Gelo di fragole, or Sicily’s version of strawberry pudding, is light, refreshing, and just sweet enough! This easy, make-ahead dessert takes only 7 ingredients, zero specialty equipment, and 15 minutes or less of hands-on time. Make it the night before your next dinner party or date night in!

Close up of strawberry pudding with a dollop of Crème fraîche, drizzle of honey, lemon zest and a sprig of basil.
Photo Credits: Katherine Irwin

We love our puddings in the Mediterranean and Middle East. We make them in just about every variety, from this fresh and light strawberry pudding, to floral and silky-smooth Mahalabia (Rose Water Milk Pudding), to creamy cinnamon-scented Rizogalo (Greek Rice Pudding). In fact, Turkey has a famous milk pudding made with shredded chicken breast called Tavuk Göğsü, but we’ll save that for another day!

This Italian-style strawberry pudding recipe takes a more fruit-forward approach. To make it, you start with a simple fresh strawberry puree lightly sweetened with raw sugar, which gives it a touch of molasses flavor for complexity. A final touch of lemon zest, honey, and fresh basil gives it the most incredible smells–like-summer-in-a-bowl quality. It’s very special. 

You can keep it dairy-free, but I love the additional garnish of crème fraîche, which elevates the pudding and gives it a bit of an indulgent vibe without overpowering the other flavors. It’s strawberries and cream all grown up! 

Table of Contents
  1. Strawberry Pudding Ingredients 
  2. Ingredient Spotlight
  3. How to Make Italian Strawberry Pudding
  4. Ways to Mix it Up
  5. What to Serve with Gelo di Fragole (Italian Strawberry Pudding)
  6. More Pudding Recipes
  7. Greek Honey - Thyme, Forest & Wild Herbs
  8. Italian Strawberry Pudding (Gelo di Fragole) Recipe
Ingredients for strawberry pudding, including strawberries, cornstarch, sugar, lemon, creme fraiche, honey, and basil.

Strawberry Pudding Ingredients 

This strawberry pudding recipe feels fancy, but all of the ingredients are easy to find. You’ll need:

  • Cornstarch is a plant-based thickener made from corn kernels (unlike gelatin, which is made from animal collagen). When you heat cornstarch, its starch molecules unravel and bond together in networks, which trap the liquid to make a gel-like texture. 
  • Strawberries: Look for deep red strawberries from tip to stem, which usually indicate a sweeter and juicier fruit.
  • Raw sugar: Also called “turbinado” or “sugar in the raw,” this coarser-grained sugar is minimally processed, so you get much more of the caramel-like molasses flavor.
  • Lemon: The juice adds brightness to the pudding for balance. I love adding the zest to each pudding to give it a final aroma boost just before serving. Smells like sunshine feels. 
  • Crème Fraîche: A cultured cream originating in France, it adds a creamy, velvety quality to the pudding. 
  • Honey: A final drizzle of honey adds a burst of floral sweetness to each bite. 
  • Basil: You just can’t beat the smell of fresh basil, and it’s a beautiful match with strawberries. Basil is pretty sweet so it goes well with desserts–mint is the only herb I can think of that would also go well, but I wouldn’t try to substitute with more savory herbs. 
A spoonful of strawberry pudding, showing its gel-like texture and glossy finish.

Ingredient Spotlight

A drizzle of honey adds complexity to the sweetness of the pudding, but you wouldn’t want to drown out your hard-earned strawberry pudding flavor with a thick, overwhelming honey. 

My favorite is our Alfa honey from the Greek island of Crete. It’s sourced from bees that feast on the local wild herbs like thyme and sage, so it has a lovely savory quality to it. If you’re on the hunt for a high-quality honey, look for a wildflower honey that drizzles well and has a pleasantly delicate taste–the samples at your local farmer’s market is often a good place to start. 

  • TRY IT: Greek Alfa Honey from our shop.
  • BEST SUBSTITUTE: Simple syrup for an extra touch of sweetness, or just leave the pudding plain. Maple syrup would certainly give a more dominant flavor, but if you’re a big fan of maple it could work. 
a platter with two strawberry puddings.

How to Make Italian Strawberry Pudding

This easy dessert recipe takes just 15 minutes of active time, but don’t forget to give yourself at least two hours to give the pudding a good chill. Here are the steps:

  • Dissolve the cornstarch. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together 5 tablespoons of cornstarch and 1 cup of cold water. Mix until well combined, then set aside.
  • Prep the strawberries. Thoroughly wash 1 pound of strawberries, then use a sharp knife to cut off and discard their tops. Slice each strawberry into quarters, then add to the bowl of a large food processor fitted with a blade. Sprinkle with 5 tablespoons of raw sugar. 
  • Make a strawberry puree. Zest one lemon and set the zest aside, then slice it in half and squeeze the juice into the bowl of the food processor with the strawberries. Sprinkle with 5 tablespoons raw sugar. Close the lid and puree until the mixture is smooth. Taste, and if needed, add a little more sugar and run the processor again to combine (remember you will add honey at the end). strawberries, sugar and lemon juice in a food processor before it's blended to make strawberry pudding.
  • Thicken the pudding. Transfer the strawberry puree to a saucepan set over medium heat. Pour in the dissolved cornstarch mixture and stir constantly as the mixture gently bubbles and thickens, about 5 to 7 minutes. (Manage the heat to avoid fully boiling or burning the mixture).a saucepan with strawberry puree gently bubbling to make strawberry pudding.
  • Chill. Remove from the heat and pour the thickened strawberry mixture into dessert cups or small dessert bowls. Set aside to cool then transfer to the fridge to chill for at least 2 hours, or overnight. four glasses with strawberry pudding.
  • Finish and serve. Add a dollop Crème Fraîche on top (if using) and drizzle with honey. Garnish with the lemon zest and basil leaves.three glasses of strawberry pudding with Crème fraîche, lemon zest, and a sprig of basil.

