Looking for a taste of summer? You can’t do much better than a cherry pie. For many of us, fresh cherries remind us of family vacations, trips to the orchard and the delicious, messy affair of pitting and eating these stone fruits. When you fold those into a delicious pie crust, well that’s just pure nostalgia (and a phenomenal treat).
While making your own cherry pie takes a little time with the picking and the pitting, the recipe itself is straightforward. So grab a pal to help you prep the cherries and get to work making a cherry pie from scratch.
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How to Make Cherry Pie from Scratch
To make a great fresh cherry pie—no canned filling here—you need a good recipe like one for juicy cherry pie from reader Karen Berner of Connecticut. To make this five-star pie, you’ll need some baking basics and some good cherries.
For the crust:
- 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup cold butter, cubed
- 1/3 cup shortening
- 8-10 tablespoons ice-cold water
For the filling:
- 5 cups tart cherries, pitted
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
For the topping:
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 1 teaspoon sugar
Step 1: Make the Pie Crust
Taste of Home
For this pie, you can use your go-to crust recipe (just be sure to make enough for the top and bottom crusts). However, our Test Kitchen recommends the pie crust right in this recipe. It uses a mix of butter and shortening so you get that flaky, buttery flavor with the tenderness that shortening provides.
To make this crust, you’re going to follow standard pie pastry procedure. Start by mixing the flour and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Then cut in the butter and shortening with a pastry blender (just one of a few pie baking tools to stock in your kitchen) until the mix is crumbly—the butter and shortening should be pea-sized. Then add in the water a tablespoon at a time until the dough holds together when pressed. Cold water and cold butter are absolutely crucial here—they will help produce a flaky crust.
When you’re satisfied with your pastry, divide it into two, shape each half into a disk and wrap. Stash the pastry in the fridge for at least an hour. You can prep it a day ahead and let it rest overnight, too.
Editor’s tip: If you want your pie crust-making to go quickly, break out your food processor. Add the dry ingredients, butter and shortening together and pulse with quick bursts (don’t keep the machine running—it’ll heat up and melt the butter). Then when the butter is in small pieces, add in the water a bit at a time and pulse.
Step 2: Make the Cherry Filling
While your pie pastry is chilling, get to work on the pie filling. This recipe calls for fresh, pitted cherries. You’ll want to use tart cherries for this recipe, which is the most popular variety for pie. If you can’t find fresh cherries, frozen works fine here. If you use frozen, be sure to measure them while frozen to get the proper volume.
Editor’s tip: If you’re pitting the cherries yourself, invest in a cherry pitter. There are some shortcuts, but when you’re working with a lot of cherries, there’s no substitute for the right tool for the job.
Pop the pitted cherries in a large mixing bowl and drizzle the lemon juice and almond extract over the top. In another dish, whisk the flour, cinnamon and sugar together just to combine them. Then sprinkle this mix over the cherries and toss to coat. Set aside and get back to work on the crust.
Step 3: Roll Out the Crust
Taste of Home
After letting the pastry rest, it’s time to roll out your pie crust. Dust your work surface and rolling pin with a bit of flour and roll out the pastry, turning a quarter turn every so often to keep the shape round. Roll until the crust is an eighth-inch thick. The crust should be large enough to fit into a nine-inch pie plate with some overhang.
If you need help moving the pie pastry from the worktop to the pan, drape the crust over the rolling pin and transfer to the pie plate. You can also fold your crust into quarters and unfold it once it’s in the pan. Work quickly but mindfully.
Once the crust is in place, patch any holes (it’s OK—we all get them) and trim the excess with a sharp knife or kitchen scissors. Leave about a half-inch overhang of pastry to form the crimped edge.
Step 4: Fill and Add the Top Crust
Taste of Home
Next, roll out the top crust of the pie. There are lots of ways to finish a double-crusted pie. You can go for a traditional lattice pie crust or a single round of pastry (just be sure to add some slits to vent). For this cherry pie, our Test Kitchen got creative with cookie cutters.
To make this starry top crust, roll out the second disk of dough. Again, you’ll want it about an eight-inch-thick and large enough to drape over the whole pie with a bit of room around the edge to spare. Use a cookie cutter—simpler shapes work best, just check out this version—to cut out designs. Make sure to leave enough pastry between your cutouts so the crust doesn’t tear as you transfer it to the pie dish.
When the pie crust is in place, trim the edges again (leave some extra around the border) using a sharp knife or kitchen shears.
Step 5: Crimp the Edges and Bake
Taste of Home
Next, you’ll need to seal the edges of the pie crust. To do this, fold the top and bottom crusts together and pinch them using your fingers from one hand and the knuckle from another. This will form a crimped edge. You can check out other ways to finish a pie crust, too. Our Test Kitchen has lots of tips.
Pop the pie into a 375ºF oven and bake for 40 minutes. Carefully remove the pie from the oven and brush the top with milk and sprinkle with sugar. This will give it a nice crunch. You can use granulated sugar here, but a coarse sugar will give the pie more texture.
Place the pie back in the oven and bake another 15 to 20 minutes—until the crust is golden and the filling bubbly. Cool on a wire rack before cutting yourself a generous slice—topped with a scoop of ice cream, of course.
Taste of Home
Once you take a bite, you’ll always want to make cherry pie from scratch. It’s the perfect balance of tart and sweet—plus the hint of lemon and cinnamon really add depth of flavor to one of our favorite stone fruits. Add in that flaky, tender crust and you’ve got a recipe all your loved ones will be asking for.
For more tips and recipes, check out The Ultimate Guide to Baking Pies & Tarts.