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This cherry crisp recipe with fresh cherries is the perfect summer dessert, but you can make it year-round with frozen cherries or canned cherry pie filling!

front view of stoneware bowl with serving of cherry crisp with fresh cherries

This old-fashioned dessert is easy to whip up and perfect for cookouts, barbecues, potlucks, or any summertime gathering. Let’s make it à la mode again, shall we?! (And yes, my nerd is showing because I’m absolutely being punny! Like pie, just about the only thing that makes a fruit crisp even better – other than serving it along with a fresh cup of hot coffee – is serving it à la mode topped with a scoop of ice cream.)

Because fresh cherry season is here and gone so fast, I’m including instructions on how to make this recipe using frozen cherries or canned cherry pie filling. The most time-consuming part of making this recipe is pitting the cherries. So if you decide to go the route of frozen cherries or canned pie filling, you’ll save a ton of time!

One of the best things about this dessert is that it’s delicious served either cold or warm. But if you serve it warm, might I humbly suggest a scoop of French vanilla ice cream on top?

top view of cherry crisp serving in stoneware bowl on wooden table

Ingredients

Ingredients Explained

In this section I explain the ingredients and give substitution ideas where applicable. For the full recipe (including the ingredient amounts), see the recipe card below.

Crumble Topping Ingredients

crumble topping ingredients
  • Unsalted butter – Butter adds richness and helps our crumble crisp up and turn golden brown. You want the butter slightly softened but not melted.
  • Light brown sugar – White sugar will also work, but brown sugar adds depth of flavor with notes of molasses and caramel.
  • Salt – Skip the added salt if you use salted butter.
  • All-purpose flour – When mixed with butter and brown sugar in the right ratios, flour forms large crumbles, essentially a streusel topping.
  • Old-fashioned rolled oats – Oats add texture and subtle nutty flavor to the crisp topping.

Cherry Filling Ingredients

cherry filling ingredients for cherry crisp
  • Cherries – For this recipe, you’ll need 1 1/2 pounds of fresh cherries with the stems and pits removed, which ends up being about 4 to 5 cups. I used sweet Bing cherries because they’re widely available, but you can use any type of sweet cherries you like. I give instructions in the recipe on how to use fresh sour cherries as well.
  • Fresh lemon juice – This brightens the flavor and helps balance out the natural sweetness of the cherries.
  • Vanilla extract – For flavor and aroma.
  • Almond extract – Almond extract is optional; its flavor echos and enhances the flavor of cherries.
  • Granulated white sugar – Sugar not only lends sweetness, but also helps create a thick, syrupy sauce as the cherries cook down.
  • Flour – We use just a little bit of all-purpose flour to thicken the fruit filling.
  • Salt – Salt naturally enhances the flavor of everything else.

Instructions

Prep the Cherries

pitting cherries with a cherry pitter

Rinse the cherries under cool running water. Remove the stems, and then the pits. You can use a cherry pitter to do this, or simply cut the cherries in half and remove the pits.

Make the Crumble Topping

crumble topping with oats in bowl

Mash the butter with a fork or beat it with an electric mixer. Add the brown sugar and salt, and mix to combine. Add the flour and oats and use your fingers (or a fork) to combine until the mixture forms large crumbles. 

How to Make Cherry Crisp

how to make cherry crisp
  1. Add the cherries to a large bowl along with the lemon juice, vanilla extract, almond extract, sugar, flour, and salt. Toss to coat. 
  2. Let the cherries sit at room temperature for 45 minutes. Allowing the cherries to macerate like this helps the sugar start to draw out the cherries’ moisture.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375F. Pour the cherry filling (including any juices in the bottom of the bowl) to an 8 by 8-inch (or equivalent) baking dish. Spread it out evenly. Sprinkle the crumble topping evenly on top.
  4. Bake until the crisp is golden on top and bubbling around the outside, about 35 minutes.
top view of cherry crisp recipe in white baking dish on rustic wooden table

Serve warm, topped with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Storage

Store leftovers wrapped in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Reheating

If you want to reheat a serving or two, the microwave is a good option. But if you want to heat up multiple servings (or reheat the entire pan), the oven is the way to go.

