Sweet Cherry Pie

Here’s my big problem with cherries – I love them so, so much in their pure form that I almost never bake or do anything with them because before I do, I end up eating them all.  I wait all year long for cherry season and when it is finally here, I eat them like nobody’s business.  Literally every day.  When I saw the recipe for this sweet cherry pie though, I needed to try it right away.  My sweet Ben went out and bought a double allotment of cherries the very next day so I had some to bake with and still plenty to eat.

This recipe does have a few odd techniques, like adding a plum to the mix and using ground up tapioca as a thickener.  I sometimes wonder if Cook’s Illustrated makes things more complicated than they need to be, but then the recipes always turn out perfectly so I guess they are right.  Same situation here – this was without a doubt the best cherry pie I have ever made (or tasted).  They do suggest grinding the tapioca in a coffee grinder or food processor, but I don’t have a coffee grinder and my food processor was temporarily out of commission at the time.  Instead, I put it in a plastic bag and tried to crush it with a rolling pin, but I don’t think it made any difference.  It didn’t even matter in the end because I couldn’t tell at all.  Next time I’m not sure I’ll bother with that step, but I do think the addition of the plum was important in adding a tart counterbalance to the sweet cherries.  Served with some homemade vanilla ice cream, this is a perfect summer dessert.

Sweet Cherry Pie
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Double crust pie dough (or your preferred pie crust)
2 red plums, halved and pitted
6 cups pitted, halved sweet cherries (or 6 cups pitted frozen cherries), divided
½ cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp. instant tapioca, ground
Pinch of ground cinnamon
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch pieces

1 large egg lightly beaten with 1 tsp. water

To make the filling, process the plums and 1 cup of the cherries in a food processor or blender until smooth, about 1 minute.  Strain the the puree through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible; discard the solids.  Add the remaining cherries, sugar, salt, lemon juice, tapioca and cinnamon to the bowl.  Mix well to combine; let stand for 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400˚ F and place a baking sheet on an oven rack.  Line a 9-inch pie plate with a round of pie dough.  Transfer the cherry mixture to the dough-lined pie plate.  Scatter the butter pieces evenly over the fruit.  Top with the second round of pie dough.  Pinch the edges of the dough together in a fluted pattern.  Brush the top evenly with the egg wash.  Using a sharp paring knife, cut 8 evenly spaced slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape.  Place the pie in the freezer for 20 minutes.

Place the pie on the preheated baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes.  Lower the oven temperature to 350˚ F and continue baking about 30-40 minutes more, until the crust is golden brown and the juices are bubbling.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature so the filling has time to set up and thicken, 2-3 hours.  Slice and serve.

Source: adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, July & August 2010

35 Responses

  1. Oooh, perfect! We’re right at peek season here. In fact we have our National Cherry Festival this next week! I’m definitely going to have to try this, if for nothing else just out of curiosity. I’ve never thought of sweet cherry pie..only tart cherries. Thanks for the timely recipe!

  2. mmm I made this a few weeks ago and it was sooo delicious. I’m kicking myself for not taking a picture before it was demolished. Yours looks so pretty!

  3. I love cherry pie. My grandma use to make the best cherry pies, I wonder if she used plums too? I’ll have to dig for that recipe now! Thanks for sharing, your pictures are beautiful!

  4. We have the same problem with cherries. I have to hide them from my daughter if we want them for a recipe. She made Cherry Frozen Yogurt and we ended up eating as we were pitting so we were a 1/2 cup short on cherries, oh well. Your picture of the pie is gorgeous!

  5. Cherry pie is my favorite dessert. It’s actually what my MIL makes for my birthday instead of the a cake. I’ve been eyeing this recipe, too, and thought the plum was weird (but plums and cherries are my favorite fruits anyway, soo..). Glad to hear it’s delicious, and I’m sure this will end up being my double-crust pie for my 30 by 30. 🙂

  6. I know what you mean about Cooks Illustrated, but they certainly do have great recipes! Your pie looks delicious!

  7. That looks so good, Annie, that I may just have to try it! I feel the same way about cherries…I love them so much that I always eat them out of hand. I’ve been known to buy them by the crate from fruit trucks.

    I’ve always wished we had access to cherries year-round, but I wonder if that would make them less special. 🙂

  8. Looks beautiful with the blue towel underneath! I always thought adding tapioca to fruit pies was weird too, but once I realized what a difference it makes as far as thickening the filling, I do it all the time now (I like using the tapioca vs. tons of corn starch)! You’re right- you can’t even tell it’s there! This totally makes me crave a slice of cherry pie right now! YUM!

    • Amy,
      I meant I thought the grinding of the tapioca was weird. I agree though, it is a very good thickener! I just probably won’t bother with the gringing next time.

  9. I just bought a cherry pitter and that makes recipes like this SO much more realistic in my kitchen. I can’t wait to try this out! (And I agree – Cook’s Illustrated can seem like overkill many times, but the end results are arguably the best ever!)

  10. Oh, wow – What a perfect, all-American dessert! I love your garnish with the whole cherries on top as well. You and your family have a very happy 4th of July weekend!

