Best Strawberry Recipes and Cooking Tips

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When strawberries are in season, we need to make the most of these sweet, flavorful berries. here are a dozen ways to do just that, including a recipe for an old-fashioned thick strawberry milkshake.

How to Cook with Strawberries

For many of us, we know it’s really spring when strawberries that actually taste like something start to appear. Yeah, you can buy strawberries all year long, but often they have a disappointing color, and an even more disappointing flavor. But come spring, that’s when the real strawberries show up! If you see them at a farmers market, don’t hesitate – buy them.

Strawberries are known for their bright red color and, when at their best, their sweet flavor. I think the best way to enjoy strawberries is straight up on their own when they are at their ripest. But they can also be used in so many delicious strawberry recipes, from salads to muffins to desserts to refreshing drinks. And if you wanted to make a bowl of fresh whipped cream and just dip the strawberries in one at a time, that would be pure bliss.

As we approach the season for strawberries each year, here are some tips on how to use them. You’ll also find some delicious strawberry recipes to try, including an easy strawberry milkshake.

What Are Strawberries?

Strawberries are native to North America, but strawberry plants were shipped to Europe as early as 1600 during the beginning of the colonization era. They are actually a member of the rose family. Most of the strawberries grown in the world come from China, and then California is the largest producer, followed by Mexico.

Fresh strawberries on blue table.

Substituting for Strawberries

Strawberries are a unique addition to a dish, and in some cases changing the ingredient will redefine the dish (strawberry shortcake comes to mind!). However, in many cases, you can sub in another berry for the strawberries, such as raspberries, blueberries, or blackberries. In salads, dried strawberries can usually do the trick, or you can add other fresh berries.

Woman holding plate with Classic Strawberry Shortcake.
Strawberry Shortcake

How to Pick the Best Strawberries

Strawberries are a somewhat unique fruit in that they do not continue to ripen after they are picked. So, when you are choosing strawberries, go for ones that have a bright red color and a fresh-looking green stem. The more red the strawberry is, in general, the sweeter it will be.

However, you may find white strawberries in the market, especially in farmers markets during the seasonal months. These are rare, and despite their paleness (they can be white or pale pink), they have a sweeter flavor than most red strawberries.

Fresh red strawberries scattered on blue table.

When Are Strawberries in Season?

Fresh local strawberries are one of the most welcome and delicious signs of spring. However, thanks to global shipping, commercially grown strawberries are available in markets year-round. But again, the flavor may or may not be what you were hoping for.

Peak season in most areas of the country is May and June. In places with more temperate climates, like California, strawberries are grown for much longer parts of the year. And you can find strawberries in the supermarket 12 months a year, mostly from California, which produces about 80 percent of the strawberries grown in the U.S.

How to Store Strawberries

In a perfect world, you would buy fresh strawberries the day you plan to eat or cook with them, and they would never need refrigeration — this allows their fruity, perfumey taste to be at its peak. However, most of us will bring home berries and eat them over the course of the following days, and in that case, they should be stored in the fridge. When strawberries are whole, they should last for up to 7 days in the fridge. Cut strawberries will last about 3 days.

Sliced strawberries in glass bowl.

How to Clean Strawberries

Because moisture can contribute to the deterioration of strawberries, it’s best to wash them before eating or using in recipes. I usually just give them a rinse with cold water in a colander.

But, surprisingly, if you want to make sure your berries are very clean, give them a dunk in a vinegar bath! And don’t worry, the vinegar all washes off, and your berries won’t taste like they’ve been dunked in vinegar. The vinegar kills mold and spores on the berries, which allows them to stay fresher longer.

To clean strawberries in a vinegar bath, combine 3 cups of very cold water and 1 cup of white vinegar in a bowl. Add the strawberries and soak them for 5 minutes. Drain the berries and rinse them in a colander with cold water for a few minutes to rinse off the vinegar solution. Pat the berries dry with a clean dish towel.

How to Freeze Strawberries

Strawberries last the longest when they are frozen or refrigerated. If you have a lot of strawberries, you may well want to freeze them.

The best way to freeze strawberries is to rinse them and then cut off the stem. You can also slice the strawberries. Next, put all of the cleaned, and cut strawberries cut side down on a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Woman slicing fresh strawberries on cutting board.

