Enjoy traditional strawberry shortcake made from scratch using this easy shortcakes recipe. With just a few simple ingredients, you can make this classic old-fashioned dessert.

Decorative white plate with strawberry shortcake on it, topped with whipped cream and strawberries.

Warm buttery shortcakes, crisp on the outside and tender inside, topped with lustrous juicy red strawberries and a cloud of lightly sweetened whipped cream — this is the stuff dreams are made of. Nothing says summer quite like strawberry shortcake.

My mom used to “force” my sister and me go along with her to pick strawberries every June. We complained plenty especially if it was hot (and it usually was!) but we didn’t complain when suppertime rolled around. Our reward for picking strawberries was homemade strawberry shortcake for dinner. And I really mean “for dinner.” That’s all we had. As much as we could eat. And we were totally happy with that.

Mom always makes biscuit-like shortcakes from scratch. Not too sweet, rich with butter, they are almost like scones. With lots of homemade whipped cream and as many perfectly ripe strawberries we could eat, we were well rewarded for our labors.

I know you’re going to love these shortcakes. If the only “shortcake” you’ve ever eaten is angel food cake or those packaged sponge cakes, you’re in for a real treat!

About strawberry shortcake

While this recipe is for shortcakes, you’ll need to know how to prepare the strawberries, too. 

Lightly rinse a quart of strawberries, hull (remove the leaves), and slice or lightly crush the strawberries with just a little sugar, a couple of tablespoons. Do this an hour or so ahead of time so the berries have time to macerate. The juices will be released and the berries will absorb some of the sugar.

FAQs

Why is it called shortcake?

It doesn’t have anything to do with how tall it is (or not tall, I guess) and it’s not a shortbread, either, like shortbread cookies. This dessert and its name has English origins dating back to the 1500s. It means adding fat to a baked good to add crispness. 

What is the difference between shortcake and biscuits?

These shortcakes are sweeter than their savory cousins, biscuits. In addition, these shortcakes aren’t rolled out like biscuits usually are. The texture is similar to biscuits or scones, crumbly and soft on the inside but with a lightly crunchy outside.

A shortcake split in half and filled with whipped cream and strawberries.

What you need

As always, you’ll find the complete printable recipe with measurements at the end of this post. 

  • Flour – Use all purpose white flour for a traditional shortcake, or use white whole wheat flour for a more hearty shortcake. We haven’t tested it, but a 1:1 gluten-free replacement flour should work as well.
  • Sugar – Not very much, these cakes are very lightly sweetened.
  • Baking Powder – Baking powder provides the leavening. Shortcakes are a type of quick bread.
  • Salt – To balance things out.
  • Butter – Use unsalted butter, softened. If you’d like to use salted butter, reduce the amount of salt slightly.
  • Buttermilk – for lots of flavor and to help make the shortcakes light.
Two white plates with strawberry shortcakes with whipped cream.

How do you make shortcake biscuits from scratch?

It really couldn’t be easier. Simply mix the dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl.

Dry ingredients in a glass bowl.

Add the butter and cut it into the dry ingredients until the mixture looks like fine crumbs and holds together when you press it between your fingers.

Pour in the milk and stir it in, just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Scoop out big spoonfuls, making mounds on a baking pan.

Unbaked shortcakes on a tray.

It’s not fancy at all, just plop it on there. Your shortcakes are ready to bake! 

Hopefully you have your berries all ready. While the shortcakes bake, whip the cream and find some pretty dishes. 

To assemble: Take the shortcakes out of the oven, slice them horizontally, laying each half in a shallow dish or plate. Spoon plenty of berries over the halves, and top with a big dollop of whipped cream. Serve right away. This is a dessert that you have to eat as soon as the berries hit the shortcakes.

Overhead view of strawberry shortcake on a white plate.

How to make these your own

  • Add flavoring to the shortcakes such as a teaspoon of vanilla or a teaspoon of orange or lemon zest.
  • Sprinkle the tops of the shortcakes before baking with coarse sugar, such as sanding sugar or turbinado sugar for a nice crunchy texture.
  • Replace the buttermilk with a different kind of milk. The shortcakes won’t be quite as light but are still delicious.
  • Strawberries aren’t the only fruit that tastes great on shortcakes. Try sliced fresh peaches or nectarines, lightly crushed raspberries, or a combination of berries. If you like things on the sweeter side, try topping with homemade strawberry sauce.
Straight-on view of a shortcake split in half and filled with whipped cream and sliced strawberries.

Make-Ahead Ideas

Measure out the dry ingredients and cut in the butter. Cover, and store mixture in refrigerator for up to three days. When ready to bake, simply pour in the buttermilk and make shortcakes.

Storage Tips

Shortcakes are best eaten immediately but if you have any leftover, store completely cooled shortcakes in a zip top bag or container. There’s no need to refrigerate them. They’ll keep two to three days. Shortcakes can be frozen for up to three months.

Reheating Suggestions

Preheat your oven or toaster oven to 350°F. Place the shortcakes on a baking pan and reheat for five to seven minutes. Frozen shortcakes will take a bit longer.

Close up view of strawberry shortcake on a white plate.

Fruity desserts

While eating plain fruit or drinking fruit in smoothies is just fine, fruit in desserts is just sublime! Try:

Layered strawberry shortcake on a white plate.

Easy Shortcakes Recipe - for Strawberry Shortcake

Yield: 6 shortcakes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 18 minutes
Total Time: 28 minutes

Enjoy traditional strawberry shortcake made from scratch using this easy shortcakes recipe. With just few simple ingredients, you can make this classic old-fashioned dessert.

Ingredients

Shortcakes

  • 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup buttermilk

For Strawberry Shortcake

  • 1 quart strawberries, rinsed and hulled
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Whipped cream

Instructions

  1. Prepare strawberries. Slice or mash slightly and mix with 2 tablespoons sugar.
  2. Preheat oven to 400°F. Prepare mid-sized baking sheet by lining with parchment paper or greasing lightly.
  3. In medium bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in butter with a fork or fingers, until mixture resembles fine crumbs and holds together when lightly pressed.  
  4. Moisten with milk and drop by ⅓ cupfuls on baking sheet, making six shortcakes.
  5. Bake for 18 minutes or until golden brown on bottom and slightly browned on top.
  6. Remove from baking sheet and cool slightly on wire rack.
  7. Split each shortcake in half crosswise with a serrated knife and serve immediately, topped with sliced strawberries and whipped cream.

Notes

  • Nutrition information is for shortcakes only.
  • Add flavoring to the shortcakes: 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or a teaspoon of orange or lemon zest.
  • Sprinkle the tops of the shortcakes before baking with coarse sugar, such as sanding sugar or turbinado sugar for a nice crunchy texture.
  • Replace the buttermilk with a different kind of milk. The shortcakes won't be quite as light but are still delicious.
  • Strawberries aren't the only fruit that tastes great on shortcakes. Try sliced fresh peaches or nectarines, lightly crushed raspberries, or a combination of berries.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1 shortcake
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 206Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 17mgSodium: 418mgCarbohydrates: 33gFiber: 1gSugar: 8gProtein: 5g

RachelCooks.com sometimes provides nutritional information, but these figures should be considered estimates, as they are not calculated by a registered dietitian. Please consult a medical professional for any specific nutrition, diet, or allergy advice.

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