Quick & Easy Cherry Jam

A quick & easy cherry jam, no pectin, just cherries, sugar and lemon juice | mjkitchen.com


Very seldom do I get a special request to make something, but last week Bobby came home with 2 pounds of fresh cherries and asked “Will you make me a cherry jam?”.  How could I refuse?  The 2 pounds gave us enough cherries for a pint of jam, plus a few to snack on.

The recipe below is one of my quick & easy jams made with fruit and no pectin.  It makes one jar of cherry jam that is intended to be refrigerated and eaten, not sealed and stored for the winter.  There are three ingredients – cherries, sugar and lemon juice.  The process requires no large pots of boiling jars and lids, and only about 20 minutes of stirring.  The most time consuming part is pitting the cherries.  The result of about 45 minutes of work? … a pint of cherry heaven!

Small Batch Cherry Jam with No Pectin

A quick & easy cherry jam, no pectin, just cherries, sugar and lemon juice | mjkitchen.com

Quick & Easy Cherry Jam Recipe
20 mins
25 mins
Total Time
45 mins
Before starting you might want to review my Kitchen Notes on Making Q&E Jams Recipe

This is a refrigerator jam and not intended to be sealed and stored in the pantry. All you need is a very clean jar. Once the jam is cooked to consistency, pour into jar, let cool and refrigerate. This jam keeps for several months in the refrigerator.

"*" See Kitchen Notes for more information or links to special ingredients.

Course: Jams and Preserves
Yields: 1 pint (approximately)
Recipe Author: MJ of MJ's Kitchen
  • 16 - 20 ounces of pitted chopped cherries (~1 ¼ - 1 ½ pounds of fresh cherries*)
  • 8 - 10 ounces sugar
  • Juice from 1 large lemon
  • Cherries to sugar ratio should be 2:1 by weight
  1. If you aren't planning on using temperature to know when the jam is ready to pour, then place a small saucer in the freezer.
  2. Wash and rinse a clean pint jar (do not dry) and place in microwave for 2 minutes. Let cool before handling.
  3. Wash and pit the cherries. Coarsely chop and transfer to sauce pan.
  4. *(Optional) Using an immersion blender, pulse about 4 to 5 times. If you don't have an immersion blender, transfer chopped cherries to a regular blender and pulse 3 to 4 times. Do NOT pureé the cherries.
  5. Add the sugar and lemon juice to the cherries and heat over medium heat. Stir until the sugar has melted.
  6. Increase the heat to medium high and bring to a full boil*, stirring constantly. A full boil is a boil that can not be stirred down.
  7. Adjust the heat so that the cherry mixture continues at a steady, rolling boil while stirring. Cook and stir for 15 to 17 minutes. At 15 minutes, test the jam. 
  8. To test the jam, dip a metal spoon into the jam and then raise it up out of the pot. Turn the spoon sideways. If the droplets flow together into one drop, the the jam is very close to being done. Pull the small saucer from the freezer and place a dollop or two of jam onto the saucer. If it spreads out, the jam’s not done. Return the saucer to the freezer, continue to stir the boiling jam, and try again in 2 minutes. The jam is done when a dollop does not spread out but retains its shape. It usually takes about 15 to 17 minutes for this amount of jam to be ready. If you have a candy thermometer, you could use temperature to know when you jam is done.*
  9. When the jam is ready, remove from the heat and pour into the jar. Put the lid on it, let cool, and refrigerate. This jam keeps in the refrigerator until you finish it off, which won't take long.

Kitchen Notes

Type of cherries – Sweet cherries yield a very sweet jam that makes one mean peanut butter and jam sandwich! Sour cherries or wild cherries (which are rather tart), yield a delicious sweet and tart jam.  Great in toast and bagels.  Therefore, it really doesn’t matter the type of cherries you use. Just use your favorite cherries and enjoy!


Amount of cherries – It’s hard to estimate non-pitted weight vs. pitted weight because cherry sizes and cherry pit sizes differ.  Therefore, regardless of how much pitted cherries you ended up with, just be sure that the ratio of fruit to sugar is 2:1 (by weight).  Also, 16 to 20 ounces of pitted cherries gets you closer to a full pint of jam.


Lemon Juice – Cherries are a relatively low pectin fruit; therefore, lemon juice is used to give the pectin level a little boost. For sweet cherries, the lemon juice helps to tone down the sweetness a bit, but is a very subtle component of the final flavor.


Using an immersion blender– If you like a chunky cherry  jam or if your cherries are small (like wild cherries), then omit the blender all together.


Time & Temperature – Since this is a low pectin jam, time and temperature are important to help the jam set.  Cooking it at a full boil cooks off a lot of the liquid in a short amount of time and raises the temperature quicker. Just be sure to stir constantly.  I have found from making many, many single jars of jam, that this process usually takes between 15 to 18 minutes for most fruits, but can take longer.


