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Sweet Cherry Compote Recipe 

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Cherry compote is sweet, tart and perfect for all your dessert topping needs! Spoon it on top cheesecake, vanilla ice cream or even rich chocolate cake to add a sweet and fruity element to your favorite dessert! Our recipe for delicious homemade cherry sauce calls for frozen dark cherries which you can find any time of year. 

serving spoon scooping up cherry sauce from the jar of sauce.

This simple recipe is a great way to make use of frozen cherries! It’s an easy fruit compote that tastes just like fresh cherry sauce and the best part is you can make it any time of year- no need to wait for cherry season!

We’re convinced that homemade compote and fruity sauces are one of the secret finishing touches to transform any delicious dessert into something really special.

This cherry compote is similar to our Raspberry Sauce and our Lemon Dessert Sauce in that it’s so easy to make and has a multitude of uses! 

Homemade compote will always outshine store-bought varieties, and you can easily pair this fruit sauce with sweet desserts and breakfast items, from waffles to French toast to angel food cake, pound cake and flourless chocolate cake.

It also works well when paired with savory dishes like pork chopspork tenderloin and rack of lamb

Why This Dark Cherry Sauce Recipe Works

It doesn’t take a whole lot to create the perfect topping and this easy homemade cherry compote is proof! 

Not only are we using frozen cherries, but we’re relying on simple pantry staples to bring it all together.

Tart cherries, some granulated sugar, water, and flavor add-ins like almond extract, lemon juice and butter help create the perfect balance of sweet-tart cherry flavor in a thick and indulgent cherry compote. 

Frozen cherries are a great way to enjoy summertime cherries any time of year, and also eliminates some of the prep work that fresh cherries require (no need to remove cherry pits!).

It’s the easiest way to make a delicious cherry sauce, especially because you can typically find frozen cherries at the grocery store year-round. 

Here’s why you’ll love our homemade cherry sauce: 

  • It’s fruity, flavorful and a favorite way to elevate a sweet dish!
  • It calls for just a little bit of added sugar to create the best balance of sweet and tart. 
  • Cherry compote is quick and easy to make and you can use any type of cherries available in the frozen section.
A jar of red sauce with a serving spoon and a napkin in the background.

Simple Ingredients Needed

Delicious sauces don’t require a whole lot to pull together, and this cherry compote recipe is no exception.

In fact, you’ll only need a total of eight ingredients! Here’s a look at the ingredient list (be sure to check out the full recipe card at the bottom of the page for all of the specific ingredient amounts). 

  • Granulated sugar. To enhance the natural sweetness of the cherries.
  • Clear-Jel or cornstarch. This ingredient acts as the thickener in the cherry compote. 
  • Salt. A little pinch of salt helps to bring out all of the other flavors. 
  • Frozen dark sweet cherries. The key to making this an easy recipe you can enjoy any time of year! Make sure your frozen cherries are thawed before you start.
  • Water. A little bit of water helps the fruit break down as it cooks. 
  • Fresh lemon juice. For a touch of tanginess!
  • Almond extract. Almond and cherry are the ultimate flavor pairing and just a tiny amount of almond extract will take this sauce to the next level!
  • Butter. For a rich creaminess to the cherry sauce.

Frozen or Fresh Cherries

Whether you opt for frozen or fresh cherries in your compote, each choice brings its own unique benefits. Frozen cherries offer convenience and year-round availability, ensuring a consistent quality without the need for pitting.

Fresh cherries, on the other hand, bring a vibrant and seasonal touch to your compote. Our recipe is flexible to accommodate either, allowing you to make a delicious cherry sauce no matter the season or your pantry contents.

Ingredients for cherry sauce recipe.

Simple Cherry Compote Recipe

Here’s a look at the process and how quickly and easily this sweet cherry compote comes together! As always, be sure to scroll to the bottom of the page to view the printable recipe card and step-by-step instructions. 

Pot with sauce, a mixing spoon and a pat of butter.
  1. In a small bowl, whisk the sugar, Clear-Jel (or cornstarch) and salt. 
  2. Add the cherries and their juices to a medium saucepan. Sprinkle with sugar and toss to coat the cherries. 
  3. Add water and lemon juice, then cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring continuously until it thickens. 
  4. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often, until the sauce turns thick and glossy. 
  5. Remove from heat and stir in the almond extract and butter. 

Transfer the cherry compote to a bowl or clean glass jar and allow it to cool at room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until you’re ready to use it. 

A jar filled with cherry sauce and a spoon.

Pro Tips for Success

  • If the sauce is a little too thick, you can thin it down with a tablespoon or two of extra water. 
  • This cherry compote freezes best when made with Clear Jel rather than cornstarch, so we recommend ClearJel if you do plan on freezing it. If you use cornstarch, the sauce will break down when thawed from frozen and you’ll be left with a runny sauce. 
  • You can keep this cherry sauce in the refrigerator for one week. To freeze, transfer it to an airtight container and store in the freezer for up to two months. 

Serving Suggestions

There are so many ways to enjoy delicious cherry sauce! Spoon it over plain yogurt, ice cream, or even oatmeal for a burst of fruitiness. Here are a few other recipes that work well with the sweet flavor of red cherries. 

A slice of cherry cheesecake with cherry topping.

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A slice of cherry cheesecake with cherry topping on a plate with a fork.

Cherry Compote

A homemade cherry compote to top off a cheesecake, vanilla ice cream or a slice of rich, chocolate cake. This recipe uses frozen sweet, dark cherries which are available anytime but you can use fresh cherries if they are in seaon.
5 from 1 vote
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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 7 minutes
Total Time: 12 minutes
Servings: 2 cups
Calories: 89kcal
Author: Pat Nyswonger


  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch or 2 tablespoons instant Clear-Jel
  • teaspoon salt
  • 16 ounces frozen dark cherries thawed
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 tablespoons butter


  • In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, instant Clear-Jel (or cornstarch) and salt.
  • Add the cherries and their juices to a saucepan, sprinkle with the sugar mixture and toss to coat the cherries.
  • Add the water and the lemon juice.
  • Set the saucepan over medium heat, stirring continuously until it begins to thicken, 1-2 minutes.
  • Bring the mixture to a simmer and continue to cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has become thick and glossy. 
  • Remove from the heat and stir in the almond extract and the butter.  
  • Transfer the cherry sauce to a bowl or jar and allow to cool, then cover and refrigerate until ready to use.  


  • If the sauce becomes thicker than you like, stir in a tablespoon or two of water.
  • If you plan to freeze the cherry sauce, we recommend using ClearJel rather than cornstarch.  If you use cornstarch the sauce will break down when you thaw it, creating a runny sauce. ClearJel will not break down in the freezing and thawing process.
  • This cherry sauce will keep in the refrigerator for one week.
  • To freeze, transfer the sauce to an airtight container and freeze for up to two months.
  • Uses for cherry sauce:  Excellent as a cheesecake topping, a slice of fudgy chocolate cake or spooned over vanilla ice cream.


Serving: 1 | Calories: 89kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 8mg | Sodium: 41mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 13g

Pat Nyswonger

Pat is a wife, mom of four adult children, and grandmother to seventeen beautiful children. She is a self-taught home cook and loves creating delicious meals for her family and friends. Her kitchen is the hub of activity in her home, and she loves to entertain.

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