This Strawberry Crunch Cake is a semi-homemade delicious treat! Made with a boxed strawberry cake mix and topped with a buttercream frosting and a strawberry crunch top, similar to the topping on our strawberry crunch cheesecake!
This truly fun cake recipe adds cookies to the frosting! It may sound strange to have crumbs in your frosting (something you usually avoid!) but it gives this strawberry crunch cake recipe just the right sort of texture. In the past, we’ve combined cookies in other baked goods like these Circus Animal Cookie Donuts but when it comes to a cake recipe, it really makes it super fun.
❤️ Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- It uses a few ingredients: The bright color is perfect for parties.
- Semi-homemade: What could be easier than combining various boxes and ingredients with homemade frosting? Talk about the icing on the cake!
- Showstopper: Between the texture, flavor, and fun decoration, everyone will be oohing and aahing when you bring dessert out.
🧾 Ingredients Needed
I’ve highlighted a couple of ingredients below with some relevant notes. Aside from this, the ingredients needed are pretty basic.
- Cake mix – Strawberry is the star here. Prepare per the box instructions if the amounts of water, oil, and eggs are different than in this recipe card.
- Freeze-dried strawberries – This is the perfect secret ingredient. It adds flavor and color without excessive sugar. We are also using it for texture!
- Butter – I use unsalted. If you only have salted, then don’t add extra salt to the frosting.
- Powdered sugar – Makes the perfect fluffy buttercream.
- Shortbread cookies – What? Cookies in our frosting? You bet! It wouldn’t be a “crunch cake” without them!
Sometimes substitutions are necessary because of ingredients that are unavailable or needed for dietary restrictions. Here are some suggestions that can help:
- Frosting – I strongly recommend making your own buttercream here. If you want to cheat though, you can usually whip canned frosting with some powdered sugar in your mixer to come close to the same texture.
- Butter – as in most of my recipes, the choice to use salted vs. unsalted is up to you. I know sometimes stores only have one kind on sale! Just keep in mind that you won’t want to add extra salt if your butter already has it.
- Cookies – think Lorna Doones or Chessmen here. If you can’t find those then graham crackers will also work well. I haven’t tried it, and it may add a bit more sweetness than other options, but even golden Oreo cookies would be tasty!
- Fruity fun – freeze-dried apples are also a common item you can find in the store. I think it would be great to try a spice cake and apples as a new variation of crunch cake!
👩🏻🍳 How to Make Strawberry Crunch Cake
*Be sure to see the recipe card below for the full ingredients list & instructions!*
STEP 1. Pulse the strawberries. Give half the strawberries a pulse in the food processor. Don’t completely obliterate them!
STEP 2. Prepare the cake. Prepare the cake as directed on the box, then stir in the chopped strawberries.
STEP 3. Bake the cake. Bake in a prepared pan as directed and let the cake cool completely.
STEP 4. Prepare to crunch. Process the cookies and remaining strawberries.
Tip: If you do not have a food processor to process the shortbread cookies and freeze-dried strawberries, adding them to a large zip bag (like a freezer ziplock bag) and using a rolling pin to process them into a textured crumb will also work. Either way, your strawberry crumble will be perfect.
STEP 5. Make frosting. Whip the butter then add vanilla. Slowly add powdered sugar and beat to desired texture.
💭 Recipe Pro Tips
- Allow to fully cool. Making sure that you allow the cake to completely cool before frosting is key or the frosting won’t turn out the way that it should.
- Use baking spray. Not familiar with baking spray? This special can combines the flour with oil instead of just oil. This helps the cake release cleanly from the pan. No spray? Line the bottom only of the pan with a piece of parchment paper.
STEP 6. Frost cake. Ensure the cake is completely cool, then spread the frosting evenly over the top.
STEP 7. Add crunch. Sprinkle the prepared crunchy topping over the entire cake.
📋 Recipe FAQs
Avocado is a great choice because it has a neutral flavor. Other great options are canola or vegetable oils. In comparison, stay away from olive oil, for example, which can add a strong flavor to the cake.
Think of this cake as emulating the flavors of those yummy strawberry shortcake crunch ice cream bars, just with cake instead of ice cream! That’s why we’ve “coated” the top of the cake with crushed cookies and strawberries.
If you want to add fresh strawberries to the top of your cake, do that just before serving. It will add a bright pop of color and some different texture. However, they will let juice run into the cake which could potentially water down the frosting if you do them too early. So it’s best to slice the cake and add strawberries to each serving.
Did you know that buttercream doesn’t have to be refrigerated? This cake will last outside the fridge for about 3 days, as long as your kitchen isn’t too hot. But you can always keep in the fridge to extend the cake as well as keep that cool and creamy frosting just right.
🍓 More Strawberry Recipes You’ll Love
Did you make this? I’d be so grateful if you left a “star” rating below to let me know what you thought! Then, the next time you need a quick and easy recipe, come back to Fantabulosity to browse all of my easy recipes!
Strawberry Crunch Cake
- 1 box strawberry cake mix 15.25 ounces
- 3 large eggs*
- ½ cup avocado oil* or any neutral oil
- 1 cup water*
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 bag freeze-dried strawberries; divided 1 ounce
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 5 shortbread cookies about 5 ounces total
- 1-2 tablespoons milk
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Add half of the bag of freeze-dried strawberries to the bowl of your food processor. Pulse 10 times to break up the strawberries. **If you do not have a food processor, you can add the strawberries to a zip bag and crush them using a rolling pin or a glass by rolling over the strawberries with gentle pressure. Set aside.
- Grease a 13×9 baking pan using baking spray or butter and flour for dusting. You can also line the bottom of your 13×9 pan with a piece of parchment paper.
- Prepare the cake mix according to package directions for oil, water, and eggs. Stir to combine.
- Once the ingredients are fully mixed together, add in the crushed half of the strawberries. Using a spatula, fold them in so they are incorporated throughout.
- Pour the prepared batter into the greased 13×9 baking pan.
- Bake your cake at 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) for 34-38 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean in the center.
- Once baked, place the pan on a cooling rack and allow the cake to cool completely for about 2 hours.
- Add the remaining freeze-dried strawberries to your food processor and add the shortbread cookies. Pulse 8-10 times or until the mixture resembles crumbs. Set aside. **Do not over-process this mixture, you want the mixture to be crunchy.
- In the bowl of your electric mixer add the butter. Using a whisk attachment, beat the butter until softened. About 1 minute (if the butter is not at room temperature).
- Add the salt and vanilla extract and mix until incorporated.
- Slowly add in the powdered sugar about ½ cup at a time. Beat on medium-low speed, scraping down the sides making sure to incorporate the butter and sugar. Then increase the speed to medium until all of the powdered sugar has been incorporated. Add 1-2 tablespoons of milk if the frosting becomes too thick.
- Once the cake has completely cooled, top the cake with the frosting and smooth it out so it’s even over the whole cake.
- Gently sprinkle the prepared strawberry crumb mixture over the top of the frosted cake, making sure to evenly coat the top of the cake. Slice the cake and enjoy!
- *Use the water, oil, and egg measurements from your cake mix box.
- If you do not have a food processor to process the shortbread cookies and freeze-dried strawberries, adding them to a large zip bag (like a freezer ziplock bag) and using a rolling pin to process them into a textured crumb will also work.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary with brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes and more.