Vanilla Cupcakes With Pink Strawberry Frosting

aka Strawberry Milkshake Cupcakes

Vanilla Cupcakes With Strawberry Frosting – made from scratch taste, light and tender french vanilla cupcake perfectly complemented with fresh strawberries folded into luscious, velvety buttercream frosting!

If you’re always searching for the best cupcake recipes you can find, you’re going to love our Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cupcakes, Snickerdoodle Cupcakes, and everyone’s favorite…. Cookie Dough Cupcakes.

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vanilla cupcakes with cake mix and fresh strawberry buttercream

Vanilla cupcakes with Fresh Strawberry Buttercream are the perfect sweet treat that everyone will love. Perfectly pink frosted cupcakes are great for a birthday party, baby shower, bake sale, Valentine’s Day, Easter, or a Mother’s Day dessert. They come together quickly thanks to a doctored cake mix and homemade strawberry frosting that makes them taste just like a strawberry milkshake!

vanilla cupcakes with pink frosting on a white plate

Why We Love These Vanilla Cupcakes With Strawberry Frosting

  • Flavors are reminiscent of a creamy and delicious strawberry milkshake!
  • Strawberry jello buttercream frosting is perfect for piping or just spreading
  • Using my basic doctored cake mix recipe is the perfect “trick” to make a box cake mix taste like “from scratch.”
  • Quick and easy recipe. 
  • Pink Strawberry Frosting works beautifully with other flavored cupcakes too!
  • These make a perfect Valentine’s Day treat if you’re looking for something easy and delicious! 
  • No fancy equipment is needed to make these fantastic strawberry jello buttercream frosting and vanilla cupcakes!

how to make french vanilla cupcakes photo collage

Vanilla Cupcakes & Pink Strawberry Frosting Ingredients

(full printable recipe at the end of this post)

Vanilla Cupcakes:

  • Vanilla Cake Mix – I use my favorite Duncan Hines French Vanilla Cake mix, doctored up like I usually do, with butter in place of the oil.
  • Large Eggs – You will use the number of eggs directed on the box.
  • Melted Butter & Water – is there anything that doesn’t taste better with butter?! This is the key to creating that made from scratch taste.

For The Buttercream:

  • Butter –  Do not substitute butter for margarine. This recipe is best with real butter (it’s BUTTERCREAM after all). Additionally, make sure you allow the butter to come to room temperature before using it. Room temp butter is still cool to the touch, yet your finger should be able to make an indent in the butter without sinking.
  • Shortening – Pure hydrogenated vegetable oil is solid at room temperature. It gives your frosting stability and a good texture for piping and creating roses.
  • Clear Vanilla – Using clear vanilla will give your buttercream a “clean” white base for the pretty pink coloring.   
  • Strawberry Flavored Jello – You are not going to make jello, only add the powder to the frosting.
  • Powdered Sugar – Cool, smooth, and not gritty like regular sugar is the base and sweetness for this strawberry frosting.
  • Heavy Whipping Cream – This is the secret for incorporating more air into the buttercream for a rich, super fluffy, silky smooth frosting.
  • Pink Gel Food Coloring: This is optional, but makes for pretty pink frosting.
  • Fresh Strawberries – washed, drained, and finely diced with extra strawberries (if you’d like to use them as garnish too)

how to make fresh strawberry frosting photo collage

How To Make Cupcakes With Strawberry Buttercream Frosting

(full printable recipe at the end of this post)

PREP: Preheat oven to 350° F and line muffin pans with cupcake liners (makes 24).

CAKE MIX: It is so easy and convenient to simply combine the cake mix, eggs, butter, and water in a large bowl with an electric mixer. Fill the lined muffin tins ⅔ way full and pop into a 350° preheated oven. In 20 minutes, the vanilla cupcakes are done and ready to be iced once they are completely cooled.

BAKE: Fill the lined muffin tins ⅔ way full and pop them into the preheated oven for 20 minutes. The vanilla cupcakes need to cool completely before frosting with buttercream.

STRAWBERRY BUTTERCREAM: Beat the butter and shortening, then add the vanilla extract and gelatin. Once well incorporated, slowly add the powdered sugar, then the whipping cream until you reach your desired consistency.

Fold in the strawberries and beat on low just until combined. Spread or add frosting to a piping bag and frost strawberry buttercream onto completely cooled cupcakes. Garnish with strawberries or sprinkles.

vanilla cupcakes with cake mix and fresh strawberry frosting

How To Store Cupcakes

Cupcakes with buttercream can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days (as long as your house isn’t too warm – try to keep in the coolest room then or store in fridge as explained below)

Frosted cupcakes can be stored in an air-tight container (deep enough to hold your cupcakes) in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Take the cupcakes out of the fridge, remove them from the container and let them sit at room temperature for at least an hour before serving.

