Cherry Pie Recipe
This Cherry Pie recipe is easy to make from scratch. With a flaky pie crust and a sweet, juicy filling made of fresh cherries, this homemade pie is so delicious you’ll want to go back for a second slice.
I look forward to fresh sweet cherries every summer. They always look so good that I can’t resist buying more than we can eat plain. But too many cherries is a good problem to have because they make the best pie.
If I had to choose a favorite pie, it would be classic apple pie. But this cherry pie and my homemade blackberry pie are also at the very top of my favorites list. Fresh cherries make the best pie filling in this homemade cherry pie. It’s sweet and juicy with a delicious hint of vanilla.
Making this cherry pie is easy. Once you have the cherries pitted (I recommend using a cherry pitter because it makes the job quick and easy), the pie comes together quickly, even if you make a homemade crust.
If you bake this cherry pie and are generous enough to share with friends or family, be ready for some big compliments. This pie always gets rave reviews!
What kind of cherries are best for pie?
I prefer to make this pie with fresh sweet cherries. You can also use tart or sour cherries in this recipe, but you will want to add more sugar to the filling.
I haven’t yet tested this recipe with frozen cherries, but I think they would work well. Be sure to let frozen cherries thaw before using them, and drain off any juices that are released as they defrost.
You will need 6 cups of cherries for this pie. By weight, this is about 2 pounds of cherries, before removing the pits. If you are using a large, deep dish pie dish you may want to increase the cherries to 7 cups.
How to Make Cherry Pie
I’ll walk you through the steps to making a homemade cherry pie, including my tips for success. Or, skip straight to the full recipe.
The first step to making homemade cherry pie is to prepare your cherries. Rinse them under cold water and remove the stems from the cherries. Then pit the cherries, either by cutting the cherries in half and taking the pits out by hand, or by using a cherry pitter. If you use a cherry pitter, cut the cherries in half after pitting them.
Next you’re ready to make the pie filling. I recommend making the filling first so that the cherries have time to release some of their juices while you prepare the crust. Otherwise your pie filling may turn out too liquidy.
Cherry Pie Filling
This cherry pie filling is made with just a few simple ingredients:
- Fresh Cherries: Remove the stems and pits and halve the cherries.
- Granulated Sugar: Sugar is used to sweeten the filling. You can use more or less sugar, depending on your tastes and how sweet or sour your cherries are.
- Cornstarch: Cornstarch is an essential ingredient because it helps the pie filling to thicken.
- Lemon Juice: A little fresh lemon juice brightens up the flavors.
- Vanilla Extract: The vanilla complements the flavor of the cherries and adds a touch more sweetness.
- Salt: Salt is an important ingredient in baking because it enhances the other flavors.
- Butter: I like to dot the pie filling with a little bit of butter before baking. Just one tablespoon, cut into small cubes, is all you need. This step is optional but adds to the overall flavor of the pie.
To make the filling, you will combine all of the above ingredients (except for the butter) in a large bowl. Stir to mix, but don’t worry if you still see a few bits of cornstarch or sugar on the cherries. You’ll be able to more fully combine the filling ingredients after it rests for a few minutes. Set the bowl aside while you make the pie crust and the cherries will start to release some of their juices.
I love to make a homemade pie crust for this pie because you can’t beat the taste and texture of a flaky, buttery from scratch crust. My method for making homemade crust is really easy. Even if you are new to making pie crust, I promise you can make this recipe!
The key to a good pie crust is to keep the ingredients cold. Keep your butter in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it, and use ice cold water. I like to place a cup of ice water in the refrigerator before I start so that it’s really cold by the time I’m ready to add it to my pie dough.
To make the pie dough
- Combine the dry ingredients. Put the all-purpose flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to mix. If you do not have a food processor, you can make the dough by hand in a large bowl using a pastry cutter or two forks to work in the butter.
- Add cold butter. Add the cubes of cold butter. Pulse 8 to 10 times, until the largest pieces of butter are the size of small peas.
- Add ice-cold water. Pulse until the dough starts to come together in a ball.
This pie crust recipe makes enough for both a bottom and top pie crust. Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a round disk. Refrigerate one of the disks to use in a few minutes when you make the top pie crust. Roll the other disk out for the bottom crust. Wrap it around your rolling pin and transfer it to your pie dish.
Assemble the Pie
Give the cherry filling another stir. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cherries to the pie crust, leaving any juices in the bowl to discard. The first time I made this pie I made the mistake of adding all of the juices to the pie and the filling was way too liquidy (you might notice this in some of the photos). When I continued to test this recipe, I found that if you leave the extra juices behind, your pie will be perfect.
Dot the filling with a few small pieces of butter. Roll out the other disk of dough for the top pie crust. You can place the top crust on whole – be sure to cut a few slits in the top crust to let steam escape as it bakes. Or you can make a lattice pie crust. See my Apple Pie Recipe for a step by step photo tutorial of how to make a lattice pie crust. If you prefer to use a store-bought pie crust, you can make a crumble topping for the top of the pie, using my Cherry Crumble Pie recipe.
An egg wash is a mixture of one egg plus one tablespoon milk (or water) that you brush on the pie crust before baking. The egg wash helps the top crust to become golden brown as it bakes. After brushing on the egg wash, I like to sprinkle the top crust with a little bit of coarse sugar or granulated sugar. It adds a pretty sparkle to the pie. You can skip the egg wash and sprinkling of sugar if you prefer.
