Sour Cherry Compote

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Made in just a few minutes with minimal ingredients, this sour cherry compote is delicious served over your favorite cakes, ice creams, or breakfast pancakes.

A close-up of a spoonful of bright red cherries being lifted out of a jar filled with cherry compote. A striped towel is visible in the background.

Sour cherry season is extremely fleeting around here. If we’re lucky it will last a few weeks, so I’m always sure to snatch up a few pints whenever I see them at the farmers market.

These tart, puckery cherries are ideal for using in sweet applications, like cherry clafoutis or cherry cobbler. One of my favorite uses, though, is to make this easy cherry compote!

Compote is a wonderful way to feature any fresh fruit and add it to your favorite desserts or breakfast dishes. Dollop on cheesecake, waffles, or an ice cream sundae. You can’t go wrong!

Cherry compote is very easy to make as well. The hardest part is pitting the fruit!

Ingredients for cherry compote

Full list of ingredients including quantities is located in the recipe card.

You’ll need:

Ingredients for a recipe arranged on a marble surface: a carton of sour cherries, a bottle of lemon juice, a bowl of sugar, a bottle of vanilla extract, a glass of water, and a small bowl of amaretto.

Sour cherries – AKA tart cherries. I use fresh cherries, but you could swap in frozen thawed cherries.

Granulated sugar – Essential for sweetening the cherries.

Water – To make our syrup

Lemon juice – To enhance the flavors

Vanilla extract – Use pure vanilla extract!

Kirsch or amaretto – This is optional, but helps boost the flavor in the compote. You can leave it out to keep the compote recipe alcohol-free.

A green cardboard container filled with fresh red cherries, some with stems attached, displayed against a white background.

How to make this recipe

First, you’ll need to pit the cherries, which will be the most time-consuming (and messy!) part of the process.

You can use a cherry pitter for this, but if your cherries are on the smaller side, a straw or chopstick might work better for removing the pit without mashing the cherry. 

You can use any collected juices in the compote. Drain the juice into a liquid measuring cup and then fill with water the rest of the way to the 2/3 mark.

Combine the water/juice, sugar, and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.

Continue to cook until a thin syrup forms, 5-7 minutes. 

Add the cherries and stir, cooking for 1 minute more. If you want to keep the cherries whole, remove from heat. If you want them to be more broken down, lower heat to medium and simmer an additional 5 minutes. 

Pour into a jar or airtight container and let cool to room temperature, then cover and store in the refrigerator.

Tips and tricks

If you want a sweeter compote, you can increase the sugar up to 2/3 cup. Make sure you do not use more than an equal amount to the liquid.

The longer the cherries cook, the more juices will be released, which will loosen the syrup.

For a thicker compote, whisk a small amount of cornstarch into the syrup before adding the cherries.

A glass jar filled with red cherries preserved in liquid, with visible bubbles near the top rim. The words "Kerr Self Sealing Wide Mouth Mason" are embossed on the jar's surface.

Serving suggestions

Scoop cherries onto vanilla ice cream, buttermilk waffles, or chocolate angel food cake.

They’re also delicious with no-bake cheesecake or stirred into a bowl of oatmeal.

Extra compote syrup can be stirred into cocktails or lemonade.

Highlight fresh sour cherries this season with this easy cherry compote recipe!

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A close-up of a spoonful of bright red cherries being lifted out of a jar filled with cherry compote. A striped towel is visible in the background.

Sour Cherry Compote

Make the most of short cherry season with this easy compote.
Author : Megan Myers
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Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 8
Calories 58 kcal



  • Pit the cherries. If desired, drain accumulated juices into a liquid measuring cup. Add enough water to reach 2/3 cup.
  • Combine water (or water/juice) and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Continue cooking until a thin syrup forms.
  • Add the cherries and stir for 1 minute. If you want to keep the cherries whole, remove from heat now. Alternately, continue cooking over medium for about 5 minutes, until cherries are more broken down.
  • Pour into a jar or airtight container and cool to room temperature, then cover and chill until ready to use.


  • Makes about 1 pint.
  • Adapted from The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving.


Calories: 58 kcalCarbohydrates: 14 gProtein: 0.4 gFat: 0.1 gSaturated Fat: 0.01 gSodium: 1 mgPotassium: 80 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 13 gIron: 0.1 mg

Nutrition information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate based on online calculators. Any nutritional information found on Stetted should be used as a general guideline only.

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About Megan

I focus on fresh ingredients and easy methods, with spins that keep meals interesting. Dinnertime shouldn’t be stressful or complicated, and I’m here to help you enjoy the time spent in the kitchen. Read more…

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