Fifteen Spatulas

Fresh Strawberry Buttercream Cupcakes

A photo of white cupcakes with a fresh strawberry buttercream

Have you noticed all the fresh strawberries flooding the grocery stores over the past few weeks? I’ve been buying so many cartons that I’m pretty sure I have fully supported at least one farm with my purchases alone. Before the strawberry season comes to an end *tear,* you need to make these cupcakes. Yes, you do.

Pete and I recently had a couple friends over for dinner for the very first time, and of course, I wanted to impress them with a knockout dessert. I sat down and scrolled through the dessert section of my recipe index (see? I use this blog just as much as you do), but I realized what I most wanted to make I had never posted here before….white vanilla cupcakes with a real fresh strawberry buttercream.

When it was time to bring out the dessert, I served each person TWO full sized cupcakes…because I knew that only serving one would be insulting. They’re that good. You can’t eat just one. Even when you’re counting calories, or watching what you eat (that would be me).

A photo of cut up fresh strawberries to be pureed for strawberry buttercream

The secret to this delicious buttercream is actually two secrets. The first is to macerate the strawberries. You do this by cutting up the strawberries and letting them sit with some freshly squeezed lemon juice and a little bit of sugar. This softens the strawberries slightly, and intensifies their flavor as they absorb some of the bright lemon and sweet sugar.

a big bowl of strawberries macerated for fresh buttercream

Then you puree the strawberries and lemon juice, transferring them afterward to a strainer to let the excess liquid drain a bit. Then you can spoon the intensified strawberry goodness into your buttercream.

a strainer with strained macerated strawberries for buttercream

Which brings me to secret #2, which is making a real buttercream. I’m not talking about butter mixed with confectioner’s sugar. That’s not real buttercream.

six egg yolks for fresh strawberry buttercream

To make real buttercream, you start with egg yolks and whip them until they’re very pale. Then you take a super hot sugar syrup and whisk it into the pale egg yolks with a mixer, until it gets super light and runny, like this.

A photo showing the consistency of a fresh strawberry buttercream

Then you beat in the butter a little bit at a time until the buttercream is light and fluffy, and you add in the strawberry puree.

a big bowl of fluffy fresh strawberry buttercream

Pipe it onto some vanilla cupcakes (I make these white velvet cupcakes by Rose Levy Beranbaum and they’re incredible. I don’t bother making any other kind of white cupcake because I don’t think it can get better than this).

a row of white cupcakes piped with fresh strawberry buttercream

Top with some halved strawberries to make them look extra pretty. Enjoy!

Fresh Strawberry Buttercream Cupcakes

Yield: Makes enough frosting for 1 dozen cupcakes


1 dozen vanilla cupcakes (I always make these white velvet cupcakes, they're my favorite)
1.5 cups chopped fresh strawberries
2 tbsp vanilla sugar
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 egg yolks
1.5 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1.5 cups unsalted butter, diced (3 sticks)


Combine the chopped fresh strawberries with the sugar and lemon juice, and give it a good stir. Let it sit for 15 minutes at room temperature. This is called macerating, and we are softening the strawberries and intensifying their flavor.

Puree the strawberries in a food processor or blender, taking care to leave some small chunks of strawberry. Pour the mixture in a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl, letting some of the excess liquid drain. Set the drained pureed strawberries aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks on high speed for 8 minutes until they are very pale. In the meantime, combine the sugar and water in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat, and let the sugar syrup simmer toward the soft ball stage, which is 238 degrees on an instant read thermometer. When both the egg yolks and the sugar syrup are ready, pour the sugar syrup into the mixing bowl (the mixer should still be on high speed), aiming as best as you can to pour between the wire whisk and the side of the bowl. Now, touch the bottom of the bowl. It's pretty hot, right? Beat the egg yolk sugar mixture until the bowl feels neither hot nor cold (about 5 minutes). The egg yolk sugar mixture will be very runny at this point.

