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This fresh sweet cherry pie, with a buttery crust, gets topped with an almond crumb topping making it the perfect summer dessert to make! Fresh cherries are best, but frozen cherries can also be used. My secret to a thick cherry filling is cooking the filling first.
Ok I’m going to say it – I have never been a fan of cherry pie. Wait before you judge me too quickly, let me say that differently. I’ve never been a fan of cherry pie made with that canned cherry filling. Except I didn’t know that it was cherry pie that I wasn’t a fan of but it was the filling made with canned cherries was what I didn’t like.
Because a cherry pie made with fresh cherries? Oh yes. I’m a fan. BIG fan. And when you top the cherry pie with an almond crumb topping before baking? Be. Still. My. Heart. So if you’re saying, but Heather I hate cherry pie too! I think this cherry crumb pie recipe will also turn you into a fan. When it’s cherry season, make this fresh cherry pie recipe with crumb topping!
I’ve updated this recipe, since the first time I made it back in 2020, to make it even simpler to make and made it even more delicious. I’ve doubled the almond crumb topping because – well more crumble? Do I need to explain? I used to make the cherry crumb topping in a food processor, but now I make it in a bowl and just whisk the topping ingredients together making it much quicker to throw together.
I also used to recommend cutting the cherries in half, and then thawing them as well, but since this filling is cooked down, I simply put the cherries in the saucepan now, making the filling much faster to make. Now more fussing with cutting frozen cherries in half! So basically you now get a cherry crumb pie that is much more tasty and easier to make.
You’re going to love this cherry crumb pie recipe!
- Fresh or frozen cherries! Yes I love using fresh cherries in this pie filling, but if you can’t get a hold of fresh, or don’t want to go to the pain of pitting fresh cherries then you go use frozen making this much easier to put together.
- Thick filling: A cherry pie filling can sometimes be a bit liquidy, but by cooking the filling down first it helps to thicken the filling so you end up with perfectly thick, juicy cherry filling for your cherry crumb pie recipe.
- Make ahead: You can make the different components ahead of time breaking up the process, or make the whole pie and then freeze it baked or unbaked making a perfect make ahead dessert!
- If you love cherries then try this Black forest cheesecake! Top with whipped cream for an outstanding dessert.
- This cherry cheesecake starts with an easy graham cracker crust, a creamy cheesecake filling and then topped with a fresh cherry topping!
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What kind of cherries are best?
I made this cherry crumb pie with 100% sweet dark red cherries and also with 50/50 dark red cherries and Rainier cherries. If you use 100% Rainier cherries, your filling may be on the sweeter side and will affect the color.
If you’re using sour cherries then I would recommend increasing the sugar to 1 cup, or more, depending on how sweet you like your pie.
Fresh or frozen cherries?
And you can use either fresh cherries or frozen cherries – whatever is best. If it’s cherry season, then I would definitely take advantage and use fresh cherries. If cherries are not in season, then by all means use frozen tart cherries.
Because you are cooking the cherry filling first, there’s no need to thaw them. I used to take the time to cut them in half before as well, but I find this step unnecessary. And hello, tedious! I simply cook the cherries down, mashing some of them with a potato masher.
Cherry Crumb Pie ingredients
Pie Filling Ingredients
- Cherries – You can use fresh or frozen pitted cherries. If using frozen cherries, there’s no need to thaw them.
- Lemon juice
- Corn starch – This is to thicken the cherry pie filling.
- Almond extract – I love adding a little almond extract for added flavor. It pairs wonderfully with the cherries!
- Vanilla extract
- Butter – I like to use unsalted butter vs salted butter in my baking but if using salted butter you can reduce or omit the added salt.
Pie Crust Ingredients
You can use a store bought crust if you want for this cherry pie, or make your own homemade pie crust.
- Butter – Make sure to use cold, cubed butter for the pie crust to ensure you get a flaky pie crust.
- Water – You want to make sure to ice, cold water so it doesn’t melt the butter in the pie crust and you get a flaky pie crust in the end.
Cherry Crumb Pie Topping Ingredients
- Almonds – I added sliced almonds for a crunch in the crumb topping for this cherry crumble pie but you can omit the nuts if need be and substitute with oats. You could also use slivered almonds or another nut like pecans or walnuts, but I love the combination of almond and cherries together.
- Sugar – I used granulated sugar but you could swap and use light brown sugar.
