A favorite spring and summer dessert in hand-held form, these vanilla bean-speckled strawberry shortcake cupcakes are filled with homemade strawberry filling and topped with strawberry whipped cream—all made with real strawberries. It’s like eating strawberry shortcake, but as a buttery soft cupcake!
I’ve been on a filled cupcake kick! I love these chocolate-covered strawberry cupcakes for Valentine’s Day, and always enjoy hopping over to these coconut and chocolate Easter cupcakes… but as the days continue to warm up, and fresh strawberries come into season, I just knew I had to revisit this older recipe. These are my beloved strawberry shortcake cupcakes. I originally published them back in 2013!
3 Parts to Love in These Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes
- Vanilla Bean Cupcakes: Instead of biscuits like classic strawberry shortcake, the base of this summery treat is a soft and light vanilla cupcake, flavored with pure vanilla bean paste. My strawberry vanilla crisp also pairs strawberry + vanilla together—what a delightful duo!
- Strawberry Filling: You’ll fill the cupcakes with a jam-like strawberry filling, which comes together easily on the stove, just like this raspberry cake filling.
- Strawberry Whipped Cream: No piping tips needed to top these strawberry shortcake cupcakes! I’m giving homemade whipped cream a berry boost by folding in some of the reserved strawberry filling. It’s quick and easy to make, and so very tasty.
One reader, Vicki, commented: “I offered to make my neighbor cupcakes for her birthday and she requested something light and not too sweet. This recipe seemed perfect and she said they were the best cupcakes she’s ever had in her life! I absolutely love the whipped topping and think the leftover amount would be great on pancakes or waffles. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe! Will definitely make it again! ★★★★★“
Make the Strawberry Filling First
Grab These Ingredients:
- Fresh Strawberries: You need about 2 cups (about 300–320g) of diced strawberries.
- Sugar: Use white granulated sugar to sweeten the berry filling.
- Cornstarch + Water: Cornstarch is the thickener for this filling. Mix together with water to make a “slurry” before adding to the saucepan. Otherwise you’ll have lumps of powdery cornstarch in your strawberry filling—no thanks!
- Lemon Zest: After making several batches of these crowd-pleasing cupcakes, I decided to add a little lemon zest to the filling. WOW. It really, really brightens up the flavor. I use it in the topping for this strawberry cream cheese pie, too.
The filling mixture thickens on the stove and is comparable to a sweet and thick homemade strawberry jam with a few glorious chunks of real strawberry. It’s a lot like this strawberry sauce topping, only thicker because we’re using it inside cupcakes.
Make it first, so it has time to completely cool and set up/thicken before you need it to fill the cupcakes.
Next, Make the Vanilla Bean Cupcakes
Here’s What You Need & Why:
- Flour: All-purpose flour is the base of this cupcake batter.
- Baking Powder + Baking Soda: These leavening agents give the cupcakes lift.
- Salt: Flavor enhancer/sweetness balancer.
- Melted Butter: Using melted butter instead of softened butter means you don’t need a mixer to make these wonderfully soft cupcakes. I also appreciate that you can really taste that buttery flavor, something you don’t always get in a cupcake recipe using creamed butter or oil.
- Egg Whites: Using just the whites of the eggs makes for the lightest, fluffiest vanilla cake crumb… something you’ll also enjoy in my favorite white cake recipe.
- Sour Cream: This keeps the cupcakes moist. Plain yogurt works as a fine substitute.
- Milk: Whole milk makes for the best taste and texture, but lower-fat or nondairy can work in a pinch.
- Vanilla Bean Paste: You could just use vanilla extract if that’s all you have, but I highly recommend giving these cupcakes a flavor upgrade with some pure vanilla bean paste. You can usually find it next to the vanilla extract in the grocery store baking aisle, or you can order it online.
Or if you happen to have a vanilla bean (an extra one leftover from making homemade vanilla extract, perhaps?), you can scrape the seeds from half a bean, and add along with vanilla extract, just like when making my regular vanilla cupcakes. You can also add vanilla bean seeds to the whipped cream. See recipe Note below.
The process for making these cupcakes is straightforward. Whisk together dry ingredients, whisk together wet ingredients, and then combine the two.
