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How do you make store bought cherry pie filling taste better?

Use Quality Ingredients

Store bought cherry pie fillings can often lack flavor and depth. To improve the taste, focus on using quality ingredients. Look for cherry pie filling made with real fruit rather than high fructose corn syrup and artificial flavors. Fruit fillings with no added sugars tend to taste better. You can also try making your own cherry pie filling from fresh or frozen cherries. This allows you to control the amount of sugar and spices.

Add Flavorings

One easy way to increase the cherry flavor is to add extra flavorings:

  • Almond extract – Add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon to boost the cherry flavor
  • Vanilla extract – 1 teaspoon enhances the filling’s sweetness
  • Cinnamon – 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon gives warmth and complexity
  • Lemon zest – Brightens up the cherry flavor

Start with small amounts and adjust to taste. Too much of any one spice can overpower the cherry taste.

Make a Quick Cherry Compote

For an easy flavor boost, make a quick cherry compote:

  1. In a saucepan, combine 1 cup cherry pie filling, 1/4 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons water and 1/4 teaspoon almond extract.
  2. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until thickened.
  3. Let cool completely before using as a pie filling.

The extra sugar and cooking helps intensify the cherry flavor. The compote takes the canned filling from flat to gourmet.

Complementary Ingredients

Add ingredients that enhance the cherry flavor:

Ingredient Amount
Lemon juice 1-2 tablespoons
Balsamic vinegar 1-2 teaspoons
Kirschwasser (cherry brandy) 1-2 tablespoons

The acidity of lemon juice helps make the cherry taste pop. Balsamic vinegar adds sweetness and complexity. Kirschwasser offers an authentic cherry flavor.

Fresh Cherry Topping

Take canned cherry pie filling from dull to delightful with a fresh cherry topping:

  1. In a saucepan, combine 2 cups fresh or frozen pitted cherries, 1/4 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons water.
  2. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes until cherries release their juices and soften.
  3. Use as topping for pie made with store bought filling.

The homemade cherry topping provides lots of bright, juicy cherry flavor. Spoon it over pie made with canned filling to mask any artificial flavors.

Bake as Turnovers

Baking store bought cherry pie filling in turnover form concentrates the flavor:

  1. Thaw 1 box of frozen puff pastry and unroll sheets.
  2. Cut out circles with a biscuit cutter and place filling in the center of half the circles.
  3. Brush edges with water, fold over and press with a fork to seal. Cut slits in top.
  4. Bake at 400°F for 14-16 minutes until golden brown.
  5. Dust with powdered sugar if desired.

The rich, flaky pastry complements the cherry filling. Baking in individual portions allows the filling to reduce down for intensified cherry flavor.

Blend with Other Fruit

Combining cherry pie filling with other fruits amplifies the flavor:

  • Cherry-Berry – Mix cherry with raspberries, blueberries or strawberries
  • Cherry-Peach – Combine cherry with peaches or nectarines
  • Cherry-Apple – Blend cherry with sliced apples or apple pie filling
  • Cherry-Plum – Mix together cherry and plum fillings

The additional fruits provide texture and extra dimension. Peach mellows out the tart cherry taste. Berries make it brighter. Apple gives warmth. Experiment to find your perfect fruit blend.

Spiked Cherry Filling

For an adult twist, spike store bought cherry pie filling with liquor:

Liquor Amount
Kirschwasser 2-3 tablespoons
Amaretto 1-2 tablespoons
Brandy 2-3 tablespoons
Bourbon 1-2 tablespoons

The alcohol extracts flavor from the cherries to make a boozy, intensified filling. Take care not overdo it, as too much liquor can overpower. Start with small amounts and add more to taste.

Sweeten Up

If canned cherry filling seems overly tart or artificial, extra sweetener can help:

  • White sugar – 1 to 4 tablespoons
  • Brown sugar – 1 to 4 tablespoons for deeper flavor
  • Maple syrup – 1 to 4 tablespoons for rich sweetness
  • Honey – 1 to 4 tablespoons to complement cherry flavor

Stir in your sweetener of choice a little at a time until desired sweetness is reached. Taste after each addition, as too much sugar will overpower the cherry taste.

Thicken It Up

For better consistency and mouthfeel, thicken up thin or runny pie filling:

  • Cornstarch – Mix 1-2 teaspoons with cold water, then stir into hot filling to thicken.
  • Tapioca starch – Use 1-2 teaspoons sprinkled over filling.
  • Quick cooking tapioca – Stir in 1-2 tablespoons to thicken.
  • Flour – Whisk 1-2 tablespoons flour into cold filling before pouring into pie.

Thickened filling will be less runny and have a richer texture. Let cool completely before using or filling may separate.

Adjust Sweet and Tart Balance

The ideal cherry pie filling strikes a perfect sweet-tart balance. To achieve this:

  • If too sweet – Add lemon juice, balsamic or tart cherries.
  • If too tart – Add sugar, honey, brown sugar or extra vanilla.
  • If bland – Increase spices like cinnamon and almond extract.
  • If artificial – Fresh cherry topping or real fruit ingredients.

Taste a small spoonful of filling and adjust ingredients accordingly to get the sweetness and flavor just right.


With a few easy tweaks, store bought cherry pie filling can be transformed into a fresh, homemade tasting filling. Use real fruit fillings whenever possible and enhance with complementary ingredients like almond extract, spices and lemon. Cook down fillings to intensify flavor or add a fresh cherry topping. Adjusting the sweet-tart balance and texture also improves the overall taste. With the right adjustments, canned cherry filling can become a star player in your next pie.