Make your own Cherry Pie Filling from scratch today. Try this filling in your next cherry pie, turnovers, or to top your next cheesecake.
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 love to use this filling for recipes like my Puff Pastry Cherry Turnovers. It also makes the perfect topping for your next cheesecake - or mini cheesecakes.
I also include directions to bake your own cherry pie in the recipe card below.
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
- 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, 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.
Can you can this pie filling? You mention freezing it, but I don’t have a lot of freezer space, but I do a lot of canning.
Hi Karman, I do not have any experience with canning so I can't say for sure how it would turn out.
This recipe is right on. Not too sweet or too sour but just right!
I tried putting the cherries with the plastic straws but then I went for the metal reusable straw and it was a breeze.
I’m planning on making this with jar cherries in sugar. Would I just add the 1/4 C cornstarch in with the cherries right in the pie crust? Or do I have to cook it in a pan on the stove first?
Hi Lori, this recipe is written specifically for cooking fresh or frozen cherries for pie filling, so I can't say for sure how using jarred cherries in sugar would turn out. The filling is cooked on the stovetop because when the cherries are warmed up, they release their juices and create a sauce with the sugar, lemon juice, and cornstarch.
I did some searching and found a recipe that uses jarred cherries, this may help: https://honestcooking.com/sour-cherry-pie-jarred-cherries-recipe/
How do i darken the cherry filling/sauce? My tart cherries are pale and don’t turn into that nice dark red color. I have found a recipe that used something to darken it, but i guess i forgot to save it and can’t find it anywhere. Apple cider vinegar didn’t work. I don’t know what to do! Any tips?
Hi Esra, the cherry filling color will definitely depend on the color of the cherries used. Some recipes add a few drops of red food coloring for a brighter red color. Unfortunately I'm not sure what else could be added to change the color. As long as your pie filling tastes good, that's the most important part!
I’m making this recipe now and it tastes delicious! I can’t wait till my pie is done! Yum!😋
This is very delicious! I used fresh sweet cherries with 2/3rds cup sugar. I also added probably 1/2 cup of water. Watch this carefully, I almost burned the cherries because mixture thickened very fast. You won't ever used canned filling after this! Superb!
I made this cherry pie filling yesterday and it was so delicious and easy. My husband also loved it. Neither of us are cherry pie lovers but I happened to have a lot of cherries to use up so decided to make cherry hand pies. They were a hit and we will definitely use this recipe again, perhaps even experimenting with different fruits! Thanks for posting this quick, easy and delicious recipe! It’s a keeper!!!
This is the best and easiest pie filling! I LOVE cherry pie and I’ll use this recipe every time I can. I’ve made a whole pie as well as hand pie using this filing recipe and always get a lot of compliments on whatever I make! My question is, can this same recipe be used for other berries? I pick about 10 pounds of blueberries each year, and I’d think blueberry pie would be delicious!
Hi Julie, glad you enjoy the recipe! Yes, this recipe should also work with blueberries. If you give it a try, let us know how it goes!
Great recipe & very easy. I used 20 oz sweet cherries & 12oz of sour cherries 🍒
Thanks for sharing!
Great recipe and very easy. Next time, I will double for holiday pies.
I tried this recipe today for the 4th of July. After reading the reviews I was conflicted but, I thought the recipe looked fine. I am a professional pastry chef so if there was something wrong with this recipe I'd likely notice before starting. This filling is absolutely outstanding! Yes, it is sweet! It's sweet because it's a DESSERT and they are made with sugar! I get very unnerved when I hear "too sweet" as a pastry chef. My recommendation for this recipe along with any fruit filling is to add a pinch of salt to balance the flavor. It isn't too sweet it just needs the salt balance. I too added almond extract and it was an absolute hit. I give this recipe 5 stars.
So glad to hear you enjoyed the recipe - a pinch of salt sounds like a great addition to balance the sweetness!
Thank you, Heather!
Just happens so that I am here on 4th of July 2022 😀
This is an excellent filling indeed. I used your suggestion of just a bit of salt. I do often forget about things like that. Thank you!
I just finished making this filling and it is delicious! I used almond extract instead of cinnamon (just a splash of extract) because I LOVE cherries with almond flavoring. It’s very good! Definitely keeper recipe!
Almond extract sounds like a great addition!
I used fresh sweet cherries that I picked from a tree in my back yard. I had a little more that 6 cups of cherries so adjusted the recipe accordingly. As suggested, I decreased the amount sugar since I was using sweet cherries. I also found that I had to add a little water, stir frequently, and lower the heat while cooking so the fruit didn’t stick to the pan. Filling turned out perfectly. Great taste and consistency. Thanks! 🍒
I agree that it’s too sweet (although I figured it would be and used only 1/2 cup of sugar to begin with anyway) but honestly my main complaint is that there is way too much cornstarch and not enough liquid. I put it all in a pan as directed and the cornstarch cooked into little globs of jelly despite stirring and adding extra liquid. I’m surprised there’s no one else having the same problem here. Very disappointed and frankly ruined my fresh cherries.
