sour cherry pie with almond crumble

If there can be no clearer indication that this will be the Summer of Pie at the Smitten Kitchen — as if a 6-week onslaught of galette after pie smackdowns after savory tart built on a platform of tartlets crusted bettys and free-form pretties did not already lead us to that conclusion — my pastry blender broke this week after putting in five very good years. First, one side of it became unglued from the handle and because I am both stubborn and cheap, I’d just hold it in with my thumb while I cut butter into flour. But then the other side came unglued and I ran out of thumbs. So RIP little pastry blender, and Amazon, hurry and bring that new one along, okay?*

sour cherries
pitting and pitting the cherries

If it could have a fitting final act, this would be a fine one, a sour cherry pie I’ve been angling to make for more than three years and have, without fail, missed the painfully short window that sour cherries are available. Not this year. This year the season seems to be stretching on and on, and I couldn’t be more pleased as while sweet cherries make some fine snacking, sour cherries win all prizes in baking.

pitted cherries

almond streusel + cherry filling

It makes me wonder why I don’t make crumb pies more often. I worked at a bakery in high school that sold more crumb pies than double-lidded ones, a clear sign that most people prefer them. They’re less fussy (only half the dough to roll) and that crumbly top does a good job of drinking up any excess sloshiness. Plus, the almonds. I mean, the original recipe called for pistachios and I’m sure they’d be awesome but there’s something about the way that almonds and cherries play off each other that is perfect; they were always meant to be together. Too bad this pie didn’t last long enough for them to dally into old age.

sour cherry pie with almond streusel
sour cherry pie slice

* Literally, just as I’m posting this, the new one (glue-free!) arrived. Amazon, can you also bring along a stack of $100 bills and a baby that sleeps past 6 a.m.? Thanks!

One year ago: Cherry Brown Butter Bars + Slinging Slaws and Summer Salads
Two years ago: Mango Curd
Three years ago: Everyday Yellow Dal + Classic Madeleines

Sour Cherry Pie with Almond Crumble
Adapted from The Sweet Melissa Baking Book

Influenced by Melissa Clark, I blind-baked my bottom crust and remembered precisely why I hate blind baking pie crusts so much — the shrinking! I’d have been smart to have left a more generous overhang to crimp into a rim — next time. Nevertheless, the technique is sound and if you’re bothered by “soggy bottoms” (love that Julia Child term, don’t you?) it will keep the crust from getting soggy under the cherries. I’ve included directions, should you want to do the same.

1/2 recipe All Butter, Really Flaky Pie Dough

For the almond crumble:
2/3 cup whole oats, ground to a flour in a food processor (yielding 1/2 cup oat flour)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (you might want to first read up on kosher salts)
3/4 cup unsalted whole almonds, coarsely ground in a food processor or chopped medium fine by hand
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For the sour cherry filling:
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 1/4 pounds fresh sour cherries, pitted, or 2 pounds frozen sour cherries, partially thawed

Prepare the bottom crust: Roll out the chilled pie dough into a 12 inch round. Gently fit into a 9- or 9.5-inch pie plate. Fold the edges under and crimp decoratively. Either refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes (if you don’t wish to blind-bake the crust first) or preheat oven to 425, line dough with foil and weigh it down with pie weights. Bake until crust is light golden brown, about 30 minutes (for a more stable, crisp bottom crust). [Updated to add] Reduce temperature to 375°F.

Prepare the crumble: Grind oats to an oat flour in a food processor (you can also swap 1/2 cup oat flour, if you have it), then add the all-purpose flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt and whole almonds. Grind them together until the nuts are coarsely ground (if you don’t have a food processor, you can chop them medium-fine by hand). Stir together with melted butter in a bowl.

Make the cherry filling: In a large bowl, mix the cherries with the sugar, cornstarch and kosher salt. Taste the mixture to see if you want more sugar than is called for.

Assemble the pie: Pour the cherries into your unbaked or blind-baked pie shell. Sprinkle the almond crumble over the cherries. Place the pie plate on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Bake for about 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until the juices are bubbling and thick. Remove to a rack to cool to room temperature before serving.

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248 comments on sour cherry pie with almond crumble

  1. Abutton

    Have you ever seen this:

    It is by far the best pastry blender I have ever, ever used! It is very comfortable to hold and use, the tines are strong and don’t bend, and it makes cutting in butter a breeze! I know you just bought a new one, but you should seriously consider buying this. It will change your pie-, biscuit-, streusel-, and everything else-making experience in a great way! :)

    On another note, the pie looks fantabulous!

  2. Eleanor

    Not sure why, but there are lots of question marks in my view of the recipe. It looks like you’re very hesitant about the crumble and the filling, which I know isn’t the case from reading the (always delightful) prose.

  3. Stephanie

    Deb- Think you should check the recipe for those question marks! The pie looks great. If only I could find sour cherries where I live.

  4. Kathy in St. Louis

    Mmm, pistachio? If I’d kept them in, I might have also added the tiniest dash of rose flower water to the cherries.

    Looks just terrific, Deb.

  5. perhaps the best-ever pie-crust-making tip i ever got picked up was from alton brown’s book “i’m just here for more food.” instead of cutting butter in with a pastry blender or pair of knives, freeze it and then grate it in over your flour etc. with a cheese grater. then, toss it and rub it in with your fingertips. i have had much better success–as in, noticeably tastier crusts! flaky and perfect–with this than with any other method.

  6. Anne

    can’t decide if i keep coming back for recipes or pictures of that cute little monster you’ve got crawling around. thanks for sharing, as always. cheers–

  7. I’ve been eating nearly a pound of cherries every day this week….god, I could live on them…
    no sour cherries to be found in my neck of the woods….maybe I could find frozen? I need to make a pie this weekend….

  8. Krista

    Yum! Crumb tops are my favorite; my mom makes a delectable strawberry-rhubarb crumb top mm mm. Thanks for this!

  9. Eileah

    Katie – Never even thought of doing that with butter. Thanks for the tip.

    The pie looks great. Just yelled to the hubby in the other room that I’ll be picking up some cherries and a pitter this evening!

  10. zaydia

    Looks like there might be an issue with your formatting. In the amounts for this recipe I’m getting a lot of question marks instead of digits!

  11. oh my, this looks divine! it is definitely cherry time here in switzerland – AT THIS VERY MOMENT – so i think i better make this very pie ASAP. thank you for sharing. as always, i’m sure it is a fabulous treat! ;)

  12. I just picked buckets of sour cherries from our backyard and made them into jam. I wanted to make a pie but I didn’t think you had a sour cherry recipe. I guess it’s back to the ladder and tree!

  13. Oh, this is so timely! I’m planning to pick raspberries and sour cherries this weekend in Northern Virginia. I bookmarked a sour-cherry lattice pie, but the almond crumble looks so much more appealing. Thanks, Deb—you’re a fantastic cook and a mind-reader! Great combination.

  14. Angela

    That looks great! There is a cherry orchard about 1.5 hours from me but even so, I often can’t get to it during the short sour cherry season. I have found that The Cherry Stop in Michigan will ship ten 20-oz bags of frozen pitted (!!) cherries on dry ice (, so that’s usually my cherry source. Be aware that the shipping will cost almost as much as the cherries, but oh well. I have a couple bags still in the freezer so will try the crumb crust. One trick I’ve found with making cherry pie is to cook the cherries, sugar and thickener (I use Clear Jel) together until the liquid is thickened, THEN assemble the pie. Don’t have to risk burning the crust waiting for the filling to thicken.

  15. Carroll

    LOVE your website.

    The instructions for assembling the pie seem to be out of order. First we’re told to put the cherries in the shell and spread the crumble over top. Then it says to put the cherries in a bowl; sprinkle the flour mixture over top; then mix gently to combine.

    I think those two sentences have been reversed. The pie looks delicious.

