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

overhead image of homemade strawberry cake on a marble cake stand

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…

slice of homemade strawberry cake on a white plate

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

Let’s get down to business. 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.

carton of strawberries

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.

Strawberry puree in a food processor

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.

strawberry puree in a glass measuring cup

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 in a glass bowl

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.

strawberry cake batter in round cake pans

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!

Homemade strawberry cake on a wood and marble cake stand

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 1x
  • 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.


  • 2 and 1/2 cups (285g) 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 (about 25g) 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: 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!
  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 rinsed and hulled 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

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Hi Sally,

    We are making this for my daughter’s birthday this weekend. Can we make the cakes Thursday, put them in the fridge and then assemble the cake on Saturday? Or should we freeze the cakes instead? Thanks!

  2. This turned out absolutely amazing!!!! I even used liquid egg whites instead of regular ones. Had some extra strawberry purée left so I put about a tablespoon into the frosting. Big big hit for thanksgiving dessert

  3. I’ve made this two years in a row now for my youngest daughter’s birthday, and have used the frosting recipe on cupcakes. The real strawberry flavor is delicious! I think I’ve gotten more compliments on it than any dessert I’ve ever made.

  4. Hi Sally! I’m planning to make this for my boyfriend’s birthday, but he loves having some kind of fruity filling in between the laters. Do you have any recommendations for a sauce, reduction, or even just fresh strawberries to put between the two cake layers? Thank you!

    1. Hi K, you definitely have options for a strawberry filling! Fresh strawberries layers on the buttercream always works beautifully. We haven’t tried this recipe ourselves, but this strawberry cake filling recipe looks delicious: We also enjoy spreading/swirling in some strawberry jam on top of the buttercream layers as well. Let us know what you try!

  5. Hi Sally,
    How can I make this for a 4 layers of a 6inch cake please?

    Please let me know asap!


    1. Hi Sadia, our cake pan sizes and conversions guide will be helpful for scaling this recipe for different pan sizes. Also, cream cheese frosting isn’t the best for intricate piping because it is softer than traditional buttercream. If you plan on doing an intricate piping design, we recommend our regular strawberry buttercream instead.

    1. We don’t recommend it. It would take additional recipe testing to guarantee results using self-rising flour. Best to stick with cake flour here.

    1. Hi Jem, definitely! Many readers have reported success using reduced puree and freeze dried blueberries and raspberries with success. Let us know what you try!

  6. Made this for my granddaughter’s 4th birthday following her request for a ‘strawberry cake’. Got lots of lovely comments, especially for the cream cheese frosting. Thank you.

    1. Hi Andrea, if you’re getting quite a bit of foam, try turning down the stove a bit — it may be too hot. This should help!

  7. Looks and sounds amazing! I’m a little guarded about using 3 cups of confectioners sugar (with all due respect to the master baker!!). How much would you cut it down by if you were to do so? Thanks in advance!

    1. In my experience, the amount of confectioner’s sugar can be varied a bit according to your taste and consistency preferences. Like in this scenario, less sugar will make it taste more cream cheesey…and you also won’t get as much frosting (in volume). I’ve done a cream cheese frosting that didn’t have ANY 10x sugar–just some maple syrup to sweeten a little–but it’s just a different frosting at that point! I would try 1.5 cups and go from there?

  8. Sally,
    I’m addicted to your recipes and this one is a huge hit. I used buttermilk instead of the milk and yogurt as I had it in the fridge. I also made it in a ring tin, baked for 40min.
    Absolutely delicious.
    I will follow your recipe next time as I haven’t had a failure yet. Xx

  9. Made a little extra strawberry purée and reserved it, then added sugar and created a delightful jam filling between the layers. So much strawberry flavor in this recipe and a beautiful frosting color with a great crumb. Would make again (by request only.). This took a while for a working mom. But super happy!

  10. Hi Sally!
    Would this cake be good with a chocolate buttercream? ​
    Thinking I might also add a strawberry filling between the layers to make sure the strawberry flavor is strong.

    Making it for my Grandma’s birthday and her only requirements were something strawberry and chocolate buttercream.

