Easy Homemade Cherry Pie Filling that you can have on hand all year long for all your favorite cherry desserts. Made completely from scratch, this Cherry Pie Filling recipe is ready to use in a matter of minutes.

Cherry Pie Filling in a ball jar with a bowl of cherries.

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Homemade Cherry Pie Filling

I’m sitting on the porch right this second sucking in the fresh salt air. It’s one of my favorite scents of the summer….salt air. And low tide. But some people don’t really agree with that and I totally understand if you’re not really into the pungent sulfur smell.

But other than the beachy breezes in the summer, my absolute favorite thing about summer is all the fresh fruit you can get just about anywhere. There are, literally, fresh produce stands less than a mile apart on almost every back road in our area. And right now they’re busting at the seams with fresh, juicy, red cherries.

It’s probably why pie baking season is in full swing because baking fruit pies seems to be the best way to use them up! But we have a tendency to get a little overzealous with the cherry picking and I have to use them up because the one thing I hate about cherries is…..they don’t really have a long shelf life.

So, I started making my own Homemade Cherry Pie filling to make the best use of my over abundance of cherries…..and to make the BEST cherry pies anytime of the year. This easy cherry pie filling is great for so many easy desserts and you can even top your cheesecakes with a dollop for a simple fancy pants dessert!

Cherry Pie tart with lattice crust on a white background.

How to Make Cherry Pie Filling

My Homemade Cherry Pie filling is so easy to make with from scratch ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen. The most time consuming thing of this whole project is pitting your cherries and we’ll get to that in a moment.

For this recipe, I used sweet cherries to make a sweet cherry pie filling. It requires much less sugar than pie filling that’s made with sour cherries but if you prefer to use sour or rainier cherries, just add 1/4 cup more sugar to the recipe.

  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar, cornstarch and salt.
  2. Stir in the water, cherries, lemon juice and lemon zest. 
  3. Bring the mixture to a boil.
  4. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until thickened, stirring constantly.
  5. Remove from the heat and stir in the food coloring, if desired.
  6. Transfer to canning jars to store or use in your favorite cherry pie recipe.
Bowl of cherries on a white background.

How to Pit a Cherry

My favorite way to pit a cherry is by using a cherry pitter. It’s kind of a kitchen drawer hog and a unitasker…at best. So, if you don’t want to purchase a cherry pitter, here are three ways to pit a cherry WITHOUT a cherry pitter.

With a chopstick:

  • Using the thin end of a chopstick, push it through the stem end of the cherry to pop out the pit.

With a paperclip:

  • Unfold the paper clip and insert one end into the cherry. Hook the pit with the paper clip and pull it out of the cherry.

With a pastry tip:

  • Place the pastry tip on your finger and push it into the cherry through the stem end to pop out the pit.
Cherry Pie filling in a tart on a white background.

Can I use flour instead of cornstarch to thicken pie filling?

You can totally use flour in place of cornstarch to thicken your cherry pie filling but the filling may be even more cloudy than normal. If you want to achieve a more translucent pie filling, tapioca flour is amazing for perfectly clear pie filling. 

Either way, this homemade cherry pie filling recipe is faaarrrr better than even the best canned cherry pie filling. 

Overhead shot of cherry pie filling in a tart shell.

Does Pie Filling need to be refrigerated?

This sweet cherry pie filling does need to be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. You are able to can it but it will lasts for up to two weeks in the refrigerator.

My favorite recipe for using cherry pie filling are these amazing Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies….seriously, they’re like the best dessert treat ever. I make them for Christmas now every year.

You can also make a quick and easy Cherry Pie with this easy Homemade Pie Crust. It’s super simple to whip up and I tend to make extra to keep in the freezer to solve pie emergencies. 

If you want to make a classic cherry pie recipe….this is the one for you.  I’ve been making it for years now and the lattice crust is super simple to make.

We also LOVE this easy Black Forest Trifle using this homemade pie filling recipe. Best of all…..it’s NO BAKE!

Cherry Pie Tart on a white background.

More Easy Summer Desserts

Slice of strawberry pie with cream cheese on a white plate.

Want to see what else we’re cooking up? Follow us over on Instagram for fun food and behind the scenes excitement. 

Get the Recipe: Homemade Cherry Pie Filling Recipe

Ready in minutes, this easy Cherry Pie Filling recipe is great for all your favorite cherry desserts!
5 from 1 vote


  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups fresh sweet cherries, pitted
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 4-5 drops red food coloring, optional


  • In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar, cornstarch and salt.
  • Stir in the cherries, water, lemon zest and lemon juice.
  • Bring to a boil.
  • Cook for 2-3 minutes or until thickened, stirring constantly.
  • Remove from the heat and stir in food coloring, if desired.


Cherry Pie Filling can be made up to two weeks in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Calories: 61kcal, Carbohydrates: 15g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 50mg, Potassium: 102mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 11g, Vitamin A: 30IU, Vitamin C: 3.2mg, Calcium: 7mg, Iron: 0.2mg