  16. oh sour cherries! i had 10 lbs of sweet cherries, which were phenomenal, but i feel ya when it comes to the sour cherry pies. i did make and post a sweet cherry recipe that i’d love to redo with sours. and the crumble topping? i don’t do those nearly as much as i should either!

  17. mmm… cherries and almonds. They really do belong together, don’t they?

    Rather than blind baking the crust, I bake the (raw-crusted) pie on a pre-heated baking stone on the bottom rack of the oven. I preheat the stone at 500 degrees, lower it to 425 when I put the pie in, then lower it again to 375 after about 25 minutes. Works like a dream for me. Nary a soggy bottom in sight.

  18. I’m sure this was delicious but I am extra frustrated by it. I have been looking for sour cherries for a month, asking all my regular farmers and also the ones I don’t usually shop from at the market near my office. They kept saying “maybe on Thursday” and then today it was “oh, season’s over.” What?! I guess I’m waiting for next year AGAIN.

  19. Deb, Some of the quantities in the ingredient list have question marks in them. There are pick your own sour cherries available locally in my area this weekend so I may even get a chance to make this pie. Although only if I pick enough to make the pie and jam, I have wanted to make sour cherry jam for far to long to let a new recipe replace it so fast.


    1. deb

      Robin — Oof, fixed now. Thanks.

      Carroll — Thanks. There was actually a spare sentence in there. I like you guys so much, I gave you an extra one! Uh, or something.

  20. Ariana from Chicago

    Hey Deb, have you heard the tip about crushed amaretti cookies (or similar) on the bottom of berry crusts to prevent sogginess? This avoids the parbaking entirely and it really does add too much more sweetness.

  21. Deb, I so enjoy your posts, everything always looks so delicious, and your food philospophy is so similar to mine :) This pie looks amazing :)

  22. Kim in MD

    OMG- I know what you mean about holding onto favorite kitchen gadgets. My favorite OXO box grater handle broke off (on one side) about six months ago! I still use it (very carefully!). I love my various microplanes for zesting, etc., but when I want perfectly shredded Parmigano Reggiano, I always use my box grater!

    That said, this pie looks amazing! I (like many other posters) are also having trouble finding sour cherries. This month’s Cook’s Illustrated discusses the sour cherry vs. sweet cheery issue. Thanks for inspiring me to cook out of my comfort zone, Deb! :-)

  23. Helen

    Wow, Katie, that is a great tip about grating the butter. I’ll have to try that.

    I was just about the buy the $3.95 pastry blender and as I was just about the complete the order, noticed that it cost a whopping $9.50 for shipping. Does that even make any sense? Ridiculous. Suffice it to say, I didn’t get it.

    1. deb

      Helen — Funny. I noticed that when I linked it. When I ordered it, it was $7.25 with free shipping. Amazon has the same items sold by many different stores, through the same page/link. When one store runs out, another seller becomes the lead one to “list” it even if that one has a totally different pricing scheme. How do I know these things? I spend an unhealthy amount of time on Amazon.

      Julie — I just finished watching it. Their pies were APPALLING. Also, was anyone confused about the whole one-hour-grilling thing? Can you do ribs in an hour? (I guess if not smoked.) But pork butt/shoulder? I didn’t get it.

      Kim — I have a sweet cherry pie recipe on the site as well.

  24. We had trouble finding fresh sour cherries for about as many years as you and we planted a tree a few years ago. In June 08 it produced 3 cherries. In June 09, the birds ate them all (maybe a small bowl’s worth). This year, with netting, we got a quart! I don’t think I had ever had pie made with fresh sour cherries. Until last night. Now I can’t wait till next year!

    But anyway… it takes some patience, but not all that many years before the young cherry tree produces fruit. And not all that much care and feeding.

  25. Kyle

    FYI: Gordon Food Service (GFS) has bags of frozen sour cherries, if you’re unable to get fresh. I’m super blessed to have picked 3 lbs today to go with the 10 lbs I picked last week. There’s never enough!!

  26. I also do the grated butter thing, suggested upthread – if I’m really feeling lazy, I use the grating wheel on my food processor, and grate it right into the flour. For this reason, I keep all my fats in the freezer (though I tend to stick with all-butter recipe, when shortening is necessary I use Crisco sticks – you cut them in half to fit in the chute.) It means an extra load of dishes, so I do a lot at once and freeze it.

  27. I never use a pastry blender, myself – two knives and then my fingers. But this is also my summer of pie! I have a stack of crusts in the freezer, which makes it remarkably easy to make impulse pies.

  28. laurie

    Yesterday, I was in Central Market here in Dallas, and they had sour cherries. I have never ever seen them for sale down here. They still have the leaves on them and they’re just so cute nestled in the container. I kind of like eating them just as they are; the tartness is so unexpected. Since I don’t have enough to make a pie, maybe a compote with your crumb topping?

  29. Meg

    Oh my gosh. I’ve been an avid reader for quite a while, and I can’t believe this appeared today — I just walked in the door from picking sour cherries from my tree in the backyard and was wondering what the heck to do with them. THANK YOU! I’ll be making this tasty treat up for 4th of July.

  30. Almonds and cherries are the best. I recently made a cherry clafoutis but turned it into a tart by giving it an almond crust and dressed it up with some almond praline. Match made in heaven. I love that picture with the cherries – they look like tiny jewels.

  31. Susan

    We can’t get sour cherries at the farmers mkt here in the SF Bay area..they only grow sweet cherries here. Last year I found a little produce/foreign foods mkt by chance in a strip mall close to home and low and behold they had fresh sour cherries! I became a cherry pie maniac because it’s the first time I found fresh sours since I’ve been in CA (longer than you are old, Deb!) I froze and baked until the season was over! It’s due to have them again soon and I can hardly contain my excitement!

    Oh, and I’m sure bakery customers prefer crumb crusts only because most bakeries apply an egg wash on regular pastry top crusts. It’s pretty to look at, but it makes the crust chewy.

  32. Did somebody say CRUMBLE? That’s my absolute favourite word when it comes to food, honestly. I think I might just eat the topping off this pie. It looks absolutely divine.


  33. carolina

    I love crumbled tops! why? well because when the spoon goes in, so does the crumble, and you get this nice crunch in there. with a regular top, you don’t really get to eat it with the filling, it kinda just makes it to your mouth alllll alone. & that’s me saying that this looks fantabulous and deeeeeeelicious!

  34. i’ve also been making an obscene amount of pies this summer–must be catching. Plus, I just learned the word for “sour cherries” from my language teacher, so i can finally ask for the sour ones at the fruit stand! I keep ending up with the sweet ones.
    more importantly, that darn baby truly makes my heart hurt with his cuteness.

  35. Amy

    Okay- where on earth do you manage to get fresh sour cherries?! I have been looking everywhere, talking to all of the local farmers at my farmers market-how do you get your hands on them? Do you order them? Anything- somewhere I could get them! I live in Northern Nevada- and yeah, its a bit of an extra struggle to find ingredients sometimes, but this just seems ridiculous! If anyone has any suggestions or sources I would really appreciate it. This recipe (and several others) looks wonderful- I’d love to try it out.

  36. Thank you Deb for this beautiful pie. I’m one of your followers from Manila, Philippines.

    I have a question… do you think i could use canned Tart Cherries (in water) for this? I just bought a can a couple of weeks ago and I don’t know what to do with it. Or is there another recipe better suited to canned tart cherries?

  37. Sarah

    Apologies if someone has already asked this, but what are sour cherries? Are they the same fruit as normal cherries (perhaps less ripe)? As far as I know, they don’t exist in new Zealand! Thank you

    1. deb

      Sarah — They look almost exactly like sweet cherries (though smaller and brighter red than some varieties) but they’re sour. Not underripe, but sour. Maybe not as sour as, say, raw rhubarb but pretty sour. They’re wonderful for baking.

      Judy — I haven’t tried working with them but I bet if you drained and rinsed them and cut back on the sugar significantly (if they’re already sweetened), they might work for this pie. Definitely worth finding out.

