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This strawberry compote recipe makes a thick, sweet sauce that’s perfect for drizzling over ice cream, waffles, cheesecake and more!

Strawberry Compote in a jar with spoon.
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Got ripe berries? Here’s a quick and fun way to use them: make strawberry compote! Cooking down strawberries with a bit of sugar reduces it into glossy, luxurious tangy sauce that’s like an amped version of taking a bite into this sweet berry.

Why we love this recipe: This strawberry compote is outrageously tangy and bursting with sweet berry flavor! Alex and I love whipping this up as a versatile topping for ice cream, pancakes, waffles, or oatmeal. A compote is a great way to use fruit that’s almost overripe, but there’s no need to wait for that for this recipe. Anytime is the perfect excuse!

Ingredients for strawberry compote

A compote is a fruit sauce where the fruit is cooked with water, sugar, and seasonings until thickened. Compote works as a sweet sauce for desserts, or to spoon over breakfast items like yogurt, oatmeal and waffles. This strawberry compote has a minimal ingredient list and comes together in just 15 minutes! Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Fresh strawberries: Both fresh strawberries and frozen berries work in a compote. It’s quick to make with either and there’s no thawing required.
  • Granulated sugar: This type of sugar brings out the most intense sweet tart flavor and helps to make a thick, syrupy compote. You can also substitute pure maple syrup or honey as natural sweeteners, and the taste is comparable.
  • Lemon zest: Fresh lemon zest brings a pop to the flavor; the acidity of the lemon is almost like salt in a savory dish. While it’s optional, we highly recommend it!
  • Cornstarch: Using cornstarch makes a thick, glossy body to this sauce. A good cornstarch substitute is arrowroot powder.
  • Vanilla extract and salt: These ingredients around out the flavor.
Strawberries in container.

How to make strawberry compote (basic steps)

Strawberry compote is quick and simple to make: you’ll need about 5 minutes to prep the strawberries and 5 minutes to cook them. Here are the basic steps (or jump to the full recipe):

Step 1: Add the strawberries to a small saucepan with the sugar, lemon zest, and 2 tablespoons of the water. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally while it bubbles gently.

Step 2: After 5 to 7 minutes when strawberries start to break down, whisk 2 tablespoons water with 1 tablespoon cornstarch. Pour the mixture into the pan and stir until thickened, 1 minute. Reduce the heat. Mash the strawberries with a potato masher or fork.

Step 3: Remove from the heat and stir in the salt and vanilla. Taste and add additional sweetener, depending on the ripeness of your berries. The compote will thicken as it cools. Serve warm or cooled slightly.

Using a cornstarch slurry

This strawberry compote recipe uses a cornstarch slurry: a mix of cornstarch and water (or another room temperature liquid). If dry cornstarch is added directly to a dish, it clumps up. So, it’s best to add it to sauces and stir fries mixed with a little liquid first.

Cornstarch must be heated to around 203°F for the thickening to occur. It’s called “starch gelatinization,” which is a fancy word for the process where the the particles of cornstarch absorb water. Once you add the cornstarch slurry to the warm sauce, it immediately starts to thicken: the starch gelatinization has been activated!

Strawberry Compote in jar with spoon and strawberries.

Storage info

How long does homemade strawberry compote last? Store it refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. Or, you can freeze it in a freezer safe container for up to 6 months.

Compote becomes very thick when it’s cooled, so make sure to bring to room temperature or warm it on the stovetop before serving. This is especially important if you’re serving with a warm food like pancakes or waffles.

Strawberry Compote in a jar with gold spoon.

Ways to serve strawberry compote

There are so many ways to serve strawberry compote! This fruit sauce is versatile enough to work with desserts or breakfast food items. Here are a few ideas for how to serve fruit compote:

More strawberry recipes

Got more berries? Here are a few more strawberry recipes to try:

Dietary notes

This strawberry compote recipe is vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free and gluten-free.

Frequently asked questions

What’s the difference between strawberry compote and strawberry jam?

Compote is a looser and fresher-tasting fruit sauce compared to jam. It uses less sugar and cooks the strawberries for a shorter time, preserving their shape and some of their natural texture.

Can I use frozen strawberries for compote?

Absolutely! Thaw frozen strawberries completely before using them in the compote. They might release more liquid, so adjust the cooking time slightly to achieve the desired consistency.

What are some other fruits I can use for compote?

The possibilities are endless! Berries like blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries work well. You can also try stone fruits like peaches, plums, or cherries. Try our Blueberry Compote, Peach Compote, Easy Raspberry Compote, or Rhubarb Compote.

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Strawberry Compote

Easy Strawberry Compote


5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 1 review

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 1 ½ cups 1x

Description

This strawberry compote recipe makes a thick, sweet sauce that’s perfect for drizzling over ice cream, waffles, cheesecake and more!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 pound fresh strawberries
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest
  • ¼ cup water, divided
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Clean, hull and quarter the strawberries.
  2. Add the strawberries to a small saucepan with the sugar, lemon zest, and 2 tablespoons of the water. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally while it bubbles gently.
  3. After about 5 to 7 minutes when strawberries start to break down, whisk 2 tablespoons water with 1 tablespoon cornstarch. Pour the mixture into the pan and stir until thickened, about 1 minute. Reduce the heat. Mash the strawberries to the desired texture with a potato masher or fork.
  4. Remove from the heat and stir in the salt and vanilla. Taste and add additional sugar if desired, depending on the ripeness of your berries. The compote will thicken as it cools. If it’s too thick, add a little water.
  5. Serve warm or cooled slightly. Store in a sealed container refrigerated for up to 2 weeks (or cool and freeze up to 6 months). Warm on the stovetop before serving.
  • Category: Sauce
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Sauce
  • Diet: Vegetarian

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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1 Comment

  1. Sonja Overhiser says:

    Let us know if you have any questions!