Strawberry compote is a lovely and delicious addition to cheesecake, ice cream, and pancakes. The rich, red color and sweet, slightly tangy flavor make this strawberry sauce a real treat. The real surprise though is that it is so quick and easy to make! It uses just three simple ingredients.
When using fresh strawberries, choose ones that are deep red and fully ripe. They will give the best flavor. Of course, if strawberries aren’t in season, thawed frozen berries work just fine in compote.
Another wonderful thing about this strawberry sauce recipe is you can make it ahead of time and easily warm it up on the stove or in the microwave as needed. You can also prepare it and leave it in the refrigerator and cook it right before you need it. It takes hardly any time at all to put it onto the stove after dinner and use it warm.
It’s freezer-friendly as well.
Strawberry compote is a dessert that originated in medieval Europe. It’s still popular today because it’s as appealing for your eyes as it is for your taste buds. Use it to liven up your breakfasts as well as your dessert displays, including on cheesecake and pound cake. It’s ideal for brunch foods as well and looks (and tastes!) delightful on French toast and homemade waffles.
Ripe, juicy strawberries make for a rich, decadent treat. Fruit toppings are easy to make, and this homemade compote recipe will work better than using store-bought strawberry preserves, jams, and jelly. There’s no need to buy fruit toppings when it’s so easy to make your own.
There’s nothing better than locally-harvested fruit. If you are lucky enough to go strawberry picking, this is a great use for all those berries! Otherwise, this is ideal to make in the summer months when strawberries are fresh at the market. They are often on sale too making it budget-friendly.
While organic strawberries can be expensive, if you can fit it into your budget, choose organic.
This syrupy compote is bright, fruity, saucy, and sweet. Follow my step-by-step guide down below to make your own homemade strawberry compote. Remember, it just takes three ingredients and is easy to prep.
What You Need to Make This Recipe
- 2 Cups Strawberries – Fresh is best but frozen works well, especially if you are looking to buy fresh strawberries at the grocery store out of season. Simply thaw the frozen strawberries in your refrigerator overnight. Drain the strawberry juice before using.
- ¼ Cup Granulated Sugar – I’ve only ever made this with granulated sugar which is also called pure cane sugar. You may choose to use organic granulated sugar as well.
- ¼ Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract – Do not use imitation vanilla extract. Depending on the brand, it will contain propylene glycol and several other preservatives. Pure vanilla extract contains simply vanilla bean extractives in water and alcohol. Choose organic vanilla if it fits in your budget and you can find it at the store. My favorite is Simply Organic Madagascar Pure Vanilla Extract.
- ½ Teaspoon Lemon Zest – This is optional and will add citrusy notes.
- 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice – If you use lemon zest be sure to use the juice from the lemon as well. There is no need to buy lemon juice.
How to Make Strawberry Compote
- If using fresh strawberries, cut off the tops and wash them. Chop them into quarters and some into halves. If they are small, leave some whole. If using frozen strawberries, use them after thawing them.
- Place the strawberries in a medium saucepan and cover with the granulated sugar or monk fruit.
- Next, over medium heat, cook the strawberries, stirring occasionally.
- As the berries begin to release their natural juices, stir a little more. Then leave to simmer for about 15 minutes. If it begins to boil, lower the heat until it is simmering. You don’t want to scorch the fruit or burn the sugar.
- Once the berries have cooked down, remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to rest for 15 minutes.
- Spoon it out to use when warm. Or let it cool and store in glass jars or a glass bowl with an airtight lid in the fridge for up to 10 days. Serve it cold or reheat to serve warm. You can also freeze it for up to three months.
NOTE: If while simmering you see the berries are falling apart or getting too mushy, you can remove them from the mixture and return them to the pot the last few minutes of cooking. You’ll want to be sure to have some bigger pieces in the strawberry compote.
Tips for Making Strawberry Compote
- Keep an eye on sauce, making sure it doesn’t burn. Stir and/or lower the temperature as necessary.
- If you think it’s drying out, cover the pot and continue cooking. This will help it retain moisture.
- Using a non-stick pan makes it easy to stir and easy to clean afterwards.
- If you want to serve it warm, you can wash and prep the strawberries in advance, and then set it to cook on the stove right before using it. Otherwise, make it in advance and warm it before serving.
- To thicken, let it cool down or set. If you still don’t like the consistency, add more strawberries. You can add more sugar as well.
