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Homemade Strawberry Cake From Scratch

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Homemade Strawberry Cake From Scratch: The Best Fresh Strawberry Cake Recipe, WITHOUT a boxed cake mix or strawberry jello! Then topped with strawberry cream cheese frosting.

Fresh Strawberry Cake From Scratch

The Best Strawberry Cake Recipe

Not too long ago I shared my favorite Lemon Buttermilk Cake Recipe. In the post, I discussed the concept of a true “southern cake” recipe. 

Southern cakes are cakes that are ultra moist, soft and delicate in texture, and sweet. They can be any flavor, yet they always have the same moist texture. 

In my opinion, a good strawberry layer cake is the epitome of the perfect “southern cake.” 

Its tender pink layers of pillowy strawberry sweetness and creamy frosting, taste of early summer days in the deep south.

Best Strawberry Cake Recipe

Easy Strawberry Cake

Most easy strawberry cake recipes call for boxed cake mix and a box of strawberry jello to add flavor and color. 

Although there’s nothing wrong with cake mix or jello, the strawberry flavor does taste artificial.

If you grew up on strawberry (jello) cake, this nostalgic flavor could be right up your alley.

However, today I’m sharing a Homemade Strawberry Cake Recipe that has the same appealing texture, yet tastes of fresh summer strawberries.

Don’t worry, even without a cake mix, this strawberry cake from scratch is still easy to make!

Homemade Strawberry Cake Recipe

Fresh Strawberry Cake 

So where does the real strawberry flavor come from?

Fresh strawberries… As well as a little bit of strawberry extract, and strawberry jam in the frosting. 

This makes our Fresh Strawberry Layer Cake a triple-threat of strawberry deliciousness!

The trick is, you need fresh ripe in-season strawberries to make this cake really shine. Berries that are so ripe they squish easily in your fingers.

If you want to make this cake any time outside of strawberry season, I suggest using thawed sliced frozen strawberries in syrup.

Strawberries in syrup are the next best option, because the strawberries are packed and frozen in their peak season. They are slightly sweetened so they taste similar to ripe strawberries straight off the vine.

Strawberry Cake Without Gelatin

Butter Cake vs Oil Cake

I’m going to go against the grain of culinary thinking and state that the reason I believe “southern cakes” are superior to all other cakes is that they are primarily made with oil (or “ol” if you live in the south) instead of butter.

It’s true, butter does taste better than oil. Therefore cakes made with butter have a deep rich buttery flavor that is very enticing.

However, butter makes cake batter heavier than oil, so the texture is denser, and not quite as light and airy.

Although both taste and texture are very important, with cake, I feel that texture trumps flavor.

You can skip the butter altogether and try to make up for the missing richness with other flavor-enhancing ingredients. Or you can compromise, by adding half butter and half oil. 

That’s what I usually do. This provides the decadence of a butter cake and close to the texture of a pure oil cake. 

Pink Strawberry Cake

I should mention, this cake does not naturally turn out as neon pink as a strawberry cake made with powdered jello. 

Therefore, if you want a pink cake, you will need to add some red food coloring. How much you use is completely up to you. 

I used just a few drops in the cake batter and just 1 or 2 in the frosting.

If the color doesn’t matter to you, you can completely skip the food coloring!

Ready to get started?

How To Make Homemade Strawberry Cake

  1. Line the pans. These delicate cake layers will break when you flip them out of the pans if you don’t line the bottom of the cake pans with parchment paper. This simple step will save your cake every single time. 
  2. Puree the strawberries. Whether you are using fresh or frozen berries, puree them in the blender, so the strawberry puree can blend evenly into the cake batter.
  3. Mix the wet and dry ingredients separately. It’s extremely important to follow the directions so that the batter is evenly mixed. The dump-all-and-stir method does not produce light airy cakes.
  4. Don’t overbeat the batter. Once all the ingredients are in the mixer and the batter looks smooth, stop mixing. Beating your batter too long makes the cake tough. 
  5. Bake undisturbed. I know it’s tempting to open that oven door… But don’t do it! This causes a light delicate cake batter to fall, therefore creating a dense texture. Set your timer and walk away.
  6. Frost and serve! See our frosting tips below to spread smooth creamy strawberry frosting over the cake. 

See the Full (Printable) Fresh Homemade Strawberry Layer Cake From Scratch Recipe & Video Below!

P.S. Don’t let the number of steps in the recipe deter you from making this amazing cake. I broke them down, in order to make the recipe easier to follow.

You can totally do this!!

how to make strawberry cake

Frequently Asked Questions: 

How well does this cake keep?

You can let it sit out 3 days at room temperature, or it will last 7-10 days in the refrigerator. Make sure to wrap it well.