You’ll have enough batter for 15 cupcakes, so line a standard 12-cup muffin pan and then a second one with 3 more cupcake liners. Fill the liners just 2/3 of the way full. Don’t try to fit all the batter into 12 cups—the cupcakes will spill over the sides when baking, and you’ll have a big sloppy mess. (Besides, if you serve a dozen cupcakes, no one will have any idea there were 3 extra cupcakes that somehow went missing… that can be our little secret.)
Filling These Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes
When your cupcakes and filling are both completely cool, it’s time to fill them. Before you start, set aside 1/2 cup of the filling to use in the strawberry whipped cream topping.
We’re using the same method I use to fill these cream-filled chocolate cupcakes, and it’s a piece of [short]cake.
With a sharp knife, cut a circle in the cupcake and remove the center, which will be roughly the shape of a cone. Using a small spoon, fill the middle of the cupcake with as much cooled strawberry filling as you can. (Usually between 1–2 teaspoons.) Slice/tear off the pointed tip of the cone-shaped piece of cupcake, and gently press the round piece back on top of the filling.
It doesn’t have to look pretty, because you’ll top the cupcakes with a fluffy cloud of strawberry whipped cream. I don’t recommend using a piping bag/tip to fill the cupcakes, because the filling is pretty thick and chunky.
Homemade Strawberry Whipped Cream
Now you’re in the home stretch! Of the 3 parts to this recipe, making the strawberry whipped cream topping is the quickest and easiest. It’s similar to my classic homemade whipped cream, but we’re folding in the reserved 1/2 cup of strawberry filling for a little more flavor, color, and texture. I love the little chunks of strawberry hiding in the light pink whipped cream.
Pile the strawberry whipped cream on top of the filled cupcakes, and, for a finishing touch, I like to add a couple of strawberry slices. You will LOVE these!
Can I Make These As a Cake?
Absolutely, and I already have a separate recipe for strawberry shortcake cake. For a layer cake, use my white cake recipe, and today’s strawberry filling. Fill the cooled cake layers with most of the strawberry filling, and save some to fold into the whipped cream. There is plenty of whipped cream for the exterior of the layer cake.
More Favorite Strawberry Dessert Recipes
- Strawberry Cake
- Strawberry & Cream Cookies
- Pistachio Cupcakes with Strawberry Frosting
- Strawberry Cream Cheese Pie
- Strawberry Shortcake & Strawberry Shortcake Cake
And for even more summertime dessert inspiration, head over to my list of 25+ desserts for a BBQ cookout.Print
You’re looking at 100% homemade strawberry shortcake, but in cupcake form! Homemade strawberry filling joins vanilla bean cupcakes and berry-speckled whipped cream to create an epic treat that’s perfectly fit for spring and summertime. Prepare the strawberry filling first so it has time to cool and thicken before using. Review recipe Notes before beginning.
- 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons (11g) cornstarch
- 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons (23ml) warm water
- 2 cups (about 300g) diced strawberries
- 6 Tablespoons (75g) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 and 2/3 cups (209g) all-purpose flour (spooned & leveled)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
- 2 egg whites*
- 1/4 cup (60g) sour cream or plain yogurt*
- 3/4 cup (180ml) whole milk*
- 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (or extract, see Note)*
Strawberry Whipped Cream
- 1 and 1/2 cups (360ml) cold heavy cream or heavy whipping cream
- 3 Tablespoons (38g) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or extract, see Note)*
- reserved 1/2 cup of strawberry filling
- optional for garnish: strawberry slices and fresh mint
- Make the strawberry filling first: Using a fork, mix the cornstarch and water together in a small bowl until the cornstarch has dissolved—mixture is thick. Warm the strawberries and sugar together in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir the mixture as it cooks, and break up some of the strawberries as you stir. Bring it to a simmer. Once simmering, stir in the cornstarch mixture. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. After 5 minutes, remove from heat, stir in the lemon zest, and cool completely. You will have about 1 and 1/4 cup (about 340g) of strawberry filling. The filling thickens as it cools. (It must completely cool, so transferring to a bowl out of the saucepan helps speed that up, as does refrigerating it. You can complete a few other steps in the recipe as the mixture cools.)
- Make the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners. This recipe yields about 15 cupcakes, so line a second muffin pan with 3 cupcake liners, or bake in batches.
- In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk the melted butter and sugar together. Mixture will be gritty. Whisk in the egg whites, sour cream, milk, and vanilla bean paste/extract until combined.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk until the batter is completely combined. Batter should be creamy and mostly smooth; a few small lumps are OK.
