This easy Cherry Syrup can be made year-round and is bursting with cherry flavor. Use this cherry simple syrup over pancakes, over pancakes, or stir it into your drinks to sweeten lemonade, iced tea, or cocktails!
If you LOVE the taste of sweet, juicy cherries, you're going to LOVE this cherry syrup. It is made with cherry juice and fresh or frozen bing cherries, so it can be made any time of the year.
We use this syrup instead of maple syrup on pancakes - it's amaaazing over chocolate pancakes! - stir it into our homemade iced tea, pour it over ice cream (it is AMAZING over this vegan cherry chocolate ice cream!), and use it to sweeten lemonade and limeade instead of sugar. It is also fantastic stirring into grown-up drinks, or when used to sweeten and flavor sparkling water.
This cherry syrup is made without any artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives, and is a great alternative to store-bought maraschino cherries.
In summary, the gorgeous deep rich red color of this syrup adds a fun pop of color to any breakfast, dessert, or drink.
Ready to make some homemade syrup??
Related recipe: Mulberry Syrup
- ¾ cups tart cherry juice (available in the juice aisle of most grocery stores, typically in a ~1-quart glass jar - here is some from Target, and here is some from Amazon/WholeFoods)
- ¾ cups sugar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (optional)
- 1 cup frozen or fresh pitted bing cherries
You'll also need:
- A small/medium saucepan/pot
- Wooden spoon or spatula
- 8-12 oz jar (this recipe makes about 8-oz of syrup, depending on how much you choose to cook it down, so grab a 12-oz jar just to be safe!). I LOVE saving old pretty fruit preserve jars for storing homemade syrup, but you can use any canning jar for this!
- A cherry pitter, if using fresh cherries that need to have the pits removed
Related recipe: Easy Pineapple Jam
→ Cherry juice: If you can't find tart cherry juice and only find sweetened cherry juice, you might need to cut down on the sugar added to this syrup.
→ Adding cherries: If you want a syrup with pieces of juicy, sweet cherries in it (personally, I LOVE THAT!), then you can add fresh or frozen cherries. Make sure they are pitted (the pits are removed). If using fresh cherries, you can remove the pits easily with a cherry pitter. Add the fresh cherries in step 1 of making the syrup, so the cherries have time to cook down. If using frozen cherries, they can be stirred in at the end because they are already softer, they just need to thaw in the hot syrup and the syrup will be ready.
→ Try a different variation! Try adding a sprig of fresh rosemary or a couple sprigs of fresh thyme to the syrup for a delicious sweet & savory take on cherry syrup. Make sure to wash the herbs first. Or try adding a few slices of peeled ginger if you want a spicy ginger cherry syrup.
How to make cherry syrup:
Step 1: In a small or medium saucepan or pot, combine the cherry juice and sugar (hint: measure the sugar first, then use the same measuring cup to measure the cherry juice), and bring to a slight boil over medium heat, stirring every once in a while to dissolve the sugar faster without burning. If you want to add fresh cherries, add some fresh pitted cherries to the syrup now.
Step 2: Lower the heat and summer for 15-20 minutes, or until the syrup coats a spoon or spatula and thickens to your liking. It will continue to thicken after it cools. Tip: You can dip a spoon into the syrup, place it in a cup or bowl, and refrigerate for a minute or two to see if you like the consistency, or if you want to simmer the syrup longer. Taste the syrup to see if you need to add more sugar.
Step 3: Optional step: stir in lemon juice and/or frozen pitted bing cherries, stir to combine. Carefully taste the syrup and add more sugar, if needed.
Step 4: Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Carefully pour into a clean jar (8-12 oz jar), close, and store in the refrigerator for up to ~3 weeks.
Related recipe: Bourbon Vanilla Blackberry Jam
Is cherry syrup healthy?
Syrup is loaded with sugar, no matter whether it's maple syrup or cherry syrup, so it is definitely not a health food. However, making your own cherry syrup from organic cherry juice and real cherry pieces is a lot healthier than using artificially flavored store-bought syrups that may also contain artificial coloring. Cherry juice has a lot of antioxidants, potassium, and may have anti-inflammatory properties (Source), while artificially flavored syrup is just sugar, flavor, and color. So while cherry juice is not a health food, it can be part of a balanced diet.
Related recipe: Blueberry Delight
Cherry syrup vs maraschino cherries
Maraschino cherries are typically made with a bleaching solution, red food dye, and all kinds of added flavors and preservatives. They are a popular and convenient cherry to add to drinks and desserts, but I find them to be wayyyy too sweet, and I am not a fan of the fake red color.
This cherry syrup has a natural dark red color from the cherries and cherry juice, without any bleaching or preserving chemicals added. I find this syrup to be much more versatile than maraschino cherries.
Cherry syrup vs cherry simple syrup
This cherry syrup is essentially cherry simple syrup, just a little thicker than the typical simple syrup and with cherries added for some texture and flavor.
Simple syrup is simply water and sugar in the same ratio, cooked down to melt the sugar and thicken the liquid slightly into a syrup. This recipe uses 1:1 ratios of cherry juice and sugar, but I recommend simmering the syrup for 15-20 minutes, uncovered, to thicken it a little further and make it "stick" to your foods better and to concentrate the flavor. However, if you want a thinner simple syrup, just simmer the sugar and cherry juice together for only 5-10 minutes, and do not add the fresh or frozen cherries.
If you enjoyed this recipe, let me know with a comment and a star rating below. And don't forget to share it on Facebook and save it on Pinterest for later!
Easy Cherry Syrup
- ¾ cups tart cherry juice
- ¾ cups sugar
- Optional: 1 tablespoon lemon juice (from ½ lemon)
- Optional: 1 cup fresh or frozen bing cherries (pitted - pits removed)
- In a small saucepan, combine the cherry juice and the sugar, and bring to a boil, stirring a few times to help the sugar melt and prevent burning. If you want to add some cherries to this syrup, add fresh cherries now, or frozen cherries in step 3.
- Lower the heat and let simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes, or until the syrup coats a spoon or spatula and thickens to your liking (it will continue to thicken after it cools!).
- Optional: stir in fresh lemon juice and/or frozen bing cherries.
- Carefully taste (it's hot!! allow it to cool on a spoon first!) and adjust the sweetness by adding 1-2 tablespoons more sugar, if needed. Allow to cool to room temperature, then transfer to a jar and store in the freezer for up to 3 weeks.
- If using sweetened cherry juice instead of tart juice, reduce the sugar. If you reduce the sugar, the syrup will not thicken as much and you might want to thicken the syrup with a cornstarch slurry (mix ½ tablespoon of cornstarch with cold water until no clumps remain and whisk into the syrup during the last few minutes of cooking).
- Try adding a sprig of rosemary or two sprigs of thyme to the syrup as it's cooking for a sweet & savory cherry syrup (wash the herbs thoroughly first!). Or add a slice or two of peeled ginger for a slightly spicy gingery syrup.