Brandied Cocktail Cherries

I’m crazy about these cherries. They’re so dark and elegant, with a touch of brandy and vanilla bean.

They were inspired by these great looking brandied cocktail cherries that Aimee from Homemade Trade suggested to me.  I didn’t change the recipe much– mostly I just canned it to make it shelf stable instead of something for the fridge. (Since I’m horrible at actually reading and following recipes, and only realized partway through making the original batch that it wasn’t for canning…. but then canned them anyway, since I could).
Because I have a one track mind in the kitchen.  If a recipe just happens to be safe for water-bath canning, why would you not do it? oh, you mean these cherries are for supposed to be for now? Oh, no, I don’t want them now, I want them for later.

Brandied Cocktail Cherries

The original source for this recipe is the KCRW Good Food Blog. I tweaked it a bit to make it more canning-friendly. (Thank you to SB Canning for double-checking everything for me).  I adore the flavor of these cherries, and the slightly boozy vanilla bean cherry syrup makes the most delicious shirley temples I think I’ve ever had.

Cook Time: 45 min. or so

Makes: about 3 pints, but it depends on how many fresh cherries you eat out of the 2 lbs. while you’re making the recipe


  • 2 lbs. sweet cherries
  • 1 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1 c. water
  • 1/2 c. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 fresh vanilla bean
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 1/2 c. brandy

Bring boiling water canner up to a boil.  In a medium sized pot, combine all the ingredients except the cherries (for the vanilla bean, I like to run a sharp knife down the length, scrape out the seeds and put them in the pot, then put the scraped bean into the pot too).  Bring everything to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. While the syrup is simmering, wash the cherries.  No need to remove the stems or the pits.

Put the cherries into the syrup and bring everything to a boil.  Let everything boil for a minute or so, then remove the pot from the heat. Pack the cherries into sterilized pint jars leaving 1/2″ headspace.  Poke around the jar with a chopstick or a wooden spoon to remove any air bubbles, and top off with extra syrup accordingly. Wipe rims clean and attach lids, then process for 20 minutes.


While I was eating these straight out of the jar, I had a revelation.  Instead of waiting, and writing another post about it, I’ll tell you now since cherry season is almost over…  There needs to be a  Part 2 of this recipe, something that would just be called canned Brandied Cherries, where the cherries are pitted and used as filling in pies and cakes, not for cocktails.   I’m gonna see if I can’t get my hands on a case of cherries at the farmers market this weekend so I can get a decent stash of them in the pantry.  I’m going to keep everything else in the recipe the same, just pit the cherries, remove the stems, and maybe add a teaspoon of almond extract to mimic the flavor of the cherry pits. Can you imagine them as filling in a black forest cake in the middle of December? Oh my lord…

Until then, though, we’ve just been eating them out of the jar and making these heavenly cherry sodas.  Just mix the syrup and a couple cherries with ice and seltzer …  and who am I kidding, a shot of vodka…  and then you’re set.

13 thoughts on “Brandied Cocktail Cherries

  1. I absolutely love those! I know a chocolatier in Bordeaux who dips them in dark Belgium chocolate. HEAVEN!

  2. These look gorgeous, thank you. I now have them in mind for a cherry-almond loaf cake….. the recipe asks for “natural coloured glace cherries”, but these cocktail cherries would be far better, I think. Any advice?

  3. Oh wow. These are SO good. I made a half batch and subbed Jack Daniels for the brandy, a teeny splash of good vanilla for the vanilla bean, and a pinch of cinnamon for the star anise. YUM.
    I’m with you, pitted on Black Forest cake is a must try. Cherries are cheap in OR right now and I’m gonna put some more up! I wonder if they’d be as good w/o the booze? I’m sure most of the alcohol cooks out but I don’t really want to give my kids spiked Shirley Temples. 😉 Thanks for sharing this recipe.

    1. i’m glad you liked them! so, for a kid-friendly version- you can either make sure to boil the cherries in boozy syrup for a couple minutes so the alcohol fully cooks off, or you can just make a syrup with the water, sugar, and spices. either way will be tasty.

  4. Oooooh, I’ve made two different maraschino cherry recipes from The Cupcake Project, but neither was directed for canning. I need to make these, since they will stay around. We’ve been getting cherries for around $2/lb so I can probably convince myself having to buy brandy just to make these would still be cheaper than buying canned cherries later on. Lol.

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