      Amy and others who asked where I bought sour cherries — Union Square Greenmarket (NYC) last Wednesday. I was surprised by the number of stands that had them. Even last year, I remember only seeing two with any significant amount and they were gone in two weeks. You might look for frozen ones if they don’t grow near you.

      Grating the butter — Okay, burning question. Seeing as I write about pie a lot and I’m an avid proponent of cutting the butter in by hand, I’ve head many of you mention this method in comments. But here’s what I don’t get — doesn’t the butter melt in your hands? Doesn’t it get soft? I totally get why the grate would create the perfect sizes of butter flecks for pie dough, but I don’t get how you can hold even a frozen stick of butter and for it to not get greasy. The pastry blender keeps the warmth of your hand away from the butter and dough so it stays as cold as possible.

  38. Nadia

    Now you’re talking! Only I can’t get hold of sour cherries so might have to try this with a different sour fruit, a mixture of unripe plums and slightly riper nectarines, or some such.

  39. linda

    yahoo! yippee! thank you deb…thank you!!!
    i just love creating & baking pies…savory, sweet, tarts, galettes, tartlets…
    i am so excited & look forward to your summer posts (even if not pie related!!)
    coincidence: i just took out of the library the sweet melissa baking book & am reading recipes!!

    btw: i always send my oxo back to their customer service & have never been disappointed with the new replacement piece!

    have a great holiday w/e & jacob is just the cutest!!

  40. wendy

    FYI, you don’t need to buy a pitter to get those little beauties stone-free! The most reliable –and CHEAP– technique is to partially unfold a large paper clip and use the rounded end to pop (pull, really) them out. Infinitely easier and more reliable than those el-cheapo plastic pitters. I’m in northern Michigan today, so I’m running right out for some fresh cherries! Gorgeous recipe, Deb. Thanks!

  41. wendy

    Oh, and AMY, go this site to order DE-lightful frozen cherries from northern Michigan: Their cherries are grown and picked here in MI and I use them all year round when fresh isn’t available. You can get 10lbs for $41 but you’ll have to use overnight shipping, which may be pricey. On the other hand, FIVE crumble pies. What’s not to love?

  42. funny, i had a rapsberry blueberry crumb pie and decided there will be crumb on my pies right after i do the sour cherry one w/o the crumb. the crumb pies are SOOOO good!! hoping to get some sour cherries this weekend and get to work.

  43. JC

    Grating butter: I use my food processor fitted with the grater blade. I feed in a stick of butter and BOOM. There you have it. Works like a charm. Especially for scones.

  44. I just made my own “cherry pie filling” last night with a mixture of sour and sweet cherries!!/photo.php?pid=4504510&id=594846837 I was dreading another lattice top (so pretty, but such a pain to make), so I’ll think I’ll try this with with your all butter crust recipe which, shhhh, it’s better than my mom’s!! I’m making it for a dinner date this weekend (PS-he’s a real FARMER! yahoo!) This crumble top will hopefully win his heart! :0)

  45. I knew I shouldn’t have looked at your site while starving! I’ve never made a crumb pie (shameful), but this one looks amazing. I’ve been obsessed with rustic fruit desserts this summer…I can’t seem to stop! And now I have a new one to add to the list. Yikes.

  46. Robyn

    Deb- I usually use a paper towel or something to hold the butter when I grate it. I keep butter in the freezer, so usually it stays cold enough to grate without getting too smushy. Grating the butter directly into the flour in the food processor = genius! I never thought of that!

  47. I just bought sour cherries at the farmer’s market last night and was looking for a recipe, by chance I clicked on your blog (as I read every time updated) and a cherry pie recipe! How perfect. Can’t wait to try it.

  48. Kristin

    I have the same Pampered Chef blender as Bekah – it is fantastic. Takes up more drawer space – but it really is super awesome!! We bought our house three years ago and have been gradually uncovering different parts of the grounds each summer. This year, we found sour cherry triees that we didn’t even know whe had!! I have now picked about five gallons of sour cherries from my backyard and have been DYING for something to do with them because I’ve never used sour cherries before. PERFECT timing!!

  49. Casey

    I’ve never included nuts in a crumb top. I’ll have to try mixing up my toppings with them…are there any I should avoid?

  50. Lea

    I’m just going to go completely and ridiculously FAN on you. Is that okay? Hopefully you won’t find it too creeptastic. It’s out of my contol– I’ve become, irretrievably, your biggest fan. There. I said it. And it sounded just as cliche as I thought it would! But it’s your fault, okay? Maybe if you had stopped a few pies ago.

    At least three times a week, my boyfriend says, “GAH! Can you please stop saying the words Smitten Kitchen?!”
    But we’re having Bread Without a Time Table and Roasted Tomatoes & Cippolini for dinner. Needless to say, he’s a big fan of yours, too.

    – Lea

  51. Vicky

    This is my first time posting here, though I’ve wanted to for a long time!
    This Cherry-pie-crumble-fantasy-awesomeness was the perfect excuse to do so :)
    I’m form Uruguay and it’s quite hard to find cherries or any type of berry in here, what other fruit would you suggest to use? (other than apples which would be an obvious option!)
    Thanks Deb for this recipe, this site and your witty humour!Keep it up!

  52. halfbakedcake

    I stalked the website of an orchard in SW Virginia for months waiting for them to announce sour cherry season. You just can’t get them down here in Durham. So, the morning they said they were ready I got up at 5AM, drove 2 1/2 hours to VA and picked 25 pounds of tart cherries. I love them THAT much. We ate some out of hand, then I made jam, marmalade, ice cream topping, preserves, and cherry butter, but I froze 6 pounds to use in pies. This looks like a contender. I prefer double-crust pies, but husband loveloveloves crumb-topped ones.

    As far as shrinkage, my baking instructor said to make sure the crust was pressed very firmly into the sides of the pan, that it wasn’t pulled too tight, and that it was cold when it went into the oven. Haven’t had a problem with shrinkage since.

  53. Shari

    I made your favorite galette pastry last night, and my pastry cutter -literally got all bent out of shape. I had to keep adjusting the blades. At that point I really wanted to dump it in the food processor and let er rip, but I wasn’t sure if I should? Do you ever made pie doughs or pastries in the food processor? The galette pastry was good, but I think I left some of the butter chunks too big and it wasn’t as tender as I was hoping.

  54. Ugh!!! It’s killing me that I can’t find sour cherries in San Diego yet! I’ve got my favorite farmers market vendor on high alert, but alas, I’m still cherry-less. There was a cherry tree in my backyard as a kid, that year after year, never produced a single solitary cherry. Then one year, it did just that – produced ONE, single solitary cherry. We kids watched that thing like a hawk, until we deemed it was ripe for the picking. My mom very carefully cut our one, single solitary cherry into four perfectly divided quarters. 25 years later I can still remember exactly how it tasted, and thus my cherry obsession was born. Can’t WAIT to start cranking out the pies!!

  55. CiCi

    America’s test kitchen has a blueberry scone recipe ( that calls for grated frozen butter. They get you to use two sticks of butter, then “Score and remove half of wrapper from each stick of frozen butter. Grate unwrapped ends on large holes of box grater.” Then the wrapped ungrated butter sticks go back in the freezer for another use. Holding the butter this way, your warm hands don’t actually come into contact with the grated butter bits.

    Gotta love free shipping on Amazon :)

  56. Clare

    Thank you so much for this recipe. My husband’s favorite pie is Sour Cherry, but I am not the biggest fan of his family’s tapioca-laden recipe from his Mennonite heritage. I’m sure he will love this, as will I.
    And thanks for the ridiculously cute picture of your little guy. Really, I need to stop clicking on the link to Jacob’s pictures, as all of them, even the trouble-making ones, make me want to have babies.

  57. Dear Smitten Kitchen,

    It’s rare that I feel the need to express my admiration in “letter” form but this post, hell your blog in general, warrants it. I’m still a “frosh” (by blog standards) and I’m learn something new from you upperclassmen every single day.

