I've got a surplus of Bing cherries at the moment, since they're in season and therefore on sale everywhere.

I have a handful of made-from-scratch cherry pie filling, but most call for tart cherries (and a relatively large amount of sugar, 1/2 to 1 cup, about twice what I put in a typical blueberry filling). How much should I reduce the sugar to allow for using a sweeter variety of cherries?

  • You might want to look at America's Test Kitchen's recipe for cherry pie, which is a modification of a tart cherry pie for sweet cherries.
    – Batman
    Jul 7, 2016 at 15:22
  • 3
    If the filling doesn't have raw egg in it (which I doubt it would, but some fillings do) you could mix it up with no sugar and taste it, and then add sugar to taste. That might be a good idea in general with some kinds of fruit because even the same kind of strawberry, for example, will be more or less sweet depending on the season and the rainfall, etc. Actually a good trick with fruit deserts is to get varieties that are less sweet but have more flavor, and then sweeten them in the recipe to get a really powerful fruit flavor. Jul 7, 2016 at 16:38
  • @ToddWilcox it doesn't have egg, so good tip!
    – Erica
    Jul 7, 2016 at 16:39
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    Even if it does has eggs in it, you can always cook a small amount in a frying pan before tasting. (This is typically how people test the seasoning in sausage recipes, when they know enough not to eat the filling raw.) With pie filling you'd have to be a little careful not to evaporate too much water, but the idea holds.
    – R.M.
    Jul 7, 2016 at 18:13

2 Answers 2


The difference between sweet and tart cherries is not so much the sweet, but more the tart. If you look at the nutrition information you'll find that tart cherries have about 2/3 as much sugar as sweet, but twice as much Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) which is what gives them their tart flavor.

With this in mind, most sweet cherry pie recipes include lemon juice, while tart cherry pies recipes don't need the lemon juice for balance.

Recipes for both type seem to use between 1/2 to 1 1/2 cups of sugar, so as Stephie says, "It's mostly a matter of taste"

From personal experience - I made 2 cherry pies using a tart cherry pie recipe, except substituting Bing cherries. I got more great reviews for those pies than you would believe. (It might have something to do with the sweet tooth gene on that side of the family)


It's mostly a matter of taste. In theory you could leave the sugar out completely, it's not needed to "bulk up" the filling, but that would probably not match our expectation of "pie filling". Your own question mentiones blueberries, which have about the same degree of sweetness as Bing cherries. I would start with the amount from your blueberry pie recipe.

Apart from that, consider adding a tart/acidic flavour aspect because it nicely complements the sweetness and intensifies flavour. (Probably one of the reasons many recipes use tart cherries.) A dash of lemon juice or, if you have it, some fresh red currants (also in season right now).

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