- If it’s thicker than desired you can heat it up so it’s more liquid.
- It’s best to cook this on the stovetop. However, if you choose to microwave it, be make it in a big enough bowl so it doesn’t bubble over.
Strawberry Compote in the Instapot
You can make strawberry compote in the Instapot or other pressure cooker. Be sure to turn it off when it’s done; don’t set it on the warm setting.
Instant pot strawberry compote is easy to make. However, I only made it this way when I was making a large batch and didn’t have time to watch it on the stove. Usually for my family of four, I just make it on the stovetop because it cooks up so quickly.
Substitutions for Granulated Sugar
- Monk Fruit – It measures the same as sugar.
- Agave Nectar
- Brown Sugar – The compote will be darker and less red. (Think of what happens if you were to mix red and brown paint together.) It will add a slightly more caramel flavor.
Using Frozen Strawberries Instead of Fresh
You can also make strawberry compote with frozen strawberries throughout the year. Using frozen strawberries will be a time-saver because you won’t need to trim the ends, wash them, and chop some of the berries. The downside is they may take a bit longer to cook on the stove because they will likely all be whole strawberries instead of in pieces.
You’ll just have to remember to put them in the fridge to thaw overnight.
In addition, you’ll want to reserve some of the whole strawberries to add a few minutes into cooking so there will be some larger pieces of fruit in the compote. If you don’t, all the berries will cook down together without many larger fruit pieces.
Using frozen strawberries is an ideal way to save time or as an option if fresh strawberries aren’t in season.
Save Money By Buying Frozen Organic Strawberries
I buy frozen organic strawberries year round. I always have a bag of organic strawberries and other organic berries in my freezer. This is a more affordable way to buy organic fruit. I use them to make strawberry compote in the winter months as well as smoothies year round. Sometimes my son eats a bowl of frozen berries as a snack.
Strawberry Compote Add-Ins
- It’s a versatile recipe. Depending on what you are serving it on, you can add fresh mint or basil leaves, cinnamon, or cardamom.
- Add chocolate shavings on top.
- Experiment with different combinations. You can make strawberry rhubarb compote or strawberry and blueberry compote to add a variety of flavors to your recipe. Strawberry and banana compote is also a good pairing.
- While the red from strawberries gives this a stunning look and sweet taste, you can use other fruit such as blackberries and blueberries. I mentioned having an ever-ready bag from frozen organic berries. I used them once to make a berry compote. It tasted great but the color was a very dark purple bordering on black. You may find the red more visually appealing. Raspberries alone work well too if you want more sauce and less chunks of fruit. They’ll cook up faster so watch them on stove.
Uses for Strawberry Compote
Be creative with strawberry compote uses! Here are some ways to you can enjoy it:
- Mix it in cold to plain yogurt instead of buying yogurts with fruits. You can save money by buying larger containers of plain yogurt and adding in the sweet flavors yourself.
- Serve it warm in a bowl all by itself. You can also dollop homemade whipped topping on it or sprinkle it with cinnamon.
- Adding strawberry topping for cheesecake is an easy way to enhance plain cheesecake. Add it to buttermilk cake to change it up and make a stunning presentation.
- You can also make strawberry compote for cupcakes following the recipe and gently spooning it on the cupcakes as you would a cake.
- Use strawberry compote for cake filling by thickening it up a bit. You won’t want it to be runny. Saucy is fine. Be sure it’s cool. It’s best to add it in as soon as possible before serving so it doesn’t saturate the cake.
- This is a great strawberry topping for fluffy pancakes and waffles. Use it as a topping for other breakfast and brunch foods such as oatmeal, crepes, plain toast, French toast, an acai bowl, and more.
- Add compote to ice cream.
- Do not add food dyes. They are filled with chemicals plus it’s unnecessary.
- There is no need to add gelatin or corn starch to thicken. Keep it simple. Cornstarch will make the compote cloudy as well.
- Include some chopped strawberries as well as whole strawberries. The smaller ones will be the sauce and the bigger ones will add more texture and flavor.
- I discussed using pure vanilla extract above. In addition to using organic vanilla extract, I have also used Watkins Pure Vanilla Extract, Market Pantry Vanilla Extract, and McCormick Vanilla Extract. The important thing is to use pure extract, not imitation.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is strawberry compote?
