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This homemade Cherry Pie Filling is unbelievable easy and delicious! Sweet, ripe cherries create a luscious, thick and stunningly beautiful filling. Use this recipe as a topping for cheesecake dip, vanilla ice cream, as a base for cherry crisp or even in your morning oatmeal.I'm SO glad you're here!! If you're reading this post, that means you are not interested in buying or using canned cherry pie filling (a.k.a. that artificially red, overly sweet, fake goop).
I'm sorry (but not really), but that canned stuff is just so terrible! First of all, it's overly processed, packed with high fructose corn syrup and injected with an artificial, radioactive red color. Second, as if I even need to speak to it more, canned filling hardly contains cherries.
I understand the need for it because it is convenient to pop open a can and have fruit pie filling ready to go, but I promise making your own cherry pie filling at home is just as easy and tastes a million times better than that canned stuff ever could.
Let's make cherry pie filling
It didn't take long for me to land on the best recipe for cherry pie filling. There's not much to making this amazing recipe.
The ingredients are:
- Cherries, fresh or frozen (if using frozen, no need to thaw)
- Lemon juice
- Almond extract
While you can get away with not using the almond extract, I definitely recommend it. I'm not a huge almond extract fan, but I tasted this filling with and without the extract and that touch of almond makes the cherries taste surprisingly extra cherry-y.
The steps to making this recipe are so easy.
Dump everything (except the extract, that's added last) into a pot, let it simmer for about 10 minutes or so, and it's pretty much ready!
How to prep the cherries
One thing that makes this recipe slightly different than others is the cherry prep. Whenever I've had cherry filling in the past, my biggest complaint is that all of the cherries are left whole.
I always find myself cutting them on my plate because it's too much cherry in one bite.
My solution is to prepare the cherries by halving them so that they are in smaller pieces. I decided to leave some whole as well for aesthetics, but I really like that there are smaller cherry pieces.
Cutting the cherries in half takes extra time, but I think it's worth it.
How to pit cherries without a cherry pitter
For the halved cherries, you can simply remove the pit when you slice the fruit.
For the cherries that are left whole, this creates a conundrum for someone who doesn't own a cherry pitter (me, I'm that someone).
Luckily, I found a great hack for getting the pits out of cherries while keeping them whole!
Using a piping tip with a wide opening (about the size of the pit, the one I used is ¾ cm in diameter), you can easily pop out the pit by inserting the tip in the bottom of the cherry.
You might need to wiggle the tip around until you feel the pit line up with the piping tip, but once in line, remove the piping tip and the pit should come with it. If it doesn't, you can give the cherry a gentle squeeze and the pit should fall out.
A few things I wanted to share with you because I learned the hard way.
Cherry juice will stain everything in its path, so a few things to be mindful of.
Wear an apron to protect your clothes and I recommend wearing disposable food prep gloves to protect your nails. The cherries will certainly stain the tips of your nails as you pit & slice them.
If you are working on a white or light counter top, it might be a good idea to protect your surface by using a cutting board.
Lastly, I like to use a rubber spatula to cook the cherry mixture. The juice will stain wood utensils too!
The best cherry recipes
This cherry pie filling is honestly, one of the best cherry desserts I've ever tasted. I would argue that this could be a dessert on all its own!
Because the filling is already cooked, you can add this to any dessert as a final topping or serve on the side. Use it to top cheesecakes (better yet, cheesecake dip, you'll love my recipe), ice cream, pie cookies (swap the blueberries in this recipe for the cherries) or use it as pie filling for the best cherry pie you'll ever have.
- About 6 cups or about 2-2.5 lbs of fresh or frozen, pitted cherries (if using fresh fruit, I recommend halving some of the cherries for smaller pieces and leaving some whole, it creates a great texture)
- the juice of 1 whole lemon (about 2 Tbsp)
- ⅔ c granulated sugar
- 4 Tbsp corn starch
- pinch of salt
- ½ c - ¾ c water
- ¼ tsp almond extract
- In a large stainless steel pot, add the cherries, lemon juice, sugar, salt and cornstarch (if using frozen cherries, no need to thaw)
- Also add ½ c water to the pot.
- Stir to combine and put the stove on low-medium heat.
- Heat up the mixture until it starts to bubble, stirring occasionally. If the mixture is struggling to bubble up, add 2 tablespoons of water. If the mixture still isn't loose enough to create a low boil, add 2 tablespoons of water or a bit more if needed.
- Once the mixture has reached a steady, simmer or low boil, cook for about 10 minutes stirring frequently and ensuring that the bottom doesn't burn.
- After 10 minutes, the mixture should be thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the almond extract.
- Allow to cool in the pot and transfer to a storage container.
- The cherry filling will stay fresh in the fridge for about 3 days.
Recipe by Owlbbaking.com
If using sour cherries, increase the sugar to 1 cup.
Avoid using wooden utensils and prepping on a white counter top as the cherry juice can stain. Wear disposable gloves and an apron while pitting & slicing cherries to protect hands & clothing from stains.
- Prep Time: 10
- Cook Time: 10
- Category: Pies
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: Cherry Pie Filling