    In an almond shell…this blog seriously rules. I hope someday I can inspire a budding blogger the way you have for hundreds/thousands on here.

    :cue Warrant’s “Cherry Pie”:

  58. Jennifer

    You are the greatest writer. You’ve made it so that it’s virtually impossible to delete one of your posts without taking the time to read it, and link to picture of baby.

  59. I am firmly a fork and knife gal for cutting in my butter. Heck, I got rid of my pastry blender, because I hardly ever used it. This looks glorious, but I haven’t seen any sour cherries around and the sweet cherries are starting to look worse for wear.

  60. Deb, as a Southern Californian I can lord it over you that guacamole is available 365 days a year, as is outdoor grilling – but sour cherries? NEVER! BOO-HOO!
    BURNING QUESTION: In what way do you find cutting the butter in by hand is superior to doing it in the Cuisinart? As in Mark Bittman’s pie dough recipe, in which flour, sugar, salt and butter whiz together in 10 seconds, then get dumped in a bowl, sprinkled with a few T. cold water and placated into shape with a wooden spoon. Likewise the crumble topping. BINGO. SNAP. DONE. Have you done comparison tests? Me, I’m lazy but I know you are our intrepid baker, never to be satisfied until these things are put to the ultimate test!

    1. deb

      From the sea — I didn’t make this with tapioca pearls. I’m not generally fond of them in pies; I believe the word is “jammy” for those little textures of cooked fruit sauce. With the strawberry-rhubarb pie I wrote about last week, I found that nothing but tapioca got it to firm up; for sour cherry pies, this level of cornstarch has always worked reliably for me. They’re just not as watery as strawberries and rhubarb.

      mimi pond — I find that the hand-cutter gives more control over the size; it is very difficult to cut your butter into pieces to tiny if you do it by hand. But I know the process in the food processor can be mastered so it doesn’t end up all powdery but the one machine plus bowl thing loses me. This probably comes from when we didn’t have a dishwasher (did you know that the food processor is comprised of five (5!) different parts? I cursed each and every one of them, and also the product designers who had clearly never heard of kitchens that didn’t have dishwashers, every time I washed each of them; half the crevices are unreachable with a soapy sponge) and there was no way I was going to dirty a food processor (just so it could cut butter for me), bowl and spatula when I could do the whole job with just a pastry blender, big bowl and optional spoon. … No seriously, the whole job. I make one bowl pies. When I’m done with the dough, I make the filling in that same bowl, with the same spoon or spatula. Pie should always be this simple. Even if this explanation is, er, not.

      EG — I have an OXO. It’s perfect.

      Shari — I’m catching up on comments backward but above I have a lengthy explanation of why the food processor is not my favorite for pie doughs however there is no reason not to use it if your pastry cutter is being annoying. It’s not that it can’t work, I just find hand-cutting more reliable to create flaky pie doughs. Break up the very cold butter (actually, with a machine you can and should use frozen) in the very cold flour and stir in the wet ingredients by hand in a bowl.

      On grating butter — Thanks for the feedback. I can definitely see why grating it in a food processor would keep it from warming up. However! As I rambled about in great detail above, although I am sure it works beautifully, the whole 5-part food processor + bowl + spoon thing loses me. (Because if you add the liquid in the food processor, the pieces then get ground up too much and you’ve lost your beautiful butter flecks). The pastry blender + bowl still seems like the shortest and most fuss-free distance to pie nirvana. Especially since, as I mentioned above, I make one bowl pies.

      Good lord, I can talk about this stuff for hours. See what happens when I’m encouraged?!

  61. EG

    First off, your baby is ridiculously cute. And I have 2 ridiculously cute babies, so I’m an authority.

    And second – cherry pitter. Brand? Lives up to your expectations? Every year in June I think, “I should get a cherry pitter” but by August the urge has passed. Maybe I’ll just do it already.

  62. Amy

    I have yet to post anything, having only recently discovered your site, but wanted to tell you that I love the whole site, including the baby food (and I dont have kids) and the tips site, and I attribute it to your great writing and photos of amazing food, thanks

  63. LOvely crumbled pie! I mostly enjoyes the cherries, you got fantastic photos of them which I enjoyed very much, since they do not sell fresh cherries like that here in DR.

    have a blessed day!

  64. Jane H.

    Cherry is my all time fave for pie filling. The almond crumble will be a bonus (love almonds also). The downside I have found to blind-baking the crust to prevent the “soggy bottom” is that the rim crust tends to get a bit dry and hard, losing its flakiness (I actually eat mine, I know that some don’t), even with a snug aluminum foil shield. I had read that you can also brush a beaten egg white on the interior of the crust before adding the filling (it was an so-so remedy). Surely, there has to be a happy medium to this quandary.

  65. Lindsay

    Ah…sticky, wrinkly fingers of my childhood summer picking and pitting cherries. My mom would bribe me with promises of fresh cherry pie if I would just go pick some from our tree in the back yard in Montana. We always added a dash of almond extract to the filling – you’re right, the two are just meant to be together. I always found that using my hands was a lot easier than using a cherry pitter.

  66. Tina

    Oh lord. My mouth is watering. I can’t tell if it’s the sight of this pie or the lingering aroma of the sour cherry compote I just made… also your recipe, Deb. YUM. And thanks.

  67. Lena

    Ok, the pie is in the oven and I’m keeping my fingers crossed. And I’m hoping I did all the right math on the cup to grams and milliliters conversions! It looks promising though! I love your blog :)

  68. Ahh Deb this pie looks delicious. And I have the same pastry blender you just bought :) It’s wonderful! The wood doesn’t get all slippery from the butter, my previous metal one did, no matter how much I tried not to touch the butter!

  69. jeenmarie

    Thank you for a fabulous recipe! Today I convinced my husband to help pick 15 lbs of sour cherries! Don’t tell him, but I knew he would help. Especially when pie is involved. (Just to poke your readers- outside of DC metro area, 15 lbs of pick your own sour cherries… $1.99 per pound!)

  70. moonmarked


    I’m a one-bowl pie maker, too. Swap your pastry blender for my grater, and we’re even.

    What I like about grating frozen butter is that it goes so quickly–it takes maybe 45-60 seconds to grate a stick of butter, so it’s not possible for it to melt, or even feel greasy on the hands (but I start with the flour/dry ingredients already on the bowl and before I start grating, I dredge the stick of butter in the flour mixture so as to create a barrier between me and the actual butter). I find that the butter has to be frozen HARD in order to be grated quickly, while when using a pastry blender the butter must be very cold but not rock hard; frozen butter is very hard to cut into cubes and very hard to work with a pastry blender.

    I use either a microplane extra coarse or ultra coarse grater, which have holes especially shaped for grating softer cheeses and so gives a nicely shaped FLAT shreds (I’d tried all of my various graters, and I found that a flat grater is better than a box grater, and a coarse or large-holed grater is better than the smaller-holed graters that are used for grating chocolate or hard cheese, which give flecks rather than shreds; I think the large size of the grater holes also makes for quick work of grating the butter). The flat shreds are important for creating perfect flakes of butter throughout the dough which needs even less handling than pea-sized bits of butter which are flattened in the rolling out process–you can use an extremely light hand in rolling out the dough with this method.

    I also grate into cold flour, and dredge the bits every 1/4 stick so that they are covered with flour and stay cool while I keep grating. By the time I am done grating, the butter is usually still very cold if not actually still frozen; I give everything a toss and then add the icy cold liquid that has either been sitting in the fridge or freezer while I prepared the flour/butter. And then I give everything a rest in the fridge or freezer before rolling out. The whole process takes about 5 minutes.

    When I am teaching folks how to make pie dough or biscuits, I find that novices have the best results when they learn the grating method first; once they see what it should look like they can decide to use a pastry blender or a fork/knife to cut in the butter. But grating gets it right every time. I never ever use a food processor for grating butter–not only is it extra clean-up, but it’s also possible to heat the butter depending on the type and quality of the processor.

