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Last updated on June 7th, 2024 at 03:55 am

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Cherry Pie Filling Recipe [Video]

Homemade Cherry Pie Filling is prepared with cherries, lemon juice, sugar, cornstarch, and almond extract. It requires 6 ingredients and takes about 30 minutes to make. You can use it to fill pies, cakes, and other desserts. 

It is sweet and tart, with a thick and sticky texture that works great as a filling, topping or enjoyed by the spoonful. Gather your cherries, cherry pitter, and some jars to store this sweet stuff.

Six-ingredient cherry pie filling recipe

Homemade cherry pie filling is a hundred times better than store-bough and also cheaper! Besides cherries, all you need for this recipe is lemon, sugar, cornstarch, almond extract, and water. This easy recipe takes only takes about 30 minutes to cook on the stove. Then, pour it into jars and store it in your fridge or freezer if you are not using it right away.

But if you plan on making pies, donuts, cakes, or something else you want to use cherry filling in or on; you will have plenty to use because this recipe makes four cups.

Another great thing about this recipe is that you can use frozen cherries if you do not have any fresh ones. That means you will have options if you make this recipe during the winter. Or you can always buy extra cherries during the summer and freeze some for winter use. That is what I do. Another idea? Can the cherry pie filling so you always have some on hand.

There are so many delicious recipes you can make with cherry pie filling. This yummy stuff can replace anything that calls for fruit pie filling or cream filling. My kids love it when I fill donuts with it or add it on top of their favorite ice cream. I also like to make hand pies with it. Try my easy 15-minute recipe for air fryer cherry hand pies with just six ingredients.

Why you will love this recipe

  • You can do it in minutes: No prolonged boiling or waiting. Just 20 minutes, and it is done.
  • Just a few ingredients: Besides water and cherries, you need only a few ingredients, including cornstarch, sugar, and lemon. The almond extract is optional.
  • It can be used in so many ways: From savory to sweet, this filling is lovely on and in all sorts of dishes, from chicken to waffles.
  • Will not break the bank: All you need to buy are cherries. Everything else you probably have already.

Whether you are making a cherry pie or some other fantastic dessert, this recipe is simple and easy to execute. Use it to make this lemon cherry cheese danish for breakfast or try making these cherry bars with it.

What you’ll need to make cherry pie filling

Special items:

  • Cherry pitter – This is the easiest way to get the pits out, and you can get them cheap at Walmart.
  • Saucepan – For boiling the cherry pie filling.
  • Jars – To store the filling. 


For the exact measurements, please check the recipe card below. Here is what you will need:

  • Fresh cherries: Washed and pitted. Actually, bing and rainier cherries are the best.
  • Fresh lemon juice: Squeeze it yourself or if you don’t have fresh on your hands, use store-bought.
  • Lemon zest: Or substitute with lemon extract or dried lemon peels.
  • Granulated sugar: Use a sugar blend if you want less sugar.
  • Cornstarch: If you do not have cornstarch, try potato starch.
  • Almond extract: This is optional but if you want some flavor and are out of almond extract, use vanilla instead-but double the amount.

How to make cherry pie filling from scratch?

  1. Combine: First, use a saucepan on medium heat to blend the cornstarch, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, water, and bing cherries. 
  2. Boil: Once the sauce comes to a boil, turn down the heat to low and keep cooking for another 10 minutes. Remember to stir frequently.
  3. Add: Finally, if you are using the extract, stir it into the sauce and let it cool. 
  4. Store: Lastly, if you have any leftovers, store them in the refrigerator for three days in an airtight container.
  5. Freeze: Also, this mixture is very easy to freeze. Actually to freeze it, first, just let it fully cool. After that add it to a freezer-safe Ziploc bag or sealed container and after that freeze for up to 3 months.
  6. Defrost: Now, in order to defrost it, just leave it in the refrigerator overnight. Stir before using.