Strawberry compote is made of strawberries, sugar and vanilla extract. It’s most often used as a topping. It’s made by slowly and gently heating chopped and whole strawberries combined with sugar. You can serve it cold or warm. Use it to top cheesecake, pancakes, waffles and more to add flavor. Strawberry compote is sweet and is used most often as a dessert add-on.
What is difference between compote and jam?
Compote is more closely related to preserves than jam. Think of how there are pieces of fruit in preserves. It’s the same with compote. Jam is made from pureed and chopped fruit. It’s cooked down with sugar. This is similar to compote but with compote, some of the fruit stays intact on purpose.
What makes something a compote?
Cooking whole and cut up fruit with sugar slowly and at a low temperature is how to make compote.
How do I make my compote thicker?
Compost will thicken as it cools. If you don’t like the consistency once it’s cooled, you can simmer more fruit. You can also add some chopped up fresh fruit at the end. Don’t cook them down but let them be in the warm compote to soften.
You can also add a bit more sugar to thicken. There is no need to add cornstarch or gelatin to thicken compote.
Is strawberry compote the same as jam?
No. Strawberry compote is runnier, more syrupy and has bits of smaller and larger-sized fruit in it.
How do you store strawberry sauce?
Store strawberry sauce aka strawberry compote in airtight containers. Glass is preferred over plastic. Keep it in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. You can also freeze it in covered containers or freezer bags for up to three months.
Can you freeze strawberry sauce?
Yes! Be sure to let the sauce cool completely before storing. Pour it into an airtight jar or container. You can use frozen strawberry compote for up to three months. If you wait longer, it will loose some of it’s freshness. If freezing in bags, be sure to get all the air out to avoid freezer burn.
When you are ready to use it, simply leave it to thaw in the refrigerator and use as needed.
What to use strawberry sauce on?
This recipe for strawberry compote is so delicious that you can literally eat it by the spoonful. Serve it on pancakes, crepes, toast, French toast, waffles, ice cream, and white cakes such as angel food and pound cake. Strawberry compote on cheesecake is a way to enhance plain cheesecake. I add it to homemade yogurt as well.
Strawberry Sauce / Topping Recipe
Making desserts and toppings at home is an easy way to eat cleaner. Once a very novice baker and cook, in a short time I learned how to make most all of our foods from scratch. My son has a palm oil allergy, and store-bought desserts are out of the question. We hardly ever buy processed foods because of all of the added ingredients and preservatives.
It’s hard to know what’s in our food nowadays.
Spooning this easy strawberry compote on pancakes and waffles is a great alternative to using maple syrup. It keeps breakfasts tasty and interesting. It’s also an easy way to dress up chocolate and vanilla ice cream, some of his favorite foods! I’ve served it on homemade chocolate cake as well. It’s an easy sweetener for oatmeal and yogurt. Yum!
Keeping frozen strawberries in your freezer means you can make it anytime as long as you remember to thaw them out in advance.
It’s perfect for entertaining. Serve homemade strawberry compote to guests, and they’ll think you worked in the kitchen all day. This compote is so good you just might want to keep it all to yourself. Luckily, it’s so easy to make, you can make more.
If you’ve tried this strawberry compote recipe, please leave a rating, and let me know how it was in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you. If you love all things strawberry, try my strawberry jelly recipe too!
I make delicious cherry preserves as well. (Can you tell we love fruit in my house?) If you are interested in another fruit dessert, try this amazing cherry pie recipe with homemade cherry pie filling.
Featured image credit: Dilyara Garifullina, Unsplash
- 2 cups fresh strawberries or frozen, just thaw first
- ¼ cup granulated white sugar or monk fruit
- ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract or a scraped vanilla bean
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest optional
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice from a lemon if adding the lemon zest
- Wash strawberries and cut off the stems. Chop them into quarters, leaving some small ones whole. If using frozen strawberries, make sure they are thawed.
- Put strawberries in a medium saucepan. Cover with the granulated sugar or monk fruit.
- Cook the strawberries over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
- Stir a bit more as the berries start to release their juices. Then leave it to simmer for about 15 minutes.
- Be sure to not burn the sugar or scorch the fruit. Do not let it boil. If it does, lower the heat down until it's simmering.
- Once the berries have cooked down, remove the pan from the heat. Allow it to rest for 15 minutes.
- Serve warm or refrigerate to serve cold.