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.

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
  • 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 (263g) 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 (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: 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. Because you’re meant to have your hand mixer/stand mixer on high speed when adding the egg whites, are you meant to allow them to froth up? As you mentioned that it should take two minutes.

  2. Hi Sally, I’ve been trying to find a strawberry banana cake recipe to make for my son’s birthday, per his request. This cake looks amazing! Do you think if I added a 1/2 cup of mashed banana to the strawberry puree that it would make the cake too heavy? 

    1. Hi Sarah! It would be too heavy. Strawberry banana cake would take some testing. But I’d love to know if you try anything.

  3. Hello, Sally!
    Do you think this cake would still work if I only refrigerated the purée for a few hours instead of overnight? Thanks!

    1. Hi Eden! Refrigerate the reduced strawberry puree until it’s completely cool. Should be just a couple hours.

      1. Thank you, Sally!
        I just made the cupcakes for my little sister’s 3rd birthday party. I am actually giving up sweets, so it took  all of my willpower not to lick the icing off my finger, but they certainly smell delicious!

  4. Jenny Hughes says:

    I want to make this recipe as cupcakes for my work. If I make and frost them the night before will they keep in the fridge overnight and not be stale?
    P.S. I absolutely LOVE your recipes and reading your blog!!!!

    1. Hi Jenny! I would loosely cover them in the refrigerator if you can. Or you can cover and store unfrosted cupcakes overnight at room temperature, then prepare the frosting and frost the following day.

  5. I baked this cake in a tube pan. It took 44 minutes at 350F. It was moist and a lovely shade of pink without the dye. It was a bit dense. If I do it again, I will either let it sit in the pan for 10 minutes before baking to let the leavening have time to work before it bakes or I will add more baking soda. Maybe a quarter teaspoon. I topped it with a warm semi sweet chocolate ganache and my brother loved it for his birthday. Thank you so much for this recipe.

  6. Aziza abbasi says:

    This is my absolute favorite. The flavors are spot on and the cake is so moist. A must make

  7. Not a big strawberry fan, could I sub raspberries my absolute fave berry of all time? At a minimum I’d have to strain seeds, just not sure it’s going to be a thick puree…

    1. I haven’t tried this with raspberries. Let me know if you do!

    2. Hi Susan,

      I have a friend who loves raspberries so I was thinking of doing exactly what you asked here. Did you end up trying it? Would love to hear how it worked out.


  8. Tina Romano Shiver says:

    I must say this cake is absolutely luscious. I cooked my purée for a little for an hour because I was timid to let it boil too high. The smell in my house was intoxicating. That cooked down purée is a game changer. My cupcakes (I used cupcake pans instead of round tins) were so light & fluffy with a small crumb and packed full of flavor. Once topped with that frosting they tasted like the ripest, juiciest, sweetest strawberry I’ve ever eaten! I even made them again a day later because a friend requested them. Thank you so much for your hard work and dedication.

  9. Hi Kayla! Keep the strawberry puree on the stove until it reaches 1/2 cup. If it takes a little longer to reduce down to 1/2 cup, no problem. You want only 1/2 cup in the cake batter.

  10. Huma Farid says:

    I made this cake for my daughter’s first birthday as she loves strawberries. It was a huge hit at the party, and I got a ton of compliments, even from my husband, who typically does not eat dessert. Every single slice was eaten, down to the crumbs. The color was pink, but not as pink as it is in your photos. It tasted incredible, as if someone had taken breyer’s strawberry ice cream and put it into a cake. This will be on the list of cakes to make again!

  11. Jennifer Lloyd says:

    Sally – this recipe tastes amazing but I made cupcakes and they didn’t raise very much. The batter looked really fluffy. Any thoughts?

  12. This cake was awesome!!! Thank you so much for sharing and making the directions so clear! The icing was soooooo good and a beautiful color! Now on to trying some of your other cake recipes!!

  13. Hi Sally! I have a couple questions…..
    1: for this cake, when I am making the strawberry purée, can I use frozen strawberries??
    2: I’m wanting to make this cake and put lemon icing on top… Does this sound like a good combination?? Also, in one of your posts you mentioned making lemon icing using buttercream and your lemon curd recipe. Would the consistency still be stable??
    Thanks for all the amazing recipes you give!

