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Easy Strawberry Shortcake (From Scratch!)

Make this Easy Strawberry Shortcake From Scratch once – the strawberries, the shortcake and the whipped cream – and it’s the only way you’ll ever want to make this classic spring and summer dessert!

Sweet, juicy macerated fresh strawberries and homemade whipped cream sandwiched between two pieces of freshly baked shortcake that’s soft, buttery, just lightly sweet, and flavored with a hint of vanilla…this is one of my favorite ways to enjoy strawberries!

I was introduced to strawberry shortcake by my grandma when I was a little girl. She would fill up those store-bought sponge cake cups with thawed frozen strawberries in syrup and top it off with a squirt of canned whipped cream. I loved it!

Years later, when I started making strawberry shortcake, I used a bakery pound cake or angel food cake. I still pulled out the can of whipped cream, but I did graduate to making my own macerated strawberries.

In cooking, and specifically in regard to fruit, macerate means to soften and/or flavor by soaking in liquid. Fruit can also be macerated simply by adding sugar, which draws out the natural juices that the fruit then soaks in, making it softer and enhancing the sweetness.

Many more years later when I became a food blogger, I decided it was high time for me to make strawberry shortcake from scratch. All of it.

The strawberries and whipped cream were super easy. It was the shortcake that took a few tries to get right. Traditional biscuit-like shortcakes were a little too crumbly and dry for me. I wanted something a bit more cakey.

And that finally came with a shortcake recipe that I found in my mom’s 1963 copy of The Pillsbury Family Cookbook. I replaced the shortening with butter and added some vanilla extract. The result was exactly what I was looking for: somewhat of a biscuit-cake hybrid.

That perfect bite of all three components together is just so good and makes this homemade strawberry shortcake absolutely worth that little bit of extra effort!

Ingredients You Need

Note: Ingredient amounts are in the recipe card at the bottom of the post.

the ingredients needed to make strawberry shortcake from scratch; each ingredient is labeled
  • Fresh strawberries (get the best, most perfectly ripe ones that you can)
  • White granulated sugar
  • All-purpose flour
  • Baking powder
  • Salt (I use regular table salt)
  • Unsalted butter
  • Whole milk
  • Eggs (large)
  • Pure vanilla extract
  • Heavy whipping cream
  • Powdered sugar
  • Cooking spray (for greasing the pan)

Special Equipment Needed

  • Pastry blender
    • If you don’t have a pastry blender, you can use a fork (see the recipe notes).
  • Electric mixer (hand-held or stand mixer)
    • If you don’t have an electric mixer, you can use a whisk (see the recipe notes).

How to Make Easy Strawberry Shortcake From Scratch

Note: This is just a brief overview of the steps. For the full printable recipe with ingredient amounts and detailed instructions, please go to the recipe card at the bottom of the post.

Macerate The Strawberries

1: Remove the stems and leaves and then thinly slice the strawberries.

2: Mix together the strawberries and sugar in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Make the Shortcake

1: Whisk together flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.

2: Cut cold butter into cubes.

3: Add the butter to the flour mixture. Use a pastry blender to cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

4: Whisk together milk, eggs and vanilla extract in a small bowl.

a collage of 4 numbered images; image number 1 is of the dry ingredients being whisked together in a bowl; number 2 is of butter cut into small cubes on a cutting board with a knife on the side; number 3 is of the butter being incorporated into the flour mixture with a pastry blender; and number 4 is of the milk, eggs and vanilla being whisked together in a bowl

5: Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture; mix just until combined and all of the dry ingredients have been moistened.

6: Pour the batter into a sprayed 8x8x2-inch baking pan and spread it out evenly.

7: Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.

8: Cool the shortcake completely in the pan set on a wire rack. Once cooled, cut it into 8 equal pieces.

a collage of 4 numbered images; number 5 is of the batter being mixed together in a bowl; number 6 is of the batter in the baking pan; number 7 is a graphic of an oven with text that says 350 degrees Fahrenheit; and number 8 is of the finished cake in the pan on a wire cooling rack

Make the Whipped Cream

Beat heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla extract with an electric mixer in a medium to large bowl just until stiff peaks form. Stiff peaks are when you lift the beaters out of the whipped cream and the peaks stand up straight without curling over on themselves.

a collage of 3 images; one is of whipped cream being beaten with a hand mixer in a bowl, one shows whipped cream on a whisk beaten to soft peaks and shows a graphic of a red x in a circle, and one shows whipped cream on a whisk beaten to stiff peaks and shows a green checkmark in a circle

Assemble the Strawberry Shortcakes

1: For each serving, take one piece of shortcake and cut it in half horizontally.

