Let me teach you how to make naturally flavored (and naturally colored) strawberry buttercream frosting. The secret is to replace some confectioners’ sugar with freeze-dried strawberry powder. This strawberry buttercream is ultra creamy and smooth, with loads of real strawberry flavor.
Originally published in 2017. New photos & success tips added in 2023.
One reader, Kristen, says: “I made a variety of cupcakes for a wedding. I made this frosting and I have to say it was easy to make and hands down the best frosting i’ve ever had. I love all of your recipes. ★★★★★“
Let’s talk about how to make naturally flavored, naturally pink strawberry buttercream frosting.
Have you ever tried making frosting with fresh strawberries? I have, and the results were disastrous. I chopped up the strawberries, even blotted the moisture a little bit, pureed them, and then added it to a vanilla frosting. The buttercream instantly curdled as a result of the excess moisture—yuck! Same thing happened with strawberry jam, which also made the frosting too sweet.
Instead of relying on artificial strawberry flavor, I tried a trick I learned while writing my cookbook Sally’s Candy Addiction. Use freeze-dried strawberry powder!
I have a recipe for strawberry buttercream candies in that cookbook—they’re actually the pretty pink striped candies you see on the cover. The filling is creamy and smooth with lots of concentrated strawberry flavor, which comes from—you guessed it—ground freeze-dried strawberries. I decided to make actual strawberry frosting the same exact way. It’s really easy.
One reader, Laura, says: “This is a revelation! Incredible strawberry flavor and gorgeous color. Thank you for the recipe and step-by-step instructions. My new favorite secret ingredient for sweet treats! ★★★★★“
Strawberry Buttercream Frosting (6 Ingredients)
- Freeze-Dried Strawberries: You’ll grind these into a powder. Want to make a raspberry buttercream? Use freeze-dried raspberries instead.
- Unsalted Butter: Start with room temperature butter. Room temperature butter is actually cooler than you think. If the butter is too warm, the frosting will be greasy.
- Confectioners’ Sugar: Confectioners’ sugar is the bulk of this frosting, sweetening it and binding the ingredients together.
- Heavy Cream or Milk: Liquid thins out and adds creaminess to the frosting. You can use heavy cream, milk, or even half-and-half.
- Vanilla Extract: Vanilla extract adds incredible flavor.
- Salt: A pinch of salt offsets all the sweetness.
That’s it! No artificial flavoring or food coloring in this pretty pink strawberry frosting.
Grind the freeze-dried strawberries into powder using a food processor or blender:
Success Tip for Super-Smooth Strawberry Buttercream:
If you prefer a smoother strawberry buttercream, with none of the teeny-tiny seeds, you can sift out the seeds and larger pieces of the ground freeze-dried strawberries with a fine mesh sieve, and use just the super-fine strawberry dust. If I have an extra minute, I usually do this.
The rest of the recipe is similar to making regular vanilla buttercream or chocolate buttercream. You’ll need a handheld or stand mixer.
Where Can I Buy Freeze-Dried Strawberries?
I always find freeze-dried strawberries in my regular grocery store in the dried fruit aisle. Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Target, and Amazon all carry them.
Do not use “dried strawberries,” which are chewy like raisins or dried apricots. They have a gummy texture and don’t grind into a powder. You need freeze-dried strawberries, which have all of the moisture removed. They’re the same strawberries we use in strawberry and cream cookies.
What Tastes Best With Strawberry Buttercream?
The flavor-combo possibilities are endless! This recipe makes enough for a dozen cupcakes, a 3-layer 6-inch cake, or a 9×13-inch quarter sheet cake. I would 1.5x the recipe for a 2-layer cake.
- Vanilla Cupcakes
- Pistachio Cupcakes
- Confetti Sprinkle Cupcakes
- Chocolate Cupcakes
- Strawberry Cupcakes
- Peanut Butter Cupcakes (for a PB&J flavor combo!)
