Old-Fashioned Strawberry Spoon Cake

published Apr 12, 2024
Old-Fashioned Strawberry Spoon Cake Recipe

It's a must served warm, with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.


Prep25 minutes

Cook45 minutes to 50 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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overhead shot of strawberry spoon cake with a scoop taken out of it with a spoon resting in it
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Rachel Perlmutter

While I’m wholeheartedly not a cake person, I have a soft spot for simple, unfussy cakes (like blueberry dump cake!) that I can pull together at a moment’s notice. That’s why I’ll stand behind this strawberry spoon cake any day of the week. Juicy, jammy strawberries are strewn across the top of an easy-to-make cake that relies on basic pantry staples. It’s a lightly sweetened, tender affair that’s especially great when served warm, nestled besides a generous scoop of ice cream. (And yes, it’s called spoon cake for a reason — it’s so gooey, you’ll need one for scooping!)

Why You’ll Love It

  • According to our cross-tester, even with “really bad winter strawberries” this cake is still superb. Because the berries are macerated with sugar and lemon juice, they’ll be delicious no matter the season. 
  • There’s no creaming involved! In fact, the butter melts in the pan while the oven preheats. After that, the batter comes together with just a bowl and a whisk. 
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Rachel Perlmutter

Key Ingredients in Strawberry Spoon Cake

  • Strawberries: Whether you’re using in-season, middle-of-winter, or frozen berries, they’ll all shine in this homey cake. 
  • Lemon: Both zest and juice lend brightness to the batter. 
  • Unsalted butter: A single stick adds richness and depth. 
  • Buttermilk: In my tests, I found that buttermilk added a fuller flavor that regular whole milk couldn’t deliver. 

How to Make Strawberry Spoon Cake

  1. Macerate the berries. Combine coarsely chopped strawberries with lemon juice, lemon zest, and sugar until juicy. 
  2. Make the batter. Melt the butter in the cake pan in the oven as it preheats, then pour it into a bowl, and whisk in sugar, lemon zest, buttermilk, vanilla extract, salt, all-purpose flour, baking soda, and baking powder.
  3. Bake the cake. Scrape the thick batter into the pan, spoon the berries and any juices over the top, and bake until golden-brown around the edges. 
  4. Serve. Heap scoops of the warm cake and vanilla ice cream into bowls and consume immediately. 
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Rachel Perlmutter

Helpful Swaps

  • You can use 8 ounces of thawed frozen strawberries in place of fresh. Discard any juices, then chop. 
  • An equal amount of vanilla bean paste or almond extract can be subbed for the vanilla extract. 
  • If you’re going for more caramel notes, you can swap in light brown sugar for half or up to the full amount of granulated sugar. 

Old-Fashioned Strawberry Spoon Cake Recipe

It's a must served warm, with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Prep time 25 minutes

Cook time 45 minutes to 50 minutes

Serves 6

Nutritional Info


  • 8 ounces

    fresh strawberries (about 8 medium)

  • 1

    medium lemon

  • 1/2 cup

    plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided

  • 8 tablespoons

    (1 stick) unsalted butter

  • 1/2 cup


  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    vanilla extract

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1 cup

    all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    baking soda

  • Vanilla ice cream, for serving


  1. Trim 8 ounces strawberries and coarsely chop (about 1 heaping cup). Finely grate the zest from 1 medium lemon (about 1 teaspoon), then juice the lemon until you have 1 teaspoon. Place the strawberries, lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon of the lemon zest, and 2 tablespoons of the granulated sugar in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Let sit for at least 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  2. Meanwhile, arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350ºF. Place 1 stick unsalted butter in an 8-inch round cake pan or 8x8 baking dish. Place the pan in the oven as it preheats until the butter is melted, about 5 to 8 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, swirl the butter so that it coats the bottom of the pan and halfway up the sides, then pour the remaining butter into a medium bowl.

  3. Add the remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar and remaining 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest to the bowl of melted butter and whisk to combine. Add 1/2 cup buttermilk, 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and whisk to combine. Add 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder. Whisk until no dry flour remains and the batter is just combined (it will be thick).

  4. Scrape the batter into the pan and spread into an even layer. Spoon the strawberries evenly on top and drizzle any juices over the strawberries. Bake until the cake is golden-brown around the edges, pulling away from the sides, and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes. Spoon into bowls and serve with vanilla ice cream.

Recipe Notes

Substitutions: You can use 8 ounces thawed frozen strawberries (chop if needed) in place of fresh. Discard any juices.

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Reheat in the oven before serving.