Make your own cherry pie filling from scratch today. It's sweet and simple, made from scratch with just five ingredients. Use cherry pie filling to make cherry pie, to fill turnovers, or as a cheesecake topping.
Surprisingly simple to make, this homemade cherry pie filling will be a new staple in your recipe book. This recipe makes a cherry filling that's rich, sweet, and filled with real cherries. No artificial colors or flavors needed!
I also include directions to bake your own cherry pie in the recipe card below.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Cherries - Sweet or tart cherries can be used to make cherry pie filling, and they can be fresh or frozen. If you have frozen cherries on hand, you'll want to thaw them first. Any juices released from your frozen cherries can be included in the pan.
- Sugar - Granulated sugar sweetens the cherry pie filling and helps create that gooey, jammy sauce. If using sweet cherries, you may want to reduce the amount of sugar slightly.
- Lemon juice - Lemon juice helps cut through the sweetness of the filling and adds a bright, fresh note.
- Cornstarch - Thickens the filling.
- Cinnamon - The cinnamon is optional, but just enough is added for a hint of warmth and depth of flavor.
Curious how to add more flavor to a cherry pie filling? Here are a few optional additions that will make your cherry pie filling pop:
- Cinnamon (included in the recipe card)
- Pumpkin pie spice blend
- Chai spice blend
- Vanilla extract
- Almond extract
Add just a pinch of these spices and do a taste test before adding more. Add ½ teaspoon of any extracts.
Benefits of making homemade pie filling
Why make your own cherry pie filling? First of all, you can control everything that's going into your pie, including what's in the filling. Often (but not always), canned pie filling will include artificial colors. If you're not into that, making your own is a great option.
You can also adjust the sweetness of your filling. Add more (or less) sugar to suit your tastes.
I also like to add a dash of cinnamon to my cherry pie filling. It adds an extra layer of warmth and flavor, which is especially nice for Thanksgiving or Christmas.
I'm all about quick and easy. I like to buy fresh frozen, pitted cherries most of the time.
It's so easy to pull the bag of cherries out of the freezer about an hour before I plan to start. This way, they're thawed and ready to go.
If you have fresh cherries, no worries. Simply pit your cherries before beginning this recipe. Here is a great article on how to pit cherries without a cherry pitter.
I used the paperclip method today and it was surprisingly easy. Simply insert a paperclip and twist around the pit, then pull the pit out. I'd suggest turning on some music or a tv show while pitting cherries, as it can be tedious.
Or, try a handheld cherry pitter to speed things up. There's also a Cherry Pitter Tool that will pit 6 cherries at once! If you find yourself pitting cherries or olives frequently, this might be for you.
What can I make with cherry pie filling?
- Bake into a pie (directions below)
- Cheesecake topping
- Cherry cheesecake ice cream
- Use as an ice cream topping
- Puff pastry cherry turnovers
- Cherry pie bars
- Use as a pancake topping
Cherry Pie Filling
- 4 cups (616 g) pitted cherries, if frozen, thaw
- 1 cup (198 g) granulated sugar, *
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ¼ cup (28 g) cornstarch
- pinch of salt
- ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon, optional
To make a cherry pie
- 2 prepared pie crusts, top and bottom
- 1 tablespoon (12 g) granulated sugar, optional
- In a saucepan over medium heat, add cherries, granulated sugar, lemon juice, cornstarch, a pinch of salt, and cinnamon. Stir to combine.
- If your cherries are not very juicy, you may want to add water (from a few tablespoons to ½ cup depending on your fruit) to thin your sauce.
- Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 8-10 minutes, or until mixture has thickened (If your mixture is sticking to the pan, turn the heat down to low and add a splash of water). Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
Baking into a pie
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Place prepared pie crust into an 8 or 9 inch pie pan. Fill with cherry pie filling, then place top pie crust over filling. Pinch the edges closed, then make a slit in the middle of the pie for steam to escape. Optionally, sprinkle with a tablespoon of granulated sugar before baking.
- Bake for 45-50 minutes, then remove from oven to cool.
- *The amount of sugar can be adjusted to suit your tastes - add as little as ½ cup for a less sweet filling. If using sweet cherries, I recommend reducing the amount of sugar to ⅔ cup or less.
- 4 cups of pitted cherries weighs about 21 ounces/616 grams
- Sweet or tart cherries can be used to make pie filling.
- Pie filling can be frozen for up to 3 months in a sealed, freezer safe container. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before using. Pie filling will thicken when chilled, but will thin out again when heated in the oven.
- Pie filling can be made with fresh or frozen cherries. If frozen, thaw before beginning.