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’ve made the cream cheese buttercream variation of this before, but this time I just went with this buttercream recipe and it was delicious also! I was able to get a good consistency with just 3 cups of powdered sugar and ended up adding about 3 extra tablespoons of heavy cream. I used the paddle attachment to make it the day before I iced my daughter’s cake, then used the whisk attachment to re-fluff it the next day for use which helped add enough air into the frosting for a good consistency. Paired this with your yellow sheet cake recipe and everyone loved it! Thanks!
Hi! Would 1.5x this recipe be enough to ice the naked cake?
Hi Carli, If you are going to frost the cake “semi-naked” style then 1.5 times would fine. If you wish to have a thicker layer on the outside (plus enough for between the 3 layers) you can double it. Enjoy!
Great frosting! I’ve made it a few times. I’m wondering if it would be possible to first make it as plain vanilla buttercream (without the strawberry powder, to have some buttercream to make other colors), then to add the strawberry powder after it’s done. Just trying to avoid making 2 batches of frosting. Thanks!
I need to make this for a 3 layer 8″ cake, will 1.5 times the recipe be enough or should I double? Also using acrylic discs to ice
Hi Jacqui! I would double this recipe to make sure you have enough. Enjoy!
Looks like a great recipe. How long can this frosting stay prepared in my cake? Will it hold up well for a few days in the fridge prepared with the cake?
Hi Anna! Frosting can be stored for up to 1 week in the refrigerator.
Great-looking recipe! Would the frosting be too sweet for frosting a crepe cake? Do you think it’s stiff enough? Can I add more strawberry powder or lemon zest to brighten the flavour? Thank you so much!
Hi Samantha, you can certainly try using this frosting for a crepe cake. You may want to slightly increase the liquid to make it a bit softer so that the frosting does not rip the crepes. You can add more strawberry powder, but keep in mind that it will change the texture so you may need to tinker with the other ingredients, too. Lemon zest would also be a delicious addition. Enjoy!
Hi! I was wondering if you know how many cupcakes this would frost? (I was going to do a typical swirl) Thanks!
Hi Frayda, this recipe is enough to frost 12-18 cupcakes.
Can you use this frosting for cookies?
I’m making a lemon sugar cookie and would like to put a strawberry frosting on them .
Hi Sally! I love your recipes and recommend your website to anyone and everyone who will listen! I made your strawberry buttercream and it was delicious. I did tweak it some and it was still a wonderful consistency and flavor. I used twice as much ground strawberry powder and half as much sugar. Is there a reason you use as much sugar in your buttercream?
Hi Charity, That is the recipe that we have found to have the best consistency. We are so glad that your recipe turned out great. If you’re looking for something with less sugar, try our swiss meringue recipe.
We love this recipe and have prepared it a number of times. Can I substitute the butter with vegan butter like earth balance and soy milk instead of heavy cream/milk. My daughter want’s this for her birthday and she has a dear friend who is allergic to milk and milk products.
Hi RC, we haven’t tested it ourselves so we can’t guarantee results, but let us know how it goes for you!
I love this recipe! Do you imagine it would work well for all kinds of freeze dried fruit? Banana cake is so popular but I struggle to find a banana frosting recipe. It makes me wonder if there’s a reason banana frosting isn’t a thing? I’ll give it a try anyway, but I’d love your thoughts – maybe you’ve tried it and can warn me off!
Hi Marie, we haven’t personally tried it with freeze-dried bananas, but we can’t see why that wouldn’t work! Let us know how it turns out for you.
I made this for my nieces birthday cake last year and it was a huge hit! I’m wondering if anyone has tried it with freeze dried blueberries… should I use 1:1 blueberry:strawberry? I’m thinking it would pair well with Sally’s lemon cupcakes.
Hi Dana, yes, definitely! In our experience, freeze-dried blueberries create a lavender/blue tinted frosting. It would be a fantastic pair with our lemon cupcakes!
Another great recipe! I made this to fill macarons and they were delicious. I also used this same recipe and replaced the freeze dried strawberries with freeze dried raspberries and it tasted wonderful!
Hi I’m wondering if this would work just as well with freeze dried raspberries. You have a recipe for raspberry buttercream made using raspberry preserves. Wondering which would work best.
Hi Jenn, absolutely! Many readers have reported success using freeze dried raspberries rather than strawberries in this recipe. Let us know if you give it a try.
My daughter is begging for a Raspberry frosted chocolate cake for her birthday. I’m looking forward to trying this recipe with freeze dried raspberries. Is there any reason you wouldnt pair this with the chocolate cake from your Triple Chocolate Cake recipe (other than I wont be able to call it triple chocolate anymore?)?
Hi Bram, that sounds like an absolutely delicious combination. We hope your daughter loves it!
For an eight inch, three layer cake, would you recommend making 1.5 or double this recipe? Thanks!
Hi Alex, we would double this recipe to ensure you have enough. Enjoy!
Wow! So creamy, delicious, and a dream to pipe. This frosting did not disappoint.