Leave the cookie sheet in the freezer for 12 hours until the berries are solid. Then, you can transfer the strawberries to a freezer-safe container or bag, press out any air if possible, and seal the bag or container. They should last several months stored in this way and be easy to separate once you take them from the freezer.

Using Frozen Strawberries

If a recipe calls for fresh strawberries and you only have frozen (whether you froze them yourself or bought frozen berries), the type of dish you are making will dictate whether you can use frozen instead of fresh.

Thawed strawberries will lose some flavor, texture, and even color. But you can use frozen berries in baked goods like cobblers, crumbles, and pies. They also work well in compotes or jams. Smoothies and shakes are another great use of frozen berries, which will also add thickness to the drink. In recipes like these, the strawberries can be used right from the freezer; don’t defrost them!

Everything you need to know about how to buy, store, freeze, and cook with strawberries. Plus delicious strawberry recipes!

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The Best Ways to Use Strawberries

Strawberries can show up in everything from salads to baked goods — and in fact, those are two of the most popular ways to include them in your menus. Strawberry shortcake is probably the best-known strawberry-centric dessert, and strawberry jam is one of the most popular flavors (and so easy to make at home!). Strawberry topping for cheesecake is also extremely beloved.

Other classic uses for strawberries are strawberry milkshakes and smoothies. Desserts like crisps and cobblers are a great way to make use of a bonanza of fresh strawberries as well.

Spreading Strawberry Topping on slice of Cheesecake with spoon.
Strawberry Topping for Cheesecake

Strawberries pair up perfectly with other fruits in a fruit salad. They also have an affinity for herbs and spices like mint, cinnamon, vanilla, and cardamom.

You can add them to a graze or cheese board, blend them into a salad dressing, or create a surprising combo by serving them with fish and chicken! Strawberries are often added to savory dishes with a balsamic glaze or marinade. 

FAQs

What can you do with strawberries that are going bad?

If you have strawberries that are starting to go bad, trimming off any mushy or bruised parts and using them in a baked good is the best way to go. I usually make strawberry jam with strawberries that are past their prime, cutting away and discarding any yucky parts.

What are the nutritional benefits of strawberries?

Strawberries are quite good for you! They’re high in fiber, sodium-free, fat-free, cholesterol-free, and low-calorie, according to the USDA. Strawberries are also a good source of vitamins like manganese and potassium and have many antioxidant properties.


12 Strawberry Recipes

Try these recipes with strawberries!

How to Make Strawberry Jam
5 from 2 votes

Strawberry Jam

Bursting with fresh flavor, you won't believe how quick and easy homemade strawberry jam is to make!
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Woman scooping strawberry topping from a small bowl.
5 from 1 vote

Strawberry Topping for Cheesecake

Nothing makes a cheesecake look prettier and more spring-like than juicy, sweet strawberry topping.
View Recipe

Old Fashioned Berry Cobbler
5 from 1 vote

Old Fashioned Berry Cobbler

This is a great way to use up lots of strawberries, on their own or in combination with other berries.
View Recipe

Summer Berry Clafoutis with Whipped Cream on a plate and in a dish.
5 from 3 votes

Summer Berry Clafoutis with Whipped Cream

A custard-ey cake studded with berries, and topped with poofs of whipped cream.
View Recipe

Watermelon Strawberry Smoothie / Photo by Cheyenne Cohen / Katie Workman / themom100.com
5 from 2 votes

Watermelon Strawberry Smoothie

If you make one icy smoothie drink this summer, it should be this refreshing and colorful melon and berry version.
View Recipe

Summer Fruit and Berry Sangria
5 from 1 vote

Summer Fruit Sangria

Strawberries are a perfect fruit to add to sangria.
View Recipe

Sparkling Rose Berry Sangria
5 from 2 votes

Sparkling Rosé Berry Sangria

Another summer sangria recipe, this one featuring rose wine.
View Recipe

Small white plate with Strawberry Shortcake and a fork.
5 from 25 votes

Classic Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberry shortcakes are THE dessert to make in the Spring. If you can find wild strawberries, or at the very least, really flavorful ones from a farmers market, this is nothing short of heavenly.
View Recipe

