DIY Maraschino Cherries

by alexandra

Post image for DIY Maraschino Cherries

Until about last week, I really had no idea what a maraschino cherry was. I mean, I’ve had a few before, and I know they look like cherries, but they don’t exactly taste like cherries, do they? I think that’s why people either love them or hate them; because they’re just different. When I was a kid, I thought of them like candy cherries that you occasionally find in your soda or on your ice cream when you’re lucky. :) I liked them, but I didn’t even think they were real cherries, which says something…

DIY Maraschino Cherries |

When I “needed” maraschino cherries the other day – because let’s face it, you never really need them, you just want them – my crazy DIY mind started wondering whether there was a way to make them at home. That’s when I found out that there is, and that (surprise, surprise) the store-bought kind is just about as chemical-ly and artificial as food can be. I won’t give you the dirty details here, because there’s google for that, but basically I decided right then and there I was making them at home.

DIY Maraschino Cherries |

So here’s the secret to these – almond extract! Think about it; doesn’t that remind you of that signature flavor maraschino cherries have? Maybe I’m crazy, but it made total sense to me! And in case you were already thinking I’m crazy for making my own maraschino cherries, here’s the scoop: you can make these faster than it would take you to run to the store and buy them. Then you can eat them all, not feel like you just ingested a ton of chemicals, and proceed to use the leftover almondy-cherry juice in what I like to call a lightened-up Shirley Temple. Juice + club soda + DIY maraschino cherry = what I’ve been drinking for the past week. Trust me, this is the way to do it. ;)

DIY Maraschino Cherries |


DIY Maraschino Cherries |

DIY Maraschino Cherries

  • Yield: about 1 large mason jar


Homemade Maraschino Cherries are so easy to make and taste way better than store-bought. Mix them into drinks, garnish your ice cream, or just eat them by the handful!


  • 4 fluid ounces (1/2 cup) water
  • 4 fluid ounces (1/2 cup) cherry juice*
  • 3 1/2 ounces (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • small pinch salt
  • 1/2 pound sweet cherries**, pitted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract


  1. In a small, non-reactive saucepan, combine the water, cherry juice, sugar, lemon juice, and salt. Place over medium heat and bring to a low simmer, stirring occasionally, until sugar has dissolved.
  2. Lower the heat to a tad above it’s lowest setting (I used level 2 on my stove) and add cherries. Allow to steep for 5 minutes, stirring a few times in the process. The idea is just for the cherries to soak up some of the flavors, so be careful not to really cook them, which will make them soft and wrinkly.
  3. Remove from heat and add almond extract. Transfer to a tightly-lidded jar and let cool before refrigerating.***


*I found 100% cherry juice at Trader Joe’s.

**I used Rainier cherries; Bing or any other sweet kind should be perfect too.

***If you’re a canning pro (unlike me), you can go ahead and can these for longer shelf-life. If you just put them in a jar like I did, they should last around a couple weeks to a month.

If your cherries get discolored after a few days, don’t worry about it; that’s normal.

Recipe Adapted From: Raising the Bar and The Garden of Eating

Another one of my favorite DIY recipes? Caramel Sauce (made with milk – no butter or cream)! I make this stuff constantly!

DIY Caramel Sauce from Confessions of a Bright-Eyed Baker

And the #1 thing I do with my caramel sauce… make DIY Iced Caramel Lattes. Oh yes :)

These will get you through the summer, guaranteed.

Iced Caramel Latte 2

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Let’s talk:

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever DIYed? For me it’s always food, but I’ve seen some other amazing DIY projects too. I’m thinking these cherries are probably pretty high up there on my list! Feel free to share your DIY accomplishments in the comments section below, and if you have a photo, link it up!

