Homemade Cherry Pie Filling

Homemade cherry pie filling made with fresh tart cherries beats buying canned filling any day. No preservatives and takes about 5 minutes to cook.

Homemade Cherry Pie Filling | www.chocolatemoosey.com

I’m an overachiever, and I hate buying pre-made food. I usually insist on making everything from scratch. That doesn’t mean I don’t do it, but most of the time, if it comes in a package or a mix, I make it homemade. Sometimes it works (cake, pudding, whipped cream), sometimes I fail (ladyfingers, anyone?). I also don’t like most canned foods. I do cook with canned tomatoes and mushrooms, but I pass on canned green beans or potatoes. Canned soup is disgusting. Now occasionally I do cheat, such as Watergate Salad (pistachio pudding mix and cool whip), but for the most part, I make from scratch. Take Homemade Cherry Pie Filling for example. You walk down the baking aisle and see cans of pie filling – apple, cherry, peach. What if I told you it takes longer to pit your cherries than to actually make this filling?

Cherry Picking | www.chocolatemoosey.com

A few weekends ago, I went cherry picking. The sweet cherry crops got hit really bad with the frost (hence the high prices), but the sour cherries were fine. I ended up picking 6.81 pounds. As the name suggests, these cherries are sour and are hard to eat as a snack. However, they are perfect for baking. In fact, sour cherries are preferred for baking than sweet (although I did bake with sweet Rainer cherries last year).

Homemade Cherry Pie Filling | www.chocolatemoosey.com

This Cherry Pie Filling tastes just like the can except fresher and you can pronounce your ingredients. There is some red food coloring, but you can leave it out. Despite using sour cherries, the filling is sweet just like you would expect a pie to be. Although there are no spices in the recipe, if you know what you’re making, feel free to add some (cinnamon and nutmeg work really well). This pie filling cannot be canned because of the cornstarch.

Homemade Cherry Pie Filling | www.chocolatemoosey.com

This recipe makes enough for a 9-inch pie. Pour the filling into your favorite pie crust, top with another layer of your favorite pie crust, make a lattice layer, or top with streusel and bake. Use in place of canned cherry filling. This filling isn’t just for pie. I made a cherry cheesecake with it. You can also pour it onto ice cream or your favorite piece of cake. Or eat it by the spoon. Nobody is judging.

Homemade Cherry Pie Filling | www.chocolatemoosey.com

Homemade Cherry Pie Filling
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Use this filling instead of canned for your favorite pie recipe.
Serves: Enough filling for one 9-inch pie
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • Few drops of red food coloring
  • 5 cups pitted sour cherries
  1. In a large saucepan, combine water, sugar, and cornstarch. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often. Cook for another 1-3 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in almond extract and food coloring. Stir in cherries. Cool to room temperature then use right away or store in the refrigerator*.
*If you do store the filling in the refrigerator, it may separate. Reheat everything back up in a saucepan until combined and thickened again.
*This filling cannot be canned because of the cornstarch. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month or freeze it in a freeze-proof container.

Source: Adapted from Cherry Marketing Institute

More Cherry Recipes

Cinnamon Pecan Cherry Pie

One Serving Cherry Pie Ice Cream Sundae

Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake

Cherry Cheesecake Stuffed Cupcakes

Baked Cherry Cheesecake Wontons

Love what you read? Receive new posts in your inbox!

Did you make my recipe?

That makes my heart happy! Please let me know by sharing a photo on my Facebook page or uploading and tagging me on Twitter or Instagram using #chocolatemoosey (Note: If your Instagram account is private, you'll need to @chocolatemoosey as the hashtag won't make your photos public)

Comment Policy

Thank you for your comments! I read every single one and respond when possible. Your comment will show up once approved. I have the right the remove any that are spam or are downright spiteful.


  1. Now I just need to get my hands on a bunch of fresh cherries…Oh how I love anything cherry!

  2. WOW!!!

    Wait, did you say peaches???

  3. Yum! This is such a great idea. I prefer homemade over canned any day, and don’t even get me started on canned soup- blek!

  4. That pie filling looks so good! It’s picture perfect!

  5. This is so cool I can barely contain my excitement. I must try this. It’s spectacular.

  6. Can you send me some please so I can make a cherry pie… looks delicious. :D

  7. I prefer to make most of my own stuff from scratch too (and I am totally with you on canned soup; it’s loathsome). I may have to try making the peach filling.

  8. Christine says:

    Gosh, I think that you are my hero… I LOVE cherries and this is just another way I can have them when they’re not in season!

  9. oh that looks sooo good. i love sour cherries! i had cherries like that in wisconsin and fell in love!

  10. Shonagh @ An Offal Experiment says:

    I’m just wondering about the thickness of your cherry filling? I tried making some with cornstarch and it didn’t thicken up, something to do with the acidity of the cherries. Have you ever tried tapioca?

  11. Paddy Harrison says:

    I have these cherry trees in my yard. They make beautiful pies. For thickening I use tapioca flour. It freezes better than corn starch, if you make up the pies and freeze them.

  12. I have always used cherry pie filling from a can, but I have now moved to Australia where it’s not available and I was wondering what the heck to do! This looks awesome and super easy.Thank you so much – can’t wait to try it on cheesecake and other desserts!

  13. Mmmmmmmmm………these look delicious. I love Cherries and cherry pie. My Nana had a cherry tree in her backyard that we used to pick. Nuthin’ better!

  14. Gorgeous tart cherry pie filling, Carla! Jen (Juanita’s Cocina) just tweeted her Pinterest pin and I followed suit…pinned it everywhere I could! So very pretty. I’ve got tart cherries on the brain…going picking this weekend! Thanks so much for sharing! xo

  15. Perfect timing. I have a pound of fresh cherries on my counter and a hankering to make a pie!

  16. Paulette says:

    Thank you so much for the recipe. I have a sour cherry tree in my back yard, this year the fruit was quite plentiful and I’m going to try your recipe. :)

  17. I am about to try this with my Nanking cherries, thanks for the recipe! How long do you think it would stay good in the refrigerator? And do you think it would freeze ok? Thanks!

    • I’d say up to a month in the fridge. And yes, you can freeze it! Maybe not in a glass container. I’ve seen people put pie filling in a freezer bag, lay it in a pie dish (so it takes the shape of it), then freeze it that way.

  18. can this recipe be canned instead of being used right away?

  19. If you use ClearGel instead of cornstarch, you can both can or freeze your filling without it breaking down. Just a hint

  20. Hi!
    I recently picked some dark cherries and I think they are lapin cherries.
    My question is: Can I use these cherries to make like cherry pie and stuff with?
    Please try to respond Asap if u can.

    • Yes, you can. You’ll have to adjust the recipe for taste, such as sweetness. Maybe instead of the optional cherry juice, add lemon juice for a little bit of tartness. Again, you’ll have to taste as you go.

  21. Hi!
    I put a strainer in a bowl and put my cherries in the stariner and filled the bowl up with water. when I checked on the cherries the next day the has kinda opened up a bit like from the line on them so it is like peeling. can i still use these cherries

  22. This looks so pretty and so yummy……………..Oh, Sugar!

Speak Your Mind