  71. moonmarked

    ps. Although I no longer use a pastry blender, when I did use one I used to store it in the freezer so that it was as cold as possible when I needed it.

  72. megan

    Some thoughts. Sour cherries are just about my favorite food on earth, right after cherry crisp. Not being much of a pie crust lover, I much prefer the crisp. I use a deep 9×9 pan, fill it full of fruit(whatever’s in season), and make a sugary, oatmealy, cinnamonny, and nutty topping to cover.
    After reading your strawberry rhubarb recipe with the tapioca, I tried in my last cherry crisp, tapioca flour, which was all I had. It worked great to thicken the sauce and no gumminess. I get it at the mexican market, Goya brand.
    Thanks for your great site!

  73. Sarah

    Deb, thanks for the advice on what sour cherries actually are! They sound delicious, I may have to consult with some American friends to see if they are possible to find here in nz. By the way, I made your simple apple tart the other day, and even though I ran out of butter and had to substitute some marg (shocking oversight, I know), it still tasted amazing. Thanks so much!

  74. Elizabeth

    I am addicted to your website and check it before I cook ANYTHING these days! Thanks from the bottom of my heart! I have a sour cherry tree in my back yard, and this recipe sent me right out to pick. I found that 2.25 lbs. of pitted cherries was close to 5 cups of unpitted cherries, and I also found that 425 was way too hot to bake this pie for so long. I’m wondering if the temp you use to blind bake is the temp you intended to bake the pie? And what do you think of the idea of precooking the cherries to get a jump on the thickening process? The pie is waiting on the kitchen counter for tonight’s supper.

  75. Sara in AL

    Hi Deb, thanks for the cherry pie recipe. In the South, we are partial to pecans. They go well with everything, including chocolate. I can’t wait to bake your pie recipe with the crumble topping, with hand chopped pecans!

  76. Debra

    This is exactly what I was looking for, except I am going to use blueberries and bake them up in little tart pans. Perfect! I love the idea of an almond based crumble topping, and I’m headed out to the orchard to pick up some local berries now!

  77. Joey

    Dittoing Elizabeth! Deb, you didn’t note to turn the oven down to 375 during baking as in the NY Times recipe. I have a blackened pie. :-(

  78. Hi, long time lurker, but I had to tell yo I made the St.Berry/Rhubarb pie yesterday for a party and it was hands down the best pie I’d ever made and I’M NO SLOUCH!
    I have never seen sour cherries for sale. I always have to use canned. I would KILL to find some fresh.

  79. Jenna

    Hi Deb. I had some trouble with the baking temp. The instructions said to blind bake for 30 min at 425. I had to pull it after about 10. Then I put the assembled pie in and found the top browning very quickly within 15 min. My oven temp is accurate. I dropped the temp down to 375. Needless to say there were lots of overly browned bits, but the pie was still delicious. I love sour cherries!!!

  80. ellen

    I’ve made this recipe several times with the pistachios and it’s yummy! I love Sweet Melissa’s recipes.

    A few other tips to try for a crisp bottom crust other than blind baking (which I find results in edges that are too dark – I think the shields are a pain): I heat up a sheet pan while preheating the oven. It’s nice & hot when I put the pie on the pan – helps cook the bottom faster. I also use Dorie Greenspan’s tip of putting dry bread crumbs or cookie crumbs in the crust before the filling. I use both methods in combination and get a pretty good bottom crust without extra oven time.

  81. Ellen

    If you don’t have enough sour cherries (or get tired of pitting them), they are wonderful combined with blueberries. I also like the filling with a little lemon juice, lemon zest, and a tiny bit of almond extract. Mmmmm!

  82. Tiffany

    I’m ready to bake this and you failed to mention what temperature to bake the pie at for the hour. Is it 425° like you reference in the blind bake or a lower temp?

    I’m really excited to try this.

  83. Emily

    I have the same problem as others with the baking temperature. When I got ready to bake the pie, I realized there was no temperature listed besides the 425 for blind baking the pie shell. I thought this must be the same temperature for baking the rest of the pie, so left the oven at that temp. I went outside for a bit and came inside to a burning smell. The top of my pie was turning black. I pulled off most of the blackest crumbs, but I’m feeling rather depressed as the pie was supposed to be for a barbecue we’re having this afternoon. :( The pie had been in the oven for 40 minutes at this point, so I don’t know if the cherry feeling is cooked enough at this point or not. I’m sure it’s obvious this is the first pie I’ve ever attempted to bake.

  84. NicM

    I’m working on making room in the freezer for sour pie cherries. I use mine to make a great beer but maybe it’s time to try a pie again.

  85. Robin

    I’m having the same problem with the oven temp–my pie is in the oven now. I just turned it down to 375 and put some foil on top hoping to stop the top from burning (it was getting awfully dark). I’m tempted to take it out but don’t want the filling to be undercooked. I’ve got a bit less than half hour left of cooking time.

  86. Amy

    I made this pie last night and it turned out GREAT. There were no fresh sour cherries to be found, so I used canned (packed in juice). I drained the juice into a saucepan and added the cornstarch, sugar and salt. I cooked it while stirring until it was thickened. I pre baked my empty pie shell for about 20 minutes, added the thickened sauce and the cherries, tossed the almond topping on, turned the heat down to 350 and baked it for an hour until the juice was bubbly.

    By the way, I use the frozen, grated butter method when making buscuits. I shoot the frozen butter thru the salad shooter right into my flour mixture and simply toss the salad shooter pieces into the dishwasher. It works really well.

  87. Susan

    i made this with sweet cherries (just less sugar) and everyone loved it!! thanks!

    you need to make a smittenkitchen iphone app! seriously.

  88. What beautiful cherries!
    I’ll be waiting a while to make this one – and our cherry season is unbelievably brief here so I will have to be quick!

  89. Emily

    My pie tasted yummy even though the top burned a bit. I’m eating a leftover piece for breakfast as I type this. :)

  90. I wish I could send you some of the aricots that are in profusion here to see what you could do with them, but they go from barely ripe to over-ripe in a matter of minutes; they would never make it to you alive.

    I have a question and if you have covered it elsewhere I apologize (I’ve looked around but might have missed it). I’m interested in knowing about your pie pan. I am not completely satisfied with mine and was wondering who makes the metal pan I am seeing here so much recently.

    1. deb

      Pie temperature — Whoops, sorry about that; I have been away most of the weekend and missed your comments. Sorry if any pies were burned on my behalf. It should say 375; that’s generally what I bake pie at. However, I am nearly positive I forgot to turn my oven’s temperature down from 425 and no harm was done; then again, my oven seems to just make up temperatures on the dial most of the time. I’ll update the recipe now.

      CatBoy — I left my pie pan at NPR two weeks ago! I begged my mother to lend me hers until I got new ones. (Yes, it is time to own more than one.) It is dented, likely more than 30 years old and almost eerily lightweight. I’m not picky but I can’t say I’d suggest you go out and buy one like it. I do generally use very simple metal ones or disposable; I’m not mad about the Emile Henry’s everyone is so crazy for mostly because they’re so much deeper, none of my standard pie recipes work right in them.

  91. I love blind baking but I feel your pain – for me the excitement of BB is the smell of my baking pulses warmed up in the oven – it just evokes really happy memories. This recipe is great. I really enjoy it when my sweets are a little tart, thanks for posting.

  92. made this pie for the 4th with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream, wow amazing! baked at 425 for about 10 minutes then lowered to 350 til bubbly. tasty!

  93. Just got back from Traverse City area with the best cherry pie from The Cherry Hut. BUT, I do love me some almonds and cherries so if I can seek out sour cherries I’ll be giving this a whirl! I love crumb top pies, especially the crumb part that touches the cherries and gets that drenched in cherries flavor.

