2 Glasses of cocktail with maraschino cherry

How To Make Maraschino Cherries At Home: A Healthier Version

2 Glasses of cocktail with maraschino cherry

Have you ever wondered how maraschino cherries get their super bright red hue? Or maybe you want to create your maraschino cherries to garnish cocktails. We can help you with that! This article will share how maraschino cherries are made and other things you need to know! 

The Truth About Maraschino Cherries

The fact is, commercial maraschino cherries aren't naturally a vibrant neon in color. Light-colored sweet cherries are first bleached and brined and then soaked in an intense bright red dye. 

Even if you rarely eat it, knowing its manufacturing process makes it less appetizing and appealing. If you want to make homemade maraschino cherries, fret not because it isn't as difficult as many think. All you will need are a couple of ingredients and some waiting time. 

Homemade Maraschino Cherries Recipe (Brined)

Brining involves the process of subjecting the food to a brine, which is a solution of salt and water.

What You'll Need

For the Brine:

For the Syrup:


  1. Pit the sweet cherries using a cherry pitter. If you don't have a cherry pitter, you can do the poke method and use a chopstick, skewer, toothpick, or a piping tip to pit the cherries.

A person pitting cherries

  1. Make the salt solution by boiling the water and pickling the salt in a pot. Continuously stir until the salt is completely dissolved.
  2. Let the solution cool for 10 minutes, then place the pitted cherries into the mixture. Cover the pot and leave it be for at least 12 hours or overnight.
  3. Drain the brined cherries and rinse them in cold water, removing the brine. Put the cherries in a bowl and set them aside.

  1. Mix the sugar, lemon juice, water, and red food coloring, in a medium pot. Keep stirring to dissolve the sugar, then remove it from the heat after bringing it to a boil.
  2. Pour the mixture over the cherries, then cover it. Leave it be for a whole day.
  3. Drain and save the liquid from the cherries. Take the cherries and set them aside. Bring the reserved liquid to a boil. Remove it from the heat and, if using, add in the almond extract.
  4. Pour the liquid again over the cherries. Place the cherries with the juice in clean, lidded jars, and store them in the fridge for future uses.

Maraschino cherries on a jar

Homemade Maraschino Cherries Recipe (Without Brining)

What You'll Need


  1. Place the frozen sweet cherries in a strainer and set over a bowl to thaw overnight. Keep the collected juice in the bowl and set it aside.

Maraschino cherries in a strainer

  1. In a pan on medium-low heat, make the syrup by combining the water and sugar. Keep stirring until the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Remove it from the heat, then combine the lemon juice, red food coloring, vanilla extract, and the collected juice from the thawed cherries. Let the mixture cool completely.
  3. Place the cherries in clean, lidded jars and pour the syrup. Store the cherries in the refrigerator for future uses.

How Are Commercial Maraschino Cherries Made?

Most maraschino cherries sold commercially start as regular cherries. Lighter-colored cherries, such as Gold, Rainier, or Royal Ann, are most commonly used.

First, the cherries are soaked in a brine solution containing calcium chloride and sulfur dioxide. The brine solution will bleach the cherries, removing their natural red hue and flavor.

Then, the cherries are immersed in the brine solution for four to six weeks to complete the brining process.

After the cherries are bleached, they are soaked in another solution again for about a month. This solution contains red food coloring, sugar, and oil of bitter almonds or an oil with a comparable flavor. The outcome is vibrant red cherries that are extremely sweet.

They've been pitted, and their stems are removed at this point. After that, the cherries are coated with a sugar-sweetened liquid with preservatives.

Cocktails that Use Maraschino Cherries as Garnish

Glasses of tequila sunrise with maraschino cherries as garnish

Many cocktails use maraschino cherries as garnish. Here are some examples:


Homemade maraschino cherries can be used in various ways, from cocktail garnish to ice cream toppings or even cake toppings.

They also make adorable gifts for friends and family who love sweet treats. Hopefully, this article helped you prepare maraschino cherries for yourself and your loved ones.

Did you like reading this article? Let us know in the comments!


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