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!

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. 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


Comments are closed.

  1. Made this cake for my boyfriends birthday (strawberry cake is his fav) and he LOVED it. Perfect consistency and the pink from the strawberries was to die for! 10/10 recommend to everyone!

  2. hi Sally, can I use fresh frozen strawberries for the frosting instead?

  3. Do you use a liquid or dry measuring cup for the purée?

    1. Hi Angie, I used a glass liquid measuring cup – you can see it in the photos above. Enjoy!

      1. Do you use cake bands when baking the cake? I noticed your cakes came out perfect and wanted to know if I need to use mine or not. Thanks!

      2. Hi Kelly, I don’t but I have heard wonderful things about them. I do always level my cake layers (cut off the domed top) before assembling them!

  4. Melisa Norris says:

    Extremely delicious- everyone loved flavour. I was unsure whether cake would taste ok as seemed a bit flat but it tasted great. Before I cut it I said “enjoy because unless this is awesome I will never make it again” because it was so time consuming. Unfortunately they ALL said it was awesome.

    1. Do you think substituting champagne would work? Or reducing the strawberry down with champagne? I’d love to try this as a strawberry champagne flavor

      1. Hi Cassandra, I have never tried a strawberry champagne flavor, but it sounds amazing! You can see how I use champagne in both the batter and the frosting of these Wedding Cupcakes. It would be very easy to use that frosting and just add the strawberry dust as in this recipe – but the cake batter would take some experimenting. Please let me know if you try it!

  5. best strawberry cake I’ve had!

  6. Hi sally!

    If I’m baking this layer cake in a 4″ cake pan instead of 8″, could I then just divide the ingredients’ amounts by half?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Nadine, Unfortunately it’s not that easy. The capacity of a 4 inch pan is much less than half of an 8 inch pan. You can take a look at this chart by Wilton to help you figure out how much batter you should use for different pan sizes: https://www.wilton.com/cake-serving-guide/cms-baking-serving-guide.html

  7. The strawberry frosting on this was AMAZING!!! I could have eaten it by the spoonful.

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  8. Will this recipe work for a stacked 2 tier cake?

    1. With cake dowels, it shouldn’t be a problem.

  9. Sarah R Williams says:

    Hmm, not sure what I did wrong but the middle of the cakes didn’t rise, almost looks like it drooped in the middle. Trying to decide whether to continue and frost it or start over on another cake since I don’t have enough puree left to make another like this.

    1. Hi Sarah, If the middle sunk it’s likely undercooked and the middle is still too raw. If you try it again add a few minutes to your bake time and if you notice the tops getting brown before the center is finished you can cover it loosely with foil.

  10. Sally, I’m looking for a raspberry flavored cake that doesn’t use Jello. Do you think I could sub in freeze-dried raspberries and reduced raspberry puree in this recipe?

    1. Hi Mary, The freeze dried raspberries will definitely work with the frosting. I haven’t tested the cake itself with raspberries but other readers have reported back with good results. They make take longer to reduce due to their higher water content.

      1. Thanks, Sally!!!!

  11. Hi! I was wondering if you could use a half a cup of stawberry preserves ?

    1. Hi Lyndee, Do you mean to use the preserves instead of the puree? I don’t recommend it as strawberry preserves are mostly sugar and you won’t get as much actual strawberry flavor.

  12. Hi Sally! I made this cake yesterday for my husbands birthday. Every year he wanted a black forest cake. This year, I decided to do something different and came across this strawberry cake. I asked him how he felt and he was borderline about it. After he tasted this cake, he was surprised. He really enjoyed it, as did I.

  13. This is the *best* cake I’ve ever made! I adapted it a little to make it gluten free for my birthday, and it turned out amazing. I used to love strawberry cake from a box as a kid, and it’s been hard to find a from-scratch version with enough strawberry flavor so I can make it gluten free. This cake is tender and has a great strawberry flavor, but the icing is to die for and really pulls it together. Thanks so much for the recipe!!

  14. I reduced my strawberries down after processing them in a Ninja and they started off kind of frothy pale pink and only darkened a little. They didn’t get the super deep color you have, but they reduced fully. Could I have some something wrong? Did I over blend them (if that is a thing???)? I’ve made jam but I’ve never just reduced berry purée.