Unfrosted cupcakes will keep well in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

For make-ahead cupcakes, cover completely cooled unfrosted vanilla cupcakes individually with plastic wrap then place in a freezer-safe plastic bag or container. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw before frosting. Remove plastic wrap and let them come to room temperature on the counter.

a bite taken out of a vanilla cupcake with strawberry frosting and

Popular Substitutions & Additions For Vanilla Cupcakes with Strawberry Frosting

  • If you’re a chocolate lover, I would use a dark chocolate fudge cake mix.
  • Optional: If you don’t happen to have a box cake mix on hand, try my favorite Vanilla Bean Cupcake recipe
  • You can decorate your cupcakes with sprinkles, coconut flakes or mini chocolate chips.
  • For extra pizzazz, drizzle some chocolate glaze over strawberry frosting.
  • If you prefer, you can use regular vanilla instead of clear vanilla in pink strawberry frosting.
  • Add a little pink gel food color to the cake batter if you’d like pink cupcakes.
  • Mini cupcakes are always fun and cute! You can easily make this recipe in a mini muffin tin. You will want to reduce the baking time to about 11-14 minutes.

strawberry cupcakes with cake mix and fresh strawberries

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Vanilla Cupcakes With Pink Strawberry Frosting Tips:

  • Don’t overmix the cake batter. One minute on low and 1 minute on medium-high is all you should need. Overmixing will create a dense weak cake.
  • Make sure eggs for the cake batter, and butter for the frosting are room temperature.
  • Use an ice cream scoop to evenly fill each of the muffin cups.
  • If the frosting is too sweet for your taste, add 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
  • If your frosting is too thin/runny, try chilling it to see if it firms up. If that doesn’t help, try adding a little more powdered sugar.
  • If you plan to pipe the buttercream onto the cupcakes, be sure to finely dice the strawberries so they fit through the decorator tip. We used a 1M tip with a disposable pastry bag to decorate.
  • Make sure cupcakes have cooled completely before frosting, or your buttercream will start to melt if the cake is still warm.

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close up of vanilla cupcake with strawberry frosting

Originally posted in February 2013. UPDATED February 2022. We spiffed up this post with more info and better pictures! No changes to the original recipe.

strawberry cupcakes with cake mix and fresh strawberries

Vanilla Cupcakes With Strawberry Frosting

Yield: 24 cupcakes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

The addition of fresh strawberries makes this Pink Strawberry Buttercream the perfect complement to the french vanilla cake beneath to taste just like Strawberry Milkshake Cupcakes!

Ingredients

Vanilla Cupcakes

  • 1 box Vanilla Cake Mix (I use Duncan Hines French Vanilla)
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup of water

Strawberry Buttercream

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 2 teaspoon clear vanilla
  • 2½ teaspoon strawberry flavored gelatin (jello powder)
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 4-5 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  • 4 strawberries, diced (+ extra strawberries for optional garnish)

Instructions

For Vanilla Cupcakes:

  1. Heat oven to 350° and line muffin pan with cupcake liners.
  2. In a large bowl, combine cake mix, eggs, butter, and water using an electric mixer on low for one minute, then mix on high for one minute.
  3. Divide batter evenly into cupcake liners, filling each two-thirds full.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes and cool completely.

For Strawberry Buttercream:

  1. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and shortening for 2 minutes on high.
  2. Add vanilla extract and gelatin.
  3. Slowly add powdered sugar then whipping cream until you reach your desired consistency.
  4. Fold in strawberries and beat on low just until combined.
  5. Pipe buttercream onto cooled cupcakes, garnish with fresh strawberries or sprinkles.

Notes

Cupcakes with buttercream can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days (as long as your house isn't too warm - try to keep in the coolest room then or store in the fridge as explained below.

Frosted cupcakes can be stored in an air-tight container (deep enough to hold your cupcakes) in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Take the cupcakes out of the fridge, remove them from the container and let them sit at room temperature for at least an hour before serving.

Unfrosted cupcakes will keep well in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

For make-ahead cupcakes, cover completely cooled unfrosted vanilla cupcakes individually with plastic wrap then place in a freezer-safe plastic bag or container. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw before frosting. Remove plastic wrap and let them come to room temperature on the counter.

See how I make a cake mix taste more like "from scratch"

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 24 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 301Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 49mgSodium: 231mgCarbohydrates: 41gFiber: 0gSugar: 32gProtein: 2g

Nutrition information is estimated based on the ingredients and cooking instructions as described in each recipe and is intended to be used for informational purposes only. Please note that nutrition details may vary based on methods of preparation, origin, and freshness of ingredients used.

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vanilla cupcakes with strawberry frosting photo collage

 

Strawberry Buttercream the perfect complement vanilla cupcakes for a strawberry milkshake cupcake