Stewed Cherries, Sweet or Savory |

Stewed cherries are a great dessert to make when in season. They’re sweet and tart, with the perfect balance of flavor that is hard to achieve by just using sugar alone.

Stewed cherries are a sweet or savory dish. They can be served as a dessert, side dish, or even an appetizer.


It’s a simple pleasure when it’s sweet, like cherry pie without the crust. When it’s savory, it’s a great sauce for game birds (particularly duck), pig, or a juicy, fatty steak. It’s best prepared using sour cherries in either case. If you can locate them, use fresh, but frozen will suffice. Use the stock or wine to make it savory, and add sugar to taste if using sour cherries; use the wine or water to make it sweet, and add as much sugar as you want. Apricots, cranberries, currants, grapes, or blueberries are examples of other fruits that may be used.

  • 2 pound cherries, sour if possible
  • 1 cup red wine, water, or stock (see headnote)
  • to taste sugar
  • salt and black pepper, freshly ground (for savory)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon powder (optional for sweetness), or
  • 1 fresh thyme sprig (optional for savory)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (or to taste) if using sweet cherries
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest, minced (optional for sweet)
    • In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, mix the pitted cherries with the liquid and simmer, stirring periodically, until the cherries are very soft, approximately 20 minutes.
    • Stir in the sugar, salt, pepper, and cinnamon, if using; season to taste with more salt, pepper, and lemon juice and zest, if desired. Warm, room temperature, or cold cherries may be served.
      Sweet or savory Cherries in Port

    • Make either the sweet or savory variation, but instead of water, wine, or stock, use port (wine). Because port is sweet, taste the cherries first before adding the sugar.
      Jubilee of Cherries

    • Remove the cinnamon, lemon juice, and lemon zest from the recipe. Carry on with the recipe, aiming for a sweet stew. Serve vanilla or other ice cream in 4 to 6 serves. While the cherries are still warm, add 1/4 cup brandy (at least 80 proof); gently touch with a flame, then pour the blazing concoction over the ice cream and serve.


Morello cherries are great for cooking, but they can also be eaten on their own. In this recipe, the cherries are stewed in a sweet compote that is perfect for breakfast or dessert. Reference: morello cherry compote.

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Una is a food website blogger motivated by her love of cooking and her passion for exploring the connection between food and culture. With an enthusiasm for creating recipes that are simple, seasonal, and international, she has been able to connect with people around the world through her website. Una's recipes are inspired by her travels across Mexico, Portugal, India, Thailand, Australia and China. In each of these countries she has experienced local dishes while learning about the culture as well as gaining insight into how food can be used as a bridge between different cultures. Her recipes are often creative combinations of traditional ingredients from various different cuisines blended together to create something new.