What are Amarena cherries used for?

Amarena cherries are a type of sour cherry that are often used for baking desserts and making liqueurs. They have a rich, fruity flavor and deep red color that makes them perfect for adding color and taste to cakes, pies, soufflés, cocktails, and more. Some of the most common uses for Amarena cherries include:


Amarena cherries are a popular ingredient in baked goods like cakes, tarts, muffins, and scones. Their sweet-tart flavor balances nicely with ingredients like chocolate, lemon, vanilla, and almonds. The cherries add moisture as well as flavor to batters and doughs. They are often used either whole or chopped in the following baked treats:

  • Cherry crumb bars
  • Black forest cake
  • Cherry almond scones
  • Cherry pie and cherry turnovers
  • Amarena cherry jam thumbprint cookies
  • Chocolate cherry muffins
  • Cherry Danish pastries
  • Cherry cheesecake
  • Cherry galette

The cherries can be used both as a filling and as a garnish in these sweet treats. Their striking color stands out against lighter batters and doughs. If the cherries are very sour, the batter or dough ingredients can be adjusted to have more sugar to balance out the extra tartness.


The bitterness and acidity of Amarena cherries work nicely in alcoholic and non-alcoholic mixed beverages. The cherries are often muddled in the bottom of a glass to release their flavor and juices. They add tart fruitiness and pretty color as a garnish. Some cocktails featuring Amarena cherries include:

  • Amarena Manhattan – Amarena cherries replace the traditional maraschino cherries in this classic cocktail.
  • Amarena sour – Amarena cherry syrup is shaken with whiskey and lemon juice.
  • Cherry Negroni – Gin, Campari, sweet vermouth and Amarena cherries.
  • Vodka and Amarena cooler – Vodka, Amarena cherries, lemon-lime soda, and lime wedges.
  • Sparkling Amarena cocktail – Sparkling wine or champagne, Amarena cherry syrup, and club soda.
  • Amarena drop – Amarena cherry liqueur, orange juice, grenadine, and lemon-lime soda.

The cherries should be pitted before using in cocktails. Their pits can create an unpleasant, bitter taste. For garnishes, the stems can be left on for a decorative touch.

Dessert Sauces and Syrups

The jam-like texture and concentrated sweet-tart flavor of Amarena cherries make them ideal for dessert sauces and syrups. They are cooked down into thick, glossy sauces for topping cakes, pound cakes, cheesecakes, ice cream sundaes, and other desserts. Amarena cherry syrup is also used to sweeten beverages like lemonade, iced tea, soda water, and cocktails. Popular Amarena cherry sauces and syrups include:

  • Amarena cherry coulis – A chunky cherry sauce made by briefly cooking pitted Amarena cherries with sugar and lemon juice.
  • Amarena cherry compote – Pitted Amarena cherries simmered in sugar, water, cornstarch, vanilla, and kirsch or brandy until thickened.
  • Amarena cherry syrup – Made by cooking pitted Amarena cherries with sugar and water, then straining out the solids.
  • Chocolate Amarena sauce – A mixture of chocolate, cream, Amarena cherry syrup or jam, and kirsch.
  • Amarena cherry preserves – Pitted cherries cooked with sugar into a thick jam.

The sauces and syrups concentrate the cherry flavor and make it easy to add to all kinds of desserts and beverages. They can be drizzled over finished desserts or mixed into ice cream, milkshakes, yogurt, and parfaits.


One of the most iconic uses for Amarena cherries is in Italian liqueurs. The most famous is probably Luxardo Maraschino liqueur, which is made by crushing and distilling Marasca cherries along with the cherry pits and leaves. The pits and leaves contribute a slight bitter almond flavor. Maraschino liqueur has a syrupy consistency and is clear in color rather than red. Other Amarena cherry liqueurs include:

  • Luxardo Sangue Morlacco – An Amarena cherry liqueur with a deep red color.
  • Maraska Maraschino – A Croatian Marasca cherry liqueur.
  • Cherry Heering – This Danish liqueur includes Amarena cherries along with other cherry varieties.
  • Cherry Marnier – A blend of Cognac, cherry brandy, and Luxardo Maraschino liqueur.
  • Chambord – French black raspberry liqueur flavored with Amarena cherries.

These liqueurs have a robust cherry taste. Though sweet, they retain the cherries’ acidic kick. They add cherry flavor to cocktails like margaritas, daiquiris, and Cosmopolitans. The liqueurs can also be poured over ice cream or used to make chocolate-dipped cherries.

Candied Cherries

The process of candying cherries saturates them with sugar to balance out their tartness. Whole Amarena cherries can be candied by simmering them in sugar syrup, then draining and tossing them in more granulated sugar to coat. Candying brings out their full cherry sweetness. Amarena cherries make beautiful candied cherries with their plump size and dark red color. Candied Amarena cherries can be used:

  • As cake, cupcake, and pastry decorations
  • In trail mix and snack mixes
  • As toppings on sundaes and milkshakes
  • In chocolate bark or rocky road candy
  • As cake filling alongside buttercream frosting
  • As garnishes on cocktails
  • In candy dishes to snack on

Their sweet-tart flavor offsets creamy desserts and crunchy candy nicely. The sugar coating acts as a preservative, so candied Amarena cherries last for several weeks stored in an airtight container at room temperature.