Hey! I’m super excited to try this recipe. I was wondering if this was used for cupcakes, would the frosted cupcakes need to be refrigerated due to the strawberry BC or would they be okay to sit out overnight.
Hi Kristin, they should be okay stored at room temperature for about a day. After that, we recommend storing them in the fridge, and you can always bring them back to room temperature before enjoying again. Hope you enjoy this recipe!
The recipe says 1 cup strawberry powder in the ingredients but 1/2 cup strawberry powder when explaining how to make it. Which is it! 1 cup or 1/2 cup?
Hi Sandra, The recipe calls for 1 cup freeze dried strawberries that you then process into a powder in step one. This should leave you with about 1/2 cup of strawberry powder. Hope this helps!
You did it again! Great frosting… although I just made your Swiss merengue frosting and that is better than the American frostings….
Loved this frosting, although I would have added a tablespoon extra of heavy cream. Thank you!!
Hi, how much of the dried strawberries would you add to your swiss meringue recipe? And do you think that recipe would be firm enough in a number cake? I am using a jaconde sponge if that makes a difference. Many thanks.
Hi Barbie, For the Swiss Meringue we recommend adding 1/2 cup of freeze-dried strawberry powder along with the vanilla extract and salt. No other changes to the recipe necessary. We have used it many times to fill a layer cake, but we haven’t specifically tried a number cake. Let us know if you try it!
I’m going to make your Vanilla cake and Swiss Meringue Butter cream. I wanted to know if you thought this would be a good filling for that cake or if I should stick with the Swiss as the filling. Thanks!!
Hi Liz, You can certainly use it with that combination – really anything goes for filling a vanilla cake! You can also simply add some of the freeze-dried strawberry powder to your Swiss Meringue for the center if you don’t wish to make a second frosting. Happy baking 🙂
I made this maybe I did something wrong its gritty and kinda think.
Hi Darlene! Sometimes it depends on the brand of confectioners sugar you are using. If you find yours is gritty try sifting the sugar after measuring it next time. Also make sure to process your freeze dried strawberries into a fine powder before beginning. That should help!
Hi! Sally. I’m obsessed with your blog. It is literally the reason I have become really excited and passionate about baking, which doesn’t sound like a big deal, but after I had my first baby I really kind of lost all hobbies and sense of myself,
so it’s just really a special thing! Anyway.
I want to make this icing to put on your lemon cake, but I was thinking it could be fun to make it a strawberry- lemonade buttercream. Do you think I could add lemon juice in place if some of the cream to do that? Or what do you think would be the best solution?
Thanks so much for all you do. You’re an incredible person.
Hi Natalie, thank you so much for this sweet comment! We haven’t tested a lemon and strawberry buttercream but don’t see why that wouldn’t work. Let us know how it goes!
I’d like to make this frosting to use for your Funfetti layer cake. Would 1.5x the recipe make enough?
Hi Liz, You can make 1.5x the recipe for a two layer cake or double for a three layer cake depending on how thick you like your frosting 🙂
Can this frosting be dyed with food coloring gel? I’m making a kids themed birthday cake(pj mask) with blacks and blues but I know she would just love this strawberry frosting.
Hi Tiffany, You can color the frosting, but because it’s already a bright pink your colors will turn out differently. I recommend mixing all of the frosting ingredients except the freeze dried strawberry powder, set a little aside in a separate bowl to be colored, and then add your strawberries to the rest. I hope this helps!
As with everything I’ve made from your blog, this came out so scrumptious! Creamy, perfectly flavored, not grainy at all from the powdered strawberries. Already planning on making it again!!
Hi Sally! Can I use strawberry preserves or strawberry jam for this recipe? Thanks
Hi D, I don’t recommend adding jam to the frosting as it is mostly sugar and doesn’t have a very strong strawberry flavor. You can add strawberry extract or essence if you wish.
Hi Sally, can i use frozen strawberries for this frosting? Thanks!
Hi Kim, you need freeze-dried strawberries. Regular frozen strawberries do not grind into a powder.
I made this frosting to top a white cake, and they were PERFECT together. I normally don’t care for white cake, but I’d eat this combo all day long! I reduced all ingredients to 75% of the recipe for a smaller cake, except for the vanilla and strawberries. I did struggle with the strawberries. I had a 1oz(28g) bag of freeze dried strawberries, and I’m glad I decided to grind up the whole bag (in case I wanted to make it again was the original thought). A lot of my powdered strawberries stuck to the lid and sides of the food processor, which was a pain. And I still had a few larger pieces, so I ran the powder through a sifter (I have picky kids) to make sure you wouldn’t “feel” them when you ate the frosting. I also had to use way more than 10-12g of strawberries to start tasting it. Maybe it was the brand I used? Anyway – it was all totally worth it. Just be prepared to kind of work with the strawberries a bit, and this recipe is a hit!!
I can’t get over how good and creamy this recipe turns out every time I make it. Can I use any other fruit as long as it is dried freeze?
Hi Teresa! Most any freeze dried fruit would work here, yes.