To reheat cherry crisp in the oven, put it in an oven-safe dish and pop it into a preheated 325F oven until warm. The length of time will depend on how many servings, but if you’re reheating the entire pan it’ll take around 20 minutes. If the top starts to brown too much before it’s warm, you can drape a piece of foil on top.

Variations

  • The Proverbial Icing on the Cake – As if this wasn’t delicious enough on its own, serve this warm topped with a generous spoonful of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
  • Black Forest – As soon as this is out of the oven, sprinkle 1/4 cup of chopped dark chocolate on top. Serve it with a dollop of freshly whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
  • Parfait-Style – After baking, let this cool and then serve it layered with vanilla custard or pudding in individual glasses.
homemade cherry crisp with oat topping with vanilla bean ice cream

Cherry Crisp with Frozen Cherries

You’ll need 1 1/2 pounds of frozen cherries to make this recipe. Let them thaw to room temperature, and then drain off most of the juices so your crisp isn’t too watery. You can drain off all of the liquid, but I like to keep about 2 to 3 tablespoons for a little bit of moisture that makes this less dry and more like cherry pie filling. Keep everything else the same.

I have a confession. As much as I adore fresh cherries, my favorite way to make cherry crisp is with frozen! This is for a few reasons:

  1. It’s a huge time-saver. Frozen cherries are already pitted! Which means in addition to saving time, you’re saving your hands, sink, and the wall behind your sink from looking like they partook in cherry bloodbath.
  2. The end result is a bit more decadent. So, you know how pie filling walks the fine line between being dry enough to hold its shape, but not so dry that it’s, well, dry. Let’s just say, there’s a little more leeway with crisps and crumbles because they aren’t sliced and don’t have to hold their shape. And personally, I lean towards the side of a slightly more wet/gooey/decadent fruit filling. Using frozen cherries results in a pie filling-like consistency that has a bit more moisture than using fresh cherries. This is because once fruit is frozen and thawed, the cell walls burst and the moisture is released. On the other hand, fresh cherries will also release their moisture, but they need a bit more coaxing to do so. Typically, said coaxing comes in the form of heat, meaning fresh cherries need to be made into a pie filling on the stovetop before baking it up as a fruit crisp. When the point of this dessert is quick and easy, it seems counterproductive to do things that add extra steps and make it take longer, lol!
  3. You can make this year-round. We all know how short-lived fresh cherry season is! Using frozen cherries allows you to make this delicious dessert all year.

Cherry Crisp with Pie Filling

To make this recipe with store-bought cherry pie filling, you’ll need one 30-ounce can of cherry pie filling. Omit all the ingredients for the cherry filling in the recipe, and keep everything else in the recipe the same.

Baker’s Tips

  • If you have fresh sour cherries, this is a great place to use them! Sour cherries typically have a much more intense cherry flavor than sweet cherries, but they’re harder to find. For this recipe, use the same amount of sour cherries as sweet, reduce the amount of lemon juice to 1/2 tablespoon, and increase the granulated white sugar in the filling to 6 tablespoons.
  • If you like nuts, they’re a delicious addition to this dessert! Feel free to add 1/2 cup of your favorite chopped nuts to the crumble topping. A few good options are pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, and my personal favorite nut pairing with cherries: almonds!
front view of serving of cherry crisp with oats topped with ice cream

Cherry Crisp Recipe FAQs

What is the Difference Between a Crumble and Crisp?


Both of these fruit-based desserts have a layer of fruit filling on the bottom and a layer of streusel on the top. However, the difference between a crisp and crumble is that a crisp has oats and/or nuts in the crumbly topping.

What Other Fruit Can I Add to Cherry Crisp?


