What is in maraschino syrup?

Maraschino syrup is a sweet and vibrantly colored syrup that is commonly used to flavor and color drinks, desserts, and candies. The main ingredient that gives maraschino syrup its signature flavor and aroma is the marasca cherry. Maraschino syrup has a long history dating back hundreds of years. Over time, the ingredients and production methods have evolved, but the luxurious and indulgent taste has remained.

What are marasca cherries?

The marasca cherry is a variety of sour cherry that grows primarily in Croatia and Italy along the Dalmatian coast. The name “maraschino” comes from marasca, the Italian name for this special cherry. Marasca cherries are smaller, firmer, and more flavorful than regular cherries. They have a complex, tangy sweet-tart taste.

When marasca cherries are harvested in the summer months, they are packed in syrup, crushed along with their pits, and distilled into a clear, perfumed liquor called maraschino. This process concentrates the cherries’ flavor and preserves them. The maraschino liquor was originally produced by medieval monasteries in the Maraschino region as early as the 16th century.

How is maraschino syrup made?

Authentic maraschino syrup is made from the maraschino liquor produced from Dalmatian marasca cherries. The basic process is:

– Marasca cherries are crushed with their pits and packed in syrup to macerate for 1-3 years. This draws out the flavors and bitterness from the cherry pits.

– The cherries and syrup are then distilled in copper alembics to produce a clear, concentrated maraschino liquor.

– The maraschino liquor is diluted with simple syrup to produce maraschino syrup. Simple syrup is just sugar and water boiled together in equal proportions.

– Other flavorings like vanilla, lemon zest, or rosewater are sometimes added as well.

– The maraschino syrup has a brilliant ruby red color from the cherry concentrate.

What ingredients are in maraschino syrup?

While there can be some variation between brands, authentic maraschino syrup contains just a few core ingredients:

– Maraschino liqueur – Made from the crushed marasca cherries and pits. Provides signature cherry flavor.

– Simple syrup – Usually equal parts sugar dissolved in water. Provides sweetness and viscosity.

– Natural flavorings (optional) – Vanilla, lemon, orange blossom, or rosewater enhance flavor.

– Food coloring (optional) – Boosts vibrant red color.

– Preservatives (optional) – Potassium sorbate prevents microbial growth. Sulfur dioxide maintains color.

Quality maraschino syrup relies on the maraschino liqueur as the core ingredient. Lower quality commercial brands may substitute artificial cherry flavoring in place of real maraschino liqueur. Always check the ingredients list for “maraschino liqueur”, “marasca cherry”, or “natural flavoring” for a real maraschino syrup.

History of Maraschino Syrup

To understand maraschino syrup, it helps to learn a bit about its long and fascinating history. Here are some key points in the development of this unique syrup:

16th Century – Maraschino liqueur invented

– Maraschino liquor was first made commercially by Dominican friars in the marasca cherry growing region of Dalmatia.

– The process used to make the liqueur was kept secret. The liqueur quickly gained acclaim across Europe for its exotic flavor.

1700s – Maraschino exported worldwide

– Production expanded outside monasteries. Cherry growing expanded along the coasts of Croatia.

– Maraschino was exported from the port of Zara and became known as “Zara Maraschino”. It gained popularity in colonial America.

1800s – Maraschino cocktails born

– Maraschino liqueur became an essential ingredient in punches, sours, fizzes, and other cocktails.

– Luxardo and other commercial producers were founded to meet demand. Improved production methods evolved.

– Maraschino syrup emerged as a lower alcohol option better suited for sodas, desserts, and candies.

1900s – Global maraschino syrup popularity

– Prohibition outlawed liqueurs like maraschino, but allowed non-alcoholic maraschino syrup.

– Maraschino flavor exploded in popularity. Creative uses in foods emerged like the famous maraschino cherry.

– After Prohibition, both liqueur and syrup remained staples in bars and home pantries.

Over many decades, maraschino transformed from a localized monastic specialty to a globally-traded flavoring beloved for its unique taste and versatility.

How Maraschino Syrup Is Used

Maraschino syrup brings its signaturefruit flavor, vibrant color, and balanced sweetness to a wide variety of desserts, candies, and beverages. Here are some of the most popular uses:


– Cakes, cupcakes, cookies – Adds moisture and deep cherry flavor

– Fruit pies, tarts – Enhances flavor of fillings

– Ice cream, sorbet, gelato – Swirls bring pops of color and flavor

– Cheesecakes, mousse – Provides complementary fruit flavor

– Maraschino cherries – The iconic cherry is preserved and flavored by soaking in maraschino syrup


– Hard candy, lollipops – Flavors and colors candy

– Chocolate truffles – Syrup centers add surprise cherry flavor

– Fruit slices – Soaked in maraschino for added sweetness

– Marzipan – Maraschino is a classic flavoring

– Maraschino cherries – The candied cherry is the #1 use


– Cocktails – Adds signature cherry flavor in Manhattans, Aviations, and more

– Non-alcoholic drinks – An ingredient in Italian sodas, cream sodas, sparkling punch

– Milkshakes, smoothies – Contributes flavor and beautiful color

– Coffee drinks – A topping drizzle that pairs perfectly with chocolate

– Hot chocolate, cider – Warms up winter beverages

The applications of maraschino syrup are virtually endless. A few drops can transform the flavor and appearance of a huge range of foods and beverages.

