An international favorite because of its simplicity and delicious flavor, fresas con nata (strawberries and cream) is a healthy dessert popular in Spain in the spring and early summer.
What is fresas con nata?
Fresas con nata is a Spanish dessert consisting of fresh strawberries topped with whipped cream. The name is simple. “Fresas” means “strawberries” and “nata” means “cream”. So, fresas con nata is really just Spanish for strawberries and cream.
Fresas con nata is traditionally served in spring and early summer when strawberries are fresh and in season.
In Mexico, it is also known as “fresas con crema”. Fresas con crema may also add cream cheese and/or sweetened condensed milk to the “cream” served with the strawberries.
This recipe is very easy to prepare and requires only three simple ingredients: strawberries, sugar, and heavy cream.
Heavy cream is best for making a creamy whipped cream that holds its shape well, but regular whipping cream should also work.
While most people just use granulated sugar for sweetening the cream, consider using powdered sugar or a sweetener like honey or maple syrup for a super-smooth whipped cream. For a lower sugar alternative, you can also sweeten the cream with stevia or another natural sweetener.
Fresh, ripe strawberries are best to use. They contain many nutrients including vitamin C, fiber, potassium, folate, and antioxidants. These vitamins help keep your body healthy and strong. Off-season, you can use frozen strawberries instead, but they won’t have the same flavor and consistency.
Optionally, consider adding a touch of vanilla extract (I like to make homemade vanilla extract) to your whipped cream for added flavor.
Most people here in Spain make their whipped cream with an immersion blender as that’s what they typically have at home. It’s commonly used to make aioli and other sauces. Using an immersion blender is quick and easy and less messy than using an electric beater. While you can make whipped cream with the multipurpose blade on most immersion blenders, modern immersion blenders often come with different attachments for specific tasks like whipping air into cream and milk.
For a really fluffy whipped cream, try using an electric beater. Rather than making the whipped cream in a jar or other narrow container as you would with the immersion blender, you’ll want to use a wider bowl for whipping the cream with an electric beater.
Preparing fresas con nata is also simple enough. First, wash the fresh strawberries and remove the stems. You can use a straw to help remove the stems by pushing the straw up through the bottom of the strawberry and out the top center. Allow the strawberries to dry on a clean, dry cloth or paper towel.
Cut the clean, dry strawberries into slices or small pieces, as desired. The strawberries can be served as-is or sweetened before adding the cream.
If you plan on sweetening the strawberries, sprinkle sugar on them and toss them until they have all been coated. Be gentle so that the strawberries don’t get mushy while preparing this dish. Let them sit for about 10 minutes to allow the sugar to draw moisture from the surface of the strawberry.
Some people like to place the cut strawberries in a bowl and gently stir in some lemon juice. The lemon juice helps prevent discoloration of the strawberries while allowing them to retain their color. This step, however, isn’t necessary.
Next, prepare the cream by placing pre-chilled, cold heavy whipping cream in a mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer (of choice), beat the cream until soft peaks form. (While you can continue to beat the mixture to get stiffer peaks, don’t beat too long or you’ll end up with butter.)
Add sugar or another sweetener, to taste, if desired. You can also optionally add some vanilla extract for more flavor.
Now comes the fun part: topping the strawberries with whipped cream.
There are several ways of serving fresas con nata. Some people like to layer the strawberries and cream into a more parfait-like dessert in a pretty glass. Others serve the sweetened strawberries covered with whipped cream and strawberry syrup, sundae style. You can also serve the strawberries and cream separately and let guests mix the two together themselves.
Normally, here in Spain, the serving presentation is as simple as the dessert itself. The cut strawberries are served in a bowl with a dollop of cream on top. To eat the dessert people usually fold in the strawberries by hand and eat the strawberries and cream together.
While fresas con nata is the popular cream and fruit dessert here in Spain, that doesn’t mean it’s the only delicious option. Try using other fruits such as peaches, raspberries, kiwis, or mangoes.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also experiment with different flavors of cream. Try vanilla, chocolate, or coffee-flavored cream by adding some vanilla extract, cocoa powder, or instant coffee to the whipped cream.
You can also substitute the cream for ice cream or yogurt. Here in Spain, you can buy “nata” (cream) flavored ice cream for this sort of dessert. (It reminds me of Cool Whip in the US:) Sweetened greek yogurt also works especially well.
While it is best made fresh, soon before eating it, strawberries and cream can be made ahead of time. If you plan on making the dessert in advance, store the cut strawberries and finished whipped cream in separate, airtight containers in the fridge.
The strawberries will keep longer if all moisture is removed from them before storing them. You can place a folded paper towel or clean, dry cloth in the bottom of the container to help absorb any excess moisture. They will also keep longer if cut into larger pieces or if you cut them at the last minute.
For best results, don’t make it more than a day or two in advance.
Homemade whipped cream can also be frozen (up to around 3 months for best results) if made ahead of time. It freezes surprisingly well!
The strawberries can also be frozen, but they change in texture and flavor, so fresh is best!
Fresas con Nata (Strawberries and Cream)
- immersion blender
- electric beater
- 2 cups strawberries
- 1 cup heavy cream pre-chilled
- 2 tablespoons sugar (or other sweetener like maple syrup)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
Prepare the strawberries
- Wash the fresh strawberries, dry them, and remove the stems. You can use a straw to help remove the stems by pushing the straw up through the bottom of the strawberry and out the top center.
- Cut the clean strawberries into slices or small pieces, as desired. The strawberries can be served as-is or sweetened before adding the cream.
- To sweeten the strawberries, sprinkle sugar on the strawberries and toss them until all the berries have been coated. Let them sit for about 10 minutes to allow the sugar to draw moisture from the surface of the strawberry.
Make the whipped cream
- Next, prepare the cream by pouring the cold heavy whipping cream into a mixing bowl.
- Using an electric mixer (of choice), beat the cream until soft peaks form. (While you can continue to beat the mixture to get stiffer peaks, don’t beat too long or you’ll end up with butter.)
- Add sugar or another sweetener, to taste. Optionally, add some vanilla extract for added flavor.