    1. Hi Matney! Nothing you did wrong. Depending on the time of year and region (or simply the brand/box of strawberries), the strawberries may not have been as vibrantly red.

      1. Hi! The cake and frosting both tasted amazing! Just a few things I had to iron out. First, it was tough finding freeze-dried strawberries. The places you mentioned aren’t located near my city. Some Aldi and Dollar Tree stores sell them, but not the ones closest to me. I did eventually locate the item at Walmart, though. Next, I greased and floured the pans carefully, but still had a terrible time removing them. When they finally came out, some chunks were stuck to the bottom. Next time, I will just add parchment paper to the bottom of each pan. Finally, I had a lot of trouble frosting the cake, as it kept “peeling. ” I ended up doing a “dirty” layer, refrigerating the cake for 30 minutes, then applying n.v g a “clean” layer. Overall, very tasty and worth the effort!

    2. It took an hour to get my strawberries reduced.

  15. What will happen if I use 5 eggs? without seperating?

    1. The cake will be overly wet and dense.

      1. I guess I realized that – I made the cake! We love it! Thanks (not a fan of wasting- so I guess we’re having scrambled eggs for breakfast)

  16. How much frosting does this recipe make?

    1. About 3 cups.

  17. I have cooked the strawberry purée for a LONG time and can’t get it as thick as the picture. I don’t want it to be too wet in the batter- any suggestions???

  18. Hi! I’m looking for a strawberry cake recipe that is super super strong in strawberry flavor. This looks like a great recipe, but I read some comments saying it wasn’t as strawberry as it would be expected. What can I do to make it more strawberry strong without adding frosting?

    1. Hi Samantha, adding artificial flavoring is the only way to guarantee a stronger flavor without compromising the texture and structure of the cake. I recommend some strawberry extract or strawberry gelatin powder.

  19. This cake looks wonderful and I’m hoping to make it for my daughter’s birthday. However, apparently freeze dried strawberries are difficult to source in my city. I’m wondering if dried strawberries are an appropriate replacement or will I just have to bite the bullet and order some online?

    1. Hi Therese, dried strawberries are usually different – they still have some moisture in them so when you attempt to use a blender it will make a thick unworkable paste. The freeze dried berries turn into a powder!

  20. There is no reason this recipe should be anything but 5 out of 5 stars!
    The combination of freeze dried strawberries and cream cheese are the perfect secret to giving the frosting a juicy, strawberries & cream finish! Who would have thought? Thanks, Sally!

    ✨ A few variations I used:
    -Buttermilk instead of whole milk in the cake batter! It’s so worth it! This yielded moist, rich layers that maintained their moisture.
    -Double the frosting. I make a double recipe of frosting, this was to allow for extra taste testing, adequate frosting on the sides, but most importantly, decorative piping on the top around the edges! I had some frosting left over, so 1 1/2 times the frosting recipe would probably suffice.
    -Don’t overcook the layers! I took mine out right at 24 min, and leveled the layers by gently trimming the “dome” off.
    – I used a food scale to ensure the batter was equal in both the pans and moistened the bottom layer with simple syrup before applying icing to help seal in the moisture.
    -I looked everywhere for freeze dried strawberries! My local Walmart and Ingles did not carry them, so I checked CVS and found them. I guess the moral is to check your local drugstores if all else fails and you can’t wait to make this cake, like me!

    * I noticed comments about the cake looking “tan”. This could be due to the strawberries themselves, as they can range from pink to deep red depending on their quality and ripeness. However, Sally suggests adding a drop of red food coloring as desired, and that worked for me!
    Using quality, adequately ripened strawberries could help give the cake a more defined pink hue and a stronger, natural flavor.

  21. Hi Sally, I really enjoy your recipes. Thank you so much. Can I use a Bundt pan for this stawberry cake.

    1. Hi Debra, Yes it should work. I’m unsure of the bake time so just remember to not fill your pan more than 2/3 and use a toothpick to test for doneness.

  22. Stephanie Zimmerman says:

    I made this cake for my little girls birthday. I did change it up a little in that I used the reverse-creaming method because I just like the texture of the cake better that way. It was Divine!

    Now I’m going to use the same recipe only with raspberry for my son’s birthday.

