Fresh Strawberry Cake with strawberry cream cheese frosting is here to give us a reason to celebrate each and every day. It’s made exclusively from real strawberries (no mixes, gelatin, or artificial food coloring here!) and is one of my most treasured dessert recipes.
To date, I’ve used this same fresh strawberry cake recipe to make cakes for all kinds of special life events, ranging from bachelorette parties to my niece’s birthday party to my own wedding anniversary.
It’s also an ideal recipe to make on any given day when you feel like celebrating life.
Homemade cakes from scratch (like my other favorite Lemon Layer Cake) has a way of turning even the most routine evening into a joyful mini-event.
There’s cake did you say? It might not have felt like a party before, but it sure does now!
5 Star Review
“I made this strawberry cake for an Easter gathering. It was amazing! Moist and delicious! I could have eaten the frosting with a spoon!”— Janna —
Instead of making a strawberry cake recipe using cake mix, this homemade strawberry cake is made entirely from scratch.
It’s fresh, moist, and its flavor and color come entirely from real strawberries (this Easy Strawberry Cake is also made with fresh strawberries).
Every time I eat it, I can’t help but close my eyes, take a moment to appreciate its idyllic fluffy, buttery texture and pure strawberry flavor, and think to myself, this is love.
With that said, you should know that I am excruciatingly picky about cake, more so than any other type of dessert recipe.
Therefore, you can trust that I did my homework to ensure this is the very best strawberry cake you’ll ever make.
Qualities of the BEST Cake Recipes
- Moist. Yes, I am using the “m” word. Nothing disappoints quite like a dry cake.
- The Right Kind of Sturdy. While I want my cake to be tender, it also needs to hold up to my fork. My ideal cake has some substance, but it is still light and airy enough to melt on your tongue.
- Frosted. Cream cheese frosted, specifically. For this old-fashioned strawberry cake recipe, I made an easy fresh strawberry cream cheese frosting. It will take all of your willpower not to sit on your counter with the bowl on your lap and quietly, quickly eat it all with a spoon.
- From Scratch. If I am going to eat cake, I want it to be The Real Deal (no strawberry cake recipe with jello). It’s why I made this strawberry cake recipe from scratch with only fresh strawberries and no food coloring. (If you were expecting a hot pink crumb, you’ll have to add gelatin or use an artificially colored mix.)
- As Low Maintenance as Possible. Let’s be honest: cake is kind of a pain, and everyone knows it. The effort that goes into a from-scratch cake like this one is part of what makes it special and why whoever is lucky enough to have a slice will appreciate you for making it. AT THE SAME TIME, I never want to make a recipe more difficult than it needs to be, including this homemade strawberry cake. This recipe does take some time, but it is highly doable.
How to Make Strawberry Cake
Part of what makes this easy strawberry cake recipe special are the simple ingredients and little steps that yield the ideal cake texture.
Strawberry Cake Secrets
A few simple steps make this strawberry cake taste as if it came from a bakery.
- Use the Best Berries. Both fresh and frozen strawberries yield great results, so pick whichever option gives you the best-quality strawberries. In the spring and summer, I go for fresh strawberries since they are in season. In the winter, I find I get better (and less expensive) results using frozen berries. If using frozen, thaw the strawberries completely first. (No time to thaw? Try this Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp.)
- Measure Your Strawberry Puree. I’ve suggested an approximate amount of whole berries you’ll need to yield the strawberry puree called for in this recipe, but be sure to double-check before adding it to the batter.
- Don’t Skip the Egg Whites. How do you make a fluffy cake? This recipe calls for one whole egg and two egg whites. The egg whites help the cake rise and make it light and fluffy, while the yolk from the whole egg adds richness.
- Alternate the Dry and Wet Ingredients. Critical to ensuring the best-ever texture.
- Don’t Overbeat the Batter. Mixing flour develops gluten, which makes breads and cake tough. As soon as the flour disappears, the cake is ready to bake.
- Strawberries. The shining star of this homemade cake recipe (and Strawberry Cream Cheese Pie). Strawberries make the cake moist, flavorful, and give it a beautiful pink color.
- Flour + Whole Milk. All-purpose flour helps give the cake structure, and milk provides moisture. As I mentioned above, this cake has the perfect sturdy yet soft texture. Use whole milk for the best results. Even if you don’t buy it regularly, go ahead and spring for a small carton. I promise it is worth it.
- Vanilla Extract. Vanilla strawberry cake = heaven.
