These strawberry cupcakes are moist, flavorful, and loaded with fresh strawberries! Frost them with whichever strawberry frosting you like: strawberry buttercream, strawberry cream cheese frosting, or strawberry whipped cream.
Leave them as-is or decorate with strawberries or conversation hearts to create perfect Valentine’s Day cupcakes!
To make these strawberry cupcakes, I adapted my vanilla cupcake recipe which has been extensively tested and is a favorite for thousands of readers. These cupcakes are light and airy and packed with fresh strawberries.
What Makes These Strawberry Cupcakes Work?
Using fresh strawberries is the secret to perfect strawberry cupcakes. Finely chop the strawberries and add them directly to the batter.
Plus, the addition of strawberry frosting gives these cupcakes an even stronger strawberry flavor!
Do These Cupcakes Use a Cake Mix?
This recipe is made from scratch and does not use a cake mix. I’m a big proponent of from-scratch baking.
Tip: If you prefer using cake mixes, try mixing fresh strawberries into any yellow cake batter and top the cupcakes with strawberry frosting to create your own version of these cupcakes.
Are Strawberry Cupcakes Easy to Make?
These cupcakes have been made by complete beginners. Even if you have never made a homemade cupcake before, you can make these!
What Are the Ingredients in Strawberry Cupcakes?
Cake flour is very finely milled flour and is perfect to use if you want a cake that is light and soft.
Sometimes cake flour is sold as self-rising cake flour. That cake flour already has leavening agents mixed into the flour. This is NOT what you want in this recipe.
Tip: You can use all-purpose flour in this recipe instead of cake flour. The results won’t be dramatically different. The cake will just be a little more dense.
Baking Powder and Baking Soda
All cupcakes need something to help them rise. In this case, we use both baking powder and baking soda. Baking soda requires something acidic in order to work, and the sour cream in these cupcakes does the job.
Salt brings out the flavors of the other ingredients in the recipe. Don’t skip it!
I use granulated sugar in this recipe.
Tip: If you like the taste of brown sugar, try replacing half of the sugar in the recipe with light brown sugar.
Lemon zest brightens up the flavors in this cupcake.
The easiest way to zest a lemon is to use a microplane. Be sure to wash and dry the lemon thoroughly before zesting it.
Always bake with unsalted butter. That way, you can add salt to your taste.
The butter must be at room temperature. You should be able to lightly press into it with your finger and leave an indentation. It’s too soft if the butter smooshes completely down when you press it.
Tip: You can bring butter to room temperature by microwaving it. Microwave the butter for five seconds at a time until it reaches room temperature.
The eggs provide moisture and fat to the recipe. Most cake recipes, including mine, call for large eggs at room temperature.
Tip: Don’t do the same microwave trick that I suggest with the butter to bring eggs to room temperature. Put the eggs in a bowl of hot – but not boiling – water for a few minutes to warm them up.
Sour cream adds fat and moisture to the cupcakes. The good news is that you can replace the sour cream with yogurt or Greek yogurt and not notice any difference at all. I’ve extensively tested yogurt as a substitute for sour cream and it works wonderfully!
I suggest using pure vanilla extract, but any vanilla extract will do.
To make moist cupcakes, you need a really light batter. Cupcake batter should not be thick like cookie dough. I use milk as the liquid in this recipe.
Tip: While I use whole milk in this recipe, you can use any kind of milk – even almond or soy milk.
Chopped Fresh Strawberries
These wouldn’t be strawberry cupcakes without fresh strawberries.
Tip: Frozen strawberries have much more moisture than fresh strawberries. I don’t recommend substituting frozen strawberries.
How to Make Strawberry Cupcakes
Whisk together eggs, sour cream, and vanilla until smooth and soupy.
Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, lemon zest, and sugar with butter in a separate bowl. You can do this with an electric mixer or by hand.
If you use an electric mixer, start on low speed and then increase to high until the ingredients are fully combined.
Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients a little at a time.
If necessary, pause and scrape down the side of the bowl during mixing.
Tip: If you use a beater blade like the one shown in my photos, the blade will scrape the side of the bowl for you.
Mix in the milk to lighten up the batter. Be careful not to overmix. Mix until just combined.
Tip: Overmixing batter can make the cupcakes gummy. Read more in my post on overmixing cake batter.
