17 Recipes for the First Fresh Strawberries of the Year

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[Photographs: Vicky Wasik, J. Kenji López-Alt, Morgan Eisenberg, Yvonne Ruperti]

One summer while I was in college, I got a call from a friend who worked at a local community garden. The strawberry patch was overflowing, and they needed help picking the fruit before it started to rot. Not one to let good (and free) food go to waste, I headed over to the garden. My friend was right: The strawberries were out of control. I went home with several pounds of sweet, juicy, perfectly ripe red berries—way too many to eat plain.

Obviously, this was a good problem to have. There are so many things you can do with strawberries—they're delicious in desserts like pie and strawberry shortcake, of course, but also useful for adding a touch of fruit flavor to cocktails or a complex hint of sweetness to savory salad dressings and marinades. If you find yourself with a windfall of fresh, sun-kissed strawberries as the weather warms up, make sure to keep this collection of 17 recipes handy so you can enjoy every last one.

Savory

Oven-Baked Strawberry-Chipotle Wings With Avocado-Blue Cheese Dip

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[Photograph: Morgan Eisenberg]

It may not sound like the most natural of combinations, but smoky chipotle peppers, sweet strawberries, and balsamic vinegar balance each other out perfectly on these chicken wings. A creamy, tangy avocado and blue cheese dip on the side provides a nice counterpoint to the other flavors. By tossing the wings in baking powder and salt and air-drying them, you can get them good and crisp in the oven, avoiding the mess and hassle of deep-frying.

Get the recipe for Oven-Baked Strawberry-Chipotle Wings With Avocado-Blue Cheese Dip »

Balsamic-Strawberry Baked Goat Cheese Dip

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[Photograph: Morgan Eisenberg]

Balsamic and strawberry complement each other beautifully as a topping for this rich goat cheese dip. We whip the dairy—goat cheese and cream cheese, with a bit of honey—into a fluffy, smooth mixture that stays light and creamy even after baking. Coated in reduced balsamic vinegar and torn basil, the strawberries make for a sweet and savory finish.

Get the recipe for Balsamic-Strawberry Baked Goat Cheese Dip »

Sweet

Strawberry-Almond Baked Oatmeal

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[Photograph: Yvonne Ruperti]

If you've never tried baking your oatmeal in the oven, you might be surprised by how much you like it—it's a hands-off method that's neater than using the stovetop or microwave. Add whatever ingredients you'd like for extra flavor and texture; in this version, we go with strawberries and crunchy almonds, plus a little cinnamon and brown sugar for a warm molasses note.

Get the recipe for Strawberry-Almond Baked Oatmeal »

Strawberry Buckle

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[Photograph: Carrie Vasios Mullins]

So called because of the way the cake collapses around the filling, a buckle is really just a fruity coffee cake. To make this one, we mix strawberries into a simple coffee cake batter, pour it all into a pan, and sprinkle on a crumb topping made with butter, sugar, and ginger. As it bakes, the fruit will float above the batter, leaving you with three delicious layers.

Get the recipe for the Strawberry Buckle »

Perfect Strawberry Jam

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[Photograph: Lucy Baker]

Strawberries are at their peak for only a short time each year, so, if you have more than you know what to do with, take the time to preserve some of them. Our only real trick here is to use a combination of honey and sugar for sweetening—we love the extra fragrance the honey adds.

Get the recipe for Perfect Strawberry Jam »

5-Ingredient Strawberry Shortcakes

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[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

Need to whip up a crowd-pleasing dessert, pronto? This strawberry shortcake recipe requires just five ingredients—and that includes everything you need to make light, tender homemade cream biscuits. Make the biscuits with just cream and self-rising flour (plus a little sugar), and top them with macerated strawberries and fresh whipped cream.

Get the recipe for 5-Ingredient Strawberry Shortcakes »

Strawberry Shortcake on Steroids

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[Photograph: Aki Kamozawa and H. Alexander Talbot]

If you're a strawberry shortcake lover with a little more time on your hands—um, okay, a lot more time—this avant-garde deconstructed dessert will blow your guests away (and yeah, you should probably save this one for guests). We combine ginger- and lemongrass-flavored choux puffs filled with strawberry pudding, macerated strawberries, and a refreshing buttermilk granita for a dish that's loaded with intense strawberry flavor. Be sure to make extra strawberry sugar when you're macerating the berries—you can use it to make the best strawberry milk you've ever tasted.