Popular Brands of Maraschino Syrup

Some of the most recognized and reputable brands of maraschino syrup include:


– Founded in 1821 in Italy, Luxardo is the premier brand of maraschino liqueur and syrup

– Their syrup is made from 100% Luxardo Maraschino Originale Cherry Liqueur with no artificial ingredients

– Luxardo controls their own marasca orchards and production from cherry to bottle


– Dekuyper is a Dutch distiller founded in 1695, making it one of the oldest liqueur brands

– Their maraschino syrup offering is lower in price but still relies on real maraschino liqueur

– Dekuyper maraschino brings affordable indulgence to everyday baking and cocktails

Cherry Heering

– Cherry Heering dates back to 1818 and is considered the original cherry liqueur brand

– Their Wild Cherry Maraschino Syrup blends the flavors of wild cherries and marasca cherries

– A premium brand that strikes a balance between cherry sweetness and almond undertones


– Monin is a French brand founded in 1912 focused on gourmet syrups and flavors

– Their maraschino syrup uses natural cherry flavoring and real cane sugar

– A versatile syrup trusted by baristas, mixologists, and home chefs

When shopping for maraschino syrup, look for brands that specifically call out real maraschino liqueur or cherry concentrate rather than “natural flavors”. This signals a high quality, authentic syrup.

How to Make Homemade Maraschino Syrup

It’s possible to make your own maraschino syrup at home with just a few simple ingredients and steps:


– 3 cups water
– 3 cups sugar
– 1 cup maraschino liqueur
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– Red food coloring (optional)


1. Boil 3 cups of water in a pot. Once boiling, remove from heat.

2. Stir in 3 cups of sugar until fully dissolved to make simple syrup. Allow to cool to room temperature.

3. Measure 1 cup of maraschino liqueur and add it to the simple syrup along with the vanilla extract.

4. Add a few drops of red food coloring if you want to intensify the color.

5. Transfer the maraschino syrup to an airtight bottle or jar. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

6. Use in cocktails, desserts, candies, or beverages as you would regular maraschino syrup!

The key is using real maraschino liqueur rather than artificial cherry syrup or flavoring. This homemade maraschino syrup captures the true fruit flavor. Adjust the amount of liqueur to achieve your desired level of cherry taste.

Maraschino Syrup Nutrition Facts

Maraschino syrup is high in natural sugar content since sugar is essentially the main ingredient. A 1 tablespoon (15ml) serving contains:

Calories 106
Total Fat 0 g
Sodium 2 mg
Total Carbs 27 g
Sugars 27 g
Protein 0 g

The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugar to no more than 25 grams per day for women and 36 grams per day for men. Just 1-2 tablespoons of maraschino syrup provides nearly an entire day’s worth of added sugar.

While maraschino syrup provides luxurious flavor, it should be used moderately in small amounts as part of an overall healthy diet. The concentrated sweetness means you need only a splash to transform the flavor of foods and beverages.

Is Maraschino Syrup Gluten Free?

Most major brands of maraschino syrup are gluten free. The core ingredients – sugar, water, maraschino liqueur, and flavorings – do not contain gluten.

Always check the label to confirm a maraschino syrup is certified gluten free, especially if it contains colors or stabilizers that could potentially introduce gluten. Homemade maraschino syrup is inherently gluten free as long as the maraschino liqueur used is gluten free.

For those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, maraschino syrup can typically be safely enjoyed with gluten free recipes and cocktails. It provides vibrant flavor and color without gluten concerns.

Are There Any Health Benefits?

Maraschino syrup is prized for its sweet flavor and versatility, not for health benefits. However, since it’s derived from marasca cherries, it may offer some nutrition:

– Antioxidants – Cherries contain antioxidant compounds that reduce inflammation and cellular damage. These include anthocyanins, quercetin, and vitamin C.

– Melatonin – Cherries are one of the only foods with natural melatonin, a compound that regulates sleep.

– Vitamins and minerals – Cherries provide vitamin A for eye health, potassium for muscles, and smaller amounts of B vitamins.

However, most maraschino syrup brands filter out the cherry solids during processing. This may remove beneficial fiber and polyphenols while concentrating the fruit sugars.

Overall, maraschino syrup should be considered an infrequent treat. The small quantities used to flavor foods mean it can be enjoyed in moderation as part of a healthy lifestyle.


Maraschino syrup holds centuries of culinary history in its ruby red bottle. While its originate from Italian monasteries, it became popularized worldwide as a versatile flavoring for drinks, desserts, and confections. Authentic maraschino syrup relies on the concentrated essence of marasca cherries. Brands like Luxardo and Cherry Heering maintain generations-old traditions to produce syrup with the signature sweet-tart cherry taste. A little maraschino syrup transforms recipes into indulgent treats while introducing intriguing fruit flavor. Next time you enjoy a slice of cherry pie, boozy cocktail, or chocolate confection with surprising cherry notes, you have maraschino syrup to thank!

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