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Make homemade strawberry topping sauce for your desserts or breakfast using fresh strawberries with this simple 10 minute recipe. When strawberries aren’t in season, use frozen strawberries instead.

strawberry sauce dessert topping in glass jar

After publishing no bake cheesecake jars, I figured a completely separate post for the strawberry topping sauce would be appreciated! I actually made a triple batch of it last week when strawberries were on mega sale and froze the sauce in freezer tupperwares. (Freezes and thaws like a dream!)

But this strawberry dessert topping has actually been an essential for years, pairing with everything like pound cake, cheesecake, ice cream, and berries & cream french toast casserole. I have plenty more suggestions below and yes, this stuff is totally acceptable at breakfast!

Why You’ll Love This Homemade Strawberry Topping

strawberry sauce dessert topping in glass jar

Isn’t this jar cute?!

What You Need

  1. Fresh or frozen strawberries: Hulled & halved.
  2. Cornstarch + water: Mix the two to create a slurry. Without mixing with water, the cornstarch will leave white chunks in your strawberry sauce.
  3. Lemon juice + zest: Keeps the flavor bright. The sauce won’t taste like lemon, I promise!
  4. Sugar: Just enough to sweeten the sauce without taking away from the strawberry’s natural flavor.

I include a strawberry compote recipe with my brown butter pound cake. This strawberry topping sauce is almost identical, but I use a little less cornstarch here. Today’s strawberry sauce is on the thicker side, but it’s not quite as thick as the compote. The compote is closer to a jam consistency.

washed fresh strawberries

How to Make Strawberry Sauce

This strawberry sauce cooks on the stove in about 10 minutes.

  1. Mix the cornstarch and water together.
  2. Place everything, including the cornstarch mixture, into a medium saucepan. Mash the strawberries a bit with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. This helps the release the juices and cooks down the strawberries.
  3. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. The sauce will begin to thicken.
  4. Remove from heat and allow strawberry sauce to cool.

This is a chunkier style strawberry sauce, providing wonderful texture to no bake cheesecake, waffles, biscuits, and so much more. But the amount of strawberry chunks is up to you. For less chunks, mash up the strawberries a little more as the sauce cooks.

strawberry sauce in saucepan

Prefer a chunk-free sauce? For no strawberry chunks, blend the finished sauce in a blender until you reach your desired consistency.

strawberry sauce topping
strawberry dessert topping on ice cream

By the way, if you’re looking for a less jammy and more substantial strawberry topping, try this strawberry cream cheese pie.

Endless Uses for Strawberry Topping!

What will you use it for?!

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strawberry sauce dessert topping in glass jar

Homemade Strawberry Sauce (Topping)

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 8 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 1 and 1/2 cups 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Cooking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

You can use fresh or frozen strawberries in this versatile strawberry topping sauce. This topping is fresh, quick, & easy and gives desserts that little something extra!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 3 Tablespoons (45ml) warm water
  • 1 lb strawberries, hulled and sliced in half (you can use frozen; don’t thaw)
  • zest and juice from 1/2 small lemon (see note)*
  • 1/4 cup (50ggranulated sugar

Instructions

  1. Whisk the cornstarch and water together until all the cornstarch has dissolved. (I just use a fork to mix—very easy.)
  2. Place the cornstarch mixture, along with the rest of the ingredients, into a small saucepan over medium heat. Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, stir the mixture as it cooks. Break up some of the strawberries as you stir.
  3. Bring it to a simmer and allow to simmer for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. After 5 minutes, remove pan from the heat and allow to cool. The mixture will thicken as it cools.
  4. You can serve the sauce warm before it cools completely if desired, or store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Strawberry topping will be thick after refrigeration, so microwave for 15 seconds or warm on the stove to thin out, if desired.

Notes

  1. Freezing Instructions: After the strawberry sauce cools completely, freeze in a freezer-friendly container for up to 3-6 months. Thaw on the counter or in the refrigerator. Warm up in the microwave or on the stove, if desired.
  2. Strawberries: You need a 1 pound carton of strawberries, which is 16 oz, 3-4 cups, or 450g.
  3. Other berries: You can substitute other berries such as blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries for the strawberries with no other changes to the recipe. Cherries work too—pit and halve them first. If the berries are extra sweet, feel free to reduce down to 3 Tablespoons of sugar.
  4. Lemon: Lemon brightens the flavor of the strawberry topping. You need about 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice and 1 teaspoon lemon zest. Feel free to skip the lemon zest if needed.
  5. Chunks: The amount of strawberry chunks is up to you. For less chunks, mash up the strawberries a little more as the sauce cooks. For no strawberry chunks, blend the finished sauce in a blender until you reach your desired consistency.

Keywords: strawberry sauce

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. What if I don‘t have cornstarch? Can I use flour instead? Thank you!

    1. Hi Andrea, We haven’t tested it to say for sure exactly how much you would need, but you would need to use more flour than cornstarch to thicken this as much. Let us know if you try it!

  2. This recipe is so simple and tastes amazing! How long does it last in the fridge??

    1. Hi Kristine, you can store this sauce in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. For longer, see recipe notes for freezing instructions.

  3. I’m actually making the no bake cheesecake and the suggested toppings linked me to this recipe. Can I make the sauce and spread it all out on my cheesecake after it’s made if I’ll be refrigerating the leftovers?

  4. Hi Sally,

    Can this recipe be used in a layered cake as filling? Will it be too runny if I don’t use gelatin? Thanks!

    1. Hi Keren, We don’t recommend using this strawberry sauce as a cake filling. It’s a little too thin and could spill out the sides. It would, however, be a great filling for cupcakes.

    1. Hi Karen! I’m sure you could, but we haven’t tried it yet. Let us know if you do and how it goes.

  5. Hey Sally I was wondering if this topping is supposed to be sour and if not then I messed up. How do I fix it?

    1. Hi Kaitlynne, the sauce shouldn’t be sour — were your strawberries particularly sour? That could be why! Starting with a batch of sweet strawberries will result in a sweeter sauce.

      1. Kaitlynn, ripe strawberries are a must. If under ripe is all you can get, then cut off the white part while trimming the tops off. A tsp of vanilla will help too.

  6. This ended up being way too lemon-y for me. I was going for intense strawberry flavor but it tastes more like strawberry lemonade. Not bad but just not what I was hoping for. I didn’t even use the full amount of lemon juice or zest but they still overpowered the strawberries. I ended up making a second batch without any lemon and I like that one much better. I might try it again some day but add the lemon juice/zest in small bits and tasting along the way.

  7. Hi Sally! What measurement would you suggest to replace strawberries with blueberries?

  8. Hi Sally
    I want use this filling for cupcakes and will be making them a day ahead. Is it possible to fill them the day before serving them? How many cupcakes will this recipe fill? Thank you for all your wonderful recipes. When I need a recipe I always go to yours!

    1. Hi Lori, it depends on how big you core the cupcakes and how chunky your sauce is, but we estimate this should fill about 24 cupcakes, give or take. You can fill them the day before and store in the fridge. Hope you love this one!

  9. Hi! I was wondering how many cupcakes this would fill? I need enough for 24-26 cupcakes. Also, would your normal whipped cream be enough to frost that amount of cupcakes? Thank you!

    1. Hi DG! It depends on how big you core the cupcakes and how chunky your sauce is, but we estimate this should fill about 24 cupcakes, give or take. We recommend multiplying our whipped cream recipe by 2x to frost your cupcakes (our recipe yields about 2 cups of whipped cream). Enjoy!

      1. Thank you so much! The sauce is cooling now and smells awesome!

    1. Hi Jess, unfortunately, this strawberry sauce isn’t the best candidate for mailing.

  10. Hello Sally,

    If using frozen cherries instead of strawberries, can I also add kirsch? If so, how much? Thanks

    1. Hi Diana! We haven’t tested it, but you could definitely add kirsch- we would start with a couple tsp and add to your taste.

  11. Morning. Quick question, which I hope I can get an answer before Thursday (the 18th).
    I’m making the no-bake cheesecake for a friend to take to a company Thanksgiving meal. Planning on making this sauce, but replacing with mixed berries (frozen) for the topping, that morning. Here’s the question: if I make this on Thursday morning, does it have to be refrigerated? The party/dinner is at 3 and I’m trying to avoid it getting too thick. Not sure if she’ll have a way to warm it up to thin it….nuking or on the stove. Hope this makes sense. Thanks in advance for any help.

    1. Hi Sheila, the fruit topping should be fine at room temperature for those few hours, but it will still thicken even while sitting at room temperature. If she’s unable to warm up the sauce to thin it out, it will still be excellent at room temperature or cold on a no-bake cheesecake!

  12. Made this today using frozen blueberries came out really good. Thanks for a quick and easy recipe.

    1. I made this for the first time time today. Came out very good. It did need a pinch of salt to help bring out the flavor. Perhaps it was the Driscoll’s strawberries that caused the need. I served it over homemade chocolate pasta and was a fantastic accompaniment! Have you considered a little orange extract in thecflavor?. Gonna try that next time.

      1. Orange extract would be a delicious addition! Let us know if you give it a try, John.

  13. I have seen some recipes without cornstarch, so I am undecided. Must I use cornstarch? What is the purpose?

  14. Made this twice this week. First with strawberries, exactly as the recipe stated. Second with mangoes. Super good! Making crepes later!!

  15. This strawberry compote is simple and easy to make, and I enjoyed testing it. Unfortunately, the compote itself ended up being really tart, almost sour with the amount of lemon juice. I feel like it overpowers the sweetness of the strawberries themselves. I’ll have to test this again, but with significantly less lemon, or replaced with orange juice.

  16. Hi… thank you for this recipe. I prepared a big batch of this last year and it lasted well for me. This year it seems mine is a bit runny even after cooling. Can i reheat this to reduce the moisture content? If yes, can I add more sugar to it while heating? In any case, I love it even as it is 😀

    1. Hi Suzie, we don’t see why it would be an issue to reheat and add more sugar if desired! Glad you love it!

    2. I know this is after the fact, but here’s a trick for next time: Whenever I want a thicker sauce but don’t want to overcook the fruit or vegetables, I strain them out and reduce just the sauce to where I want it. Then I mix it all back together. Works a treat for pre-cooked pie fillings. That way you don’t run the risk of everything turning to mush while your sauce reduces.

      Thanks, Sally, for this delish recipe. I’ll use it again, for sure!

  17. Tastes great and so quick! I substituted Strawberry Liquor for 1 tbs of water and added a dash of vanilla extract. Wonderful on ice cream and cheesecake.

  18. Hi!
    First of all, can’t wait to try this, it looked amazing!!…Secondly, you said you can freeze this. Do you know for sure if it would be safe to freeze if you’ve already use frozen berries to begin with? I assume so, since they’re cooked from frozen then cooled down. Thanks!

    1. Hi Darcie, Yes you can freeze this even if you started off with frozen berries. Enjoy!

  19. Yum, this turned out pretty well. I’ve got it cooling ready to put in homemade icecream to make a strawberry swirl. I like the cornstarch thickening although almost burnt it while waiting for the strawberries to bleed their water!

  20. This was so delicious! Made it to go with the strawberry cream cheese French toast. Just when I thought the strawberries wouldn’t break up, I used a potato masher a couple of times, and voila — it instantly looked how it was supposed to.

  21. hi!

    i want to make your mini cheesecakes for mother’s day (May 8th), and I was wondering if I put the strawberry sauce onto all of the mini cheesecakes, but they don’t all get eaten, will having the strawberry sauce on the cheesecakes for a few days affect the flavor of either recipes?

    1. Hi Cata, they should be fine, but for best taste and texture we’d recommend keeping the topping separate and adding right before enjoying the cheesecakes.

  22. SO GOOD! I served it with the Berry Cream Cheese French Toast and they were amazing together. I actually mashed my strawberries because I didn’t want much in the way of chunks. Came out perfectly!

  23. This recipe was easy and delicious. I used it cold as a cheesecake topping.

    1. Hi Marijke, we haven’t tried canning this strawberry sauce before. For best results, we recommend storing in the refrigerator for up to a week, or for longer storage, see recipe notes for details.

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