Get the recipe for Strawberry Shortcake on Steroids »

The Best Strawberry Ice Cream

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[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

Store-bought strawberry ice cream is almost always either bland or icy, and, in any event, rarely tastes like fresh berries. To do it better at home, we start with a mild, eggless base flavored with a purée of raw strawberries; corn syrup helps reduce the iciness. Use the absolute best ripe berries you can get your hands on.

Get the recipe for The Best Strawberry Ice Cream »

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

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[Photograph: Max Falkowitz]

Homemade frozen yogurt requires just two ingredients: yogurt and sugar. This strawberry-flavored version complicates things only slightly, adding strawberries simmered with lemon zest and sugar until tender. Using Greek yogurt (which has less moisture than regular yogurt) helps balance out the juicy strawberries and inhibits the formation of ice crystals.

Get the recipe for Strawberry Frozen Yogurt »

Sweet Strawberry Pie

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[Photograph: Lauren Weisenthal]

This summer-perfect pie keeps the focus firmly on the fruit by limiting the filling to strawberries, sugar, and cornstarch or tapioca starch for thickening. Because strawberries vary widely in sweetness, taste them before you toss the filling ingredients together, then adjust the amount of sugar called for as needed.

Get the recipe for the Sweet Strawberry Pie »

Summer Strawberry Pie

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[Photograph: Yvonne Ruperti]

If the heat's already rising where you live and you're in oven-avoidance mode, this no-bake recipe is here to salvage your dreams of a fruity dessert. Start with a simple graham cracker crust and pour in a filling made with macerated strawberries, strawberry purée, and gelatin. Uncooked, the strawberries retain their fresh, bright flavor.

Get the recipe for the Summer Strawberry Pie »

Tangy Strawberry Fools

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[Photograph: Yvonne Ruperti]

A light, sweet-and-tart British dessert ideal for a hot afternoon, fools are made by alternating layers of fruit and whipped cream in individual glasses. We incorporate the berries in two ways, simmering and reducing half of them into a jammy compote and macerating the rest with sugar. To give the whipped cream extra body without weighing it down, try folding in a little Greek yogurt.

Get the recipe for Tangy Strawberry Fools »

Strawberries and Cream Pavlova

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[Photograph: Yvonne Ruperti]

Native to Australia and New Zealand, a Pavlova, named for the virtuosic ballet dancer Anna Pavlova, is made by layering baked meringue (crisp outside, marshmallow-soft inside) with fruit and whipped cream. You can make it with just about any fruit you'd like, but in summertime, strawberries are a natural choice. A sprinkling of sliced almonds enhances the texture of the finished dessert.

Get the recipe for the Strawberries and Cream Pavlova »

Drinks

Spicy Strawberry Jalapeño Lemonade

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[Photograph: Dave Katz]

There's no better way to cool off in the warm months than with a frosty glass of homemade lemonade, and we love coming up with new and inventive flavoring schemes. Here, we use sweet macerated strawberries, but add slices of jalapeño to them for a subtle spice that somehow makes the drink even more refreshing. As a bonus, the strawberries tint the lemonade a beautiful rose color.

Get the recipe for Spicy Strawberry Jalapeño Lemonade »

Strawberry Horchata

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[Photograph: Lauren Rothman]

You may already be familiar with horchata, the cooling, milk-like Mexican drink of rice and almonds. Less common is horchifresa, a pastel-pink and strawberry-fragrant variation. Simply blend strawberries into basic horchata, strain the drink, sweeten it to taste with agave nectar, and serve over plenty of ice.

Get the recipe for Strawberry Horchata »

Strawberry-Mint Sparkler

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[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

This pretty, elegant warm-weather sipper combines vodka with fresh strawberries, lime juice, and mint. Club soda makes the cocktail nicely effervescent (and perhaps a bit dangerously drinkable). We sweeten it with simple syrup, but remember to taste your berries first to avoid making the cocktail too sugary.

Get the recipe for the Strawberry-Mint Sparkler »

Strawberry-Balsamic Tequila Sour

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[Photograph: Rabi Abonour]

The tangy-and-sweet balsamic/strawberry pairing we use for our goat cheese dip and oven-baked wings is a winner in summer drinks, too. Here, we reduce the vinegar into a thick syrup before mixing it with berries, lime juice, mint, and tequila. Don't over-muddle the mint, or it will start to taste a little muddy.

Get the recipe for the Strawberry-Balsamic Tequila Sour »