  94. Joanie

    After just finishing cherry festival in Traverse City, Michigan…I too many cherries. We’ve been eating them with our fresh fruit, but this recipe looks delicious and will be a good way to use them up. Thanks for sharing! :)

  95. Laurie

    This is the best pie I have ever made! I am still dreaming of it. And I have been to The Cherry Hut as well – this pie kicks their butt. Just to clarify, though, so does it go in at 425 for 30 minutes, then down to 375 for another 30? Or lower the temp right away?

  96. I’m weighing in on grating frozen butter using a box grater on the big holes. I use it for pie crust and for scones and have not found that the butter melts in the quick period of time that it takes to grate. I like it the best, but I also saw on Joy the Baker that she puts the flour and butter on a surface and works the butter in with a rolling pin. Might try that some day.
    I made this pie on Saturday and it was fabulous and a big hit with the friends I shared it with. I think this could be my go-to cherry pie recipe from now on!
    I baked it at 425 for 15 minutes and 350 for 40 minutes and it was perfect. Also, I do not like cornstarch in anything, so I used flour – my standard pie filling thickener. I did not blind bake the crust and it wasn’t soggy. Is this because I use a glass pie plate? (just wondering)
    Thanks for all the great recipes!

  97. Amy

    Yum – this looks delicious! Over our 4th of July weekend, we stumbled across several sour cream pies – black and blue, strawberry peach, etc. – which have ignited a new curiosity. Have you ever tried your hand at a sour cream pie? I’d welcome any recipe suggestions that you might have. Thanks – love your food!!

  98. I think I may cheat and buy some of the frozen sour cherries that regularly call out to me from my local organic grocery’s freezer section. They’re just dying to come home with me and become a pie, I can tell.

  99. Amy J

    Thankyouthankyouthankyou! I just made your sweet cherry pie recipes, since I have a ton of them growing in my backyard. This was my first pie, and your detailed pie instructions were a lifesaver! :o)

  100. Jackie

    I made this yesterday with cherries from our local farmer’s market. I thought 425 was a bit high to bake the pie, but did it anyway! I took it out after about an hour and it turned out wonderfully! It’s even more delicious today. Thanks for a wonderful new recipe!

  101. Laura

    I combined this recipe (for the topping) and your sweet cherry pie recipe (for the filling) with your all butter pie crust recipe, and…YUM! The pie crust is probably the best I’ve ever made, and I could eat that almond crumb topping with a spoon–it was so good. I’m already thinking of making more to put on ice cream, or yogurt, or, who am I kidding, eat straight from the bowl!

  102. Hettyking

    Love your blog – pictures, stories and recipes. While you’re exploring pies, may I ask you to try your hand at the recipe for a blueberry glazed pie that I ate at The Good Table in Cape Elizabeth, Maine? There was a cooked pie shell filled with uncooked blueberries that were held together with a very light glaze. The glaze had a hint of lime. The pie was topped with whipped cream. Amazingly, the slices of pie held their shape. Every recipe that I try is too sweet or calls for cooking some of the berries or -most recently – there was not enough glaze to hold the berries together. Theirs was an exquisite pie – hoping you can figure it out. Thanks.

  103. ruby

    can’t find mention of cool the pre-baked shell or not. do i cool first, then add filling and topping or just go for it hot out of the 425 degrees?

  104. Love the look of the crumble topping! I’ve never tried sour cherries, but I may just try to seek them out after seeing what you’ve done with them.

  105. marybeth

    OOOOOOOOOOOO – I have finally found an orchard kinda close to my home that has u-pick sour cherries. Eggers Acres in Dundee Oregon. We went on 7/6 and picked 20# The cherry cobbler literally disappeared. Next on my list are 2 batches of jam! I have frozen several bags pitted for later and for my final show down I am MAKING THIS LOVELY pie. I literally live for sour cherries and have plans to plant a couple trees in the fall! They may be a fussy tree but I intend to give them all the love and attention they want. This pie is going to fit the bill with perfection. Thank you thank you thank you – and that BABY – GOOD LORD – I didnt think it was possible for him to get cuter – but he is – by the DAY.

  106. Catherine

    I NEVER blog, but read this one faithfully. So here goes.
    I saw this recipe last Friday morning, went to the Berkeley Bowl and they had, you guessed it, sour cherries. It was fate. Spent Monday the 5th cussing and pitting the darned things, made it for my sister’s birthday. It was declared “the best pie I’ve ever eaten” by my guests that day, and co-workers who got to eat the leftovers the next day. I even made the crust by hand (instead of lazy way out in processor) and it did make a huge difference. Deb rules.

  107. Boise Girl

    I’ve got this in the oven right now. I’m really frustrated by my counter-top! I have granite, and it immediately starts to melt anything that touches it. Once I started rolling out the crust, it started to melt the butter instantly. I refrigerated it for a long time before rolling it out. Does anyone else have this problem? Nonetheless, it looks delicious and I’m hoping it turns out okay!

  108. Hillary

    I made a variation of this pie last night and it was absolutely fabulous! My grocery store only had sweet cherries. I used the sweet cherries and cut down on some of the sugar in the pie filling (I only used 1/2 cup). I did not use a bottom crust and made this more of a crumble pie with just the delicious almond crumble on top. It was out of this world delicious. It was very rich and I do not think it needed the bottom crust at all — of course, it would have been delicious with a bottom crust too. Deb – thank you once again for a perfect recipe!

  109. So, two of my all-time favorite flavors are almond and cherry. I will be making this pie ASAP! My body can’t process sugar, so I’ll have to alter it… bu I’ll be sure to write about it on my blog and credit and link to this site!

  110. Reney

    You have changed my life! I made my first pie my freshman year of high school. As with most things, I go the recipe out of my mom’s 1970’s Betty Crocker cookbook, which uses shortening. I’ve been using it ever since. I saw this recipe and had to make it (tart cherries are just starting to show up in the market here in MI). I decided to use your crust recipe and will never go back to shortening. That first bite was amazing!!! My family already loves my pie, but I can’t wait until I go home for Thanksgiving. Incidently, I also made the boy bait this week. One of my coworkers told me to walk through a bar with it. Betty’s oatmeal cookies are still my favorite.

  111. Alex

    This pie looks so good, and I am so excited to make it tomorrow that I am not at all regretting the fact I drove 80 miles round-trip and paid fifteen bucks for two pounds of sour cherries. I’ve been looking for three years for sour cherries in the Bay Area, but I always seem to miss the ever-so-short season. I guess I lucked out this year! P.S. to Bay Area readers: I got mine at Olson’s in Sunnyvale.

  112. Katalin

    just baked a (fresh) sour cherry pie with noyau cream, you might want to try it…cherry stones are worth the extra effort involved! … relative of the almond, noyau is a warmer, sweeter version of bitter almond

  113. Hi Deb,

    First time writer, long time reader. I made this pie last night and I must admit. I was kind of disappointed. I’ve made other recipes before, and this one seemed to flop. The recommended cooking time for the pie was an hour and 10 minutes. That seemed like a really long time for it to bake and mine started to burn. I actually removed mine around 45 minutes. Also, what degree was the oven supposed to be set at? I read to “reduce oven temp to 375 degrees.” Is that true or should it have been set at 425?

    1. deb

      The temperature was to be reduced. It’s very hard for me to say from my end what went wrong. I do keep a thermometer in my oven so I can hopefully accurately lists times and temperatures. Is it possible that your oven runs hot?

  114. Jessica

    Thanks for this recipe! I came across tart cherries in the store for $4/quart, so I bought one and decided to wing it and find a recipe when I got home. I had bookmarked this page, but noticed that I only had 1/2 the cherries needed for the pie – so I made 4 mini tarts! I used your unshrinkable tart shell, the sour cherry filling above, and a variation on the almond crumble topping. They turned out beautifully – flaky and tart and sweet and delicious.

    I also let my tart shells get nice and browned – I know you’ve talked about this in the past, and they really do taste so much better if you let them get some color. Now I need to figure out what to do with the two pints of blueberries in my fridge.

