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Cherry Sauce

This cherry sauce only looks decadent…really.

It has a deep, sweet/tart cherry flavor with a hint of almond and is sweetened with just a bit of honey. But there’s a secret ingredient…mahlab!


Mahlab, Before and After Grinding

Mahlab is a spice that’s commonly used as a flavoring in Middle Eastern cooking; it’s the seed kernel that comes from the center of St Lucie cherry pits. Mahlab has a lovely aroma, and tastes like a cross between almonds and cherries. (You can read more about mahlab on Wikipedia.) Its unique flavor enhances many sweet recipes and really helps heighten the cherry flavor in this sauce. You can usually find mahlab ground or whole at Middle Eastern grocery stores; if it’s whole, just grind it in a spice grinder or using a mortar and pestle.

Cherry Sauce 2

I recently received a lovely gift box of treats from the sweet people at Foodzie; in addition to several other delicious goodies, the box contained Benjamin Twiggs Dried Michigan Cherries, which is what inspired me to make this sauce.

My favorite way to eat this topping is on Greek yogurt, but it’s also great on oatmeal, pancakes, waffles, crepes, and ice cream. Or even just on top of toast!

Cherry Sauce 3

Cherry Sauce
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Yield: 4 servings
  • ½ cup dried cherries (I used Benjamin Twiggs Dried Michigan Cherries)
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • ¼ teaspoon ground mahlab
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  1. Bring the cherries, water, honey, mahlab, and salt to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once boiling, turn the heat down to simmer, cover the saucepan, and cook 7 minutes, stirring occasionally (you can add a splash more water if necessary so the pan doesn't dry out).
  2. Turn off the heat and stir in the almond extract, and then cover and let sit for 5 minutes (the cherries will plump a bit more).
  3. Serve hot, cold, or at room temperature on top of Greek yogurt, frozen yogurt, ice cream, pudding, pancakes, waffles, oatmeal, etc.

And because it was so delicious, I had to share another of the treats I received from Foodzie: Dark Chocolate Almond Brittle! This stuff is addictive.

Disclaimer: I received the Benjamin Twiggs Dried Michigan Cherries that I used in this recipe for free in a gift box from Foodzie (along with the Dark Chocolate Almond Brittle); as always, opinions stated are my own.

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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  1. Can you use something other than Mahlab? Or can you leave it out?
    Limited resources in our area of Idaho.

    1. Collette, You can omit the Mahlab, it will still have really intense cherry flavor if you use good quality dried cherries and add the almond extract. I buy my Mahlab on Amazon because I have trouble finding it around here too.

  2. I love mahlab – love that you paired it with cherries. This would be a delicious addition to raw cream or cheesecake. Ok, you’ve inspired me to go ahead and buy some mahlab now ;)

    Btw how do you like Foodzie? I’m thinking about contacting them to give their service a try!

    1. Heba, I’m not actually subscribed to Foodzie’s service — they contacted me a couple weeks ago to see if I wanted to sample their product (and I said yes! :) ). What little I’ve dealt with them has been wonderful…quality products, good variety, and very fast shipping. Hope this helps!

      1. Gotcha. I’ll have to ask if I can test before I sign up. I’m generally wary of signing up for anything long-term if there’s no way to opt out if I’m not diggin it months later. Anyway, thanks for the info! :)

  3. Mahlab is pretty new for me..have to Google to find out more..but the sauce is a winner.
    Happy holidays and have loads of goodies and fun, Faith!

  4. A new spice for me…so exciting! The cherry sauce sounds and looks incredible, a must try :)
    Happy Holidays Faith to you and your family, hugs

  5. FitnessSurfer says:

    Mahlab? Wow i have never heard of that. I learning that spice is everything. I love Thai and Indian food. Just starting to learn how to cook Thai. Thus far my secret ingredient has been cinnamon, cayenne pepper, or coriander. Needing to broaden my spice horizon.

  6. The cherry sauce sounds delectable! And the spice interesting! I would love to use some in my cherry desserts.

  7. Foodzie passed this along.. the dried cherries are from my company, Benjamin Twiggs. I’m going to share this link on our facebook page. Looks delicious!

    1. Thanks, Julie! And thanks for a great product — the cherries are fantastic!


      P.S. I added a link to your site above so people can check out the product if they wish!

  8. I have frozen cherries which I am sure would work as well but the secret ingredient will be a huge problem here!! Happy Holidays Diane

  9. Thanks for introducing me to a new ingredient! I have Mahlab on my list and can’t wait to experiment with it! Love those flavors :)

  10. I love cherries I know this would be delicious! That brittle looks really good too!

  11. Sorry Faith i’m such an idiot! I skimmed through that bit and didn’t realise you had already explained about it silly me ~
    I was too busy looking at your photos :D

    Do you have any plans for Christmas?

    1. Lol, no worries, Daisy! :)

      Mike and I are going to my parents’ house for Christmas…do you have any plans?

    1. Daisy, Yup, I know, mahlab is a pretty uncommon ingredient (so delicious though!). Feel free to take a look above in the post (right under the photo of mahlab) where I talk about what it is.

  12. Fabulous! Mahlab and cherries, what a great combo.



  13. I’m a bit of a cherry freak….this looks fantastic to me. I want to top ice cream with it, stir it into my yogurt, heck stir it into my oatmeal!

  14. I was already planning on going to my favorite Middle Eastern grocer today to pick up some spices but you’ve really sealed the deal with this sauce! I want it to top MY Greek yogurt!

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