Using a candy thermometer yields pretty consistent results and is a good tool for beginners.  The standard maximum cooking temperature for jams is a temperature of 220° F (104° C) at sea level; however, as you go up in elevation, this temperature decreases.  The rule of thumb is to subtract 1ºF for every 500 ft. increase in elevation.  Since I live right at a mile high (5280 ft), 210ºF is a the temperature I use for cherry jam.


If you let the temperature get too high or allow too much liquid to evaporate, you get a “stiff” or “stringy” jam that is hard to spread. If this ever happens, don’t throw the jam out.  Add it a quick bread or knead it into a yeast bread.


Full, rolling boil – You want a full, rolling boil that is well under control with a gentle stir.  If you feel like you’re whipping egg whites to keep it under control, then the heat is way too high. Be sure to stir constantly once the jam comes to a rolling boil.  Infrequent stirring can cause the jam to burn and create a messy stovetop due to splattering or even a boil over.



A quick & easy cherry jam, no pectin, just cherries, sugar and lemon juice #jam @mjskitchen


If you like this quick & easy cherry jam, then give these other jams and jellies a try.


This Cherry Jam has been shared with Foodie Friends Friday, Melt in Your Mouth Mondays, and Clever Chicks.

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57 Responses to “Quick & Easy Cherry Jam”

  1. Angie August 19, 2017 at 12:56 pm #

    Can I freeze this jam. Also can make this using strawberries. It’s just me in the house but I’ve been given a lot of both and love both cherry and strawberry jam or preserves.

    • mj August 19, 2017 at 1:19 pm #

      Thanks for your question Angie! I’ve never tried it, but I don’t see why you couldn’t freeze it. Just try to get as much air out as possible. You could also “can” it by sterilizing your jar in boiling water for about 10 minutes. Pour the jam into the hot, sterilized jar and seal with a new canning lid. Store it in the pantry for a year or more as long as your pantry doesn’t get too warm. Hope this helps.

      • Angie August 20, 2017 at 5:36 am #

        Well I live in texas so we only know heat. But I’ll try your easy canning method. Wow if I’d known it was that easy to can would have tried it sooner.

        Can strawberries be made the same way with the ingredients or do I need to tweak it.

        • mj August 20, 2017 at 12:52 pm #

          Click on this link – Strawberry Jam. It’s basically this same recipe.

          • Angie August 20, 2017 at 3:08 pm #

            I made the strawberry jam before seeing your reply about using the he same basic recipe ad cherry. It came out wonderful l! Gave a taste of to my neighbors and you could see in their faces how much liked it. I also tried your method you suggested about canning it and it came out perfect. So glad I found your website. Thanks agsin

  2. Shirley Pena June 1, 2016 at 9:26 pm #

    Can I substitute frozen cherries for the fresh cherries? Would I need to make an adjustment in the recipe?

    • mj June 2, 2016 at 4:37 pm #

      I’ve have never had any luck using frozen fruit for jam. It usually turns out too watery and thin for my taste. But you could try. You might need to cook it a little longer so that it will set. Let me know how it turns out if you try it.

  3. Kathi Riemer July 21, 2015 at 2:30 pm #

    Thank you for this great recipe. Cherries are my favorite fruit. It’s great to have another recipe to add to my stash.

    • mj July 21, 2015 at 3:24 pm #

      You are most welcome Kathi! Thanks for the comments!

  4. Katerina July 21, 2015 at 4:54 am #

    You reminded me a request from the little man of my home, my son. He asked for jam too! These berries are very expensive here but I can make one with summer fruits. Yours looks so vibrant and delicious!

    • mj July 21, 2015 at 8:20 am #

      Boys and their love of jam. 🙂 Cherries are usually pretty expensive here but it’s been a bumper year so I’m loving the affordable prices. I probably would have just save them all to eat otherwise. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by Katerina.

  5. Adina July 21, 2015 at 12:06 am #

    I have made cherry jam yesterday as well. Quite simillar to yours,but I used apple peel instead of lemon juice to get it to bind. 🙂

    • mj July 21, 2015 at 8:18 am #

      It’s great stuff isn’t it? 🙂 I’ve heard of using apple for the extra pectin but have never tried it myself. I should give it a try. Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Nancy/SpicieFoodie July 20, 2015 at 11:36 pm #

    Cherries are something I miss terribly, they aren’t grown here. 🙁 Your jam sounds amazing MJ. If I ever have two extra pounds of cherries I’ll give your recipe a try.

