This strawberry sundae recipe will give you old fashioned ice cream parlor vibes right in your own kitchen! A sweet and slightly tart strawberry sauce is paired with vanilla ice cream and garnished with even more fresh strawberries and your favorite toppings!
When I was a kid, strawberry was always my go-to dessert flavor; strawberries are deliciously tangy and sweet, and who couldn't like that beautiful pinkish red color? If you love strawberry sweets like me, you need to try making your own strawberry sundae at home! It's easy to do, takes only a few ingredients, AND you can add as much strawberry sauce and sprinkles as you like!
To make the strawberry ice cream topping, sliced fresh strawberries are cooked gently with sugar and a squeeze of lemon, then thickened slightly with cornstarch to give the final sauce a luscious consistency that clings so well to your spoon.
My favorite part of this recipe is that you can make the strawberry sauce in advance and keep it in your fridge or freezer for when an ice cream craving takes hold!
- Strawberries: you will need fresh strawberries for this recipe, and since they will be cooked, this is a good use for ones that may be not so pretty (a little bruised or dented, etc.). Just save the nicest ones to slice for the garnish!
- Ice cream: I recommend vanilla ice cream, because I think it lets the flavor of the strawberry ice cream topping shine! But, feel free to use your favorite ice cream to make the sundaes.
- Lemon: this recipe calls for a small amount of lemon juice for the sauce; I used fresh lemon juice, but you can substitute bottled lemon juice if you like.
Step by step photos
1. The first step is to prep the strawberries. Wash and dry them, then cut off the green tops. Slice them into roughly ½ inch slices. Place 1 pound of the strawberries in a medium saucepan.
Place the remaining ¼ pound strawberries into a bowl and set aside. These berries will be used to garnish the sundaes.
2. Along with the berries, add the granulated sugar, lemon juice, pinch of salt and ¼ cup water.
3. Simmer the strawberry mixture, stirring occasionally, until the strawberries have released some liquid and are softened. They should still be holding their shape, not breaking apart, however.
4. Then, mix together the cornstarch and remaining 1 tablespoon water together until the cornstarch is completely dissolved in the water with no lumps. Add this cornstarch slurry to the berry mixture and continue to cook for 1 - 2 minutes.
5. After simmering for 1 - 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, the liquid in the sauce should be glossy and slightly thickened. It won't be super thick, more like the consistency of syrup. Let the sauce cool for a minimum of 10 minutes, it will continue to thicken as it cools.
6. When you are ready to enjoy your strawberry sundae, start by adding a scoop of the strawberry ice cream topping into the bottom of a sundae glass (or small bowl, whatever you have on hand). Add a scoop of ice cream, and top off with even more strawberry sauce.
Garnish the sundae however you please - I like to add more fresh strawberries, chopped nuts, sprinkles, and whipped cream!
Tips and tricks
- If you are planning on making the sundaes right away, you can wash, dry, and slice the 1 pound strawberries for the sauce and the ¼ pound strawberries for garnish at the same time. (But remember to set aside the ¼ pound strawberries before adding the rest to the pan.)
- If you are going to make the strawberry sauce ahead of time, however, prep the strawberries for garnish right before serving so they are nice and fresh.
- When slicing the strawberries for the sauce, be mindful to slice them about ½ inch thick - the thicker slices of strawberries hold their shape better when cooked in the sauce!
- When the strawberries are simmering in the pan, make sure to stir them gently so they don't get broken up too much.
- If you prefer your desserts less sweet, you can also reduce the sugar in the recipe from ½ cup to ⅓ cup. The texture of the sauce will be a little bit thinner and less glossy, but it will still taste great! When I made it this way, I found I only needed 1 teaspoon of the lemon juice. Try it this way and add in more lemon at the end if you think it needs it.
You can definitely make the strawberry ice cream topping ahead of time! It will store well in the fridge, kept in a tightly sealed container, for 3 - 4 days. Or, store it in the freezer (see the next question for more on that!).