Can I freeze this cake?

Wrap the cake well with a layer of plastic wrap, then foil. Freeze for up to 6 months. Then thaw at room temperature. 

To preserve the best possible appearance on the outside, you can “flash freeze” the cake, unwrapped, for about an hour so the frosting hardens. Then wrap well and freeze.

What if I want to make these into cupcakes

For cupcakes, I would increase the heat to 375 (for a higher dome) and bake for 20-24 minutes. This recipe would make about 18-24 cupcakes. 

What brand extracts do you use?

I usually buy McCormick or Watkins extracts.

How much flavor does the strawberry extract lend to the cake?

The extract does provide a stronger flavor, so without it the flavor of strawberry will be more delicate. 

Can I make this in a 9×13 pan?

Yes, you can! Bake it at 350 for 30-35 minutes.


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Homemade Strawberry Cake from Scratch

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
The Best Strawberry Cake Recipe, homemade, WITHOUT a boxed cake mix or strawberry jello! Then topped with strawberry cream cheese frosting.
Servings: 20 slices


For the Fresh Strawberry Cake:

  • 3 cups cake flour, sifted (or 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour + ¼ cup cornstarch)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar + 2 tablespoons
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons strawberry extract
  • 3/4 cup fresh pureed strawberries (about 1 1/2 cups whole ripe berries) or sliced frozen strawberries in syrup
  • 3/4 cup full fat buttermilk
  • 4-8 drops red food coloring, optional (I used 4 drops)

For the Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting:


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray or grease two 9-inch round cake pans. Cut out 9-inch parchment paper circles, and press them down in the bottom of each pan. (Trace the pan for perfect circles.)
  • For the Strawberry Layer Cake: In the bowl on an electric stand mixer, cream the butter and 1 3/4 cups sugar together for 1 minute. Then add in the oil and beat until the mixture is very smooth. (Cream: Beat on high to break down the sugar crystals.)
  • In a separate bowl, mix the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • Place the ripened strawberries in the blender with 2 tablespoons sugar. Puree until smooth. (Or use an equal amount of thawed sliced strawberries in syrup. Drain and puree. No need to add sugar.)
  • Once the butter and sugar are well creamed. Scrape the mixing bowl with a rubber spatula. Then turn the mixer on low and beat in the eggs, vanilla extract, strawberry extract, strawberry puree, and buttermilk.
  • Scrape the bowl again. Turn the mixer back on low and slowly add the flour mixture until well combined. Beat in the food coloring if desired, then turn off the mixer.
  • Pour the batter evenly into the two prepared pans. Bake on the middle rack, undisturbed for 30 minutes. If the center of the cakes are puffed up, check the cake by inserting a toothpick into the center. If it comes out clean, take them out of the oven. If the toothpick has batter on it, bake another 5-10 minutes and recheck.
  • Allow the cakes to cool 10 minutes in the pans. Then carefully flip them out on a cooling rack. Remove the parchment paper and cool completely.
  • For the Frosting: Once the cakes are room temperature, place the cream cheese and butter in a clean stand mixer bowl. Beat until fluffy. Then scrape the bowl and turn on low. Mix in the strawberry jam, vanilla extract, and salt. Then add the powdered sugar one cup at a time, beating to incorporate. After adding 4 cups of powdered sugar, turn the mixer up to beat out any clumps. Check the consistency of the frosting. If it is too loose, add another 1-2 cups of powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Add food coloring if desired
  • To Assemble: Move one cake to a cake stand or platter. Scoop about 2 cups frosting onto the cake. Use a large flat spatula to spread the frosting out evenly.
  • Set the second cake on top of the frosting, being careful to center the cake. Gently press the cake a little to level the top. Then scoop all remaining frosting on top of the cake. Use the spatula to work the frosting over the top and down the sides.
  • Turn the cake stand to smooth out the sides with the flat edge of the spatula. Once you are satisfied with the sides, use the spatula to make swooping marks on the top of the cake. Use a wet paper towel to clean up the cake stand. Top with whole fresh strawberries, or sliced strawberries if serving on the same day.
  • Cover and keep the cake at room temperature for up to 4 days, or refrigerate for up to a week. When ready to serve, make sure the cake is at room temperature… All classic layer cakes taste best at room temperature.



True Southern Oil Cake: If you’d rather skip the butter altogether, you can make this cake with 1 cup of oil. This will give it an even lighter texture, although you lose a little bit of richness in flavor.
Pro Frosting Tips: If you have a tendency to get crumbs in the frosting when you try to frost a cake, you can:
  • Spread a thin “crumb coat” layer of frosting over the cake to catch and seal in the crumbs. Then spread on the final “pretty” layer of frosting on top.
  • Or you can wrap the cakes in separate pieces of plastic and freeze them. Then a few hours later, you can unwrap, level, and frost the cake with a lot of added stability. Just be sure to do this at least 6 hours before serving so the cake layers have time to thaw.