2: Top one half of the piece of shortcake with macerated strawberries and juice.

3: Top the strawberries with whipped cream.

4: Place the other half of the shortcake on top of the whipped cream. Repeat with the remaining ingredients for as many shortcakes as you will be serving. Serve immediately and enjoy!

a collage of 4 numbered images; number 1 is of a piece of the shortcake cut in half on a plate; number 2 is of some of the macerated strawberries on one half of the shortcake; number 3 is of whipped cream on top of the strawberries on one half of the shortcake; and number 4 is of the other half of the shortcake placed on top of the whipped cream with text that says enjoy

Recipe Tips & Tidbits

  • Strawberries can vary in sweetness. Adjust the amount of sugar as needed to get the level of sweet you want.
  • The longer you macerate the strawberries, the more liquid they will release and the softer they will become. I usually give them about 1 to 2 hours so they are still quite fresh and not too soft.
  • I always sift in baking powder because it can sometimes have small hard lumps that you don’t want in your batter because they don’t dissolve well. If you’ve ever bitten into a baked good with one of those undissolved lumps, you know what I mean. It’s bitter and unpleasant.
  • Be careful not to overmix the shortcake batter (this can make the cake tough) or overbake the cake (this can make it too dry).
  • The whipped cream I use in this recipe is my Homemade Sweetened Whipped Cream. Please check out that post for more detailed info and tips on making homemade whipped cream!
a bowl of macerated strawberries with a spoon in it and pieces of shortcake on a plate and a small bowl of whipped cream on the side

Substitutions & Variations

  • Salted butter can be used instead of unsalted; just reduce the amount of salt in the recipe to ¼ teaspoon or less.
  • Low-fat or skim milk can be used instead of whole; however, this may change the texture of the shortcake (it may be less tender and more dry).
  • Store-bought whipped cream or non-dairy whipped topping can be used instead of homemade.
  • Try changing things up by making shortcake with other berries or fruits (or a mixture) such as raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, peaches, plums, or mangoes.

Make Ahead, Storage & Freezing

Make Ahead

  • Strawberry shortcake is best when made as fresh as possible! It’s not a dessert that you want to assemble ahead because it will get soggy. Always put it together right before serving, and only make as many servings as will be eaten at one time.
  • You can make the macerated strawberries, shortcake and whipped cream a few hours ahead of time. Just store them all separately until you are ready to serve. Also, keep any leftover components stored separately.

Storage

  • Store the macerated strawberries and whipped cream in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Use leftovers within 1 to 2 days (sooner is better because the strawberries can get too soft and the whipped cream can start to break down).
  • Store the cooled shortcake wrapped tightly in plastic wrap at room temperature until ready to serve. Use leftovers within 1 to 2 days (sooner is better because it can start to dry out).

Freezing

  • The shortcake and the macerated strawberries can be frozen for longer-term storage. This is a great option if 8 servings is a little more than you need at one time. Use within 1 to 2 months for the best quality.
    • Wrap the shortcake tightly in plastic wrap and then in foil; place in a freezer bag or container.
    • Place the macerated strawberries in a freezer bag and remove as much air as possible.
  • Whipped cream does not freeze well and should always be made fresh.
two servings of easy strawberry shortcake from scratch on white plates with a bowl of strawberries on the side

I hope you try this Easy Strawberry Shortcake From Scratch recipe and love it as much as I do. Thanks for visiting today!

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More Strawberry Recipes To Try

Looking for more simple and delicious dessert ideas?
Be sure to check out my Desserts & Sweet Treats page for lots more recipes!

If you make this recipe, I’d love to know how it went! Please leave a star rating and comment below. Thanks!

one serving of easy strawberry shortcake from scratch on a white plate with a fork with another serving in the background

Easy Strawberry Shortcake (From Scratch!)

