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Strawberry Shortcake Bars Recipe

If you're looking for a tasty summer dessert that's easy to make and perfect for sharing, you’ll love this Strawberry Shortcake Bars recipe!

With a buttery shortcake base, a light cream cheese filling, and a layer of fresh strawberries, these bars are sure to be a hit at your next picnic or potluck.

Two Strawberry Shortcake Bars on a plate.

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One of the best things about this recipe is how easy it is to put together. The shortcake batter comes together in just a few minutes, and while it bakes, you can whip up the creamy topping and slice the strawberries. Once the cake is cooled, just put it all together, chill, and slice the bars into portable squares!

I love making these Strawberry Shortcake Bars because they're light and have the perfect amount of sweetness. 

If you want to change them up, you can also use mixed berries (strawberries and blueberries would make these a perfect 4th of July treat!) or swap out the strawberries for blackberries or peaches. 

I usually serve these bars chilled, straight from the fridge. The creamy whipped cream layer is perfect on a hot summer day, and the cake base is sturdy enough to hold up without getting too soggy.

Ingredient Notes

See the printable recipe card below for all ingredients, specific measurements, and complete instructions.

Ingredients to make Strawberry Shortcake Bars set out on the counter.
  • Flour: All-purpose flour forms the base of the tender, buttery cake.
  • Sugar: Granulated sugar sweetens the cake and helps it brown in the oven.
  • Baking Powder: Helps the cake rise and become light and fluffy.
  • Salt: A pinch of salt balances the sweetness and enhances the overall flavor.
  • Butter: Room temperature butter makes it easy to incorporate into the dry ingredients. Use unsalted to control the salt levels in the dessert.
  • Egg: Binds the cake together and adds moisture and richness.
  • Milk: Whole milk helps to keep the cake layer moist. You can use 2% if that's what you have on hand.
  • Vanilla: A touch of vanilla extract adds a bit of extra flavor to the cake and whipped cream layer.
  • Heavy Whipping Cream: Forms the base of the light, fluffy whipped cream layer.
  • Powdered Sugar: Sweetens and stabilizes the whipped cream for a luscious texture.
  • Cream Cheese: Adds a subtle tangy flavor and creamy texture to the whipped cream.
  • Strawberries: Fresh, ripe strawberries are going to create the perfect topping!

How To Make Strawberry Shortcake Bars

Start by preheating your oven to 350°F (175°C) and greasing an 8x8 inch baking pan. You can also line the pan with parchment paper for easier removal and slicing later.

Flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl.
Butter added to the flour and butter mixture in the mixing bowl.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt until well combined.

Next, add the butter to the dry ingredients and cut it in with a fork or pastry cutter until the mixture is crumbly. This technique helps distribute the butter evenly throughout the batter for a melt-in-your-mouth texture.

Egg added to flour butter mixture in the mixing bowl.
Egg, milk, and vanilla added to flour butter mixture in the mixing bowl.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the egg, milk, and vanilla extract. Use a whisk to combine the wet ingredients in the well gently, then gradually incorporate the dry ingredients from the sides until the batter is smooth and well-mixed. Be careful not to overmix, as this can lead to a tough, dense cake.

Cake batter in mixing bowl.
Cake batter poured in a square baking pan.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake the cake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Whipped cream in a mixing bowl.
Cream cheese and powdered sugar in a mixing bowl.
Whipped cream folded into cream cheese mixture in the mixing bowl.

While the cake bakes, prepare the whipped topping. In a large bowl, beat the heavy whipping cream, until stiff peaks form. This may take several minutes, so be patient and keep beating until the cream is thick and fluffy.

In a separate bowl, beat the room-temperature cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth and creamy. Gently fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture, taking care not to deflate the air bubbles in the cream.

Whipped topping for cake in a mixing bowl.
Baked caked cooling in baking pan on wire rack.

Once the cake is done baking, remove it from the oven and let it cool completely in the pan.

When the cake is cool, loosen the edges with a butter knife and gently turn it out onto a serving platter or cooling rack. If you lined the pan with parchment paper, you should be able to easily lift the cake out of the pan.

Baked cake topped with whipped topping on wire rack.
Sliced strawberries added to whipped cream on top of cake.

