How to Make the Best Strawberry Shortcake
Tender, flaky biscuits, juicy fresh strawberries, and fluffy vanilla whipped cream add up to the dessert of your dreams
Healthier, better-tasting meals are easier than you think with help from Yummly! Try it free now.
I don’t think any dessert represents spring and summer gatherings to me more than strawberry shortcake. I remember strawberry shortcake at almost every family barbecue and outdoor celebration while I was growing up, and it’s been one of my go-tos for entertaining ever since (keep reading for my make-ahead tips!).
Strawberry shortcake is delicious year-round, and you can buy the berries every month of the year. But to me this dessert shines most during peak strawberry season from April to June when berries are at their most plentiful, sweetest, and most flavorful.
While there’s really no wrong way to serve strawberry shortcake — it’s great with pound cake from the grocery store, or vanilla cupcakes made from a box — once you taste the kind with light, tender, buttery homemade biscuits, I guarantee you’ll be a convert.
In fact I wouldn't be at all surprised if this classic strawberry shortcake recipe, made with homemade sweetened biscuits, juicy strawberries, and vanilla whipped cream, becomes the one friends and family ask you for again and again.
Jump ahead to:
Note: The Yummly Meal Planner is available to paid subscribers.
What is strawberry shortcake?
Though you’ve likely seen many variations, traditional strawberry shortcake includes:
Flaky, barely-sweetened biscuits, also known as shortcakes. They’re tender but also sturdy enough to hold up to generous amounts of berries and cream.
Fresh strawberries that have been mixed with sugar and allowed to sit until the berries release their juices.
Homemade whipped cream sweetened with sugar and flavored with vanilla.
For serving, each shortcake is sliced in half and filled with a spoonful of strawberries and their juices, and a dollop of whipped cream. That’s it!
How to make the best strawberry shortcake
Lucky for all of us, homemade strawberry shortcake isn’t difficult to make, and this easy recipe takes just over 1 hour total time, start to finish.
1. Begin with easy strawberry shortcakes
Classic shortcake is already pretty easy to make, but my recipe features a shortcut. Rather than rolling out the dough, cutting rounds, and then re-rolling and cutting the scraps, I like to create one big square of dough and cut it into smaller squares.
Combine all-purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and use a pastry blender (or two knives; or rub it with your fingers) to cut in cold unsalted butter. The mixture should be sandy, with the butter the size of peas.
For the liquid, you can use either whole milk or half-and-half, and both will give great flavor without being too heavy. Add it to a well in the center of the dry ingredients and use a rubber spatula and then your hands to bring it all together. Now dump the mixture out onto a work surface.
Rather than knead the dough, to get flaky layers, fold the dough over on top of itself, similar to how you close a book. Then use your hands or a rolling pin to flatten the dough to about 1 inch thick, dusting with more flour if needed to prevent sticking, and also lifting the dough with a bench scraper if needed. Repeat this process 2 more times. This continues to smooth the dough and increases the flakiness and height of the biscuits.
Now roll or pat the dough into an 8-inch square. A rolling pin is great at getting the dough in an even 1-inch layer, but you’ll need to use your hands to shape the corners. Cut the dough into 9 equal squares and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
If you want shortcakes with pretty, shiny tops, brush them with a simple egg wash of beaten egg and water.
Bake at 425°F until they’re puffed and golden brown, 18-20 minutes. While the shortcakes are baking and then cooling to room temperature, move on to the strawberries.
2. Prepare the strawberries
To “macerate” means to marinate fruit in sugar to release its natural juices, making it super juicy and sweet. Adding a splash of vanilla adds even more flavor.
Mix quartered or sliced strawberries with sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract in a medium bowl. Set them aside while you whip some heavy cream and pull the shortcakes out of the oven.
3. Make homemade whipped cream
Use an electric mixer — either a stand mixer or hand-held mixer — to beat heavy whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla until soft peaks form. Don’t overmix; the whipped cream should still slump a bit once it’s spooned out.
If you accidentally over-whip your whipped cream and it’s a little thick and lumpy (it happens!), stir in more heavy whipping cream 1 tablespoon at a time to soften it.
4. Time to serve
Now comes the best part — putting it all together. You can set out the shortcakes, strawberries, and whipped cream for your guests to put together themselves, or you can place assembled strawberry shortcakes on a platter or individual plates.
Then all that’s left to do is enjoy!
How to store strawberry shortcake and prep it ahead of time
If you’re wondering how long strawberry shortcake lasts, here’s the simple answer: Homemade strawberry shortcake is at its very best the same day the shortcakes are baked. However, if you’d like to prepare this dessert ahead for easier serving later, don’t worry! You’ve got great options.
First: yes, you can freeze strawberry shortcake. Shaped shortcake dough can be frozen right on the sheet pan covered in plastic wrap for up to 3 days. Bake it straight from the freezer, adding a few minutes to the baking time. Baked shortcakes will also stay fresh stored airtight at room temperature for 1 day, or in the freezer in an airtight zip-top bag for about 1 month; thaw before using.
The prepped (macerated) sliced strawberries and whipped cream will keep in the fridge for up to 24 hours. Before serving, give the whipped cream a good stir and add a tablespoon of heavy cream if needed to loosen it up.
Get our best strawberry shortcake recipe
If you’ve never made classic strawberry shortcake from scratch, now is the time! I promise the effort will be worth it when you take that first bite.
Summer desserts to sweeten your life
Keep our strawberry shortcake recipe handy for enjoying with blueberries and raspberries, too. And why not experiment with these next favorite desserts, including pies, cake recipes, and ice cream?