Are you ready for the BEST Vegan Strawberry Cake? This cake is moist, full of fresh strawberries, and over the top with strawberry flavor. I'll also show you how to make a simple, naturally pink strawberry frosting. If you're looking for a tried-and-tested strawberry cake recipe that will please any crowd, you've found it!
This recipe was originally published July 1, 2019. It has been updated with new content and photos.
"I'm not vegan but my niece is and I made this cake for her college graduation party. It is hands down the MOST DELICIOUS strawberry cake I and my family have ever tasted. Vegan or not you will love this cake. Beautiful recipe and an incredible cake." -Michelle
Why You'll Love It
First, in case this is your first visit to my blog, you should know that I'm not someone who throws around the word "best" for every recipe I share. But this vegan strawberry cake? It really is.
This cake has been tasted and loved by more non-vegans than probably any other dessert I've ever made. I've carried it to baby showers and parties and was even hired once to make it for a birthday party. To get to the point, I have complete confidence you can serve this strawberry cake to any crowd, and they will absolutely LOVE it.
There's a secret ingredient in this cake that was inspired by the very first layer cake I ever made, a fresh strawberry cake by Anne Byrne, The Cake Mix Doctor. Anne made a name for herself by doctoring boxed cake mixes to create easy homemade cake recipes that appealed to home cooks.
While the recipe I'm sharing today does not use a boxed cake mix, it does use a vegan jell-o product called Simply Delish to replace the strawberry Jell-O called for in Anne's recipe. The extra strawberry flavor from Simply Delish plus the 2 cups of freshly pureed strawberries in the batter make this vegan strawberry cake a total showstopper!
And unlike Jell-O, Simply Delish is vegan, naturally flavored, and contains no artificial red dyes.
If you can't get your hands on any Simply Delish vegan jell-o, simply omit it, and increase the sugar by ¼ cup. The cake is still absolutely delicious without it but will have a bit less strawberry oomph.
A recent reviewer on Pinterest mentioned that not only did this cake taste amazing, but it was one of the easiest cakes she'd ever made!
For the cakes:
- All-purpose flour - no need to track down special flours for this recipe.
- Organic cane sugar - in the US, using organic cane sugar is currently the easiest way to make sure the product is vegan and hasn't been refined with bone char.
- 2 pounds of strawberries - 1 pound is for the cake batter, 1 pound is for layering and decoration. When in season, fresh berries are best. Frozen strawberries can be used for the cake batter but not for decoration.
If using frozen strawberries for the batter, thaw first, then drain very well.
- Simply Delish Strawberry Jel Dessert, optional - Whole Foods sometimes carries this but may not have all the flavors; ordering online is the safest bet.
- Canola oil - because canola is neutral in flavor it works well for cakes; grapeseed is another option
- Non-dairy milk of choice
- Almond extract - Or sub vanilla.
- Baking powder
- Baking soda
- Sea salt
For vegan strawberry frosting:
- Vegan butter (sticks) - I usually use Earth Balance soy-free because I prefer its flavor and consistency for frosting.
- Organic vegetable shortening - sometimes vegan buttercream is too soft, or even worse, melt-y. But adding a small amount of shortening helps with consistency.
- Powdered sugar - again, you may want to look for organic here to make sure it's vegan.
- a splash of whatever non-dairy milk you used in the batter
- Freeze-dried strawberries - these are perfect for adding pure strawberry flavor but without moisture, which would ruin the frosting; find these at Target, Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, and other well-stocked grocery stores, or order online.
How To Make the Cakes
First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (176 C), and oil three 9-inch cake pans. Place a circle of parchment paper in the bottom of each pan.
- Use a food processor to puree 1 pound of strawberries. Measure out two cups of puree. If you happen to have extra, enjoy it as a snack.
- Sift the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl, and whisk to combine.
- Add the other wet ingredients to the food processor, and pulse to combine. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and stir just until a thick batter forms.
- Divide the batter evenly among the three pans, and bake for 28 to 32 minutes or until the tops bounce back when lightly pressed. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then move to cooling racks.
