frozen. Did something change somewhere along the way? I sure hope not because I have two cakes frozen. I did take the raspberry one out and put it in the frig to defrost for tomorrow (God, I sure hope you read this before I go to make a frosting ). Can you please let me know if you changed the freezing part? Or if I’m in the clear can you let me know how I need to defrost them…. I.e. keep in the frig till defrosted or ??? Hope to hear from you in the morning (you’re a few hours ahead of me ) Thanks Sally….

    1. Hi Tammie! You can freeze the layers. 🙂 See the last part of the freezing instructions.

  21. Ooh this looks great. Do you think this would also work with raspberries rather than strawberries?

    1. YES! Works like a charm.

  22. Is this cake supposed to be kind of dense or light and fluffy? Mine was pretty dense. Just trying to figure out if I did something wrong or if that’s normal? Thank you!

    1. Hi Amanda, It should be light and fluffy! Be sure you are sifting your cake flour before measuring it and try not to over-mix the batter!

  23. Hi Sally! My son really wants a strawberry cake for his birthday. This one sounds great. He doesn’t like frosting. I was thinking of making it in a bundt pan and sprinkling with powdered sugar and crushed freeze dried berries. Do you think it will stick to the pan terribly? Should I butter AND flour the pan or just use butter? Thanks!

    1. Hi Sarah! Yes, for best results, I recommend buttering AND flouring the bundt pan.

  24. This is one of the best cakes I have ever made – and I am a baker (ok, not a professional one, but I bake a lot). I have baked a few other strawberry cakes in the past and wasn’t bowled over by them (one was a cake mix with strawberry jello – at the time it was the only recipe I could find). The cake I made yesterday from Sally was incredible. Everyone raved about it. It was moist and full of flavor. I am going to adapt it to other fruits for which I can find fees dried fruit (for the frosting). I’d love to try a peach version of this and I may make a raspberry frosting if I can’t find freeze dried peaches. This strawberry cake is a PERFECT summer cake!

  25. Rebecca ODell says:

    My granddaughter wants a strawberry and watermelon demon cake for her 6th birthday. Do you think I could reduce the watermelon purée like you did for the strawberry?

    1. Hi Rebecca, Unfortunately I don’t think watermelon would work well for this as it’s mostly water.

  26. Hello! Our family lives strawberry cake and I’ve made this cake twice. The taste is amazing! I live in Utah and because of the high altitude I have to adjust recipes. Usually just a couple of TBSP of flour and liquid adjustments do the trick. I added some flour and followed the recipe exactly. Both time it has fallen. Do you have any suggestions! Thank you!

  27. WOW! Absolutely amazing cake! Made this for a co-worker that was leaving the company and there wasn’t a piece left by the end of the day (there are only 10 of us!). Everyone loved it! Some even said it reminded them of Strawberry Ice Cream. This is now my go to Strawberry Cake Recipe! Thank You!!!!!

  28. Hi sally, I am planning on making this cake for my son’s girlfriend’s birthday this weekend. Do you think I could put freeze dried strawberries in a whipped cream frosting?

    1. Yes, absolutely! The freeze-dried strawberry “dust” is wonderful for whipped cream frosting too.

  29. Just make the recipe as it’s printed, pour the batter you need in the pans and any leftover just make some cupcakes.

  30. Hi Sally!!! LOVE all of your recipes. I want to make this and have some liquid egg whites. Could I use those instead of real egg whites?

    1. Hi Noemi! Liquid egg whites are fine as long as they are 100% egg whites and not egg substitute.

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