This Cherry Topping for Cheesecake recipe is sweet, tart, loaded with cherries, and super easy to make by dressing up a can of store-bought pie filling.
When you need a quick topping for cheesecake, it’s easy enough to open up a can of cherry pie filling and call it good.
But canned fruit pie filling can sometimes be too tart, too sweet, have way more goo than fruit, or just generally lack the depth of flavor of a homemade cherry sauce.
With a few simple ingredients you can turn a simple can of cherry pie filling into a truly cheesecake-topping-worthy dessert. No cherry pitter necessary!
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Fast and easy way to doctor up a can of cherry pie filling
Simple ingredients amp up the flavors and textures of an ordinary can of pie filling
How to make canned cherry pie filling taste better
To enhance the flavor of a can of cherry pie filling, you first need to figure out what it’s missing. Some of the most common problems are:
- Too sweet
- Too tart
- Not enough fruit
- Lacking homemade flavor
A great way to solve these problems is by adding contrasting flavors to counterbalance the tartness and sweetness like a little sugar or other sweeteners, or a sour component.
Other simple steps you can take include adding more fruit, and stirring in extracts, spices, and other flavorings.
This cherry topping for cheesecake recipe includes my favorite ways to make a can of pie filling taste better.
There are many more great additions you can make to cherry pie filling to enhance the flavors. Check out this post to read all about them.
Canned cherry pie filling. Sometimes the ingredient list will tell you which type of cherries that are used -- sweet or tart -- but usually it just says "cherries." You may need to taste it first to figure out what you need to add to your cherry sauce recipe.
Fresh lemon juice and lemon zest. Fresh lemon juice and zest brightens up the flavors of the cherries without making it too tart.
Frozen dark sweet cherries. Thawed and drained frozen cherries thicken and add a fresher cherry flavor to the pie filling. You can also use drained canned cherries.
Choose sour cherries (also called tart cherries) or sweet cherries, depending on what the pie filling needs. Since this cheesecake topping isn't cooked, I don't recommend fresh cherries because the textures will be different.
Pure maple syrup. Maple syrup adds rich sweetness to the pie filling.
Almond extract. Almonds and cherries are a delightful flavor combination. Just go easy on almond extract. ¼ teaspoon is really all you need.
Nutmeg. A dash of nutmeg adds a warm “what’s that?” flavor to the background. It isn’t overly powerful at all.
Ready for this? It’s easy.
In a large bowl add the pie filling, fresh lemon juice and zest, thawed and drained cherries, maple syrup, almond extract, and nutmeg.
Stir the cherry mixture until combined.
Serve with your favorite cheesecake recipes. Or check out my easy No-Bake Cheesecake Recipe (below).
Storage & Freezing
Store leftover pie filling in an airtight container or covered with plastic wrap in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.
You can also freeze pie filling in a freezer safe container for up to 3 months.
The BEST No-Bake Cheesecake Recipe
Cherry topping is delicious served with this no-bake cheesecake recipe. It's a great recipe for Valentine’s day or any special occasion, but easy enough for any time of year.
This smooth and creamy cheesecake is lightly sweetened with powdered sugar and has that classic cheesecake tang from cream cheese and sour cream.
The homemade graham cracker crust is rich and flavorful with graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, and cinnamon and is thick and sturdy enough that it doesn't need to be baked.
The best part about this no-bake cheesecake recipe is it doesn't come with all the challenges of a traditional cheesecake like a water bath, worrying about the springform pan leaking, or the dreaded cheesecake cracks.
I like to spoon a little cherry topping on top of the cheesecake as well as serve it on the side, so everyone can add their own.
More Serving ideas
This dressed-up cherry sauce would be delicious with any of these wonderful treats:
Thaw and drain frozen cherries before adding them to the pie filling mixture.
Go easy with the almond extract. ¼ teaspoon is really all you need.
Use fresh lemon juice, not bottled.
No. Canned pie filling is pre-cooked, which is why it’s so perfect for no-bake desserts. So go ahead and eat it straight out of the can, if you want!
The best way to improve the flavor of canned pie filling, add some sweetness with sugar or jam, more fruit, flavor extracts, and spices.
Yes, cherry pie filling freezes really well! Place it in a freezer safe container in the freezer for up to 3 months.
A microplane is a great tool for zesting citrus, shredding hard cheese, and grating chocolate.
I also use a small stiff brush like this one to get the zest off of the underside of the microplane. It’s also great for cleaning.
More Great Recipes for Cherry Topping
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Cherry Topping for Cheesecake (From a Can)
- 1 can cherry pie filling
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 12 ounces frozen dark sweet cherries, thawed and drained
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
- dash of nutmeg
- In a large bowl add pie filling, fresh lemon juice and zest, thawed and drained cherries, maple syrup, almond extract, and nutmeg. Stir the cherry mixture until combined.
- Serve with your favorite cheesecake recipes.
Storage & Freezing
- Store leftover pie filling in an airtight container or covered with plastic wrap in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.
- You can also freeze pie filling in a freezer safe container.