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This cherry crisp recipe is the dessert of your dreams! The pan of sweet tangy cherries is topped with cinnamon-spiced buttery crumbles.

Cherry Crisp Recipe
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Welcome to the dessert of your dreams: this Old Fashioned cherry crisp recipe! Most summers we go cherry picking in Michigan and bring back a mound of the dark, sweet fruit. One of the best ways to use it? Bake up a crisp, of course! This one is perfect in our book, with sweet tart, juicy red fruit covered in cinnamon-spiced butter crumbles. (We also like to add a hint of ground cardamom for some intrigue!) Either way, served with homemade whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, it’s next-level good.

Ingredients for cherry crisp

Cherry crisp is the perfect dessert to highlight the sweetness of cherries! It pleases everyone and is very simple to make, with basic ingredients you likely already have on hand. It’s also versatile for different types of diets! Here are the ingredients for a basic cherry crisp:

  • Sweet cherries, fresh, frozen or canned
  • Granulated and brown sugar
  • Cornstarch
  • Lemon zest
  • Vanilla extract
  • Old Fashioned rolled oats
  • All purpose flour (or almond flour, for gluten-free)
  • Cinnamon
  • Salted butter (or vegan butter or coconut oil, for vegan)
  • Salt
Cherries

Types of cherries

This cherry crisp is best made when cherries are in season: which is the summer here in Midwest America! We love to go cherry picking in Michigan and nabbed a huge bowl of cherries for a fraction of what you’d pay at the store! But this recipe is also great with fresh grocery store cherries, frozen, or canned cherries! Here are a few types of cherries you can use in this cherry crisp:

  • Sweet cherries: The most popular types of sweet cherries are Bing (dark red) and Rainier (golden and red). Bing cherries are easy to find at the grocery store and often you can find them fresh or frozen. They are very sweet, firm and juicy.
  • Tart cherries: Montmorency cherries are sour cherries grown in Michigan. They’re more fragile to transport so most often you’ll find them dried or sometimes frozen. You can use them here if you can find them fresh, but add about 2 tablespoons extra sugar to the filling (then taste and add more as desired).
  • Frozen cherries: Frozen cherries work well in crisp! Keep in mind the note about adding more sugar to tart cherries above.
Cherry Crisp recipe

Can you use canned cherries?

Canned cherries also work; it’s best if they are packed in water and unsweetened. Avoid using cherry pie filling because it has an artificially sweet flavor. One 15-ounce can of cherries has about 2 cups of cherries, so you’ll need 2 ½ cans here.

Tips for how to pit cherries

The most time consuming part of a cherry crisp recipe is pitting the sweet cherries! There are a few methods for how to do it, but we’ve found it’s easiest to pit cherries with a straw. Make sure it is a metal or a strong plastic straw (not disposable, which is too flimsy). Here’s what to do:

  • Remove the cherry stem.
  • Place the straw where the stem was and hold the cherry with one hand.
  • Press the straw into the fruit firmly but gently, and the pit will pop out the other side.
  • Keep in mind, this is a messy process! Wear an apron and you may want to wear plastic gloves to keep the cherry juice from staining your hands.
Cherry Crisp recipe

Flavor adders for cherry crisp: cardamom and more

This cherry crisp recipe tastes incredible as written, but we like to add one additional ingredient to take the flavor over the top: ground cardamom! It adds floral notes that bring a hint of complexity. Here are a few more flavor adders:

  • Ground cardamom: Use ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom in the topping, or simply sprinkle with a hint of ground cardamom when serving
  • Orange zest: Substitute the lemon zest for orange zest for an even more citrusy zing
  • Amaretto: Why not? Stir in 1 tablespoon amaretto for a cherry amaretto crisp
  • Walnuts, pecans or almonds: For an added crunch, stir in ¼ to ½ cup chopped nuts to the crisp topping.

Diet variations

This cherry crisp recipe is versatile and works for many types of diets! Here are a few ways to modify the recipe for diet preferences:

  • Vegan: Use vegan butter or refined coconut oil (unrefined also works; it just tastes more like coconut!).
  • Gluten Free: Use almond flour instead of all-purpose: its crunchy texture works perfectly in a crisp.
Cherry dessert

More cherry recipes

Love cherries? Here are a few fun ways to use them in desserts, drinks and more:

This cherry crisp recipe is…

Vegetarian. For vegan, use coconut oil or vegan butter. For gluten-free, use almond flour.

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Cherry Crisp Recipe

Cherry Crisp


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5 from 1 review

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x

Description

This cherry crisp recipe is the fruit dessert of your dreams! The pan of sweet tangy cherries is topped with cinnamon-spiced buttery crumbles.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 5 cups pitted sweet cherries (1 3/4 pounds)*
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon (or ¼ teaspoon orange zest)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup Old Fashioned rolled oats**
  • ¾ cup all purpose flour (or almond flour for gluten-free)
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Optional: ground cardamom (¼ teaspoon in the crisp or for serving)
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 tablespoons cold salted butter (or coconut oil or vegan butter for vegan)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Pit the cherries. In a medium bowl, mix them with the granulated sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest and vanilla extract in a bowl, then pour the filling into a round 9-inch pie pan, 9 x 9 inch baking dish or 7 x 11 baking dish.
  3. In another medium bowl, mix together the oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and kosher salt. Cut the butter into small pieces and then use your hands to mix it into the oats until fully distributed and there are no more dry crumbs. It may take a while so be patient; you can also use a fork or pastry cutter if you prefer. (If using coconut oil, it can be room temperature; use the same method to add it.) Break the dough into crumbles with your fingers and place them in an even layer on top of the cherries.
  4. Bake: Bake for 45 to 50 minutes until the top is evenly golden brown and the filling is bubbly. Cool for 30 minutes to 1 hour, then serve warm. Refrigerate leftovers up to 3 days (reheat to room temperature if desired). This crumble also freezes well for several months in a sealed container; reheat it in a 350 degree oven until bubbly and the topping is crisp.

Notes

*Frozen cherries work too. If using tart cherries instead of sweet, add a few more tablespoons sugar to the filling, to taste. Canned cherries also work; it’s best if they are packed in water and unsweetened. We don’t suggest using cherry pie filling here because it has an artificially sweet flavor. One 15-ounce can of cherries has about 2 cups of cherries, so you’ll need 2 ½ cans for this recipe.

**If desired, you can add ¼ to ½ cup chopped pecans, walnuts or almonds to the topping.

  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegetarian

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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3 Comments

  1. Angela says:

    I went cherry picking in Michigan this summer too! Just love it. This recipe looks really good – is it best to measure using weight of the cherries than use a measuring cup?

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      This recipe is forgiving either way, but weighing will be a bit more precise.

      1. Angela says:

        I weighted and froze in portions since I wasn’t going to use all of it before it was too late. I thawed some out recently and decided to make this. It’s delicious! The filling was a little dry but maybe my fault. Should I have mixed the filling ingredients while the cherries were frozen, would that have been better?