    • mj July 21, 2015 at 8:17 am #

      Sorry so for the temptation Nancy. 🙂 I can’t imagine a spring with cherries. However, you know you have access to some chiles that I would love to try! 🙂

  7. Lisa July 20, 2015 at 2:07 pm #

    This recipe sounds awesome, need to try it as soon as it’s not that hot anymore 🙂

    • mj July 20, 2015 at 4:39 pm #

      Thanks Lisa! The nice thing about this recipe is that is is doable in hot weather. There is only about 20 of standing in front of a hot stove and that’s it. Beats the all day canning rituals. 🙂

  8. Roz @ La Bella Vita Cucina July 19, 2015 at 9:48 am #

    What a delicious way to enjoy my favorite fruit of all time — cherries! I’ve never canned jam, so this refrigerator version is right up my alley! Thanks MJ!

    • mj July 19, 2015 at 7:40 pm #

      Oh Roz … this jam recipe is so easy, so for someone that has never canned jam before, it’s a great place to start.

  9. Debra July 17, 2015 at 3:45 pm #

    I just bought two pounds of bing cherries! Serendipitous!

    • mj July 19, 2015 at 7:39 pm #


  10. ray July 17, 2015 at 10:00 am #

    45 minutes for a pint of delicious cherry jam? Yes it is worth it and I’m sure you’ll do it over and over again because that’s what we do for the biggest fans in our lives. I love the beautiful and minimal look of your photo. Wishing you and Bobby a wonderful weekend. 🙂

    • mj July 19, 2015 at 7:39 pm #

      You’ve got that right Ray. We do take care of our loves one. 🙂 Hope you and your family have had a wonderful weekend!

  11. Liz July 17, 2015 at 9:22 am #

    Oh, boy, does this look wonderful, MJ. And refrigerator jam is more my style–such an easy recipe!!!

    • mj July 19, 2015 at 7:37 pm #

      Thanks so much Liz!

  12. Evelyne@cheapethniceatz July 17, 2015 at 8:54 am #

    Cherries never last long enough in my house to have enough for jam lol but if I did this would be the recipe to use! And I like the size in the end…not to big. And easy to make!

    • mj July 19, 2015 at 7:36 pm #

      Thanks Evelyne! Yep…cherries are hard to keep around, but this year they seem to be quite plentiful. We’re loving it!

  13. Viviane Bauquet Farre July 16, 2015 at 6:18 pm #

    I love this, MJ. The jam looks perfect in every way!

    • mj July 16, 2015 at 7:27 pm #

      Thanks so much Viviane!

  14. Denise Browning@From Brazil To You July 16, 2015 at 10:44 am #

    I have to make this for my husband. He’s crazy for cherries and anything else made out of it. This jam is great to spread on toast, pair with pork chops, and as a topping for cheesecakes and other treats.

    • mj July 16, 2015 at 7:27 pm #

      Thanks so much Denise! My husband loves it as well and when he brings the cherries home, it’s hard to resist. 🙂

  15. Amy (Savory Moments) July 16, 2015 at 9:11 am #

    Homemade jam is such a special thing to have around and cherry sounds delicious!

    • mj July 16, 2015 at 7:26 pm #

      Thanks Amy!

  16. Hotly Spiced July 15, 2015 at 4:49 pm #

    I love cherry jam and how lovely that cherries are in abundance in your part of the world right now. I haven’t made cherry jam but I have made cherry chutney. Cherries are in season around Christmas time here in Oz and so I make the cherry chutney to go with turkey and ham xx

    • mj July 16, 2015 at 7:26 pm #

      Cherry chutney…cherry jam…it is ALL SO GOOD! I would low to try your chutney. Thanks for the comments!

  17. Deb|EastofEdenCooking July 15, 2015 at 4:11 pm #

    Jam making is one of my favorite kitchen projects in the summer. Due to the drought our cherry season was sweet and short this year. Which has be coveting the lush cherry jam!
    There is nothing finer than homemade jam!

    • mj July 16, 2015 at 7:25 pm #

      Thanks Deb! So sorry about the drought. We’ve been in one for years, but this spring/summer we’ve had more than normal rainfall so the cherries were plentiful this year. Wish I could send you some. 🙂

  18. Nads July 15, 2015 at 8:14 am #

    I don’t remember the exact term you used, but once again we are riding on the same wave. Here we go again. Last week I bought 2 pounds of cherries but they weren’t sweet enough to eat alone so I used your quick and easy jam recipe and made a pint of cherry jam. Therefore, I can attest that it is delicious!! I got mine borderline too thick but it still works great on a pbj or toast. Mine wasn’t as pretty as yours either, but still tastes great. This is an extremely versatile recipe. Everyone should have it page marked as a go-to for all their “been in the fridge too long” or imperfect fruit to make something wonderful out of it. I looked in the crisper to see the status of fruit on hand and I think it’s going to be quick and easy peach jam next.

