My favorite homemade Strawberry Shortcake recipe! Today’s post is jam-packed with plenty of tips, tricks, and even a video so you can see exactly how to make this sweet, simple, recipe from scratch. Recipe includes a how-to video!
Classic Strawberry Shortcake
While many strawberry shortcake recipes these days are made with pound cake or sponge cake, today we’re taking the traditional route and making classic shortcakes from scratch.
Buttery shortcakes (which are basically biscuits, lightly sweetened with sugar on top), freshly whipped cream, juicy ripe strawberries, this is all you need for a refreshing summertime dessert. Traditional strawberry shortcake is lightly sweetened but not tooth-achingly sugary. Most of the sweetness comes from the juicy berries and the freshly whipped cream, with just a hint in the shortcakes.
Sound like your thing? Let’s get right to it! I think you’ll find this recipe to be easy, but to help I’ve included plenty of tips, a video, and step-by-step photos.
Strawberry Shortcake Ingredients
My recipe is simple and perfectly sweet. Here’s what you need:
- Fresh Strawberries. Fresh is best when you’re making strawberry shortcakes. Sprinkle a bit of sugar over them to make them flavorful and juicy.
- Sugar. Granulated sugar sweetens the strawberry shortcakes while powdered sugar sweetens the whipped cream and helps it achieve its thick, billowy texture.
- Butter. Use cold, unsalted butter (or if you only have salted butter, drop the salt down to ½ teaspoon). The colder the butter is, the flakier your shortcakes will be. I recommend tossing a stick in the freezer 15-20 minutes before you plan to begin making strawberry shortcakes.
- Cream & Milk. I like to use a blend of cream and milk for tender, enriched biscuits. If you don’t have enough heavy cream on-hand (remember, you need it for the whipped cream!), just use ¾ cup of milk instead. Buttermilk may also be substituted for both the cream and milk, and people have reported success using 2% milk, too!
- Salt. For flavor and to balance out the sweetness.
- Baking Powder. I’m asked often if the amount of baking powder listed is correct. Yes! You need 1 tablespoon for this recipe. Please do not substitute or add baking soda, which will ruin the recipe.
- Vanilla Extract. Adds a hint of flavor to the whipped cream.
Remember, this is just an overview of the ingredients I used and why. For the full strawberry shortcake recipe please scroll down to the bottom of the post!
Preparing the Strawberries (How to Macerate Strawberries)
Macerating strawberries is a critical but oh-so easy step for making strawberry shortcakes; it’s also our first step. This is simply the process of softening the berries and making them juicy. How do you do this? Just cut your berries, toss them in some sugar, stir, and let them sit.
What macerating does is it softens our strawberries, and the sugar draws out the fruit’s juices, making for extra juicy and flavorful strawberries. Fancy name, important step. Do this step first, as the longer the berries, sit the juicier they will get and the better your strawberry shortcakes will ultimately be.
Making The Shortcakes
- Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl and set that aside, then grate your butter! This is my favorite trick to easy, buttery shortcakes/biscuits. Makes quick work of it and keeps the butter from becoming too soft!
- Stir together butter and flour mixture. The ingredients will look crumbly and very dry still!
- Add (cold!) heavy cream and milk and stir with a spatula or wooden spoon to combine, making sure to not overwork the dough (this causes dense, dry shortcakes).
- Transfer the dough to a floured surface, dust it with a bit of flour if it’s sticky or wet, and form it into a ball or disk, just make sure it’s clinging together!
SAM’S TIP: The box grater makes adding your butter nice and easy and is one of the tricks that makes my biscuit recipe so popular, but if you don’t have one you can just use a regular pastry cutter. I’ve also made strawberry shortcakes in a food processor before, so that’s another option!
- A brief and basic lesson in lamination! Folding the dough over itself causes light, buttery, flaky layers: ideal for strawberry shortcake! To make these, fold the dough over itself and gently press/flatten. Turn 90 degrees, fold and press again. Repeat until you’ve done this 5-6 times.
- Flatten the dough to 1″ thick and cut out 6-7 biscuits with a lightly floured biscuit cutter (or, make ’em square! Form the dough into a rectangle and use a knife to cut the dough into squares!). Make your cuts as close as possible, while any scraps can be regrouped to make more biscuits, they get flatter a little wonky looking with each re-roll.
- Brush biscuits with heavy cream and generously sprinkle granulated sugar over the tops.
- Bake the biscuits until the tops and bottoms are a light golden brown in color, then let them cool.
SAM’S TIP: Any time you’re cutting biscuits/shortcakes, always press straight down with your biscuit cutter or knife. Never saw or twist your way through the dough or they’ll likely to tilt or even topple over in the oven. This is a key tip in my scone recipe, and worth mentioning here for pretty strawberry shortcakes, too!
Preparing The Whipped Cream
- This is the easiest part of making strawberry shortcake. Combine cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla in a chilled bowl (preferably metal), and beat with an electric mixer on low-speed.
