How to Make Canned Cherry Pie Filling Taste Homemade

Get that homemade taste in a fraction of the time. Learn how to make canned cherry pie filling taste better with a handful of not-so-secret tricks.

Who doesn’t love a slice of warm cherry pie with a scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream on top? It’s the perfect dessert for everyone who doesn’t have to make it. Cherry pie making is a labor of love, and sometimes you’re just not feeling up to all of the pitting, chopping and sweating over a hot stove. The solution? Jazzing up the canned cherry pie filling to get all the delicious flavor without hours of work.

Learn how to make canned cherry pie filling taste better than homemade cherry pie filling with a quick tweak or two. Just don’t tell your grandmother that you learned it from us!

Sweeten the Pie Filling

Sweetening your cherry pie filling will give it an instant flavor boost. Most prepared pie fillings tend to be very sweet, but cherry pie filling is a different story. Cherries are a naturally tart fruit, and so cherry pie filling may not taste as sweet as you’d like.

For a more candied taste, opt for a cherry jam or jelly. Try adding a few spoonfuls to your prepared filling, tasting as you go. For a more intense sweet flavor, go right to the good stuff and add sugar. A tablespoon of white or brown sugar will take care of any tartness. Or try a natural sweetener and add a bit of honey or agave syrup.

Add Citrus

Ever had a cherry limeade or cherry lemonade that made you wish you could eat it as dessert? Well, squeezing some citrus juice and the zest of the citrus into the mix is almost as close as you can get.

Try squeezing the juice from half of a large lemon along with one teaspoon of the zest for added tartness in your pie. Lemons, limes and oranges all make for a wonderful infusion in cherry pies.

Add Other Fruits

Since most variations of cherries lean on the tart side, mixing in more subtle and sweet fruits can help cut the tartness down a bit. Chopped apples and peaches will lend a beautiful sweetness (and texture!) to your pie without needing to add granulated sugar.

Make a berry-rich pie by mixing blueberries, chopped strawberries or even raspberries into the pie. You can add as few or as many as you’d like, depending on your preferences.

Make the Filling Creamy

Sweetened condensed milk will add a rich, creamy texture to your cherry pie filling. Stir in half a cup of sweetened condensed milk into your cherry pie filling and warm it over the stovetop. Once the mixture has come together, spoon it into your prepared pie crust and bake your pie. You could also experiment with cream cheese—mix in different measurements depending on how creamy you’d like your filling to be.

Add Spices or Extracts

A quick and simple way to give your canned cherry pie filling a homemade taste is to add more flavor. Use dried spices or flavor extracts to up the flavor without adding more sugar. Start with a teaspoon of vanilla or almond extract. From there, get creative with cinnamon, ginger, cloves or nutmeg.

Thicken Your Filling

There’s nothing worse than opening a jar of cherry pie filling and discovering that it is mostly syrup and not nearly enough cherries. Depending on the brand you use, your pie filling may be seriously lacking in the fruit department. Try thickening your pie filling with fresh, frozen or canned fruit. You could use cherries, of course, or try something new. Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, apples or peaches all pair nicely with cherry pie filling.

Another way to thicken your pie filling is with cornstarch. Mix the cornstarch with a bit of sugar to prevent your filling from taking on a chalky taste. Or try any number of different pie thickeners like flour, arrowroot or tapioca.

How to Use Cherry Pie Filling

Of course, the most obvious way to use canned cherry pie filling is to bake it into a classic pie crust. We have a simple double crust recipe you can use, or, to keep things easy, opt for one of these top store-bought pie crusts.

Finally, can you ever have too much butter in a pie? We didn’t think so. Once you’ve poured your upgraded cherry pie filling into the pie crust, top it with small cubes of butter to give the filling a thicker, richer texture.

For ideas that don’t involve a typical pie crust, there are myriad ways to use canned cherry pie filling. Use an Oreo pie crust for a super rich way to get your chocolate craving in or opt for a more subtle graham cracker crust. You could also avoid making a pie altogether and use the filling in a glazed coffee cake or a creamy ricotta cheesecake. Need something that requires absolutely no work? Spoon your upgraded filling over vanilla bean or chocolate ice cream.

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Carrie Madormo, RN
Now a freelance health and food writer, Carrie worked as a nurse for over a decade. When she isn't hunched over her laptop with a baby in hand, you will find her cooking her grandmother’s recipes, lacing up her running shoes or sipping coffee in the bathroom to hide from her three young children.