Make the cherry pie filling
Instead of canned cherry pie filling for our cherry crumb pie, we are making a fresh cherry pie filling. The cherry pie filling has to be cooked and cooled so I like to make this first. You can also make your pie filling and refrigerate it for up to 24 hours.
- Pit the sweet cherries. You can use a cherry pitter to make fast work of it. I use a cherry pitter that pits multiple cherries at once. Or you can use a single cherry pitter. If you don’t own a cherry pitter, then try popping the cherry pit out with a toothpick or the small end of a round pastry tip. If using frozen cherries, then this step is already done! Wahoo!
- Cook the filling. I then cook down the cherries on the stovetop in a medium saucepan, with cornstarch, lemon juice, lemon zest, and sugar until the filling has thickened about 8-10 minutes. As it’s cooking down I like to smash some of the cherries down with a potato masher.
- Add the extracts. Remove the filling from the stovetop and stir in the extracts.
- Chill the filling. The filling needs to cool down before it can be added to the pie crust, so I transfer the filling to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate it until cool (about 1 hour or up to 24 hours). The filling will thicken up as it cools.
Prepare the crust
The pie crust has to be refrigerated for at least 30 minutes before you try to roll it out. So I like to make this next, then let it rest in the fridge while I prepare the cherry crumb topping. If the crust has been sitting for awhile in the fridge (like a day or more) let the pie dough sit for 10 minutes at room temperature to make it easier to roll out).
I make the crust in a food processor but you can also make it by hand with a pastry blender.
- Combine the flour and salt. In a food processor combine the flour and salt and pulse to combine.
- Add the butter. Scatter the butter over the top. You want to make sure it’s cubed and COLD.
- Pulse. Pulse until the butter and fat are pea-sized.
- Add water. Sprinkle in the water with the processor blade running, and stop until the mixture comes together and is crumbly. You want to then dump the contents onto plastic wrap and wrap up into a disc and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Prepare the Crumb Topping
While the dough is chilling I prepare the crumb topping. I refrigerate the crumb topping while I prepare the crust.
- In a small bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, almonds, and salt.
- Stir in the melted butter until a crumbly mixture forms. Set aside until ready to use.
Assemble and Bake
Once the crust that has chilled I roll it out and place it inside the pie plate. I do like to let it sit for 30 minutes in the fridge again to chill it once more, so I end up with a buttery flaky pie crust that doesn’t shrink when it bakes. While the pie crust is chilling, I preheat the oven and place a rimmed baking sheet in the oven to also warm up that I set the pie on top while it bakes to help make sure I get a crispy bottom crust.
- Roll out pie crust and place in vpie pan. Using a lightly floured surface and rolling pin, roll out the pie crust to a 12″ circle. Fold the pie crust in quarters or roll it over your rolling pin. Unfold (or unroll) the pie crust into your pie plate tuck into the bottom.
- Fold the edge under.
- Crimp the edges. Fold the edge under and flute the edges by pressing the crust between your index finger and thumb and index finger of your other hand.
- Chill the pie crust for 30 minutes.
Assemble And Bake
- Remove crust from fridge. Once it’s chilled it’s time to fill!
- Add filling. Spoon the chilled filling into the prepared pie pan.
- Sprinkle the crumb topping over. The buttery streusel topping may need to be broken up with because it will be cold.
- Bake! Last but not least, it’s time to bake the pie! I bake the pie for 30 minutes at a higher temperature then reduce the temperature. Reduce oven temperature to 350 F degrees and continue to bake until juice bubbles and crust is deep golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes longer. Cover pie edge if they are getting too dark.
A fresh cherry pie is great on its own however I think it’s always better when topped with a little something…
Tips on working with pie crust
- Use cold butter and cold water. You want to make sure to use butter and water that is very cold. It’s important that the butter stays solid until it’s baked. The butter gets coated in the flour, shortening the gluten strands, helping to create a tender crust. And then when the pie crust, the cold butter will melt creating steam pushing the flour layers apart making for a flaky crust. So be sure to use cold butter and cold water so the butter doesn’t melt and get absorbed into the dough otherwise you will end up with a tough, chewy crust.
- Use a pie shield. If my pie crust is getting too dark on the edges I use a pie shield to help protect the edges. And if you don’t own a pie crust shield yet, you create an easy DIY pie shield with aluminum foil.
