Strawberry topping for cheesecake is a homemade strawberry sauce that's made on the stovetop with a few simple ingredients. This sweet strawberry topping is perfect for more than just cheesecake - try it on pancakes, pound cake, waffles, cupcakes, and more.
Strawberries are the perfect addition to many desserts and baked goods - especially cheesecake. This strawberry sauce, or strawberry compote, is our favorite topping to add to mini cheesecakes and no bake cheesecake bars. It's a big crowd pleaser!
Strawberry topping is easy to make and ready in just a few minutes. You'll need some fresh strawberries (or frozen strawberries that have been thawed), sugar, lemon juice, and cornstarch. That's it!
It can even be frozen and thawed for later - great for making extra with those in-season strawberries! Keep reading to learn how to make strawberry cheesecake topping.
Ingredients and substitutions
What is strawberry topping made of? For this recipe, you'll need strawberries, granulated sugar, lemon juice, and cornstarch.
- Strawberries - Fresh or frozen strawberries work in this recipe. If your strawberries are frozen and whole, you'll want to let them thaw first. Then dice your strawberries as directed in the recipe card (frozen strawberries should already be hulled).
- Granulated sugar - Adds sweetness and helps create the sauce when melted with the other ingredients.
- Lemon juice - Brightens the flavor of your sauce and helps cut the sweetness with a little acidity. Does not make your sauce taste lemony.
- Cornstarch - Thickens your sauce made with the juices from the strawberries, lemon juice, and sugar. Depending on the juiciness of your strawberries, you may want to add a few tablespoons of water. I've made this recipe dozens of times - the juiciness of your strawberries can vary greatly. Fresh picked, in season strawberries are usually very juicy and require no extra water. Out of season strawberries tend to be a little dry in comparison.
How to hull strawberries
Before beginning, you'll need to hull and dice your strawberries.
The hull of the strawberry, also called the calyx, is the leafy green top of the strawberry. When hulling a strawberry, you're removing the green leaves, the stem, the portion of the stem that extends into the strawberry itself, and some of the white center of the strawberry.
To hull a strawberry, use a paring knife to cut in a circular motion around the stem of the strawberry, into the white flesh underneath. Remove the hull, discard, and give your strawberries a good rinse before dicing.
How to make strawberry cheesecake topping
- Add your diced strawberries, sugar, lemon juice, and cornstarch to a saucepan. If needed, add a few tablespoons of water (this will depend on how juicy your strawberries are). Stir until your sugar has melted and ingredients are incorporated.
- Bring to a boil, and reduce heat to medium-low.
- Once your sauce has thickened and looks glossy, remove from heat and allow to cool before serving over cheesecake.
Tips and tricks
- The strawberries slowly release their juices as they cook. The cornstarch works with the juices in the pan to create a thick, glaze-like sauce.
- Since strawberries vary across the world, you may find it necessary to add a small amount of water to the pan. I'd suggest starting with 1-2 tablespoons, adding more as needed.
- If your sauce continues to thicken as it cooks, feel free to add more water as desired to thin your sauce.
- If the sauce is sticking to the bottom of the pan, the heat is too high. Turn the heat down slightly and add a splash of water.
- This recipe is less about following an exact time and more about the look of your sauce. Keep an eye on it and don't walk away, your strawberries can cook down quickly.
Ways to use strawberry topping
Use this strawberry topping for cheesecake, pound cake, pancakes, waffles, or to top just about any sweet baked good!
- Cheesecake topping for easy mini cheesecakes or no-bake cheesecake bars
- Ice cream topping on no churn peanut butter ice cream (peanut butter and jelly anyone?)
- Pancake topping for buttermilk pancakes
- Cupcake filling (I use this same topping in my strawberry filled cupcakes)
Freezing extra strawberry topping is a great way to make use of in-season strawberries. Make an extra batch or two to save for holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter, or whenever you plan on serving cheesecake.
Strawberry topping can be frozen for up to six months in a tightly sealed, freezer safe container. To thaw, transfer to the refrigerator and allow to set overnight.
Strawberry Topping for Cheesecake
- 1 pound (454 g) fresh strawberries, hulled and diced
- ¼ cup (50 g) granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- In a saucepan over medium heat, add strawberries, sugar, lemon juice, and cornstarch. Stir to combine. If your strawberries are not very juicy, add 1-2 tablespoons of water, or more, as needed.
- Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until mixture has thickened and looks glossy (this could take up to 6-8 minutes). Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Store topping in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
- This recipe is less about time and more about the thickness of your sauce, so watch it carefully and remove from heat when your sauce has thickened.
- Use your strawberry topping to top cheesecake, mini cheesecakes, pancakes, pound cake, as a cupcake filling, or as an ice cream topping.
- Strawberry topping can be frozen for up to 6 months in a tightly sealed, freezer safe container.
- Store topping in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Can put it on top of the whole cheesecake vs topping per slice? I’m thinking of whip cream border and then putting the sauce in the middle.
Yes, you can cover the entire top of the cheesecake, then slice. A whipped cream border sounds lovely!