- Butter. To give the cake the body and texture it needs. Also, FLAVOR. Butter is delicious and makes this strawberry cake recipe tasty.
- Sugar. For both sweetness and for texture. I do not recommend any substitutions for the sugar.
- Egg + Egg Whites. For volume and a tender crumb. (Egg whites are also my trick to this light and fluffy Coconut Flour Cake.)
- Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting. To create the ultimate strawberry cream cheese frosting, I combined butter, reduced-fat cream cheese, powdered sugar, more fresh strawberry puree, salt, and vanilla extract.
- Line two 9-inch cake pan with parchment paper and coat with nonstick spray.
- Puree the strawberries. Set aside a portion for the cake and for the strawberry cream cheese frosting.
- Whisk together the dry ingredients. In another bowl, whisk the strawberry puree, milk, and vanilla.
- In a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add the egg whites, beat until incorporated, then add the whole eggs.
- Add half of the dry ingredients.
- Add the wet ingredients.
- Mix in the remaining dry ingredients, stopping as soon as the flour disappears. Divide the batter between the 2 cake pans, smoothing the top. Bake strawberry cake at 350 degrees F for about 30 to 35 minutes. Let it cool completely.
- Make the frosting.
- To decorate, spread the frosting between the two cake layers, on top, and on all sides of the cake. Decorate with additional fresh strawberries (if desired), slice, and serve. ENJOY!
Refrigerate the cake until you’re ready to serve. When you want to serve it, let it sit at room temperature for at least 15 minutes. With cake, you can taste flavors more fully if the cake isn’t ice cold.
Recipe Adaptations (Sheet Cake, Cupcakes, and More)
As written, this recipe will yield two 9-inch round layers. If you’d like to bake a fresh strawberry sheet cake, strawberry cupcakes, or strawberry layer cake of a different size, you can absolutely use this recipe!
- To Make a 9×13-inch Strawberry Sheet Cake: No changes are needed! Simply bake this recipe in a 9×13-inch pan, extending the baking time as needed.
- To Make 24 Cupcakes: No change to the cake batter. Bake the cupcakes at 350 degrees F for 22 to 25 minutes. For 12 cupcakes, halve the batter.
- To Make a Single-Layer Strawberry Cake: Halve the cake and frosting recipe and bake as directed in a single 9-inch round cake pan.
- To Make a Mini 2-Layer Cake (6 inches): Halve the batter and divide it between two 6-inch cake pans like these. Keep the frosting recipe the same (you’ll have some extra), or make only 3/4 of it.
- To Make a 3-Layer Strawberry Cake: Make 1.5 times the cake batter recipe; double the frosting.
- To Add Fresh Strawberry Slices Between Layers: see FAQs below.
- To Store. You do need to refrigerate a cake with cream cheese frosting. Without the optional sliced fresh strawberries added, this cake will last in the refrigerator for 5 days. Sliced fresh strawberries will last in a cake for 3 days in the refrigerator.
- To Freeze. Fully frosted or unfrosted cake can be frozen for up to 2 months. Let it thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then bring it to room temperature prior to serving.
Meal Prep Tip
The cake layer can be baked 1 day in advance—cool completely, then wrap airtight and store at room temperature. Frosting can be prepared 1 day in advance—place in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- 9-Inch Cake Pan. My favorite size pan to use for strawberry cake recipes.
- Mixing Bowls. To prepare your strawberry cake batter and frosting.
- Parchment Paper. Helps keep your cake from sticking to the pan.
The Best Stand Mixer
With a nonstick, easy-release coating, these cake pans make cleanup a breeze. You’ll love using these for any of your favorite cake recipes!
This fresh strawberry cake with cream cheese frosting is incredibly special to me.
Whatever occasion you find to make it—an anniversary, a birthday, an impromptu I’m in the mood for cake right now, so why not?—I know it will bring a bite of bliss to your kitchen too!
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, you can also make this a strawberry layer cake with fresh strawberries in the middle. Start by slicing the strawberries thinly and patting them dry. Place the first cake layer on your plate and spread frosting over the top. Arrange the berries in a single layer on top of the frosting, then add the next cake layer. Continue frosting/layering as you please.
This is only a concern if you use fresh strawberry slices to fill or garnish the cake. Strawberry slices soften, release moisture, and make the cake around them moist. The safest way to keep strawberry cakes from getting soggy is to keep your fresh strawberry slices separate from the cake. Add the strawberries on top right before serving, or garnish individual pieces of cake with fresh strawberries instead of adding the berries to the layers.
