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Cherry Preserves for a Quick and Easy Topping

Cherry Preserves for a Quick and Easy Topping

Cherry preserves are a delicious, quick, and easy dish to make. They’re perfect for the summer months when fresh cherries are in season. You can make this recipe with either fresh or canned cherries – your choice. The article will teach you how to make cherry preserves, step by step.

Making cherry preserves lets you enjoy these wonderful little stone fruits all year long. It is super easy to make and uses simple ingredients. 

You can use fresh or frozen cherries for this preserves recipe. The great thing about using frozen cherries is you can buy them all year. In addition, they are often less expensive per pound than buying fresh bing cherries. I always have a bag or two of frozen cherries in my freezer. (They are great for snacking too!)

Cherry Preserves

You can use this homemade cherry preserves recipe for breakfast, a snack, as an appetizer or for dessert. It’s very versatile. And nothing beats homemade! Follow these steps to make homemade cherry preserves.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 45 minutes

Serves 22 (2 tablespoons)


  • 2 lbs sweet cherries, pitted, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • ¾ cup white sugar – omit sugar to make the sugar free
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • Vanilla bean, scraped or 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt

How to Make Cherry Preserves

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large pot.
  2. Cook over medium heat then reduce to simmer.

  3. Simmer the preserves for about 45 minutes, stirring frequently, until most of the liquid has evaporated and the volume has reduced by about half. If you prefer chunkier preserves, leave the cherries whole. If you prefer pieces instead of whole cherries, cut them up a bit.

  4. Spoon the preserves into mason jars or glass container. Leave on the counter to cool, then refrigerate. Keep them covered in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.


To make cherry preserves with frozen cherries, let them sit out for 30 minutes to an hour before using. This way, you can drain out the extra juice so the preserves will be less runny.

There are plenty of variations on the recipe. If you want to make sugar free cherry preserves, simply omit the sugar.

If you want to preserve the natural flavor of cherries and create a succulent spread for pancakes or biscuits, it is important to use fresh cherries. When making preserves, the type of fruit and its ripeness will affect the taste and texture of the final product.

What to Serve with Preserves and Jam

Like with orange marmalade and strawberry jelly, there are many uses for cherry preserves. It makes a great topping for toast or bread. Serve it with tea or coffee.

You can also use cherry jam preserves for a stunning appetizer by layering the preserves over a block of cream cheese. Serve it with crusty bread or crackers. It’s ideal as a snack or appetizer.

If you are looking for more basic and tried and true uses, of course it pairs well with peanut butter for a delicious pb&j.

Like strawberry compote, this recipe is good on vanilla or chocolate ice cream as well.

Freezing Cherries

Sweet cherries are one of my favorites! I always look forward to cherry season and am so happy to see fresh cherries in my produce department. There’s nothing like them.

If you have room in your freezer, you can buy several pounds of fresh cherries when they are on sale. You can preserve sweet or sour cherries. An average of 1⅜ pounds makes 1 pint of frozen cherries. Many instructions suggest you freeze cherries with sugar, water or fruit juice. We recommend freezing them dry — just the cherries. However, the texture will be softer and runnier when they thaw. 

Remove stems, wash them, remove the pits, and dry them. You can freeze them safely for months until you are ready to use them.


Can you substitute frozen cherries for fresh?

Yes, you can substitute frozen cherries for fresh cherries when making preserves, jam and jelly. They will be runnier so you may want the frozen cherries to sit out a bit so you can drain off the extra juice.

Can I use frozen cherries instead of canned?

When making preserves, using fresh or frozen cherries instead of canned cherries is important. Canned cherries are typically used to make cherry pie. They will have additional preservatives so they don’t spoil in the can. They will also be sweetened and have spices.

How do you use pitted frozen cherries?

You can use pitted frozen cherries to make preserves, jam, jellies, scones, cherry pie, cherry tarts, and more. Personally, I also let them thaw in a bowl in the refrigerator for an hour or so and eat them as a snack.

Are frozen cherries pitted?

Yes, frozen cherries are pitted. From personal experience, after eating many bags of cherries (I buy big bags of organic frozen cherries from Costco) as a snack, I have had one pit for every 2 – 3 bags (10+ pounds of cherries). The cherry processing plants do a good job of eliminating the pits.

Homemade Cherry Preserves

Another option to enjoy cherries year round is to buy bags of frozen cherries. If you have a Costco nearby, get their frozen organic cherries. They are delicious. Otherwise, you’ll find them in your grocery store. I eat frozen cherries as a snack and use them to make all sorts of cherry-inspired foods like this cherry preserves jam and cherry pie filling for this cherry pie recipe.

My son has a palm oil allergy and palm oil intolerance. Because of this, I learned to make most all of our foods from scratch. While jams, jellies and preserves from the store are usually okay for him, once I got in the habit of buying more fruits and vegetables, I started getting creative.

It’s amazing what you can make with frozen and fresh fruits. If you buy a lot of cherries when they are fresh in season or maybe you are lucky enough to go cherry picking and have a surplus. Either way, making cherry preserves is a way to use extra cherries.

You can keep the preserves in mason jars with tight-fitting lids. They will last up to three weeks in the refrigerator. 

Also, you may want to play around with the consistency. Make one batch were the cherries are larger — this makes it more like cherry preserves — and another where they are smaller — which makes it more like cherry jam. See how you and your family enjoy it best. 

Note, this recipe is for sweet cherry preserves. Do you want to make sour cherry preserves? You’ll need to omit half the sugar and add a half teaspoon to the lemon juice.

Make This Recipe Today!

In conclusion, a cherry preserves recipe is a surprisingly simple thing to make. It only takes a bit of prep time and some very basic ingredients. You can make preserves year round with fresh or frozen cherries

If you make cherry preserves, please leave a note in the Comments to let me know how it went and what you will serve it with. If you are like me and my kids, sometimes we’ll just spoon it into a bowl and eat it plain. Yum!

cherry preserves

Cherry Preserves for a Quick and Easy Topping

You can make this cherry preserves recipe with fresh or frozen cherries. The fresh-picked cherry flavor can't be beat! It's so delicious and versatile, you'll enjoy it in lots of different ways.
Course Condiment
Cuisine American
Keyword cherry preserves, cherry preserves recipe, homemade cherry preserves, how to make cherry preserves
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings 22 2 tablespoons each


  • 2 lbs sweet cherries pitted, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean scraped
  • pinch of salt


  • Pit the cherries. If using frozen, they will be pitted.
  • Combine all the ingredients in a large pot.
  • Cook over medium heat then reduce to simmer.
  • Simmer the preserves for about 45 minutes, Stir frequently, until most of the liquid has evaporated and the volume has reduced by about half.
  • Spoon preserves into mason jars or container. Leave on the counter to cool. Cover and refrigerate. They are good in the fridge for about 3 weeks.
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