    • mj July 15, 2015 at 2:03 pm #

      We’re definitely in sync, mentally connected, living in the same plane. 🙂 I actually love a tart cherry jam but haven’t seen any this year, so had to use the sweet cherries. I bet your tart jam is delicious! You are so right that it’s the perfect recipe/process for all of that uneatable fruit (for whatever the reason). Oh…peach jam…that sounds SO good. Need to find some peaches! Hope you’re having a wonderful week!! XOXOXOX

  19. Sissi July 15, 2015 at 5:13 am #

    Beautiful cherry jam, MJ! I have never made sweet cheery jam, only tart cherry (in Poland only tart cherries are considered “jammable” 😉 because of their tartness which on one side makes them difficult to eat in big amounts while raw and secondly gives jams this nice tangy kick. I must try making with sweet cherries, especially since here I cannot get tart cherries 🙁 and I stopped making cherry jams… My husband would like it much more than the tart one.

    • mj July 15, 2015 at 1:58 pm #

      Thanks so much Sissi! I love making this recipe with tart cherries, but even here they are hard to find. Sometimes I’ll find wild cherries at the growers’ market, but if you aren’t there the week they show up, you’ll miss them. This jam with sweet cherries is really sweet, but as long as you use it on a PB&J or on a nice multigrain toast, the sweetness isn’t a problem because the deliciousness of the jam is overpowering. 🙂 Hope you’re having a great week!

  20. Veronica July 15, 2015 at 12:37 am #

    I’ve never been to your blog that I know of but I saw Angie tweeted this and had to check it out! I just looove cherries and they are so pricey I don’t know that I could sacrifice them to jam, but it does look and sound heavenly! I also make my jam like you without pectin and finished some strawberry jam just now! You just can’t beat homemade jam, once you make it, it’s hard to buy it in the store, it just doesn’t compare! Well done, the photos are gorgeous, too.

    • mj July 15, 2015 at 1:55 pm #

      Veronica, thank you so much for dropping by and leaving a comment! I’m with you in that one can’t beat homemade jam. For years I did the canning thing producing multiple jars of one type of jam in a day. When the availability of free fresh fruit started to dwindle, those jars of jam soon disappeared. After one jar of store-bought, I was back making jam, but one jar at a time. It’s a great process! Hope to see you again!

  21. Angie@Angie's Recipes July 15, 2015 at 12:22 am #

    I love jam without pectin and it looks perfect to me too.

    • mj July 15, 2015 at 1:52 pm #

      Thanks Angie!

  22. John@Kitchen Riffs July 14, 2015 at 9:42 pm #

    Love cherry jam! And I really like the refrigerator recipes — just can’t seem to get into actual canning. This is definitely my speed — thanks!

  23. Abbe @ This is How I Cook July 14, 2015 at 8:09 pm #

    I am so glad you posted this. Cherry jam is my favorite and I’m not the best jam maker, but this seems perfectly doable!

    • mj July 14, 2015 at 9:48 pm #

      Thanks Abbe! This is a jam that anyone can make so go for it girl! Have fun and enjoy!

  24. Juni July 14, 2015 at 7:37 pm #

    MMM. This sounds soo delicious and easy to make. I’m going to give this one a try. YUM

    • mj July 14, 2015 at 9:47 pm #

      Thanks so much Juni!! Hope you enjoy it!

  25. A_Boleyn July 14, 2015 at 7:16 pm #

    I don’t eat jam often so the small recipe would be perfect for me. And, I love cherry jam.

    • mj July 14, 2015 at 9:47 pm #

      Thanks Ann! Not only is it easy, makes a small jar, but it keeps well in the fridge for several months.

  26. Wendy July 14, 2015 at 6:51 pm #


    I’m so happy to find a jam recipe that has chopped fruit, not pureed. And a small quantity jam so there isn’t a lot left over 3 years from now!
    Love cherry jam. Thanks for the recipe. And love the jar. I have two of those. Haven’t seen them any place else in years.

    • mj July 14, 2015 at 9:45 pm #

      Thanks so much Wendy for your comments! Hope you give this a try. I found that jar at a garage sale and loved it. Haven’t seen another one like it either.

  27. Corinne B. July 14, 2015 at 6:49 pm #

    Thank you for a great recipe, that make a small amount. I love to can, but sometimes my recipe are a little overwhelming.

    • mj July 14, 2015 at 9:43 pm #

      You are most welcome Corinne and thanks so much for your comment! I know what you mean about some canning recipes being overwhelming. Well, this one definitely is not. 🙂 Hope you give it a try.


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