Homemade Strawberry Sauce for Ice Cream

This homemade strawberry sauce for ice cream is a wonderful summer dessert idea for when strawberries or at their peak! No ripe strawberries? Not to worry you can use frozen strawberries too.

It has just the right amount of sweetness, mixed with tartness coming from the lemon zest. And the best part is, it can be used for more than just ice cream! This sauce is also fantastic over some homemade crepes, lemon ricotta pancakes, or my Burnt Basque Cheesecake or really even slathered on some buttery toast or stirred into yogurt too!

For more homemade ice cream sauces try my Hot Fudge Sauce Recipe and my Peanut Butter Sauce recipe, both of which are equally good! 

a vertical image of chunky strawberry sauce with a wooden spoon
Thick chunky strawberry sauce is great on ice cream, waffles, French toast or pancakes!


  • Fresh or Frozen Strawberries This recipe can be made with either fresh or frozen strawberries. If using frozen, let them defrost in the refrigerator overnight. They will be easier to mash that way. You also may not need the full quantity of water the recipe calls for added to the sauce, since frozen strawberries retain a lot of water. Once defrosted pour the whole bag, with its juices in the pot. Do not drain. If more water is needed then you can add it. 
  • Sugar Even if your strawberries are ripe and sweet, you'll need the added sugar. This is what will make the sauce syrupy instead of runny! You can always cut the sugar in half if you prefer, but do add some of it for the best texture. 
  • Water Will be needed to make your strawberries, saucy, since the moisture the naturally retain will only take it so far, you'll want a little water to sauce it up, and the extra liquid also helps in the mashing of them too. 
  • Lemon Zest You can enhance the flavors of your strawberries with a few options. I prefer lemon zest in the summertime. It's such a wonderful flavor combination to anything strawberry. You can enjoy this flavor combination in my Strawberry Cobbler Recipe too. Alternatively, you can swap the lemon zest for vanilla bean paste (from one vanilla bean pod) or ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract or almond extract would be great too!
  • Cornstarch This will thicken your strawberry sauce and make it more luxurious too. But it must be mixed with an equal amount of cold water and poured in when the sauce is hot and bubbling, in order to activate it. (see recipe card below)


Strawberries, lemon, water, sugar and cornstarch laid out on a counter
Homemade strawberry sauce takes only 5 basic ingredients

Step#1: Start with Fresh Strawberries

  • Start by removing the tops of your strawberries and slicing them in half.
  • I wouldn't slice them smaller than half, this will create a chunkier sauce. Unless you prefer a smoother sauce, slice them in quarters.
  • If you don't have fresh strawberries you can use frozen strawberries, the same quantity, just defrost them first and pop them in the pot with all their juices.
  • You'll then simmer the berries with water and sugar until the strawberries release their juices. 

cut strawberries, sugar and water in a saucepan

Step#2: Mash the Strawberries

  • I find, a potato masher works best, but you can also use a fork or an immersion blender.
  • Just be careful to not over-mash the strawberries, it's best to keep the sauce chunky to preserve the best texture.
  • Otherwise you'll end up with more of a strawberry puree! Than a sauce. 

crushing simmering strawberries on a pot with a potato masher

Step#3: Thicken the Sauce with a Slurry

  • A runny strawberry sauce is best helped with a cornstarch slurry.
  • A slurry is equal parts water to flour or cornstarch. In this recipe, I prefer cornstarch since it gives the strawberry sauce the best syrupy texture.
  • But it's important that the slurry is made with very cold water, and that you add it when the sauce is very hot and bubbling. 
  • Both of these factors are needed in order for the slurry to activate and thicken the sauce. 
  • As the sauce cools a bit to a warm temperature, the sauce will thicken further and the flavors will become more pronounced.
  • If your sauce has become too thick, you can thin it out with some hot water until you reach the desired consistency. 

Adding the Lemon Zest

The lemon zest is best added at the end to preserve its flavors. The oils of the zest will be released when it warms in the sauce. Adding the zest too soon, in the boiling phase, can dilute the lemon flavor, so best to wait until the end. 

a simmering strawberry sauce with a wire whisk in the pot

 Serving Suggestions

  • Served over vanilla ice cream is great! But for a more gourmet flavor combination, serve this sauce over high-quality pistachio ice cream. The Flavor combination is fantastic! For another great strawberry-pistachio mashup try my Strawberry Pistachio Tart, another great summer dessert idea! 
  • Another great way to serve this sauce is served over ice cream alongside my Lemon Poppy Seed Cake or Lemon Pound Cake recipes.
  • Serve this sauce as a topping to homemade crepes, waffles or French Toast. It's even great spooned over a strawberry shortcake too!
  • Or spoon it over some Greek yogurt topped with granola or into oatmeal for a yummy breakfast treat. 
  • You can essentially do the same recipe with blackberries, blueberries and raspberries. Any of those variations would made a great topping to my Lemon Ricotta Pancakes too! 

a vertical image of a glass footed ice cream dish with 2 scoops of pistachio ice cream topped with strawberry sauce topping

How To Store The Sauce:

  • If not serving your sauce right away, it will keep covered in the refrigerator for 5 days.
  • It's actually great served warm or cold!
  • To reheat it, pop it in the microwave at :30 increments until warmed through, or place it back on the cooktop to reheat.
  • Add a tablespoon of warm water to loosen the sauce if it's become to thick. 

If You Enjoyed this Strawberry Sauce Recipe

Please Leave a Rating and Review Below!

Strawberry Sauce on Ice Cream

Homemade Strawberry Sauce for Ice Cream

Yield: Serves 6
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

A wonderful homemade strawberry sauce for ice cream! This sauce can also be used as a topping for crepes, ricotta pancakes or waffles too!


  • 12 ounces (340g) strawberries, hulled and cut in half
  • ¼ cup (60ml) water
  • ¼ cup (50g) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) lemon zest
  • Slurry (1 tablespoon (15ml) water/1 tablespoon (8g) cornstarch)


  1. Place the strawberries in a medium-sized saucepan. Add water and sugar and stir to combine.
  2. Allow to simmer on medium-high heat until the strawberries start to release their juice and bubble. Mash the strawberries gently into a rustic, chunky sauce with a potato masher.
  3. Allow to come up to a boil then add the slurry, whisk to combine and thicken.
  4. Then add the lemon zest and pinch of salt. Allow to cool slightly to a warm temperature.
  5. Serve over pistachio ice cream!


This sauce keeps covered in the refrigerator for 5 days. It's great served warm or cold!

This sauce also makes a great topping for my crepes, ricotta pancakes or waffles recipes too!

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  1. I thought this was delicious! Unfortunately, we used it to make strawberry milkshakes instead of as a topping, but the outcome was just as fabulous! Thank you for such an easy and tasty recipe!