Classic Strawberry Shortcake

Here’s how to make the best strawberry shortcake: the classic way! Tender, biscuit-like shortcakes meet sweet berries and fluffy homemade whipped cream.

Strawberry shortcake

Strawberry shortcake marks the start of summer around here. And why make it with store-bought mix if it’s 100% more delicious homemade? Here’s our classic strawberry shortcake recipe. It’s got tender, biscuit-like shortcakes, juicy sweet berries, and fluffy, homemade whipped cream. It’s so ridiculously good, it’s perfect for special occasions of all kinds: cookouts, patio parties, birthdays, and anytime you come across a load of ripe, beautiful berries. Here’s how to make it!

How to make strawberry shortcake: 3 steps!

There are three main skills you’ll learn in making strawberry shortcake, which we’ll cover below:

  • Macerating the strawberries. Macerate means to let them sit with sugar so they break down.
  • Making the shortcakes. You’ll make lemon-scented, biscuit-like cakes (not spongy or fluffy).
  • Making homemade whipped cream. A basic skill for any home cook to master!
How to make strawberry shortcake

Baking the shortcakes: some tips

The type of shortcake in strawberry shortcake varies based on the recipe. Some you’ll find are more spongy, some light and airy. This version is flaky and biscuity: it’s a sweet version of our Homemade Biscuits. But instead of rolling and folding them several times to create layers, we’ve simplified the process. These are like a combination of a layered biscuit and a drop biscuit. Here are a few tips for making these shortcakes:

  • Use buttermilk. Buttermilk brings the right tangy flavor and fluffy texture. It’s worth springing for the real stuff.
  • Don’t overmix. Be careful not to overmix the batter. If it’s too dry, you can add a little more buttermilk: but not too much!
  • Use a biscuit cutter. A 3-inch biscuit cutter gets just the right shape.
  • Place the biscuits directly next to each other. Placing them next to each other on the baking sheet helps them rise in the oven.
  • Sprinkle with sugar. Sprinkle the top with sugar to get a crunchy texture!

Can you make strawberry shortcakes in advance? These are best the day of, so they have a crispy on the outside and tender on the inside texture.

Shortcake biscuits

What if you don’t have a biscuit cutter?

If you don’t have a biscuit cutter for the strawberry shortcakes, here are a few ideas on how to cut the biscuits:

  • Find a circular cookie cutter that’s approximately 3 inches wide.
  • Use a knife to draw a circle 3 inches wide. (You could even cut out a 3-inch wide circle to trace as a guide.)

How to macerate strawberries

What does macerate mean? To macerate is to soften food by sitting in a liquid. With fruit and berries, you can simply mix them with sugar and let them sit. As they sit, the sugar extracts the juices from the berries, making a natural sauce with the sugar. I remember my mother doing this in the summer when I was growing up.

All you have to do is slice the berries and mix them with sugar: you don’t even have to measure quantities (or use the quantities in the recipe below). Here are a few notes about macerating the strawberries for strawberry shortcake:

  • You can use sugar or maple syrup. We’ve used sugar here, but if you prefer naturally sweet sugars with the berries maple syrup works too.
  • Adding acid makes them pop! Lemon juice makes the flavor even brighter: it’s almost like adding a pinch of salt. You can also use balsamic vinegar (strawberries and balsamic are a natural pair).
  • Make them as you bake the cakes, or 24 hours in advance. You can let the berries sit at room temperature while you bake the cakes. Or macerate them in advance in the refrigerator. Just make sure to bring them to room temp before serving.
Strawberry shortcake

Homemade whipped cream: it’s a must!

