Homemade Cherry Pie Filling {easy + naturally sweetened}

If you were to open my refrigerator door right now, you might mistake my top three shelves for a roadside fruit stand. Summer fruit is in its prime, often on sale, and I’m powerless to resist. Last week, in a moment of fleeting fruit hysteria, I bought SIX pounds of cherries. The first order of business for my sweet surplus: easy homemade cherry pie filling.

Ditch the can and make your own homemade cherry pie filling. This EASY recipe will have you eating straight from the jar! Simple ingredients and naturally sweetened with honey. Anyone can make this! @wellplated

This cherry pie filling recipe turned out to be so tasty and so easy, I made a second jar the very next day and tucked it into my freezer for a later day.

Even if you are not a fan of cherry pie, there are many, many delicious ways to devour this jar of homemade cherry pie filling:

  • Mixed with yogurt
  • On top of oatmeal
  • Spooned over a scoop of ice cream (bonus points if you add hot fudge)
  • Spread on graham crackers with Nutella (HEAVEN)
  • Baked in pie crust pockets to make a homemade Poptart
  • On top of cheesecake
  • These incredible cherry bars

And, if you are a fan of sweet cherry pie, this recipe will be a favorite of yours too!

Easy recipe for homemade cherry pie filling that’s naturally sweetened with honey. Great for cherry pie, on top of ice cream, or eat it right of the jar with a spoon! @wellplated

Although I adore fresh cherries, I used to shy away from cherry pie, because most I tried were cloyingly sweet and syrupy, or the cherries were unpleasantly mushy. What a great injustice to one of summer’s most precious gifts!

Easy homemade cherry pie filling recipe — eat now or freeze for later so that you can have cherry pie all winter long! @wellplated

Still, six pounds of cherries are six pounds of cherries, and since I’m not planning on raising a fruit bat anytime soon, I knew I needed a way to use them up as efficiently as possible. Homemade cherry pie filling it would be, but done better.

Most homemade cherry pie fillings call for gobs of granulated sugar, which I feel doesn’t allow the natural sweetness of the cherries to shine. Plus, the excess sugar made me feel less empowered to mix pie filling into my yogurt at breakfast.

I am by no means arguing that pie filling is a health food, but I do think that it can be more wholesome, without sacrificing the homey comfort that makes us crave a slice of cherry pie in the first place. My solution: naturally sweeten the cherry pie filling with honey instead.

Easy homemade cherry pie filling, sweetened with honey! No refined sugars here—just wholesome, naturally sweetness. You’ll be eating this pie filling right from the jar! @wellplated

I was a little concerned that the honey’s flavor would overpower the cherries, but the two taste wonderful together. The cherries shine brightly, while the honey adds light background notes of floral sweetness.

I finished off the homemade cherry pie filling with almond extract. Cherries and almonds are one of my favorite flavor combinations, but if it’s not your jam (er, pie filling) you can replace it with vanilla extract or omit it completely.

Make the most of summer with this easy homemade cherry pie filling. This tastes SO much better than canned cherry pie filling and is better for you too! @wellplated

This cherry pie filling will keep in the refrigerator for up to one week. Because it is made with honey, it does congeal somewhat when frozen and thawed. I found it worked best to let the frozen filling thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then warm it in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds, to smooth it out a little. Done this way, the previously frozen filling was perfect for baking these cherry pie bars. When the bars came out of the oven, the filling was smooth and you couldn’t tell it was frozen at all!). If you are going to use the cherry pie filling in a classic cherry pie or as a sauce on top of ice cream, I would not recommend freezing, since in these cases, you’ll want the smoothest texture possible.ou couldn’t tell it was frozen at all!). If you are going to use the cherry pie filling in a classic cherry pie or as a sauce on top of ice cream, I would not recommend freezing, since in these cases, you’ll want the smoothest texture possible.

Tools I used to make this recipe:

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Easy Homemade Cherry Pie Filling

Ditch the can and make your own homemade cherry pie filling. EASY recipe naturally sweetened with honey. So good, you’ll be eating it straight from the jar!

Yield: 2 heaping cups (enough for a 9-inch pie)

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes, plus cooling time

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups whole pitted fresh sweet cherries (about 2 pounds with pits or 1 1/2 pounds pitted) or frozen, thawed pitted cherries
  • 1/2 cup honey, plus additional to taste (if using tart cherries, you may need to add a bit more)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon pure almond extract (optional) or substitute 1/4 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Place cherries into a large saucepan. Add 1/2 cup honey, lemon juice, cornstarch, and almond extract (if using), then stir to coat. Turn on the heat to medium. Cook the filling, stirring often, until glossy and thickened, about 5 – 10 minutes. Very carefully so as not to burn your tongue, taste the mixture. If you desire additional sweetness, add more honey a few teaspoons at a time. Remove pan from the heat and let the filling cool completely. Transfer to a storage jar.

Store in an airtight container or jar in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 2 months.

