This is truly the most amazing vegan strawberry cake recipe! It's loaded with fresh strawberries, moist, sweet, and the flavor is totally over the top! The simple, dairy-free strawberry frosting seals the deal. If you're looking for a tried-and-true vegan strawberry cake recipe to please any crowd, you've found it!
Why You'll Love It
First, 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 taken 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 are what put this vegan strawberry cake over the top!
And unlike Jell-O, Simply Delish is vegan, naturally flavored, and contains no artificial red dyes.
- all-purpose flour - no need to track down special flours for this recipe.
- organic 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.
- oil - a neutral-tasting oil like canola works well for cakes; grapeseed is another option.
- non-dairy milk of choice
- almond extract - adds a lovely sweetness and tastes amazing with strawberries; if you don't have almond extract it's fine to sub vanilla.
- baking powder and soda - these react with heat and the natural acidity of the strawberries to help the cake rise.
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 Vegan Strawberry Cake
First, preheat the oven to 350°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 or blender 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 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 transfer the cakes to a cooling rack.
- Next, make the frosting (see below). Trim and slice the remaining 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 Vegan 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.
Vegan Cake Baking Tips
- Always fully preheat the oven.
- Use an oven thermometer to check the accuracy of your oven's temperature.
- Use a kitchen scale to weigh the flour. If you don't own a scale use the whisk/fluff method described in the recipe notes.
- Sift the flour, baking powder, and baking soda into the mixing bowl to avoid clumps.
- 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. 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 stir the cake batter. Some people prefer whisks or even electric mixers, but that feels like overkill to me. Whisks and beaters make it easy to over-mix the batter, which can lead to a gummy cake.
- Work quickly once the wet and dry ingredients are combined. Baking soda reacts with the natural acid in the strawberries to create carbon dioxide bubbles. We want to get the cakes in the oven quickly 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, the cakes are done. You can also insert a toothpick in the center. Streaks of batter means 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.
New to baking? Check out this post with my Top 12 Vegan Baking Tips!
Top Tips for 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 difficult to correct. 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, pop it into the fridge for 10 minutes.
How to Convert Cake Into Cupcakes
The amount of batter needed to make 12 cupcakes is equal to the batter in one 9-inch round cake. In other words, that's ⅓ of this 3-layer cake recipe.
But don't worry... I've done the math for you!
See this new recipe for Vegan Strawberry Cupcakes. It's slightly different because it uses freeze-dried strawberries in the batter instead of Simply Delish vegan jel.
Bake time is reduced to 20 minutes for cupcakes. The oven temperature is the same.
To make things easy I also typed up a separate recipe for Vegan Strawberry Frosting. It makes just enough for one dozen cupcakes.
More Vegan Cake
I hope you enjoy this Vegan Strawberry Cake as much as we do! If you make it I would love to hear from you in the comments below.
And if you feel like showing off your gorgeous cake be sure to snap a pic and tag me with @myquietkitchen on Instagram.
Watch this short video to see how we make and decorate the cake!
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 and 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 may 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.
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.