You could use store-bought whipped cream for strawberry shortcake…but if you’ve come this far, why not make homemade? Homemade whipped cream is fluffier, richer and creamier than anything you can get at the store. The recipe we’ve been making for years is this Homemade Whipped Cream. Go to that post for all our tips and tricks, but here are a fe w notes:

  • Do it with a whisk or a stand mixer. You can use a simple whisk and a bowl: get your muscles ready! It’s fun to watch cream thicken and become fluffy with just a whisk. If you have a stand mixer, you can use that for less of a workout!
  • Infuse it for a twist. Try Infused Alcoholic Whipped Cream to infuse your cream with bourbon or rum.
  • Can you make homemade whipped cream in advance? Yes. While it’s best right when it’s made, you can also make it a few hours in advance and refrigerate.
How to make strawberry shortcake

Ripe berries are a must for strawberry shortcake!

As always, the quality of the ingredients is key. For a summer dessert symphony like strawberry shortcake, you absolutely must have the ripest berries you can find. Grab local strawberries if you can: their flavor is sweet and pure summer. The first time I had a bite of a local strawberry, my mind was blown. The nuance of the flavor is simply magical.

This strawberry shortcake recipe is…

Vegetarian.

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Strawberry shortcake

Classic Strawberry Shortcake


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (10 votes, average: 4.60 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

Here’s how to make the best strawberry shortcake: the classic way! Tender, biscuit-like shortcakes meet sweet berries and fluffy homemade whipped cream.


Scale

Ingredients

For the strawberries

  • 1 pound ripe strawberries
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

For the shortcakes

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest (or 1 tablespoon orange zest*)
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon cold buttermilk, plus more for brushing
  • Optional: turbinado sugar for topping

For serving


Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Slice strawberries. Zest and juice the lemon, reserving the zest for the shortcakes. Mix the berries with the 3 tablespoons sugar and 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice. Allow to stand at room temperature for 1 hour or more, which lets them macerate and release their juices. (Or, do up to 24 hours in advance and refrigerate: bring to room temperature before serving.)
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and 1 teaspoon lemon zest. Cut the butter into 1/2-inch pieces and use a pastry cutter it into the flour mixture.
  4. Add the 3/4 cup buttermilk to the flour and stir until all the buttermilk has just absorbed. Do not overstir. Use your hands to form the dough into a rough ball. Add the 1 tablespoon more buttermilk to help the dough come together.
  5. Turn onto a lightly floured counter. Gently pat the dough out into a rectangle about 8” x 10” and about 3/4” thick (you may need to wash, dry and flour your hands to help pat it out).
  6. Use a 3” biscuit cutter to cut the biscuits, pushing straight down (without turning the cutter) and transferring to a parchment lined baking sheet (you can also use a cookie cutter or use a knife to cut out a 3-inch circle). Ensure the edges of each biscuit are touching on the baking sheet to improve rise. You should get 6 biscuits out of the first cutting, then re-roll the dough scraps for final 2 biscuits.
  7. Brush tops with buttermilk. Sprinkle with additional sugar or use turbinado sugar for a crunchy, glittery topping. Bake 15 to 17 minutes until lightly golden brown on top. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Store leftovers frozen for up to 3 months or refrigerated for a few days (reheat in a 350 degree oven until warm).
  8. Make the Homemade Whipped Cream (or try Infused Whipped Cream for a treat).
  9. To serve, cut the shortcakes in half. Top with strawberries and whipped cream, then the top of the shortcake and more whipped cream and strawberries.

Notes

*Our favorite twist is to use orange zest for the biscuits (in that case you can use orange juice for the strawberries). 

  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Strawberry shortcake

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

1 Comment

  • Reply
    Cari
    June 10, 2020 at 2:17 pm

    Hi, I’m new to your website, and I was wondering if you can tell me how you measure flour — do you spoon it into a cup and level it off, or do you dip the measuring cup directly into the flour container and then level it off? Or better yet, do you know how many grams of all purpose flour are in one cup in your recipes? I know it’s a funny question, but from everything I’ve read the way you measure flour can result in different weights and can change the way a recipe turns out — I’m hoping to have this turn out the way you intended. Thank you so much!

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