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Erika June 7, 2013

You are so smart! I always picked the maraschino cherries off my sundaes etc. until one day I started eating them…which I now regret, after learning that they are filled with bad stuff. My boyfriend doesn’t like fresh cherries (SO WEIRD!) so maybe I’ll have to see if he likes these… :)

I don’t do nearly enough DIY stuff as I’d like! Racking my brain…this is so sad. I think the last DIY thing I made were those cake strips, which were pretty cool. But not crazy. Haha.
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Nora @ Buttercream Fanatic June 7, 2013

Such a great idea! I have seen the DIY version of these before but it always involved canning, which I am a disaster at. But these look natural, tasty and EASY! A major win!
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Marjorie (Sugar for the Brain) June 11, 2013

I’m ashamed to say that I LOVE store bought maraschino cherries :S You gave me a great alternative! Can’t wait to try them!!!
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alexandra June 13, 2013

These seriously taste just as good (better, really) than the store-bought kind, but the best part is that they aren’t so artificial!

Memoria June 12, 2013

It’s so funny that you posted this because a few hours before, I had watched this video ( about how maraschino cherries are made. They use some sort of bleach and then re-color it red. Crazy! Thanks for sharing this recipe. The caramel also looks good. I’ve never made caramel with milk; I’ve always used cream.

alexandra June 13, 2013

I just saw one of those videos recently too, not that long after I made these! It is really gross and unappetizing when you watch how commercial maraschino cherries are typically made, and that’s why I’m adamant about making my own now. And the caramel… SO good! Try making it with milk!

Marshella Whitehead July 10, 2013

I would like to try these with Splenda or Xylitol wonder how the cherries and caramel would do ???

alexandra July 11, 2013

The cherries would probably work, but they might taste a bit different. I don’t use Splenda or Xylitol so I can’t say for sure how it would turn out. If you’re used to the taste, it might be just fine for you.
The caramel, however, has to be made with pure granulated cane sugar.

Marshella Whitehead July 11, 2013

Great !!! I’m very use to the taste I don’t do more than 5 grams if sugar in a meal !! So they would probably taste great !!! Sorry to hear about Caramel but I have some already made up with no sugar so will figure that one out ;-) Thx so much for ur reply !!! Always looking for low fat / low sugar recipes ;-) tc mf Shey

alexandra July 12, 2013

You’re welcome! I hope the cherries turn out well for you! That’s awesome that you’re controlling your sugar intake so well. :D

Marshall's Whitehead (Shey) July 12, 2013

Yes Ma’am,
It helps a lot with having a GBS in January 2013…
Learning a much better healthier way of eating these days :-) Thx for all ur help and the wonderful comment !!! Tc mf Hagd..Look me up if u have any great recipes for me to Pin.. Xoxoxo Shey

alexandra July 13, 2013

That’s awesome, and no problem! I’m happy to help.
Thanks so much! I have a few sugar-free recipes on the blog but hopefully I’ll get some more up in the near future too. :)

Shani September 29, 2013

I am all for making almost everything from scratch, and this is cool! I hadn’t thought of making my own maraschino cherries. However! If you shop at Whole Foods (and maybe Trader Joe’s) they sell maraschino cherries that are all natural and don’t have all those icky icky preservatives or artificial food dyes in them. And let me tell you they are sooooo good.

Your recipe sounds like it will taste very similar. Yummy :-)

alexandra September 29, 2013

I had no idea about the Whole Foods Maraschino Cherries! That’s so good to know! The homemade ones are so easy to make though, it’d probably be easier than driving to my local Whole Foods which is unfortunately not as close as I’d like it to be!

Lisa January 17, 2017

You are so innovative and creative! I have always loved maraschino cherries… just not the artificial chemicals. I’m so looking forward to making this recipe. Do you think using tart cherry juice will be good too? Sweet and tart maraschino cherries. And then I’m going to dip them in homemade chocolate. Thank you! :)

alexandra January 18, 2017

Aw thanks! I’m sure tart cherry juice would work well too, I’d just suggest maybe tasting the mixture to make sure it’s not too tart before you add the cherries. :)

Lisa January 30, 2017

You’re welcome! Very good suggestion. Thanks! :)

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