Cherry pie filling canning instructions:

  • Make the mixture: First, follow the steps and prepare the recipe and after that let the mixture cool to room temperature.
  • Water bath: In the meantime, after selecting the jars you will be using, fill a large pot with enough water to cover them by 1-inch. 
  • Prepare the jar: Next, remove the rings and take the lids from the jars. Prepare a medium bowl to have on hand and also place another medium pot with water over medium-high heat. Once the water is boiling, place the jars into it, cover, and boil for 10 minutes. Also, take some of the boiling water and pour it on top of the lids. Next, let them stand in the hot water for 5 minutes. After that remove the jars and the lids and place them on a clean kitchen towel to dry out.
  • Add the mixture: Afterwards, distribute the mixture into the prepared jars, and after that add the lids and rings.
  • Boil: Next, add the closed jars to the prepared water bath and boil for 5-6 minutes.
  • Cool and Store: Once done, remove from the water bath and arrange them on a dry kitchen towel. Also, remember to let the jars rest undisturbed for 12 hours. In the meantime, listen for the jars to pop. If they pop, it means everything is good and you can store it in your pantry, it has been canned! But in case it doesn’t pop, it means the filling will stay good in the jars in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Expert tip

The best cherries for cherry pie filling

There are over a thousand types of cherries worldwide. However, we only use a handful of different kinds in the United States. The most common are Bing, Rainier, Lambert, Montmorency, Stella, and Balaton. The Bing cherry is deep red and very sweet, ripening from July to September. Rainier cherries are yellow with hints of red, and they are super sweet with a high sugar content.

Lambert cherries are red to black and very sweet. Another sweet cherry is Stella. It is a large red cherry that often cracks but is still juicy and deliciously sweet. The most popular tart cherries are the Montmorency. They are bright red with yellow flesh, mostly used in pies and tarts. Balaton cherries are also sour and tart with larger fruits that are a pretty red color.

I list all of these because I believe that all cherries should be used in cherry pie filling. After all, different recipes call for different tastes. Mix both tart and sweet cherries for a blend of flavors to make cherry pie, or use one of the tart cherries to make sweet and savory pork chops. Buy several types and taste them first. Use the kind that you like.

Recipe variations and add-ins:

  • Different extract: Instead of almond, you could use vanilla for a milder sweetness or use orange for a tangy kick.
  • Mixed berries: Toss in some blackberries and raspberries for a burst of flavor and different textured.
  • More spices: To add your favorite flavors, sprinkle in what you like, such as cinnamon or brown sugar.
  • Spicy kick: If you like spicy tastes, you can add a pinch of ginger, chili pepper, or nutmeg.
  • No sugar: Instead of sugar, use pure maple syrup or honey.   

Serving suggestions:

Cherry pie filling goes great with all sorts of side dishes. Here are some tried and true options:

  • Make a cherry pie! For that, just follow this blueberry pie recipe, make a homemade pie crust, and use the cherry pie filling. A homemade lattice pie crust will be amazing with this recipe.
  • Top your oatmeal, pancakes, or waffles for a delicious breakfast.
  • This yummy cherry filling is also great mixed into yogurt parfaits.
  • Spread this on a peanut butter sandwich instead of jam or jelly.
  • Of course, you can always use it for pie, but it is also terrific for tarts, hand pies, and galettes. Try it with my flaky cherry galette recipe.
  • Keep in mind that it also makes a great topping for cheesecakes! I love using it as a topping for my Cheesecake Factory Original Cheesecake!
  • Another delicious way to serve it is by making a cherry crisp, just follow this blueberry crisp recipe and substitute the filling.
  • Cherries go hand in hand with chocolate, so use it as topping on chocolate cakes!

Frequently asked questions

What is the easiest way to remove cherry pits?

Of course, the easiest way to remove cherry pits is with a cherry pitter. But if you don’t have a pitter, there are several other ways to do it. First, you can use a paper clip. Unbend it and make a hook at one end. Stick that end into the stem until it hits the pit and pull it out. You could also use a chopstick to force the pit out through the top of the stem. Or try one of the new metal straws. Use it to push through the middle of the cherry, and it should push right out.

