How to Make Brandied Cherries (An Easy Authentic Recipe) (2024)

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Each summer, for a short window, orchards positively drip with ripe sweet cherries - blushing yellow Rainiers and Bings such a dark maroon they almost look black. If you're blessed with an abundance, take the time to make homemade brandied cherries.

These boozy, fragrant, vibrantly fruity cherries add flavor to homemade co*cktails and drinks. And their flavor only improves with time, so make them this summer and tuck them into a cupboard until Christmas time arrives.

Jump to Recipe | What are they? | Making Brandied Cherries | Storing | Serving Suggestions

How to Make Brandied Cherries (An Easy Authentic Recipe) (1)

What are brandied cherries?

Brandied cherries are boozy, sweetened fruits that you make by soaking fresh cherries in a combination of rich syrup and brandy. They taste richly sweet, delightfully alcoholic, and, like homemade root beer, are a hallmark of authentic, early American cookery.

At their simplest, Brandied Cherries need only a handful of ingredients: cherries, brandy, and sugar. And most early American recipes call only for those simplest ingredients. You can also add spices if you like. Vanilla pairs particularly nicely with cherries.

Soaking fruit in sweetened alcohol was a popular way of preserving cherries, peaches, and other stone fruit before refrigeration and water bath canning became widespread.

Making Brandied Cherries

To make brandied cherries, you'll begin first by trimming the stem of cherries or removing them completely. Next, prepare a rich syrup with sugar and water. Simmer the cherries in the syrup for a few minutes, and then transfer them to a jar. Whisk the syrup with brandy, and then pour it over the cherries and seal the jar.

Before you make your first batch, there are a few helpful tips to keep in mind:

  • Select only the ripest, best fruit. Blemished fruit, over-ripe or under-ripe fruit make for poor preserves.
  • Trim the stem. Most early American recipes call for keeping the stem on the cherry and trimming it short.
  • Prick the cherries once with a toothpick. You'll simmer the cherries for a few minutes in a hot rich sugar syrup, and pricking them should prevent them from bursting.
  • Try substituting cherry juice for water. While not an authentic ingredient, it can amplify the flavor of your brandied cherries.
  • Keep the sugar content high. It's tempting to cut the sugar in the recipe (who needs more sugar, right?), but sugar acts as a preservative in this recipe - just like alcohol.

How Should You Store the Cherries?

Traditionally, cherries were preserved in brandy in the summer and stored at room temperature or in root cellars until winter. The high sugar content and the high alcohol content helped to preserve the foods and keep them safe.

Early American cookbooks like Miss Corson's Practical American Cookery(1886) and Aunt Babette's Cookbook (1889), recommend simply sealing the cherries in a jar and that's it.

By contrast to traditionalists, modern preservers often use less sugar and recommend storing brandied cherries in the fridge or canning them in a water bath for about 10 minutes, increasing that time at higher elevations.

Rate this Recipe

4.3 from 3 votes

32 servings (1 quart)

Brandied Cherries Recipe

Homemade brandied cherries, with their sweet and fruity booziness are fantastic in co*cktails, or added to desserts. They're also easy to make, and a fantastic way to preserve the cherry harvest. Select ripe, unblemished fruit with the stem on for the best flavor.

Prep Time5 minutes mins

Cook Time10 minutes mins

Total Time15 minutes mins

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  • Trim the stems of the cherries to about ¼ inch, or remove them entirely. Then pierce each cherry once with a toothpick to prevent splitting.

  • Warm the water and sugar together in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk constantly until the sugar fully dissolves. Drop in the cherries and vanilla bean, and simmer them in the hot syrup about 2 minutes.

  • Strain the cherries, and reserve the syrup. Place the cherries and vanilla bean in a jar, and allow the syrup to cool to room temperature.

  • Whisk the room-temperature syrup with brandy, and pour it over the cherries. Seal the jar, and place it in a cool, dark cupboard or store it in the fridge. Allow the cherries to age at least six weeks before serving, and shake the jar periodically.


Substitutions: You can experiment with different caloric sweeteners like maple sugar, jaggery and coconut palm sugar if you like, but remember to keep the sugar content high for the best results.

