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Cherry Sauce – With Fresh, Canned or Frozen Cherries

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Simple and quick homemade cherry sauce made with either sweet or sour cherries, fresh, canned, or frozen cherries.

jar with cherries in sauce with a spoon in it.

I am still trying to get through the last of my sweet cherries… So many of them this year, and I picked as many as I could reach.

I preserved countless jars of cherries, made cakes like this Swiss cherry tart or Cherry Brownies that I would like to post during the next days, roasted cherries on top of strained yogurt, and so on.

And this cherry sauce to serve on waffles as well. I’ve made this sauce so many times I could make it in my sleep.

Recipe ingredients

collage of four pictures of fresh cherries, sugar, cornstarch and lemon.

What cherries to use for making sauce?

As mentioned above, this cherry sauce can be made either with fresh, frozen, or canned cherries.

Fresh or frozen cherries

  • The procedure is pretty much the same; the only difference would be that when using fresh or frozen cherries, I would simmer the cherries for 2 or 3 minutes to soften them lightly or to allow them to defrost and get warm if frozen.

Canned cherries

  • If you use canned cherries, this step is not necessary; canned cherries have already gone softer during the process of preservation. All you have to do in this case is to give them to the thickened liquid in the saucepan.

Sweet or sour cherries

  • Usually, I use the sweet cherries from our cherry tree to make the sauce. When cherries are not in season, I use the cherries I preserved in summer.
  • If I don’t have any preserved cherries anymore, I either buy frozen cherries (mostly sour cherries) or canned cherries, which are always sour cherries.

How to make cherry sauce?


  • Pit fresh cherries. Using a pitter works best (Amazon affiliate link) (1).
  • Strain the liquid if using canned cherries (2). Reserve about 4-5 tablespoons of juice (or use water) to mix with the cornstarch.
  • Pour about 180 ml/ ¾ cup of the cherry liquid into a saucepan. If there is more than ¾ cup of juice in the can, you can use it all; just think of adjusting the cornstarch quantity needed to thicken the juice accordingly.
  • If using fresh or frozen cherries, pour about 180 ml/ ¾ cup of water into the pot.
collage of two pictures of pitted cherries in a bowl and canned cherries in a jar.


  • Add sugar to the pot.
  • About 1-2 tablespoons for canned fruit, which already contains some sugar.
  • 2 or 3 tablespoons for fresh or frozen sweet fruit and maybe 1 tablespoon more for sour cherries. It all depends on your taste. If you like, use less sugar or make the sauce sweeter.


  • Whisk the reserved juice or water (4-5 tablespoons) with the cornstarch. You should have a smooth, thick, yet still pourable paste (3).
  • Bring the liquid to a boil. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cornstarch mixture.


  • Add the cherries to the sauce and stir well. Return the pot to the heat, turn the heat down and simmer the fresh or frozen cherries for 2 or 3 minutes or until slightly softer (4).
  • If using canned cherries, it is enough to let them bubble once or twice until the sauce is slightly thickened.


  • Add flavors. You can leave the cherry sauce plain, and it will still be delicious.
  • However, to make it even better, add some fresh lemon or lime juice.
  • Alternatively, you could flavor it with ½ teaspoon vanilla extract or almond extract or, in winter, with a pinch of cinnamon.
collage of two pictures of cornstarch slury in a bowl and cherry sauce in a pot.


If you make the sauce with canned fruit and you use the juice, be careful with the sugar; depending on the brand you are buying, canned fruit is often heavily sugared.

Recipe FAQ

Can I make it sweeter?

You can add more sugar if you like (or other sweeteners). As we serve it on top of a sweet dessert most of the time, we prefer it a bit tarter to balance the sweetness of the dessert. However, especially if making the sauce with sour cherries, you can add sugar to taste.

How to store?

The cherry sauce keeps well in the fridge. Place it in an airtight container; it will keep for about a week.

Can I reheat it?

Sure. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of water and reheat on low heat while stirring often.

jar of homemade cherry sauce.

How to serve?

  • You can serve the cherry sauce either warm or at room temperature.
  • A typical German way of serving the cherry sauce is on Belgian waffles. Waffles with cherry sauce and whipped cream are a classic of German cuisine.
  • Otherwise, you can have the cherry sauce on crepes or pancakes. You can have it with vanilla ice cream or with strained yogurt. You can top milk rice or semolina pudding with it.
  • You can make a delicious and good-looking dessert by layering mascarpone/cream cheese/Greek yogurt mixed with whipped cream and cherry sauce.
  • Or you could serve it with the Yogurt Bomb instead of berries. And, by the way, this Yogurt Bomb is really the best dessert ever; you should definitely try it!!!
  • You can thicken the cherry sauce with a little more cornstarch and use it as a cake filling or cake topping.
waffel topped with cherry sauce and heavy cream.

