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Macerated Strawberries

Macerated Strawberries are syrupy, sweet, and perfect for enjoying with whipped cream, ice cream, and more! Sugar is most commonly used to macerate strawberries, but balsamic vinegar or your favorite liquor may also be used.  

What Are Macerated Strawberries? 

Macerated strawberries is a fancy term for strawberries and sugar. (Although various types of vinegar or liquors such as Grand Marnier and limoncello are sometimes used as well!) 

As the strawberries sit in the sugar, the tender flesh of the berries begins to break down and release its juices. The juice from the strawberries combines with the sugar to create a thick syrup.

The result? Tender strawberries coated in a thick, strawberry-scented syrup. 

Macerated strawberries are incredibly easy to prepare and can be eaten plain, with ice cream or whipped cream, or spooned over strawberry shortcake, pavlovas, trifles, no-bake cheesecake, and more!

The recipe I’m sharing with you today uses granulated sugar because it’s the most common and most versatile option for macerating strawberries. However, I’ll also share a few other options for macerating strawberries if you’re feeling adventurous! 

How to Select the Best Strawberries 

Because this recipe is essentially strawberries covered in sugar, it’s important that you start with the best possible berries. 

Look for strawberries that are bright red in color. They should be firm and glossy on the outside.

Very dark red strawberries are usually already softening and / or are overripe. You’re still welcome to use them for macerating, but the berries will need significantly less time in the sugar to soften and release their juice. 

Tools Needed to Macerate Strawberries 

You need very few tools to prepare sliced strawberries with sugar. I recommend the following for making this recipe:  

  • Paring Knife or Strawberry Huller — You need to remove the stems from the strawberries and either halve, slice, or chop them up. 
  • Measuring spoon — For measuring out the sugar. 
  • Large bowl — For holding the strawberries and sugar. 
  • Colander — For rinsing and draining the strawberries. 

Ingredients You’ll Need

The simplest way to macerate strawberries is with granulated sugar. You can also use brown sugar, which would impart a lovely caramel flavor to the berries. 

Optional add-ins that would level up your macerated strawberries include: 

  • Lemon zest
  • Lemon juice
  • Fresh mint, thyme, or basil 
  • Balsamic vinegar (just a splash!)
  • Vanilla extract
  • A pinch of salt 

For the complete ingredient list and detailed instructions, scroll to the bottom of this post for the FREE printable recipe card.

Do strawberries have to be macerated in sugar? 

No! You can also macerate strawberries using balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, Grand Marnier, limoncello, or another fruit liquor or vinegar of choice. 

If using a liquid to macerate strawberries rather than sugar, use the same measurements as called for in the recipe card below. Such an easy swap! 

How to Macerate Strawberries 

Sugared strawberries are incredibly simple to prepare, but you’ll need to allow enough time for the berries to soften and form a natural syrup with the sugar. 

Below is an overview of how strawberries are macerated using sugar:  

  1. Clean the strawberries: At minimum, the strawberries need a really good rinsing with water before macerating. If you want a deeper clean, Branch Basics is my favorite non-toxic cleaner for washing produce. (Use code KATIEGLE for 15% off Branch Basics Products). Spray fruit with All-Purpose Cleaner, let soak for 2 to 3 minutes, then rinse thoroughly with cold water. OR make a DIY cleaning solution for using 1/2 cup of vinegar per 3 cups of water. Let the berries soak in a large bowl of the solution for 2 to 3 minutes. Then, give them a good rinse.
  2. Hull the strawberries: You can do this using a paring knife or strawberry huller. 
  3. Cut to desired size: Strawberries may be macerated whole, in slices, or chopped. The smaller you cut the berries, the quicker they’ll macerate! 
  4. Toss with sugar: I recommend adding 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar per 1 pound of berries. Toss the strawberries with the sugar to evenly coat, then set aside to macerate. 
  5. Enjoy! Wait at least 30 minutes, then toss the berries once more to coat in the syrup that’s pooled at the bottom of the bowl. Serve as desired. 

The above is simply a quick summary of this recipe. Check out the full recipe in the free printable recipe card at the bottom of this post for all the detailed instructions.

How long should you macerate strawberries? 

In my experience, 1 pound of strawberries needs around 30 minutes to soften and release their juices. With that being said, the timing doesn’t have to be exact! 

Sliced or chopped strawberries will be decently syrupy after about 15 minutes, whereas whole berries could use a little extra time. It all just depends on how soft and syrupy you want your berries to be. 

I’ve seen some recipes online that say you have to let the berries sit in the sugar for 2 to 3 hours. While I’m sure you can do that for very soft, very syrupy berries, I rarely have that much time to let my strawberries sit out! 

So, 20 to 30 minutes is good enough for me! 

Tips for Coating Strawberries with Sugar 

  • Use ripe strawberries — The sugar will soften strawberries at any level of ripeness, but for the strongest strawberry flavor you should start with ripe berries that are bright red in color.  
  • Use frozen strawberries, if desired — Yes, you can macerate frozen strawberries provided you defrost them first. Frozen berries release even more juice than fresh, so your macerated strawberries will be extra syrupy. 
  • Use granulated OR brown sugar — Both are delicious! Granulated sugar gives the berries a neutral sweetness, and brown sugar will add caramel undertones. It just depends on what flavor profile you want.  
  • Be flexible with the macerating time — 30 minutes is ideal, but whole berries will take longer. However, you can eat the strawberries and sugar at any stage of softness / syrupyness you like! 
  • Don’t macerate too many strawberries at once — I don’t recommend macerating strawberries in too large a batch as they need to be eaten within two days. Unless I’m making a big batch to serve to guests, I often macerate strawberries in ½- to 1-pound increments. 