- While the cakes are cooling, make the frosting (see below). Trim and slice the other pound of strawberries. Once the cakes are cool, arrange sliced strawberries on top (it should take about 5 or 6 berries, depending on their size).
- Spread a thin layer of frosting on top of the strawberries. Repeat this process for the second cake layer. Finally, place the 3rd cake layer on top, and frost the top and sides. Decorate with remaining fresh strawberries. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
How To Make Strawberry Frosting
First, make sure the butter and shortening are at room temperature.
Using a blender or spice grinder, pulverize the freeze-dried strawberries until powdered. Place a mesh strainer over a bowl, and sift the powder to separate the seeds. Discard the seeds, and set the strawberry powder aside.
- Cream the butter and shortening until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. One cup at a time, sift in the powdered sugar, beating on low speed between additions. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add 1 tablespoon milk and the extract, if using, and beat until smooth.
- Sift in the strawberry powder, and beat on low speed. Taste for sweetness, adding more powdered sugar if desired.
- Beat on medium-high speed until fully incorporated and smooth. If the frosting seems too soft for decorating the cake, place the bowl in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.
Tips for the Best Vegan Strawberry Cake
Always fully preheat the oven.
Use an oven thermometer to check the accuracy of your oven's temperature.
Use a kitchen scale to measure the flour. If you don't own a scale use the whisk/fluff method described in the recipe notes. Scooping flour straight from its package pretty much guarantees you'll scoop up TOO much, which will throw off the wet-to-dry ratio.
Always sift the flour, baking powder, and baking soda into your mixing bowl.
Oil the cake pans and place a circle of parchment paper in the bottom. I like to use refined coconut oil for this. Oils that are liquid at room temperature don't stick to the pans quite as well, but the saturated fat in coconut oil means it's thicker and stays in place. Also, by using refined coconut oil you won't have any coconut flavor transferred to the outside of the cake. Refined also has a higher smoke point.
I like to use a large spoon to mix the cake batter. Some people prefer whisks or even electric mixers, but those feel like overkill to me. Whisks and beaters make it easy to overmix the batter, which can lead to a gummy and dense cake.
Work quickly once the wet and dry ingredients are combined. Baking soda reacts with the natural acids in the strawberries to create carbon dioxide bubbles. We want to get the cakes in the oven to take advantage of this reaction.
To determine whether the cakes are done, lightly press near the center. If it bounces back even just a little bit, they're done. You can also insert a toothpick in the center. If it comes out with streaks of batter on it, the cakes are not done. If the toothpick comes out clean or with a few crumbs, it's time to remove the cakes from the oven.
Tips for Vegan Frosting
Allow plenty of time for the butter and shortening come to room temperature before beating with a handheld or stand mixer. Until recently I've always used a stand mixer for frosting, but now that I've gotten used to the control of a handheld, I actually prefer it over my KitchenAid stand mixer. I use this inexpensive Hamilton Beach handheld mixer.
Always sift the powdered sugar, and for this particular recipe, also sift the powdered, freeze-dried strawberries.
Add non-dairy milk in very small amounts. If the frosting becomes too thin it will be very difficult to backtrack. Start with just a tablespoon of milk, only adding one or two more when the frosting is almost finished. You want just enough milk to make it fluffy, soft, and spreadable.
If the frosting seems too warm and soft when it's time to frost the cakes, just pop it into the fridge for 10 minutes.
You might also like:
I hope you adore this Vegan Strawberry Cake as much as we do! If you make it I would love to hear from you in the comments.
And if you feel like showing off your gorgeous cake be sure to snap a pic and tag me with @myquietkitchen on instagram.
Vegan Strawberry Cake
For the cake:
- 4 ¾ cups all-purpose flour (590 g) - See Notes for tips on measuring flour.
- 1 (.7 oz) packet Simply Delish Strawberry Jel Dessert - **If you can't get this product where you live, omit it and increase sugar by ¼ cup.
