Our cream cheese cherry pie showcases a beloved pairing: cream cheese and cherries. They taste so good together that they've become a classic combo for cheesecake, Danish pastries and other desserts. They're just as delicious in a buttery pie crust.
Many pies put fruit a filling over a no-bake cream cheese layer, but this cherry cream cheese pie is a bit different. Here, the cheese forms the upper layer and is baked until it turns light golden. This creates a firm, crust-like top that holds the cherry filling inside. Chilling the pie after it's baked ensures that both fruit and cheese set completely and slice cleanly. A peephole in the center reveals a gentle shock of cherry red.
Ingredients for Cherry Cream Cheese Pie
- Softened butter: By using softened butter instead of the cold butter typical of rolled pie crusts, the dough takes on a crumbly texture that can be pressed into the pie plate.
- Cherry pie filling: For peak flavor and texture, make a homemade cherry pie filling from fresh tart cherries, then let it cool completely. You can make the filling in advance and freeze it for later use.
- Cream cheese: An 8-ounce brick of cream cheese or Neufchatel works, but a lower-fat cheese may have a softer set. Save that container of spreadable cream cheese for bagels. It's likely has been whipped with added liquid that may prevent the pie filling from setting properly.
Step 1: Prepare the crust
Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a small bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt. Add the butter; stir until combined. Use your fingertips to evenly press the mixture across the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie plate. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove from the oven, but do not turn oven off. Pour the cherry pie filling into the crust.
Step 2: Make the cream cheese layer
In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to ensure all the cream cheese is worked in.
Step 3: Assemble the pie
Carefully spread the cream cheese mixture around the outside the edges of pie, leaving a 3-inch circle of cherries exposed in the center.
Editor's Tip: An offset spatula can help in smoothly spreading the cream cheese layer. It also helps with serving slices of pie without making a mess. To make a neat inner cherry circle, place a heatproof biscuit cutter or other ring in the center of the cherry filling, and spread the cheese layer around it. Let the pie bake for the first few minutes with the ring in place if necessary to hold the shape.
Step 4: Bake the pie
Return the pie to the oven, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Cool completely on a wire rack.
Step 5: Chill the pie
Set the cooled pie in a pie keeper, or loosely cover it with aluminum foil. Refrigerate for several hours before serving.
Cherry Cream Cheese Pie Variations
- Make a crumb crust: For a flavor-packed base, use crushed graham crackers or chocolate wafer cookies to make a crumb crust.
- Add some crunch: Stir 1/4 cup finely chopped almonds into the other crust ingredients for a crunchier bottom. For even more almond flavor, replace the vanilla with almond extract.
- Do a layer swap: For a brighter punch of color, put the cheesecake layer on the bottom and the cherries on top. To ensure the layers stay separate, bake the pie until it is almost set before adding the cherries for the final few minutes in the oven.
How to Store Cherry Cream Cheese Pie
Because this pie needs chilling time, it's a great make-ahead dessert. It will look its best if you eat it within two days. Beyond that, the crust might start to soften and the layers might begin to merge. Leftovers can be stored for up to five days. Store the whole pie or leftover slices in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Can you freeze cherry cream cheese pie?
Refrigerating, rather than freezing, will be most effective in setting up this pie's layers. Once it's completely chilled, you can freeze it for up to three months. The same is true of any leftover individual slices. Enclose the pie in plastic wrap first, then in foil or a resealable bag, or both for extra protection. Let the whole pie thaw overnight in the refrigerator. An individual slice is best thawed in the same way, but if you have a pie craving, let the slice sit for about an hour at room temperature before you dig in.
Cherry Cream Cheese Pie Tips
Can I put other fruit in this cream cheese pie?
Many fruity pie fillings can slide into this cream cheese pie, including blueberries, strawberries and rhubarb. Make your own from scratch, or choose a can of your favorite flavor. Ultra-juicy fruit like raspberries and blackberries may stay a bit runny, so pair them with a denser fruit like sliced peaches. Keep soft fruit fillings below the cheese, instead of choosing our layer-swap variation, to help control any juiciness.
How can I avoid a runny cherry cream cheese pie?
To avoid a runny pie if you used a homemade cherry filling, let the filling cool completely before spreading it into the pie. If you open a can of store-bought filling only to find it overly syrupy, use one of these tricks to make cherry pie filling taste homemade—and to thicken it.
How can I avoid a lumpy cherry cream cheese pie?
For a lump-free pie, beat the cream cheese until it's completely smooth. The best way to achieve this is to soften the cream cheese at room temperature before mixing it with the other filling ingredients. If the cheese still feels too stiff to mix with a wooden spoon, try using a hand mixer or a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Run the mixer at its lowest speed to avoid whipping air into the cheese.