How to Make Strawberry Crunch Cake

Dress up this moist strawberry cake with creamy vanilla frosting and a crunchy topping. Here's how to make a strawberry crunch cake inspired by the nostalgic ice cream treat!

If you have fond childhood memories of running after the ice cream truck to grab your favorite treat, then strawberry crunch cake is the cake for you. It’s a showstopping treat packed with real strawberry flavor, exactly like Good Humor’s iconic Strawberry Shortcake bars.

This two-layer cake uses fresh strawberries in the cake for natural flavor and color. It’s topped with luscious vanilla frosting and a crunchy coating made up of Nilla Wafer cookies and freeze-dried strawberries for a fun texture with every bite.

What is strawberry crunch cake?

Strawberry Shortcake ice cream bars (and our Strawberry Crunch Ice Cream Cake) have a layer of strawberry, a layer of vanilla and a crunchy strawberry vanilla topping. This strawberry crunch cake recipe uses all of these elements to create a very berry dessert.

Strawberry Crunch Cake Ingredients

  • Unsalted butter: Unsalted butter provides flavor, fat and moisture for this cake. Be sure to start with softened butter to properly cream the butter and sugar mixture until light and fluffy.
  • Fresh strawberries: This cake recipe skips gelatin or store-bought mixes. The fresh strawberries are reduced to eliminate moisture and then folded into the batter.
  • Eggs: This cake batter is prepared with two whole eggs and one egg white. This helps eliminate the amount of yellow added to the cake from egg yolks, giving it more of a pink hue.
  • Freeze-dried strawberries: Use this secret ingredient for the crunch topping! It adds an unbeatable fresh and tangy flavor. You can find freeze-dried strawberries at most grocery stores.
  • Nilla Wafers: Nilla Wafers have the ideal texture for our crunch topping. If you don’t have Nilla Wafers, use Golden Oreos instead.

How to Make Strawberry Crunch Cake

Ingredients for Strawberry Crunch Cake Recipe Molly Allen For Taste Of Home

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds fresh strawberries
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 whole eggs, room temperature
  • 1 egg white, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk

Frosting:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 (32-ounce) bag powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Crunch Topping:

  • 1 cup freeze-dried strawberries
  • 2 cups Nilla Wafers

Directions

Step 1: Prep strawberry puree

Strawberry puree in small bowlMolly Allen For Taste Of Home

Wash the strawberries, then hull them. Puree the berries in a food processor until free of chunks. Transfer the liquid to a small saucepan. Heat the strawberry puree on low, stirring occasionally. Allow the puree to simmer for 30 minutes, reducing down by half. Once reduced, transfer the puree to a bowl or jar to chill in the fridge until cool.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease two 8-inch round cake pans. Place a circular piece of parchment paper in the bottom of each.

Step 2: Combine dry ingredients

whisking dry Ingredients in small bowlMolly Allen For Taste Of Home

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside.

Step 3: Cream butter and sugar

Mixing ingredients with stand mixer in a large bowlMolly Allen For Taste Of Home

In a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Mix in the two whole eggs, one egg white and vanilla extract.

Step 4: Mix in dry ingredients and milk

Mix in 1/3 of the flour mixture, the half of the milk and another 1/3 of the flour mixture. Mix in the remaining milk and finish with the remaining flour mixture, mixing until just combined.

Step 5: Fold in strawberry puree

Folding Strawberry Puree in a large bowlMolly Allen For Taste Of Home

Using a spatula or wooden spoon, fold in the cooled strawberry puree. Add red gel food coloring for more color if desired.

Step 6: Bake the cakes

Divide the cake batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans. Bake the cakes for 28 to 30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Once baked, remove the cakes and allow them to cool for 15 minutes. Transfer the cake layers to a wire rack to finish cooling completely.

Step 7: Make the frosting

folding the frosting in a large bowlMolly Allen For Taste Of Home

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or a large mixing bowl, beat the softened butter. Mix in half of the powdered sugar, milk and vanilla extract. Gradually mix in the remaining powdered sugar. Once the frosting comes together, whip until fluffy.

Step 8: Make the crunch topping

While the cake layers are cooling, combine the Nilla Wafers and freeze-dried strawberries in a food processor. Pulse into crumbs.

Step 9: Assemble the cake

Place the first cake layer on a plate or cake stand. Frost the top of the first cake layer and place the second layer on top. Frost the tops and sides of the entire cake.

Step 10: Cover with crunch topping

cake on cake standMolly Allen For Taste Of Home

Place the cake plate or cake stand with the frosted cake on a baking sheet. This will help to catch the crumb topping. Use your hands to gently press and coat the strawberry crunch topping all over the cake.

Recipe Variations

  • Use Golden Oreos: No Nilla Wafers? Golden Oreos are a great swap for the crunch topping! Remove the creme filling before pulsing in a food processor.
  • Make a vanilla cake: Switch up the flavor of this cake by making a homemade vanilla cake or white box mix. Top the cake with strawberry frosting and crunch topping.
  • Make cupcakes: Prefer a bite-sized treat? Use the same cake recipe to fill a lined cupcake pan. Bake the cupcakes for 20 to 22 minutes. Top with the vanilla frosting and crunch topping.

How to Store Strawberry Crunch Cake

Leftovers can be stored with a cake dome over a cake stand or in an airtight container. Store this cake at room temperature for up to two days or in the fridge for up to four days.

Strawberry Crunch Cake Tips

Slice of strawberry crunch cake on plateMolly Allen For Taste Of Home

Can you use store-bought cake mix in a pinch?

While this cake recipe uses fresh strawberries for flavor, there are other options. You can certainly use a strawberry cake mix to make this cake, which will give you a brighter pink cake. You can also make a strawberry cake using a white cake mix and strawberry gelatin.

Can you make strawberry frosting instead of vanilla?

Want even more strawberry flavor for your cake? You can absolutely use store-bought or homemade strawberry frosting in place of the vanilla frosting on this cake.

Can you make strawberry crunch cake ahead of time?

The cake layers for this strawberry crunch cake can be baked and cooled ahead of time. It can also be assembled and frosted one day before you plan to serve it. Save making and adding the crunch topping until just before you’re serving the cake to be sure the texture is still crunchy.

Molly Allen
A former bakery owner and event planner, Molly is now a freelance writer and editor specializing in food and beverage, lifestyle and party planning. She brings her years of experience and industry knowledge to Taste of Home readers, drawing on her former life at the bakery to explain the difference between cake and yeast doughnuts, how to make blue velvet cake and how to salvage burnt cookies. When Molly isn’t baking, she keeps an eye on the latest food trends and kitchen gadgets, and enjoys cooking outdoors on smokers and pizza ovens.