- Crimp the easy way. Crimping can be a bit more difficult for beginner bakers, so if you’re new to baking pies and not ready to tackle the crimping you can decorate your pie crust edges in lots of easier ways. The easiest way it to press the crust edge down with a fork to make crimped edge. Or try one of these other fun ways to decorate your pie crust edge.
Yes you can make this pie and keep covered at room temperature up to 2 days ahead of time.
Yes you can freeze this pie, baked or unbaked, for up to 3 months. If baking a frozen pie, no need to thaw, just bake as normal but you will need to increase the baking time. And I do NOT recommend a glass pie plate as it could shatter going from freezer to oven.
If you don’t want to use almonds, or want a chunkier crumble, or maybe one that use oats you definitely have some options. This crumble on this pear cranberry pie is a thick oatmeal crumble. Or you could use this almond free brown sugar crumble on this blueberry pie!
Omit the almonds completely and replace with oats. Simply stir the oats, flour, sugar, and salt together and stir in the melted butter to create an easy crumb topping.
More Recipes To Try
If you love this cherry crumb pie recipe, then enjoy some of these other pie recipes!
Cherry Crumb Pie
For the pie dough
- 1 ¼ cups (150 g) all purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 10 tablespoons (141) g unsalted butter cut into 1/4-inch pieces and chilled
- 3-5 tablespoons ice cold water
For the filling
- 5-6 cups (800-960 g) cherries pitted and halved
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- ¾ cup (148 g) granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
For the crumble topping
- ½ cup (43 g) slivered or sliced almonds optional
- 1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (60 g) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons (85 g) unsalted butter melted, cooled slightly
For the pie dough
- Process the salt, sugar, and flour in a food processor until combined, about 5 seconds. Scatter shortening over top and process until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal (about 10 seconds). Scatter butter over top and pulse mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs, about 10 pulses.
- Sprinkle ice water one tablespoon at a time over the mixture. Pulse to combine, until dough sticks together.
- Put the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap (or dump into a clean dish towel and bring up edges and twist so it comes together then transfer to plastic wrap) and flatten into a 4-inch disk. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, up to 3 days. Before rolling the dough out, let it sit on the counter to soften slightly, about 10 minutes.
For the crumble topping
- In a food processor, combine sugar and almonds to chop up almonds. (If you don't own a food processor, chop the almonds, then stir in the sugar, flour and salt to combine. Then stir in butter until a crumbly mixture is formed).
- Add flour and salt and pulse to combine.
- Add butter and pulse to combine until mixture is crumbly. Refrigerate for up to 3 days when ready to use.
For the filling
- Place cherries, lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, cornstarch and salt in a medium saucepan and set over medium heat. Use a potato masher to break down some of the cherries to release juices. Continue to cook, stirring frequently and mashing occasionally, until about half of the cherries have broken down and mixture is thickened and reduced, about 8-10 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in extracts.
- Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, up to 24 hours to cool down.
- When ready to bake, adjust oven rack to lowest position, place rimmed baking sheet on oven rack and heat oven to 400°F.
- Transfer mixture to dough-lined pie plate.
- Sprinkle crumble topping over pie filling evenly.
Bake the pie
- Place pie on a heating baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue to bake until juice bubbles and crust is deep golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes longer. Cover pie edge if they are getting too dark.
- Transfer pie to wire rack; cool to room temperature, at least 4 hours. Cut into wedges and serve.
- Make ahead/storage: You can make this pie up to two days ahead of time. Keep covered at room temperature. Yes you can freeze this pie, baked or unbaked, for up to 3 months. If baking a frozen pie, no need to thaw, just bake as normal but you will need to increase the baking time. And I do NOT recommend a glass pie plate as it could shatter going from freezer to oven.
- Cherries: I made this pie with 100% sweet dark red cherries and also with 50/50 Bing cherries and Rainier cherries. If you’re using sour cherries then I would recommend increasing the sugar to 1 cup, or more, depending on how sweet you like your pie. I used fresh cherries in this pie, but frozen cherries also work. If you are using frozen cherries, then half them while frozen then thaw them out before cooking them down.
- Almonds: Omit the almonds completely in the crumb topping and replace with oats. Simply stir the oats, flour, sugar, and salt together and stir in the melted butter to create an easy crumb topping.
- Cornstarch: You can also use flour if need be.
- More crumble pie options: Try the oatmeal crumble from this pear cranberry pie or this brown sugar streusel topping from my blueberry pie!
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