Patriotic Berry Cobbler with Whipped Cream / Sarah Crowder / Katie Workman / themom100.com
5 from 1 vote

Patriotic Berry Cobbler with Whipped Cream

Strawberries help put the red in the red, white and blue of this summery cobbler.
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Strawberry Muffins on small pink plates and a wire rack.
5 from 6 votes

Strawberry Muffins

A moist, tender strawberry muffin is the perfect treat any time of day; breakfast, snack, tea time, even dessert. 
View Recipe

Berry Cinnamon Streusel Muffins / Katie Workman / themom100.com / Photo by Mia
5 from 2 votes

Berry Cinnamon Streusel Muffins

In this muffin, strawberries ar encased in a tender muffin, then topped with a delicious layer of sweet-crumbly streusel.
View Recipe

Sour Cream Biscuit Peach and Berry Cobbler / Photo by Cheyenne Cohen / Katie Workman / themom100.com
5 from 4 votes

Sour Cream Biscuit Peach and Berry Cobbler

Strawberries are a perfect partner to peaches.
View Recipe

Strawberry Milkshake Recipe

The old-school appeal of a strawberry milkshake is hard to overstate. Chocolate and vanilla shakes seem to get the spotlight most of the time, but a good berry shake hits the spot in a different way. Plus, you get to justify things with the notion of a serving or two of fruit.

Two strawberry milkshakes on table with white flowers.

Strawberry Milkshake Tips

  • While it’s not necessary to macerate or soak the strawberries in the sugar before blending, the sugar really pulls out the berries’ natural juice and intensifies the sweetness in a way that gives your milkshake amazing flavor.
  • You could also use strawberry ice cream instead of vanilla for even more strawberry punch.
  • You can use frozen strawberries instead of fresh if you want a very thick shake, or if frozen berries are what you have at the moment. Use either ones that you buy already frozen in the freezer aisle or you can freeze fresh strawberries and use those. You may need to add a bit more milk if the shake is too thick.

Variations

You can add:

  • A banana for a Strawberry Banana Milkshake.
  • Other berries in addition to the strawberries for a mixed berry shake. Try blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries.
  • A scoop of malt powder for a Malted Strawberry Shake.
  • Some chocolate syrup for a Strawberry Chocolate Milkshake.
  • Whipped cream on top, and maybe some chocolate shavings or sprinkles.
5 from 2 votes

How to Make a Strawberry Milkshake

When strawberries are in season, we need to make the most of these sweet, flavorful berries. here are a dozen ways to do just that, including a recipe for an old-fashioned thick strawberry milkshake.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Berry soaking time (optional): 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 2 Milkshakes
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Equipment

Ingredients 

  • ½ pound fresh strawberries
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 pint vanilla or strawberry ice cream
  • ½ cup milk (preferably whole milk)
  • Small whole strawberries (for garnish; optional)

Instructions 

  • Cut the tops off the strawberries, and slice them into a few pieces. In a medium bowl, combine the sliced strawberries, sugar, and vanilla extract and stir to combine well. Set aside and allow to sit, if you have time, for at least 20 minutes and up to 1 hour.
  • Place the strawberries with any juices, ice cream, and milk into a blender. Blend until smooth. Pour into large glasses, and if desired, put a strawberry on the rim of each glass. Serve immediately.

Notes

While it’s not necessary to macerate or soak the strawberries in the sugar before blending, the sugar really pulls out the berries’ natural juice and intensifies the sweetness in a way that gives your milkshake amazing flavor.
You could also use strawberry ice cream instead of vanilla for even more strawberry punch.

Nutrition

Calories: 592kcal, Carbohydrates: 74g, Protein: 11g, Fat: 28g, Saturated Fat: 17g, Cholesterol: 110mg, Sodium: 217mg, Potassium: 728mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 65g, Vitamin A: 1108IU, Vitamin C: 68mg, Calcium: 390mg, Iron: 1mg
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About Katie Workman

Katie Workman is a cook, a writer, a mother of two, an activist in hunger issues, and an enthusiastic advocate for family meals, which is the inspiration behind her two beloved cookbooks, Dinner Solved! and The Mom 100 Cookbook.

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