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How to Make Cherry Pie Filling at Home

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Surprisingly easy to make and super flavorful, this easy cherry pie filling recipe makes me wonder why even bother with the canned stuff!?

I totally understand the appeal of ready-to-go store bought filling. But the only real difficult and tedious part about making your own at home is pitting the cherries.

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    Otherwise, it takes less than 10 minutes on the stove, and it tastes a million times fresher and more flavorful than the pre-made stuff!

    And if all of that wasn’t convincing enough, it’s also much more customizable when you make it yourself. Do you like larger cherry pieces? Smaller cherry pieces? A thicker filling? A looser filling? More sugar? Less sugar? YOU CAN DO ANYTHING YOU LIKE!

    Okay, not annnnything …. like maybe don’t add cheddar cheese to it. But you can do a lot!

    Trust me! If you’ve never made your own cherry pie filling at home, now’s the time to give it a go!

    black forest cupcakes cherry filling in plate

    Cherry pie filling ingredients:

    You only need 5 ingredients to make your own cherry pie filling!

    cherries: I used fresh cherries for my filling. If you want to make cherry pie filling from frozen cherries, the recipe is the same. You just may need to cook the filling a bit longer because of the extra moisture found in frozen cherries. No need to defrost though!
    lemon juice
    : it adds a nice freshness that I find canned fillings lack!

    How to make cherry pie filling at home:

    1. Pit cherries. I don’t have a cherry pitter (I’d probably just use it once and forget about it), so I like to use a metal straw to push out the pit. You can also choose to slice your cherries in half or quarters, or leave them whole depending on your preference. Cook time will be slightly different.
    2. Cook cherries, lemon juice, and sugar. Cook until softened to your liking. I like my cherries on the softer side, so I let them cook for about 10 minutes.
    3. Add cornstarch/water slurry. Whisk equal parts cornstarch and water in a separate bowl. Then gradually drizzle, mixing constantly, into the cooked cherry/sugar mixture. Continue cooking until it boils and thickens to your liking. Again, you can customize how thick you let it get – just keep in mind it will thicken even more once it’s cooled down.

    black forest cupcakes - cherries and sugar in pan

    Cherry pie filling storage:

    This cherry pie filling will keep for up to 5 days in the fridge, or 3 months frozen. Keep stored in an airtight container or plastic bag for maximum freshness!

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    cherry pie filling close up
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    Homemade Cherry Pie Filling Recipe

    Surprisingly easy to make and super flavorful, this easy cherry pie filling recipe makes me wonder why even bother with the canned stuff!?
    Prep Time 5 minutes
    Cook Time 5 minutes
    Total Time 10 minutes
    Servings 3 cups (approx.)


    • 3 cups fresh or frozen cherries, washed, stems removed, and pitted * see notes
    • 2/3 cup granulated sugar ** see notes
    • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
    • 2 teaspoons cool water
    • 2 teaspoons cornstarch


    • In a medium sized saucepot, combine pitted cherries, sugar, and lemon juice. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to keep the bottom from scorching. If you're using frozen cherries, you don't need to defrost them.
    • Once it starts boiling, reduce your heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, or until softened to your liking.
    • In a small bowl, whisk together your water and cornstarch until it forms a smooth and thick mixture. Slowly drizzle the cornstarch mixture into the cooked cherry mix, stirring constantly to prevent clumping.
    • Continue cooking until the mixture boils and thickens to your liking. If using frozen cherries, it may take slightly longer to thicken because they do have more moisture than fresh cherries. Cool and serve!


    * I like to slice my cherries in half because I prefer smaller cherry pieces. You can leave your cherries whole or even quarter them depending on your preference!
    ** You can customize how much sugar you add. Typical recipes range from anywhere between 1/2 a cup to 1 cup of sugar for this amount of cherries. I find 2/3 of a cup of sugar is perfect for me, but you can definitely customize the amount depending on your taste.


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