When Cherry Season hits it’s a sign of summer fruit making its way to our farmer’s market tables I always look to use fresh or frozen fruit to make an easy cherry compote to enjoy in summer and future months. These fragrant, fresh cherries are summertime jewels. I’ll buy tart cherries by the pound and ask my kids to get our the cherry pitter and get to work practicing their pitting methods on upwards of 5 pounds of these beautiful small stone fruits.
What Makes a Compote a Compote?
A compote is made by cooking up whole fruit of chunks of fruit with sugar. It is usually cooked down in a saucepan or pot but can also be made in a skillet. The juices from the fruit mixed with the sugar create a syrup which can also be flavored with herbs, spices, and/or a splash of liquor. The best part is that you can use just about any fresh, frozen, or dried fruit to make a compote. And, it’s ready in about 10 to 15 minutes. That’s a major win!
Today, we’re sharing our go-to method for an easy homemade compote that celebrates the beauty of these shiny cherries in all their glory. Read on for our tips and get the recipe in the recipe card below.
Ingredients for this Easy Cherry Compote
We’re making this deliciously easy recipe with whole cherries and just a little bit of sugar. Because the cherries are sweet, we don’t need a lot of added sugar, which is great. Here are the simple ingredients we need for this cherry recipe:
- Cherries: Seriously. Stock up on cherries when you spy them at the farmers’ market, farm stands, or your local grocer. You can use sour cherries, tart cherries, bing cherries. Use what you love and make a big batch of this. You can even wash and pit whole cherries and freeze them for later use. I have a 3 pound bag ready for me to make this compote again in winter.
- Light Brown Sugar: We need a hint of sweetness here plus the sugar helps to create a syrupy cherry sauce that will be perfect this compote.
- Lemon Juice: The acidity helps in preservation and offers a bright citrus note that pairs nicely with the fresh fruit.
- Sprigs of Fresh Thyme: I adore using fresh herbs in compotes whenever I can. Fresh thyme has been my go to for a number of stone fruit compote recipes. The thyme creates a slightly savory cherry compote that is absolutely delicious. Trust me on this. You’ll love it.
- Vanilla and Almond Extract: Almond and cherries are a match made in heaven. The vanilla extract also adds a wonderful sweetness to this delicious compote.
How to Make the Cherry Compote
This simple cherry compote is ready in 15 minutes and is the perfect topping for a number of breakfast, brunch, and even dessert dishes. Here’s how we make it:
- First, if using fresh cherries make sure to remove the stems and cherry pits. If desired, use a sharp knife to slice the whole cherries in halves. You can also leave them whole.
- Place the fresh sweet cherries in a large saucepan or pot over medium heat and add the brown sugar. Stir to combine sugar with the pieces of fruit.
- Bring the mixture to a simmer and add the fresh thyme. Cook the cherry compote for about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring the fruit frequently, to encourage the cherry juice to thicken slightly.
- Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and almond extract. Allow compote to cool to room temperature before storing or serving. The juices will thicken as the compote sits. A Note on Storage: The cherry compote can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. It can be frozen for up to one year.
Serving & Storing the Homemade Compote
This sweet cherry compote is a great way to enjoy the summertime fruit for a variety of dishes. Here are a few of the different ways I love to enjoy this easy cherry compote recipe:
- Serve on top of your favorite vanilla ice cream.
- Use as a topping for pound cake with fresh whipped cream.
- Swirl a few tablespoons in plain yogurt with a splash of maple syrup and top with granola for a fast breakfast.
- Top your favorite pancakes, french toast, or even store bought almond croissants (true story, we used the compote on almond croissants from our favorite local bakery and it was perfection.)
- Add a couple teaspoons of cornstarch during the final few minutes of cooking to create a quick cherry pie filling.
When it comes to storing the compote, the cooled cherry compote will keep in the fridge for up to five (5) days in an airtight container or a clean glass jar fitted with a tight lid. You can also portion our the chunky sauce in a few freezer-safe glass jars or freezer-safe bag to freeze for up to a year. You can thaw fruit compote overnight in the fridge and the use it for the next day’s serving. I personally find the glass jars to the best way to freeze the compote and bring it out to enjoy any time of the year.
Easy Cherry Compote
- 1 lb pitted cherries
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar packed
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 3/4 tsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp almond extract
- Wash cherries and remove stems. Pit the cherries and place them in a large, non-reactive pot or saucepan. Stir in brown sugar. Turn the heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes, stirring them frequently, to encourage juicing of cherries and allow them to cook through and wilt slightly.
- Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and almond extract. Allow compote to cool to room temperature before storing or serving. The juices will thicken as the compote sits.
- A Note on Storage: The cherry compote can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. It can be frozen for up to one year.