Make this Amarena Cherry Recipe and you will have the same delicious cherries you love for your cocktails for way less than buying them at the store. This cherry recipe is so easy to make, only has 2 ingredients, and tastes just like the cherries you find in a fancy jar.
I have been searching FOREVER for a recipe that comes close to the cocktail cherries in a jar from the grocery store. I finally found one!! This recipe is from the book Drinking French by David Lebovitz. My friend gifted me this book and I couldn’t believe that on the VERY LAST PAGE was a recipe for Amarena Cherries!!
This recipe isn't made from actual Amarena cherries but comes really close to the dessert cherries found in ceramic jars.
What are Amarena Cherries?
Amarena cherries are a variety of sour cherry that is small and dark with a tart and delicious flavor. They are a summer fruit usually picked in July and are high in vitamins A, B1, and C.
According to Wikipedia, "The Amarena cherry (Italian: amarena) is a small sour dark colored Italian cherry grown in Bologna and Modena, two cities of Italy. It is usually bottled in syrup and used as a decoration on rich chocolate desserts".
In today's modern world, the Amarena cherry has become known in cocktail bars as the luxury cherry on top! They are firm, sweet, and are stored in delicious syrup. Amarena cherries can now be found in most grocery stores and liquor stores.
Ingredients Needed to Make This Amarena Cherry Recipe
This recipe only has TWO ingredients. That's right. Two ingredients. All you need is canned sour cherries and sugar. You can find canned sour cherries at your local supermarket, and even better, they are pretty inexpensive. I used regular white sugar but you could also use turbinado sugar if you wanted to.
How to Make Amarena Cherries
- Add the can of cherries (juice and all!) and sugar to a small saucepan. Attach a candy thermometer if you have one and bring the mixture to a boil over med-high heat.
- Reduce the heat and simmer with bubbles until the mixture becomes foamy. You want the temperature to get to 225° and you don't want the syrup to caramelize. The cherries start out a bright light red/orangy color but will slowly turn a dark red color and shrivel slightly. This is what you want! Whether you are using a thermometer or not, you are looking for a honey-like consistency and the color change to know when the cherries are done. This took about 35 minutes for me.
- Transfer the cherries and syrup into a sealable jar and allow them to cool. You can refrigerate the cherries for up to a year (if they last that long!).
What To Use These Cherries For
These cherries are perfect for cocktails because they are firm, sweet, and taste amazing. Try them in my Elderflower Gin Cocktail or the Last Word Cocktail and you will not be disappointed. You can also use these cherries for desserts or just a quick sweet treat.
More Homemade Recipes to Try
Amarena Cherry Recipe
- candy thermometer (optional)
- sealable glass jar
- 1 15 ounce can sour cherries
- ½ cup sugar
- Add the entire can of cherries with the juice and the sugar to a small saucepan. Attach a candy thermometer if you have one. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.
- Reduce the heat and simmer with bubbles until the mixture becomes foamy. You want the temperature to get to 225° and you don't want the syrup to caramelize. The cherries start out a bright light red/orangy color but will slowly turn a dark red color and shrivel slightly. This is what you want! Whether you are using a thermometer or not, you are looking for a honey-like consistency and color change to know when the cherries are done. This took about 35 minutes for me.
- Transfer the cherries and syrup into a sealable jar and allow them to cool before putting on the lid. You can refrigerate the cherries for up to a year (if they last that long!).
Any nutrition calculations are only estimates using online calculators. Please verify using your own data.
Do you want a Boozy Cherry Instead?
If you want more booze in your cherries for cocktails or desserts, check out my Luxardo Cherries Recipe. You can make boozy little treats with fresh cherries and Maraschino Liqueur. That is to say, these are another way to get cherry flavor into your favorite drinks or desserts.
More Cocktail Recipes to Make at Home
Did you make this Amarena Cherry Recipe?
If you make this amazing Amarena Cherry Recipe, tag me on Instagram or Facebook and show me! I love to see what people are making in their home bars and kitchens. And, if you want recipe updates, sign up for my mailing list and follow me on Pinterest so you never miss a recipe!
Beverlee Ann says
I have a container of frozen sour cherries. Should I thaw and weigh out 15 ounces ?
Hi Beverlee, If the cherries are stored in syrup, you should be able to can use them. You can measure them out but if you are a little over or under it won't matter too much. If they aren't in syrup this recipe won't work but you can check out my Luxardo cherry recipe https://emilyfabulous.com/homemade-luxardo-cherries/.
Hi if I were to use fresh cherries, would much adjustments need to be done?
Hi Van, I haven't tried this recipe with fresh cherries. I have another recipe https://emilyfabulous.com/homemade-luxardo-cherries/ that does use fresh cherries, so I can speak to that. When using fresh cherries, they do not get the same texture as canned cherries, probably because the canned cherries have been sitting in sugar after being processed once already. I also think that you will get a different taste result since the juice in the can has a cherry flavor that is getting added to the overall recipe. The Luxardo recipe doesn't cook for as long as the amarena recipe so you will develop more cherry flavor just from cooking it longer. I would also add a splash of lemon juice just to add a little acidity and brightness. If you do try this recipe with fresh cherries, I'd love to hear how it turns out.
Yvonne Speck says
What’s the difference between Amerena and Luxardo chrrrires for cocktails?
It depends, if you are referring to the jarred cherries in the grocery store usually near the cocktail aisle, they are basically the same IMO. Amarena is a variety of cherries used in the Fabbri brand. Luxardo uses mascara cherries. My amarena recipe does not use either variety specifically but gets close to the taste and texture of the jarred cherries. I also have a Luxardo cherry recipe that uses the actual liqueur to flavor the cherries. I hope this helps!
I love this idea. A colorful addition to any cocktail and so easy too.
They are perfect for cocktails, thanks, Debra!
Oh my! I love anything with cherries and this would be such a great addition to my pantry. I must find the cherries in water I hope we have those here too. , it’d be great 👍 I’m drooling. Great idea and these look soo soo good !
I hope you can find them, they sometimes come in a jar or a can. They are so delicious and if you love cherries you definitely need these in your life!
Super easy, I never knew it would be that easy to do myself!
Almost too easy, right?!?
Thanks for sharing your discovery! These look great!!
These have such a great flavor and are so easy!
Thanks, Audrey, the easier the better in my book!
How fun are these?! Adding to my cocktail repertoire.
It's a good recipe to have on hand and perfect for craft cocktails!
Yum! Would be a great addition to my grazing platters!
Yes, great idea! They are easy to snack on, I know from experience!
So good and perfect for the season!
Yum!! My first job was sorting cherries over summer break so I have a sense of nostalgia when it comes to cherries. These sound delicious and easy to make!
I bet you never thought sorting cherries would bring back memories 😃 I hope you get a chance to try these!
I made these cherries this weekend and OMG are they GOOD! Sweet and tart in every bite! They work great as a cocktail garnish but I think they would also be fabulous as a sauce on a dessert, like a cheesecake. Many possibilities with this one!
I'm so glad you loved these cherries, Sue! I totally agree these would be amazing in a dessert as well...I LOVE the cheesecake idea. This needs to happen, LOL!
Kalu Lor says
So easy and it looks delicious. Thanks for sharing.
You're welcome, Kalu! They really are pretty easy to make.