After assembling the pie, refrigerate it for 20 to 30 minutes while your oven preheats. This chilling time helps to make sure the crust is cold when it goes into the oven, which will give you a flakier crust.
You’ll start by baking the pie at 400° F for 20 minutes. Then reduce the oven temperature to 350° and continue baking the pie for 40 to 50 more minutes. About halfway through the baking time, start checking on the pie and loosely cover it with foil once the crust has browned to your liking. If you do not cover the pie, the crust can darken too much. The pie is done when the filling is bubbly.
Make Ahead Directions
You can make the pie up to 8 hours ahead and store it at room temperature. If you want to store the pie longer than one day, I recommend putting it in the refrigerator. The pie can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.
If you want to prep the pie ahead and wait to bake it before serving, I suggest these steps:
- Prepare the pie dough. Divide it into two equal parts. Roll out one half for the bottom crust and fit it into your pie dish. Refrigerate the bottom crust in the pie dish and the second disk of dough (wrapped in plastic wrap), to be rolled out when you assemble the pie.
- Prepare the cherries. Wash, dry, stem and pit the cherries. Then cut them in half and keep them in a bowl in the refrigerator.
- The day you want to bake the pie, add the other pie filling ingredients to the cherries. Let them rest for 10 minutes, or until they release some of their juices.
- Continue with the recipe steps in the recipe card below, beginning with “Assemble the Pie.”
To freeze pie: Let the pie cool completely and then wrap it tightly. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw for 24 hours in the refrigerator before serving. Serve at room temperature or warm pie in the oven, covering the crust as needed to prevent over-browning.
Baking Tips for this Cherry Pie Recipe
- I highly recommend investing in a cherry pitter. They are inexpensive and make the job of pitting cherries so much faster. After pitting the cherries, cut them in half and check for any pits that might have been missed.
- When you put the cherry filling into the pie, be sure to leave the juices in the bowl to be discarded. If you add all of the juices to the pie it will turn out very liquidy.
- To save time, you can use a store-bought pie crust.
- Check on the pie about halfway through the baking time. Once the crust is lightly browned, loosely cover the pie with foil to keep the crust from browning too much.
- I recommend letting the pie cool for at least 2 hours before serving. As the pie cools, the filling with thicken and the pie will be easier to serve.
For the Cherry Filling
- 6 cups (2 pounds) sweet cherries pitted and halved
- ¾ cup granulated sugar (see note)
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
For the Pie Crust
- 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter cut into cubes
- 7 tablespoons ice cold water
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon milk
- coarse sugar or granulated sugar for sprinkling, optional
Make the Cherry Filling
- Place the pitted, halved cherries in a large bowl. Add the granulated sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, vanilla and salt. Stir to combine. Set aside while you prepare the crust. The cherries will release some of their juices as they rest.
Make the Pie Crust
- Place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. (Alternatively, the pie crust dough can be made by hand in a large bowl using a pastry cutter to cut in the butter.)
- Pulse to combine the dry ingredients. Add the cold butter cubes and pulse 8 to 10 times, until the largest butter pieces are the size of small peas.
- Add the ice cold water and pulse just until the dough comes together.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and form it into a ball. Cut the ball in half and shape each half into a round disk. Wrap one of the disks in plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator.
- On a lightly floured work surface, roll the second disk of dough out into a 12-inch round and transfer it to a pie dish. (To transfer the rolled out dough easily, wrap it around your rolling pin to help move it.)
Assemble the Pie
- The cherries will have released some of their juices. Stir the cherry mixture to make sure everything is well combined. Use a slotted spoon to spoon the cherries into the pie crust, leaving most of the juice in the bowl to be discarded (if you pour all of the juices into the pie the filling will be very liquidy).
- Cut the 1 tablespoon of butter into small cubes and scatter them over the top of the cherry filling.
- Take the remaining dough disk out of the refrigerator and roll it out to a 12-inch round. You can place the dough round on top of the pie as is, or you can make a lattice-top crust. If putting the full dough round on top of the pie, be sure to cut a few slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape as the pie bakes.
- To make a lattice-top pie crust: Cut the second dough round into ¾-inch strips. Place the longest strip down the center of the pie. Reserving every other dough strip to go in the other direction on the pie, lay strips across the pie with a little space in between. Then weave in the remaining strips of dough going the opposite direction on the pie. (See my apple pie recipe for step by step photos.)
Brush with Egg Wash & Bake
- Beat the egg and milk together in a small bowl. Lightly brush the top and edges of the pie crust with the egg wash. If desired, sprinkle coarse sugar over the top of the pie.
- Place the pie in the refrigerator for 20 to 30 minutes before baking. While the pie chills, preheat the oven to 400° F with a rack in the lower third of the oven.
- Bake the pie at 400° for 20 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350° F and continue baking the pie for 40 to 50 minutes more, until the filling is bubbly. Check on the pie about halfway through the baking time and tent it with foil as needed to prevent the crust from over-browning.
- Let the pie cool to room temperature for at least 2 hours before serving to allow the filling to thicken.
- Store pie at room temperature for up to 8 hours, or in the refrigerator, covered with plastic wrap, for up to 3 days. Pie can also be frozen, wrapped tightly, for up to 3 months.
- If making the pie with tart cherries, increase the sugar in the filling to 1 cup.
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