These vanilla cupcakes with fresh strawberry buttercream are moist, tender and perfectly fluffy. With the delicate cupcake crumb and super creamy strawberry frosting, these cupcakes look absolutely beautiful and taste even better.
**This post was originally published August 19th, 2015. It was updated with new photos, recipe tips, and a slightly adapted frosting recipe on July 14, 2021**
These vanilla cupcakes with strawberry frosting are simply perfect. The cupcakes are moist, tender and extra fluffy. They have a soft cupcake crumb and a delicious buttery vanilla flavor. Instead of using food coloring for a pink vanilla buttercream – they frosting has a delicious fresh strawberry flavor and pretty pink color because we’re using real berries. There’s nothing fake or artificial about these cupcakes. Just classic, from-scratch, cupcake perfection.
Yup – you’re going to love them.
For the Cupcakes
The cupcakes are extremely tender and moist because we’re using both milk and plain Greek yogurt in the batter. Make sure to use 2% or whole milk (AKA full-fat milk for my Australian readers). Greek yogurt can also be substituted with sour cream if you choose. The delicate texture comes from using cake flour in the batter, as opposed to all-purpose. Cake flour has a finer consistency than all-purpose flour – so it gives cakes and cupcakes a finer, more delicate texture. Cake flour can often be lumpy, so make sure to sift it first.
Note: If you don’t have cake flour, I’ve provided a substitution in the recipe below using all-purpose flour and cornstarch (AKA cornflour).
For the Fresh Strawberry Frosting
The frosting truly tastes like fresh berries – but in creamy, sweet buttercream form. We only get that flavor from using real berries. It does take a few extra steps, but it’s 100% worth it.
- First you’ll need to haul the strawberries to remove the centers.
- Then pulse the berries in a blender or food processor until it’s a smooth puree.
- From there, pour the puree through a metal sifter to remove the seeds. This does require a bit of pushing using the back of a spoon. Removing the seeds is optional but recommended so that you don’t have little crunchy bits in the frosting.
- In a saucepan over low-medium heat, gently boil down the strawberry puree while occasionally stirring. When it’s down, it should look thick like jam and be a deep red color. This typically takes anywhere from 15-20 minutes.
Let the reduced strawberry puree cool fully before making the frosting. Below you can see the difference between the puree before and after its been boiled down.
From there, making the frosting is just like any American-style buttercream recipe. You’ll beat the butter until fluffy, then mix in the powdered sugar, cooled and reduced strawberry puree, and a little cream if needed. If you want some further reading, I created an entire how-to make strawberry frosting post with tons of tips and tricks.
- For the cupcakes, the butter, egg whites, Greek yogurt and milk must be room temperature before getting started.
- Cake flour is lumpy – be sure to sift it first, even if the bag says “pre-sifted”
- Note that we aren’t using self-rising cake flour!
- Don’t skip the step where you boil down the strawberry puree. Boiling down the strawberry puree is necessary to concentrate the flavor and remove excess water. Simply adding pureed strawberries to the frosting will make it watery and it won’t have a pronounced strawberry flavor.
- The reduced (boiled down) strawberry puree must be room temperature before adding it to the frosting. Otherwise, the heat will melt the butter and the frosting won’t be thick.
- I typically boil down the strawberries before making the cupcakes so that it has enough time to cool.
Make Ahead Tips
The cupcakes can be made 1 day in advance and stored at room temperature in an airtight container. The frosting can be made 1 day in advance, placed in an airtight container and stored in the fridge. When ready to frost the cupcakes, place the frosting on the counter and bring to room temperature. You may need to beat the frosting a little bit again to smooth it out.
You can also make the reduced strawberry puree in advanced. Cool it fully, then store in an airtight container in the fridge overnight. Then make the frosting the day that you plan to serve.
Moist and tender with the most perfect buttercream – these vanilla cupcakes with fresh strawberry buttercream are perfection. The frosting is a delicious change on plain vanilla buttercream and adds so much flavor. I truly think they’re the perfect cupcakes.
