If you’re looking for a creamy yet refreshing drink to quench your thirst during the warmer months, look no further than this delicious Japanese strawberry milk. Made with real strawberries mixed with milk, cream and sweetener, it’s easy to make amazing Japanese strawberry milk at home!
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What is Japanese Strawberry Milk?
Ichigo milk (いちごミルク) also known as ichigo au lait or ichigo latte, is a popular beverage made with real strawberries. The strawberries are stewed for a short time to soften them and release their sweetness, then they’re crushed and served in a glass with milk and sweetener. It’s also common to add double cream and condensed milk to make it thicker and more decadent, it’s like a dessert in a glass.
Is strawberry milk popular in Japan?
Ichigo milk is one of the most popular items on the menu at “Bikkuri Donki“, a Japanese family restaurant that specialises in Hamburg Steaks. You can also find some brands of premade Japanese strawberry milk in supermarkets and convenience stores across Japan all year around, but mostly it’s considered a seasonal drink.
There is often a boom of strawberry flavoured products around late winter and early spring, when strawberries are in season in Japan. Cafes and convenience stores with their ever-changing product lineup often hold “ichigo fairs”, where strawberry desserts and drinks are on sale for a limited time.
One example would be the popular Japanese coffee shop chain “Doutor”, who held an ichigo fair which featured a limited edition menu including ichigo au lait (served hot or cold), pistachio and strawberry cake, and even sachets of powdered “ichigo latte” you can make at home.
Premade bottles and cartons of Japanese strawberry milk from convenience stores and supermarkets always contains real strawberry juice, but the percentage depends on the brand. Some contain real chunks of strawberry too, while others only contain strawberry juices.
It’s safe to say that ichigo milk is a well loved drink in Japan and there are many different ones to enjoy!
What does Japanese strawberry milk taste like?
By using fresh strawberries instead of powders or premade purees, you can enjoy the natural flavour of the strawberries complimented by the creaminess of the milk (or your favourite milk alternative). Japanese strawberry milk is usually sweetened, but the beauty of making it at home is being able to adjust the sweetness to suit your tastes. It also looks beautiful, so it’s great to serve at parties or gatherings in the summer!
Japanese Strawberry Milk Ingredients
To make the ultimate Japanese strawberry milk, you will need these 6 ingredients:
- Strawberries – the star of the show! Be sure to use fresh and ripe strawberries for the best results.
- Sugar – to highlight the sweetness of the strawberries. Alternatively, you could sweeten them using honey or maple syrup instead.
- Lemon juice – helps bring out the flavour of the strawberries.
- Milk – in Japan, whole cows milk is most commonly used, but feel free to use semi-skimmed, skimmed or a plant based alternative if you prefer!
- Double cream – this optional ingredient will make the drink thicker and richer. For a healthier option you could thicken it with plain yoghurt, or cream of coconut could be used as a plant based alternative.
- Condensed milk – sweetens the milk and compliments the strawberries. You could swap this out for plant based condensed milk or your choice of sweetener.
How to make Japanese Strawberry Milk at Home
Making Japanese strawberry milk is easy and well worth the effort! Here are my step by step instructions. For the full recipe and ingredients, see the printable recipe card at the bottom of the page.
Start by washing and drying your strawberries, then cut off the stems.
Finely dice the strawberries, this will help them cook faster.
Place the diced strawberries in a pan with lemon juice and sugar, and mix.
Transfer the pan to the stove and heat on medium. As the strawberries start to soften, crush them using a fork.
Continue to cook the strawberries over a medium heat, stirring occasionally and lightly crushing them with the fork.
The strawberries don’t need to be completely crushed, one of the beauties of this drink is enjoying the large chunks of strawberry!
Once it reaches a jam-like consistency, remove the pan from the heat. Leave to cool for a few minutes.
Once cooled slightly, transfer the strawberries to a heat proof bowl, and place the bowl in an ice bath to speed up the chilling process.
If you’re preparing in advance, simply store the cooled strawberry pureé in the fridge until serving time.
Measure out the milk in a jug and add the double cream and condensed milk.
Whisk thoroughly until combined. You can add extra condensed milk if you like it sweeter.
Spoon the strawberry purée into your serving glass. (If you want to add ice, add half of the strawberry purée before the ice, then the rest after.)
Slowly and carefully pour the milk over the top to keep the layers separate for serving.
Mix well before drinking and enjoy!
I hope you enjoy making your own Japanese strawberry milk at home! If you try the recipe, I would really appreciate if you could take a moment to leave a review and star rating in the comments below. It’s also helpful to share any adaptations you made to the recipe. Thank you!
Japanese Strawberry Milk (Ichigo Milk)
- 100 g fresh strawberries about 5 medium/8-10 small
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 200 ml milk
- 1 tbsp heavy cream optional
- ½ tbsp condensed milk
- ice optional
- Wash and dry 100 g fresh strawberries, then cut off the stems and roughly dice.
- Place the diced strawberries in a small sauce pan with 1 tbsp granulated sugar and 1 tsp lemon juice. Mix and place the pan on the stove over a medium heat.
- As the strawberries soften, crush them with a fork. (Don't be too thorough, leave some larger chunks in there too!)
- Once the strawberries reach a jam-like consistency, remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.
- Transfer the strawberries purée to a small heatproof bowl and place the bowl in an ice bath to speed the cooling process. (Alternatively, chill in the fridge.)
- Mix 200 ml milk, 1 tbsp heavy cream and 1/2 tbsp condensed milk in a jug until well combined.
- Spoon the chilled strawberry purée into your serving cup(s). If adding ice, add half of the strawberry before the ice and the other half after.
- Carefully pour the milk mixture over the top to keep the layers separate.
- Mix well before drinking.
Japanese strawberry milk is made with real fresh strawberries, cows milk, cream and sweetener.
In Japanese, strawberry milk is called ichigo miruku (いちごミルク), ichigo latte (いちごラッテ) or ichigo au lait (いちごオレ).
It tastes like delicious fresh strawberries and cream in a drink form!