Turn the mixer down to medium and add two tbsp of the strawberry puree. Add the butter, a couple cubes at a time to the bowl, over the course of 10 minutes. Wait until each installment of butter is absorbed until you add the next batch. Do a final taste and see if you would like to add any more strawberry puree. Pipe or spread your buttercream on your cupcakes, and enjoy!


Leave a comment:


  1. Kristen posted on February 18, 2013 at 11:25 am (#)

    These sound amazing! One question though—is there a way to substitute the eggs in the buttercream so that the consistency is about the same? I’m pregnant, so eating raw eggs isn’t really in the diet code at the moment. :( Thanks!

    • Jan replied on February 18th, 2013 at 3:54 pm

      Kristen, I may be speaking out of turn, but I believe beating the hot sugar syrup mixture into the raw egg yolks will cook them. Someone correct me if I’m wrong.
      I definitely want to try this soon! Looks delicious.

    • Joanne Ozug replied on February 18th, 2013 at 8:38 pm

      I think Jan above has the right idea, but I will have to try making it to see what temperature the 240 sugar syrup brings the eggs to. I eat raw eggs frequently so I haven’t thought to measure the mixture. I’m not sure if the issue with the raw eggs is just the salmonella, but I know of friends who use pasteurized eggs and they would probably work well here. Just please note this is not professional advice, as I do not know what the restrictions of eating while pregnant are. I will try to get back to you soon!

  2. Anna @ Crunchy Creamy Sweet posted on February 18, 2013 at 12:00 pm (#)

    Exactly what was looking for! Pinning!

  3. JulieD posted on February 18, 2013 at 12:16 pm (#)

    Looks fantastic, Joanne!!

  4. Jessica@AKitchenAddiction posted on February 18, 2013 at 1:10 pm (#)

    This looks like it’ll be my new favorite strawberry frosting!

  5. Kristen posted on February 18, 2013 at 2:52 pm (#)

    Oh wow – what a delicious use of those fresh strawberries! Love this!

  6. Averie @ Averie Cooks posted on February 18, 2013 at 4:02 pm (#)

    The REAL buttercream, and with strawberries, no less. If there was ever a time I would want to make a 6 egg yolk recipe, THIS Is the one! I would love to lick that mixing bowl :)

  7. carrian posted on February 18, 2013 at 4:23 pm (#)

    My name is Carrian, and I’m a strawberry addict. It was really hard coming here today, but my husband said it was time. I just feel like,
    oh! Sorry, wrong place for this huh? ;)

    • Joanne Ozug replied on February 18th, 2013 at 8:40 pm

      hahaha! You and me both, Carrian =)

  8. Fiona posted on February 18, 2013 at 5:24 pm (#)

    This recipe sounds fabulous. About the icing, is it safe for kids since we are using raw yolks? or the sugar cooks it? Thank you in advance :)

    • Joanne Ozug replied on February 18th, 2013 at 8:44 pm

      Hi Fiona, another reader had the same question, this is what I said: “I think Jan above has the right idea, but I will have to try making it to see what temperature the 240 sugar syrup brings the eggs to. I eat raw eggs frequently so I haven’t thought to measure the mixture. I’m not sure if the issue with the raw eggs is just the salmonella, but I know of friends who use pasteurized eggs and they would probably work well here. Just please note this is not professional advice, as I do not know what the restrictions of eating while pregnant are. I will try to get back to you soon!”

  9. Ann Mc posted on February 18, 2013 at 6:00 pm (#)

    Oh, man…those look amazing! I’m like you – I use the confectioners sugar, butter recipe frequently…but NOTHING beats REAL buttercream! Bravo, Joanne! This one is a winner!

  10. Myrtle posted on February 18, 2013 at 6:05 pm (#)

    Mmm…looks delicious! Do you think that you could possibly put some strawberry into the cake as well, to add more strawberry flavor?

