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Sweet-tart Cherry Pie Filling is packed with juicy cherries and is so versatile! Make a cherry pie, use it in dessert dips, or drizzle it over scoops of vanilla ice cream! The best part is that you can make it any time of the year using fresh or frozen cherries.
Easy Cherry Pie Filling Recipe
This beautiful cherry pie filling can be used in so many ways! Its stunning color and glossy texture make it a wonderful choice for pies and so much more. You can use fresh cherries when they’re in season, or easily pick up a bag of frozen cherries to use instead. This is a simple yet super-effective recipe that makes the most of cherries.
Once you try my recipe for cherry pie filling, chances are you’ll never pick up a can of cherry filling again. Homemade is always best, and that is definitely obvious from the first bite of from-scratch pie filling! You can adjust the level of sweetness depending on how sweet your cherries are and your own personal preference. That way you can make sure the cherry flavor comes through and is not overshadowed by too much sugar.
As for what to do with cherry pie filling, the first choice is to tuck it between layers of gluten-free pastry to make a pie! But don’t stop there. You can also use it as a dessert topping, in other pastries (like cherry turnovers), or as a simple topping for ice cream. There’s so much you can do with cherry pie filling!
Why You’ll Love This Homemade Cherry Filling
What’s not to love about cherry pie filling? It’s beautifully colored and tastes good, too! Here’s why you’ll want to make this recipe:
- Tastes better than store-bought. Yes, this homemade cherry pie filling is worlds better than any store-bought cherry filling! You’ll actually be able to taste the cherries, unlike some brands that rely on loads of sugar.
- Made from simple ingredients. A quick scan of the ingredients list will show you there are no strange added ingredients needed to make this filling (another argument for making homemade!).
- Naturally gluten-free. All of the ingredients in this recipe are gluten-free, making this an easy choice for those who need to avoid gluten.
- Freezes well. This cherry pie filling is a wonderful make-ahead choice as you can pop it in the freezer to have it available anytime you want to make a pie or pastry.
What You’ll Need
Here’s an overview of the ingredients in homemade cherry pie filling. Be sure to scroll down to the recipe card at the end of this post for the full ingredient amounts.
- Granulated Sugar: You’ll start slow with the sugar, adjusting to taste depending on the sweetness of the cherries.
- Cornstarch: Cornstarch works to thicken the fruit.
- Water: To help form the sauce in the filling.
- Cherries: You can use fresh or frozen cherries.
- Lemon Juice: From a freshly squeezed lemon.
What Cherries Are Best For Cherry Filling?
The best cherries for homemade cherry pie filling depend on what you prefer! You can use sweet cherries to make pie filling, in which case you can reduce the amount of sugar a bit. Or, you can use tart cherries, meaning that you’ll need to add more sugar to balance them out. You can also use a combination of cherries.
Fresh or frozen cherries can be used to make cherry pie filling. Just make sure that you pit every cherry if you are using fresh cherries. I like to use a cherry pitter to make this task faster.
How To Make Cherry Pie Filling
Here’s my very simple, effective method for making cherry filling:
- Whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, and water in a saucepan. Add 2⁄3 cup granulated sugar and cornstarch to a medium saucepan. Pour in the amount of water based on whether you are using fresh or frozen cherries and whisk to combine.
- Stir in the cherries. Add the cherries and lemon juice to the saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly to dissolve the cornstarch and sugar and avoid burning.
- Simmer. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 3-5 minutes, stirring constantly, until thickened. Carefully taste the filling (be careful, it will be very hot) and add additional sugar or lemon juice, to taste.
- Cool the filling slightly, then use. Cool slightly to use as a topping or sauce, or cool completely to use in pies, cobblers, etc
Tips for Success
Follow my easy tips below to help you make the best homemade cherry pie filling:
- Buy pitted cherries. If you can find a bag of pitted cherries in your grocery store this will save you some prep time! Pitting cherries is not difficult, but it can be time-consuming.
- Use frozen cherries. It’s perfectly fine to use frozen cherries when making cherry pie filling (a bonus is that you won’t have to pit the cherries). Make sure to thaw the cherries in the fridge before making the filling.
- Make a double batch. I encourage you to make a double, or even triple, batch of this recipe when cherries are in season. You can freeze the cherry filling you don’t plan to use immediately, so you can make a cherry pie whenever you wish!
- Taste as you go. Start by adding the lowest amount of sugar advised, then gradually increase it if you need to. By doing this you’ll make sure you don’t oversweeten the cherries.
Ways To Use Homemade Cherry Pie Filling
There are so many great ways to use your homemade cherry pie filling. The obvious choice is pie, but you can use it in pastries, crisps, and more. Here are a few suggestions for what you can do with cherry filling:
- In a pie. First, make a batch of my flaky two-crust gluten-free pie dough. Then you can proceed with your favorite cherry pie recipe.
- Make a cobbler. Follow the method for the cobbled topping in my Gluten-Free Peach Cobbler recipe, but use your homemade cherry pie filling in place of the peaches.
- Do cherry turnovers. I have a wonderful recipe for Gluten Free Apple Turnovers that you can use, but again, swap the apple filling for homemade cherry pie filling.
- As a topping for ice cream. Skip the chocolate sauce and use cherry sauce instead to top your scoops of ice cream for a vibrantly colored treat!
- Serve as a sauce. If you want a sweet dessert sauce, this cherry pie filling will more than fit the bill. Spoon it over Gluten Free Cheesecake or swirl it into yogurt. It’s also amazing on Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Pancakes!
Place cooled cherry pie filling in an airtight container (I like to use a jar with a tight-fitting lid) and store it in the fridge for up to 1 week. You can also freeze cherry pie filling. Place the cooled filling in a freezer-safe bag, press out any excess air, and store it in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw the filling in the fridge before using it in a recipe.
Cherry Pie Filling
- ⅔-1 cup granulated sugar (start with less, especially if using sweet cherries, and add more if needed)
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- ¼-½ cup water (½ cup for fresh cherries, 1/4 cup for frozen)
- 6 cups fresh or frozen pitted cherries (about 2 pounds)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice for sweet cherries only, omit if using tart cherries
- Add 2⁄3 cup granulated sugar and cornstarch to a medium saucepan. Pour in the amount of water based on whether you are using fresh or frozen cherries and whisk to combine.
- Add the cherries and lemon juice to the saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly to dissolve the cornstarch and sugar and avoid burning.
- Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 3-5 minutes, stirring constantly, until thickened. Carefully taste the filling (be careful, it will be very hot) and add additional sugar or lemon juice, to taste.
- Cool slightly to use as a topping or sauce, or cool completely to use in pies, cobblers, etc.