Strawberry Cupcakes

These strawberry cupcakes are made entirely with fresh strawberries. There’s no freeze dried strawberries and no strawberry extract or dyes used. All the flavor comes from a strawberry reduction made using ripe strawberries. Trust me, the little bit of extra effort is worth it! 

To tell you the truth, I’ve never posted a strawberry cake/cupcake recipe for two reasons. 

  1. I’ve never been a big “strawberry flavored” girly. It’s just not my go-to but these cupcakes HAVE ME RECONSIDERING MY LIFE CHOICES. 
  2. I was intimidated. I didn’t think that using only fresh strawberries would give me a great flavor, texture and color but IT DID! Sorry for all the yelling.

Why I love these strawberry cupcakes

  • They’re fairly simple to make and the strawberry reduction is really simple and worth the extra effort! 
  • These strawberry cupcakes are super light, fluffy, moist and tender…all of the above.  
  • They just barely brown along the edges which keeps them pretty and pink still without any dyes!
  • They’re perfectly puffed, not too domed and not flimsy and flat. They actually taste like real strawberries without the use of extracts or freeze dried strawberries. 
  • Sometimes you want to go strawberry picking but then can’t eat all the strawberries before they go bad and your kids don’t like pie so you make cupcakes… or is that just me?

Nothing against freeze dried strawberries or extracts, I’ve certainly used them in specific recipes but I think they have a distinct flavor and I wanted this cupcake to taste like a fresh strawberry! 

If you love a good strawberry dessert, make sure to check out my fraisier cake, charlotte cake, strawberries and cream cupcakes, strawberry muffins, and my strawberry and cream cookies.  

Ingredients for strawberry cupcakes

  • Butter: I prefer salted butter here for the cupcake and unsalted for the buttercream. Make sure it’s softened to room temperature so it creams well with the dry ingredients. 
  • Flour: I use all purpose flour in most of my recipes BUT you cannot beat the texture of cake flour in cupcakes so I highly recommend King Arthur’s Cake Flour. It is far superior to some alternatives in the grocery stores.
    • I have used the “homemade cake flour” trick by replacing 1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour with cornstarch. The cupcakes will work if you make them this way but they won’t be quite as soft and tender. 
    • I HIGHLY recommend using a digital scale, as flour is so often over measured. 
  • Baking Powder: to leaven the cupcakes. I don’t recommend swapping this – baking soda would neutralize the pH and the cupcake will brown more and won’t be very pretty. 
  • Sugar: I used granulated sugar and I don’t recommend cutting any out.  
  • Oil: I always use a combination of butter and oil in my cakes because I like the texture from both. I recommend a neutral oil like vegetable oil, canola oil or sunflower oil here.
    • The color may turn questionable if you use olive oil or avocado oil. 
  • Eggs: I use two large egg whites to keep these cupcakes as pale as possible so the pink color can come through. If you swap two egg whites for one large egg, the cupcake will be good but the color won’t be as nice (can add food coloring if you do that though!). 
  • Sour Cream: I’ve used greek yogurt and sour cream in this recipe and they both work well. You can also use plain yogurt, just make sure it’s unsweetened.
  • Strawberries: I actually went strawberry picking with my kids so these strawberries were fresh from a farm and I picked the best ones so I definitely recommend being a little picky with the strawberries if you want the best flavor and color.
    • You want the strawberries to be ripe, sweet and bright red for the best results. If you can’t find good strawberries, you could add in a tsp of strawberry extract to the cake, along with a few drops of pink food coloring. 
    • You could also add in a couple of tablespoons of freeze dried strawberry powder. 
  • Lemon: I rubbed the sugar with a little lemon zest before proceeding with the batter. Lemon can help bring out flavors and gives it a nice fruity feel. It’s totally optional.
  • Vanilla: I used a little vanilla in the frosting – I prefer vanilla bean paste for frostings but extract work fine too. 
  • Food Coloring & Strawberry Extract: I didn’t use any because my strawberries were very vibrant and strong flavored but if your strawberries aren’t the best, feel free to add a few drops of red food coloring and 1/2 tsp of strawberry extract.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Strawberry Reduction

  1. Pulse all the strawberries in a food processor until they’re all blended.
  2. Cook the strawberry puree for about half an hour, until it’s reduced by half. Cool back to room temperature.

Strawberry Topping

  1. Slice the strawberries and toss with granulated sugar. Allow them to rest in the fridge until the cupcakes are done. 

Strawberry Cupcakes

  1. Rub the lemon zest with the sugar to release some of the oils from the lemon peel. 
  2. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt until they’re evenly distributed.
  3. Add the room temperature butter and the oil and use an electric mixer to beat them at medium, until they’re crumbly like a streusel. 
  4. Add the egg whites and mix just until it’s well combined and the batter looks like paste.
  5. Add the sour cream and strawberry reductions and turn the mixer to medium speed just until it’s combined. 
  6. Scrape the edge of the bowl and give it a good mix. Fill the cupcake liners about ⅔-¾ full. I recommend weighing them so each cupcake has 55-60 grams of batter.  
  7. Bake for 18-19 minutes, until the tallest part of the cupcake, in the center, springs back when you press on it. If you’re hesitant, give it another minute or so.
  8. Let the cupcakes rest for 10 minutes in the pan, then remove them from the pan. 