- Pour/spoon the batter into the liners, filling only 2/3 full to avoid spilling over the sides. You should have enough batter for 15 cupcakes.
- Bake for 20–22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Remove cupcakes from the oven and allow them to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Cupcakes must be completely cooled before filling and topping.
- Fill the cupcakes: First, set aside 1/2 cup of the filling for the whipped cream topping. Using a sharp knife, cut a circle into the center of the cooled cupcakes to create a little pocket about 1 inch deep. The piece you removed will be sort of cone-shaped. Spoon some of the cooled and thickened strawberry filling inside each carved-out cupcake—use however much will fit. (I use a teaspoon for this. Usually you can fit between 1–2 teaspoons of filling in each.) Slice/tear off the pointy end of the “cone” piece of cupcake you removed, and gently press the round piece back on top of the filling.
- Make the whipped cream: Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla bean paste/extract on medium-high speed until medium peaks form, about 3–4 minutes. Medium peaks are between soft/loose peaks and stiff peaks, and are the perfect consistency for topping and piping on desserts. If you accidentally over-whip the cream, and it looks curdled and heavy, pour in a little bit more cold heavy cream, and fold it in gently by hand with a spatula until it smooths out. Fold in the reserved 1/2 cup of strawberry filling. Use immediately or cover tightly and chill in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
- Frost cooled cupcakes. I used an icing spatula, but a knife works just fine. I pile the whipped cream on really high as pictured, and you can certainly do the same! You may have some leftover if you don’t use as much on each cupcake. Garnish cupcakes with sliced strawberries and/or fresh mint.
- Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Cover and store leftover cupcakes in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. I recommend a cupcake carrier for storing and transporting decorated cupcakes.
- Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: Bake the cupcakes 1 day in advance. Keep cupcakes covered tightly at room temperature and fill/frost the day of serving. You can make the strawberry filling and store it covered in the refrigerator for up to 2–3 days before using. Likewise, you can make the strawberry whipped cream and store it covered in the refrigerator for up to 1 day before using. Unfrosted, unfilled cupcakes can be frozen up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before assembling and serving.
- Special Tools (affiliate links): USA Pan Cupcake Pan or Wilton Cupcake Pan | Cupcake Liners | Electric Mixer (Handheld or Stand Mixer) | Vanilla Bean Paste | Small Icing Spatula | Cupcake Carrier
- Update in 2023: This recipe was originally published in 2013. Over the years, I made some subtle improvements. The filling used to call for 1/2 cup (100g) of sugar, and I found it was simply too sweet. I also added lemon zest to the filling, to help brighten up the flavor. The cupcakes now use 1 teaspoon of baking powder, instead of 1/2 teaspoon. They rise a little taller and taste a bit fluffier now.
- Can I Use Frozen Strawberries? Frozen strawberries work in a pinch, but the filling holds MUCH better shape when using fresh strawberries. I strongly recommend using fresh. If using frozen, thaw and pat dry before starting.
- Egg Whites: It’s best to use only egg whites in this cupcake recipe because they will ensure that the crumb is not weighed down by the fat in egg yolks. If needed, you can use 1 full egg instead. Keep in mind the texture of the cupcake will change.
- Sour Cream & Whole Milk: Sour cream and whole milk are strongly recommended for the best taste and texture. A full-fat plain yogurt would work instead of sour cream, though the cupcakes may not be as light. Same goes with a lower-fat milk (I don’t recommend nonfat). Nondairy milk works in a pinch. You can replace both the whole milk and sour cream with buttermilk (1 cup/240ml) if needed.
- Vanilla: I love using vanilla bean paste in the cupcakes and whipped cream because it combines both extract AND vanilla bean seeds. You can, of course use pure vanilla extract instead. If using vanilla extract, and if you want that extra vanilla bean flavor, feel free to add the seeds scraped from 1/2 of a vanilla bean in the cupcake batter, and use the seeds from the other half of the vanilla bean in the whipped cream. (This is in addition to the liquid vanilla extract.)
- Can I Make This Into a Cake? Absolutely, and I already have a separate recipe for Strawberry Shortcake Cake. For a layer cake, use my white cake recipe, and today’s strawberry filling. Fill the cooled cake layers with most of the strawberry filling, and save some to fold into the whipped cream. There is plenty of whipped cream for the exterior of the layer cake.
- Be sure to check out my 10 tips for baking the BEST cupcakes before you begin.
Keywords: strawberry shortcake cupcakes