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 pounds fresh strawberries, divided (see Notes about using frozen) - 1 lb. for the batter and 1 lb. for layering/decoration.
- ⅔ cup canola oil
- 1 ¾ cups organic cane sugar
- 1 ½ cups non-dairy milk - I used unsweetened soy milk, but any sweetened variety is fine, too.
- 1 ½ teaspoons almond extract - Can sub vanilla.
Make the freeze-dried strawberry powder (for the frosting):
- Using a blender or spice grinder, pulverize the freeze-dried strawberries until mostly powdered. Place a mesh strainer over a bowl, and sift the powder to separate the seeds. Discard the seeds, and set the strawberry powder aside.
Make the cakes:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, and oil three 9-inch cake pans. Place a circle of parchment paper in the bottom of each pan, and set pans aside.
- Sift the flour, baking soda, and baking powder into a large mixing bowl. Add the salt and Simply Delish vegan jello. Whisk to thoroughly combine the ingredients and distribute the jello powder. Set aside.
- Wash and dry the strawberries; set 1 pound aside for decorating the cake. Trim the stem ends from the remaining berries, and place them in a blender or large food processor. Blend until pureed. Measure out 2 cups of puree. If you have extra, set aside for later or enjoy as a snack. 🙂NOTE: If using a food processor smaller than 14 cup capacity, don't add all of the wet ingredients to the bowl or it might leak. Puree the strawberries first, then transfer the puree to a large bowl to be mixed with the remaining wet ingredients.
- Add the oil, sugar, milk, and almond extract to the strawberry puree, and pulse several times to combine.
- Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until just mixed, with no visible dry flour remaining. Work quickly, but be careful not to overmix. The batter will be very thick. Divide batter evenly among the three pans, and bake for 28 to 32 minutes or until the tops bounce back when lightly pressed.
- Allow cakes to cool in the pans for 10 to 15 minutes, then flip out onto racks to cool completely. *If preparing in advance, wrap each layer individually in plastic wrap, and store in the refrigerator until you're ready to frost the cakes.
Make the frosting:
- Using a handheld or stand mixer, in a large bowl cream the butter and shortening until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. One cup at a time, sift in about 4 cups of powdered sugar, beating on low speed between additions. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add 1 tablespoon milk and the extract, if using, and beat until smooth.
- Sift in the strawberry powder, and beat on low speed. Taste for sweetness, adding more powdered sugar if desired. If the frosting seems too stiff, add another tablespoon of milk. Beat on medium-high speed until fully incorporated and smooth. If the frosting seems too soft for decorating the cake, place the bowl in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.
Decorate the cake:
- Trim the stems of 10 to 12 strawberries, reserving at least a few berries for the top of the cake. Place trimmed berries cut-side down on the cutting board, and make vertical cuts through each berry to create slices of similar thickness.
- Place one cake layer on a serving plate or cake stand. Arrange sliced strawberries on top (it should take about 5 or 6 berries to cover it, depending on their size). Using an offset spatula, carefully spread a thin layer of frosting across the top. Repeat the process for the second layer.
- Place the 3rd cake layer on top, and frost the top and sides. Decorate with remaining fresh strawberries. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Use a whisk to fluff up the flour.
- Next, spoon the flour into your measuring cup so that it's heaped up higher than the rim.
- Then use a knife to level off the top, scraping the excess flour back into the container.
Strawberries - Fresh or Frozen?I prefer to use fresh strawberries for this recipe when they're in season. However, frozen berries can be used for the batter. Thaw first, then drain very well before turning into puree. Unfortunately, frozen (and thawed) strawberries won't work well for decoration because they're too soft. Storage Store your decorated strawberry cake in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to serve. The cake is best consumed the day it's frosted. Once cut, as with all cakes, it will begin to dry out. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. This recipe was originally published July 1, 2019.
Estimated Nutrition (per serving)
Nutrition information is an estimate and will vary depending on the exact amounts and specific products and ingredients used. We calculate this information using the online calculator cronometer.com.