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Benefits of tart cherry juice extract*

Homemade "Maraschino" Cherries (This Time Without Alcohol)

Judging from cartoons, you would think that the iconic cherry was perched on every cupcake In actuality, it’s somewhat rare to find a cherry on a cupcake purchased from a modern cupcake shop Still, as a cupcake blogger, I feel a duty to the cherry; just as I believe in from-scratch baking, I hold that the cherry on top should be more than a jarred cherry with high fructose corn syrup and red food coloring (especially this time of year when piles of fresh cherries greet me right as I enter my supermarket)

I’ve made homemade maraschino cherries before in the traditional way – by using maraschino liqueur They were above-and-beyond better than any maraschino cherry I’d experienced from the jar However, they were decidedly not kid-friendly Those cherries were like tiny shots of liqueur encased in a piece of fruit Today, I’m presenting you with a homemade maraschino cherry for the whole family

These alcohol-free “maraschino” cherries are made by steeping pitted cherries (I used Rainier cherries) in pomegranate juice, sugar, lemon juice, star anise, and orange peel Although no alcohol is involved, these “maraschino” cherries most resemble the fruit that I love to fish out of the bottom of my glass of sangria – sweetened from the sugar and rich in flavor from all the subtle notes of the wine These cherries are tart, sweet, surprisingly complex, and incredibly inviting

How to Make Homemade “Maraschino” Cherries Without Alcohol

My recipe was adapted from a recipe that I found in a NPR story by Kara Newman, sourced from Raising the Bar by Nick Mautone The original recipe called for grape juice, but I switched it to pomegranate to give it more of a grenadine flavor (if you don’t know that grenadine comes from pomegranate juice, be sure to read my post on homemade grenadine) I also removed the almond extract (I’m just not a big fan of it) and added orange peel on the wonderful suggestion of my husband

Products Used for This Recipe

I use and love this saucepan It’s the best saucepan I’ve ever owned

Calphalon Tri-Ply Stainless Steel 2-1/2-Quart Shallow Sauce with Cover

You can store the cherries in any sealed container But, it’s always helpful to have some tall mason jars around

Homemade "Maraschino" Cherries (This Time Without Alcohol)

Servings 1 pound of "maraschino" cherries


  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 1/2 fluid ounces lemon juice juice from about 3 lemons
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 whole piece star anise
  • Peel from one large orange
  • 1 pound pitted cherries any kind will do, but I used Rainier cherries


I know that you are going to ask me how long the cherries last for I don’t have an answer for you I intend to use mine up within a couple of weeks You’ll see the cupcakes that they topped featured here in the near future

Huge thanks to everyone in the Cupcake Project Facebook community who helped me win a dispute with Jonathan over which photo to use for this post If you missed the voting, you can still have a look at the Facebook post to see what the other options were

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27 comments on “Homemade "Maraschino" Cherries (This Time Without Alcohol)”

my husband LOVES cherries It’s a very unhealthy obsession He would love me forever if I made these!

So refreshing! Thank you for this!

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Oh my goodness … I was just looking for a homemade maraschino cherry recipe that didn’t use alcohol so my nephews could eat them … it’s like you knew I needed you to post this, Stef!

Seriously, thanks for this great recipe … you are always thinking outside the box, and we get to reap the benefits!

Can’t wait to try these!

ok… This I have to try Looks a bit labor intensive, but I think I can do it Thanks so much!

It does look like a bit of work but I bet these cherries taste amazing I never seen this blog before and glad I found it on Grubodexcom

Pretty cherries on top of cupcakes are always a sight to behold So imagine the wailing when you tell your toddler she can have the cupcakes but not the cherries on top I am excited to try this recipe

How long can the cherries last this way, by the way?

Great recipe! I live in Sweden right now and can’t find maraschino cherries here Now I’ll be able to make my own! Thanks for the recipe

GREAT idea My (normally real food sis-in-law) just fell in love with a summer cocktail using these cherriesAmong other functions, quercetin prevents oxidative damage caused by free radicals from damaging lowdensity lipoprotein LDL or bad cholesterol, according to a study published in European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Science in 2013. These will definitely be her next gift! Thank you so much for sharing

What an ingenious recipe, especially since it uses such friendly and easily available ingredients I have a sink full of Washington state cherries, looking for a couple of culinary options Thanks for providing one

Wonderful recipeso many uses for these and it’s cherry season! thanks

I’m dying to try these but have never pitted cherries before Any tips on doing it and keeping the stems on? (All the online how-tos remove the stem and go in that way)

I just pitted them from the sides, instead of going in from top to bottom

Awesome! Will have to try this out soon! Beautiful photo’s as well! Thanks for sharing!

Can you use a sugar sub? I have a friend who has to watch is sugar and really loves cherries!

I don’t see why not But, I haven’t tried it

I love this idea As someone who loves to make the homemade versions of over-processed foods, this is right up my alley Now, if only cherry season was in full swing

I just made your recipe with a couple of changes I forgot the pomegranate juice ( of course) and I couldn’t find star anise So I used red wine (merlot) and cloves It’s delicious!! You are right- it won’t last long

Think you could do this with pie cherries?

My daughter has an allergy to Red Dye #40 and was just asking me why Maraschino cherries had to have Red 40 in them since she loves those cherries so much I just showed her this recipe and she is absolutely thrilled! Can’t wait to make these for her I’m also going to do a bit of research and see if I can figure out how to can them so we can enjoy them year round, and not just during cherry season Thank you!

Just made both recipes here (alcohol and no alcohol) Great in an Old Fashioned! What can you do with the leftover juice once the cherries are all gone?

You could use it as a syrup in cocktails or with some seltzer Could always cook it down more or sweeten it more if you need to

What else can I use if I can’t findwhole star anise?

You can leave it off if you can’t find It will still taste good

Did you figure out how long these keep for :)

What about the pits? You can’t est them as is with the stone still in them