Make this Easy Strawberry Shortcake From Scratch once – the strawberries, the shortcake and the whipped cream – and it's the only way you'll ever want to make this classic spring and summer dessert!
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Author: Michelle
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Chilling & Cooling Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 45 minutes
Servings: 8
Estimated Calories: 422

Ingredients

For the Macerated Strawberries

  • pounds fresh strawberries, get the best most perfectly ripe ones you can
  • 6 tablespoons granulated sugar, or to taste (depending on the sweetness of your strawberries)

For the Shortcake

  • cooking spray, for greasing the pan
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder, I recommend sifting it (see Notes below)
  • ½ teaspoon salt, I use regular table salt for this recipe
  • ½ cup cold unsalted butter, 1 stick
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Whipped Cream

  • ¾ cup heavy whipping cream, very cold
  • 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Special Equipment

  • pastry blender for making the shortcake (see Notes below if you don't have one)
  • electric mixer hand-held mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment (see Notes below if you don't have one)

Instructions

Make the Macerated Strawberries

  • Remove the stems and leaves from the tops of the strawberries and discard.
  • Thinly slice the strawberries (about ⅛ inch thick).
  • Place the sliced strawberries in a medium to large bowl. Add the 6 tablespoons of granulated sugar; stir until well combined.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap; refrigerate the strawberries for at least one hour.
    The longer you macerate the strawberries, the softer they will become and the more liquid will be released. I usually give them about 1 to 2 hours so they are still quite fresh and not too soft.

Make the Shortcake

  • While the strawberries are macerating in the fridge, make the shortcake.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F, and spray an 8x8x2-inch baking pan with cooking spray (bottom and sides).
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, ⅓ cup of granulated sugar, the baking powder, and the salt until well combined.
  • Cut the cold butter into cubes (about ½ inch); add the cubed butter to the flour mixture.
  • Using a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract until well combined.
  • Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture; mix just until combined and all of the dry ingredients have been moistened.
    Be careful of overmixing the batter, as this can cause the cake to be tough.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan; spread it out evenly in the pan.
  • Bake in the center of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes or just until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs (no wet batter).
    Be careful of over-baking, as this can cause the cake to be dry.
  • Remove the cake from the oven and place the pan on a wire cooling rack. Allow the cake to cool completely in the pan, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  • When the cake has cooled, cut it into 8 equally sized pieces.

Make the Whipped Cream

  • While the cake is cooling, make the whipped cream.
  • Place the cold heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar and ⅜ teaspoon of vanilla extract in a large bowl.
  • Using an electric mixer, beat just until stiff peaks form.
    To check, lift the beaters out of the cream. When the peaks stand up straight without curling over on themselves, you've got stiff peaks. Check often and be very careful not to overbeat the cream. If taken too far, it will start to deflate and become grainy and clumpy, which means it is starting to turn into butter, and you can't really recover from that so you will need to start over.
  • If not using immediately, cover the bowl and put the whipped cream in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve.

Assemble the Strawberry Shortcakes

  • For each strawberry shortcake:
    Start by cutting one piece of the shortcake in half horizontally.
  • Place one half of the piece of shortcake on the serving dish (cut side up) and top with ⅛ of the macerated strawberries and juice.
  • Top with ⅛ of the whipped cream
  • Place the other half of the piece of shortcake on top of the whipped cream (cut side down).
  • Repeat the assembly with the remaining ingredients.
    Only assemble as many of the shortcakes as you will be serving immediately; store the remaining ingredients separately until you are ready to serve them.
  • Serve immediately and enjoy!

Notes

  • If you don’t have a pastry blender, you can use a fork to mash the butter cubes into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs (or you can use two butter knives to cut the butter into the flour mixture).
  • I always sift in baking powder because it can sometimes have small hard lumps that you don’t want in your batter because they don’t dissolve well and taste bitter and unpleasant if you bite into one.
  • If you don’t have an electric mixer, you can make the whipped cream by hand with a whisk. It will just take some elbow grease and a little more time.
  • Please refer to the post for more tips and info on substitutions and variations, make ahead, storage and freezing. 
Did you try this recipe? I’d love to see it!Share it on Instagram, tag @nowcookthis and use the hashtag #nowcookthisrecipes. Thanks!

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