How to Make Korean Strawberry Milk
This recipe is really easy - it’s only strawberries, a bit of salt, sugar, milk and ice.
Even though the stars of this show are strawberries, you don’t need the perfect, summer ripened fresh fruit for this drink. Because you’ll be cooking them down, I actually prefer using frozen fruit if you’re not making this during strawberry season, or using slightly mushy or too tart fresh strawberries.
Cooking the strawberries concentrates their flavor. They’re apparently 90%+ water, so getting rid of some of that liquid makes sure that your strawberry milk doesn’t taste too diluted.
A bit of sugar and salt season the strawberries, especially for imperfect strawberries. I add a pinch of salt to any drink I’m making (coffee milk tea, ube milkshakes, loquat lemonade, doesn’t matter), since it helps all the flavors shine.
I like using honey or granulated sugar here, since I don’t want to detract from the fruit. However, brown sugar, maple syrup or whatever kind of sweetener you’d like can also work here.
The strawberries, sugar and salt cook for less than 10 minutes. I like to keep this compote on the thinner side to make sure it mixes nicely into the milk. You want strawberry milk, not a glass of plain milk and a blob of strawberry jam at the bottom!!
You can definitely make the strawberry compote ahead of time, and store in the fridge for up to a week. Then you can have Korean strawberry milk all week long!
The assembly for this drink is pretty easy, but there are a few things I want to note.
First, you can use any milk that you have on hand. I typically have soy milk, so that’s what I use.
If you only have cream or full fat coconut milk in your fridge, I’d recommend diluting with enough water until it reaches your desired richness.
People who don’t care about aesthetics (aka me 99% of the time, see the name of this blog), ignore this next part. Dump everything into a glass with ice and live your carefree life.
If you are interested in *the look,* make sure you layer the drink in this order: first strawberry compote, then ice and lastly milk. The ice acts as a barrier between the strawberry and milk, so the force of you pouring in the milk doesn’t automatically cause the strawberry compote to mix into the milk.
It also helps that the strawberry compote is a lot more dense than milk, so the milk naturally stays at the top of the drink.
Once you have oohed and ahhed enough over the layers, give the drink a good stir until the milk is a light pink color and you don’t see any big pockets of strawberry compote left before enjoying.
What is it made of?
Korean strawberry milk is made with strawberries that are cooked down and mashed into a compote, so the resulting drink is a little bit pulpy. It tastes more refreshing than it might sound, since the strawberries are sweet-tart.
Comparatively, western-style strawberry milk you might be more familiar with is made with artificially flavored strawberry syrup. The syrup is smooth, so the (fluorescent) strawberry milk is homogeneous in texture.
What does strawberry milk taste like?
I think it’s pretty refreshing. Sure, the milk adds a creaminess, but the icy coldness of the drink and the tart, fresh tasting strawberries make this one of my favorites on a hot afternoon.
It would be easy to riff off of this base strawberry milk. A shot of espresso on top sounds amazing (can you imagine the neapolitan ice cream-like layers?!).
Adding boba sounds like a no-brainer, or any other toppings that you like to add to milk tea.
- 1 ½ cups strawberries chopped roughly
- ¾ cup water
- 3 tablespoons honey or to taste
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups milk cold
In a small saucepan, combine the strawberries, water, honey and salt. Place over medium-low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the strawberries are soft and the syrup has the texture of a thin/loose jam. It’s okay if it’s a little on the watery side, sine it will thicken as it cools. Use the back of a fork or a spatula to mash up the strawberries. This should take 7-10 minutes.
Remove from heat and let cool completely. You can make this ahead of time and store in the fridge for up to a week.
When ready to serve, divide the strawberry compote between two glasses. Add enough ice to reach halfway up the glass, then top off with the milk. Give it a stir before enjoying!
I’d recommend using frozen strawberries (especially in the winter!) or mushy fresh ones (especially in the summer if you run out of things to do with them) for this. Lackluster fresh strawberries (bland and/or sour ones) also work well here, since you’ll be concentrating the flavor and sweetening the berries.
The honey is to taste - if your strawberries are super sweet, or you like your drinks less sweet, feel free to decrease this amount.