    1. Hi Ellie!
      1) I haven’t tried using frozen strawberries before, but let me know if you do!
      2) The consistency of a vanilla buttercream with lemon curd would be stable, though I wouldn’t overdo it with lemon curd. Alternatively, you can make this lemon buttercream: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2017/08/07/lemon-buttercream-frosting/

    2. I’ve made this cake twice using frozen strawberries for the purée! It works great! The purée before cooking is pretty thick and slushy, and I found I had to cook the purée for longer because first everything has to melt then it has to reduce, but overall it will work just fine!

  14. Hi Rhiannon! I haven’t tried using frozen strawberries before, but let me know if you do!

  15. I want to make a 3-layer 8” cake. Would that work without adjusting ingredients you think? Obviously the baking time would not be the same.

    1. Hi Rachel! You can use this batter and divide between 3 8-inch cake pans.

  16. I tried to make this recipe tonight as cupcakes for my coworkers. I’m not sure where I went wrong. The batter was beautiful and tasted great, but when I put them in the oven the middles sank and every single cupcake had a big hole in the middle. I’ve never had that happen before on any recipe so I’m not really sure what happened. Do you have any ideas? I really want this recipe to work for me but I don’t know how to start fixing whatever caused the weirdness.

    1. Hi Heather! I’m unsure. I’ve made this strawberry cake into cupcakes several times in the past few months, but have never experienced a hole in the center of the cupcakes. Are you following the recipe precisely?

    2. Cathy Bauer says:

      The same thing happened to me with the cupcakes! But with a different recipe. I followed it exactly though. Wondering if maybe the baking powder was old?

      1. I’ve experienced that when I overfill the cupcake liners–that can cause sinking. I’ve had it happen with her chocolate cupcake recipe, though I haven’t tried it with this recipe. I hope it works out for you!

  17. Hello Sally! I am planning on making this cake for Mother’s day & I wanted to possibly add chopped fresh strawberries to the icing in between the cake layers would that be an issue? Wasn’t sure if that would add too much moisture between layers. If you get a chance let me know your opinion ASAP! Thanks luv!

    1. In between the layers, no issue at all. Let me know how it turns out!

  18. Andi Liebenbaum says:

    My first time to your site, and I love it. Made the strawberry cake, because it ticked all the boxes (natural, no Jell-o), etc. It was certainly a hit at Mother’s Day brunch. That said, I found the cake to be dense (not light and fluffy). I DID use sifted cake flour. I used 5 to 6 ounces of egg whites because I have a plethora of them from making a lot of frozen custard/ice cream (IOW, I didn’t crack and use whites from 5 eggs). How would I know if I over-mixed the ingredients? I used three-quarters of a cup (not half a cup) of reduced strawberry puree. So, to the question: What are some reasons I might have had a dense, and not light and fluffy cake?

    Thank you for this wonderful recipe – I hope to use it and love it again in the future!

    1. Hi Andi! Make sure you are using only 1/2 cup of reduced strawberry puree. The more weight and liquid in the batter, the heavier the cake will be.

  19. Sally, this cake was so good. I made cupcakes for Mother’s Day because they were easier to give away to my friends who are mothers. The batter made 28 cupcakes filling the liners 2/3 full but the baked cupcakes ended up about level with the top of the liner. I think next time I will fill the liners a little fuller and aim for 24 cupcakes. Instead of a cream cheese frosting I made a butter cream recipe that I love using the dusted freeze dried strawberries you call for. The finished product was really good. Very light with great strawberry flavor. You nailed it! Thank you for perfecting this special cake.

    1. How wonderful for you to bake for your mom friends! I’m happy you enjoyed them so much! 🙂

  20. I just made this cake, and it was gorgeous. It wasn’t overly dense-I followed directions a tee. However, I would say, that this cake was not terribly moist, and I did not detect any strawberry flavor in the cake part. Itself. The frosting had a more intense strawberry flavor, but I doubled the amount of strawberry powder, otherwise, it would not have been strawberry-ish enough for me.

