Tangy, sweet and vibrant is the best way to describe this gorgeous fresh cherry sauce. Fresh, plump cherries at their best can be preserved for whenever you want them.
With many names such as cherry sauce, cherry compote or cherry topping, this is basically fresh cherries cooked down with a little sugar and lemon juice until they’re soft and swimming in their own thick syrup.
Tools you’ll need
Before you can get started you need to pit the cherries but don’t worry, if you’re cherries are ripe, this is much easier than it sounds.
- Cherry pitter: this tool is specifically made for pitting cherries and is very handy and makes for a mostly mess-free job.
- A sharp knife: I actually find it just as easy to pit cherries using a sharp knife. Remove the stem, then cut down until you hit the pit, now roll the cherry as you cut all the way round the pit in a straight line. Twist it apart and pull out the pit. Your hands can get a little stained this way, so some food-safe latex gloves will help.
- Heavy based saucepan: These are the only type of saucepans I have in my kitchen. They’re great for distributing heat evenly so that whatever is in them cooks evenly without burning. They’ll also last a lifetime and don’t need to be super expensive.
- Preserving jars: If you’re going to use your cherry sauce within a week, then I love these Weck preserving jars. I prefer to freeze in bags or large ice block molds though so portions are more manageable and there’s no risk of glass cracking.
Ingredients in cherry sauce
All you need is 5 simple ingredients.
- Cherries (1): Choose ripe, dark cherries with smooth, tight skins for the best flavour.
- Water (2): While not absolutely necessary, I like a good amount of syrup in my compote, so I always add a bit of water. The cherries will release their own natural juices as well so you can leave it out if you prefer.
- Lemon juice (3): Lemon juice adds a slight tang.
- Sugar (4): Just regular white granulated sugar. You could swap it for natural sweeteners like coconut sugar or rice malt syrup too. Even honey or maple syrup, though they will add their own flavour to the sauce too.
- Cornflour / cornstarch (5): A little cornflour will help to thicken the syrup to whatever consistency you like whilst also keeping the sauce smooth and cherries plump. If you don’t want to use cornflour, skip the water, then simmer until it reduces to the consistency you want.
How to make cherry compote
Such a simple recipe, it takes just 15 minutes of cooking.
- Pit the cherries: See the directions above (photo 1).
- Combine the ingredients: Add the cherries, water, sugar and lemon juice to a saucepan (photo 2) and place over low to medium heat.
- Cook: Stir while it heat until the sugar dissolves, then let it come to a simmer (photo 3). Continue cooking at a simmer until it’s thick and syrupy and the cherries are soft.
- Add the cornflour: Mix the cornflour with a touch of water and pour it in as you’re stirring to thicken the syrup until it’s the consistency you like (photo 4).
How to alter the consistency
I like a good amount of syrup in this cherry compote but the consistency can be thinned or thickened as you like it. See my Blueberry Topping post for notes on how to do it.
How to store it
Store your batch of homemade cherry sauce in preserving jars in the fridge for up to a week.
This sauce can also be frozen. Use zip lock bags or large ice cube trays to freeze it in batches that are easily thawed and used up quickly. Once frozen, it will last up to 6 months.
More recipes you’ll love
- Raspberry Compote
- Peach Compote
- Blueberry Topping (Blueberry Compote)
- Homemade Strawberry Topping
- Homemade Strawberry Sauce
- Easy Blackberry Compote
- More Frosting, Sauces & Spreads
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- 550 g fresh cherries, pitted (1.2 pounds)
- ¼ cup white granulated sugar
- ¼ cup water
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice (note 1)
- 2-3 teaspoons cornflour (cornstarch)
For best results, always weigh ingredients where a weight is provided
- In a medium saucepan, combine the cherries, water, lemon juice and sugar and bring to a boil over medium heat. Turn the heat down so the mixture is just simmering.
- Simmer stirring every so often for about 10 minutes until the cherries have softened and the liquid has tripled.
- Use a spoon to skim off froth as it’s cooking.
- Make a slurry using the cornflour and 3 teaspoons of water. Slowly dribble the slurry into the cherries while stirring constantly so that it doesn’t turn lumpy. Do this slowly and stop when you're happy with the thickness. It will thicken a little more on cooling.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
- I use a standard Australian 20ml tablespoon (equal to 4 teaspoons)
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. I love these Weck preserving jars.
- Freeze for up to 6 months.
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