Homemade Cherry Pie

Homemade Cherry Pie

This recipe is better than ever. My homemade cherry pie is perfectly sliceable with a thick almond-hinted cherry pie filling and a golden brown buttery flaky pie crust. The ingredients are exactly the same as when I originally published the recipe in 2017, but quartering *some* of the cherries instead of just halving and reducing some juices on the stovetop both guarantee that the pie filling will set up perfectly. As always, wait for the pie to cool completely before slicing, which is another non-negotiable that helps avoid a soupy pie filling.

homemade cherry pie

No store-bought pie filling or pie crust because today we’re making cherry pie completely from scratch. Does making homemade pie intimidate you? I promise this dessert specialty is nothing to fear and that’s exactly why I’m sharing my recipe with you. Out of all pie flavors, cherry pie is where most bakers depend on canned filling, but I’m going to teach you how to make the most of fresh cherries and a delicious crust.

Cherry Pie Details

  • Flavor: While the cherry flavor is front and center in this pie, you’ll enjoy the notes of vanilla and almond as well. Vanilla and almond extracts add richness and depth and a touch of lemon juice keeps the overall flavor fresh and bright. (Without it, the filling can taste a little flat.)
  • Texture: If you follow the recipe closely, this cherry pie filling is buttery, jammy, sturdy, and sliceable. You can use your favorite pie crust recipe, but I encourage you to try mine linked below. We use a mix of shortening and butter because they work together to make the BEST crust. Butter adds flavor and flakiness, while shortening’s high melting point keeps the crust tender and workable. If you don’t want to use shortening, try this all butter pie crust recipe instead.
  • Ease: It goes without saying that homemade pie is a labor of love, especially if you’re a beginner. Consider this recipe an activity– hopefully fun and definitely satisfying– and set aside several hours from start to finish. My time-saving tip is to prep the pie dough ahead of time because it needs to chill for at least 2 hours before you can roll it out.

slice of cherry pie

Best Cherries to Use for Cherry Pie

If you’re making cherry pie from scratch, it’s helpful to know which cherry variety works best. I usually choose a mix of rainier cherries and dark sweet cherries, but opted for all dark sweet cherries in the pictured pie. You can use all Rainier or all dark sweet. If using sour cherries, add a little more sugar as referenced in the recipe note below.

You can also use frozen halved or quartered cherries. Follow the recipe as written below and don’t skip the reducing step on the stove.

Pitting Cherries

Pitting fresh cherries is always a tedious and messy task, so if you want to save time and prep work, pick up a cherry pitter. If you’re anything like me, you don’t like stuffing your kitchen drawers with endless gizmos and gadgets, but a cherry pitter is most definitely an exception. I don’t bake with cherries often, but when I do, I’m VERY thankful for this tool.

  • It’s also a timesaver if you’re baking bourbon cherry crisp and/or cherry buckle!

Reducing the Cherry Juices on the Stove Takes Less Than 10 Minutes

After you combine the filling ingredients together, set it aside and roll out the pie dough for your pie dish. During this time, your filling is already working as the sugar pulls juices from the cherries. Normally I discard all this juice, but it’s where a lot of the cornstarch ends up and that’s what helps thicken the filling in the oven.

Instead, use a slotted spoon to transfer the fruit into your crust, then pour the leftover juice into a small saucepan. You’ll only have a few Tablespoons, but this juice is pure GOLD as it holds our thickening agent and a lot of flavor. Reduce on the stove over low heat for about 3-4 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes, then pour over the cherries and toss gently (in your pie dough!) to combine.

Here’s the filling in the mixing bowl. You can see all the juices at the bottom. Spoon cherries into the pie dough:

cherry pie filling in a bowl and spooned into the dough

Reduce the excess juice on the stove until it has thickened:

cherry filling juice in bowl and in a pot

Let it cool for a few minutes, then toss into the cherries. The sugars in the reduced juice will harden and you’ll notice this “juice” become almost caramelized and stringy once it hits those cold cherries. This is NORMAL and totally fine! The “juice” will melt down in the oven, but keep the filling thick.

cherry filling in pie dough

Don’t Forget the Extras

  1. Butter: Dot the pie filling with small cubes of butter before applying the top crust. Why? It adds buttery richness and actually helps prevent the formation of bubbles on the filling’s surface.
  2. Egg wash: An egg wash is egg mixed with milk (or water) and you use it pretty much whenever you’re baking pie dough or baking other shaped dough such as stromboli, vanilla biscotti, bagels, choux pastry, croissants, etc. Egg wash promises a crispier crust and helps develop that signature golden sheen. Without it, dough is dull and lackluster.
  3. Coarse sugar: This is optional, but I love finishing sweet pies with coarse sugar because it adds a little crunch and sparkle. I usually use Sugar in the Raw or these coarse sugar sprinkles, both of which can be found in the baking aisle of major grocery stores.

Lattice Pie Crust

Note that our pie crust recipe yields enough dough for a double crust pie– one for the bottom and one for the top. If you’re new to working with pie dough or need a little troubleshooting, our pie crust tutorial walks you through each step in thorough detail and includes a video, step-by-step photos, and all my tips and tricks for pie crust perfection.

I made a simple lattice pie crust design with thick and thin strips, but decorate the pie however you’d like. You could even skip the top crust and use the crumble topping from our blueberry crumble pie!

two photos showing how to lattice pie dough

cherry pie with lattice pie crust

cherry pie slice with vanilla ice cream on top

Start the Pie at a High Oven Temperature

Why do some pie recipes call for an initially hot oven temperature that you eventually lower? Baking this pie at 400°F (204°C) for 20 minutes helps the pie dough set and activates the cornstarch in the filling (as does heating it on the stove). After that, reduce oven temperature down to 375°F (190°C) to continue baking the pie.

Do I Need to Par-Bake The Crust for This Cherry Pie?

Before you begin, let me answer a FAQ we receive on this recipe. You do not need to par-bake or blind bake this bottom pie crust. Reducing the filling’s juice on the stove keeps excess liquid off the bottom pie dough, plus we bake the pie for long enough that the bottom crust sufficiently cooks through. It’s helpful to use a glass pie dish so you can see when the sides/bottom of the pie crust has browned.

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