Serving: 1slice, Calories: 417kcal, Carbohydrates: 60g, Protein: 5g, Fat: 18g, Saturated Fat: 11g, Cholesterol: 73mg, Sodium: 226mg, Potassium: 126mg, Fiber: 0g, Sugar: 44g, Vitamin A: 420IU, Vitamin C: 3.8mg, Calcium: 58mg, Iron: 0.5mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Sommer Collier

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65 comments on “Homemade Strawberry Cake From Scratch”

  1. What a beautiful cake can’t wait until strawberry season to give it a try.

  2. This cake is amazing, I made it with a thickened reduced strawberry sauce and added sour cream and heavy cream for extra moisture which sounds extra but omg the most moist flavorful cake ever.

  3. The Strawberry Cake recipe is AWESOME!!!! I never made a cake with cake flour.  I followed this recipe to the tee; for my daughter’s birthday.  and it was a hit.  It actually tasted like Strawberry Ice Cream.  The frosting was ooh la la.  Thank you very much.  Now I’m going to try the Lemon Cake.  

  4. Can’t comment yet. In the oven now. Smells wonderful while baking. I have a question. Can you freeze it with frosting on for a few days?

  5. My 1st try was amazing! Followed the recipe to the letter and got flavor, light moist texture, for a result I’d been chasing for a long time! It doesn’t get better than this- thanks so much!

  6. This was just the most perfect summer cake. My kids loved it.

  7. I can’t get strawberry extract where I live. If I don’t put it in I asume it won’t taste very strawberryish 

  8. I made the Strawberry Cake today for my granddaughters 10th birthday. She loves anything strawberry!!!! Well, it was a huge hit!!! Everyone loved it!
    I made the cake following all the directions. The only thing I did different was to add a strawberry filling to the middle of the cake. I spread a light coat of the cream cheese frosting and then added the filling very thinly. It added that little extra of strawberry taste. Plus it gave a pretty presentation when it was cut to serve.
    I will be making this again in the near future. Thanks so much for a wonderful recipe.

  9. hi, i’m trying to make a small personal two tier cake for my friend, how long should i put in a 4in and a 6in round cake pan?

  10. This recipe was perfect! It was my first homemade cake and it wasn’t too dry! Great recipe. I didn’t use the parchment paper, just used flower and butter and it worked perfectly.  

  11. Hi, Sommer! Would love to try this out. But we only have a carton of strawberry sauce (syrup?) and we’re looking for ways to use it up. Would it be okay if I use this instead of the puree? Thanks!

  12. I made this cake for a friends moms birthday. I was afraid to make a strawberry cake from scratch, because of all the negative reviews I had seen about not having enough flavor. I baked this cake, and it was the best cake I had ever tasted! Everyone loved it. I didnt use the cream cheese frosting, I made homemade strawberry buttercream so I could decorate it. The cake was fabulous!! I will definitely be making this cake again! Thank you for such a wonderful recipe.

  13. I made this cake yesterday for our Moms 91st Birthday. I made it in a 9×13 pan. Followed directions exactly and it was perfect and delicious! Thank you so much for sharing this cake recipe.

    • Can I make this is two smaller pans. So two 6×3. Could you tell me what the temp and time would need to be?

      This is my 3rd time making this AMAZING recipe!! And it’s been a hit every time! 

      • Hi Katie,

        You definitely can, but I can’t give you an exact baking time. I would start with 15 minutes, and if it looks puffed, test with a toothpick. If not, add 5-10 minutes.

  14. A friend shared this recipe. My family loved it! One said it’s the best cake he’s ever had (age 62).

  15. I read all the way from the top and was really excited to make this until I realised that the measurements are all in cups rather than grams! I’d love to try this if it was in grams and millilitres! 

  16. Omgoodness-so good. I had to modify one ingredient , I had no strawberry extract and used a fruit infused vinegar. Also I substituted and used dark cocoa powder and made a dark chocolates frosting. So delish. 

  17. I baked this cake with fresh strawberries from the farm next to my neighborhood & it’s just out of this world! I ended up adding the extra confectioners sugar to the frosting for stiffness & it was a little too sweet. In my opinion it tasted better when more of the cream cheese flavor came through. Make this cake! 🍓

  18. Hi Sommer,
    Can this cake be made in three 8×2 cake pans? If so, how long should I bake it.

  19. I made this for my 30th birthday and it was a total hit! (I didn’t share the leftovers) I didn’t use the food coloring and it still presented nice. Will make this again! Thank you for sharing!!! 