And if you love this cupcake recipe, then be sure to try:
- Strawberry Cupcakes – the cupcake batter is infused with strawberry flavor and pieces of fresh berries
- Strawberry Layer Cake – this gorgeous cake is filled with strawberry flavor in both the cake batter and frosting. Nothing artificial here!
- Strawberry Muffins – a favorite for berry season
Vanilla Cupcakes with Fresh Strawberry Buttercream
- 1 and ⅓ cup cake flour* (166.25 grams)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter (112 grams) room temperature
- ¾ cup granulated sugar (150 grams)
- 2 large egg whites discard the yolks
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
- ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt (60 ml) room temperature
- ½ cup milk (120 ml) 2% or whole
- 10 ounces fresh strawberries (283 grams) about 1 ½ cups whole berries
- ¾ cup unsalted butter (165 grams) slightly softened
- 2 ½ to 3 and ½ cups powdered sugar (275 - 385 grams) sifted
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1-2 tablespoons whipping cream (15-30 ml) as needed
- Preheat the oven to 350F (180C or 160C on a forced fan oven) degrees and line a 12-cavity muffin pin with cupcake papers. I typically get 12-14 cupcakes.
- In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
- Using an electric mixer cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes). Continue beating and add in the egg whites and vanilla (another 30 seconds).
- Turn off the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl and stir in the yogurt.
- Sift in the flour mixture, then mix on low speed until almost combined. Drizzle in the milk and continue beating until combined. Stop mixing as soon as everything is incorporated.
- Spoon the batter evenly into the lined muffin tin filling each about two thirds of the way full. You should end up with 12-14 cupcakes.
- Bake for 15-18 minutes until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Leave to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes then remove the cupcakes and continue cooling on a wire rack.
- Haul the strawberries to remove the centers.
- Process the strawberries in a blender or food processor until no lumps remain.
- Pour the sauce through a wire sifter to remove the seeds. Do this a little at a time, using a metal spoon to push the puree through the sifter.
- Transfer the puree to a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil while stirring.
- Allow the sauce to boil for about 15-30 minutes (while occasionally stirring) and reduce to about ⅓ to ¼ of the original volume. It should look thick like jam. Remove from the heat and cool until it reaches room temperature. You can speed this up in the fridge if needed.
- In a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until fluffy. Slowly add about 2 cups of the powdered sugar and continue beating until combined.
- Beat in the salt and 3-4 tablespoons of the cooled strawberry sauce. Make sure your strawberry sauce is cold before adding it to the buttercream.
- Beat in the rest of the powdered sugar about ½ cup at a time until the desired sweetness & thickness is reached. If the icing seems too thick, add in a tablespoon of whipping cream.
- Frost the cupcakes using a piping bag or by spreading the icing with an icing spatula. I used a piping bag with a 1M tip.
- If you don't have cake flour on hand, measure 1 and ¼ cups all purpose flour. Remove 2 and ½ tablespoons of the flour. Replace the 2 and ½ tablespoons all-purpose flour by adding 2 and ½ tablespoons cornstarch (AKA cornflour). Sift the mixture 3 times.
- For the cupcakes, the butter, egg whites, yogurt and milk should be room temperature before getting started.
- Greek yogurt can be substituted with sour cream.
- The frosting recipe is enough to pipe 12-14 cupcakes with a large amount of frosting. If you plan to frost with a knife for a thin layer of frosting, you can divide the frosting recipe in half. You'll need:
- 5 ounces strawberries
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- pinch of salt
- 1 ¼ - 2 ½ cups powdered sugar
- 1-2 teaspoons whipping cream
- Fresh or frozen berries can be used for the frosting. If using frozen, they will take longer to boil down.
- Nutrition information is an estimate only and based on 1 cupcake, assuming the recipe yields 12 equal-sized cupcakes and all the frosting is used.
- Cupcakes are best if eaten the same day they're prepared. Cupcakes can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 8 hours (if the room isn't too warm), or in the fridge for up to 3 days. Let the cupcakes sit on the counter and come to room temperature before enjoying.