    • Joanne Ozug replied on February 18th, 2013 at 8:43 pm

      Hi Myrtle, I have never done a strawberry cake before, mostly because Rose (the queen of baking cakes) said that she’s never been able to make a good one. The weight and acidity of the fruit apparently makes for a subpar texture. I’m sure there are recipes out there, but I have never tried one. I find the white cupcakes to have a great taste regardless. If you find a knockout strawberry cake, let us all know =)

  11. Mi Vida en un Dulce posted on February 18, 2013 at 9:37 pm (#)

    Ok, I made buttercream with just butter and sugar, I also made with egg whites, syrup and butter…but never ever I did with egg yolks…what a recipe…!!!

    • Joanne Ozug replied on February 20th, 2013 at 8:54 pm

      The egg yolks add a really lovely richness!

  12. ET Canada posted on February 19, 2013 at 8:04 am (#)

    This is a real over the moon recipe. I will use it this week for my sister’s birthday. Joanne’s REAL buttercream icing has become my top list icing recipe. I’ve based it for various flavours like adding real chocolate from bitter to semi sweet and even a bit os strong coffee with chosolate for a lovely mocha taste. Now this fab strawberry icing on my all time favourite white velvet cupcake…..another amazing recipe!!

    • Joanne Ozug replied on February 20th, 2013 at 8:54 pm

      Cool, it’s great to hear of all the variations you have done!

  13. Meg posted on February 19, 2013 at 12:12 pm (#)

    I had this post open when a strawberry-loving friend walked by, and she flipped right out. “Um, yes, I think you should make those. Tonight!” she bellowed.

    I don’t know about tonight, but they’re on the to-be-baked list!

  14. Erin @ Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts posted on February 19, 2013 at 1:14 pm (#)

    Gorgeous! The buttercream sounds so decadent, and I am loving all the strawberries lately!

  15. Dawn posted on February 19, 2013 at 5:27 pm (#)

    A quick question. Were I to make this recipe sans strawberries, would there be a problem with the consistency of the product? I have been hunting for an ultimate buttercream recipe — you know, the one that your child requests on her birthday or your friend asks for his birthday. What do you think? There is a large volume of strawberries and, absent the strawberries, I wonder if if would be too thin. I really want to make your recipe and have success the first time out of the gate. I am thinking EASTER for these babies. Any suggestions?

    • Joanne Ozug replied on February 20th, 2013 at 8:56 pm

      Hi Dawn, no issues with the consistency if you don’t add the strawberries. Definitely need to substitute something else for flavor though. Maybe some vanilla extract? Almond extract? Or you could make it something like chocolate or peanut butter!

  16. Heidi Medina posted on February 19, 2013 at 5:51 pm (#)

    These sound absolutely yummy and look wonderful, you did a great job of “selling” them with your pictures. I’m adding these to the list for my husband’s upcoming b-day, they’ll be perfect. Thanks for sharing.

  17. Ashton posted on February 19, 2013 at 8:29 pm (#)

    So beautiful :)

  18. Dorothy @ Crazy for Crust posted on February 19, 2013 at 9:11 pm (#)

    These are the prettiest cupcakes ever!!! That buttercream….it sounds wonderful!

  19. Jocelyn @BruCrew Life posted on February 19, 2013 at 10:01 pm (#)

    Wow! Those are absolutely gorgeous!!! I am loving all the strawberries in the stores right now too!!!

  20. Karly posted on February 20, 2013 at 8:15 pm (#)

    I’ve been buying up all the strawberries too! I am so ready for spring and all the yummies that come with it!

    These cupcakes are absolutely gorgeous!

  21. Jasline (Foodie Baker) posted on February 20, 2013 at 8:44 pm (#)

    Beautiful cupcakes! I love to buy strawberries too, whenever they are on sale. The buttercream looks insanely delicious!

