This post may contain affiliate links. Learn more.

Sour cherry crisp is an easy and beautiful way to let this fleeting seasonal ingredient shine, without overwhelming it. Make-ahead friendly and ready in an hour.

sour cherry crisp a la mode in a deep dish pie plate and on a plate
Want to save this recipe?
Enter your email below and I’ll send it to your inbox. Plus get great new recipes every week!
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Why we love this recipe

There’s nothing better than a big, bubbly plate of sour cherry crisp to share with friends. This recipe:

  • Makes the most of fleeting seasonal produce, enhancing and gently sweetening sour cherries’ natural goodness without overwhelming it
  • Is one of the breeziest desserts around, perfect for a low-key introduction to summer
  • Can be made with frozen sour cherries, which is great since the season lasts mere days

The only hard part is pitting the cherries. In general I’m not a fan of single-purpose kitchen tools, but a cherry pitter is an exception. It makes things SO much easier (and you can use it for olives, too).

What you’ll need

Here’s a glance at the ingredients you’ll need to make this recipe. First, you’ll make the simple filling.

filling ingredients in bowls
  • Sour cherries, also called tart cherries, are delicate, thin-skinned, and bright red. As the name suggests, they’re very sour, and they have a floral briskness that really shines when lightly sweetened. Please refer to the FAQ section below for more information.
  • A little bit of vanilla amplifies the cherries’ flavor, and a splash of lemon juice adds a complexity to their brightness.

Then you’ll make the topping. This is our versatile crumble topping that we use for many a fruit crisp.

topping ingredients in bowls
  • Old-fashioned rolled oats give a bit of heft and chew to the topping. I prefer these, but you can use quick rolled oats if that’s what you’ve got.
  • Good old light brown sugar adds a caramel sweetness. You can experiment with other brown sugars if you like.
  • All-purpose flour is my go-to. To make this recipe gluten-free, you can substitute a 1:1 GF flour blend (and make sure the oats are also certified GF).

How to make it

Here’s what you’ll do to make a beautiful sour cherry crisp. You can see the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post, and get all the details in the recipe card below.

step by step
  1. Place the pitted cherries, sugar, and cornstarch into a mixing bowl and gently stir to coat. Mix in the vanilla and lemon juice.
  2. Pour filling into a deep-dish pie plate and set it over a rimmed baking sheet to catch drips.
  3. To make the topping, stir together the dry ingredients and then pinch in the butter with your fingers until it comes together into a crumbly topping with no loose bits of flour or oats.
  4. Arrange the topping evenly over the filling. Place the pie plate on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any drips. Cover with foil and bake in the center of a 375°F oven for 60 minutes, then uncover and continue baking until the topping is browned and the filling is bubbly all the way to the very center, 30+ minutes more.

Expert tips and FAQs

What variety are sour cherries?

There are several varieties that fall into the sour category, including Montmorency and Morello. You can use them interchangeably in this recipe.

Where do you get sour cherries?

We get them once a year by picking as many as we can at Battleview Orchards and freezing them for use throughout the year. You can also buy morello cherries in syrup in a jar. I’ve never used the jarred ones, but I’d recommend draining them and substantially reducing the amount of sugar in the filling. I’d probably try two tablespoons, but you might want to use up to 1/4 cup.

Can I use frozen sour cherries?

Yes. Frozen fruit gives off a lot of liquid, so you’ll need to defrost them first and drain off all the liquid before proceeding with the recipe. You can either discard the liquid or put it into a very small pot and simmer it until reduced to a few tablespoons, then add it to the filling.

Can I make this recipe in advance? What about leftovers?

Yes, you can make it the night before or early in the day and leave to cool at room temperature.

If you have leftovers, you can cover the pie plate and leave it at room temperature for 24 hours. After that, store it in the fridge for up to a week. If you want to recrisp the topping before serving, pop it into the toaster oven for a few minutes.

More favorite sour cherry recipes

sour cherry crisp in a deep dish pie plate

Hungry for more?

Subscribe to Umami Girl’s email updates, and follow along on Instagram.

sour cherry crisp a la mode in a deep dish pie plate and on a plate
4.38 from 75 votes

Sour Cherry Crisp

By Carolyn Gratzer Cope
This unfussy, fruit-packed sour cherry crisp is a lovely way to showcase sour cherries
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total: 1 hour 50 minutes
Servings: 8
Want to save this recipe?
Enter your email and I’ll send it to your inbox. Plus get great new recipes every week!
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Ingredients 

For the filling

  • 2 pounds (908 grams) pitted sour cherries
  • ½ cup (100 grams) sugar
  • ¼ cup (28 grams) cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice

For the topping

  • ¾ cup (60 grams) rolled oats
  • ¾ cup (90 grams) all-purpose flour
  • cup (142 grams) light muscovado sugar or light brown sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 8 tablespoons (112 grams) butter, diced

