Cherry Pie Filling and Topping
This cherry pie filling can be used baked in a traditional double pie crust, cobbler or hand pie or used as a topping over ice cream or cheesecake. Homemade filling is a whole different ball game than canned filling!
This easy recipe is adapted from the base recipe for my traditional fruit pie filling. It can be used as a no-cook recipe to be baked in a traditional pie crust or you can lightly cook it on the stove, refrigerate it and then use it as a syrupy topping over ice cream or cheesecake. The uses are endless!
Best Cherries to Use
There are two main categories of cherries: sweet and sour. Most of the time, you will only find sweet cherries sold fresh in your grocery or in the frozen section. However, sour cherries are very common and sometimes preferred for cherry pies. If you’re lucky, you can find them fresh at your local farmer’s market during the summer months and you might be able to find them frozen throughout the year. They are also what is usually used in canned cherry pie filling.
Sour cherries are typically bright red while sweet cherries are a dark red color. Either sweet or sour cherries will be delicious in this recipe but you will need to adjust the amount of sugar depending on the type. Sweet cherries don’t need as much sugar and for sour cherries, you will need a bit more.
What is canned pie filling?
Canned pie fillings are pre-made fillings full of fruit, sugar, cornstarch, preservatives, and often artificial color. They can be very handy for a quick dessert however they tend to be overly sweet and often end up becoming mushy after baking.
Canned filling can be great in a pinch, but if I have the time I much prefer making a fresh filling.
Uses for Cherry Pie Filling and Topping
This filling is so versatile for many uses. I’ve compiled a list of my favorite ways to use it.
Uncooked filling to be baked as:
- Traditional pie using double pie crust like Cherry Apple Pie
- Galette (free-form pie)
- Fruit crisp
- Fruit cobbler
- Hand pies and turnovers
Cooked topping to be served over:
- 900 grams (2 pounds) fresh or frozen pitted cherries (keep in mind this is the weight after the pits have been removed)
- 150 grams (3/4 cup) granulated sugar if using sweet cherries OR 200 grams (1 cup) granulated sugar if using sour cherries
- 30 grams (¼ cup) cornstarch
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 30 grams (2 tablespoons) lemon or orange juice
- ½ teaspoon almond extract (optional)
- If using frozen cherries, thaw completely and drain the excess juices off so that the filling is not too soupy.
- Prepare the crust and topping for your recipe before preparing the cherry filling. Combining the cherries with the sugar too early will release too much juice.
- Prepare your cherries by removing the pits and cutting them in half.
- Combine the cherries, sugar, cornstarch, salt, and the lemon or orange juice. Add the almond extract if using. Gently stir with a spoon or spatula until everything is evenly incorporated.
- If using as a filling: The butter will be dotted on top of the filling before adding the topping or crust. If making hand pies or turnovers, you can skip this step.
- If using as a topping or syrup: add mixture to a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Make sure all of the sugar is melted.
- Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes stirring often. If you desire a thicker sauce, you can keep simmering until it's the consistency you are looking for.
- Let cool for a few minutes before using as a warm sauce.
- Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container and rewarm as needed.
Frozen fruit: Keep in mind that frozen fruit does release more liquid and will need a bit longer in the oven or cook a bit longer on the stove.