Looking for a delicious cherry topping for your no-bake dessert? It’s so easy to dress up a can of fruit pie filling into a swoon-worthy topping that’s so delicious you’ll be spooning it over everything from cheesecakes and ice cream to your morning yogurt or oatmeal.
Canned cherry pie filling is a fantastic convenience when you don’t want to futz with a cherry pitter, chopping fresh cherries, and sweating over a hot stove.
But, let’s be honest. Canned pie filling from the grocery store doesn't always taste the best.
When you open a can of cherry filling, you may find it too sweet, too tart, with way more goo than fruit, or it just doesn't have that fresh, homemade cherry pie filling flavor.
The good news is that with a can of cherry pie filling and a few ingredients, you can make a delicious cherry pie filling that is full of flavor, fruit, and tastes more like homemade than something from a can. And it’s really easy to make!
What to add to Canned Cherry Pie Filling to make it Taste Better
It's really easy to make cherry pie filling taste better by dressing it up with a few simple ingredients.
Some brands of cherry pie filling have such an intense sweet flavor, it's overpowering. A simple way to counterbalance the sweetness is by introducing a different flavor profile, like sour.
You can add tartness in the form of fruit juice, flavor extracts, or more fruit:
- Sour cherries
- Fresh lemon juice
- Lemon zest
- Lemon extract
Your cherry pie filling might not be sweet enough, depending on the type of cherries that are used. The ingredients list on some cans of cherry pie filling may tell you if it is made from tart cherries, while others just say "cherries."
You can tone down a tart cherry pie filling by adding in a little something to give it a sweeter taste.
Even a tablespoon of jam, sugar, or a natural sweetener will go a long way toward balancing out a sour cherry pie filling that's a little too puckery.
- Jelly or jam -- cherry jelly or jam will enhance the cherry flavor, but you can use other flavors that complement cherries like blueberry, strawberry, or orange.
- White sugar
- Brown sugar
- Maple syrup
- Agave syrup
Start by stirring in a small amount, like a tablespoon, taste it, and decide if it's sweet enough or if it needs a little more.
Sometimes the ratio of fruit to goo is way off and there just aren't enough cherries. The best way to remedy this is by adding in more of the good stuff.
Simply stir in some fresh, frozen and thawed, or canned fruit. And it doesn't even need to be more cherries! Make up your own flavor combinations by adding fruits that complement the flavors and textures of cherries.
If you are preparing a no-bake dessert, use canned or thawed frozen fruit to keep the textures similarly soft.
Pro tip: Counterbalance too much sweetness or tartness in the pie filling with the fruits you choose to add.
Wondering what tastes great with cherries? Try these:
- More cherries! I like to add a bag of frozen and thawed cherries --- choose from sweet cherries or tart cherries. They add more cherry flavor, pretty contrasting color, and a little firmer texture. You can also use drained canned cherries, tart or sweet. If the pie filling goo is too thick, stir in a little of the cherry juice, as well.
- Berries: raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, cranberries.
- Apples, pears
- Peaches, plums
Extracts, spices, and other flavorings.
My biggest complaint about canned cherry pie filling is that the flavor is just kind of flat. Which is easy enough to fix with extracts and other flavorings:
- Vanilla extract
- Almond extract -- go easy with almond extract, a little goes a long way. Start with ¼ teaspoon.
- Lemon juice -- use fresh lemon juice for the brightest flavor
- Lemon zest
Easy Recipe for Cherry Topping (from a can)
For a fast and easy recipe to dress up a can of cherry pie filling into a cheesecake-topping-worthy treat, check out my recipe for Cherry Topping for Cheesecake here.
What to do with leftover cherry pie filling
When you add more fruit to a can of cherry pie filling, you may end up with more filling than you need for your dessert recipe. Turn the leftovers into a tasty treat.
- Make cherry sundaes
- Mix it into your morning oatmeal
- Layer it with yogurt for a parfait
- Serve it with pancakes, French toast, or waffles
- Layer it with cubes of cake and whipped cream for a trifle
- Whizz it up into a smoothie
- Freeze it for later -- cherry pie filling freezes beautifully
Place it in an airtight container or cover it with plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.
Yes, cherry pie filling freezes beautifully. Place it in a freezer safe container in the freezer for up to 3 months.
No, pie filling is already pre-cooked, which is why it's perfect for no-bake desserts.
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.