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How to Make Brandied Cherries (An Easy Authentic Recipe) (2)

Love brandied cherries? Try these cherry recipes next.

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Reader Interactions


    Leave a Reply

  1. Helen Hoyle says

    How to Make Brandied Cherries (An Easy Authentic Recipe) (11)
    Simple recipe but the quantity of liquor produced by the sugar syrup and brandy mixture is way too much for the quantity of cherries. So I now have at least a pint of boozy sweet liquor. Amy suggestions about what to do with it?


  2. Niki Jackson says

    How to Make Brandied Cherries (An Easy Authentic Recipe) (12)
    Fabulous. Made this recipe last January, teachers got 6 with syrup in little containers for Christmas. The rest didn’t last long, ice cream, chocolate cake and homemade sangria. Wasn’t enough, made double batch this year.


  3. Angela says

    How to Make Brandied Cherries (An Easy Authentic Recipe) (13)
    Simple and great recipe! Any suggestions on what to do with the leftover 'juice'? It's too yummy to waste.


  4. Jennifer says

    I made some brandied cherries and after about 3-4 weeks, they were quite bubbly, apparently fermenting. Are they safe to eat? I thought the alcohol and syrup would have preserved them, but not I'm not sure.


  5. Paddy says

    Thank you for the recipe, the addition of spices sounds wonderful. Have you ever tried adding cocoa nibs? Just curious. I was wondering if these coukd be done with honey rather than sugar. I appreciate your time, thanks again.


    • Jenny says

      You could try and let us know how it goes.

  6. V Blackert says

    I would try this ( without the addition of canned cherry juice) but by warming the cognac aren't you boiling all the alcohol out of it?


    • Carolina says

      That’s why you have to let the syrup(water, sugar and vanilla) cool to room temperature before adding the alcohol.

    • Jenny says

      Hi Kristi,

      They don't really go bad - the alcohol acts like a great preservative.

  7. Kriszti says

    I'm excited to try this but wondering about leaving them on my window sill.
    I'm in Australia, window sill temps get up past 35 degree Celsius.
    Can I store them in a cooler dark place straight away?


  8. Elizabeth says

    My husband just pits the cherries, covers completely with brandy, and puts them in the back of the frig until the holidays. Delicious and not nearly as sweet.


  9. Kim says

    Do the cherries need to be very firm for this recipe or will they still be good if they're starting to soften up a little bit?


  10. Lally says

    Hi jenny, I'm wondering what can I do with the cherries afterwards? I made liquor every year and I get really sad when I have to toss those cherries... Well I eat all I can... But I wish I could make something with them too... A pie? Marmalade?... Thanks.


    • Janice says

      I pat dry them with a paper towel and then dip them each in melted dark chocolate. Very nummy!

    • Cherie says

      I juat picked 2kg of cherries from a local tree. I have stoned them all and put most of them ito jars to make cherry brandy for Christmas. I was wondering what to do with the rest..... now I know. I may have to go and pick some more so I can leave the stalks on. I bet they would look pretty on a dessert plate if you dipped them in milk/white/plain chocolate.

  11. Holly says

    I'm still trying to get a response to my question. I emailed your website and posted here several times. Please help!


  12. Holly says

    How does one get a response on this website? I need recipe clarification. Please.


  13. Holly says

    Does anyone know? Please help! I have done research on fermenting since then and see that foods should be weighted and kept below the liquid but is this true for this recipe? There is no mention of it. I'm not sure if it is assumed that people have experience with this sort of food preservation....?


  14. Holly says

    Hi Jenny, I have a large jar on my counter these last 2 weeks and when I went to shake it, I see that some cherries are floating above the water! The ones floating look slightly rotted...would I just chuck the floaters or eat them or chuck it all? It was pretty costly to make this up since cherries were $5 a pound and the liquor was 20!


  15. Angela R. says

    Do you think this recipe would work well with peaches in place of the cherries?


