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
Hi! Would I be able to use like freeze dried mangoes instead of strawberries to make mango buttercream frosting instead? also would this frosting work on your Homemade Strawberry Cake? Thank You!
Hi Lulah, some readers have used freeze-dried mangoes instead with great luck. Let me know how you like it! I’m sure it would be great with the strawberry cake.
I love your recipes and have been following them for years. The only issue I’ve been having is with the frostings. They are sooo sweet, for your ultimate chocolate frosting I reduced the sugar to 3 cups of icing sugar and it was still too sweet for me. Will cutting the powdered sugar to 1.5 or 2 cups affect the texture of the icing and if so do you have any ideas how to make a less sweet version?
Hi Sarah, Buttercream frosting is going to be very sweet! For a frosting that isn’t as sweet you can try Swiss Meringue Buttercream.
Thank you for all your wonderful recipes!
I really want to make this frosting but cannot get freeze dried strawberries in time. Will the cooked down purée work in the frosting?
Hi Linda, I recommend using the frosting recipe in our chocolate cupcakes with raspberry frosting. Use the reduced down strawberry puree in place of the raspberry preserves/jam.
Do you think I could use freeze dried raspberries in this frosting recipe instead of strawberries? I see that you have a raspberry frosting recipe that uses raspberry jam. What would you say the differences are for the two? I am planning to frost your 2-layer chocolate cake with raspberry frosting (at the request of my son) and am wondering which type of frosting would work best?
Hi Michelle, you can certainly use freeze dried raspberries in this recipe! It works wonderfully. Both frostings are delicious, though this recipe with freeze dried raspberries will have more concentrated raspberry flavor. You can’t go wrong with either!
I’m going to make your death by chocolate cupcakes and want to make a BlackBerry buttercream frosting. I love this recipe and your vanilla buttercream. If I puree fresh blackberries and strain the seeds and chunks do you think it will work with either of these buttercreams? Or should I use freeze-dried blackberries?
Hi Carol, If you can find freeze dried blackberries they would work wonderfully instead of strawberries. I also have a recipe for blackberry frosting using fresh berries (which you can use as a buttercream instead of cream cheese): Lemon cupcakes with blackberry frosting.
Hi Sally! Love this recipe – I have made it for a few years now as a request for many friend’s birthdays. The last two times I have made it, though, I have had the hardest time piping the frosting – like it’s too thick or gummy. I don’t remember having the issue previously. Did there used to be cream cheese in the frosting, too? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!
Hi Savilla, I use strawberry cream cheese frosting on my strawberry cake. Is that perhaps the recipe you used in the past? Regardless, this frosting shouldn’t be gummy. Make sure you are using freeze dried strawberries and not just dried strawberries.
I used this wonderfully fresh tasting strawberry frosting with your strawberry cake and I’m telling you it is one of the best things I’ve ever eaten made from scratch. My guy even used the word “Outstanding!” I miss my grandmother’s cakes and bakes so much and to taste this sent me back to when she was alive. So, here’s a heartfelt thank you, Sally!
Do you think dehydrated strawberries could work as a substitute?
Hi James, dried strawberries (assuming you mean the ones that are gummy, like dried apricots) do not grind into a powder since they contain moisture. You need freeze-dried strawberries.
I loved the flavor of this frosting. It was delicious. I would love any advice for making this as a whipped cream based frosting instead of the cream cheese based frosting. I am really enjoying all of your recipes, thank you for sharing with us!!
Hey sally, does the strawberry flavor come through strong? I’m trying to make a strawberries and cream frosting recipe with white Chocolate, and I want to make sure that the strawberry flavor comes through.
Hi Charlie, The strawberry flavor in the frosting definitely comes through when using freeze dried strawberry powder! I do have a white chocolate strawberry frosting recipe if you are interested.
Absolutely the best strawberry icing ever! So much strawberry flavor and no artificial ingredients. I paired this with strawberry cupcakes and with lemon cupcakes for a strawberry lemonade flavor combo. I always receive so many compliments on this yummy frosting.
I’m planning on making a two-layer 8″ cake, would the original amount be enough or do you think I should do 1.5x ? I want to make sure I have enough frosting 🙂
I would recommend 1.5x the recipe. Let me know how you like it, Anna!
Dang, I was so looking forward to making this for my daughter’s first birthday… Sadly, it didn’t turn out as expected. The colour wasn’t nearly as pink – very pale pink with flecks of strawberries – and the flavour was not very strong. I’m hoping after some hours the strawberry flavour will get stronger *fingers crossed*
Hi, quick question. Should I make 1.5 times the recipe for a 3 layer, 6 inch cake? Or should I stick to the original recipe?
I would make 1.5x just to be sure you have enough!
I was wondering if this frosting would work for a macaroon filling? Thank you!
Hi Kim! This frosting would be excellent as a filling for macarons.
Excited to make this frosting this weekend! Can you tell me, would you double this recipe for a 3 layer (9″ round) cake? Thank you!!
Hi Christina! Yes, I would double this frosting recipe to ensure you have enough for a larger layer cake.
This was so seriously good! Just enough strawberry to please and not be overpowering 🙂 easy, fast, and birthday kid approved! Thank you! (Ps-I doubled it for a 1/2 sheet cake size coverage)
This is incredible! I had trouble not eating it all while I was icing the cupcakes! Will totally make this again and again.
I’ve made this thrice and it was FANTASTIC every time. I let it rest for a day before baking the cake allowing the freeze dried strawberries to moisten/reconstitute. 24 hours later its soooooooo delicious!
Would this work with your strawberry cake recipe or be too much? I am more of a buttercream fan. I will be making it in two weeks for my daughter’s first birthday.
Absolutely NOT too much! The strawberry frosting helps to bring out the strawberry flavor of the cake so they are perfect together 🙂
I just want to clarify…is it 1 cup or 1/2 cup of dried strawberries? The recipe says 1 cup, the directions say 1/2 cup. Thanks Sally!
Hi Abby! You start with 1 cup of freeze-dried strawberries, then pulse them into a powdery crumb. You will then have about 1/2 cup of strawberry crumbs.
What dairy-free option can I use in place of the heavy cream?
Hi Travina! Any nondairy milk would be great!
Could this work for piping roses? Do I add more confectioner’s sugar. I live in the south. Would love to make this along with strawberry cake for my child’s b’day. Thank you so much.
To pipe simple swirl roses you can use this as written – to pipe more intricate roses (like I have on top of my coconut cake) you will want to add more confectioners sugar to get a very stiff frosting!
For a 12″ double layer cake, would you recommend doubling the frosting recipe?
Hi Moe! Yes, I would double the frosting recipe for a 12-inch layer cake.
Have you tried this recipe and used different freeze dried fruit? Curious to know if blueberries would work! Thanks
Hi Emily! I’ve tried both freeze-dried raspberries and blueberries. Both great results! Some readers have even done apple, mango, and banana with the freeze-dried versions of the fruits.
I just want you to know I have tried three other strawberry buttercream frostings over the past week trying to get ready for a baby shower. Every time I was hopeful and every time, disappointed. I ran across this recipe, and since I love every other recipe I’ve tried of yours, I knew this would be the one. I just made this frosting, and it is perfect! It is exactly what I was looking for. Thank you!
Just made this with vanilla cupcakes and it was delicious! The strawberry flavor was perfect and the consistency so creamy. Thanks for the recipe
Made this yesterday for my daughter’s birthday cake. Used it as the filling in between chocolate & vanilla cake layers. Unintentionally became a neapolitan cake! It was a hit! I only used about 2-3/4 cups confectioners sugar and thought it was plenty sweet. Thanks for the recipe!!