How to Make Cherry Pie Filling

To make a delicious cherry pie, you must have a delicious cherry filling, and Jennifer from our Kitchen Council is sharing an easy-to-make recipe using sweet Stemilt cherries.

While most cherry pie filling recipes use sour cherries, it is a complete myth that you can’t use sweet cherries to create a delicious pie. As with any recipe, the trick is to make sure there’s a proper balance of flavors. Pie filling recipes that use sour cherry recipes will require more granulated sugar and little to no lemon juice, while recipes using sweet cherries simply need less sugar and more lemon juice. It really is that simple! When Stemilt’s sweet cherries are in season, they make an absolutely amazing filling for pies, tarts, and a variety of other desserts. This recipe also adds a pinch of salt to enhance the other ingredients (I always recommend adding a pinch of salt to desserts. It’s undetectable, yet it makes a subtle and lovely difference). While it’s not a required ingredient, I also suggest adding just a touch of pure almond extract. Fun fact: cherry pits are often used to make almond extract, and the flavors are surprisingly complementary!

Almost all of the prep time for this recipe is allotted for pitting the cherries. I highly recommend buying a cherry pitter. Don’t have a pitter? Not to worry, Stemilt has a video right here on the blog to show you different methods for pitting cherries. A cherry pitter is an inexpensive tool that will not only save you time, but it does a great job of keeping the whole cherries in tact. This isn’t always essential for cherry recipes, but the best cherry pies have fully intact cherries, in my opinion. In addition to saving time and improving appearance, cherry pitters will help minimize any mess. I also recommend using kitchen-safe gloves and an apron (I use disposable gloves). Cherry juice can stain clothes and will leave your fingers tinted for awhile, so these small steps are definitely worth it! Lastly, make sure to allow the filling to cool completely to room temperature before adding it to a pie recipe.

Cherry Pie Filling

Serving Size:  1 Batch

Number of Servings:  Enough for one cherry pie

Prep Time: 12 Minutes

Cook Time: 13 Minutes

Total Time: 25 Minutes

Level of Difficulty: Easy


  • 5 cups Stemilt cherries
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (or more to taste)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice (approximately 1 large lemon)
  • Optional: 1/8 teaspoon pure almond extract


  1. Thoroughly wash and pick through the cherries. Carefully remove and discard the pits and stems. Using kitchen gloves and a cherry pitter will make this process much faster and less messy.
  2. Place the cherries into a large heavy bottom saucepan or Dutch oven, along with the cornstarch, granulated sugar, water, salt, and lemon juice. Stir to coat the cherries evenly.
  3. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring periodically. Once the liquid comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for approximately 10 minutes while stirring frequently. Once the cherries have softened and the mixture has thickened, remove from the heat and stir in the almond extract, if using.
  4. Allow to cool completely to room temperature before using as a pie filling, or store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.