  22. Christina Einhaus posted on February 20, 2013 at 8:46 pm (#)

    I was wondering what vanilla sugar is?
    thank you

    • Joanne Ozug replied on February 20th, 2013 at 8:58 pm

      Hi Christina, You can certainly use regular sugar. However, I always keep vanilla sugar around, which is made by taking leftover vanilla beans that have been scraped (for another recipe) and sticking it in the same container as the sugar. After a while the leftover vanilla bean gives the sugar a wonderful vanilla aroma. And it’s a great way not to waste the used up vanilla bean =)

  23. Stephanie @ Macaroni and Cheesecake posted on February 24, 2013 at 3:47 pm (#)

    These are such gorgeous cupcakes!

  24. Afolger posted on March 15, 2013 at 5:38 pm (#)

    Just made this with my own white velvet recipe. This is hands down the best buttercream!! I am officially finished with that old powdered sugar drowned butter recipe. Haha No kidding though!! This isn’t as heavy or overly sweet. This really tastes like homemade strawberry ice cream! Absolutely FANTABULOUS!! Thank you for the recipe! :D (can you tell I’m excited? haha)

    • Joanne Ozug replied on March 15th, 2013 at 6:08 pm

      YAY!!!! I agree, the butter mixed with powdered sugar “buttercream” is lame! Doesn’t taste nearly as good as this real buttercream. So glad you loved it. Have a good weekend!

  25. Nina posted on April 12, 2013 at 11:32 am (#)

    Hi ! I discovered your blog thanks to the video of you and Herve ! And now, i’m everyday here waiting for a new post ! Your recipies are just fantastic and very well presented. All is beautiful, photos, design…

    And these cupcakes are just lovely ! I can’t wait to try it !

    Sincerly, Nina
    PS : I’m French so sorry for my english.

    • Joanne Ozug replied on April 12th, 2013 at 12:14 pm

      Hi Nina, welcome to Fifteen Spatulas! I love Herve, he is a great person. And PS your English is superb!! Really, really good.

  26. Bianca posted on April 13, 2013 at 4:15 am (#)

    Hello Joanne, Pinterest brought me here :)

    Such a beautiful buttercream…an absolute keeper! Your site is truly impressive, cheers…


    • Joanne Ozug replied on April 13th, 2013 at 12:58 pm

      Hi Bianca, welcome! These cupcakes are killer! So good. Hope you enjoy taking a look around and happy cooking =)

  27. maria posted on April 19, 2013 at 1:57 pm (#)

    I want to use this recipe but instead of strawberries I want to use mango, do I keep it all the same or do anything different?

    • Joanne Ozug replied on April 19th, 2013 at 3:11 pm

      Hi Maria, Hm, since mango is kind of acidic already, I’d maybe omit the lemon juice (and also maybe skip the macerating with the sugar). I would try adding just the mango puree. Let us know how it is if you try it!

  28. Kim H posted on April 21, 2013 at 9:46 pm (#)

    How long do you think the frosting will stay good for? I was thinking of making these in the push-pop cake form for my shower but I would like to prepare the frosting in advance.

    • Joanne Ozug replied on April 22nd, 2013 at 12:14 pm

      Hi Kim, the frosting will stay good in the fridge for 2 days before it starts to head downhill. You might be able to get away with day 3 but I wouldn’t suggest much beyond that. It’s crazy good frosting, hope you get to make it! I’m making some this week.

      • Kim H replied on April 22nd, 2013 at 12:15 pm

        Awesome, thanks for the quick reply!
        I’m SO looking forward to making this… wish me luck ;)

  29. Lauren @ Rustic Honey posted on April 26, 2013 at 4:57 pm (#)

    Shut the kitchen door! Three sticks of butter?!? Those look amazing! Will be trying these. Thank you for sharing!

    • Joanne Ozug replied on April 28th, 2013 at 9:50 pm

      It’s pretty alarming the first time you make buttercream from scratch LOL.

  30. Dana posted on April 30, 2013 at 9:54 am (#)

    Hi – I made these this weekend. And while the taste was fabulous, I found my icing to be very thick like butter…I’m thinking I needed to whip it a bit longer than 10 minutes…could that be the case?

