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. Hello dear, I loved the recipe and I am planning to try it for my 7 years old son’ birthday next week, I have only one question, What can I use instead of freeze dried strawberry for frosting??

      1. I tried this recipe today, it was just perfect.. I used less suger though, around 1 and quarter cup… I need vanilla whipped cream cheese frosting.. it was very delicious and fluffy… The whole family loved it… Thank you for sharing this recipe ❤️❤️❤️

  2. This recipe is absolutely delicious!!! I made it last year for my daughters 3rd birthday and we were in love! I am making it again and I honestly do not remember if I used sour cream or plain Greek yogurt (which I always have on hand). My question is, can I use Greek yogurt or does it have to be regular yogurt? Thank you in advance! And thank you for sharing your amazing recipe!!

    1. Hi Alejandra! So glad you enjoy this strawberry cake. 🙂 You can use plain Greek yogurt or plain regular yogurt in place of the sour cream. Same amount.

  3. Hi Sally! I have a small kitchen and only have one 9” springform to make cakes. If I want to just make the cake in that should I half the recipe? Thanks!

  4. Sally can you use the leftover strawberry puree in the cream cheese icing? I couldn’t find the freeze dried strawberries.

    1. Sure could! The consistency of the frosting separates when a lot of extra liquid is added, so add a little at a time.

  5. Hi Sally! I’ve noticed off season strawberries lack flavor. I have to make this for a birthday when they wont be in season and as flavorful! Any tips to offset less than ideal fruit? I’m also using some strawberry frosting but have to frost the outside in vanilla for decorating purposes, so I’ll only be able to work in a thin layer of strawberry under the vanilla frosting. Thus, I’d really like to make sure the cake is suuuuper strawberry. Any advice is appreciated, as I’m doing a practice cake soon!

    1. Hi Amy! A couple things can help– freeze super sweet strawberries to use for this cake at a later time when they aren’t in season. OR add a touch of strawberry extract to the batter. 3/4 teaspoon should be plenty.

      1. sally…i want to add the strawberry extract too..should we add the vanilla too or just strawberry extract??thanks

      2. Hi Demi, You can add the strawberry extract in addition to the vanilla. 3/4 teaspoon should be plenty. Enjoy!

    1. Hi Mishika! I don’t have any experience with Lakanto Monkfruit Sweetener, so I’m unsure. Let me know if you try anything!

      1. Hey Sally! Just baked this cake with Lakanto Monkfruit Sweetner and it worked just like sugar and it’s the best alternative for white sugar. Loved this recipe. Thank you sooo much!

  6. Hey! I’m making my boyfriend this cake on Friday and I only have three 8” round baking tins… can I use all three or should I just use the two? I’m worried about if there would be enough batter for three layers ):

  7. Hi Sally,
    Do you think the recipe would work for a Dolly Varden cake tin?
    My tin is about 7.5 inches in diameter and 6 inches deep. And does the cake freeze well?

  8. Hi Sally! Love this cake recipe but I have 1 question. How come you add all your flour instead of alternating with the milk? I know that bakers ask you to alternate so I’m just curious. TIA.

    1. Hi Anita! Sometimes I do it that way, sometimes I don’t. I’ve never found ANY difference in the outcome of the cake. As long as you mix slowly and don’t over-mix– you’re on the right track!

  9. This cake was so good! Really light, very moist and so flavorful. I used a bit of food coloring in the cake to make it more pink, but once it baked, it still came out pretty pale and not very pink. But the flavor was so good I didn’t care.
    I made it with the lemon buttercream cream cheese frosting from the lemon cake recipe, which was delicious.

    1. Thrilled you enjoyed this recipe, Fiona! I bet it was delicious topped with lemon cream cheese buttercream 🙂

  10. So excited to try this out for my daughter’s birthday—but I’m wondering how best to scale up proportions for the recipe to be a half sheet. I’m wary of simply doubling—especially because I don’t want to lose any of the rich pink color as pink is an important requirement for her. Thank you!!!

    1. Hi Katy! This cake should be fine as a half sheet cake baked in a jelly roll pan. I’m unsure of the exact bake time.

  11. How would you cook this cake in a mold with a hole in the middle (for devil’s food cake)? I will try and make it in the shape of a worm for my son’s 5th birthday next week-end…

  12. Hi! I am starting to make this cake for my daughter’s 6th birthday. I don’t currently have sour cream or plain yogurt but I have a lot of kid’s strawberry/vanilla yogurt. Any thoughts on using this as a substitute? Thank you!

  13. I would like to make a pinata cake (strawberry cake with your vanilla frosting). Since I need to make 4 layers should I double the recipe? or should I do 1.5X and divide it into four 9 inch pans?

      1. Thank you so much. One more question though: I had over 1lbs of strawberries (less than 1.5 but more than 1) and I have reduced that to half a cup. Can I use that instead of using 3/4 cup ( 1.5X recipe) of strawberries reduction without messing the recipe proportions or would you recommend that I make another batch of the strawberry reduction?

  14. I don’t have a blender or any tools at home to make the puree myself. Can I buy store bought frozen puree, thaw it out and reduce it on the stove myself? Would that solve the too much liquid problem?

  15. Hi there
    I’m planning to bake this for my daughter’s birthday. Shall I whisk the egg whites before adding them into the batter? What would happen if I whisked them to form soft peaks and folded them in for instance?

    1. Hi Amy! You can add them directly into the batter without whisking or mixing beforehand. The cake would be extra fluffy if you took the extra step.

  16. Hi Sally,

    Thank you for your wonderful recipes! How many bags of freeze dried strawberries do I need? I found them at my Trader Joe’s – each bag is 1.2 oz (34 grams).

    Thank you,

  17. Hi Sally, if I wanna bake them into cupcakes, how long should I bake them for? Do I need to change the temperature?

    1. Hi Serena, I actually wrote a separate post about how to turn this into cupcakes! All the work is done for you here: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/white-chocolate-strawberry-cupcakes/
      Enjoy 🙂

  18. Hi. Can I make this cake two days in advance and refrigerate it and will it still be ok? Time poor and working are getting in the way

    1. Hi Jane, The cake should be fine if it’s covered in the refrigerator for 2 days. Just bring it back to room temperature before you serve it. Enjoy!

      1. Thank you. It’s the first time I’ve made it and at the the moment I’m reducing the strawberry purée as I type! Also, am new to the site and have made the super moist chocolate muffins which were delicious.

  19. i want to make a 7inch layer cake..should i use the whole recipe for 2-3- 7inch pans or half it?do layers get cut in middle or are thin?oh and how long should i bake them in 7inch pans?more or less??

    1. I actually don’t own 7 inch pans so I have never tested them! Since I don’t have an exact answer I would say go ahead and make the full recipe, only fill the cake pans 2/3 full and then use the leftover batter for cupcakes to freeze and enjoy another time!

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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!

  23. 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!

  24. 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! ❤️

  25. 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!

  26. 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!

    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!

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