Make Ahead

Cherry Pie Filling

August 15, 2013
4 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 45 minutes
  • Makes 4 quarts
Author Notes

This recipe for cherry pie filling is best with sour cherries, but sweet cherries will work just fine. It can easily be halved for making an even smaller batch, but when it comes time to pitting cherries, I prefer to spend one day getting the worst out of the way, so later I can focus on the really important stuff, like eating pie. One quart of filling makes one 9 inch pie. If you open a jar and don’t use all of the filling, be sure to refrigerate it until you finish it up.

Adapted from the Ball Blue Book of Canning —Erin Jeanne McDowell

What You'll Need
  • 4 quarts cherries (sour cherries are best, but sweet will work, too) (412 g)
  • 3 cups sugar (600 g)
  • 3/4 cup cornstarch (84 g)
  • 1 cup water (226 g)
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (120 g)
  1. Wash and dry the cherries. Pit them over a bowl, reserving all flesh and juices. If you really like cooking and baking with cherries, it really is worth it to buy a cherry pitter. I’m not one for single use kitchen gadgets, but it really does the job. If not, just halve the cherries and remove the pit.
  2. Whisk together the sugar and cornstarch in a bowl. In a large pot, whisk together the water and lemon juice, then add the sugar and cornstarch in, whisking well to combine and remove any lumps. Bring the mixture to a boil.
  3. Add the cherries and bring to a simmer. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the cherries have softened and the juice has thickened.
  4. Ladle the mixture into sanitized canning jars, leaving 1 inch of headspace. Fasten the lids to each jar, and transfer to a boiling water canner. Process for 30 minutes, then remove and let cool completely at room temperature. Check the seals, then store in a cool, dark place.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Picholine
  • Jeanne Barker
    Jeanne Barker
  • MWetzel
  • Nichole Sullivan
    Nichole Sullivan
  • Valerie Stivers
    Valerie Stivers
I always have three kinds of hot sauce in my purse. I have a soft spot for making people their favorite dessert, especially if it's wrapped in a pastry crust. My newest cookbook, Savory Baking, came out in Fall of 2022 - is full of recipes to translate a love of baking into recipes for breakfast, dinner, and everything in between!

15 Reviews

Picholine May 10, 2021
I haven’t made this yet but I saved it because I have been wanting to make a tart cherry pie. Has anyone found tart cherries frozen ? I haven’t, just sweet cherries
Esther H. May 10, 2021
Google search results:
LJF August 1, 2020
I made this recipe halved with fresh sweet cherries. It turned out fantastic and it paired great with the classic cheesecake recipe! There wasn’t any left.
Esther H. July 1, 2018
There is a product called therm flow which is a modified food starch that is best for canning pie fillings as it tolerates being cooked, cooled and re-heated.
Nicole B. August 22, 2016
I tried this out today! The leftover filling that I couldn't fit into the canning jars didn't last long. I am excited to churn out some pies.
Also, I added a splash of vanilla and almond extract - not disappointed!
LLcsf July 28, 2015
Do you have a favorite cherry/olive pitter? There are so many to choose from.
Chelsea July 6, 2015
We made this this weekend and it was awesome! I added a couple glugs of amaretto, and canned them in pint jars so we can do smaller desserts. :) Yum!!
Jeanne B. July 2, 2015
I was informed after making this that its not safe to use cornstarch when canning :(
Esther H. May 10, 2021
I answered above about thermflow- not dangerous, just not effective as I understand it; the properties of unmodified cornstarch do not allow it to be canned and maintain the gel when reheated- like with Chinese food. You can can without starch and thicken it when baking the pie.
MWetzel June 22, 2015
OH Man this is awesome and so easy youll look like a genuis! Not too sweet and very thick full of mild cherry flavor. I hope this will work for the crust that will be prepared the next day as I am not doing the sterilizing process. Oh, and I hope there is some still left. I am inhaling it warm right out of the jar
Nichole S. June 17, 2015
I made this tonight and my four quarts of sweet cherries cooked down so that I was able to can three quarts (with 1" head space) and then one quart jar with three cups of filling. Might need a tad more cherries to make this a full four quarts cooked. Should be good anyway, though!
jeana November 13, 2013
where are cherries available in November? is this really a good recipe for late November baking?
Smaug May 7, 2017
Frozen cherries work fine for pies.
Babs I. August 25, 2013
Should the sugar perhaps be decreased if using sweet cherries and, if so, by how much do you think?
Valerie S. August 20, 2013
Looks delicious! Is there any difference in baking if one uses this filling rather than fresh cherries?