What Can I Substitute for Red Sour Cherries?


Sour cherries are tart and not meant to be eaten raw -- unless you're a big fan of sour foods. These bright red, lip-puckering stone fruits are better suited for sauces, soups, pie fillings and jams. If you're having trouble finding these fresh, don't panic, sour cherries are usually harvested in July and then frozen, canned or dried so they can be sold throughout the year. Whether you cannot find cherries or you aren't a fan of their taste, you have a few substitute options to get the job done.

Get Jamming

  • If your recipe calls for fresh, frozen or canned sour cherries, but you cannot find any, try jam instead. Cherry jam or cherry preserves are made with sour cherries and cherry-flavored syrups. You'll still have pieces of cherry and a strong cherry flavor. Jam can be used in most recipes, including baked goods, sauces, soups and pies. Because of the sugar added to the jam you need to reduce the amount of sugar -- if any -- in your recipe. Try using a 1/2 cup of jam for every 1 cup of sour cherries and decrease your sugar by a few teaspoons until your recipe gets the right taste and texture.

Raise a Glass

  • Cherry liqueur, such as kirsch or a cherry cognac can be used to substitute sour cherries in sauces and soups. These contain alcohol, so only use them if you're fine with the additional alcohol content. Cherry liqueurs are strong, so use one-fourth of the amount and slowly increase until you reach the desired cherry flavor.

Plum Lucky

  • Plums are sweet, succulent and have a tart skin. While their flesh isn't sour, they work as a replacement for sour cherries in pies, jams, baked goods and savory recipes. Plums can be frozen, fresh or canned. When replacing sour cherries with plums, use 1 cup of plums for every 1 cup of sour cherries. Try to replace sour cherries with a similarly prepared plum. For example, if your recipe calls for frozen sour cherries, replace with frozen plums.

Give Nectarines a Try

  • Nectarines are also stone fruits, but they're not tart like sour cherries. So, your dish might be sweeter than if you used cherries. Substitute nectarines in the same way you'd use plums: Use the same quantities.

Try Apricots Instead

  • Apricots are sweet and juicy, and can be eaten raw or used in a variety of recipes, similar to sour cherries. If you cannot find apricots fresh, you might find them canned, frozen or dried. Use apricots in equal proportions to sour cherries, but like plums and nectarines, you'll want to use a similar kind of apricot for texture and taste. So, if your recipe calls for 1 cup dried sour cherries, use 1 cup of dried apricots.

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