Ways to Mix it Up

This is definitely a recipe you’ll want to make on repeat, so feel free to vary the toppings to keep things interesting. Here are some ideas: 

  • Crème fraîche: Swap with a dollop of whipped cream or Greek yogurt (will be more tart). 
  • Add crunch: Sprinkle on finely chopped pistachios or walnuts. Or crumble on Biscotti or shortbread for extra decadence. 
  • Fresh berries: Add a medley of your favorite fresh berries, like chopped strawberries or whole raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries.
overhead shot of four glasses of strawberry pudding with Crème fraîche, lemon zest, and a sprig of basil on top.

What to Serve with Gelo di Fragole (Italian Strawberry Pudding)

I love this fresh and bright dessert all spring and summer to follow lighter mains. Anything on the barbecue comes to mind, like Grilled Chicken Kabobs, Grilled Salmon, and/or Grilled Vegetables. To start, go for something seasonal, colorful, crunchy, and refreshing. Panzanella in the depth of summer when the tomatoes are singing, and Pea Salad or Asparagus Salad for the springtime.

More Pudding Recipes

Browse all Mediterranean recipes.

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Greek Honey - Thyme, Forest & Wild Herbs

Dress your strawberry pudding with the highest quality honey from the Greek island of Crete.

a jar of greek honey from the mediterranean dish.
5 from 4 votes

Italian Strawberry Pudding (Gelo di Fragole)

Suzy Karadsheh of The Mediterranean Dish. In the kitchenSuzy Karadsheh
Close up of strawberry pudding with a dollop of Crème fraîche, drizzle of honey, lemon zest and a sprig of basil.
This easy gluten free dessert is light, refreshing, and smells like summer in a glass! Takes just about 15 minutes of hands on time, but be sure to give at least 2 hours in your fridge for a nice chill.
Prep – 10 minutes
Cook – 5 minutes
Cooling Time 3 hours
Total – 3 hours 15 minutes
Cuisine:
Italian
Serves – 4 to 6
Course:
Dessert

Ingredients
  

  • 5 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 pound strawberries, stems removed and quartered
  • 5 to 6 tablespoons raw sugar turbinado
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • ¼ cup Crème fraîche, for serving (optional, see note)
  • ¼ cup honey, or more to your liking, to finish
  • Basil leaves, small or torn, for garnish

Instructions
 

  • Dissolve the cornstarch. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and 1 cup of cold water. Mix until well combined, then set aside.
  • Make a strawberry puree. Add the strawberries to the bowl of a large food processor fitted with a blade. Sprinkle the sugar and squeeze the lemon juice into the food processor with the strawberries. Close the lid and puree until the mixture is smooth. Taste, and if needed, add a little more sugar and run the processor again to combine (remember you will add honey at the end).
  • Thicken the pudding. Transfer the strawberry puree to a saucepan set over medium heat. Pour in the dissolved cornstarch mixture and stir constantly as the mixture gently bubbles and thickens, about 5 to 7 minutes. (Manage the heat to avoid fully boiling or burning the mixture).
  • Chill. Remove from the heat and pour the thickened strawberry mixture into dessert cups or small dessert bowls. Set aside to cool, then transfer to the fridge to chill for at least 2 hours (or overnight).
  • Finish and serve. Add a dollop Crème Fraîche on top (if using) and drizzle with honey. Garnish with the lemon zest and basil leaves.

Video

Notes

  • Crème Fraîche: You can skip the Crème Fraîche to keep this recipe dairy-free, but I do think it makes a difference in terms of flavor and texture. 
  • Make sure to allow the pudding to cool fully before refrigerating, which will prevent it from forming condensation on the surface and allow it to cool evenly throughout.
  • Visit our shop to browse quality Mediterranean ingredients including olive oils, honey, jams, and spices.

Nutrition

Calories: 227.1kcalCarbohydrates: 50.9gProtein: 1.2gFat: 3.1gSaturated Fat: 1.5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.3gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.7gCholesterol: 8.5mgSodium: 7.8mgPotassium: 207.1mgFiber: 2.4gSugar: 38.3gVitamin A: 103.2IUVitamin C: 66.9mgCalcium: 35.9mgIron: 0.7mg
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I'm Suzy; born and bred right on the shores of the Mediterranean. I'm all about easy, healthy recipes with big Mediterranean flavors. Three values guide my cooking: eat with the seasons; use whole foods; and above all, share! So happy you're here...
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Comments

  1. Trish B. says:

    5 stars
    I made this for Mother’s Day dinner. It was the perfect light and delicious end to a meal. This pudding came together quickly with simple ingredients. I topped mine with whipped cream and a sprig of mint as that’s what I had on hand. The honey drizzle is such a nice touch!

    1. TMD Team says:

      Thanks, Trish!

  2. Melissa M Pate says:

    Can't wait to try this

  3. Amy says:

    5 stars
    This is one of the best desserts I've ever had. So simple, refreshing and satisfying!

    1. TMD Team says:

      We love to hear that! Thanks for coming back to comment!

  4. Dawna says:

    This looks amazing! Do you have any tips to make this lower carbs for diabetics?

  5. Catherine Cavadini says:

    5 stars
    So good! I ate it with and without the Crème Fraîche but with it definitely put it over the top!

    1. TMD Team says:

      Thanks, Catherine!