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Strawberry Shortcakes are a classic dessert. They’re light, delicious, and perfect for spring and summer with juicy, sweet strawberries and easy chantilly cream between slightly sweetened biscuits.
It’s the summer, y’all. And what can celebrate that better than fresh, simple, delicious strawberry shortcakes? A quick, easy, beautiful dessert that I absolutely love once strawberries are cheap and abundant in the grocery stores and farmers’ markets. Whenever I have strawberries in abundance, strawberry shortcake will be the first thing I whip up.
Why is it called a Strawberry Shortcake?
Let’s first start off with the fact that the first known strawberry shortcake recipe was in an English cookbook in the 1500s, so it’s been around a while and was made with ingredients and techniques that are really old school. And it makes sense, back then people often had their own farmland and were able to eat fresh off their land and use cream from their cows, so a simple dessert like this was created.
So a shortcake is basically a sort of ‘biscuit’ or crumbly bread made with leavener like baking soda or baking powder.
A shortcake classically is made with flour, sugar, salt, baking powder or soda, cream or milk, and the butter is cut into the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients are mixed in.
I don’t know about you, but that sounds a whole lot like a version of the American South’s buttermilk biscuits to me! In fact, did you know that our biscuits were based on English scones? This is exactly why I used my buttermilk biscuit recipe with a little remix: lemon zest, honey in the dough, and topped with turbinado sugar to make them slightly sweeter and give a nice crunch.
You could also make a much more shortcake-like biscuit and use the drop biscuit recipe I have for my peach shortcakes, which are actually sweeter!
How to Make Strawberry Shortcakes
Strawberry shortcake from scratch is way easier than one would think. Biscuits literally take about twenty minutes from start to finish to make from scratch and can be made ahead. In fact, your strawberry shortcakes can be made completely ahead of time!
Here’s what you need to make perfect from scratch strawberry shortcakes:
- Biscuits. You can use my flaky Southern buttermilk biscuits recipe or the sweet drop biscuits that I used in my peach shortcake recipe. They both come together simply with butter, flour, salt, baking powder, and milk and can be made days ahead.
- Fresh Strawberries. There’s no substitute for them, nothing beats macerated strawberries spooned over fluffy dollops of whipped cream. To macerate means to soften using a liquid, which is really the strawberries’ own juices that are pulled from them when they’re covered in sugar. Macerated strawberries can actually last longer in the fridge since maceration is a preservation process! Make them 3-4 days ahead (if they last that long).
- Chantilly Cream. Aka sweetened whipped cream with a splash of vanilla! But doesn’t chantilly cream just sound more lush and fancy?
And that’s it! Super easy and simple yet just lovely and delicious. Strawberry shortcakes are just so perfect for busy summer days, even if you make them day of it won’t take longer than 45 minutes, tops. Make the biscuits, cut them open once cooled, spoon on big clouds of whipped cream and the juicy macerated strawberries, and serve.
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Love strawberry recipes? Check these out:
- Strawberry Gin Smash. A quick, simple, and absolutely delicious drink with gin and fresh strawberries.
- Strawberry Spinach Salad. This salad will turn any salad hater into a believer.
- Strawberry Coffee Cake Muffins. The perfect breakfast/brunch muffin. Sweet and delicious.
- Sparkling Ginger Strawberry Lemonade. One of my absolute favorite family-friendly beverages, made with fresh strawberry puree and an easy ginger simple syrup.
The Secret to Perfect Homemade Biscuits
These biscuits are just a little different than my classic biscuit recipe: I add just a bit of extra sugar and add lemon zest since it’s such a great accompaniment to the strawberries and brightens up the biscuits.
I wrote an entire post on how to create perfect Southern buttermilk biscuits, but I think these 3 simple rules apply to any biscuit.
- Cold fat makes perfectly fluffy biscuits. In fact, you want everything cold! Even a cold bowl helps so that the fat doesn’t melt until it gets to the oven, where the steam in the butter helps the lift the biscuits.
- Don’t overwork the dough. No one wants a tough biscuit. We want soft, fluffy, delicate biscuits. Overmixing will make tough biscuits every time!
- For buttermilk biscuits, my most important tip is to never twist your biscuit cutter. Twisting cuts off the layers that you’ve created while making your biscuits and they’ll warp and won’t rise in the oven. Sad biscuits will be made, it’ll be a sad day.
Chantilly Cream: 3 ingredients to perfection
I love chantilly cream. It’s just whipped cream with vanilla extract but people will ooh when you say ‘chantilly cream’. Simply whip heavy whipping cream (which has 36%+ butterfat, which is important!), powdered sugar, and vanilla extract with an electric hand mixer or stand mixer until we have beautifully billowy clouds of vanilla-scented goodness. Just like the biscuits, don’t overmix your whipped cream! It will turn into chunky, wet vanilla-scented butter!
Literally the easiest thing ever, the strawberries are sliced up and sugared down. Let them create their own juice for about ten minutes and they’re ready to serve but they can last a few days in the fridge until you’re ready to serve. I add some lemon zest for flavor, it’s a great addition to bright, fresh desserts.
