This easy vegan strawberry cake is PACKED with fresh strawberries and so simple to make (no gelatin and no freeze dried strawberries!)! Layered with a fresh strawberry buttercream, this will quickly become your favorite vegan cake recipe!
A homemade strawberry cake without JELL-O nor freeze dried-strawberries…just REAL strawberries!
You are just going to love this fresh vegan strawberry cake. It’s full of fresh strawberries, bursting with sweetness, and deliciously light and tender.
I really wanted to make a homemade strawberry cake that was not only vegan (so no gelatin nor JELL-O mix here!), but also simple in ingredients. Yes, I’m referring to the freeze dried strawberries! There’s nothing wrong with freeze dried strawberries.
It’s just 9 times out of 10, I’m going to have fresh strawberries and strawberry jam in my kitchen over freeze dried strawberries. Some people are probably different and maybe you enjoy freeze dried strawberries!
But again, I wanted to keep this strawberry cake simple and approachable for everyone.
Here’s what you’ll need for this vegan cake recipe:
- Flour: I actually opted for oat flour when photographing this strawberry cake, but I’ve tested this with regular cake flour, as well as gluten free 1:1 baking flour. All options work!
- Strawberry reduction: we go over this in the next section, but all you’ll need are strawberries!
- Unsweetened applesauce
- Vegan butter or coconut oil
- Sugar: I actually used coconut sugar in the photos of this cake, and it didn’t turn out too dark in color! You can still definitely see the pink.
- Vegan buttermilk: a combination of dairy free milk and apple cider vinegar
- Vanilla: strawberries and vanilla extract just go so well together!
Fresh strawberry reduction sauce
If you’ve read online, then you know that you can’t just add strawberries to a vanilla cake and call it a day. Trust me, I’ve learned by experience!
For this vegan strawberry cake, we’re actually going to be using a strawberry reduction sauce, which is essentially strawberry puree boiled down to a thicker sauce.
Now, I don’t make my strawberry reduction into a thick paste, like many homemade strawberry cake recipes call for. I just reduce the puree to essentially a thicker sauce. In other words, I take about 1 1/2 cups of strawberry puree and only reduce it down to 1 cup, rather than 3/4 of a cup.
This adds a good amount of moisture to the vegan strawberry cake without making it gummy. This is the key to a really strawberry-packed flavorful strawberry cake.
You can actually use either fresh or frozen strawberries as well! Just make sure that you’re reducing the mixture down to 1 cup.
How to make a homemade vegan strawberry cake
As I mentioned above, this homemade strawberry cake is just so easy to make. In fact, we don’t even need any fancy equipment!
As with all of my recipes, the full written instructions, along with the measurements, are found down below in the recipe card. However, I wanted to give you a few tips and tricks here!
- Make your strawberry reduction sauce a few hours or the day before. This allows the strawberry sauce to fully cool before you incorporate it into your cake. Hot strawberry sauce will lead to a gummy texture.
- The strawberry cake batter: you’ll whisk together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, but use a large bowl for the main batter. In the large bowl, you’ll simply combine all room temperature wet ingredients together. Room temperature ingredients ensures that little to nothing will go awry in the actual batter. Cold applesauce mixed with a lukewarm melted butter will cause the butter to freeze up, creating a lumpy texture that won’t be a pretty bake. Take some time to bring all ingredients to room temperature.
- Mix the dry ingredients into the wet. I try to do only a few mixes here, making sure that all of the dry has been incorporated into the wet. Then divide the batter amongst your pans and bake!
- Allow the cakes to fully cool before frosting. I’ve been there where I’ve rushed through the cooling process and started frosting the cake. Trust me, it’s better to wait! The cakes should have absolutely NO warmth to them when you go to frost. That’s how you know when to make the vegan strawberry buttercream!
The strawberry buttercream
If you’ve ever tried to add fresh strawberries to a buttercream, then you know that it has a high potential of splitting. Trust me, I have been there before, and it’s so frustrating, so I feel you!
This is why we’re actually using strawberry preserves (or strawberry jam) for the strawberry buttercream in lieu of fresh strawberries. If you’re really really good at making your own homemade strawberry jam, then by all means, you can use it in this recipe.
But I do advise caution, as too much liquid in your strawberry jam will cause the buttercream to split. Stick with fresh strawberry preserves, if you can!
The other thing to note is sifted powdered sugar. This will give you that really creamy and lush strawberry buttercream that will complement your homemade strawberry cake so beautifully.
I had some extra buttercream, so I decided to pipe the rest on top and top with fresh strawberries!
Final cake tips & tricks
- You can use fresh or frozen strawberries: for the strawberry reduction, you can use eaters fresh or frozen strawberries. Just make sure you’re reducing down to 1 cup!