  115. gillis

    i didn’t have oats, so i just made a double crust pie, and oh my goodness, it was FABULOUS! your all-butter pie dough was so amazing…i haven’t made an all-butter crust in ages but i think i’m a convert. the cherry filling was excellent too…this was my first time tasting sour cherries and though i’d pick strawberry rhubarb or apple pie over cherry most days, it was still wicked good. thanks!

  116. Marina

    Okay, this just makes me want to cry :( I live in Alberta, Canada, right in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains…….and there are NO sour cherries to be had!!! At any point in time, ever! I grew up eating these in Croatia, spending every summer at my grandmother’s who had a giant sour cherry tree right outside her kitchen window…as kids, we used to climb it and sit amidst the cherries for hours, only coming down at bedtime, with stained shirts and hands:) Almost seems a sin to cook these in a pie and not eat them fresh……looks awesome, though!!

  117. Janet

    I’m a bit late to the party on this, but I just had to let you know what a hit this was with my family. Unfortunately sour cherry season is long gone but this was FABULOUS with blueberries as a substitution. And now I’ve just been invited to a dinner party on Friday and am instructed to bring a dessert. I know what I’ll be making!

  118. nicole

    i just made this last night and WOW is all i have to say.. quite possibly one of the most DELICIOUS pies i’ve ever had, if i do say so myself :)

  119. Adelina

    So far, I’ve made 4 cherry pies and none could probably “look” and “taste” as good as yours. But I must say that where I live, I don’t have the luxury of getting any sour cherry at all!! Very very sad, but true!

    I might as well bake another cherry pie using this recipe that you posted!

  120. Becky

    Abutton, Word must have gotten out about the pastry blender because I just looked for it and the going price is $20 now. :( Oh, well I’ve lived without it this long.
    Deb – Your pie looks delectable! I use to make all those yummy comfort foods. Unfortunately, just lately, I found out that my cholesterol is out of this world (partly genetic) and I have to really watch my diet. Got any great dessert (or other) recipes for people like me?

  121. Trisha

    I blind baked the bottom crust at the recommended temp, and once I had done so I regretted it. My pie crust was pretty hard, and the edges of the crust burned a bit with the extra cooking required. I would recommend covering the edges of the crust with foil or some other product (I have a silicon protector) if you are going to blind bake it, since the pie really needs to bake for the required time to get the cherry filling to the right consistency. (I had to take mine out early by about 15 minutes because of the pre-baking of the crust, and the cherries were firmer than I would have liked.)

    I would also recommend watching the topping closely- it also seemed pretty prone to burning.

  122. Sarah B

    I made this yesterday and it turned out beautifully.

    A suggestion for people making pie dough in #!@$^&(P!#^$*#!!! hot kitchens:

    In addition to chilling the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl, I laid out an ice-mat (the gel kind) on the counter, covered it with tea towel and then put my mixing bowl on top of that when I cut in the butter. It worked really nicely.

  123. Anne R

    This recipe is foolproof: I started the pie a few days ago, using a drinkng straw (oh yes, I did) to pit the cherries. Then I got a migraine. So the cherries sat in the fridge for a day or two. Then my back went out while putting my 13 month-old cherub to bed. So tonight I pulled out the cherries, sadly and yet optimistically skewering the last of them with my wiley flexible drinking straw. And let me tell you, the pie is amazing.

  124. Jill Lyons

    I have been making sour cherry pies for many years. I never blind bake the crust, but I can see how it’s better if you really like a “crunchier” crust. I have used the old method of sprinkling a few breadcrumbs on the bottom of the crust, to soak up extra moisture, but I don’t need it for the sour cherry pie. I also add a little almond extract to my filling. I have been looking for a crumble topping recipe and yours is the best.

  125. Then my back went out while putting my 13 month-old cherub to bed. So tonight I pulled out the cherries, sadly and yet optimistically skewering the last of them with my wiley flexible drinking straw. And the grilling instructions were spot-on. You rock, Deb.

  126. Jackie

    Just made this pie last night with frozen sour cherries (from Hotchkiss Colorado) – it turned out GREAT! Your topping is PERFECT – I never thought of using the food processor. I also heated up the pie mixture on top of the stove because the frozen cherries seem to have a lot of liquid when they thaw. But the recipe was just right! I put every thing together and baked for about 50 minutes. THANKS for my forever cherry pie recipe.

  127. Patty

    Hi Deb – Afraid of pie like most folks so don’t make that often. Promised hubby a pie as he continues to revamp my ‘breakfast room’ into a baking room. It will be amazing when done. Anyway, made sour cherry pie with almond crumble as a sweet cherry pie with almond crumble. Fantastic! Used one (drained) jar Trader Joe’s Sweet Morello Cherries I had on hand and supplemented with 2 bags frozen dark, sweet cherries as my trip to the store yielded nothing fresh. Tried your all-butter crust for the first time. Normally rely on food processor but YOU CONVERTED ME! Hardly any more work and touching the dough made all the difference in adding right amount of water. That is a great crust recipe – thank you. Also tried the vodka version at some point and did not love it. Will definitely make this one again when I can score fresh fruit. Cookbook pre-ordered…cannot wait!

  128. Alison Borgas

    Brilliant! Thought I’d find what I needed here… have a recipe for Apple and Raspberry Crumble Pie, but not happy with their version of crumble… so have come here for a better one! ;)

  129. Dana

    Made this last night with cherries I got free at the farmer’s market a few weeks ago and threw in the freezer. (They were so ripe, they were giving them away.) I make pies at Thanksgiving (apple and squash), but had never made a cherry pie. Was really excited to try this recipe, though I could not imagine why that much butter and sugar were needed in the topping. I cut the amounts for both in half. It was exactly the right amount of sweetness, FANTASTIC in fact with vanilla ice cream. My dad took one bite, and said to my mom, “This tastes just like the pies your mother used to make.” My grandma’s pies are legendary, and there is no higher praise in my family. This recipe is a keeper! And in the fall, I’m planting a sour cherry tree for sure!

  130. Linda Z

    So many questions about where to get sour cherries… I am sorry to say that there is only one sure fire source. You must plant a pie cherry tree or know someone who has one. Lovely small trees (almost bush size) are available as well as more normal 15-20 ft. If you are lucky enough to live in an appropriate climate and have a yard or allotment garden I would recommend this option. Farmers (even here in the pacific northwest) rarely bother with pie cherries anymore so unless they have an old tree that they pick (or will let you pick) you are pretty much out of luck. For city dwellers … I have had some luck finding expensive bags in the freezer case. fantastic recipes Deb.

  131. Geekgirl

    I made this pie for 4th of July and it was delicious! I was able to get fresh pie cherries at the local farmstand I visit every week in the summer. The crumble was a big hit. Thanks!

  132. I’m going to combine your peach bourbon hand pie recipe with this one and make cherry hand pies. I’ve seen a recipe that calls for cooking the cherry filling in a saucepan before folding them into hand pie crusts. Do you think it makes a difference?

  133. deb

    The recipe lists frozen cherries as an option, and suggests that you partially thaw them. I’d imagine by the time the pie is assembled, they’d be partially thawed.

  134. Katie

    HELP!!! I just made the pies for the wedding and there was too much juice and I am pretty sure the crust is all soggy. What do I do?? I am going to have to make them over :(

  135. deb

    Hi Katie — Two things: One, pies like this are always a little juicy, unless you add so much thickener that they get almost jelly-like. I think most people are happier to have a messier pie with excellent flavor than a gel-ed up pie that looks pretty but maybe tastes like a factory. Two, hot pies are always sloshier than cold ones. The pectin (the thing in the fruit that naturally gels it a little) really only activates once the pies have be cooled. I recommend chilling them overnight. You can bring them back to room temperature before serving, and they won’t be nearly as wet.