Strawberry Buttercream

  1. Cream the butter for a few minutes, until it’s pale and fluffy. 
  2. Add the powdered sugar and salt and beat until they’re well combined. 
  3. Add the vanilla and strawberry reduction and beat again just until they’re well combined and the frosting is fluffy. 
  4. Frost the cupcakes and top with strawberry slices.

Why do I use the reverse creaming method?

The reverse creaming method is where you combine all the dry ingredients including the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, etc. with the butter and oil first. In this step the butter and oil are coating the flour particles. When the flour is coated with fat first, it inhibits the development of gluten, making the cupcakes extra tender (over developing the gluten is what can make cakes tough). 

This also provides a ‘tight’ crumb which means you should have large air pockets in the crumb of the cake. The lack of the large air pockets helps the cupcakes rise more evenly so that they’re not lopsided and don’t deflate when you remove them from the oven. 

Expert tips on getting perfect strawberry cupcakes

There’s a few things that can make it or break it with these cupcakes. 

  • Don’t swap ingredients unless I mentioned them in the ingredient section above.
  • Don’t reduce the sugar. I know a lot of people do that for some recipes but not this one.
  • Weigh your ingredients with a digital scale 
  • Weigh the batter for each cupcake with a digital scale. I just place the cupcake pan on the scale with the liners and measure out 55-60 grams for each cupcake. You should have exactly enough for 12 cupcakes. 
  • Use a light colored stainless steel muffin tin. 

The best strawberry frosting for strawberry cupcakes

This is pretty much a personal preference. When I use just two egg whites for my vanilla cupcakes, I opted for French buttercream since I already had some of the egg yolks. I don’t recommend using that here though, you’ll get a poopy-ish color from mixing egg yolks with strawberries. 

So I used American buttercream for this because I felt the sweetness went well with the strawberries but if I had leftover egg white lying around I would also use Swiss meringue buttercream and just add the reduction to that.

Cream cheese frosting would also work great if you prefer that – it just may be a little softer and may need to refrigerate for a little before frosting the cupcakes. 

The recipe is in the recipe card but you can also read more about frostings in my cookbook, Frosted

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use all-purpose flour?

I have used the “homemade cake flour” trick by replacing 1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour with cornstarch. The cupcakes will work if you make them this way but they won’t be quite as soft and tender. 
I HIGHLY recommend using a digital scale though, as flour is so often over measured and this makes the biggest difference.

Can I make this ahead of time?

This cake holds on to moisture really well so you can make it 1-2 days in advance before serving. 

How do I know when it’s done baking?

Just like all the rest of my cakes, I test if it’s done baking by pressing gently on the tallest part of the cake. The cake will spring back if it’s done baking. If it stays indented, give it a few minutes in the oven, before testing again. 

Can I use this as a strawberry cake recipe?

I have not tested this cupcake recipe as a cake recipe yet but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. The only thing I did different from my vanilla cupcake recipe was swap out some of the wet ingredients for strawberry reduction so I’m assuming if I took my vanilla cake and swapped the milk and some of the sour cream out for strawberry reduction that it would work out fine as well. 

How to store these strawberry cupcakes

I usually just cover cupcakes with a cake dome or place them in an airtight container and store them at room temperature for 2-3 days but I feel like all the strawberry would make them go bad quicker and it makes them softer so I store these in the fridge. 

Store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about 4-5 days or freeze for longer.

To freeze the cupcakes, place them in an airtight container and then place the container in a freezer bag, squeezing out all the excess air. Bring them back to room temperature by thawing at room temperature for a few hours before serving. 

Thanks so much for reading today’s post, if you have any questions just comment down below.

If you make these strawberry cupcakes, I’d love it if you left a star rating or a review for me! As always, have a blessed day and happy baking!

Love, B

close up of strawberry cupcakes topped with strawberry slices

Fresh Strawberry Cupcakes

Bernice Baran
These strawberry cupcakes are made entirely with fresh strawberries. There's no freeze dried strawberries and no strawberry extract or dyes used. All the flavor comes from a strawberry reduction made using very ripe strawberries.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Additional Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 33 minutes
Course Cupcakes
Cuisine American
Servings 12 cupcakes
Calories 511 kcal


Strawberry Reduction

  • 1 lb fresh ripe strawberries

Strawberry Topping

  • 6 small or medium strawberries
  • 1 Tbsp (12g) granulated sugar

Strawberry Cupcakes

  • 172 grams (1 1/2 cups) cake flour spooned and leveled
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 200 grams (1 cup) granulated sugar
  • 60 mL (1/4 cup) canola oil
  • 56 grams (1/4 cup) unsalted butter room temperature
  • 2 large (60g) egg whites
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 56 grams (1/4 cup) sour cream
  • 4 ounces (1/2 cup) strawberry reduction room temperature