Hi there, is the video for this still available? I feel like I watched it before and it was helpful but cant seem to find it now on the page
Hi Krystal, the video can be found in the recipe card, just below the notes. You can also click the 'Jump to Video' button at the top and it will take you directly to the video (it may take a few seconds to load). You can also find the video on our Youtube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39EGI2XqIdY
8 servings? Ummm.. Ok. Wanting to use this for a cupcake filling. One serving is 1 Tbsp? 3 Tbsp? Or... 8 servings is a Cup? 2 cups? 24 cupcakes. Do I buy 1 lb of strawberries or 4 lbs? Ugggh!!
8 servings (about 3 tablespoons per serving) refers to its use as a cheesecake topping. This recipe makes about 1.5 US cups of strawberry topping. I also use this filling in my strawberry filled cupcakes recipe, and a 1/2 recipe fills 15 cupcakes. So, one full recipe should fill about 30 cupcakes - a little less than one tablespoon in each cupcake. This may vary based on how much you core out of your cupcakes. Hope this helps!
This recipe was easy to follow and turned out great! I used it for my cheesecake as a topping. My question is, can this sauce be canned? I would love to make good use of strawberries in season but have limited freezer space. Would processing be the same as it is for pie filling?
I haven't tried canning this recipe, so I can't say for certain how it would turn out. However, this topping is basically like a jam, so following any recipe for canning jam should work.
I live in south Texas and was able to pick strawberries from a local farm! This recipe is perfect on top of homemade cheesecake. Thank you!
If you only have 1 T liquid how do you bring to a boil without strawberries burning
The strawberries release their juices as they are warmed up (the post shows a process shot of this above). I've used fresh picked, in-season strawberries that needed no additional liquid. You're welcome to add as much water as you need to make the topping, depending on the juiciness of your strawberries.
I can't wait to try these filled cupcakes they sound & look so good. Thanks for sharing.
can we use water instead of lemon juice
The lemon juice is added to cut the sweetness of the sauce - it can be substituted with lime juice, orange juice, or omitted entirely if you don't have these on hand. Water is added in step one (as needed) to thin your sauce if your strawberries are not very juicy.
Made this tonight for the first time and turned out amazing! Strawberries are out of season where we live so I added 2tbs of water and it looks so good! I’m excited to put on my homemade cheesecake in the morning! Thank you for the recipe!
Is this firm enough to be used for a cake filling?
I haven't tried using it between layers of cake, but I do use this same filling in my strawberry filled cupcakes and it works great! https://thetoastykitchen.com/fluffy-white-cupcakes-strawberry-filling/
WOW! This was so easy and tastes good!! Can’t wait to put it on my Cheese Cake 🎂 I added some Strawberry Ice Cream Topping Syrup!
Can we use frozen strawberries for this recipe?
Frozen strawberries will work as long as they've been thawed beforehand.
Would this work with cherries instead of strawberries? Or other berries? If so, would I need to make any alterations?
You may want to adjust the sugar based on how sweet your fruit is, but otherwise the same process would work for any berries!
Is this topping served warm or can it be made the day before and served chilled?
It can be made the day before and refrigerated. You can serve it warm, room temperature, or chilled!
If I used this to fill cupcakes would they need to be refrigerated?
The sugar should help to preserve the filling, but I'd still recommend refrigerating them to be safe.
How long would you say it takes to cool? I need it for a cookout we’re having and it just got done about 5 minutes ago
I'd suggest transferring it to another dish and refrigerating to help it cool faster. Normally it may take 20 minutes or more to cool, but refrigerating should help cut down the time a bit.
Great receipe, tastes great. Easy to follow the instructions and super fast.
Smells so good cooking and turned our perfect!
Can I use lime in place of lemon? I also read orange liquor may work?
Yes lime juice will definitely work. I can't say for sure about orange liquor but if you give it a try, let us know how it goes!
Easy and delicious! Thank you!
I’m sorry to say, but this turned out a terrible gloppy mess. I followed the recipe exactly but there was not enough liquid from the strawberries, and they formed into a big ball of goo. I think it was too much cornstarch… maybe it could’ve worked with berries in season but not for these winter strawberries.
Hi Jenny, I'm sorry to hear that your strawberry topping didn't turn out! If your strawberries are not very juicy, they may not release enough liquid to make a sauce with the cornstarch, which sounds like what happened. I've added a note to the recipe card to add water as needed to thin out the sauce.
Can you freeze the strawberry topping?
Hi Marcia, yes you can freeze strawberry topping. I'd suggest transferring to the refrigerator the night before using so that it can thaw overnight.
How can i make this keto friendly
Hi Denise, I am not very familiar with keto friendly sugar substitutes, but from looking at a few other recipes it looks like you can simply swap the sugar in this recipe with your favorite sugar substitute, and omit the cornstarch. Another recipe mentions using xantham gum as a thickener.
Here is one recipe that looks promising:
How early would you fill cupcakes before you serve them?
They are best the same day, but you can fill them the day before and they'd be just fine.
How long will this recipe keep in refrigerator ?
It will keep for 3-4 days in the refrigerator before the strawberries start breaking down.
Made this but instead of lemon juice , I used orange juice and it came out wonderful !!...Thank you. !!
Thanks for sharing, Nina! That sounds like a great substitution.
Making cheesecake tonight for my husband's work potluck! Strawberry cheesecake, his favorite. <3
Yum, sounds great! Let us know how it goes 😀