How to Make Strawberry Shortcake: Step-by-Step Instructions

by Ella

Strawberry shortcake is a classic dessert that brings together the delightful flavors of fresh strawberries, airy shortcake biscuits, and luscious whipped cream. This dessert is perfect for any occasion, from family gatherings to summer picnics. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the origins of strawberry shortcake, the ingredients needed, and step-by-step instructions to make the perfect strawberry shortcake. Additionally, we’ll provide tips and variations to help you customize this dessert to your taste.

Origins of Strawberry Shortcake

1. Historical Background

Strawberry shortcake has a rich history that dates back to the mid-19th century. The term “shortcake” refers to a type of crumbly, tender cake made with butter or shortening, which gives it a “short” texture. The combination of strawberries and cream became popular in England and later made its way to the United States, where it has remained a beloved dessert.


2. Evolution of the Recipe

Originally, strawberry shortcake was made with a dense, biscuit-like cake. Over time, variations of the recipe have emerged, including sponge cake and pound cake versions. Today, the classic American version typically features a light, fluffy biscuit or scone, fresh strawberries, and whipped cream.


Ingredients for Strawberry Shortcake

1. Shortcake Biscuits

  • All-Purpose Flour: 2 cups
  • Granulated Sugar: 1/4 cup
  • Baking Powder: 1 tablespoon
  • Salt: 1/2 teaspoon
  • Unsalted Butter: 1/2 cup (1 stick), cold and cut into small pieces
  • Heavy Cream: 2/3 cup
  • Egg: 1 large, lightly beaten
  • Vanilla Extract: 1 teaspoon

2. Strawberry Filling

  • Fresh Strawberries: 1 pound, hulled and sliced
  • Granulated Sugar: 1/4 cup (adjust to taste)
  • Lemon Juice: 1 tablespoon (optional, for added brightness)

3. Whipped Cream

  • Heavy Cream: 1 cup, chilled
  • Powdered Sugar: 2-3 tablespoons (adjust to taste)
  • Vanilla Extract: 1 teaspoon

Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Preparing the Strawberries

Wash and Hull Strawberries: Rinse the strawberries under cold water and gently pat them dry with a paper towel. Remove the green stems (hulling) and slice the strawberries.


Macarate the Strawberries: In a medium bowl, combine the sliced strawberries with granulated sugar and lemon juice (if using). Stir gently to coat the strawberries evenly. Allow them to macerate for at least 30 minutes at room temperature or up to 2 hours in the refrigerator. This process helps to draw out the natural juices and sweeten the strawberries.


2. Making the Shortcake Biscuits

Preheat the Oven: Preheat your oven to 425°F (220°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine Dry Ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

Cut in the Butter: Add the cold butter pieces to the flour mixture. Use a pastry cutter or your fingertips to work the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Add Wet Ingredients: In a separate bowl, whisk together the heavy cream, beaten egg, and vanilla extract. Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Be careful not to overmix; the dough should be slightly sticky.

Shape the Biscuits: Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead it a few times to bring it together. Pat the dough into a 1-inch-thick circle. Use a 2.5-inch biscuit cutter to cut out biscuits and place them on the prepared baking sheet. Gather the scraps, re-roll, and cut out additional biscuits as needed.

Bake: Brush the tops of the biscuits with a little heavy cream to help them brown nicely. Bake in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, or until the biscuits are golden brown and puffed. Transfer the biscuits to a wire rack to cool.

3. Whipping the Cream

Chill the Bowl and Whisk: For best results, chill the mixing bowl and whisk attachment in the freezer for about 10 minutes before whipping the cream.

Whip the Cream: Pour the chilled heavy cream into the cold mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream on medium-high speed until it begins to thicken. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract, and continue to whip until stiff peaks form. Be careful not to overwhip, as the cream can become grainy.

4. Assembling the Strawberry Shortcake

Split the Biscuits: Once the biscuits have cooled slightly, use a serrated knife to split them in half horizontally.

Layer the Ingredients: Place the bottom half of each biscuit on a serving plate. Spoon a generous amount of the macerated strawberries and their juices over the biscuit. Top with a dollop of whipped cream, then place the top half of the biscuit on top. Add more strawberries and cream if desired.