  • 227 grams (2 sticks/1 cup) unsalted butter room temperature
  • 480 grams (4 cups) powdered sugar spooned and leveled
  • 2 ounces (1/4 cup) strawberry reduction room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
  • tiny pinch of fine sea salt


Strawberry Reduction

  • Cut the stems off the strawberries and place them all into a food processor. Pulse at full speed until they're completely blended.
    1 lb fresh ripe strawberries
  • Pour the strawberry puree into a small pot and place over low heat for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally so it doesn't stick.
  • The strawberries should reduce by about half so you should have 1/2 lbs or 8ish ounces left. Pour it into a jar or bowl and let it come to room temperature. I placed mine over an ice bath and set it in the fridge while I went through all the next steps; it cooled by the time I got to the step I needed it in the recipe.

Strawberry Topping

  • Slice the strawberries about 1/8-1/4 inch thick – just thin slices and place them in a small bowl with the sugar. Mix them together and place the bowl in the fridge until we need it.
    6 small or medium strawberries, 1 Tbsp (12g) granulated sugar

Strawberry Cupcakes

  • Preheat the oven to 350F/177C convection (325F/163C conventional) and line 12 muffin tins with cupcake liners (preferably a light colored pan).
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, salt and sugar until they're evenly distributed (whisk well).
    172 grams (1 1/2 cups) cake flour, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp fine sea salt, 200 grams (1 cup) granulated sugar
  • Add the oil and butter to the dry ingredients and beat together until they're combined.
    60 mL (1/4 cup) canola oil, 56 grams (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
  • Add the egg and vanilla extract and paste and mix until they're fully combined.
    2 large (60g) egg whites, 2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • Add the sour cream and strawberry reduction and turn the mixer to medium speed just until they're mixed in. Scrape the edge of the bowl and mix just until the cupcake batter is fully combined and smooth.
    56 grams (1/4 cup) sour cream, 4 ounces (1/2 cup) strawberry reduction
  • Fill each cupcake liner about 2/3-3/4 full, about 55-60 grams of batter per cupcake.
  • Bake for 16-18 minutes. They are done when you press on the center of the cupcake and it springs back or when a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  • Remove them from the oven and let them cool in the cupcake pan for 10 minutes, then move them to a cooling rack. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.

Strawberry Buttercream

  • Place the butter into the bowl of a stand mixer (or just a large bowl with a hand mixer) and beat at full speed using the whisk attachment. Scrape the edge of the bowl and beat it again until it's pale and fluffy.
    227 grams (2 sticks/1 cup) unsalted butter
  • Add the powdered sugar and salt and beat at low speed just until the sugar is dissolved. Then increase the speed to medium-high for 1-2 minutes, scraping the edge of the bowl halfway through.
    480 grams (4 cups) powdered sugar, tiny pinch of fine sea salt
  • Add the vanilla and the strawberry reduction and turn the mixer up to medium-high speed, just until it's combined. Scrape the edge of the bowl well and mix one more time.
    2 ounces (1/4 cup) strawberry reduction, 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
  • Use a piping bag fit with a large round piping tip to frost the cupcakes. Use a small spoon or small offset spatula to create a little swirl on top and top with 1-2 slices of macerated strawberries.


  • *I weigh 55-60g of batter for each cupcake to make sure they’re perfect. 
  • The cupcake batter is pink so don’t look for a golden brown color when it’s finished baking but it will darken just slightly around the edges. Gently press on the cake and it should spring back when it’s done baking. 
  • I recommend a light colored metal cupcake pan if you want them more uniform in color.
  • Store in an airtight container, refrigerated for 4-5 days.
  • If you want a more pink cupcake, feel free to add some food coloring. You could also add some freeze dried strawberry powder to the frosting to make it even more vibrant. I didn’t add anything extra. 


Serving: 1gCalories: 511kcalCarbohydrates: 71gProtein: 3gFat: 25gSaturated Fat: 13gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 53mgSodium: 116mgPotassium: 65mgFiber: 1gSugar: 59gVitamin A: 621IUVitamin C: 11mgCalcium: 46mgIron: 0.3mg
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  1. Hey there! I was wondering if these can be made with Gluten free flour, if so how do you recommended the mixing of the batter? Any extra time to allow it to sit to absorb the ingredients? Thanks so much!

    • Hi Mindy, I haven’t tested it but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. I don’t have a ton of experience with gf flour but if you normally let them rest to absorb, you could try that, I don’t see why it wouldn’t work 🙂

  2. These look SOOOOO good! I just froze my remaining strawberries that didn’t get eaten after picking, though. I know this is probably a stupid question, but could I thaw them and then use them to make the reduction? Or would that add too much moisture and cut down on the flavor too much?

    • Hey I think that would be totally fine. The only thing is that they will be more wet so it will take longer to cook down. Just make sure you end up with the same end amount as the recipe and it should be fine! It will be thick, tart and darker in color.