Yes, you can freeze the prepared strawberry ice cream topping! After it has cooled down, add it to a food storage container with a tight fitting lid. Make sure to leave some head space in the container to allow for the liquid to expand as it freezes. The sauce can be stored in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Yes, you can make the strawberry sauce using unsweetened frozen strawberries that have been thawed. If you can find pre-sliced ones, great! Otherwise, just give the thawed berries a rough chop - it will be difficult to create perfect slices since they will be soft after thawing.
Also, make sure to drain the excess liquid from the thawed berries before using so the sauce isn't too thin. Although, if you like, you can use this strawberry liquid to replace an equal amount of the water for even more strawberry flavor!
Finally, keep in mind that the frozen thawed berries will be much softer in texture than fresh berries, so you may want to cut down the initial cook time by a minute or two so the berries don't fall apart. You will still need to cook the berries for the same time as indicated after the cornstarch is added to ensure the sauce thickens properly.
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This is an easy recipe for strawberry sundaes, with a glossy and sweet strawberry sauce. The strawberry sundaes are then garnished with more fresh strawberries, nuts, whipped cream and sprinkles!
For the strawberry sauce:
- 1 pound (454 g) strawberries, cut into ½ inch slices
- ½ cup (112 g) granulated sugar (see note 2)
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- ¼ cup (59 ml) + 1 tablespoon (15 ml) water, divided
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
For the strawberry sundaes:
- 4 scoops vanilla ice cream
- 1 ounce (28 g) chopped nuts
- ¼ pound (113 g) strawberries, sliced
- whipped cream
- Wash and dry the strawberries (see note 1). Cut off the green tops of the strawberries and slice the berries into ½ inch slices. Add the 1 pound sliced strawberries, sugar, lemon juice, and ¼ cup water to a medium saucepan set over medium high heat.
- Stir the mixture to start dissolving the sugar. Bring the strawberry mixture to a boil and turn the heat down to maintain a simmer. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 3 - 4 minutes, or until the strawberries are tender but still hold their shape. (Be sure to stir the mixture gently to avoid breaking the berries up too much.)
- In a small bowl, mix together the cornstarch and remaining 1 tablespoon water until the cornstarch is completely dissolved. Pour the cornstarch slurry into the saucepan and stir gently to combine. Continue to simmer for an additional 1 - 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the strawberry sauce is glossy and has thickened. Turn off the heat.
- Taste the sauce and add another small squeeze of lemon if desired.
- Allow the strawberry mixture to cool for at least 10 minutes (the sauce will continue to thicken as it cools).
- To assemble the sundaes, add a scoop of the strawberry ice cream sauce to the bottom of 4 sundae cups or glasses. Place a scoop of vanilla ice cream (or your favorite flavor) on top of the strawberry sauce. Add more strawberry sauce on top of the ice cream.
- Garnish the sundaes with chopped nuts, fresh sliced strawberries, whipped cream, and sprinkles. Enjoy immediately.
If you are planning on making the sundaes right away, you can wash, dry, and slice the 1 pound strawberries for the sauce and the ¼ pound strawberries for garnish at the same time. Just remember to set aside the ¼ pound strawberries before adding the remaining strawberries to the saucepan. If you are going to make the strawberry sauce ahead of time, prep the strawberries for garnish right before serving.
If you prefer your desserts less sweet, you can reduce the sugar in the recipe from ½ cup to ⅓ cup. The texture of the sauce will be a little bit thinner and less glossy, but it will still taste delicious! If you do reduce the sugar, add in only 1 teaspoon lemon juice at first, then add more at the end if needed.
The strawberry sauce can also be made ahead of time and stored in an airtight container in the fridge, for 3 - 4 days, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
The nutrition information below is based on a sundae with ⅔ cup ice cream, 2 tablespoons whipped cream, and 1 teaspoon rainbow sprinkles (in addition to other listed ingredients). This information is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator, and should not be considered a substitute for professional medical, health, or nutritional advice. See our full nutrition disclosure policy.
- Serving Size: ¼ recipe
- Calories: 425
- Sugar: 51.4 g
- Sodium: 96 mg
- Fat: 20.1 g
- Saturated Fat: 9.9 g
- Carbohydrates: 57.4 g
- Fiber: 3.5 g
- Protein: 5.5 g
- Cholesterol: 90 mg
Keywords: strawberry sundae, ice cream strawberry sauce, strawberry ice cream topping