  11. Saw this in this months issue and have been looking forward to making it! I’ve used ground tapioca as a thickener in their blueberry pie. It’s a great starch to use because it creates a nice, clear colored “jelly”. Can’t wait to try this one! Maybe I’ll invest in a cherry/olive pitter? lol

  12. That is THE best and most scrumptious-looking cherry pie I have ever seen in my life. Goodness! *food coma*

  13. Hey Annie,

    I don’t think I have ever left a comment on your blog, but I LOVE IT! I check here daily to see what you are cooking up in your kitchen. I can’t wait to try the pie. I saw the recipe a couple of days ago in Cook’s Illustrated and thought it sounded great. Thanks for doing a test drive for all of us! 😉


  14. What a great dessert for the 4th!

  15. Wow, this recipe looks amazing. I, too, have trouble letting cherries sit around at my house. Is there anything better than a crisp, sweet cherry? Yum! Thanks for the recipe….I’m gonna have to try this soon!

  16. Looks absolutely gorgeous!!

  17. Like you, I wait all year for cherry season. It’s so brief! And like you, I gorge myself on the suckers for an entire month. That’s a good-looking pie, there. Cherry pie is my dad’s favorite. I’m not showing him your blog; he might want to trade me in for a new, pie-baking model!

  18. Oh wow, this looks amazing! I’m glad some finally made it into a baking experiment – I finally managed to part with some of my stash to make a clafoutis a few days ago – so worth it.

  19. your cherry pie looks wonderful (just like everything else you make!). I have never made a cherry pie or any type of pie from scratch. I will try my hand at apple first. Thats so nice of ben to buy you extra cherries!! I would have to buy 2 bags as well if I ever wanted to make a pie.

  20. I’m loving all the cherries just like you are. I’ve been eating sack after sack of them! I’ve made a clafouti, some crumbles but haven’t yet made a pie. This recipe looks excellent..perhaps it should be our next dessert!

  21. Yum! How perfect for the holiday. I just made a cherry pie this weekend too. I love the idea of the plums in it if the cherries are tart. Looks delicious!

  22. I made this cherry pie and the blueberry pie from your site for Independence Day. Both were a hit, and the crust was so perfect. Thanks for your posts!

  23. Yeesh, I have even opened this issue of CI yet. Clearly I need to get on top of things.

    Also, I think everyone should describe their spouse as “my sweet [their name]”. Aw.

  24. Annie, I know exactly what you mean. I bought 500g over the weekend and wanted to turn them into a cherry tart. They all ended up in our stomachs the evening “as it is”. My cherry tart quickly disappeared out the window. Better luck this weekend!

  25. This looks so pretty and perfect!
    Unfortunately, cherries are hard to get around here, so I haven’t had anything cherry since I was a kid! But I’ll do my best to get some, cause this pie needs to be made!

  26. so i made this tonight! : ) used your pie crust recipe and everything! and don’t tell my other pie crust recipe this, but im pretty sure that your recipe beat my other one! shhh! haha seriously tho, this pie is so good. it’s just straight cherries and the flavor omgawwwd and there isn’t any cherry puddle! yay! success! huge success. my dad came home from having a minor surgery today and he was thrilled to see the cherry pie – after tasting it he proceeded to have seconds… and said that he would be sneaking to the kitchen soon for thirds! it was his dinner and dessert!

  27. I found your blog through Foodgawker.com (while searching for cherry pie recipes). The picture caught me at first, and then the recipe pulled me in – who’da thought to use plums in a cherry pie?! Brilliant.

    Well, then I MADE it. And it was sooo breathtakingly good, everyone who enjoyed it agreed. Fantastic! Thanks for the recipe, I know I’ll be making it much more while the cherry season lasts!

    Bon appetit!

  28. I made two of your cherry pies yesterday. OH MY GOSH! Hands down the best cherry pie ever. The taste is to cheer about and it is so beautiful too. My baking usually tastes ok but I’ve never been really great with the presentation side. This pie turns out just like your photos. Put the extra pie in the freezer for the winter when we will want a taste of summer to enjoy. In fact, I may make a couple more to freeze just to have on hand. This is WONDERFUL!

  29. Annie,
    I have never attempted pie crust before today. As I speak I am smelling the wonderful aroma of cherry pie baking in the oven. It is our 28th wedding anniversary today and cherries are my husband’s favorite fruit! My pie looks fabulous and smells even better. Thank you so much for inspiring me to cook things I have never attemted before. Obviously sometimes old dogs can learn new tricks!

  30. It was fabulous! We ate it soon after it came out of the oven. Life is short-eat dessert first! Thanks for all the fabulous recipes I have tried since I started reading your blog.

  31. I made this recipe today, in fact I decided while I was in the mess with these cherries I would make two pies! This is the BEST pie I have EVER TASTED! Wow! Thanks for posting this recipe! It is fabulous!

  32. It’s July 27th and since July 17th I have made 6 more cherry pies! Not all for myself. I gave some to a neighbor and brought one to a party. I will be serving another pie to guests tomorrow. Awesome! I am in such a Cherry mood!

  33. I have to tell you I love your website. This cherry pie is the first thing I have made and it is the best pie ever!! It is the prettiest pie I have made in my life. I had never made a fresh cherry pe before this and I don’t really know why. The taste was awesome. Thanks so much for the recipe and I will be making more for the freezer.

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