Macerated Strawberries

Serve on pound cake, ice cream, oatmeal, and more.

Southern Living Macerated Strawberries in a bowl to serve

Photographer: Jen Causey; Food Stylist: Margaret Dickey; Prop Stylist: Hannah Greenwood

Active Time:
5 mins
Total Time:
35 mins

Macerated strawberries are sweet and tangy, with a pretty presentation, and they're so versatile as a dessert topper. They’re also incredibly easy to make with just a few ingredients and five minutes of active prep time.

Macerated strawberries lend themselves to recipe variations. Naturally, strawberry is the predominant flavor, a taste like pure summertime. This recipe also calls for basil, which adds a nice herbal flavor and draws out the sweetness from the berries. And the lemon in the recipe further enhances the natural flavors without overpowering. Make it with fresh, in-season berries for the best results. How you serve them is up to your imagination!

How To Make Macerated Strawberries

Macerating fruit simply means to soften or steep it. It might sound fancy, but the process is really quite simple: It typically involves adding sugar and often a liquid (like fruit juice or liquor) to fruit, and letting it all marinate.

To make the macerated strawberries in this recipe, you'll pulse the sugar and basil in a food processor. Then, add the mixture to a bowl with strawberries and lemon zest, and stir.

Let it stand at room temperature until the sugar dissolves and the strawberries are syrupy.

Super Simple Strawberry Topping

This recipe is so easy to make using just four ingredients available at local grocery stores: strawberries, sugar, basil, and lemon. And it takes just five minutes of active prep work (with at least 30 more minutes to steep).

How Long Should You Macerate Strawberries?

Let the berries stand for at least 30 minutes or up to two hours. 

How To Use Macerated Strawberries 

Serve macerated strawberries as a sweet and colorful topping over ice cream. Or serve it with pound cake or even shortcake for a great-looking presentation and big flavor without fuss. 

Southern Living Macerated Strawberries served on slices of pound cake

Photographer: Jen Causey; Food Stylist: Margaret Dickey; Prop Stylist: Hannah Greenwood

How Long Are Macerated Strawberries Good? 

Store macerated strawberries in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. The fruit becomes softer the longer the berries macerate.

Macerated Strawberries Variations

While this easy recipe is alcohol-free, try adding a liquor like Grand Marnier or Cointreau for a variation. Or use juice as liquid instead.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can you use frozen strawberries?

    In lieu of fresh fruit, you can use frozen strawberries for macerated strawberries. But frozen berries will release liquid as they thaw, so you may end up with a looser mixture. 

  • What does it mean if you macerate strawberries?

    Macerating strawberries means marinating them in sugar, which draws out their juices.

  • How long does it take for strawberries to macerate?

    Let the mixture marinate at room temperature for a minimum of 30 minutes to allow the berries to release their juices. 

  • Should I macerate strawberries at room temp?

    Macerate strawberries at room temperature, but then store them in the refrigerator. 

  • Can you macerate berries overnight?

    Macerate strawberries for 30 minutes to two hours. You may then store them in the refrigerator overnight, or for 24 hours. This dish can be prepared in advance, but be warned: Storing it for more than 48 hours make make the berries turn into mush. 

  • Can you macerate other fruits?

    Beyond just strawberries, many fruits lend themselves to maceration. Use any kinds of berries (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries), stone fruits (peaches, plums, nectarines), tropical fruits (mangoes, pineapples). Get creative!

  • Can you freeze macerated strawberries?

    You can store macerated strawberries in the refrigerator. You can also make and freeze this mixture for future use. When it thaws, it may be produce more liquid than you want, so you can spoon some of it off.

Editorial contributions by Alesandra Dubin.


  • 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar

  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish

  • 1 lb. fresh ripe strawberries, hulled and quartered (about 2 cups)

  • 1 tsp. lemon zest

  • 1 1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice (from 1 small [4 oz.] lemon) 


  1. Make the basil sugar:

    Place sugar and basil in a small food processor or spice grinder. Pulse until basil is fully incorporated into sugar and mixture looks like wet sand, 20 to 30 pulses.

    Southern Living Macerated Strawberries making the basil sugar

    Photographer: Jen Causey; Food Stylist: Margaret Dickey; Prop Stylist: Hannah Greenwood

  2. Stir together strawberries and other ingredients:

    Place sugar mixture, strawberries, and lemon zest and juice in a medium bowl.

    Southern Living Macerated Strawberries stirring together the ingredients

    Photographer: Jen Causey; Food Stylist: Margaret Dickey; Prop Stylist: Hannah Greenwood

    Stir until fully incorporated and sugar has evenly coated berries, about 30 seconds.

    Southern Living Macerated Strawberries stirred together before macerating

    Photographer: Jen Causey; Food Stylist: Margaret Dickey; Prop Stylist: Hannah Greenwood

  3. Let strawberry mixture stand to macerate:

    Let stand at room temperature until sugar dissolves and strawberries are syrupy, at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours. Garnish with additional basil. Store, covered, in refrigerator up to 24 hours. 

    Southern Living Macerated Strawberries after chill time

    Photographer: Jen Causey; Food Stylist: Margaret Dickey; Prop Stylist: Hannah Greenwood

Additional reporting by Alesandra Dubin
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