- Piñata Cupcakes
- Vanilla 6-Inch Cake
- Fruit Pizza
- Lemon Cupcakes (pictured below)
I also halve the recipe and use it to fill these chocolate covered strawberry cupcakes.
Strawberry Frosting Variations
If you love strawberry buttercream frosting, you’ll also love these delicious variations!
- Strawberry cream cheese frosting from this strawberry cake
- White chocolate strawberry buttercream from these white chocolate strawberry cupcakes
- Nutella-strawberry swirl buttercream from my Valentine’s Day cupcakes
Strawberry Buttercream Frosting
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 0 minutes
- Total Time: 10 minutes
- Yield: about 3 cups
- Category: Frosting
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
Freeze-dried strawberries are the secret to adding real flavor and natural color to strawberry buttercream frosting. Rich and creamy, this flavorful frosting pairs perfectly with an array of confections including chocolate cupcakes, lemon cupcakes, and/or a vanilla sheet cake.
- 1 cup (about 25g) freeze-dried strawberries
- 1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 4 cups (480g) confectioners’ sugar
- 1/4 cup (60ml) heavy cream or whole milk, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- salt, to taste
- Using a food processor or blender, process the freeze-dried strawberries into a powdery crumb. You should have around 1/2 cup. If it’s not grinding down fine enough, you can sift it with a fine mesh sieve to rid larger seeds/pieces. Set aside.
- In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add confectioners’ sugar, strawberry powder, heavy cream/milk, and vanilla. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then switch to high speed and beat for 2 minutes. Taste. Add 1–2 more Tablespoons of heavy cream/milk if needed to thin out, if desired. (I usually add at least 1 more.) Add a pinch of salt if frosting is too sweet.
- Use immediately or cover tightly and store for up to 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 3 months in the freezer. After freezing, thaw in the refrigerator then beat the frosting on medium speed for a few seconds so it’s creamy again. After thawing or refrigerating, beating in a splash of heavy cream or milk will help thin the frosting out again, if needed. (It stiffens in the refrigerator.)
- Special Tools (affiliate links): Food Processor | Fine Mesh Sieve | Electric Mixer (Handheld or Stand Mixer)
- Where to find freeze-dried strawberries: I always find freeze-dried strawberries in my regular grocery store in the dried fruit aisle. Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, some dollar stores, Target, and Amazon carry them.
- Do not use fresh, frozen, or dried strawberries. Fresh and frozen strawberries add too much moisture. Dried strawberries are chewy like raisins or dried apricots. They have a gummy texture and don’t grind into a powder. You need freeze-dried strawberries, which have all of the moisture removed.
- Heavy Cream: Heavy cream produces an extra creamy frosting, but whole milk or half-and-half work too. Lower fat or nondairy milks work in a pinch, but the frosting won’t be as creamy.
- Quantity: This recipe is enough to frost 12–18 cupcakes, or a thin layer on a 9×13-inch quarter sheet cake. 1.5x the recipe for a 2-layer cake. (Doubling the recipe would be far too much.)
Keywords: strawberry buttercream frosting
Reader Comments & Reviews
I am trying to decide whether to make this recipe or the strawberry cream cheese frosting that is described in the strawberry cake recipe (and I am not able to comment on that recipe). I am not a huge fan of cream cheese frosting – how forward is the cream cheese flavor in that frosting?
Hi Ally, you can definitely taste the tangy cream cheese frosting in that recipe. This strawberry buttercream recipe sounds like it will be perfect for you!
This is a revelation! Incredible strawberry flavor and gorgeous color. Thank you for the recipe and step-by-step instructions. My new favorite secret ingredient for sweet treats!
This is hands down the BEST frosting I have ever tasted. I did not have milk so substituted sugar free sweet Italian coffee creamer and used salted butter and it is my favorite frosting now and forever. Do you have a book? I pretty much print everything and love everything!
I’m glad that you enjoyed this! It’s one of my favorites, too. I have 3 cookbooks published, and am working on my 4th! This is the most recent cookbook I have published, back in 2017.