Homemade Strawberry Sauce is one of the best perks of spring and summer…and it takes just 10 minutes to make (be sure to freeze some for the rest of the year.) This sweet tart strawberry topping recipe can be used on ice cream, shortcake, cheesecake, yogurt, even oatmeal!
If you’ve ever had a classic strawberry cheesecake you know the joys of fresh strawberry sauce. It’s a genius way to use early season, or less-than-perfect, berries. A little bit of cooking brings out so much flavor, even from mediocre fruit. And this sauce is so versatile, too, you can make it with frozen berries, or for a healthy strawberry sauce, you can even leave out the sugar.
How is strawberry sauce different from a purée, a coulis, or a compote?
- Strawberry sauce is chopped or sliced berries that are briefly cooked with sugar and sometimes a thickener. It retains the texture of the fruit.
- Fruit purée is raw or cooked fruit that has been processed until smooth.
- Coulis is a purée that has been strained.
- A fruit compote is usually slow cooked, sometimes in sugar syrup, and is often a little thicker than sauce.
What you’ll need for the perfect strawberry sauce
- fresh or frozen strawberries ~ either will work.
- lemon juice ~ helps to balance the sweetness of the berries, and brings out their flavor.
- sugar ~ just enough to bring out the natural flavor of the berries. (See below for making a sugar free sauce.)
- cornstarch ~ just a teaspoon is all it takes to give the sauce a little body and a glossy shine. Omit for a thinner sauce.
How to make a thick strawberry sauce
There are several ways to make a berry sauce thicker
- One is to cook the sauce down until the liquid evaporates and the sauce thickens naturally.
- I like to use an immersion blender to blend some of the berries midway during cooking, which will also thicken the sauce.
- Another way is to to add a thickener to the berries while they’re cooking. You can dissolve a little cornstarch in a small amount of water and add it to the berries. The cornstarch will do its thickening job the minute the sauce comes to a boil.
- To thicken strawberry sauce without cornstarch, use arrowroot powder, which is gluten-free, grain-free and paleo-friendly. Use about half the amount of cornstarch called for in a recipe, and always add it at the end of the cooking process: heating will break arrowroot down and render it less effective.
How to make a no cook strawberry sauce
- Chop your berries into small pieces and add to a bowl with sugar and lemon juice (the amounts will depend on the sweetness of your berries.) Stir to combine.
- Mash some of the berries with the back of a fork, or a potato masher if you have one. This will make a super fresh, juicy sauce.
- If you want a thicker no cook sauce, add some Instant Clearjel (a supercharged fruit thickener) to the sugar before adding, it will instantly thicken your sauce. Start with a half teaspoon per pint of berries and add more as needed.
How to make a sugar free strawberry sauce
- If you’ve got sweet strawberries you can dispense with the sugar altogether, the fruit will be sweet enough on its own.
- You can also sweeten with honey or maple syrup, to taste.
- You can use the alternative sweetener of your choice.
How to make sauce from frozen berries
- If you want to start with frozen berries, plan to puree the sauce, or use an immersion blender to break them down after they’ve cooked.
To freeze your fruit sauce
Take full advantage of strawberry season and freeze a big batch of strawberry sauce for the rest of the year.
- Let your sauce cool completely, then freeze in freezer safe containers, or heavy duty zip lock baggies.
- Freeze in separate containers so you can defrost as needed.
How to prep berries for sauce
- Rinse well, no need to dry.
- Hull or slice off the leafy tops. Hulling is where you dig out the little bit of white core from the top of the berry. Theoretically it can be tough, but in reality, I don’t bother, just slice off the green bits and get on with it 🙂
- Slice, or chop the strawberries. You want the pieces to be relatively the same size.
- For a chunky sauce, halve or quarter the berries. You can also slice them.
It doesn’t take long to prep the berries, and from there it’s a hop skip and a jump to fresh strawberry sauce. You won’t believe how easy it is, and this may start you off on a berry sauce jag that lasts the whole season. This same process can be used with blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, etc. Wild berries make an incredible sauce. Of course use frozen berries all year long.
Things to do with your fresh fruit sauce!
- Spoon it over ice cream (vanilla bean, of course.) I love to heat my sauce to make a hot strawberry sundae ~ yum!!
- Sauce pound cake, or cheesecake.
- Use it as a filling for a layer cake, like my Victoria Sponge Cake.
- Use it in a jam shortbread tart.
- Make a ripple ice cream.
- Create your own fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt cups.
- Swirl it into your morning oatmeal.
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Easy Homemade Strawberry Sauce
- Rinse and slice green tops off the strawberries. Leave small berries whole, and halve or quarter larger ones. You can also chop them if you like in smaller pieces, or slice them, it's up to you. Add the berries to a medium saucepan along with the sugar and lemon juice. Stir to combine.
- Mix the cornstarch with a couple of teaspoons of water until all the lumps dissovle, and add it to the pan. Bring up to a boil over medium high heat, stirring almost constantly. Boil gently for about 5-7 minutes, until the sauce is thick and glossy. You can mash some of the strawberries if you like, or pulse with an immersion blender a few times, which is what I do. This will give your sauce added body.
- Taste your sauce because you may need to add more lemon juice, which I did. The lemon adds a nice tang and also helps to enhance the strawberry flavor.
- Spoon your sauce into a clean jar and let cool before capping and refrigerating. Re heat gently before serving, if you want a warm sauce.
- Sauce will keep a few weeks, refrigerated.
- You might add the seeds of a vanilla bean or some vanilla extract to the sauce.
- Use any other berry you like, including blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries.