Fresh Strawberry Syrup

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Not to toot my own horn, but this strawberry syrup deserves one heck of a beep beep.

Vertical image of pouring a bright red sauce into a bowl surrounded by red fruit, with text on the top and bottom of the image.

I’m always surprised each time the idea that “simple is better” is proven right, because I grew up in a family where “simple food” was definitely not the norm.

Apricot-glazed stuffed Cornish hens made a regular appearance, while canned or frozen ingredients, and even dried spices, were rarely used.

My dad taught me to flavor foods with feathery fresh herbs like pungent sage, and breathe life into the base of a dish with pungent aromatics and citrus zest. As a result, I’m always looking for ways to amp up my palate’s experience or sneak in underlying notes of something surprising in whatever I make in my own kitchen.

I think it gives my cooking an eclectic flair. Others might call me bougie. Sometimes they do.

That being said, I’m still a firm believer in the basics. I appreciate humble, obvious combinations, like fruit and sugar. I mean, is there anything better than adding just one ingredient that highlights its best characteristics, and makes it taste even more like itself?

Vertical image of a white bowl with a red sauce next to plants, fresh fruit, and a yellow towel.

Strawberries have always been my top fruit-of-choice. Sorry, bananas. I adore you with a colossal clump of peanut butter, but bright, succulent strawberries are a force to be reckoned with.

I can recall many dishes made more memorable with the simple addition of strawberries, and they hold a special place in my heart.

In the morning, my dad would often call on his pointy paring knife to elegantly fan out the fruit’s flesh and bring color to a plate of fluffy scrambled eggs. As a midday snack, my mom would lovingly line up slivers of strawberry for sweetness alongside crumbly English-style sharp cheddar slices.

Before bed, I would treat myself to a late-night nosh of plump, chilled strawberries partnered with a generous spoonful of sugar for dunking, and I can still taste the rich pop of sugar and fresh fruit juice on my tongue.

If you keep reading, you’re headed in the same direction.

Vertical image of pouring a bright red sauce into a bowl surrounded by red fruit.

When I approached this recipe, the most important factor was achieving a syrupy consistency as opposed to one that was jelly-like. I love a chunky fruit sauce (drool), but aimed for a smooth liquid that truly represented the essence of strawberries here.

Mission accomplished.

This glowing elixir is the epitome of nature’s candy, and it made me fall in love with strawberries all over again.

So, what’s the secret to achieving that syrupy texture and not accidentally ending up in strawberry jam land (though that’s a place I’d be down to visit for a vacation)?

It’s all in the method.

Other than skimming the foam when the strawberries are boiled (which helps to create a final product that’s as clear as possible), the trick is straining the liquid to separate the juice from the pulp. Then, in goes the sugar, and the mixture is simmered until it’s concentrated.

Vertical image of banana bread slices topped with a red sauce on a white plate.

Something about combining the pure strawberry juice – as opposed to a strawberry mash – with the sugar creates a cohesive substance that I find thickens to perfection in about a minute, while it remains ultra pourable.

Once transferred to a fun squeeze bottle… or pitcher (come on, you know you want to!), this syrup is a no-brainer drizzled over vanilla bean gelato or ice cream. Before you get to scooping, be sure to check out this guide to discover the differences between these delicious frozen desserts.

I also gladly use it as a substitution for maple syrup on waffles, pancakes, and even banana bread. See, bananas? I told you we were still cool.

This strawberry syrup is clutch atop melty, open-faced peanut butter toast when you’re feeling nostalgic for PB&J, but not in the mood for a full-blown sandwich. Try it on smoky grilled chicken or pork if you’re craving something salty and sweet.

Whether you put it to use in a sweet or a savory way, I guarantee it will remind you that the best things in life don’t need to be complicated. Drizzled over crackers with goat cheese? I’m so there.

Print
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Horizontal image of a bowl filled with a bright red sauce next to a yellow towel a plant, and fresh fruit.

Fresh Strawberry Syrup


  • Author: Fanny Slater
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 1 cup 1x

Description

Sweet, juicy, and deeply satisfying, this fresh strawberry syrup made from just fruit and sugar comes together in fifteen minutes.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 pound fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced (about 3 cups)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/21 cup granulated sugar

Instructions

  1. Mash the strawberries and water, or combine in a food processor or blender until the berries are broken down.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, add the mashed strawberries and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally and skimming any foam off the top of the mixture, until the strawberries are soft and mostly liquified, about 5 minutes.
  3. Using a fine mesh sieve, strain the strawberries into a small bowl to separate the liquid from the pulp. Gently press the strawberries into the strainer with a rubber spatula to extract as much juice as possible.
  4. Rinse the saucepan, measure the strawberry juice, and then return it to the pan over medium heat. Whisk in an equal amount of sugar and bring the syrup to a boil.
  5. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, skimming off any foam that rises to the top, until the syrup has thickened slightly but is still runny, about 1 minute.
  6. Transfer the syrup to a squeeze bottle, pitcher, or mason jar and serve warm over ice cream, waffles, or quick bread. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Serve chilled over ice cream, gelato, crackers and cheese, and yogurt parfaits. No need to reheat the syrup, as it stays pourable even after being refrigerated.
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Category: Syrup
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Sauce

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Break Down the Strawberries

Stem, hull, and slice the strawberries. They don’t need to be perfectly sliced or chopped since they’ll be broken down with a potato masher or in a food processor.