NOTES ON FREEZING: Because the pie filling is made with honey, it does congeal somewhat when frozen and thawed. I found it worked best to let the frozen filling thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then warm it in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds, to smooth it out a little. Done this way, the previously frozen filling was perfect for baking these cherry pie bars. When the bars came out of the oven, the filling was smooth and you couldn’t tell it was frozen at all!). If you are going to use the cherry pie filling in a classic cherry pie or as a sauce on top of ice cream, I would not recommend freezing, since in these cases, you’ll want the smoothest texture possible.

All images and text ©/Well Plated.

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: generous 1/4 cup

  • Amount Per Serving:
  • Calories: 128
  • Total Fat: 0g
  • Saturated Fat: 0g
  • Cholesterol: 44mg
  • Sodium: 1mg
  • Carbohydrates: 33g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Sugar: 27g
  • Protein: 1g

Did you try this recipe? I want to see! Follow Well Plated on Instagram, snap a photo, and tag it #wellplated. I love to know what you are making!

About Erin Clarke

I’m fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food taste incredible. Wearer of plaid, travel enthusiast, and firmly convinced that sweets and veggies both deserve a place at the table. MORE ABOUT ERIN…

30 comments

  1. Thank goodness for this recipe! I’ve always hated canned pie filling, and I’ve never found a recipe for a homemade version that I liked. Now I found one yay!!! :)

  2. I want to eat this with a spoon.

  3. Erin, I follow your blog and get all you updates. Love your writing style and your recipes. I don’t comment often enough but wanted to say thanks for sharing your fearless dedication. I am always looking for healthy recipes I can serve my husband that will not make him aware they are healthy. Love your site! And he loves your recipes — WIN/WIN/WIN!

  4. I don’t know that I’m in the market for making cherry pie, but I’m saving the recipe anyway, because it sounds very good, and if I do find myself wanting to make cherry pie, I sure don’t want to buy a can of filling.  I’m a great believer in making such things from scratch.  I’m curious to know what kind of honey you used.  The only kind I’ll buy anymore is mesquite honey, which is probably not available except in the desert southwest, and I’m hoping that would work.  For me it tastes much better than most honey.

  5. Local honey, that is locally produced within ten miles of you has all types of healing and medicinal attributes. Honey from other areas, even just further away doesn’t have the same effect. I buy local honey from a beekeeper but I know that’s not available to everyone so read those labels and parse out the BS on them.

    I love this recipe and can see it on cold vanilla ice cream, yes!

  6. Beautiful recipe. Love the simplicity (:

  7. Wow, this looks yummy. I thought cheese cake as soon as I started reading your intro. I like the honey idea. Thank you. Janet B.

  8. I love cherry pies, sweet or tart. I just pitted 4lbs of cherry & stored them in the freezer for jam, smoothies,and now pie. Plus ko white sugar, it’ll be a keeper.

  9. My “boys” LOVE cherry pies! I also make my own filling, somewhat similar to yours but I’m totally using the honey idea next time instead of sugar! I add dried cherries to the filling to add another texture to it, that’s my Jeff’s favorite part of it.

  10. Looks simple and delicious! Adding extra cherries to my farm market list. Thanks for sharing!

  11. I have always wanted to make my own pie filling. That being said I am allergic to cherries. Could I substitute any fruit for the cherries in this recipe?

    • Hi Jennifer! This recipe is very flexible, and I think you could definitely make it with other fruits. The trick will be addressing the amount of honey and cornstarch. Use more honey of your fruit is less sweet and less cornstarch if your fruit has a lower moisture content than cherries, such as blueberries. You can also reference recipes for other pie fillings online, and substitute the sugar with honey. I hope that helps and that you enjoy it!

  12. These photos are your most gorgeous yet! Those cherries must be feeling like superstars right now. Cherryrazzi all day, everyday. xoxox

  13. Oh Erin!  What have you done to me?  I made this cherry pie filling back in the summer.  Baked the cherry bars.  They were devoured instantly.  I saved the rest in the freezer and pulled it out this week and made pop tarts, just like you told me to do.  And now, now my family says this is the only way they will EVER eat another pop tart.  Thanks.  (I think.  😉)

    • Heather this sounds like a delicious problem to have! I am so thrilled to hear how much you all enjoyed the recipe. Thanks for trying it and taking time to leave this kind review.

  14. Growing up, we had a cherry tree in our yard. It was always a challenge to get to the cherries before the birds! Anyway, my Mother made lots of pies. I have since made lots of pies from scratch using her recipe to make the filling. The recipe had sugar, a little lemon juice and cornstarch for thickening. When I saw your recipe using honey instead of sugar, I was intrigued and had to give it a try. It was sooo good! Thanks for a great recipe.

    Rating: 5
    • Hi Helen, I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you so much for leaving this wonderful comment and sharing your pie baking memories. :)

  15. Oh My God!!! Sooooo Good!!!!! I could just eat all with a spoon.

    Rating: 5
  16. Will frozen cherries cook just as well to make this filling? I bought a 5lb bag at Costco n I’m running out of ideas for use.

  17. I love this recipe, originally made it to top a cheescake! All I can say is wow, everyone loved it!!! It was requested again for the next holiday! Then I made the cherry bars, they are the best!!! Thank you for such wonderful recipes. I have always made it in the winter with frozen cherries, can’t wait to try it with fresh ones this weekend!!!!🍒🍒🍒🍒🍒

    Rating: 5

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