This is great for strawberries that aren’t as pretty or are just past their prime.
Put it all together!
A fun thing I love, especially if you’re having dessert with family members and littles, is to have a shortcake bar!
Macerate all the summer fruits like peaches, plums, blackberries, blueberries, and put them out with a big bowl of chantilly cream and the biscuits for your shortcake bar. Add fun bits like sprinkles, candies, or crumbled cookies for festive holidays or cookouts, gummy candies for the kids, maybe even a bowl of spiked whipped cream for the adults.
Have fun with it and make the shortcakes your own!
Can Strawberry Shortcake be Made in Advance?
Everything for strawberry shortcakes can be made a day or two ahead. The strawberries and cream should stay covered in the fridge for up to 2 days but the biscuits can be made up to five days ahead. Just assemble the biscuits, cream, and strawberries into shortcakes right before serving.
Recommended Tools for Strawberry Shortcakes
- Pastry Cutter or Large Food Processor. This is needed to cut up the butter for the shortcake biscuits.
- Biscuit Cutters. The sharper the edge, the better. Those sharp edges will ensure the biscuits will rise since the layers aren’t smashed.
- Cast Iron Skillet or a Baking Sheet. I like using a cast-iron skillet to bake the biscuits, and they come out perfect every time. A baking sheet works very well, too.
- An Electric Hand Mixer or Stand Mixer for perfectly whipped Chantilly cream.
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- 2 pounds strawberries, rinsed, stems removed, and quartered
- 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
- Juice of 1 medium lemon
- Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- 2 1/2 cups (350g) all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp (28g) baking powder
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, very cold and cubed
- 1 cup (250mL) cold buttermilk
- 3 tbsp (64g) honey
- 2 tbsp (30g) heavy cream, for brushing
- Turbinado sugar, for the top of biscuits
- 1 1/2 cups (360mL) cold heavy cream
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- Combine the strawberries, sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a medium-sized mixing bowl and toss together to combine.
- Set aside to macerate while you make the biscuits.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
- Whisk the lemon zest, flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large mixing bowl or pulse together in the bowl of a large food processor.
- Add the cold cubed butter and cut into the dry ingredients with a pastry cutter or by pulsing several times in the processor until the butter is about the size of peas. Some larger bits of butter are perfectly fine. If you used a food processor, carefully dump the mixture into a large mixing bowl.
- Pour 1 cup of cold buttermilk into the dry ingredients, then add the honey. Stir everything together with a silicone spatula until just about combined. The dough will look very shaggy and be very crumbly. If it's not, add a tablespoon of flour at a time and stir it in until the dough is shaggy, crumbly, and no longer wet.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently mold it into a rectangle using your hands. Cut the rectangle into fourths and stack the quartered dough onto each other. Smash down evenly using your hands. Use a rolling pin to press the dough back into a rectangle about one and a half to two inches thick.
- Repeat that step one to two more times. If the dough is feeling warm (the butter is melting onto your hands and getting hard to work with), place the dough into the freezer for 5 to 10 minutes until it firms back up.
- Gently roll the dough out with a rolling pin until it’s about 1 inch thick. Cut into 3-inch circles using biscuit cutters. Re-roll any scraps until you have used up as much dough as you can.
- Arrange the biscuits in a 10-inch cast iron skillet or close together on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Make sure they’re just touching, not smushed against each other, or they won't rise tall.
- Brush the tops of the biscuits with heavy cream. Sprinkle the top of them generously with the turbinado sugar.
- Bake in the preheated oven until the bottoms of the biscuits are deeply golden and the tops are lightly brown, 15 to 20 minutes.
- Remove to a wire rack and let cool for about five minutes before assembling.
- Combine the heavy cream and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or in a large mixing bowl with an electric hand mixer) and beat on medium-high speed just until stiff peaks form, about a minute and a half.
- Split the biscuits in half crosswise. Spoon strawberries over the bottom half and top with a dollop of whipped cream. Finish with the top biscuit.
Make Ahead Strawberry Shortcakes
- The biscuits, cream, and strawberries can all be prepared the day before.
- The biscuits can even be frozen before they're baked for up to 3 months. Just place the frozen biscuits into your cast iron pan or baking sheet, no thawing needed.
Sometimes buttermilk isn't available. Adding a capful of white vinegar or squeezing in the juice of half a lemon into a cup of whole milk, give it a stir, and wait for five minutes. It'll sour up, perfect to replace the buttermilk.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 641Total Fat: 27gSaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 77mgSodium: 1064mgCarbohydrates: 92gFiber: 6gSugar: 39gProtein: 11g
Eden Westbrook is the recipe developer, writer, and photographer behind Sweet Tea and Thyme. A classically trained chef, Eden has inspired home cooks into the kitchen with cultural comfort foods, easy family-friendly eats and sweets, and glorious spreads for date night and entertaining since 2015.