Stir in the chopped strawberries by hand. Stirring them in by hand ensures that the mixer doesn’t break up the strawberries and helps keep you from accidentally overmixing the batter.
Fill cupcake liners about halfway full. Use an ice cream scoop/disher to easily transfer the batter to the cupcake liners.
Tip: These cupcakes rise quite a bit during the bake. If you overfill the liners, they won’t bake up as nicely. If you aren’t sure about how high to fill the cupcakes, try baking a single cupcake first to see how it rises. Then, adjust the other cupcakes accordingly.
You’ll know the cupcakes are done when a toothpick comes out clean.
Take the hot cupcakes out of the cupcake tin immediately and set them on the counter to cool to room temperature before frosting.
Which Frosting Goes with Strawberry Cupcakes?
I always suggest strawberry frosting for strawberry cupcakes. But, which strawberry frosting you pick depends on your preference. In the recipe below, I use strawberry buttercream. Strawberry buttercream is the most popular choice as it is an extremely versatile frosting that doesn’t need to be refrigerated.
If you are a cream cheese frosting lover, try frosting these cupcakes with my strawberry cream cheese frosting. This frosting uses freeze dried strawberry powder to create an intense strawberry flavor.
Finally, you can’t go wrong with strawberry whipped cream. It is light and luscious and made with fresh strawberries.
If strawberry frosting is too much for you, try frosting strawberry cupcakes with:
- vanilla frosting
- chocolate cream cheese frosting
- brown sugar frosting (I like brown sugar frosting on everything!)
How to Decorate Strawberry Cupcakes
I use a drop flower tip (Wilton 2D) to pipe the strawberry frosting onto these cupcakes. I spiral from the outside edge of the cupcake in toward the center.
Place fresh strawberries on top of the cupcakes or decorate with some conversation hearts and share with someone you love.
Best Tips for Making Strawberry Cupcakes
- Use fresh strawberries.
- Be careful not to overmix to keep your cupcakes from getting gummy.
- Only fill your cupcake liners halfway.
- Make sure the cupcakes are completely cool before frosting.
If You Like These Cupcakes, You May Also Like…
- Banana cupcakes (These do for bananas what this cupcake does for strawberries – the banana flavor really shines through!)
- Apple cupcakes (If you have apple on hand, these are a must!)
- Strawberry pie from The Little Epicurean (This looks so wonderful!)
- Strawberry banana bread (It’s one of my favorite ways to have cake for breakfast.)
- Strawberry pavlova (If you’ve never made one, you’ll be surprised at how simple it is to make a pavlova.)
Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Frosting
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 cup full-fat sour cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 3/4 cups cake flour not self-rising
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest zest from 1 small lemon
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1 cup finely chopped strawberries about 5 large strawberries washed and with the tops cut off
Strawberry Frosting Ingredients
- 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 1/4 cup strawberry puree about 5 large strawberries food processed until they are a thick seedy liquid
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, sour cream, and vanilla until smooth.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, lemon zest, and butter on high speed until fully combined.
- Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients a little bit at a time until just combined.
- Mix in milk until just combined.
- Use a spatula to fold in chopped strawberries.
- Fill cupcake liners halfway full.
- Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
- Remove cupcakes from cupcake tin immediately and set on the counter to cool.
Strawberry Frosting Instructions
- Beat butter for three minutes (or until light and fluffy) in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
- Mix in strawberry puree and salt.
- Mix in powdered sugar a little bit at a time.
- Spread or pipe on cooled cupcakes.
- You can use all-purpose flour in this recipe instead of cake flour. The results won't be dramatically different. The cake will just be a little more dense.
- Yogurt can be substituted 1:1 for the sour cream.
- Be careful not to overmix to keep your cupcakes from getting gummy.
- Only fill your cupcake liners halfway. To be completely certain that you are filling the right amount, bake a single test cupcake before baking the rest of the batch.
- Make sure the cupcakes are completely cool before frosting so that the frosting doesn't melt.
- Be sure to beat the butter for at least three minutes so it is light and fluffy.
- Use less ripe strawberries. Riper strawberries tend to be more moist and could end up making the frosting too wet.
- Add the powdered sugar a little bit at a time and always start on low speed to keep it from making a mess in your kitchen.
- If your strawberries were frozen, be sure to defrost them and drain off any excess liquid before using them.