Juicy, buttery and utterly delicious, this pie screams summer fruit and fun days. A layer of cherry filling, a golden brown crumb topping, and a bottom crust (we love our homemade Flaky Pie Crust recipe for this one) make this a great dessert that everyone loves. Though we are partial about fresh, sweet cherries, it can be made with frozen ones.
It's cherry season! And I have to admit that eating fresh cherries straight from the fridge is probably my favorite way. But, there's always room for a juicy pie with a crumb topping, a mix between two of this blog's perennial favorites: the easiest cherry tart ever and the beautifully golden peach crumb pie.
I was very skeptical of baking pies during the Summer months because it implies turning on the oven, making homemade pie dough, and all of those tasks that I don't exactly thrive on during hot days.
But how will we eat homemade fresh fruit pies if we don't get into the kitchen, right? So here we are, making and sharing a fantastic cherry crumb pie recipe. I'm a huge advocate for easy fruit desserts like the cherry crisp or old fashioned peach cobbler, but a pie is a pie and we might go as far as to say that nothing compares.
This cherry crumble pie uses simple ingredients, besides the cherries.
- Homemade crust: if using our flaky pie dough recipe you'll also need shortening. Alternatively, use your favorite easy homemade pie crust recipe or a good quality store-bought one.
- Cherries: I love to use fresh fruit whenever possible. Tart cherries are my first choice but they're hard to find, so I usually make this pie with sweet ones. But know that frozen cherries work just fine.
- Butter: we use unsalted butter for the topping. A good brand is always encouraged because the flavor will be better.
- Flour: you can use different types, like all purpose flour, cake or pastry flour. Even regular bread flour will work if that's all you have.
- Brown sugar: the crumble topping or streusel is made with brown sugar to give it a more golden look and add a caramel undertone.
- White sugar: regular granulated is what we use for the filling.
- Cornstarch: it's the binding and thickening ingredient used in the filling. It will help create a wonderful syrup when this cherry pie recipe is baked.
- Lemon juice: it enhances the flavor of the rest of the ingredients and adds an acid tone very needed to balance out the butter and sugar.
- Vanilla: just a few drops of pure vanilla extract or paste.
I will always favor a homemade crust if I want to make the best cherry pie I can, like our Perfect Flaky Pie Crust (which can be made in advance and has videos to guide you), over a commercial one. BUT, know that a good dough from the bakery will work very well also. Sometimes we need shortcuts and hot days require them more than others, right?
Blind baking: this is a necessary step where the pie crust is half-baked or pre baked so that it doesn't lose its shape and get soggy after the cherry filling is piled up and the whole pie is fully baked.
The method is simple: you line the pan, freeze it for half an hour, preheat the oven during that time, cover the frozen dough with a large piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil, add pie weights (or unbaked rice, chickpeas, flour, anything that doesn't burn and that will weight the paper and crust down), and bake it for 15 minutes with the weight. You remove the paper with the weight, and bake the crust 5-10 minutes longer, until it starts to dry and color lightly (images below).
- Cherries: as discussed in other parts of this post, you can use sweet or tart cherries. In both cases sugar is added, but I recommend a smaller amount if using sweet cherries. Unless you want a very sweet cherry dessert.
- Cherry pitter: one of my most loved gadgets, it makes pitting cherries so easy and fast. And it also works for pitting olives, in case you wanted to know. You can easily buy them online, and I love the OXO Cherry and Olive pitter.
It's the classic mixture of butter, sugar, and flour. Very traditional, very simple.
It's super easy, and can be made in advance and kept refrigerated or frozen (always with plastic wrap or in an airtight container). Simply sprinkle crumb topping over the cherries when it's time to bake the pie. You don't need to defrost it or bring it to room temperature.
- By hand: use a large bowl and mix all ingredients together, either with your hands or with a pastry blender. I find that this is the best way if making it only for this pie because it's a small amount.
- With the food processor: this is a great alternative if you're making a large batch of crumble. Mix a few times the flour with the sugar and then add the cold butter in pieces. Process with on/off pulses just until the butter is the size of peas. Don't overprocess! It's a granular mixture.
- Organization: always read the recipe first and make sure you have all the ingredients, at the right temperatures, and also the rest of the equipment and space to make it. This will make the process so much easier!
- Baking time: keep in mind that all ovens and pans are different, even if they look the same or very similar. The baking time in my recipes are as accurate as I they can be, but it might take you more or less time. You can use a thermometer that is placed inside the oven (like the OXO oven thermometer) to check that your oven is the right temperature. I recommend you keep track of how your oven works and what tiny details you might need to adjust.
- Sweetness: if using sweet cherries I recommend ⅓ cup sugar, and if using tart cherries I recommend ⅔ cup of sugar.
- Pitting cherries: you can buy pitted frozen cherries, but need to do it manually is using fresh ones. There are many types, for just one cherry, or for pitting multiple cherries at once. You do need pitted cherries for this recipe.
- Serving it: I love this cherry pie plain, at room temperature. But many of my friends ask for it to be served barely warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top of the pie, they say it's the perfect dessert because the ice cream starts to melt a little but not completely. Whatever way you like it will be the best one.
Related recipes you might like:
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Juicy, buttery and utterly delicious, this pie screams summer fruit and fun days. A layer of cherry filling, a crumb topping, and a bottom crust make this a great dessert that everyone loves. Though we are partial about fresh, sweet cherries, it can be made with frozen ones.
For the crust:
1 recipe for homemade Perfect Flaky Pie Crust recipe (or use a good quality store-bought)
For the crumble:
- ¾ cup flour (all-purpose or cake)
- ¼ cup light brown sugar
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, cold and in pieces
For the filling:
- 27oz (about 5 cups) pitted cherries
- ⅓ to ⅔ cup sugar (depending on how sweet the cherries are, see Notes below)
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract or ¼ teaspoon pure almond extract (or both)
For the crust:
- Roll the crust on a lightly floured surface and line a 9-inch pie plate following the instructions on the pie crust recipe card linked above.
- Blind bake the pie crust according to the directions in the recipe. Reserve.
For the crumble:
- In a bowl mix flour, salt and sugar.
- Add cold butter in pieces and integrate with your hands until grainy and the butter is the size of peas. You can do this in a food processor; make sure you stop processing when it still has butter bits. Don’t turn it into a paste.
- If not using immediately, cover and keep refrigerated for up to a week. Or frozen for a month.
For the filling:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C.
- Pit cherries and put in a medium bowl.
- Add sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and vanilla. Mix well.
- Transfer filling to the half baked pie crust.
Assembling the cherry pie:
- Top the cherry filling with 1 cup of the crumble mixture. It doesn't matter if it's cold or frozen, use it directly. But you might need to crumble it up a little as it might've clumped together.
- Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the crumble topping is golden brown and the filling is bubbling.
- Let cool on a wire rack for about 1 hour.
- Eat at room temperature or barely warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
- Refrigerate leftovers covering them with plastic wrap.
always read the recipe first and make sure you have all the ingredients, at the right temperatures, and also the rest of the equipment and space to make it. This will make the process so much easier!
Baking time: keep in mind that all ovens and pans are different, even if they look the same or very similar. The baking time in my recipes are as accurate as I they can be, but it might take you more or less time. You can use a thermometer that is placed inside the oven (like the OXO oven thermometer) to check that your oven is the right temperature. I recommend you keep track of how your oven works and what tiny details you might need to adjust.
Sweetness: if using sweet cherries I recommend ⅓ cup sugar, and if using tart cherries I recommend ⅔ cup of sugar.
Keywords: cherry crumb pie