    • Joanne Ozug replied on April 30th, 2013 at 10:16 am

      Hi Dana, very interesting! Sometimes I find it to be runny and have to add more butter. I think that next time you could add less butter. Start with 2 sticks and if it has the consistency you like, then you can just stop there. The whipping helps make it airier, but that will only go to a certain point (and if you whip too much, the buttercream might separate), so I’d say add less butter. Hope it helps!

  31. raizy posted on May 12, 2013 at 8:55 pm (#)

    Hi joanne! i just came across your site and i am hooked! This recipe looks divine! I was just wondering if these cupcakes freeze well? (including the frosting) And can i frost them before freezing?

    • Joanne Ozug replied on May 12th, 2013 at 10:27 pm

      Hi Raizy, both cake and frosting freeze very well! That’s why people can get away with freezing their wedding cake and eating it on their first anniversary LOL. You can frost them before freezing but I’m not sure how nice they would look (I usually pipe later). Also, if the frosting happens to break, you can google how to fix broken frosting, since occasionally that will happen with buttercream. I haven’t had it happen with these though.

  32. Jen @ Jen's Favorite Cookies posted on May 13, 2013 at 1:11 pm (#)

    This buttercream looks divine! I tried a fresh peach frosting once, and it was a disaster. I should try this method next time!

  33. Jen L posted on May 21, 2013 at 9:42 pm (#)

    Great site! Great recipes! Thanks- from an arm chair gourmet chef and foodie!

    • Joanne Ozug replied on May 22nd, 2013 at 10:30 am

      Thanks Jen! Welcome and I hope you enjoy the website =)

  34. Tori posted on June 11, 2013 at 11:37 pm (#)

    Hi Joanne!

    I was wondering if you could make the cake recipe into a layer cake instead of cupcakes. I realize that the baking time will change if it’s possible, but will there be any bad side effects?

    • Joanne Ozug replied on June 12th, 2013 at 9:15 am

      Hi Tori, you sound like an advanced baker. I think this would work well as a layer cake but I’m not sure what the exact time would be since I always make these as cupcakes. If you are able to judge the doneness by eye, you should go ahead and make them in the pan. Enjoy!

  35. amy posted on June 29, 2013 at 9:26 pm (#)

    Hi, I’d like to try these but don’t know what vanilla sugar is. Where would I find it?

    • Joanne Ozug replied on June 30th, 2013 at 3:23 pm

      Hi Amy, you can make your own by sticking a scraped out vanilla bean (use the seeds for another recipe) in a canister of sugar and letting it sit for a week or so. And you can definitely just use regular sugar for this recipe and it will turn out nicely!

  36. raizy posted on July 10, 2013 at 12:22 pm (#)

    Hi Joanne! HELP! I just ginished whipping up the buttercream and its a very watery runny consistency. Is there anything I can do to save my buttercream?

    • Joanne Ozug replied on July 10th, 2013 at 12:25 pm

      Hi Raizy, hm. I’m sorry to say I think the sugar might not have been cooked to the right stage. Did you use a good thermometer? In the soft ball stage the buttercream should be relatively thick. You might be able to save it by adding more butter or seeing if it firms up in the fridge. Those are my best suggestions, but let me know if you have more details.

      • raizy replied on July 10th, 2013 at 12:31 pm

        Im gonna stick it in the fridge and see what happens. Youre a sweetheart for answering right away! At least the white velvet cupcakes came out good!( I was so depressed about the buttercream, I had to taste the cupcake!- best ive ever had!)

        • Joanne Ozug replied on July 14th, 2013 at 3:43 pm

          Well, at the very least it sounds like the cupcakes turned out really well!!

  37. Taina posted on July 16, 2013 at 11:34 am (#)

    Hi Joanne! Your cupcakes look DELICIOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!! :D Can’t wait to make them! What do you mean by hot sugar syrup? And how do you puree the strawberries? This may sound a little dumb, but I’m pretty young and I love baking, but I’m not an expert!