Strawberry shortcake is typically served with a biscuit-like base, whipped cream, and strawberries. It’s crumbly, and the layers are all prepared separately. A true strawberry cake is moist, fluffy, and combines all the ingredients into the cake itself. (Here is my favorite shortcake recipe.)
If you have extra frosting (lucky you!), you can use it as a dip for fruit or pretzels. It would also be delicious spread on top of cookies or One Bowl Brownies.
If you’re looking to complement this fresh strawberry cake recipe with a secondary filling, topping, or side of ice cream, consider something with lemon, almond, vanilla, or chocolate (white or dark).
For the Strawberry Cake:
- 2 cups whole strawberries divided (fresh, or frozen and thawed), plus additional for garnish
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup whole milk at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature (2 sticks)
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 4 large egg whites at room temperature
- 2 large whole eggs at room temperature
For the Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
- 6 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese at room temperature
- 4 cups powdered sugar plus additional if you prefer a sweeter or stiffer frosting
- 2 tablespoons strawberry puree reserved from cake recipe
- 1 pinch kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of 2 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper, then lightly coat with nonstick spray. Set aside.
- Place the strawberries in a food processor or blender and pulse until pureed. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the puree for the frosting and set aside. Then measure out an additional 2/3 cup for the cake. If you are a little short of 2/3 cup, blend in a few more strawberries as needed.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, vanilla, and 2/3 cup of strawberry puree. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a large mixing bowl), cream the butter on medium-high speed until it is light and fluffy. Slowly add the granulated sugar and continue to beat until fluffy and well combined. Stop the mixer and add the egg whites. Beat on medium, just until incorporated. Add the whole egg and mix again, just until combined.
- With the mixer on low, slowly add half the flour mixture.
- Mix just until the flour disappears.
- Add in all of the strawberry mixture and mix just until combined.
- Slowly add the remaining flour mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed. Stop mixing as soon as the flour disappears. If you have a bit of flour stuck to the bottom or sides of the bowl, finish stirring it in by hand.
- Divide the batter between the two prepared pans and smooth the tops (if you'd like to be exact, use a food scale; otherwise, eyeball it as best as you can). Bake the strawberry cake layers until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean and the top springs back lightly when touched, about 30 to 35 minutes.
- Place the pans on a cooling rack and let the layers cool in the pan completely. Do not be tempted to frost the cake before it is cool, or the frosting will turn into a big melty mess.
- While the cake cools, prepare the frosting. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a large mixing bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and fluffy. Beat in the cream cheese, stopping as soon as the two are fully combined. Reduce the mixer speed to low, then gradually add the powdered sugar. Once it all has been added, increase the mixer speed to medium and continue beating until the frosting is smooth. Don’t overbeat it—once it looks nice and creamy and evenly blended, it’s time to stop.
- Beat in the reserved 2 tablespoons of strawberry puree, salt, and vanilla until evenly combined. If you'd like the frosting stiffer or sweeter, gradually beat in additional powdered sugar until your desired stiffness/sweetness is reached.
- To decorate, place one cake layer on a serving plate, top side down and flat side up. Tuck strips of wax paper under the edges to protect the plate. Spread the top with about 1/2 cup frosting.
- Top with the second cake layer, either flat side or round side up, depending upon the look you are going for (flat gives a more formal, professional presentation; round is more homey and casual). Spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake.
- Smooth the frosting around the sides (don't stress over it being perfect. It's going to be DELISH!). Garnish with fresh berries as desired. Remove the strips of paper and refrigerate until ready to serve. Prior to serving, let the cake stand at room temperature for at least 15 minutes.
- TO STORE: You do need to refrigerate a cake with cream cheese frosting. Without the optional sliced fresh strawberries added, this cake will last in the refrigerator for 5 days. Sliced fresh strawberries will last on a cake for 3 days in the refrigerator.
- TO FREEZE: Fully frosted or unfrosted cake can be frozen for up to 2 months—let thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature prior to serving.
- TO MAKE AHEAD: The cake layers can be baked 1 day in advance—cool completely, then wrap airtight and store at room temperature. Frosting can be prepared 1 day in advance—place in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator.
- *To make a single-layer cake, 3-layer cake, sheet cake, or cupcakes, see notes in the blog post above.
- Recipe adapted from Sprinkles Bake Shop, via Martha Stewart
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