You can add any other type of stone fruit to cherry crisp! Also called a drupe, stone fruit includes fruit like apricots, peaches, nectarines, and plums. In addition to stone fruit, blueberries and/or strawberries are other good options.

How Can I Make This Dessert Gluten Free?


This recipe is easy to make gluten free!

For the cherry filling, omit the all-purpose flour. Instead, use 1 tablespoon of cornstarch or 1 1/2 tablespoons of gluten free all-purpose flour. For gluten free flour, I recommend the kind you can use as a 1:1 substitute for all-purpose flour, such as King Arthur Gluten Free Measure For Measure Flour or Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour.

And for the crumble topping, swap out the all-purpose flour for 3/4 cup of your favorite 1:1 gluten free all-purpose flour blend.

More Cherry Recipes to Try

top view of small dish of cherry crisp with fresh or frozen cherries

Let’s Connect

an edible mosaic submark initials

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Cherry Crisp Recipe

Prep Time25 minutes
Cook Time35 minutes
Yields: 6 servings
This cherry crisp recipe with fresh cherries has a buttery brown sugar and oat crumble topping. It’s the perfect summer dessert, but you can make it all year with frozen cherries or canned cherry pie filling!

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Equipment

Ingredients
 

Cherry Filling:

Crumble Topping:

Instructions
 

For the Cherry Filling:

  • Wash the cherries, then remove the stems and pits.
  • Add the cherries to a large bowl along with the lemon juice, vanilla extract, almond extract, sugar, flour, and salt. Toss to coat.
  • Let the cherries sit at room temperature for 45 minutes.

For the Crumble Topping:

  • Mash the butter with a fork or beat it with an electric mixer.
  • Add the brown sugar and salt, and mix to combine.
  • Add the flour and oats and use your fingers (or a fork) to combine until the mixture forms large crumbles.

To Assemble and Bake:

  • Preheat the oven to 375F.
  • Pour the cherry filling (including any juices in the bottom of the bowl) to an 8 by 8-inch (or equivalent) baking dish. Spread it out evenly.
  • Sprinkle the crumble topping evenly on top.
  • Bake until the crisp is golden on top and bubbling around the outside, about 35 minutes.
  • Cool slightly and serve.

Video

Notes

  • Storage: Store leftovers wrapped in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • Reheating: To reheat cherry crisp in the oven, put it in an oven-safe dish and pop it into a preheated 325F oven until warm. The length of time will depend on how many servings, but if you’re reheating the entire pan it’ll take around 20 minutes. If the top starts to brown too much before it’s warm, you can drape a piece of foil on top.
  • Sour Cherries: For this recipe, use the same amount of sour cherries as sweet, reduce the amount of lemon juice to 1/2 tablespoon, and increase the granulated white sugar in the filling to 6 tablespoons.
  • Frozen Cherries: You’ll need 1 1/2 pounds of frozen cherries to make this recipe. Let them thaw to room temperature, and then drain off most of the juices so your crisp isn’t too watery. You can drain off all of the liquid, but I like to keep about 2 to 3 tablespoons for a little bit of moisture that makes this less dry and more like cherry pie filling. Keep everything else the same.
  • Canned Cherry Pie Filling: To make this recipe with store-bought cherry pie filling, you’ll need one 30-ounce can of cherry pie filling. Omit all the ingredients for the cherry filling in the recipe, and keep everything else in the recipe the same.

Nutritional information is automatically calculated and should be used as an approximate.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Cherry Crisp, Cherry Crisp Recipe, Cherry Crisp Recipe with Fresh Cherries

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cherry crisp recipe pin
Faith, author of An Edible Mosaic.
About Faith

I’m the writer, recipe developer, photographer, and food stylist behind this blog. I love finding the human connection through something we all do every day: eat! Food is a common ground that we can all relate to, and our tables tell a story. It’s my goal to inspire you to get in the kitchen, try something new, and find a favorite you didn’t know you had.

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