  11. I just made this cake with my granddaughter. The batter was beautiful but when it sunk in the middle while baking. What did we do wrong?

    1. Hi Gayle, Sinking cakes are often because the outer edges are fully cooked but the center is not. This can be from simply not baking it long enough, or because your oven is too hot causing it to rise rapidly even though it’s not actually cooked in the center. Sometimes sunken cakes can also be due to over-beating the batter. Be sure to mix until the wet and dry ingredients are just incorporated. You can visit out post on 10 Tips for the Perfect Cake for more troubleshooting. I hope this helps!

  12. I can’t rate yet as I just put the layers in the oven but I am making for my 6 year old grandson’s family birthday tomorrow (by his request) and I’m betting the farm on your very enticing Strawberry Cake recipe! Many use the strawberry jello recipe but he is reactive to red dye and I prefer to bake from scratch so I can add the love!
    I have prayed over the outcome and yes, my kitchen is a mess! But I am a happy Grammy!

  13. Hi Sally,

    I made this delicious cake for the second time. However, this time I left it on them uncovered on the countertop and frosted the next day. The cake was a little dry. Could this have been because I left them out and uncovered?

    1. Hi Grace! Yes, cakes will dry out if left uncovered. Next time, cover tightly at room temperature overnight (see recipe notes for make-ahead instructions).

    1. Hi Valencia, This strawberry cake batter fits nicely into a 10 cup or larger Bundt cake pan. We’re unsure of the exact bake time but it will increase due to the large amount of batter in one pan. Enjoy!

  14. Hi! Can I use strawberry jam instead of the puree? We have lots of strawberry jam and I don’t know where else to use them. Thank you!

    1. Hi Jean, Strawberry jam does not produce the same amount of flavor as the reduced strawberry puree. For best results, we recommend following the recipe for the cake batter. You can however, spread a bit of your jam between the layers for extra flavor!

  15. I love this recipe! I’ve made it several times. I need to make a strawberry cake for my niece but she can’t eat eggs.
    How can I make this without egg?

    1. Hi Hayley! We’re so glad you love this cake. We haven’t tested any egg-free versions, but let us know if you give it a try.

  16. Please update the PRINTED recipe to say SIFTED flour. Hadn’t worked with cake flour often, so we didn’t sift. Only your video says it, and we didn’t watch ahead of time…it was too late. Still hopeful it will turn out…and yes, we are amateur bakers! This may help others!

  17. If I wanted to make this recipe with two 6 inch round pans instead of 9 inch pans, would I half the recipe?

  18. Hi Sally,
    Thank you so much for the detailed super tasty recipe.
    I have never cooked before and the first thing I cooked is this cake.
    It was tasty.
    Thank you for making baking an easy process.


  19. Hi Sally,
    thanks for such a nice recipe. My question is can we use whole eggs instead of egg whites only?
    thanks again

    1. Hi Nina! Using only egg whites ensure that the crumb is not weighed down by the fat in egg yolks — we recommend sticking to the recipe as written for best results.

  20. This looks amazing and I’m planning to make it. I have one 9inch pan. Can I let the batter sit out while baking one layer? Or should I definitely have two pans?

    1. You can let half the batter sit at room temperature while you wait for the pan to use again. Hope you love it!

  21. Hi there! I love this recipe and have made it successfully several times for my daughters birthday. I am wondering if i could adapt to make it the same way but with blueberries/dried blueberries replacing the strawberries/dried strawberries?? Thank you!

    1. Hi Sondra! While we haven’t personally tested it, many readers have reported success swapping the strawberries for blueberries (and freeze dried blueberries in the frosting). Let us know if you try it!

      1. Ok thank you! If you were going to do it, would you use the same measurements?

  22. Hi there,

    Can I substitute reduced strawberry purée with reduced raspberry purée instead for a raspberry cake?

    1. Hi Sam, 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 for the buttercream — they are readily available in most grocery stores these days. Or 1.5x this raspberry frosting recipe. Let us know how it turns out!

      1. Loved this with strawberry, and am likely attempting a vegan raspberry version this weekend!

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