  20. I usually don’t do homemade cakes, but I decided to give it a whirl- this was easy and super moist. Frosting was delicious too. Who doesn’t like cream cheese?

  21. Ok, this looks amazing and is perfect for summertime! I may or may not share it with my family tho!

  22. Hi, if I were to make cupcakes how long would I cook them for?

    • Hi Cassie,

      For cupcakes, I would increase the heat to 375 (for a higher dome) and bake for 20-24 minutes. :)

    • Question, please.  I’ve seen where some homemade strawberry cakes reduce the purée down to a thicker version.  Can you tell me if you tried that or why you use the purée as is?  i appreciate your help!  

  23. I just made this and it is wonderful! The cake is light and i messed up and dumped my sugar in with the flour, so it didn’t get creamed. That didn’t hurt the cake though. Great flavor, not overpowering, just right. My cake was not pink though even though i put red food coloring in the batter. Again that didn’t hurt the cake. Definitely a great cake and one i would make again.

  24. Loved it….so yummy.

  25. There’s no such thing as “full fat buttermilk” according to our dairy so assume low fat buttermilk will work

  26. I’ve made a strawberry cake before and was very disappointed. However, when I saw this recipe, I decided to try it. WOW! I’ve made this cake four (4) times since August and it gets better every time!
    My brother loves anything with strawberries so I made it for him. He looked like he wanted to cry, because it was so good. He kept thanking me over and over!
    Thank you for sharing this!!!

  27. Hi Sommer can i use 1 cup of buttermilk instead of 3/4 just for that delicate crumb! Cake was a little dry the following day even after mixing  carefully! ?? 

  28. I made this recipe twice:  The first time I made it as stated.  The cake came out dense.  The second time, I substituted strawberry emulsion instead of the extract. I also reduced the strawberry puree as suggested and cooked it down to half the amount.  Both of these helped intensify the flavor.  The reduction helped remove a lot of the excess moisture from the strawberries resulting with a fluffier cake. 

    • Hi i made this cake also! I didnt reduce the puree which i plan to do next time i try it i notice the cake was dry the following day is that due to the excess moisture in the strawberries? Or not enough liquid tell me your experience please thanks ! 

  29. Just made this for a smash cake …cake crumbs I tasted had good flavor, but  does not taste super strawberry-y  to me tho… I know I added the proper amount of fresh strawberry purée but did not want to overdo it… I will prob make a strawberry filling for the cupcakes … not too worried about smash cake since it will b destroyed anyway … 

  30. Hello i really want to try it but i have a question. So by blending the strawberries, will it make the cake heavy? Im just scared because i have followed a recipe like this before and the cake turned out horrible 😞

    • I was curious about that too. Usually I just cut berries into small pieces … I followed instructions and it seems ok. Just was not super strawberry flavored to me .. this was for a smash cake so not super worried about that but  I will have to make a strawberry filling for cupcakes 

      • I read on another recipe that she reduced the strawberries so they will have more flavor. Im going to try that. Im still somewhat worried but i will try anything because i dont want to put any flavoring drops.

    • Hi Cynthia,

      No, it is light and tender. You can see the texture of the cake in the images. FYI, Heavy cake often have to do with over-beating the batter or old leavening agents. Hope this helps! :)

  31. Can this be made in a 13 x18 cake pan?

  32. hi can this be made into cupcakes? if yes what will the cook time be?

  33. Can you make this in a 9 x 13 inch pan? What temperature and how long?

  34. What brand of extract do you use?

  35. Everyone loved this cake! Definitely a big hit!

  36. This looks fabulous!  Making this weekend. I donot use box cakes as we do not eat sugar so will be making with monk fruit.  I do not have strawberry extract…most of them seem to be made of artificial ingredients… so I am going to try  a little  pulverized dried strawberries added in instead to boost the flavor.   Wish me luck! Thanks for recipes.

    • Jillian, I’d love to hear, how did the freeze dried strawberries work out? Did you add them to the cake, or just the frosting? It would be a great way to add flavor without moisture to the cake.

  37. My whole family loved it! It was SO good!

  38. This was just the most perfect summer cake. My kids loved it.

  39. strawberry cake, love it, never made it but love it, thank you for this recipe (and inspiration!) Also interesting confirmation of what I kinda thought/expected about butter versus oil in cakes

  40. I’ve never had strawberry cake from scratch, but now I can’t have it any other way!

  41. I love the natural colors of this cake! I plan to make it for one of my girl’s birthday. She loves pink.

  42. This is THE BEST homemade strawberry cake! A winner every time!

  43. I love that this beautiful cake doesn’t use any artificial flavorings!! Perfect for summer!