Why is my cherry pie filling runny?

It could be that you did not cook it long enough. The thickening agent, in this case it would be cornstarch, has to be at a specific temperature for a certain amount of time. If they do not reach that temperature or do not stay hot enough long enough, they cannot properly thicken the juices. The bubbles need to be thick and slow rather than fast and watery. Another problem can be that you did not wait for it to cool long enough. Your pie filling has to be completely cool before it can thicken adequately.

When are cherries in season?

This question is tricky because it varies depending on where and what cherries you seek. The peak season for most cherries in most regions of the United States is from May through August. The sweeter versions are picked earlier (in May and June), while the tangy and sour ones are picked later (in July and August). The good thing is that you can get them all year round from overseas.

What kind of pie crust is best for this cherry pie filling?

You can use any pie crust from flour and fat to a graham cracker crust you buy at the grocery store. I prefer to make my own, of course. My Amish pie crust is perfect, made from flour, sugar, shortening, egg, vinegar, water, and salt. It is so easy and flaky with a hint of sweetness. You can also make your crust from graham cracker cookie crumbs and butter or use another cookie you like. However, it is good to have a top crust or lattice crust on top, too.

Does canned cherry pie filling need to be cooked?

The store-bought one does not need to be cooked. However, to make it taste better and more homemade, we recommend you cook it for 5-10 minutes. Also, while cooking it, mix in some lemon zest, juice, and almond extract. The cherry almond flavor combo always tastes fancier.

How to store leftovers:

  • Refrigerate: Put leftover cherry pie filling in jars and store in the fridge for up to a week.
  • Freezing: To store for up to three months, put them in freezer-safe jars like canning jars. You can use the canning process to save them for longer.   
  • Defrost: Thaw overnight in your refrigerator for the best flavor and texture.

More summer recipes:

Recipe tips:

  • If you don’t have a cherry pitter, remove it with a paper clip, chopstick, or metal straw.
  • Cook your pie filling long enough to thicken it properly. Do not chill it until it cools.
  • You can use any pie crust, but cherries go best with a flaky dough crust and lattice topping.
  • Ensure your jar lid pops when you are canning your cherry pie filling. If it does not, you can keep it in the fridge for up to two weeks but not in the pantry.
  • If cherry pie filling is still not thick after it has cooked and cooled, pour it back into a saucepan, make a cornstarch slurry (1tbsp cornstarch dissolved into 2tbsps of water) and add it to the filling. Bring it to a boil and let it simmer for 10 minutes on low. 

Cherry Pie Filling

Cherry Pie Filling is prepared with cherries, lemon juice, sugar, cornstarch, and almond extract. It takes six ingredients and about 30 minutes to make!

  • Prep Time10 MIN
  • Cook Time15 MIN
  • Servings 4 cups


  • 6 cups fresh pitted cherries about 3 pounds – or frozen cherries
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract


Prepare the fruit:

  • If using fresh cherries, remove the pits using a cherry pitter.


  • Place a medium—to large saucepan over medium heat. Add the cherries, water, lemon juice, zest, sugar, and cornstarch. Stir very well.

Bring to a boil:

  • Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes.


  • If using, stir in the almond extract.

Serve or use:

  • Let it cool slightly before using it in a recipe or as a topping. You can also check the post for instructions for canning.

Nutrition Facts

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This post is really informative, I would love to make cherry pie at home.

Everything Enchanting

Everything Enchanting

Oh wow, this cherry pie filling itself looks so yummy and colorful, it'll definitely enhance the taste of other dessert dishes 😍

Jasmine Hewitt

Jasmine Hewitt

i usually don't do cherry filling. but I love a blueberry pie. this does look tempting though



I do love cherry pie. I've made it a few different ways now. This filling recipe sounds great. I really need to try it soon!!!

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