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A pretty fluted pastry shell, delicate sour cherries, and a splash of orange liqueur combine to create this delicious Sour Cherry Tart.
One of the best cherry desserts you’ll ever try, this cherry tart recipe truly awakens the taste buds with just the right balance of tart and sweet. And, the cherry tart filling is made using canned sour cherries, so you can enjoy baking this dessert all year round!
I’ve got to admit, I wasn’t so sure about baking with SOUR cherries, but this dessert was so very good it won’t be my last time. With just the right amount of tartness to tickle your tastebuds without making your lips pucker, this cherry dessert is truly amazing!
There’s something simply elegant about fruit tart desserts, and this one couldn’t be any easier to put together.
Mix and chill the pastry, fit it into a pan, dump in the filling and bake. Seriously, if I can make this tart so can you!
Are pies more your thing? My 5-Star Cherry Pie with fresh cherries and a hint of citrus flavor has a thick and delicious filling that’s perfectly sweetened and irresistible.
Key ingredients for Sour Cherry Tart
- All-purpose flour — Don’t use self-rising flour or other leavening agents, as you don’t want the crust to puff up.
- Powdered sugar — For just a touch of sweetness to the crust.
- Unsalted butter — If all you have is salted butter on hand, just omit the extra salt called for in the recipe.
- Egg yolk — A single egg yolk acts as the binding for the dough. I always use large eggs.
- Vanilla extract — The vanilla gives the dough a little extra flavor. You could certainly substitute almond extract here — it would be delicious as well!
- Heavy cream — In a pinch, you could substitute half and half, but the cream is best.
- Canned pitted sour cherries — Unlike darker, sweet Bing cherries, red tart cherries are… well, tart. They are quite popular, especially in sweet-sour desserts.
- Sugar — You’ll need a full cup of sugar to balance out the tartness from the cherries.
- Tapioca — One easy way to thicken the filling is by using instant tapioca as the thickening agent instead of using flour or cornstarch. The advantage of using tapioca is that the little pearls trap moisture as the filling gels and help prevent the pastry from becoming soggy.
- Orange liqueur — Just a few tablespoons add a delicious flavor profile to this tart! A good substitute is the juice from a jar of Luxardo cherries (the ones used for cocktails).
How to bake a Sour Cherry Tart
Unlike a regular pie crust which is flaky, a tart crust is more like shortbread and slightly sweet.
STEP 1 | Mix the tart dough
Start by adding flour, powdered sugar (for the sweetness), salt, and butter cut into cubes to the bowl of a food processor. Mix until you have coarse crumbs — just a few pulses will do the job.
Add an egg yolk, vanilla extract, and a couple teaspoons of heavy cream, then process just until the dough starts to come together.
Dump it into a large resealable bag (or onto a piece of plastic wrap) and squeeze the dough together to form a disc that’s about a half inch thick. Seal and refrigerate until ready to use.
- The dough needs to chill for an hour before you start assembling the tart, so be sure to plan ahead.
- You can make the dough up to 24 hours ahead of time, but if you do this allow at least 30 minutes for the dough to set outside of the refrigerator before you roll it out.
STEP 2 | Shape the tart
After chilling in the refrigerator for an hour, roll out the dough in a circle on a floured surface until it is about 1/8-inch thick.
If the dough tears a little, don’t worry. Just use your fingers to gently press it back together and into the bottom and sides of the pan. Trim off any excess and pop it into the fridge while you make the filling.
STEP 3 | Make the filling
This part truly is easy as pie!
Drain two cans of tart cherries and place them in a bowl with a cup of sugar, a pinch of salt, and two tablespoons each of tapioca (for thickening) and the orange liqueur. Let this rest for 10 minutes on the counter.
STEP 4 | Bake the tart
While the filling is resting, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Then, line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and place on the bottom rack (to catch any possible drips from the tart!).
Remove the tart pan from the refrigerator and pour the prepared filling into the crust. Scatter little bits of the butter over the top, then bake on the middle rack for 50 to 60 minutes.
As the tart bakes, the tart’s surface becomes slightly shiny and the tapioca pearls will be visible as well.
Transfer the tart from the oven to a cooling rack. Let it cool completely — about 3 hours — before removing the sides from the pan.
Frequently asked questions?
In the United States, the most popular sour cherries are Montmorency tart cherries grown in Michigan and Wisconsin. When harvested, they are bright red and retain their beautiful color even when dried, canned, frozen, or juiced.
You can certainly use canned sweet cherries in this recipe instead, but reduce the sugar to 2/3 cup to avoid the tart becoming overly sweet.
Of course! You’ll need 4 1/2 cups of fresh cherries (with the stems and pits removed, of course) to replace the canned cherries. Otherwise, proceed with the recipe as directed.
This cherry dessert is delicious served with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream to balance the sour cherries. Oh, and garnish with a sprig of fresh mint if you’re feeling especially fancy!
Sour Cherry Tart
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup powdered sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 8 tablespoons very cold butter cut into cubes
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 2 14.5-oz. cans sour or red tart cherries drained (in water)
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons tapioca quick or instant
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons orange liqueur
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- Add the flour, powdered sugar, salt, and butter to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
- Add the egg yolk, vanilla extract, and heavy cream and process on low just until a dough begins to form. Empty the mixture into a gallon-size resealable plastic bag and press together to form a round disc about 1/2-inch thick.
- Seal and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to a thickness of about 1/8-inch. Lift the dough with the rolling pin and transfer gently to the tart pan, pressing into the sides and trimming any excess from the rim.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and place on the bottom rack to catch and drips from the tart.
- Empty the drained cherries into a large bowl. Sprinkle with the sugar, tapioca, salt and orange liqueur. Stir gently to combine, then let set for about 10 minutes.
- Pour the filling into the tart crust and dot the top with the butter. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes.
- Cool for at least 3 hours before removing the tart pan to allow the filling to set. Slice and serve with vanilla ice cream, if desired.
About Sheila Thigpen
Recipe Developer, Food Photographer, Food Writer
Sheila Thigpen is the publisher of Life, Love, and Good Food — a Southern food blog — and the author of Easy Chicken Cookbook and The 5-Ingredient Fresh and Easy Cookbook. After 20+ years in the publishing industry, she retired in 2018 to focus on her own creative endeavors full time. She and her husband live near the beautiful Smoky Mountains and have a precious little granddaughter who has stolen their hearts. As an influencer, Sheila has collaborated with brands like Creamette, Kroger, HERSHEY’S, Hamilton Beach, Garafalo Pasta, OXO, Smithfield, Valley Fig Growers, and more.