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Classic Cherry Pie

Cherry Pie Slice

As much as I love pie, I don’t like to compromise on the qualities that I think make up a great one. For instance, I think a pie has to have a good crust that is a blend of flaky and tender. I also think that that crust should be well browned when it comes out of the oven, not pasty looking. And when it comes to cherry pie, I absolutely do not want a filling that is all goopy and full of more cherry jelly than cherries! That might make me a bit picky, but it also makes me someone who has great cherry pie.

This is my very favorite cherry pie recipe. The pie is made from scratch with fresh cherries and, although you can try refrigerated crusts and use jarred cherries in this recipe, I think that everyone who likes pie should make it from fresh, sweet cherries at least once. The cherries are pitted and tossed with a mixture of sugar and cornstarch to ensure that their juices thicken and that the pie will hold together nicely after slicing. They are put into a pie crust-lined pie plate and topped off with a second layer of pie crust to make a beautiful, double-layer pie. The pie is simple, with just a few ingredients in the filling and a few in the crust, and you can’t beat the flavor of the finished product. It is just sweet enough to really be bursting with cherry flavor, and there isn’t any of that cherry goop to get in the way of the actual berries.

Wait until the pie is close to room temperature before slicing into it because that will give the filling enough time to thicken. This pie slices neatly to reveal tons of cherries between a crisp, flaky crust made with a blend of vegetable shortening (nonhydrogenated) and butter. I latticed the top of the crust, but you can put down a full pie crust and simply cut a few vents, too. The baking time will not change. I’d recommend serving it with vanilla ice cream, but this one doesn’t need a single thing besides a fork!

My Favorite Cherry Pie
5 cups pitted cherries (pref. sweet cherries)
4 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp butter
1 recipe for double crust pie, below
cream or milk, for finishing
coarse sugar, for finishing

Preheat oven to 400F.
Place cherries in a large bowl and toss with cornstarch, salt and sugar.
Roll out one half of the pie dough on a lightly floured surface into a circle just larger than your pie plate. Transfer to pie plate and gently press into place. Pour cherries into pie plate and dot filling with pieces of butter.
Repeat with remaining pie dough and lay sheet on top of the cherries. Pinch the edges of the crusts together to seal the pie, then crimp the edges with your fingertip. Cut 5-6 inch-long vents in the top of the crust.
Brush crust with cream or milk, then sprinkle with a little bit of sugar.
Bake for 60-70 minutes, until filling is thick and bubbly and crust is a dark golden brown. Wrap a little aluminum foil around the edges of the crust if it gets too dark.
Cool to room temperature on a wire rack before slicing.

Double Pie Crust
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
3/4 cup butter, cut into 1 inch cubes and chilled
1/4 cup shortening, chilled
6-8 tbsp ice water

Whisk together flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Toss butter and shortening in the flour mixture, then rub in with your finger tips until mixture is coarse and no chunks larger than a small almond remain. Add water and press dough into a ball with the palms of your hands. Add an additional tablespoon or two of water if necessary to pull the dough together.
Divide dough into two balls and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least one hour, and up to two days.

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  • Annie
    June 9, 2010

    Thanks for posting this recipe! I made a cherry pie recently that wasn’t quite what I wanted, and had way too much “goo.” This sounds more like what I wanted.

    One question: do you only use fresh cherries, or would frozen cherries (thawed and drained) be okay?

  • Belinda @zomppa
    June 9, 2010

    I agree; the crust is so very, very important!

  • Lilly
    June 9, 2010

    Thanks for the recipe!! I visit your blog very often (you are on my top 5 food blogs).

    This pie looks delicious! I am a big fan of cherry pie but since we don’t have local fresh cherries where I live, I don’t know how to pick them to get a good cherry pie. Can you give me a hint? Should the be soft? or it doesn’t matter?

    Thanks!!! I’ll read you soon!

  • Nicole
    June 9, 2010

    Annie – I use drained, jarred cherries if I can’t get fresh. Frozen cherries work very well, too, and do not need to be defrosted before use.

  • Paula
    June 9, 2010

    oh, I`m going to do this today! 🙂

  • Emma @CakeMistress
    June 10, 2010

    Ohmeegosh. As soon as cherries are in season over here, I’m definitely making a sweet cherry pie.

  • Patricia Scarpin
    June 10, 2010

    I love anything cherry, Nic, and have got to try this pie as soon as the fruit is available here in Brazil.
    That lattice top is beautiful!

  • Jackie C
    June 10, 2010

    I’m having a cherry pie slice for breakfast. As I read your opening lines, I looked at my pie and using your guidelines it is close to perfect. The crust in nice and brown, the cherries are firmly in the pie and not a touch of goo. Oh, it also tastes of cherry. I added a little almond extract because my Mom said that is the way to make cherry pie. I also used Splenda because I have to. BTW the Splenda did a great job with cherry pie.

  • Gabrielle
    June 10, 2010

    I know the question of jarred or frozen has come up..but down here in NC we get have the Bing cherries shipped in (darn you Michigan!). Would these work? Would I need to tweak sugar/flavorings to take away some of the tartness?

    Thanks for help!

  • Alison
    May 23, 2012

    I’m making this pie now. I just finished taking all tje pitts out…phew that was fun. Well I’m wondering what I add the butter to in the filling???? You say to add the cherries, cornstarch and sugar…when do I add the 2 tbsp butter?

  • Maria
    October 11, 2012

    What can i use instead of shortening please??
    Thanks !!

  • Nicole
    October 11, 2012

    Maria -You can use butter

  • Bernadette
    November 15, 2012

    @Maria, you can also use lard. It is best to use a combo of lard and butter or shortening and butter in crust due to the different melting points of the two.

  • zee
    March 21, 2013

    I moved to the Caribbean found Del Monte brand in the can with syrup. Should i drain off the syrup and then add the sugar etc. Please help I want to make this pie.

  • Nicole
    December 8, 2016

    Hi Samantha,
    It’s a matter of personal preference, really. Most cooked cherry pie fillings contain a lot of liquid and need a lot of thickener, so they have a jelly sort of feel after baking. I don’t mind a little bit of juice in my filling, just as I might expect to find in an apple pie or blueberry pie, for a fresher flavor. That said, the crust shouldn’t get soggy as long as you’re using a good pie plate and give the pie enough time in the oven to brown properly. The biggest thing that leads to pies being soggy is an underbaked crust. Any cherry pie filling (most fruit pies, actually) can handle a little extra time in the oven so that the crust can brown up if it doesn’t look done enough.
    Don’t worry about frozen cherries giving off too much juice. They will be a bit softer in the finished pie than fresh cherries, but they’ll be just fine as long as you put them in from frozen, not defrosted.
    I hope that helps!

  • Samantha
    December 12, 2016

    Hi Nicole–thanks, that does help! Though I’m a bit confused because I see a comment you left before (back in 2010) telling another user to thaw if using frozen cherries. I know that was a long time ago, though, so perhaps you do things differently now?

    Thanks for the info! I’ll report back after the holidays with my results!

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