Summer nights are even sweeter with a warm Cherry Crisp for dessert. Throw it all together at the last minute and serve it up with some vanilla ice cream.
This recipe for Cherry Crisp is easy—no, easier— than pie! If you’ve been making cherry crisp with cake mix, this recipe is just as simple and far better. All you need is butter, flour, rolled oats, a little salt, and cinnamon. That’s all there is to it.
Now let’s discuss cherries. That’s completely up to you: sour cherries, sweet cherries, frozen or fresh. One version of this cherry crisp uses pie filling—homemade pie filling— which just might change your life. But if you’re short on time, you can skip that and make the version with fresh cherries.
There’s also a version for cherry crisp without oats, for all the crumble lovers out there.
In other words, you officially have no excuse not to revel in as many cherries as possible, all summer long.
Need Cherry Crisp for a crowd, or just cherry crisp for two? Click and slide the number next to “servings” on the recipe card below to adjust the ingredients to match how many you’re feeding—the recipe does the math for you, it’s that easy.
How to make Cherry Crisp with cherry pie filling:
If you’ve already made homemade Cherry Pie Filling, which is a simmered and thickened preserve of fresh cherries and sugar, you’re already well on your way. If you haven’t, you can make an impromptu version from fresh or frozen cherries (see the next section for an easy recipe).
- First, find a deep pie dish, a cast iron pan, or 8-inch square baking dish. (if you’re making a larger or smaller Cherry Crisp, adjust your baking dish accordingly.) Then preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
- Pour Cherry Pie filling into the bottom of your baking dish (or follow the recipe in the section immediately below to make the filling from fresh or frozen cherries).
- In a mixing bowl, combine the rolled oats, brown sugar, flour, salt, and cinnamon with a fork. Then add the chunks of softened butter. Using a fork, a pastry blender, of your fingertips, mash the butter into the dry ingredients until mostly combined. Don’t work too hard at this.
- Then, if you like, add the nuts: walnuts, pecans, or even slivered almonds. This can be made ahead of time; refrigerate the topping until you’re ready to bake.
- Just before baking, scatter the topping over the cherries, then bake at 400 degrees for 30-35 minutes until the cherries are bubbling and the topping looks golden brown.
Let the crisp cool for a few minutes before eating; you don’t want to burn your mouth!
How to make Cherry Crisp with fresh or frozen cherries:
If you have no time for making cherry pie filling beforehand and just want to get to work in making the best cherry crisp ever, here’s how.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. This method requires a slightly lower temperature, so the raw cherries can cook under the topping.
- Whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, and a pinch of salt to make sure there aren’t any lumps.
- Next, stir in the water, lemon juice, and almond extract. Add the stemmed, pitted cherries (or thawed frozen cherries) and stir well to coat the cherries in the cornstarch. Then pour the cherry mixture into a baking dish and set aside.
- Make the crisp topping as directed and scatter the cherries with the crisp topping.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes, or until the cherries become thick and bubbly wherever you can see them popping up through the topping.
If the crisp starts to brown too quickly, loosely cover it with aluminum foil and continue baking until bubbly.
How to make Cherry Crisp without oats:
Technically, a cherry crisp without oats is considered a cherry crumble. It doesn’t matter what you call it, though—both are fantastic, easy desserts that go great with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.
In place of the oats, use the same amount of all-purpose flour, gluten-free flour, or almond flour. That’s it!
How to make a Cherry Crisp without flour:
Depending on whether you’re looking for a recipe for a gluten-free cherry crisp or just a crisp with a higher oats-to-flour ratio, here’s what to do:
For a crispy crunchy oatmeal crisp, switch out the flour for almond meal and keep the rolled oats as-is.
For a completely gluten-free Cherry Crisp, make sure the rolled oats are made in a facility that doesn’t also process wheat. (Bob’s Red Mill makes rolled oats that are strictly gluten-free.) Then switch out the small amount of flour for your favorite gluten-free flour blend.
How to store Cherry Crisp:
If for some strange reason you have leftovers, loosely cover the crisp with foil or plastic wrap and leave out at room temperature overnight, so you can have it for breakfast.
Refrigerate if you aren’t able to eat it all; it will keep for up to a week.
How to make Cherry Crisp in advance:
Ideally, Cherry Crisp is at its best when served fresh from the oven, but here’s a great trick for making fruit crisps ahead of time, ensuring crispy toppings without any sogginess or sinking crumbles.
By the way, this method applies to any kind of fruit crisp. It’s a time-tested secret professional kitchens and restaurants use when making fruit desserts.
- Bake the fruit in the pan without the topping. Sprinkle the topping on a parchment lined baking sheet and pop it in the oven to bake separately.
- When both the cherries and the topping are finished, allow to cool and wrap the fruit up to store in the refrigerator. Store the baked topping in an airtight container at room temperature.
- When you’re almost ready to serve fresh cherry crisp, sprinkle the baked topping over the cold baked fruit filling, and reheat the crisp in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes.
The cherries warm up, the crisp magically gets crispier, and all of a sudden, you have one beautiful homemade dessert.
Cherry Crisp Recipe
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place cherry pie filling into a 2-quart baking baking dish and set aside.
- In a medium bowl whisk together oats, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt until well-combined.
- Add the butter and mash with a fork or pinch together with your fingers until the butter is uniformly combined and the mixture is damp and crumbly. Stir in walnuts. (At this point, the crisp topping can be refrigerated until ready to assemble crisp.)
- Sprinkle the crisp mixture evenly over the cherry pie filling. Place in oven and bake until filling is bubbling in the center and the topping is golden brown, about 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving. Serve warm topped with a scoop or two of ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream.
- 3 1/2 cups pitted fresh tart or sweet cherries
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
- Pinch salt
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
- Preheat oven o 350 degrees. Whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, and pinch of salt to remove any lumps.
- Stir in the water, lemon juice, and almond extract. Add the pitted cherries and stir well to coat. Transfer to a 2-quart baking dish. Top with the crisp topping from recipe above.
- Bake until filling has become thick and bubbly all around the edges and the center, about 40 to 45 minutes. If top starts to brown too quickly, loosely cover with aluminum foil and continue baking until bubbly.