Fruit and Yogurt Parfaits

The sweet-tart flavor and soft, jammy texture of Amarena cherries combine perfectly with creamy yogurt and layers of fresh fruit. Whole cherries, cherry syrup, or cherry jam can be swirled into yogurt or layered in parfait glasses. Popular yogurt parfait combinations include:

  • Vanilla yogurt, granola, Amarena cherries, and blueberries
  • Honey Greek yogurt, sliced almonds, Amarena cherry syrup, and strawberries
  • Lemon yogurt, shortbread crumbs, Amarena cherry jam, and raspberries
  • Pistachio yogurt, chia seeds, Amarena cherry compote, and bananas

The options for fruit, crunch, creaminess, and cherry flavor are endless. Amarena cherries add needed tartness and lovely color contrast. Any type of dairy or non-dairy yogurt works well. The cherries can be chopped or left whole for texture.

Chocolate-Covered Cherries

Chocolate-covered cherries are a classic candy made by dipping maraschino or Amarena cherries in melted chocolate, allowing it to harden, and topping with decorations. Sweet and tart Amarena cherries pair wonderfully with dark, milk, or white chocolate. To make them:

  1. Wash and thoroughly dry whole, pitted Amarena cherries.
  2. Melt chocolate chips or coating wafers in a double boiler or microwave.
  3. Dip each cherry halfway into the melted chocolate using a fork or dipping tool.
  4. Top immediately with decorations like chopped nuts, coconut, sprinkles, or edible glitter.
  5. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and refrigerate until set, about 10 minutes.

Keep stored in layers separated by parchment paper in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Enjoy these homemade chocolate Amarena cherries as gifts or party treats.


Both fresh and dried Amarena cherries can add sweetness and texture to savory salads. Their flavor pairs well with nuts, seeds, cheese, greens, and dressings with a bit of acidity. Try adding Amarena cherries to salads like:

  • Mixed greens with cherry vinaigrette, goat cheese crumbles, and spiced walnuts
  • Arugula, dried Amarena cherries, shaved Parmesan, and lemon dressing
  • Baby kale, quinoa, avocado, fresh Amarena cherries, and green goddess dressing
  • Spinach with grilled chicken, dried Amarena cherries, pecans, and balsamic vinaigrette

For the best texture and appearance, cut fresh Amarena cherries in half and remove the pits before adding to salads. The sweetness balances out more bitter greens nicely.


Both fresh Amarena cherries and dried Amarena cherries work well in savory dishes with meats like pork, duck, and turkey. Their sweet-tart flavor provides a nice counterpoint. They can be made into sauces for topping meats or added directly to dishes like:

  • Cherry-Amarena chutney with ham or pork
  • Amarena cherry barbecue sauce with chicken, pork, or beef
  • Amarena cherry balsamic glaze for duck breasts
  • An Amarena cherry compote or relish with turkey or game meats
  • Amarena cherry stuffing with ground meat and rice

The cherries’ bright red color is also festive for holiday meals featuring roasted meats. For a stunning presentation, decorate the platter with fresh Amarena cherries.

Oatmeal and Porridge

The sweet-tart flavor and juicy texture of fresh or dried Amarena cherries are delicious mixed into hot cereals. They add natural sweetness, nutrients, and visual appeal. Try stirring Amarena cherries into:

  • Steel cut oats with almond milk, coconut, and chopped Amarena cherries
  • Overnight oats made with yogurt, chia seeds, and dried Amarena cherries
  • Quinoa flakes porridge with chopped Amarena cherries and pecans
  • Rolled oats with Amarena cherry compote and brown sugar

The options for flavors are endless. For convenience, look for packaged dried Amarena cherries to always have them on hand for making oatmeal extra tasty and nutritious.

Amarena Cherry Jam

Turning fresh Amarena cherries into homemade jam captures their summery flavor to enjoy all year round. An Amarena cherry jam recipe generally contains:

  • Pitted and chopped fresh Amarena cherries
  • Sugar
  • Lemon juice
  • Pectin or certo to thicken

The cherries are combined with the additional ingredients and cooked over medium heat until thickened to the desired consistency. The jam can be canned in sterilized jars for gift-giving or storage. Amarena cherry jam is delicious when spread on toast, scones, muffins, crepes, yogurt, oatmeal, and more.


With their rich red color and balanced sweet-tart taste, it’s no wonder that Amarena cherries have so many versatile uses in the kitchen. Their flavor pairs wonderfully with chocolate, almonds, cheese, liquor, and more. Try using Amarena cherries in your next baking project, cocktail, salad, or porridge for a pop of color and natural fruit flavor. Whether fresh, dried, or preserved in syrup and jam, Amarena cherries are a unique and vibrant ingredient.

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