  21. Wrap and Freeze the cakes, take them out morning of the day you need them. Assemble and frost while frozen. Will thaw completely in a couple hours.

  22. Hi. Could you use this recipe for a stacked cake or it’s too light and likely to collapse?

    1. I have a feeling it would be fine, but you can use cake dowels for support if you’re concerned.

  23. Allison Hess says:

    Just curious why use a cream cheese frosting with this cake rather than “The BEST Strawberry Frosting” (from your post last Feb)? Is the texture/flavor of this cake just better with a cream cheese frosting rather than the more buttercream-y one? Planning to bake this later today and not sure if I should use this frosting recipe or the “BEST” one! 🙂 Thanks in advance for your advice!

    1. Hi Allison! The strawberry buttercream is heavy and I wanted a creamier/lighter tasting frosting to pair with this fluffy cake. Thank you for asking!

  24. Hi! I tweeted @ you but then saw you respond so quickly to blog posts so sorry for the repeat! Quick question — I’m traveling to my brother’s house this weekend and will be making this beautiful strawberry cake there for my niece’s birthday party. I’m already bringing my stand mixer and don’t want to lug along my food processor as well (their kitchen isn’t super well equipped). Can I make the reduced strawberry puree tonight at home and then not make the cake until Saturady? Will the puree last alright for several days? Thanks!

    1. Hi Alexandra! I’m much quicker to respond to blog comments, so thank you for taking the time to ask your question here. You can refrigerate the reduced strawberry puree for a few days. Bring to room temperature before adding to the batter.

  25. Do you think it’d be ok to use plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream? I just happen to be out of sour cream…which is totally weird because we love sour cream haha!
    I’m making this tomorrow for my daughter’s birthday party on Saturday, I can’t wait to see how it comes out!!

    1. Oops! I actually just saw another commenter ask the same question! So, no need to answer it again! I will try the Greek yogurt!

  26. I’ve made this cake twice now, and it has become one of my family’s favorites. The second time I made it, I put a thin layer of strawberry jam on the first layer, then frosting. I also made batch and a half of frosting the second time, as I felt it needed more. Delicious cake!

  27. I made this cake for my daughter’s 6th birthday party. It came out absolutely PERFECT. The cake was light and flavorful and had the best texture. Not too heavy or dense. I followed the recipe to a T, made sure not to over mix etc. It had beautiful strawberry flavor . However, I did not make the icing. I just made the layers and made a strawberry filling to go in between the layers and then iced it in a classic buttercream (my daughter wanted it to be a unicorn cake, so buttercream was definitely the way to go bc of all the decorating)! I actually doubled the cake recipe to make a 4 layer 9inch round cake, again…it came out even better than expected. Thank you for posting a recipe for a strawberry cake made with REAL strawberries and lots of flavor! I have attempted a few other strawberry cakes, and this one by far is the winner. Love it and will keep it in my recipe book for sure!

  28. This recipe seems great! I’m actually making it for my husband’s birthday today. I was wondering… can I fold in chopped strawberries to the cake batter to add more texture? (This would be in addition to the strawberry puree of course).

    1. Hi Adibeh! Adding chopped strawberries is a great idea for added texture. I would blot them to remove excess moisture before adding to the batter.

  29. Hello
    How can I make this taste like strawberry shortcake? If I use some of the frosting in the filling and then use whip cream on the outside do you think that would give it the strawberry shortcake flavor? Or is there something else I can do?

    1. Hi Deborah! I recommend filling the cake with the strawberry cream cheese frosting (reducing the amount down, of course) and frosting the whole cake with fresh whipped cream.

      1. Thank you Sally. I will try this the next time I am in the office. A co/worker of mine has been wanting cake that taste like strawberry Shortcake. I’m sure she will love it.

  30. Hi Sally,
    Do you think it would work to poke holes in the cooled cake and add some of the leftover strawberry purée? I am hoping to achieve big strawberry flavor, but do not want to mess it up texture-wise. Thanks!

    1. I haven’t tried it that way but I can’t see why it wouldn’t work as a poke cake! Let me know if you try it!

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