  136. Lauren

    Just made this as one of several pies for Thanksgiving. Looks great and smells great in the oven. Made with organic Montmorency cherries from Omena, MI in honor of my grandma who grew up in a fruit farming family in Mears, MI. I wish I had not added sugar to the filling all at once–3/4 cup made it way too sweet in my opinion. Next time I’ll start with 1/4 cup. Topping is spot on though (recipe made enough for 2 pies so I am saving half for the next attempt).

  137. This pie…this is something I look forward to making every single summer, as soon as I can get fresh tart cherries from my farmer’s market. When I’m really lucky, my favorite grower not only has fresh tart cherries, but they sell them already pitted. It’s a thing of beauty, really. The first time I made this pie (when you first posted the recipe a few years back), I pitted them all by hand without the benefit of a cherry pitter. It seemed like it took all day, but the results were well worth it.
    Today is pie day, and the only way I have ever found to improve upon this pie is to add a splash of Penzeys almond extract to the melted butter before mixing in with the dry ingredients.

  138. Kerri

    This has to be the most beautiful pie I have ever made, and it was just as delicious as it was beautiful. I was lucky enough to find fresh sour cherries from one vendor at the farmer’s market in Michigan when I was visiting my mom. I have been dying to make a sour cherry pie, but haven’t been lucky enough to find them in Germany, so it was meant to be! I usually use your all butter pie crust, but mom had lard from a local farmer and wow! That was the best tasting, flakiest, most tender pie crust I’ve ever tasted. I am now sold on using lard… I just hope I am able to find it once we return home.

  139. Sasha

    I have been super excited to make this pie for a while but it took forever to get my hands on sour cherries. I finally found them from a berry farm in SE Michigan while on vacation nearby. Unfortunately, the pie turned out pretty dry and not all that flavorful. After reading all the comments, I think the primary issue was in blind baking the pie shell. I’ll try it again and this time I’ll bake the full pie for less time since the blind baking really does give the pie a strong head start. I am convinced that the problem lies in my implementation of the recipe– not the recipe itself– so I will try again soon to see if I can get it right!

  140. Meg

    There seems to be conflicting internet intel on the cups conversion of 2lbs frozen cherries, with estimates ranging from 3c to 6c. Can you advise as to approximate cups? Many thanks.

  141. Sarah S.

    I realize this isn’t a new recipe, but I think most of the commenters hadn’t made it yet, so I wanted to comment on cooking times. I blind-baked the crust at 425 (covered with foil) for 15min and then, uncovered, for 5min, then baked it with cherries/topping at 375 for 55min (the latter 35min of which, it was covered with foil). That seemed about right – the first few slices were pretty liquidy but after that, it was the texture you’d want – though I might do less of the blind-baking without foil as the crust itself was darker than I’d like. I also had more than the required amount of cherries (more like 2.75lb), so I added an extra 1T of cornstarch and a bit extra sugar.

    Overall, though, really delicious recipe! I’d never had or made sour cherry pie before, and I really liked it with the crumb crust.

  142. Mary Bednarowski

    I have 2 little cherry trees in my yard so wanted to make something wonderful with their precious yield! This was it! It was the perfect combo of pie and crisp with the 2 different crusts. I only added a 1/2 tsp of almond extract to the filling because I love how that tastes. It was wonderful! Thanks for the recipe!

  143. Sandra Van Laan

    Just baked this for my son’s 35th birthday. Unfortunately, I did not catch that I was to turn the temp down after baking the crust, so after the filling was in the pie baked at convection oven 400 degrees for an hour. When I noticed the top was a little burnt, I removed the burnt bits and covered with foil for the last 10 minutes. I hope it turned out okay. I should have read the comments for a little more insight before I began.

  144. Andrea

    Thirty minutes of blind baking at that temp completely burnt my crust. Checked the oven temp, it was true (ie actually 425). Bummed me out to have to throw that crust away.

  145. Gaile Boudreau

    haha, I have a pastry blender that I have had for about 30 years but the same thing happened long ago with the sides popping off. luckily the handle part is wood and my husband put in two washers and bolts on each side and screwed them in..I just couldn’t see throwing it out..the paint has come off the wood pretty much and the wires are pretty warped, but it still works like a charm! it’s made many a pie crust etc in it’s time. looking forward to making your sour cherry pie, I have some sour cherry trees next door at my daughter’s home..

  146. MDM

    I made this last night- semi successful- my filling was way too liquid. I used frozen cherries but drained as much of the liquid off that I could. But I noticed that my liquid was very cloudy which made me think it didn’t bake enough? Went for the full 70 minutes….but delicious flavor and blind baking the crust worked well…..not sure I will try again because I only have enough cherries left for one more goodie and the season is over!

  147. Lindsey

    I decided to forgo the pie crust and added extra parts oat/almond flour instead of the all purpose flour to make gluten free. Only added 1/2 cup of sugar for cherry mixture. The filling did turn out fairly tart but i like my cherry desserts that way. Delicious!

  148. carol f

    I just made a similar looking pie-peach w/blueberries and a little different crumb topping. I avoid blind baking so I cook ( at least all my fruit pies) at 425 for about 20 mins or until I get nervous, and then drop the temp to 350 and cook until I see the fruit bubbling for a while. And, although I’ve read differing opinions, I use crockery pie plates. I think they might hold the heat better and longer which contributes to a nice bottom crust. Works well for my taste.

  149. Erin

    I’ve made this recipe multiple times now (three times this month as a matter of fact…) and I HIGHLY recommend. Simple as far as pies go and incredible. Maybe my favorite pie ever?

  150. Ibakeforjoy

    Bless you, Deb, for including the weight amount for frozen cherries! We pitted and froze 16 pounds of sour cherries last summer- and lots of other summer fruit- but very few recipes indicate amounts for frozen. Thanks!

  151. Kristi

    Ah SK, you never let me down. I needed a last-minute cherry pie recipe for Thanksgiving, and you delivered. (ok, ok, I had to work with frozen crust and canned filling, but your crumble really made an afterthought dessert beautiful)
    Also, my friends will murder one another for your browned butter Rice Krispies. You do great work! Thank you!

  152. Christine

    Just wow. We had a similar pie at our wedding over a decade ago and have not had it since. Made this almost exactly according to the directions (except: I followed Sarah S.’s suggested baking times and used 1/2 c. sugar with the berries). It did not disappoint! Thanks for another fabulous recipe!

  153. H R

    Just superb!
    I’ve made this with slightly less than 2 punds cherries, and also with sweet cherries, and sour cherries+cranberries. Every which way it’s a winner. The almond crumble is wow. As Deb says, if you blind bake the base, do watch out for shrinkage (but i do recommend blind baking, as it stays so much crisper that way).

    1. Elizabeth

      Hi, Grace, Simply increase the amount of pastry, though I recommend turning to Melissa Clark’s recipe for a sour cherry pie with pastry. Note that the recipe calls for not sealing the entire top with pastry which makes sense for such a soft, juicy fruit. You want the heat of the oven to extract a lot of the water content. Many recipes call for lattice toppings–Ruth Reichel’s sour cherry crostata is my absolute favorite with thick strips of a wonderful lattice topping. Rose Levy Berenbaum recommends letting the filling sit for a while with sugar and thickener before baking the pie on the floor of the oven; I know others who cook their fillings on top of the stove before pouring it into a blind-baked crust.

  154. Elizabeth

    Using this recipe as the basis for a crisp, I brought home a quart of sour cherries from the farmers market that weighed 1 lb. and 11 oz. before being stemmed and pitted. This turned out to be 1 1/2 lbs. after pitting. It took around 25 minutes to pit all 208 cherries with an opened paper clip (42 cherries in 5 minutes).

  155. Tamara

    We picked 10 POUNDS of pie cherries today! We’ll get started with this recipe. I love almonds and cherries together.

  156. Dinah

    Lovely recipe. Crumb crust is a nice change from the usual lattice-top.
    Speaking of bottom crusts (soggy bottoms. . . ) If I make a pie using my own dough that I’ve frozen and thawed for the bottom crust, can I then freeze the resulting baked pie?
    Compliments from a longtime follower,
    Dinah D.