Hi Ellie, I'm sorry to hear that your pie filling didn't turn out! It's hard to say what went wrong without being in the kitchen with you, but the amount of liquid in the pan can depend on the juiciness of the cherries. More water (up to 1/2 cup) can definitely be added to the pan to thin the sauce. I will make that step more clear in the recipe card for future readers, thank you for the feedback!
I just ruined 4 cups of freshly picked cherries with this recipe. It is way too sweet. A cup of sugar for 4 cups of cherries might work for sour cherries, but if you like the taste of cherries don't use this recipe with sweet cherries. I wish I had checked other recipes before choosing this. Other recipes use half this amount of sugar. My fault for using a random recipe on the internet, but I just wanted to let others know that this is too much sugar.
Hi Starla, I'm sorry to hear that your pie filling didn't turn out! I mention above that the amount of sugar can be adjusted (add more or less) to suit your tastes, but I have also added that note directly to the recipe card for future readers. Thank you for the feedback!
I LOVED the flavor and consistency of this recipe. Sometimes when I’ve used corn starch for cherry pie filling, it has had a kind of “sticky” feel n your mouth. This did not.
But when I put the leftover filling in the fridge to bake with the next day, it was more of a “gel” texture than the smooth filling it was. (Think canned whole cranberry sauce.). I’m still using it for cherry crisp, but I wondered if that was normal and what a pie would be like.
Hi Candy, I'd guess that your filling thickened up from being refrigerated, and should thin back to normal when baked into your crisp. Let us know how it turns out!
Thanks Heather —
It was better and smoothed out some in the crisp, but still not quite the same as when I first made it. We all gobbled it up and I will definitely keep making this recipe. Thanks again!
This is very similar to the cherry pie recipe I make using Oregon brand canned tart cherries. I got the recipe from my mother-in-law. It uses 2 cans of the tart cherries drained, reserving 1 cup of the juice to mix with the cornstarch and sugar, Cook until thickened and bubbly, then mix in the drained cherries. I actually cook the juice mixture in the microwave stirring frequently. Add 1/8-1/4 tsp of cinnamon and 1/4-1/2 tsp almond flavoring along with cherries. Mix and pour into pie shell then bake. There’s no lemon juice in this recipe. Cinnamon was my MIL’s secret ingredient.
I used frozen sour cherries from my mom’s tree, added the juice of a lemon and used about 1 1/4 cups of sugar. Turned out so tasty!
Turned out perfectly, tastes so good. Thank you. Will most definitely save this recipe and use again
Great recipe! I used it for small hand pies, and it behaved itself wonderfully, it didn't, seep out and get messy and runny, thank you for sharing the recipe!
I am currently making the pie filling but I am using fresh canadian bing cherries I never used frozen when the fruit is in season. but the fruit looks dry so I added water since not being formerly frozen there was no moisture. you should add instructions for this if I was a novice baker good fruit would be burnt and ruined! just a suggestion from an old man . I will rate the recipe when the pie is made wish me luck.
Hi Davey, I hope you enjoy your cherry pie! I've made this filling with fresh cherries before with no issue, but you can definitely add a splash of water if they're looking dry. I'd also suggest turning down the heat slightly - if they look like they're going to burn, the heat may be too hot. Please do let us know how your pie turns out!
Do I pour off the excess waters after defrosting the cherries?
Hi Ginny, you can add the cherries and their juices to the pan, no need to drain them!
This looks lovely, I have a ton of sour cherries to use up. Can I make the filling, then place in a prepared crust and freeze before baking or should it all be baked then frozen? Thank you in advance 🙂
Hi Faith, I'd recommend freezing your pie unbaked. Cover it tightly with foil and it will keep for up to 3 months in the freezer. You can toss it straight in the oven to bake from frozen, but will take at least 20 minutes longer to bake. Hope this helps!
Do you use sweet or tart cherries?
Sweet or tart cherries can be used in this recipe! Tart cherries are a popular choice for pies, but I usually use dark sweet cherries (as pictured). If using sweet cherries, I recommend reducing the sugar to 2/3 cup.
This was amazing! Very easy to make and delicious. Thank you!
Can this recipe be doubled ?
Yes, this recipe can be doubled.
Can your Cherry Pie Filling Recipe be preserved
by the water bath canning method? I used this recipe for
a Cherry -Blueberry pie I made for Memorial Day. I would
love to can it.
Hi Rosaline, I do not have any experience with canning, but I have frozen this cherry pie filling for up to 6 months with success.
Delicious! Thank you! Never have made a pie before. Thank you for the easy to follow instructions and pictures!
I tried your recipe and cake out good. Thank you for good one without preservatives.
I'm glad you enjoyed it!