  16. Rebecca Counts says

    I made these and they are delicious but , they shriveled up quite a bit in a short time . I have several jars made for gifts and would hate if they were rotting on me .will they be okay ? I read that cherries should be brined before doing this . While I don't like th extra salt from a brine , it would be better than losing all of my product . Just made some with stems to see if that makes a difference .


  17. Jane Breazzano says

    The cherries sound delicious, can't wait to try! This year so far, I've made red currant and black currant jam from our bushes. Gooseberries I used in gooseberry/apple pies, blueberry crop disappointing this year.


  18. Heather Strickland says

    So excited about my brandies cherries! Just finished 8 quarts and I can't wait to eat them!!
    Thanks for a great recipe:)


  19. Carla says

    Hi I made these last week (so easy!!!) and another batch today. I looked at the batch I made last week and it appears that some of the cherries are rotting. The only thing I substituted was organic cane sugar for unrefined cane sugar. I have them sitting in a south facing window, although with the sun straight overhead, they're not getting a whole lot of sun. What else could i be doing wrong? Thanks.


  20. Annie says

    I just bought 4 lbs. of cherries from the market, but I don't have sour cherry juice. Can I leave that out or substitute with fresh lemon juice?


  21. Nikki says

    Hi, I am going down the road now to the farm stand to grab some cherries!

    One question..Is the sour cherry juice required for proper storage or is it just for flavor?


  22. Deah =) says

    Hi =) Would you be able to use honey in lieu of sugar?


  23. Dorothy says

    Will the alcohol still preserve it without the sugar? I can't have any sugar right now, only honey.


  24. Pam says

    Is the sugar necessary to the preservation?


    • Jenny says


    • Michelle says

      See my original comment below. My cherries are also fizzing, but for six cups of liquid (we had a double recipe) we only used 1/2 cup of sugar. Could that be the reason? Since this is Day #1 of the process, is it too late to add more sugar?

    • Jenny says

      Doubling the recipe, but using only a half cup of sugar is a pretty big deviation from the recipe. It's most likely not enough sugar to preserve the fruit, so they're fermenting. You could probably ad the remaining sugar now though, dissolving it into the liquid.

  25. Jodi says

    I am sad to say I missed cherry season where I live. 🙁 I was wondering if this could be made with blueberries as well?


  26. Emi says

    I see that the sour cherry juice you linked to is concentrated. Do you use 1/2 cup of that straight or do you dilute a certain amount with water to reconstitute?


  27. Veronica says

    I LOVE cherries and this looks like an elegant Christmas gift. I made a double batch yesterday, and they're sitting on a sunny windowsill as instructed. I see in another comment that you say they're not fermented, but mine seem to be fermenting. There are tons of bubbles moving up in the jars and when I open them, a little air releases and the juice bubbles up. All that in just one day. Is that normal? I, too, am afraid they might explode.


    • Katherine says

      I saw the exact same thing with mine, Veronica. Put them up yesterday, and this afternoon checked the jar for pressure... and it hissed at me. I have mine in a Fido, so I'm not too worried about explosions, but I wasn't expecting to see all those bubbles, either.

  28. Chloe says

    Looks super tasty!! Do you think bourbon would be a tasty/workable substitute in this recipe? (No brandy in the house but we do have a big ol' jug of bourbon...)


  29. Suzanne says

    I tried looking for locally made brandy on the Internet but didn't get any links for it. Any ideas? I saw that you mentioned that you do this in your recipe.


  30. Patti says

    I,m just too jealous that , here in CT, we don,t have commercial cherry orchards. Used to have a cherry tree in our yard when I was growing up. That looks so yummy.
    I will be fermenting cukes, carrots, and cabbage from my garden this year. Does one ferment green beans?
    Am planning to have a fermentation party in the fall to introduce some friends to the process.


  31. Diana @ My Humble Kitchen says

    Jenny, I'm heading to my local u-pick farm this Monday. I'll be sure to pick up some extra cherries to give this recipe a go. Thanks!


  32. Lia D says

    This looks perfect. We have 5 gallons of sour cherries waiting for us to do SOMETHING with them. Besides eating we are drying a few ( very time intensive) and freezing . Have you ever make jam with cherries?