Serve Immediately: Serve the assembled strawberry shortcakes immediately to enjoy the contrast of textures and flavors.

Tips for Perfect Strawberry Shortcake

1. Choosing the Best Strawberries

Freshness: Use fresh, ripe strawberries for the best flavor. Avoid strawberries that are overly soft or have dark spots.

Seasonality: Strawberries are at their peak in late spring and early summer. Take advantage of this time to make the best strawberry shortcake.

2. Ensuring Fluffy Biscuits

Cold Butter: Ensure the butter is very cold before incorporating it into the flour mixture. This helps create flaky layers in the biscuits.

Minimal Mixing: Avoid overmixing the dough to prevent tough biscuits. Mix until the ingredients are just combined.

Proper Baking Temperature: Preheat the oven to the correct temperature to ensure the biscuits rise and brown evenly.

3. Perfect Whipped Cream

Chilled Ingredients: Keep the heavy cream and mixing bowl chilled to achieve the best volume and texture.

Gradual Sugar Addition: Add the powdered sugar gradually to the cream to help it dissolve and prevent graininess.

Monitoring Peaks: Whip the cream until stiff peaks form, but be cautious not to overwhip, as this can cause the cream to separate.

Variations of Strawberry Shortcake

1. Classic Sponge Cake Version

Instead of biscuits, use a light and airy sponge cake as the base for your strawberry shortcake. Slice the sponge cake into layers and assemble with strawberries and whipped cream in between.

2. Pound Cake Strawberry Shortcake

For a denser and richer version, use slices of pound cake instead of biscuits. The buttery flavor of pound cake pairs wonderfully with the strawberries and cream.

3. Gluten-Free Strawberry Shortcake

Substitute the all-purpose flour in the biscuit recipe with a gluten-free flour blend to create a gluten-free version of strawberry shortcake. Ensure that all other ingredients used are also gluten-free.

4. Vegan Strawberry Shortcake

Create a vegan version by using plant-based alternatives:

Biscuits: Use vegan butter and a non-dairy milk (such as almond or soy milk) in the biscuit recipe.

Whipped Cream: Use coconut cream or a store-bought vegan whipped cream.

Strawberries: Macerate the strawberries with sugar and lemon juice as usual.

5. Berry Shortcake Medley

Mix it up by using a variety of berries such as blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries in addition to strawberries. This adds a colorful and flavorful twist to the traditional strawberry shortcake.

Nutritional Information

While strawberry shortcake is a delicious treat, it’s helpful to be aware of its nutritional content. Here is an approximate breakdown for a typical serving of traditional strawberry shortcake:

Calories: 400-450

Fat: 20-25 grams

Carbohydrates: 50-60 grams

Protein: 5-7 grams

Fiber: 3-4 grams

Sugar: 25-30 grams

Please note that these values can vary based on the specific ingredients and quantities used.

Storing and Serving Strawberry Shortcake

1. Storage Tips

Biscuits: Store leftover biscuits in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days. For longer storage, freeze the biscuits in an airtight container for up to 3 months.

Strawberries: Macerated strawberries should be stored in the refrigerator and consumed within 1-2 days.

Whipped Cream: Freshly whipped cream is best enjoyed immediately. If necessary, it can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours, but it may lose some of its volume and texture.

2. Serving Suggestions

Fresh Presentation: Assemble the strawberry shortcakes just before serving to maintain the freshness and texture of the biscuits and whipped cream.

Individual Portions: For a neat presentation, consider serving individual shortcakes, each assembled on its own plate.

Garnishing: Garnish the strawberry shortcakes with fresh mint leaves, a dusting of powdered sugar, or a drizzle of melted chocolate for an extra touch of elegance.


Strawberry shortcake is a timeless dessert that combines the simple pleasures of fresh strawberries, tender shortcake biscuits, and creamy whipped cream. By following the detailed instructions and tips provided in this guide, you can create a delicious and visually appealing strawberry shortcake that will impress your family and friends.

Whether you stick to the classic recipe or experiment with variations, the key to a perfect strawberry shortcake lies in the quality of ingredients and the care taken in preparation. Enjoy the process of making this delightful dessert, and savor the delicious results.



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