Spread the cream cheese whipped topping evenly over the surface of the cooled cake, making sure to reach the edges.

Finally, arrange the sliced strawberries on top of the whipped cream in a pretty pattern. You can create rows, concentric circles, or even a decorative herringbone design - let your creativity run wild!

Refrigerate the assembled Strawberry Shortcake Bars for at least 30 minutes, or until the cream cheese layer is firm and the bars are chilled through. This makes them easier to slice and serve.

When you're ready to serve, use a sharp knife to cut the bars into 9 to 12 evenly sized squares - depending on how large you slice them.

Strawberry Shortcake Bars served on wooden serving board.

Variations

  • Change the fruit. Use other seasonal fruits like raspberries, blueberries, or sliced peaches in place of or in addition to the strawberries.
  • Add a citrus twist. Add a sprinkle of lemon zest to the cake batter or whipped topping for a burst of lemony flavor.
  • Give them a chocolate drizzle. If you're feeling extra indulgent, try drizzling the bars with a bit of melted white or dark chocolate for an added layer of flavor.

Make-Ahead, Storing and Freezing

Make Ahead: If you want to make the bars ahead of time, you can bake the cake and store it tightly wrapped at room temperature for up to 2 days. The whipped topping and strawberries can be prepared and refrigerated separately for up to 1 day, then assembled just before serving.

Store: The Strawberry Shortcake Bars can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Freeze: I don’t recommend freezing this recipe as it will negatively affect the texture. 

Recipe Tips

  • Be sure to use room-temperature butter and cream cheese for the easiest incorporation and smoothest texture.
  • Don't overbake the cake - it should be just set in the center and lightly golden around the edges.
  • For the smoothest, fluffiest whipped topping, be sure to beat the cream until stiff peaks form before folding in the cream cheese.
  • If your strawberries are very large or irregularly shaped, you may want to slice them into smaller, more uniform pieces for easier eating and prettier presentation.
  • The bars are best served chilled, so be sure to refrigerate them for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving.

Can I use frozen strawberries instead of fresh?

While well-drained, thawed strawberries will still be delicious, I highly recommend using fresh strawberries for this recipe. They’re just much prettier and frozen strawberries, even when well drained, can be watery. 

Strawberry Shortcake Bars served on a plate topped with strawberries.

Check out my other strawberry desserts:

These Strawberry Shortcake Bars are the perfect summer dessert - easy to make, portable, and bursting with fresh, strawberry flavor. They’re definitely going to be a hit at your next cookout or picnic!

Two Strawberry Shortcake Bars on a plate.

Strawberry Shortcake Bars Recipe

Author: Judy Wilson
These Strawberry Shortcake Bars are the perfect summer dessert - easy to make, portable, and bursting with fresh, strawberry flavor.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 9
Calories 286 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup salted butter, room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • 6 Tablespoons milk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla

Topping Ingredients

  • ¾ cup heavy whipping cream
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 cups sliced strawberries

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350º F.
  • In a mixing bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together.
  • Add the butter and cut in with a fork until crumbly.
  • Make a well in the center, and whisk in egg, milk, and vanilla.
  • Mix together until all ingredients are just combined. Don't overmix.
  • Pour into a greased and floured, or parchment lined 8x8 inch baking pan.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
  • When cool, loosen the edges of the cake from the pan and turn it onto a serving platter or cooling rack.
  • Beat heavy cream until stiff peaks form.
  • In a separate bowl, beat cream cheese and powdered sugar together until smooth, then fold in the whipped cream.
  • Spread over cooled cake.
  • Top with sliced strawberries.
  • Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Notes

Be sure to use room-temperature butter and cream cheese for the easiest incorporation and smoothest texture.
The bars are best served chilled, so be sure to refrigerate them for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving.
The Strawberry Shortcake Bars can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
 

Nutrition

Calories: 286kcalCarbohydrates: 29gProtein: 4gFat: 18gSaturated Fat: 11gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 68mgSodium: 153mgPotassium: 123mgFiber: 1gSugar: 17gVitamin A: 665IUVitamin C: 19mgCalcium: 62mgIron: 1mg
The nutritional information provided is approximate and should only be used as a general guideline. It is an estimate that will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.
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