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!

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Fresh Strawberry Buttercream Cupcakes

Yield: Makes enough frosting for 1 dozen cupcakes

Fresh Strawberry Buttercream Cupcakes


  • 1 dozen vanilla cupcakes (I always make these white velvet cupcakes, they're the best I've ever had)
  • 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)


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!

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74 comments… add one

Leave a Comment

  • avatar raizy May 12, 2013, 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?

    • avatar Joanne Ozug May 12, 2013, 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.

  • avatar Jen @ Jen's Favorite Cookies May 13, 2013, 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!

  • avatar Jen L May 21, 2013, 9:42 pm

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

    • avatar Joanne Ozug May 22, 2013, 10:30 am

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

  • avatar Tori June 11, 2013, 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?

    • avatar Joanne Ozug June 12, 2013, 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!

  • avatar amy June 29, 2013, 9:26 pm

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

    • avatar Joanne Ozug June 30, 2013, 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!

  • avatar raizy July 10, 2013, 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?

    • avatar Joanne Ozug July 10, 2013, 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.

      • avatar raizy July 10, 2013, 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!)

        • avatar Joanne Ozug July 14, 2013, 3:43 pm

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

  • avatar Taina July 16, 2013, 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!

    • avatar Joanne Ozug July 16, 2013, 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!

  • avatar Carrie August 27, 2013, 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.

    • avatar Joanne Ozug August 27, 2013, 1:20 pm

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

      • avatar Carrie March 30, 2014, 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!!

        • avatar Joanne Ozug March 30, 2014, 6:38 pm

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

  • avatar Amanda October 3, 2013, 9:49 pm

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

    • avatar Joanne Ozug October 4, 2013, 12:59 pm

      Hi Amanda, it’s cold cubed butter.

  • avatar Pasqualina January 15, 2014, 5:39 pm

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

  • avatar Mina March 1, 2014, 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

    • avatar Joanne Ozug March 2, 2014, 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!

  • avatar Bene March 8, 2014, 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 ;)

  • avatar Brianna March 31, 2014, 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.)

    • avatar Joanne Ozug April 4, 2014, 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.


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