Horizontal image of mashing red fruit in a pot.

If you have some extra fruit you can also slice some for an added garnish at this point, if you’ll be serving the syrup right away.

One pound of fruit will yield about 2 1/2 to 3 cups of sliced strawberries.

Mash the fruit and water, or combine in a food processor or blender until the berries are broken down.

Step 2 – Boil the Strawberries and Skim the Foam

Place the mashed fruit in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.

Horizontal image of removing foam with a pink spatula from a boiling red sauce.

You could add additional flavorings at this point if you like, such as 3 tablespoons of fresh orange juice, 1/2 teaspoon of finely grated orange zest, or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. Be sure to also reduce the amount of water to 1 tablespoon if you use juice, or you’ll end up with too much liquid.

Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally and skimming any foam off the top of the mixture, until the they look very juicy and are mostly liquified. This should take about 5 minutes.

The more foam you can skim off the top, the less cloudy the syrup will be.

Step 3 – Strain the Liquid

Using a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth, strain the mash into a small bowl to separate the liquid from the pulp.

Horizontal image of pink spatula pressing down cooked red fruit through a strain into a metal bowl.

Gently press the strawberries into the strainer with a rubber spatula to extract as much juice as possible, but be mindful not to press too hard. If you press too firmly on the berries, this can make the finished syrup become cloudy instead of being clear.

Step 4 – Add the Sugar and Boil

Rinse the saucepan so you don’t get any foam or residual berry flesh in the liquid.

Horizontal image of a reduced red sauce in a pot.

Measure the juice, return it to the pan, and place it over medium heat. Whisk in an equal amount of sugar, and then bring the syrup to a boil. If you end up with 1/2 cup juice, for example, add 1/2 cup granulated sugar.

Be sure to measure the juice with a liquid measuring cup like this Pyrex one from Amazon and the sugar with a standard dry measuring cup. Although both types of measuring devices hold the same volume, each is designed to measure either liquid or dry ingredients because you can bring the liquid even with the measurement line without spilling, while dry ingredients can be leveled off with a knife or another kitchen implement with a  flat edge.

Reduce the heat to low and simmer, skimming off any foam that rises to the top, until the syrup has slightly thickened but is still runny. This should take about 1 minute.

Transfer the syrup to a container like a squeeze bottle, pitcher, or mason jar and serve warm or chilled over ice cream, waffles, banana bread, crackers and cheese, a yogurt parfait, or your choice of sweet or savory items.

Leftover syrup may be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Thank You Berry Much

I’d love to continue taking all the credit for this dazzling dessert-like sauce, but the strawberries and sugar are the real superstars here.

Horizontal image of a bowl filled with a bright red sauce next to a yellow towel a plant, and fresh fruit.

Can’t help yourself when it comes to adding a fancy little flair to something simple? Great, it’s not just me! From vanilla extract to freshly ground cloves to an infusion of fragrant lavender, feel free to reach for other flavors to make this syrup your own.

Spill some into plain sparkling water for a refreshing boost. Add some earthy bitters, a squeeze of citrus, and one of these bold non-alcoholic spirits, and you’ve got yourself an epic zero-proof cocktail.

Will you shower this syrup over a homemade dessert, or cross into the savory lane by giving dinner a splash of strawberry flavor? Share your thoughts on how to make the most of this sauce in the comments below! And don’t forget to give this recipe a five-star rating if you loved it.

For more sauces and spreads that start with fruit and sugar bumping into each other, these recipes are sure to satisfy:

Photos by Fanny Slater, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on October 11, 2014. Last updated on February 6, 2022.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

About Fanny Slater

Fanny Slater is a home-taught food enthusiast based in Wilmington, North Carolina who won the “Rachael Ray Show” Great American Cookbook Competition in 2014, and published her cookbook “Orange, Lavender & Figs” in 2016. Fanny is a food and beverage writer, recipe developer, and social media influencer. She was a co-host on the Food Network series “Kitchen Sink,” was featured on Cooking Channel’s longtime popular series “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” and continues to appear regularly on the “Rachael Ray Show.”

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