This strawberry jello cake is delicate, moist, and bursting with flavor! A family recipe that's been around for over 35 years, this cake is a crowd-pleaser. The cake batter uses jello for added moisture. The Swiss meringue buttercream frosting is subtly sweet with highlights of strawberry preserves. Share the love and make this cake for an Easter dessert or a special birthday!
I celebrated my birthday a few weeks ago! My favorite birthday tradition revolves around eating the most delicious strawberry jello cake you will ever taste. When I was younger, my mom always baked this cake for my birthday. It’s a recipe that’s been passed around between friends and family for years and has become one of my favorite cakes to bake… and eat.
Remember that picture of me frosting a cake as a little kid? Yep, that’s me making this strawberry cake.
Why you'll love this recipe
- Using a boxed cake mix means less time in the kitchen and more time enjoying your delicious dessert!
- Frosting the cake with Swiss meringue buttercream gives this cake a subtly sweet taste. Traditional American buttercream can be overly sweet, so this recipe is a nice balance. It uses a method similar to my meringue pops, which are also excellent for a party!
- This cake is incredibly moist, thanks to strawberry jello in the cake batter.
What does jello do in a cake?
Adding jello or pudding to a baked good adds flavor and moisture. Take my 100-calorie chocolate muffins as an example. The chocolate pudding in this recipe makes the muffins really moist. Similarly, here, the strawberry jello makes this cake deliciously moist. It's a great shortcut to take!
This strawberry cake takes a simple box of white cake mix and elevates it to something dazzling. To get started, all you need to do is mix your wet and dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
I like to beat my eggs together with the water and oil and then slowly add the mixture to the dry ingredients. You want the final batter to be well combined but NOT over-mixed. There might still be a few lumps of flour, and that's okay.
How do I frost my cake?
Frosting the perfect cake is a labor of love. That's why I never focus on frosting the "perfect" cake. If you take a look at this cake, you'll notice I spread the frosting using short offset strokes. I love the way this looks, and it saves me the time and heartache of striving for perfection.
Also, "naked" cakes are all the rage these days. I'm a big fan of how they look really minimalist and rustic. You could definitely make this cake a "naked cake" if you want. It's also a way to cut down on having tons of frosting on your cake.
How to perfectly slice a cake
Okay, this might sound like a silly tutorial to give, but I find that there is an art to cutting the perfect piece of cake. You want those layers you worked hard to create to be on display, right? I find that allowing my cake to cool in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours before slicing works wonderfully. I also like to use a really sharp knife when cutting.
Heather's helpful hints
If your frosting is “broken,” the fat and liquid won’t emulsify, and you’ll be left with what looks like cottage cheese. If this happens to you, first try mixing the frosting a little longer to see if it comes together on its own.
I this doesn't work, place your bowl over a steaming water bath. Let the water heat up your frosting ever-so-slightly, then remove the bowl from your mixer and try mixing it again. This works every time!
This cake would be delicious with my strawberry crunch topping sprinkled all over the top and sides. You can also make this cake in a 9x13-inch pan or as cupcakes as well.
Try these other strawberry recipes
- Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
- Strawberries and Cream Bundt Cake
- French Strawberry Tarte
- Strawberry Oreo Crunch Pound Cake
- 8-inch round cake pan (3)
- parchment paper
- stand mixer
- cake board
- cake decorating turntable
- offset spatula
Swiss Meringue Buttercream Ingredients
- 5 egg whites
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 pinch salt
- 2 cups unsalted butter cut into tablespoons, room temperature
- ¾ cups strawberry preserves
- red food coloring optional
- Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350° F. Cut a circle of parchment to line the bottom of each round pan. Spray with baking spray and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine cake mix, flour, and jello together. Set aside. In a medium bowl, mix eggs, oil, and water together. Slowly stir wet ingredients in with the dry being careful not to over mix the batter. A few streaks of flour can remain in the batter.
- Pour an equal amount of cake batter into each of the pans. Bake in the oven for approximately 23-28 minutes. Insert a toothpick into the center of the cake to check for doneness. If it comes out clean, the cake is done. Remove cakes to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Then invert cakes out of the pan onto the wire rack to cool completely. Cakes must be completely cool before you assemble and frost the cake. You can speed up the cooling process in the refrigerator or freezer.
- On the stove, bring a small amount of water to a simmer in a medium pan. Combine egg whites, sugar, and salt in the metal bowl of your stand mixer. Place this bowl on top of the simmering water in the pan.
- Continually whisk the mixture by hand for approximately 4 minutes until it is warm to the touch and the sugar has dissolved. The mixture will look white and frothy and should feel smooth when you rub it between your fingers. If you have an instant-read thermometer it should read 160° F.
- Remove your bowl from the stove and attach it to your stand mixer. Your stand mixer should be fitted with the whisk attachment. Start mixing on low and slowly increase to medium-high speed. Whisk until stiff peaks form. Continue mixing until the mixture is fluffy and glossy, and completely cool—at least 15 minutes. Touch the bottom of the bowl to ensure the mixture is cool.
- Switch to the paddle attachment. With the mixer on medium speed, add the butter 1-2 tablespoons at a time. Mix well after each addition. Once all butter has been added, scrape down the bowl and continue beating until the frosting is thick and smooth (about 3 minutes).
- Add strawberry preserves and mix until fully incorporated into the frosting. Add red food coloring, if desired.
- If your cakes have a dome, use a large serrated knife or cake leveler to slice a thin layer off the top to create a flat surface.
- Secure your cake board to the turning table using a piece of tape.
- Place one layer of cake on your cake board. Cover the top evenly with about ½ cup of frosting. Top with the second cake layer and evenly spread another ½ cup of frosting. Top with the third and final layer of cake. Spread the remaining frosting all over the top and sides using short offset strokes.
Notes and Tips
- 2 Layer Cake: Half the recipe and use two 9-inch pans. Check for doneness after 20 minutes of baking. You can use the same recipe for frosting and be a little more generous in between the layers.
- Safety Tip: Ensure that the bowl of your stand mixer is heatproof. You don't want to place ceramic or plastic bowls on the stovetop.
- Tips for Swiss Meringue Buttercream: If your frosting still feels warm after beating it for 10-15 minutes, place it in the refrigerator for a few minutes. The mixture must be cool before adding the butter to prevent any melting.