- Gradually increase to high-speed until stiff peaks have formed. The cream should have a thick billowy consistency (like Cool Whip, only it tastes 500x better).
Frequently Asked Questions
Shortcakes (not to be confused with shortbread) are essentially slightly sweetened biscuit. They get their name from the English word “short”, which was used to describe something made crisp by the use of fat (the fat in question was often shortening, but we’re using butter here… trust me on this).
If it interests you, read more about the origin of the name here.
You can make all of the components for strawberry shortcake up to 24-48 hours in advance, but do not assemble until you are ready to serve.
Store shortcakes in an airtight container at room temperature and the berries and whipped cream each in their own airtight container in the refrigerator. Those juicy, perfectly macerated strawberries will make your strawberry shortcake soggy if they sit for too long.
While they wouldn’t quite be “strawberry” shortcakes any longer, you certainly can. Use your favorite variety of fruit; I personally think staying in the berry family is best and blueberries, blackberries, or raspberries would be good choices.
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Let’s bake together! Make sure to check out the how-to VIDEO in the recipe card!
- 1 lb fresh strawberries washed, stems removed, quartered (450g)
- 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (250g)
- ¼ cup granulated sugar (50g)
- 1 Tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter very cold (85g)
- ½ cup cold heavy cream¹ (120ml)
- ⅓ cup cold milk¹ (80ml)
- Additional heavy cream for brushing
- Coarse sugar for sprinkling (if you don’t have coarse sugar, regular granulated will work just fine!)
Homemade Whipped Cream
- 1 ½ cups heavy cream cold (355ml)
- ½ cup powdered sugar (60g)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- For best results I recommend chilling your butter in the freezer for about 15 minutes before beginning. Cold butter yields light, buttery shortcakes. A chilled metal bowl will also make whipping your cream easier and faster, so while it is not mandatory it would be helpful to place one in the freezer at this point that you can use it for your whipped cream.
- Start by preparing your strawberries. Place sliced strawberries in a medium sized bowl and add 3 tablespoons of sugar. Stir well and set aside so they can get nice and juicy while you prepare your shortcakes.
- Preheat oven to 425F (220C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt and whisk to combine.
- Use a box grater² to grate cold butter into the dry ingredients. Stir until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add heavy cream and milk and use a spoon or spatula to stir until ingredients are combined. Don't over-work the dough, but stir until it begins to cling together.
- Transfer shortcake dough to a floured surface and work the dough together with your hands, adding more flour as needed if the dough is sticky.
- Once the dough is a cohesive ball, fold it in half over itself and use your hands to gently flatten the layers. Rotate dough 90 degrees, then fold in half again. Repeat this step 5-6 times, taking care to not overwork the dough (see video below the recipe for a visual if needed). This is laminating the dough and gives you those flaky layers!
- Using your hands, gently flatten the dough to 1" thick. Lightly dust a 2 ¾" round biscuit cutter³ with flour, and press the biscuit cutter straight down (don't twist) to cut out shortcakes. Place shortcakes on prepared baking sheet, less than ½" apart.
- Once you have cut as many shortcakes as possible out of the dough, gently re-work the dough to get out another shortcake or two until you have at least 6 (sometimes I'm able to get 7. Brush with additional heavy cream and sprinkle generously with coarse sugar (if you don't have coarse sugar, regular granulated will also work just fine).
- Bake on 425F (220C) for 14-15 minutes or until tops and bottoms of shortcakes are beginning to just turn lightly golden brown.
- Prepare whipped cream while shortcakes cool.
- Combine heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract in a large bowl (if you chilled a bowl before starting, use that now).
- Using an electric mixer, beat ingredients on low speed, gradually increasing speed to high, and beat until stiff peaks form. Don't over-beat, but don't stop beating until cream has reached a billowy Cool-Whip consistency.
To Assemble Shortcakes
- Slice cooled shortcakes in half and place the bottom half cut-side up on a plate.
- Stir your strawberries once more (they should be nice and juicy by now) and top one shortcake half generously with your prepared strawberries, and then with a dollop of homemade whipped cream.
- Top the whipped cream with the top half of your shortcake, and then top with additional whipped cream and finally additional strawberries. Serve immediately after assembling.
Ingredient Note¹I like to use a blend of heavy cream and milk for the most tender shortcakes, but in a pinch you can leave out the cream and increase the milk to ¾ cup (2% milk or buttermilk would also work).
Equipment Notes²If you don’t have a box grater, use a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour. ³If you don’t have a biscuit cutter, use the rim of a clean glass or just use a knife and cut the shortcakes into squares. The important thing is you press straight down when cutting and don’t twist or saw, which will keep your biscuits from rising properly.
Making in AdvanceYou can prepare the shortcakes, strawberries, and whipped cream individually up to 24-48 hours in advance, but do not assemble until you are ready to serve.
Store shortcakes in an airtight container at room temperature and the berries and whipped cream each in their own airtight container in the refrigerator. Assemble just before serving.
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Recipe originally published 05/02/2018. Updated for clarity and to provide more information and a new video April 2021.