You'll love this easy Cherry Sauce with frozen cherries! Both tart and sweet, it makes the perfect topping for rice pudding, cheesecake, ice cream - even pork and chicken! Make it sugar free (no added sugar) or regular.
You'll Love Homemade Cherry Sauce
"Cherries are one of my favorite fruits. I made this sauce as a topping for my rice pudding and when I do cheesecakes - but I also serve it with pork chops with a little balsamic vinegar added - delish!"
This recipe is made easier by using frozen cherries. Add your sweetener of choice, water, a little lemon juice, and vanilla. It is thickened slightly by the use of gelatin.
Because it is a sauce, we kept it pourable - but you could technically turn this is a refrigerator jam by reducing the liquid and adding a little extra gelatin.
You'll have this made in less than 20 minutes. It will need to cool off and then chill before using, though.
Remember that cherries naturally have sugar - but you can make this "sugar-free" (no added sugar) by using a sugar substitute. I used Allulose which does not crystallize when chilled, and there is no cooling effect on your tongue.
Regular or Sugar Free Cherry Sauce Ingredients
This cherry topping can be made regular or "sugar free" (no sugar added) with a simple swap to a sweetener substitute:
- Frozen Pitted Cherries - we used frozen sweet cherries for convenience but fresh cherry sauce made with pitted cherries may be used. Tart cherries can be substituted, but you'll need to adjust the sugar and potentially omit the lemon juice and zest.
- Water - you will need water in the sauce and a little for the gelatin.
- Sweetener - I used a sugar substitute (Allulose), but you can use regular sugar. If your sweetener substitute is not a 1:1 ratio to sugar, you will need to adjust sweetness accordingly. Do a taste test.
- Vanilla Extract - pure vanilla extract has the best flavor.
- Unflavored Gelatin - this is the thickening agent. It needs to be dissolved in 1 tablespoon of lukewarm water before adding to the sauce. You can add it directly, but then you may get clumping and will need to stir longer to dissolve.
- Lemon - we used some of the juice and zest of a lemon. You can adjust the tartness of your sauce to taste by adding more or less. If you have tart cherries, do not add the lemon until you taste the sauce first.
For exact ingredient quantities, please see the recipe card below.
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Substitutions and Variations
Add a little almond extract. Cherries and almonds always go well together.
Spike your sauce with a little bourbon, rum, or other favorite spirits. My Danish grandfather would have told you to use Aquavit, but my Grandmother used rum. LOL. Stir it in after the sauce has cooled.
How To Make Cherry Sauce
Add Ingredients To Saucepan
Place cherries in a saucepan, pour the water over the top, and add the sugar. (Note: a nonstick saucepan is helpful)
Heat the sauce over medium heat until it starts to bubble, then immediately reduce the heat until it is gently simmering.
Continue to simmer gently for 15 minutes, stirring frequently.
In a small bowl add 2 tablespoons of cold water and whisk in gelatin until dissolved.
Note: if you used real sugar you may not need the gelatin, as the sugar will thicken on it's own. Let the sauce cool to warm then see how thick it is. If you want it thicker add 1.5 teaspoons gelatin dissolved in lukewarm water. Stir into the sauce.
Add Remaining Ingredients
Remove the cherry sauce from the heat and whisk the lemon juice, lemon zest, vanilla extract, and the dissolved gelatin mixture. Stir until well combined.
Transfer To a Jar
Pour into a clean jar or several smaller ones. Affix lid(s) and set on a towel to cool. Refrigerate up to 4 months.
Recipe makes approximately 3 cups of cherry sauce.
Pour into a clean jar or several smaller ones. Set on a towel to cool, then affix lid. Refrigerate for up to a month.
The sauce will thicken as it chills.
Recipe makes approximately 3 cups of cherry sauce.
How To Use Cherry Sauce For Dessert
Here are a few ideas for using your sauce:
One of my favorite ways - make rice pudding and serve the sauce warmed over the top with a little rum added.
This was what we had every year at my Grandmother's on Christmas Eve. It is a very traditional Danish dessert and was served with an almond. The person who got the almond in their pudding won a gift. So fun!
- Serve the cooled sauce over ice cream, mousse, pudding, or creme brulee.
- It makes a wonderful topping for cheesecake (vanilla or chocolate), black forest cake, pound cake, and coffee cakes.
- Make cherry shortcake by buying pre-made shortcakes, top with cherry sauce then whipped cream.
- And something you may not have though of - add a little balsamic vinegar, heat the sauce and let it reduce until thick (be careful not to burn) then serve it over pork chops, tenderloin, chicken, duck, etc. It's so good!
Best Cherry Sauce Tips
- If you are using a sugar alternative, it won't thicken the same as if you had used real sugar. Gelatin will act as a thickener. If you use regular sugar you may not need to use gelatin at all. Let you sauce cool slightly and see if it is thickening. If not, add 1.5 teaspoons of gelatin dissolved in 1 tablespoon of water.
- Taste test the sauce as you add ingredients. This recipe is very flexible if you want it sweeter add more sugar, or use less. Add more lemon or zest if you want a little tartness.
- Be careful not to burn your sauce, keep it on a gentle simmer and stir frequently.
Cherry Topping FAQs
The answer to this depends upon which recipe you are following but typically, cherry sauce is made of sugar, pitted cherries, water, sugar or sugar alternative, lemon juice, lemon zest, and extract such as vanilla or almond.
Yes, it can! Place sauce in an air-tight freezer safe container and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw out in the refrigerator.
To store leftovers, let the roast cool completely, then transfer to an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
Cherry Sauce (Sugar Free and Regular)
- 5 cups frozen whole pitted cherries, thawed
- ¾ cup water (plus extra to dissolve gelatin)
- ¼ cup granulated sugar substitute (or regular sugar) (taste test and add more if desired)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
- Place cherries in a saucepan, pour the water over the top, and add the sugar. (Note: a nonstick saucepan is helpful)
- Heat the sauce over medium heat until it starts to bubble, then immediately reduce the heat until it is gently simmering. Continue to simmer gently for 15 minutes, stirring frequently.
- In a small bowl add 2 tablespoons of cold water and whisk in gelatin until dissolved.
- Remove the cherry sauce from the heat and whisk the lemon juice, lemon zest, vanilla extract, and the dissolved gelatin mixture. Stir until well combined.
- Pour into a clean jar or several smaller ones. Affix lid(s) and set on a towel to cool. Refrigerate up to 4 months.
- Recipe makes approximately 3 cups of cherry sauce.
- Don't miss all of our helpful hints, substitution ideas, cooking tips, and other delicious recipes that can be found in our post. Check it out!
- VARIATIONS: Use whole cherries, or chop them. Add almond extract if desired. Add a tablespoon of rum after cooling.
- TOP TIPS: If using regular sugar, simmer the sauce for 20 minutes, then reduce the amount of gelatin from 2 tsp to 1 - 1½ teaspoons.
- SERVING SUGGESTIONS: Serve over cheesecake, rice pudding, cakes, even poultry and pork. For poultry and pork see the How To Serve Section in our post.
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