A Simple and Delicious Cherry Pie Filling Recipe

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Homemade Cherry Pie Filling Recipe

This homemade cherry pie filling recipe is quick, delicious, and simple to make. Also, it contains no high fructose corn syrup, dyes, or refined sugar.

Cherry pie, it’s the classic, American taste of summer. Fruit pies aren’t that difficult to make from scratch, and cherry pie is no exception. However, those cans of cherry pie filling do make putting a cherry pie together pretty simple.

But, the cherry pie filling from the store contain high fructose corn syrup, red food dye, and artificial flavors. Not to mention, by the time those cans get to your pie, the cherries are pretty mushy.

Plus, there’s so much syrupy starch that you have a hard time finding the fruit at all! (And your pie tastes more like sugar then it does cherries.)

Homemade Cherry Pie Filling

Enter this homemade cherry pie filling recipe.

This filling takes 20 minutes to put together. (And most of that time is what it takes to pit your cherries. If you’re using already pitted cherries, the time will be much shorter.)

This cherry pie filling has no refined sugar. I’m using maple syrup to sweeten the cherries, and just enough that the cherry flavor still shines through.

I was a bit nervous if the maple would come through too strong, but we didn’t find that to be the case at all. In fact, the cherry flavor is so pronounced in this filling that we had a hard time picking out the maple flavor at all. (Of course, that will also depend on the flavor of your syrup, so you can always use a blend of maple syrup and honey if that suits your tastes better.)

Types of Cherries to Use

I prefer to use dark sweet cherries in my cherry pie filling because their sweetness means that I need less added sweetener and their color gives a beautiful color to the pie.

Sweet Rainier cherries could also be a good choice if they are available near you. However, I would blend them with a few dark sweet cherries for a more distinct red color in your final filling.

Tart cherries would also work for this filling. And some people really like tart cherry pie. Keep in mind that if using tart cherries, you will need to add additional sweeter to this filling, to suit your tastes.

Fresh or Frozen Cherries?

I prefer to use fresh cherries in my cherry pie filling because fresh cherries hold up better to the simmering and give you more in-tact fruit in your final pie. (Freezing starts to break down the cell walls of the fruit, meaning that they will be softer when thawed and cooked.)

However, if you don’t get fresh cherries where you are, frozen cherries will work just fine for this filling. If using frozen cherries, you will want to thaw them before making the filling. Any liquid that remains from the thawed cherries can be substituted in the recipe in place of the water that goes into the sauce.

How to Pit Cherries

If you are using fresh cherries, pitting the cherries will be the most time-consuming part. Unfortunately, pitting cherries is a bit of a tedious and messy process. I definitely recommend getting a cherry pitter. We only use ours a few times a year, but when we need it, it is so worth having!

Amount of Cherry Pie Filing to Use

When making your filling, be sure to taste it before you add the tapioca starch. This will tell you if you need to add additional sweetener to get it where you like it.

Once made, the filling can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week before using it to make your pie.

When it is time to make a pie, I recommend taking your filling out of the refrigerator to let it come to room temperature before using it.

Cans of cherry pie filling are often 21 oz, but they’re mostly the sauce/jammy filler. To make a traditional 9 inch, double-crusted cherry pie, I would double the recipe below to be sure you have ample filling for your pie.

Making Pie With Your Cherry Pie Filling

Of course, you can use this homemade cherry pie filling to make a super tasty, no refined sugar cherry pie with your own homemade pie crust, but there are other ways to use it too!

Homemade Cherry Pie Filling Recipe

Cherry Pie Filling Recipe

This homemade cherry pie filling recipe is quick, delicious, and simple to make. Also, it contains no high fructose corn syrup, dyes, or refined sugar.

Prep Time
10 minutes
Active Time
10 minutes
Total Time
20 minutes
12 ounces
Estimated Cost


  • 1 lb fresh sweet cherries (roughly 3 cups after pitted and halved)
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup (more to taste)
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • ¼ tsp lemon zest
  • 1 Pinch salt
  • 1 Tbsp tapioca flour (mixed with 1 Tbsp cold water)
  • ½ tsp almond extract


  1. In a small saucepan, add pitted and halved cherries, maple syrup, 2 Tbsp water, lemon juice, and salt. Heat over medium-high until the mixture begins to boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the cherries have softened (roughly 10 minutes). Carefully taste your mixture and adjust the sweetness as desired.
  2. Mix the tapioca flour with 1 Tbsp cold water, until dissolved. Stir it into the cherry mixture. Continue cooking for 30 seconds to 1 minute, stirring continuously, until the sauce has thickened.
  3. Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the almond extract.
  4. Let cool slightly and use immediately, or store in a sealed jar in the refrigerator for up to a week.
  5. Use in a pie just like you would a can of cherry pie filling.


Serving: 1.5ounces | Calories: 36kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 4mg | Potassium: 91mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 25IU | Vitamin C: 2.6mg | Calcium: 9mg | Iron: 0.1mg
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Does this sound better than that gelatinous stuff they sell at the store?


About Sarah Ozimek

Sarah is a writer, recipe developer, traveler, gardener, and lover of (almost) all things outdoors. Together with her husband Tim, she writes the blog Curious Cuisiniere where they explore world cuisines and cooking using real ingredients and tried and true methods, the way our ancestors have done for ages. Connect with Sarah on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

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  1. Lorene Myers says

    I was wondering if stevia could be used as a sweetener or will it make it runny?

    • Sarah Ozimek says

      Hi Lorene. I am not particularly familiar with working with Stevia. Hopefully another reader can give you some thoughts on how it may work in this recipe.

  2. Mary P says

    I have never made homemade cherry pie filling and this intrigues me. Do you mash your cherries while cooking or just leave them halved?

    • Sarah Ozimek says

      Hi Mary. I personally leave them halved because I really like to bite into pieces of cherry in my pie. If you prefer a more jammy pie without larger pieces of berries, then mashing them might be a good route for you.

    • Sarah Ozimek says

      Hi Ingrid. I haven’t tried freezing this filling, and I am honestly not sure how tapioca flour holds up to freezing. If you wanted to try freezing it, I would probably freeze it before adding the tapioca flour/water mixure. Then when you’re ready to use, I would thaw it completely and gently warm it and then add your tapioca flour and water mixture to get it to thicken. That way you know for sure that you filling in your pie with be thick and not runny.