Cherry Compote comes together in just 10 minutes with a few simple ingredients. This luscious dessert sauce is the perfect topping for vanilla ice cream, french toast, or for using in one of my black forest desserts!
Why you’ll love this Cherry Compote:
- Luscious Cherry Sauce – This silky cherry sauce is packed with incredible cherry flavor.
- Easy Recipe – Anyone can make this easy cherry compote recipe!
- Versatile Recipe – This cherry topping can be used on lots of different desserts or treats. It’s an easy way to amp up something simple like a plain cheesecake or vanilla cake.
As always, the full recipe with measurements & directions can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
- Cherries – Make this during cherry season with fresh cherries, or anytime of year with frozen cherries. Don’t thaw them if using frozen.
- Granulated sugar – Sugar adds a bit of sweetness to our strawberries and helps draw out the juices.
- Vanilla extract – Use real vanilla extract.
- Corn Starch – A few tablespoons of corn starch mixed with water helps thicken the sauce so it’s not runny. This is your cornstarch slurry.
- Cherries – Dark sweet cherries (or black cherries) and tart cherries (or sour cherries) both work in this recipe. However, you’ll need to add a little more sugar to taste if using tart cherries. This can simply be stirred in at the end of cooking the sauce.
- Gluten-free – This recipe is naturally gluten-free!
- Vegan – It’s also naturally vegan and dairy-free!
How to Make this Simple Cherry Compote Recipe Step-by-Step:
Step 1: Prep. Stir water and corn starch together in a small bowl until the starch is fully dissolved. Rinse, pit, and halve the cherries. If using frozen, do not thaw them.
Step 2: Make the Cherry Compote. Add cherries to a medium saucepan with the sugar, almond extract, and water. Cook for 10-12 minutes, until the cherries have released their juices & softened.
Step 3: Thicken Cherry Compote. Add the cornstarch slurry, and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute more, stirring constantly, until the sauce gently thickens. It should separate and hold when you drag your finger through the sauce on the back of a wooden spoon.
Transfer immediately to a shallow bowl and chill in the fridge completely before using.
Serving + Storing this Recipe:
Store cooled sauce in an airtight container or jar in the fridge for 1 week. Or, freeze for 1-2 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight before using. See ideas below for desserts to serve it with!
Expert Success Tips:
- Halve Cherries – Be sure to halve your dark sweet cherries, since whole cherries are thicker and will take longer to break down. Ignore this if using tart ones.
- Don’t Over Cook – As long as you follow the directions, you’ll be fine. But, if you over cook the sauce, it can up thick and gloopy.
- Corn Starch Lumps – Be sure that the cornstarch is fully dissolved in the water before adding it to the pot, or you could end up with some little cornstarch lumps in the sauce.
Jam is cooked longer than a fruit compote, until the fruit is broken down much farther, resulting in a thicker consistency. Pectin is also often used in jam. Compote leaves some of the fruit intact, and is a great option if you don’t want to take on the extra work of jam making!
Yes! Let it cool completely, then store in a freezer-safe container for 1-2 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight before using.
I haven’t tried that, so I’m not sure if it would work as a 1:1 swap.
If you cook this over low heat, it won’t thicken. It has to get hot enough for the cornstarch to activate. Even if the sauce has cooled, you can return it to a pot and cook it more, bringing it back to the proper temperature, to thicken.
The cherry halves stay in tact, but they’re nice and tender. No need to go mashing this up with a potato masher or anything – the cherry sauce has broken down plenty during the cook time!
- Other Fruits – I don’t know if this exact ratio of corn starch to water and this cook time will work for other fruits as different ones have different moisture contents. See one section below for my sauce recipes for Peaches, Blueberries, Raspberries, and Strawberry Rhubarb!
- Other Flavors – Try adding a pinch of cinnamon or cardamom if you want a hint of warm spices in your compote. Or, substitute half the water for orange juice! It pairs beautifully. You could use lemon juice with tart cherries, but I would only use 1/2 tsp or so, and still use the full 2 tbsp of water. I think orange juice would be fab with the tart cherries too!
- Kirsch – Use kirsch in place of the water if you want a black forest cherry sauce. This is what I do when I make the sauce for my White Forest and Black Forest desserts.
- Cherry Pitter – I recommend a multi-pitter like this cherry pitter, which can handle a few cherries at a time.
Ways to use this Homemade Compote:
- Cherry Pie Bars – Use it as the filling in my homemade cherry pie bars!
- Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake – Top my chocolate cherry cheesecake with it.
- Cherry Pie Cookies – Fill these easy cherry pie cookies with it.
- White Forest Cake – Use it as the filling in this decadent white forest cake.
- Black Forest Ice Cream Sandwiches – Swirl it into the ice cream for these ice cream sandwiches.
- Top my Classic Vanilla Cheesecake with it
- Swirl it into my Black Forest Brownies
- Spoon it over Pound Cake (Use milk in place of the grapefruit juice)
More Dessert Sauce Recipes to Love:
These are each a great way to use up any extra fresh fruit you have in the fridge!
- 10-Minute Strawberry Compote
- Easy Homemade Blueberry Topping
- 10-Minute Raspberry Coulis (Sauce)
- Quick Peach Sauce (Pie Filling)
- Quick Strawberry Rhubarb Sauce
Did you make this recipe? Snap a photo and leave a comment!
10-Minute Cherry Compote
- 3 cups dark sweet cherries If using frozen, do not thaw. See note below for tart cherries.
- 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp water or kirsch, for a black forest twist, or orange juice!
- 1 and 1/2 tbsp corn starch
- 1 and 1/2 tbsp water
- 3/4 tsp almond extract
- 1 tsp orange zest optional, but good!
- Prep: Stir water and corn starch together in a small bowl until the starch is fully dissolved. Rinse, pit, and halve the cherries. If using frozen, do not thaw them. No need to halve if using tart – they tend to be softer.
- Make the Cherry Sauce: Add cherries to a medium saucepan with the sugar and the 2 tbsp of water. Cook over medium heat for 10-12 minutes, stirring lazily, until the cherries have released their juices and softened. Re-stir the cornstarch (it will have settled), then stir it into the cherry sauce. Cook 30 seconds to 1 minute more, stirring constantly, until the sauce gently thickens. It should separate and hold when you drag your finger through the sauce on the back of a wooden spoon. Stir in the almond extract. Transfer immediately to a shallow bowl and chill in the fridge completely before using.
- Serve & Store: Chill the sauce before using, or spoon it warm over french toast, pancakes, or ice cream. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 1 week, or in the freezer for 1-2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.