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 375°F with a rack in the center.
  • In a large bowl, gently mix together the sour cherries, sugar, cornstarch, vanilla extract, and lemon juice until well combined.
  • Set a deep-dish pie plate on a heavy, rimmed baking sheet and pour in the filling.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the oats, flour, brown sugar, and salt. Stir together thoroughly. Add the diced butter and, using your fingers, pinch the ingredients together until they form a cohesive, crumbly topping and no lumps of butter or loose bits of flour or sugar are left.
  • Crumble the topping evenly over the filling.
  • Place the pie plate on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any drips. Cover with foil and bake for 60 minutes, then uncover and continue baking until the topping is browned and the filling is bubbly all the way to the very center, 30+ minutes more.
  • Serve alone or topped with vanilla ice cream.

Notes

  1. To make this recipe gluten-free, use certified gluten-free oats and a gluten-free flour blend such as this one.
  2. Protip: Fruit crisps make an acceptable breakfast once in a while. 🙂 Serve with alone or topped with vanilla ice cream for dessert, or with Greek yogurt as an excuse to eat dessert for breakfast or brunch.
  3. Sour cherry crisp is equally great warm or at room temperature.
  4. Storing and reheating leftovers: Cover and leave at room temperature for 24 hours. After that, store it in the fridge for up to a week. If you want to recrisp the topping before serving, pop it into the toaster oven for a few minutes.
  5. If you like, you can prepare the crisp in advance, wrap well in plastic wrap and foil, and freeze the whole thing for up to a year. You can bake straight from frozen, adding some extra time and covering to prevent over-browning.
  6. You can start with frozen sour cherries if that's what you've got. Frozen fruit gives off a lot of liquid, so you'll need to defrost them first and drain off all the liquid before proceeding with the recipe. You can either discard the liquid or put it into a very small pot and simmer it until reduced to a few tablespoons, then add it to the filling.

Nutrition

Calories: 322kcal, Carbohydrates: 51.4g, Protein: 3.4g, Fat: 11.8g, Fiber: 2.9g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Crisps and Crumbles
Cuisine: American
Tried this recipe?Mention @umamigirl or tag #umamigirl!

Hungry for more?

Subscribe to Umami Girl’s email updates, and follow along on Instagram.

Hungry for More?
Subscribe to Umami Girl's email updates, and follow along on Instagram.
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

More Recipes

Carolyn Gratzer Cope Bio Photo

About Carolyn Gratzer Cope

Hi there, I'm Carolyn Gratzer Cope, founder and publisher of Umami Girl. Join me in savoring life, one recipe at a time. I'm a professional recipe developer with training from the French Culinary Institute (now ICE) and a lifetime of studying, appreciating, and sharing food.

4.38 from 75 votes (75 ratings without comment)

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




8 Comments

  1. Made this twice, first time I doubled the recipe for the topping because I find that most cases it doesn’t make enough. This time I was wrong, way too much topping and not enough cherries, but the taste was excellent. So today, I made it again and stuck to the recipe as written. Something went wrong though, there was way too liquid. I baked it for the full 40 minutes and it looked good, but after it cooled enough and I went to serve it, there was a ton of liquid in the bottom of the pie dish. The taste is still great, and the topping was perfect, just a lot of excess liquid. I used fresh cherries, same as before, not sure what happened, maybe too many cherries this time? I will try again because it really did taste good.

    1. Hi Lori, if you waited until it cooled off for a while, I’m not sure why there was too much liquid. It could just be the particular type of sour cherries. I wouldn’t recommend reducing the cherries — you could add a little more cornstarch to the filling mixture to help it thicken up a bit more.

  2. Overall a great recipe. I used frozen cherries since I can’t get fresh tart cherries where I live and I did find that the crust was much soggier than it is in other crisps I’ve made. I think it would have turned out better if I had let the frozen cherries thaw before cooking. Leaving them frozen leaves large gaps for the topping to fall into and soften. Still delicious, and an incredibly easy recipe.

    1. Thanks, Dan. I’m going to add a note about this in the post. Frozen fruit gives off a ton of liquid, so I recommend defrosting and draining the liquid. You can either discard it or cook it down and include it (as I note in some other recipes but not this one, whoops). Glad you enjoyed it.

      1. I’ve made this recipe twice with fresh tart cherries from my tree. Family loved it with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream..

      2. I have a jar of sour cherries in syrup. Should Less sugar be added or should I rinse the cherries? This recipe sounds more healthy than some.

      3. Hi Bea, I have to admit that I’ve never used jarred sour cherries in syrup. That said, I’d recommend draining them and substantially reducing the amount of sugar in the filling. I’d probably try two tablespoons, but you might want to use up to 1/4 cup. If you make it, please let us know how it goes, since I’m sure others will have the same question. Thank you!