- Make it a gluten free strawberry cake. As I mentioned above, this can easily be made as a gluten free strawberry cake! I used oat flour with a bit of arrowroot starch, and the texture came out perfectly. More on that in the recipe card!
- Don’t over mix the batter. Over mixing the batter will often times lead to the cake not rising and/or a gummy texture. Mix until there are JUST no more dry streaks.
- Bake as a 6″ cake or an 8″ cake. The cake in the photo is over an 8″ cake that I baked in two layer sand sliced in half. You can also do a three layer 6″ cake or just two massive layered 8″ cakes!
- Measure the strawberry reduction. Don’t eyeball this- make sure you measure the amount of strawberry reduction going into the cake!
- Turn into vegan strawberry cupcakes. If you want to make this vegan strawberry cake as strawberry cupcakes, go right ahead! The current recipe below will yield 24 cupcakes.
I hope you love this vegan strawberry cake as much as I do! It was such a hit with my family, and I just know yours will love it too.
If you make this cake, let me know by leaving a comment down below, as well as a rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ so that others may find this recipe!
Happy cake baking!
More vegan cake recipes you’ll love:
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This easy vegan strawberry cake is PACKED with fresh strawberries and so simple to make (no gelatin and no freeze dried strawberries!)! Naturally gluten free and dairy free with layers of fresh strawberry buttercream, this will quickly become your favorite vegan cake recipe!
Vegan Strawberry Cake:
- 4 1/2 cups cake flour, oat flour (with 2 tbsp arrowroot powder), or gluten free 1:1 baking flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 1/3 tsp baking soda
- 1 3/4 cup unsweetened dairy free milk, room temperature
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar (to be mixed with dairy milk)
- 1 1/3 cup coconut sugar or granulated sugar
- 1 cup strawberry reduction sauce*, room temperature
- 1 cup unsweetened applesauce, room temperature
- 1/3 cup vegan butter, melted and cooled
- 2 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1–2 drops pink food coloring, such as pitaya powder or a vegan friendly pink liquid coloring
Vegan Strawberry Frosting:
- 1 batch vegan buttercream
- 1/2 cup strawberry preserves, such as Bonne Mamman
Vegan Strawberry Cake
- Make sure that your strawberry reduction sauce is cooled enough to use in the cake. Also, mix together the dairy free milk with the apple cider vinegar to curdle and become a vegan buttermilk. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 350F and line two 8″ cake pans or three 6″ cake pans with parchment paper and lightly oil.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the dairy free milk mixture, sugar, strawberry reduction sauce, applesauce, melted and cooled vegan butter, vanilla extract, and pink food coloring. Mix until combined.
- Sift in the dry ingredients, and mix until there are no more dry streaks (being careful not to over mix the batter).
- Divide the batter evenly into the cake pans, and place the cake pans into the oven. A 6″ cake will take around 28-30 minutes, or until the toothpick comes out clean. If you’re baking an 8″ cake and want four layers, you can still bake the cakes in two pans, and once baked and cooled, you’ll slice each cake in half.
- Once the cakes are baked, remove from the oven and allow the cakes to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then carefully transfer to a cooling rack to fully cool before frosting.
Vegan Strawberry Buttercream
- When the cakes are fully cooled, you can begin to make the strawberry buttercream.
- Follow the instructions for making the vegan buttercream above. Once the buttercream is whipped, add in the strawberry preserves. Cream together again until smooth.
- To assemble the cake, add about 1/3 cup of frosting in between each layer, smoothing to the edges of the cake. Frost the outer edges as well.
- If you have any reserved frosting, you can pipe decoration onto the top and bottoms of the cake as well! Top with fresh strawberries and enjoy!
Gluten free: you can easily make this vegan strawberry cake gluten free by using either oat flour with 2 tbsp arrowroot powder, or gluten free 1:1 baking flour. I will note that the oat flour does not rise as much as the regular cake flour nor gluten free 1:1 baking flour, but you will still get a really beautiful cake.
Strawberry reduction sauce-ish: This isn’t quite a strawberry reduction, but it will help us to reduce the moisture in the strawberry puree just a bit for our cakes. The strawberry reduction should still be thicker than just puree, but it won’t be a paste. Puree 3 cups fresh and hulled strawberries until smooth. Add the puree to a medium sauce pan and heat for 10-12 minutes to help evaporate some of the moisture and caramelize the strawberry sugars. Remove from heat and pour into a glass container. You should yield around 1 cups strawberry reduction. Allow the strawberry sauce to cool fully before making this cake.
Keywords: vegan strawberry cake, homemade strawberry cake, fresh strawberry cake, gluten free strawberry cake