  23. If I wanted to use my own white cake recipe, How would I combine this strawberry purée? What liquids what I reduce? Thank you

  24. Can I use this frosting recipe with the strawberry cupcake recipe or will it be too runny? I don’t want to use white chocolate or heavy cream so I’d rather use this one!

    1. Hi Erica, This is a cream cheese frosting which you can certainly pipe, but it works best with a larger round tip (and you have to store it in the refrigerator). If you want to make a Strawberry Buttercream (without cream cheese) you can pipe it onto cupcakes using a more intricate tip (these are my favorite).

      1. You can also add about 1/3c powdered buttermilk (available at Walmart or other mid-sized grocery stores) to firm up a cream cheese frosting for piping. This works without adding sweetness from excessive sugar. Plain powdered milk works too, but it adds milky flavor rather than the nice tang you expect from cream cheese frosting.

  25. Belmarie Guzman says:

    This was my first time doing any cake from scratch! And even more a two layer cake! And I have to say, I’m excited with the results! It turned out perfect! (At least for me and my expectations ) The only thing that I changed (not by choice) was the freeze dried strawberries; instead, I bought a strawberry smoothie mix that comes in a small package already in powder form, and it work out just fine! ❤️

    I really appreciate all of your tips and videos!

  26. We made this cake for my daughter’s birthday. The frosting was excellent. But the cake, while tasty and a pretty color (after adding a couple drops of red food gel) was dense – more like carrot cake. I think I need to try again as I used 8″ cake pans rather than 9″ after reading other comments that the cake didn’t rise much. But I had also used self rising cake flour, so mine rose even above the pans. It took closer to 40 minutes to bake thoroughly. I also didn’t sift the cake flour – just used pre-sifted that I poured 2 1/2 cups into a 4 cup wet measuring cup. My puree was definitely room temp but my sour cream, milk and egg whites could have been too chilly. But does the temperature of those really matter? I guess I strayed enough from the details in the recipe that the density is my fault, not that of the recipe. Learning lessons.

    1. Hi Heather! I’m happy to help. I strongly encourage you to use sifted cake flour and the leavening agents listed instead of self-rising cake flour. I think you’ll find a vast difference in the outcome. Additionally, I know you’ll find this post helpful: How to Prevent a Dry or Dense Cake

  27. Just made this recipe. Happy b’day, Me! It’s pink, it’s sweet, fluffy and tall, but can’t really taste the strawberries (dah! They aren’t in season! How could they taste yummy? So really not the time for this recipe), I knew that before hand and tried to humor my daughter. So, a recipe to try again during strawberry season or if in winter use cooked frozen berries and add some lemon juice because it was a little sweet for me. I didn’t do the frosting bit! It was a winner here 🙂

    1. Happy birthday, Mel! Yes, the sweeter the actual berries the more flavor they will bring to your cake. You will be able to taste the fresh strawberry flavor in the baked cake, but the flavor is REALLY brought out when you combine it with strawberry frosting, so I recommend you try it next time!

  28. Awesome cake! If you love strawberry flavor, then this is the cake for you! So moist and flavorful! I made it for my father’s birthday and it was a huge hit! This is one I can’t wait to repeat in the spring when strawberries are in season.

  29. I have made this strawberry cake for my wife’s birthday. It turned out fantastic. I used a vanilla frosting instead of the strawberry(her request). Now my daughter is requesting a cake for her 18th birthday. I am making a 3 layer cake. How do I adjust your frosting recipe for a 3 layer cake?
    Thank you.

    1. I found the answer – https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/strawberry-frosting/. Someone ask the same question.
      Thank you again.

    2. I’m so happy you enjoyed this cake, Jesse! For a larger quantity of frosting you can simply make 1.5 times the recipe. I hope she has a fantastic 18th birthday!

  30. So I just made the cake as stated in the recipe. My strawberries made an almost purple purée and it got even brighter when I reduced it. My batter was a lovely shade of dark pink. When I pulled them out of the oven however, they were about the color of spice cake. A nice shade of tan. I was hoping for a pale pink color… any idea what may have gone awry? I really would like to not use artificial coloring.

    1. Hi Mary! Unfortunately strawberries tend to lose their vibrant color when baked. The most successful fix to brighten up the color is a little gel food coloring. How did it taste?

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