Kentucky Bourbon-Vanilla Soaked Cherries Recipe

June 26, 2013
Kentucky Bourbon-Vanilla Soaked Cherries | Fake Food Free | The perfect ice cream topping or cocktail garnish!

Last week at the Farmers Market, I saw this sign.

That sad face sums up my feelings pretty well. I have enjoyed my first cherry season in California so much. I think it’s because I wasn’t expecting to have such a selection. It completely took me by surprise.

Aside from a few cherry trees here and there in Kentucky, I’ve always associated cherries with Michigan. My past experience includes picking out a few in the grocery store and barely getting enough from a tree to make a mini cherry pie. This year, I had all the cherries I wanted. I took full advantage, too. I can’t begin to estimate how many pounds I carried home throughout the season.

But alas, it is coming to an end. I know there will be other fruits to take their place, but I will miss them all the same.

Every time I carried home by big bag of joy I said I was going to make bourbon cherries. It was now or never. Well, maybe now or next season, but the pressure motivated me to get on it.

Kentucky Bourbon-Vanilla Soaked Cherries | Fake Food Free | The perfect ice cream topping or cocktail garnish!

I came across these Vanilla-Bourbon Cherries at Sweetsonian a little while back. (Aren’t her pictures gorgeous?) I wanted those same flavors so I adjusted it and then got some exact measures for the ingredients. I know I’ll want to make them again and I’m horrible at remembering what I did from recipe to recipe so I’m hoping this will help me recreate them next year.

Dark red Bing cherries make pretty soaked cherries, but as always, I was steered by the sale. These yellow-red Rainier cherries were priced to sell so my cherries look a little lighter in their bourbon bath.

I’ve had them in the fridge a little over a week and they are delicious. I’ve dropped a few in our cocktails and I hope to use them on a dessert if I can stop eating them straight from the jar.

Kentucky Bourbon-Vanilla Soaked Cherries

Inspired by Vanilla-Bourbon Cherries by Sweetsonian


1 pint cherries, pitted
4 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp water
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/3 to ½ cup Kentucky bourbon


Tightly pack the cherries into a clean pint jar leaving about ½ inch headspace.

In a small sauce pan, heat the sugar and water on medium-high. Bring it just up to a simmer and cook until the sugar dissolves and it thickens a little, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.

Pour the sugar syrup over the cherries. Pour the bourbon into the jar. How much you need will depend on how tightly your cherries are packed in. Ensure that all the cherries are covered, leaving about a ½ inch headspace.

Seal the jar. Give it a shake to mix the sugar syrup and bourbon.

Store in the refrigerator for at least 3 days before eating to allow the flavors to soak into the cherries. Then they should keep in the fridge for about a month.

Thanks for reading! All images and content are the property of Fake Food Free unless otherwise stated. Please do not republish full recipes and images without written permission. What is okay? Feel free to Pin images, share links to my posts or share the photo in a round up post with the title of this recipe and a link back to the post. Confused about copyright and food blogs? Here is some helpful information on Recipe Attribution. If you want to use a photo or full recipe, just ask. I’m sure we can work something out.  

You Might Also Like

  • Amy Kelly June 26, 2013 at 8:49 am

    These sound amazing! Do you have any favorite cocktails to use them in?

  • Maureen C. Berry June 26, 2013 at 8:52 am

    Nice. Thanks Lori. And yes, so few cherries here in KY!

  • Lori June 26, 2013 at 9:10 am

    Amy – They are so tasty! I’ve been using them in a simple bourbon and soda and a modified old fashioned. If you have some ideas, send them my way. I’ve been trying to think of something fancy to create, but I’m having recipe block. Ha, ha!

    Maureen – You’re welcome! It’s been such a treat to have so many out here!

  • kat June 26, 2013 at 9:59 am

    Oh, I need to make these for Matt with Door County Sour Cherries for his Old Fashions.

  • emily (a nutritionist eats) June 26, 2013 at 11:23 am

    Oh my, how those must elevate a cocktail! And would make my husbands old fashioned a little less trashy! 😉

  • Lori June 26, 2013 at 11:41 am

    kat – They would be so good with sour cherries.

    emily – Hahaha! I’m not sure anything will help that version, but it’s worth a shot. At least the cherry will be classy. 😉

  • @yumivore June 26, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    suddenly craving cherries, beautiful shots!

  • Velva June 26, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    I would give a lot to have local cherry trees. Love, love to eat cherries. I think your recipe to soak them in bourbon is really nice.

    Thanks for sharing.


  • Lori June 27, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    yumivore – Thank you!

    Velva – Thank you! I feel so fortunate!

  • lisa is cooking June 30, 2013 at 11:23 am

    I’m so jealous of fresh, local cherries! They don’t grow here, and we don’t seem to be getting very many at the grocery store this year. I hope I see some soon though because I’d love to have a jar of these in my refrigerator!

  • Deb July 1, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    We still have a few straggling fresh cherries at the market and I will also miss their short season! What a charming recipe to savor the spectacular little orbs of summer!

  • Jody July 3, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    My cherry tree had a small crop of about 50 cherries but I just made this with about a dozen cherries and some Grand Traverse Distillery Rye whiskey and used maple syrup instead of sugar. Cant wait to try these in 3 days.

  • Marianne (frenchfriestoflaxseeds) July 10, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    It’s weird to hear you talking about cherry season already being over for you, when we have just started to see the first local BC cherries in stores/markets. I haven’t even tasted any local cherries yet this season…soon!

  • Kristy Gardner July 20, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    YESSSSS! I live for bourbon cherries. In fact, I’ve made a whole 3 batches this year so far and even took new photos for them on the blog because if anything deserves great pictures, it’s whiskey cherries. Of course.

    PS. I’m going to go eat some straight from the jar right now.