  33. Heather @ My Overflowing Cup says

    I love cherries! I never seem to be able to get my hands on enough to preserve them. Should I ever, I will have to try this recipe. I like that you mixed the Rainier and the Bing. Love the pic!


  34. Ann says

    These sound scrumptious! I'm putting up snow peas, sugar snap peas, green beans, peaches, apricots, blueberries, plums, etc this season.


  35. Caroline says

    I'm neck deep in mangos at the moment. Freezing, dehydrating, eating fresh. Later I'll take some of the frozen ones and make jam. I've also saved all the juice and I'm going to try my hand at fruit leather.


  36. Lisa says

    Yum on the brandied cherries!

    As to your question about what plans do I have for preserving? I can't wait until my cucumbers are ready so I can make fermented pickles again. I had a crop failure last year so it has been much too long!


  37. Lan says

    I'm assuming these are not for children? Thanks.


  38. gail dean says

    Do you have to sterilize the jars?


    • Jenny says

      I never sterilize my jars. I just run them through the dishwasher and call it good.

    • elsa says

      Hi jenny,
      Thank you for the recepies.

  39. Ina says

    After years of making brandied cherries i found out they will stay crisp if you leave a bit of stem on, just clip it if you wish. They still absorb all the nu
    mmie flavor.


    • Jenny says

      Brilliant idea!

  40. Sydney says

    Yumm! This has inspired me to make brandied jocotes. I live in El Salvador, and I call jocotes the plum of central america.
    I also plan on making green papaya pickles, and green mango pickles!


  41. Emily says

    Doesn't heating the brandy cause the alcohol to burn off? The boiling temp of alcohol is lower than that of water, and the boiling temp of sugar water is much higher than the boiling temp of water. Am I to understand that we are barely heating the sauce ingredients together?

    I am *totally* going to try this! I have a 10-pound tub of sour cherries on order from a local farm.

    Already I have canned a gallon of strawberry jam, and I am likely to can sliced peaches in my own maple syrup sauce. I will definitely do applesauce in the fall (Cortland for preference, usually 20-30 quarts), and maybe either tomato sauce or salsa. Canned fresh sweet corn is pretty popular around here, too, although I am not sure if I'll be doing it this year yet. (A sack of 60 ears is decently manageable for my group.) And pickles! I am growing pickling cukes this year, and I have about a hundred flowers out there, so it should be a great batch of dill pickles.


    • Jenny says

      You just warm it enough to dissolve the sugar, not burn off the alcohol. It's still plenty, plenty boozy!

  42. Shannon says

    How long will they last once you open them?


    • Jenny says

      They're always open.

  43. Megan says

    So excited to make this now for a couple Christmas gifts!


  44. Abbie says

    Sounds super yummy! Thanks for sharing! Is there a reason for leaving the pits in? I would rather do the work all at once up front rather than try to remember to remind guests and whoever else is eating it later if it won't affect the end results...


    • Jenny says

      The pits give a little flavor to the cherries, and you can use pitted cherries, but I prefer them with pits in.

  45. vanessa says

    OMG! These remind me of childhood - maraschino cherries? Maybe they're the perfect adult excuse for a childhood reunion! thank you 🙂


  46. Patricia says

    I am very excited to try this. But is there a fermentation going on? Do we need to burp the jars each week. Do the jars not explode? I have had exploded Kombucha, and it ain't funny!


    • Jenny says

      This is not a fermented recipe, so you don't risk exploding jars.

  47. Ashley Aré says

    To make this recipe non-alcoholic, sometimes I use cherry juice with a bit of balsamic vinegar to replace red wine while cooking. Do you think that would work for this preserving recipe? To replace the alcohol with more juice, a bit of balsamic and keep all the spices? It looks really nice thank you!


    • Jenny says

      No, that would not preserve the cherries. Though I think you might be able to preserve them in straight vinegar. Alcohol acts as a preservative.

  48. Doris says

    What do you mean by "seal the jars?" You're not talking about canning? Thanks.


    • Jenny says

      I mean that we should close the jars tightly.

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