More cherry recipes

Do you like this recipe?

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jar of homemade cherry sauce.

Cherry Sauce – With Fresh, Canned or Frozen Cherries

Simple and quick homemade cherry sauce made with either sweet or sour cherries, fresh, canned or frozen cherries.
4.50 from 16 votes
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Course: Desserts
Cuisine: German
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 92kcal
Author: Adina


  • 350 g cherries 12.5 oz/ about 1 ½ cups, pitted but left whole, Note 1
  • 180 ml juice from the canned cherries OR water if using fresh or frozen cherries 6 fl. oz/ ¾ cup
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar Note 2
  • 1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice freshly squeezed
  • Other flavors are optional: ½ teaspoon vanilla extract OR ½ teaspoon almond extract OR a pinch of cinnamon


  • Pit the cherries and set them aside. If using canned cherries, drain them and keep the juice.
  • Juice: Pour 4-5 tablespoons of the canning juice into a small bowl. Pour the remaining juice, about 180 ml/ 6 oz/ ¾ cup juice, into a saucepan. If using fresh or frozen cherries, replace the juice with water.
  • Cook: Add sugar to the pot with the juice. Bring the liquid to a boil.
  • Cornstarch slurry: In the meantime, whisk together the reserved 4-5 tablespoons of juice (or water) with the cornstarch. You should have a thick yet still pourable paste.
    Remove the pot from the heat. Slowly whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Whisk well.
  • Add the cherries and stir well. Return the saucepan to the hob and simmer the cherries for 2 or 3 minutes if they are fresh or frozen. If using canned cherries, let them bubble once or twice, then remove them from heat.
  • Flavors: Stir in the lemon juice and either one of the flavors: vanilla extract, almond extract, or cinnamon.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature as suggested above.


  1. You can use sweet or sour cherries, fresh, frozen or canned cherries.
  2. Add more sugar if using sour cherries or to taste.


Serving: 1/4 of the sauce | Calories: 92kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 1g | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 18g
Tried this Recipe? Pin it for Later!Mention @adinabeck or tag #WhereIsMySpoon!

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Recipe Rating


Friday 15th of July 2022

Doesn't mention the sugar and where to add it. Liquid and cornstarch mixing / qtys are not clear


Saturday 16th of July 2022

Hi. Mix the sugar with the juice in the pan. The rest should be clear: you have to mix the reserved juice (4-5 tablespoons) with the cornstarch to get a slurry to thicken the sauce.

Joy Simon

Friday 25th of March 2022

I so enjoy these recipes. I wondered if you ever use maraschino cherries for sauce? I forgot to buy cherry topping for cheesecake. Will the substitution work with your beautiful recipe?


Friday 25th of March 2022

Hi Joy. I am glad you like the recipe. I'm sorry, I can't say if maraschino cherries would work, I live in Germany, and I've never even seen them here.


Sunday 17th of May 2020

I used canned cherries because that is all I had and sadly all the cherries came apart. Plus I didn't like that the sauce is now opaque. I wish I used tapioca starch instead of cornstarch.


Monday 14th of March 2022

@Kathy, if you actually bring the sauce with the added cornstarch and juice to a boil, then simmer several minutes only, the opaqueness will be 100% gone and you’ll have a gorgeous cherry sauce.


Sunday 17th of May 2020

Hi Kathy. How long did you cook the cherries? They should only bubble once or twice, I've made them this way dozens of times and they never once came apart. Tapioca starch is not an option where I live, so I don't know how that works, the cornstarch we have is fine, the sauce is always shiny.

Kathy @ Beyond the Chicken Coop

Sunday 15th of July 2018

My cherries are just coming on and I have just begun picking them. I love the idea of making cherry sauce - especially since I know I will have more than I know what to do with them all!


Sunday 15th of July 2018

Wow! You have been very busy! Lots of good recipes that I've missed. So glad I didn't miss this one. I love cherries and would love to be lucky enough to have a tree. Lucky you! I'm envious. Your cherries are beautiful and this sauce looks so good! A gorgeous red!