It is peak cherry season! These recipes bring out the best in California's crop

Cherry Clafoutis in a white ceramic tart pan, sitting on a bed of kitchen towels
(Anacleto Rapping / Los Angeles Times)

7 delicious dishes to cook with cherries


If you saw Ben Mims’ Cherry Cobbler story last week and/or if you read his newsletter on Sunday, you are well aware that we are at the height of Californa’s minute of a cherry season. Here in our sunshiny state, it is mostly the deep crimson tart-sweet, juicy Bings that abound from mid-May to late June, meaning you have just a few weeks to gather your fill of the locally grown delights. If you need more time for fresh cherries than the SoCal crop will allow, Pacific Northwest cherries are now coming in and should be available through August.

Full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds such as polyphenols and vitamin C, cherries are little nutrient bombs that promote health. Studies on animals and humans suggest that eating cherries may reduce the risk of chronic inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. There is also evidence that cherry consumption may improve cognitive function and sleep. Heck, if a bowl of cherries is what it takes to ward off metabolic syndrome, I say bring it on! And if you can resist gobbling them all out of hand as soon as — or even before — you get them home, try one or more of these cherry-licious recipes.

Almost as American as apple pie, sweet cherry pie is satisfying in a different kind of way. Rather than the cinnamony spices that go with apples, a dollop of orange liqueur and a bit of vanilla add depth to the cherry flavors.


Described by Julia Child as a fruit-filled flan, clafoutis is what the French make in cherry season. A simple, pancake-batter-like mixture is poured over a baking dish filled with fresh cherries and baked until golden and firm. To prevent red streaks from “bleeding” cherries, the French typically leave the pits in the cherries. If you choose to follow suit, be sure to give warning when you serve it.

Cherries roasted in brandy make a rich topping that plays nicely with the corn and almond notes of Polenta Cake With Roasted Cherries — a spectacular flavor combination.

Rye flour adds a subtle nuttiness and complexity to the pastry of Cherry Rye Hand Pies. If the added dimension of rye isn’t enough, the cherry compote that fills the conveniently portable pockets is spiked with Madiera wine and balsamic vinegar.

Studded with garnet-like chunks of cherries, Cherry, Honey And Fennel Bread is a spectacular-looking quick bread made with whole wheat flour for added texture and nutty flavor notes.


If you’d rather start your meal with cherries rather than wait until dessert, or bookend it with a first and last cherry course, try Cold Spiced Cherry Soup. Balsamic is the game-changer here — the acid and caramelized sweetness balance the cherries beautifully.

And if cherry bookends aren’t enough, Warm Steak Salad With Sherried Cherries is a boldly flavored entree that also gets bragging rights for simplicity: If you don’t count the salt and pepper, it only requires five ingredients and it can be ready in less than an hour. A brief soak in sherry vinegar gives the cherries some extra oomph.

Polenta cake with roasted cherries

Burlat cherries are roasted in a vanilla, brandy and sugar slurry and then served with an almondy polenta cake.
Time1 hour
YieldsServes 8

Warm Steak Salad with Sherried Cherries

Steak, arugula and cherries macerated in sherry vinegar make for a simple, elegant, doable on a busy weeknight and incredibly delicious meal.
Time45 minutes
YieldsServes 2

Cherry rye hand pies

Rye flour adds a subtle, nutty, complexity of flavor to this pastry which complements the brightness of the cherries doused in balsamic vinegar and Madiera wine.
Time2 hours
YieldsMakes 12 hand pies.

Cherry Clafoutis

The batter for clafoutis is a straightforward mixture of flour, sugar, eggs and milk, seasoned with vanilla bean. It's traditionally made with cherries but many other fruits can be used.
Time1 hour 30 minutes
YieldsServes 6 to 8

Sweet cherry pie

This pie is simple but rich with flavor and a slightly firm texture from the fresh fruit. A little Grand Marnier and vanilla brighten the flavors and add depth to the cherries.
Time1 hour 30 minutes
YieldsMakes 1 (9-inch) pie

Cold spiced cherry soup

This slightly sweet soup is an adaptation of a classic Hungarian dish. It makes an elegant first course for an early-summer dinner.
Time40 minutes
YieldsServes 6 to 8

Cherry, honey and fennel bread

This flat-out gorgeous whole-grain bread is studded with cherries like garnets.
Time1 hour 10 minutes
YieldsServes 12