Recipe FAQs

Got questions about how to make this recipe? Here are the answers to a few commonly asked questions. Feel free to leave any other questions in the comments on this post and I’ll respond with answers.

Can you macerate frozen strawberries? 

You sure can! However, they must be allowed to thaw in the fridge overnight before macerating.  

Frozen strawberries tend to release more juice than fresh ones, so note that you’ll end up with extra syrupy macerated strawberries. 

Should you macerate chilled or room temperature strawberries? 

Their initial temperature of the berries doesn’t matter, but once they’re tossed in sugar, leave them at room temperature for up to 30 minutes. 

If macerating the berries overnight, store them in the fridge. 

How much sugar is needed to macerate strawberries? 

The general rule of thumb to remember is 1 tablespoon of sugar per 1 pound of berries

However, you may scale up the amount of sugar as desired if you prefer sweeter berries. 

Can you macerate strawberries without granulated sugar? 

Yes! You can also use powdered or brown sugar, but you can’t omit the sugar altogether! Even pure maple syrup will work, but the berries will have a noticeable maple flavor to them.  

You can also macerate strawberries using a fruity vinegar — like balsamic or red wine vinegar — or a sweet, fruity liquor such as Grand Marnier. 

How long does it take for strawberries to macerate? 

If the berries are chopped or sliced, 15 to 30 minutes will do. If left whole, you might need 40 minutes or more. If left overnight, they’ll be very soft and syrupy! 

How long do macerated strawberries last? 

They will last up to 3 days in the fridge, but in my experience they’re best eaten within 2 days.  

Ways to Use Macerated Strawberries 

You’re welcome to use the sugared strawberries as a topping for your favorite summer desserts, or you can enjoy them simply with whipped cream or ice cream. 

Try using the berries in one of the following ways: 

Try This Recipe at Home! 

Next time you have an abundance of fresh strawberries on hand, try making macerated strawberries!

Did you love the combination of strawberries and sugar? Leave a comment below and give it a review for others to see what you thought.

On Instagram? Share your photo and tag me with @goodlifeeats and #goodlifeeatsrecipes. I’d love to see a photo of your macerated strawberries!

More Easy Strawberry Tutorials: 

This homemade strawberry sauce takes just a few simple ingredients to prepare. We love to enjoy it as a strawberry topping for waffles, but there are tons of ways to use this simple strawberry sauce for breakfast or dessert. 

Freezing strawberries is a wonderful way to enjoy summer’s harvest year-round! This guide explains how to freeze strawberries, plus it answers the most commonly asked questions about thawing frozen strawberries and using them in recipes.

Made with just three ingredients and ready in 10 minutes, homemade Strawberry Simple Syrup can be added to your favorite cocktails, drinks, and more! 

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How do you like to serve macerated strawberries?

a white bowl of macerated strawberries on a wooden cutting board

Macerated Strawberries

Yield: 1 pound
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Rest Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Macerated Strawberries are syrupy, sweet, and perfect for enjoying with whipped cream, ice cream, and more! Sugar is most commonly used to macerate strawberries, but balsamic vinegar or your favorite liquor may also be used.  

Ingredients

  • 1 lb strawberries
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar*

Instructions

  1. Clean the strawberries: At minimum, the strawberries need a really good rinsing with water before macerating. If you want a deeper clean, Branch Basics is my favorite non-toxic cleaner for washing produce. (Use code KATIEGLE for 15% off Branch Basics Products). Spray fruit with All-Purpose Cleaner, let soak for 2 to 3 minutes, then rinse thoroughly with cold water. OR make a DIY cleaning solution for using 1/2 cup of vinegar per 3 cups of water. Let the berries soak in a large bowl of the solution for 2 to 3 minutes. Then, give them a good rinse.
  2. Hull the strawberries: You can do this using a paring knife or strawberry huller. 
  3. Cut to desired size: Strawberries may be macerated whole, in slices, or chopped. The smaller you cut the berries, the quicker they’ll macerate! 
  4. Toss with sugar: I recommend adding 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar per 1 pound of berries. Toss the strawberries with the sugar to evenly coat, then set aside to macerate.
  5. Enjoy! Wait at least 30 minutes, then toss the berries once more to coat in the syrup that’s pooled at the bottom of the bowl. Serve as desired.

Notes

*You can also macerate strawberries using balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, Grand Marnier, limoncello, or another fruit liquor or vinegar of choice. If using a liquid to macerate strawberries rather than sugar, use the same measurements.

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Nutrition Information
Yield 6 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 32Total Fat 0gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 0gCholesterol 0mgSodium 1mgCarbohydrates 8gFiber 2gSugar 6gProtein 1g

GoodLifeEats.com offers recipe nutritional information as a courtesy. This provided information is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although GoodLifeEats.com makes every effort to provide accurate information, these figures are only estimates.

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