The striker rose well eight minutes from time to nod home the impressive Adam Lallana's left-wing cross after the visitors had threatened to thwart Roy Hodgson's side with an impressive rearguard action.
Sturridge's combination with Lallana was one of the few bright spots in an often drab match - and after a sparkling display, bookies slashed odds on Lallana being named in the World Cup squad from evens to 1-2 on.
The England boss named five Liverpool players in his starting XI but they struggled to break down a Danish back four well marshalled by their Anfield team-mate, Daniel Agger.
The hosts dominated possession but rarely threatened in the first period with their best two openings arriving within seconds of each other on the stroke of half-time.
First, Peter Ankersen almost turned into his own net after a superb overlapping run and cross from Ashley Cole, before Sturridge was denied by Kasper Schmeichel following a good knock down from Gary Cahill.
The Danes looked to attack on the counter and could have snatched the lead through substitute Morten Rasmussen but Joe Hart did well to block his shot after he raced clear.
As the game wore on England stepped up a gear but Sturridge and Danny Welbeck were both denied by an inspired Schmeichel.
It looked like the Danes may escape with a creditable draw until some magic from Lallana provided Sturridge with the chance to nod home the winner.
PRE-MATCH: 50 up for Johnson as five Liverpool players start for England - Glen Johnson wins his 50th England cap against the country he made his full international bow against back in 2003. He is joined in Roy Hodgson's starting XI by in-form club-mates, Jordan Henderson and Raheem Sterling. Regular Reds Daniel Sturridge and Steven Gerrard are also included.
21' ENGLAND CHANCE - After a turgid opening Rooney breaks the offside trap and gets on the end of Sterling's pass, but as he goes around Kasper Schmeichel he flashes his shot from a tight angle well wide.
39' DENMARK CHANCE - Jakob Poulsen ghosts into the area and skews a shot beyond Joe Hart but it lacks pace and accuracy, allowing a combination of Cahill and Cole to clear from inside the six-yard box with Bendtner lurking.
44' OFF THE POST! - England overlap down the left through Cole who fizzes in a low ball to Sterling, but the Liverpool winger can't get there and Peter Ankersen hits the post from close range as he attempts to clear.
45' GREAT SAVE! - Rooney's corner is nodded down by Cahill for Sturridge who sees his close-range shot blocked by Schmeichel.
65' DENMARK CHANCE: Smalling fails to make the interception and the Danes work space for Rasmussen who surges in on goal but sees his shot well saved by Hart.
71' GREAT SAVE! Sterling bursts into space and his attempted ball into the middle deflects into Welbeck who sees his stabbed shot brilliantly kept out by Schmeichel.
82' - GOAL: England 1-0 Denmark. England take the lead as Sturridge rises to guide Lallana's sublime cross back across goal and into the far corner.
TALKING POINT: Who has got one foot on the plane to Brazil? The likes of Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney et al are guaranteed a spot in Brazil but for Jordan Henderson, Raheem Sterling and second-half debutant Luke Shaw, this was a chance to make a last-ditch impression. The fact England hardly set the world alight didn't help, but the jury is definitely still out on which of the fringe players will be getting that phone call off Hodgson - though Lallana is now a hot favourite to make the plane.
All six international meetings between England and Denmark at Wembley have ended 1-0 (five wins for England, one for Denmark).
Hodgson has guided England to victory in 14 of the 25 matches he has been manager (D8 L3).
In their six matches at Wembley the Danes have scored just one goal.
Daniel Sturridge has now scored in 20 of his 28 appearances for club and country this season.
(Stats courtesy of Opta Joe)
MAN OF THE MATCH
Adam Lallana (England): He may not have been on the pitch long, but the Southampton man gave England a huge lift. It was a performance that once again showed why he should be on the plane to Brazil and he capped it with the assist for Sturridge's goal.
England: Hart 7, Johnson 7, Cahill 7, Smalling 6, Cole 7; Gerrard 7, Henderson 6, Wilshere 6, Rooney 5, Sterling 6, Sturridge 6. Subs: Shaw 6, Lallana 7, Welbeck 6, Oxlade-Chamberlain 6, Townsend 5, Milner 5.
Denmark: Schmeichel 7, Jacobsen 6, Kjaer 6, Agger 7, Ankersen 6, Kvist 6, Sloth 6, Poulsen 7, Larsen 6, Bendtner 5, Krohn-Dehli 6. Subs: Kasper Kusk6, Juelsgard 6, Zimling 6, Bjelland 6, Rasmussen 6, Olsen 5.
THE MATCH IN A TWEET
- Sports & Recreation
- Daniel Sturridge
- Adam Lallana
- Roy Hodgson
- Kasper Schmeichel
- Ashley Cole
- Raheem Sterling