strawberry buttercream

One of my favorite parts of birthdays as a kid was flipping through my mom’s stack of Wilton yearbooks to pick out my cake. I remember cakes shaped like treasure chests, dice (every guest got their own die), telephones, dollar bills, a whole scene with penguins and an igloo and a pond (that was my brother’s cake, two years in a row), so many others.

My mom, of course, used the Wilton buttercream recipe, a simple mixture of powdered sugar and solid fat (butter or shortening), with a bit of vanilla for flavor, milk to loosen it up, and meringue powder to help it set. This is what I knew as frosting as a kid; I loved it then and still do.

To some, it’s too sweet and it’s certainly grainy, and those people often prefer swiss meringue buttercreams, in which butter is mixed into a meringue built from egg whites and sugar. My first experiences with these weren’t great; I felt like I was eating lightly sweetened butter. Dorie Greenspan’s recipe, a lemon version, changed my mind, because it actually tasted like something.

Now I love both types of frosting (is there any horribly fattening food I don’t enjoy, I wonder?), although I always add at least a couple drops of lemon juice into my meringue buttercreams to brighten their taste. But this strawberry version might just take the cake. It’s light and smooth, like all meringue buttercreams, but it has plenty of flavor from all those strawberries. I don’t think anyone will be shaping this frosting into penguins anytime soon, but it might top my next birthday cake anyway.

One year ago: Bacon-Wrapped Goat Cheese and Almond-Stuffed Dates
Two years ago: Beer-Battered Fish
Three years ago: Cream Cheese Brownies

Printer Friendly Recipe
Strawberry Buttercream (adapted from Martha Stewart via Annie’s Eats)

The original recipe calls for fresh strawberries, but I prefer to use frozen strawberries when their texture isn’t important, because they’re available year-round and always picked at the peak of their ripeness.

1 cup strawberry puree (from 8 ounces frozen defrosted strawberries)
4 large egg whites
1¼ cups (8.75 ounces) sugar
Pinch salt
24 tablespoons (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1. Combine the egg whites and sugar in a heatproof mixer bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Whisk until the sugar dissolves and the mixture registers 160 degrees on a candy thermometer.

2. Remove the bowl from heat and attach it to a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature, about 8 minutes. (The bowl should be cool to the touch.)

3. Reduce the speed to medium and add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, whisking well after each addition. With the mixer on low, whisk in the strawberry puree, mixing just until incorporated. Use immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. (Bring to room temperature, and beat on low speed until smooth before using.)

This frosting topped Sky High’s Pink Lady Cake.


  1. Gorgeous! 🙂

  2. So familiar – I have the same memories and now those old Wilton books are in my attic. I’m also still a fan of the original Wilton frosting. 🙂

  3. Looks beautiful. I tried my first meringue buttercream the other week and while it wasn’t perfect it tasted divine!

  4. I’ve made that frosting before as well. I even successfully quartered using only 1 egg white!

  5. mmmm, sounds dangerous – strawberry and buttercream. Gimme a bowl of that!!!!!!

  6. There’s something super attractive about a pink frosting. Even better that it’s made with real strawberries! I really like how you swirled it with a big round top creating a fat swirl. 🙂

  7. pink frosting! yay!

  8. As you know, I’m a huge fan of SMBC. Like you, I love powdered sugar frostings as well. I love the pink/strawberry variation.

  9. I’ve made this same buttercream, it’s dreamy isn’t it. I actually loved how the bits of strawberry looked in it, ddi you omit them? See here –

  10. bridget says:

    Avanika – I think the frozen strawberries I used pureed more thoroughly than fresh strawberries.

  11. I sure hope that mine turn out as good as yours. great recipe!!

  12. Natosha says:

    How many cupcakes will this frost?

  13. bridget says:

    Natosha – If you frost them thickly, like I did here, about 2 dozen.

  14. Natosha says:

    Awesome Thank you! I’m making cupcakes for 80 people and using this recipe so i wanted to make sure i got enough ingredients which luckily i did! I am very excited!

  15. bridget says:

    Natosha – For 80 cupcakes, you’ll probably only need 3 batches of frosting, not four batches. Good luck and enjoy!

  16. Terry says:

    I always used the old Wilton recipe myself with amazing crusting results. Since Crisco changed their formula taking out the transfats some years back I don’t have such luck getting my buttercream to smooth without alot of stress on my part. I’ve even used two different kinds of the more expensive High Ration shortening but still get no-crusting buttercream. This has become so frustrating for me. I’ve tried adding the meringue powder to help with the crusting but I don’t like the way it takes away from the flavor of my buttercream. Its really a very simply recipe: confectioners sugar, shortening (I don’t usually use butter as I usually need solid white), clear vanilla flavoring, clear butter flavoring, milk for consistency. Do you know what I can add or substitute to get my buttercream to crust again. Please help. Thank you!

  17. I have tried this recipe twice today & both times it started to turn into small lumps once I added the strawberries. What do you think I am doing wrong? I followed your directions to the T. With the exception to the frozen strawberries, I used fresh because I had them on hand.

  18. Cara – Meringue buttercreams can be fussy. It sounds like yours curdled – maybe the strawberries were cold, which can break the emulsification between the egg whites and butter. If you keep beating the mixture, usually it’ll come back together.