    • Joanne Ozug replied on July 16th, 2013 at 5:44 pm

      Hi Taina, no worries about the questions. The hot sugar syrup refers to the sugar you cook to 238 degrees in the instructions. Also, I pureed the strawberries in a food processor. Hope you enjoy the cupcakes, and be sure to use a really accurate thermometer. It’s important to get it right to 238 degrees plus or minus a degree. Enjoy!

  38. Carrie posted on August 27, 2013 at 3:35 am (#)

    Wow, I have made frosting before, but always the butter and confectioner’s sugar kind, with one foray into Swiss Meringue Buttercream. This is AMAZING. I can’t even explain. I had some left over and was spooning it onto graham crackers with my boyfriend, who was raving about it being like a much improved version of dunkaroos haha. He also ate a frosted cupcake and said I shouldn’t bring them to work cuz my coworkers wouldn’t like them and I should just leave them here (I did leave him one, I’m not totally evil). Seriously yummy! I was wondering if you keep these in the fridge after frosting them, I notice the frosting is getting kinda glisten-y and a little shiny, but not runny or anything. And it still tastes fine.

    Bookmarked a thousand times over, I assume this would work well with raspberry or blackberry or even blueberry right? I want to try other variations. It never occurred to me to make frosting this way.

    • Joanne Ozug replied on August 27th, 2013 at 1:20 pm

      Wonderful!!! So happy you both enjoyed this frosting so much. And yes, feel free to experiment with different flavors. Enjoy!

      • Carrie replied on March 30th, 2014 at 5:37 pm

        So I posted my original comment at the end of last August. I have made this frosting recipe many times and it is ALWAYS delicious!! I am happy to say it’s a very versatile recipe and I have done blueberry buttercream, cake batter buttercream (with homemade yellow cake mix!) and cookie dough buttercream..and even just plain vanilla. Amazing!!

        • Joanne Ozug replied on March 30th, 2014 at 6:38 pm

          YAY! I’m really happy to hear that, Carrie. And the buttercreams you have done sound amazing!

  39. Amanda posted on October 3, 2013 at 9:49 pm (#)

    Does the butter need to be a room temp or does it need to be cold?

    • Joanne Ozug replied on October 4th, 2013 at 12:59 pm

      Hi Amanda, it’s cold cubed butter.

  40. Pasqualina posted on January 15, 2014 at 5:39 pm (#)

    So in other words you basically make an Italian butter cream and add the strawberries to it?

  41. Mina posted on March 1, 2014 at 1:08 pm (#)

    would the buttercream work with any other fruit with the lemon squeeze and sugar? im not much of a fan of strawberries,ive got blackberries on hand so i wanted to ask

    • Joanne Ozug replied on March 2nd, 2014 at 5:20 pm

      Hi Mina, yes other fruits would work. With the blackberries though, you may consider cooking them down and straining out the seeds, since they can be rather big sometimes. Enjoy!

  42. Bene posted on March 8, 2014 at 2:03 pm (#)

    These look reeealy delicious though I guess for all us who are out there and allergic to egg, we’ll just have to stick to the non-real buttercream ;)

  43. Brianna posted on March 31, 2014 at 10:35 pm (#)

    Do you have a recommendation for a good candy thermometer? My daughters’ birthdays are coming up soon and I’d really like to branch out from the super sweet American buttercream, but I don’t have a candy thermometer to attempt any other kind. (I know. I know! Bad baker, no cookie.)

    • Joanne Ozug replied on April 4th, 2014 at 10:07 am

      Hi Brianna, I usually use my Thermapen, which is pretty much the best thermometer you can buy, but it’s not specifically a candy thermometer that lays in the side of the pan. The mainstream candy thermometer (I think made by Taylor) is not rated well, so I have hesitated to buy it. I’ve never seen a well-reviewed candy thermometer around, sadly, so I just measure with my thermapen.

  44. Paula posted on July 14, 2014 at 8:27 am (#)

    Hi can i just ask,, do i use powdered icing sugar or caster sugar ? And also where can i find the recipe for white velvet cupcakes.x