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How to make cherry chutney

This cherry chutney recipe is a fantastic summer condiment. If you are unfamiliar with chutney, let me give you a quick description. It’s like a relish, it has sweet and sour ingredients, usually coming from sugar or fruits and vinegar. It is a blend of sweet and savory. Warm summer months, when stone fruit is at its peak, is the perfect time to make this recipe.

I’ll give you variations and substitutions where I can, plus helpful tips and tricks for success. Read on for this info as well as the recipe. If you’d like to skip straight to the recipe, use the jump to recipe button at the top of the post.

If you enjoy fruit chutneys, you might also like my apple chutney bruschetta or my loquat chutney recipe. For ease of browsing, you can find all of my fresh cherry recipes in one place.

Cherry chutney with fresh cherries in glass jar.

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Why you should make this cherry chutney

This chutney is really versatile, and cherries are at their peak from the end of May through August. During the summer months, I buy pound after pound of fresh cherries because the season is not very long.

I paired it with grilled meat, but it can also be a great addition to a cheese board, a charcuterie platter or as a tasty spread on a sandwich. Chutneys go really well with cheese.

Fresh cherry chutney in jar on white towel.

Chutney is a great condiment to use with grilled meat or vegetables and this cherry chutney went splendidly with a grilled skirt steak.

There are so many chutney varieties. Try this one and once you get a feel for chutneys, mix it up and try different fruits! Experiment with your favorites or combine a few different fruits.

Chutneys are a fantastic way to preserve fruit without turning it into a sweet jam. You can make this chutney your own by adding in whatever fruit you have on hand. If you have a handful of ripe fruit that needs to be used up, toss it into the pot.

What is chutney?

That, my friends, is a lengthy discussion. If you are thinking about traditional chutneys from India, those are entirely different than this fruit chutney. 

The chutney that I am referring to, for our purposes, likely came from the British. Thank you, England! It was a way of preserving fruit, much like making jam. The main difference is the addition of vinegar.

Bowl of cherries.

All chutneys should have a sweet and tart (or sour) quality to them. If it is just sweet, it should be called preserves.

Ingredients

This chutney recipe uses common items. If you have a well-stocked pantry, you might already have most of the ingredients.

Ingredients for chutney
  • Fresh cherries – I’ve used fresh cherries here, but you can use frozen cherries if they are not in season.
  • Grainy mustard – It is milder than other mustards and the soft seeds add great flavor.
  • Red wine vinegar – Fruity and gives a perfect balance to the sweetness.
  • Red onion – Mild onion, substitute with a sweet onion if you can’t find red/purple onion.
  • Garlic – Normally, I go very heavy on garlic, but not here. It will overpower, so be judicious.
  • Ginger – Gives this chutney a little heat and tons of flavor. You can use squeeze ginger from the produce aisle if you can’t find fresh.
  • Brown sugar – provides sweetness to balance the vinegar, has a deeper flavor than white sugar.
  • Currants // raisins – I prefer currants, but raisins (regular or golden) are the best substitute.
  • Oil – Just enough to sauté the onions and garlic.
  • Salt & pepper – Because everything needs to be seasoned. Always.

How to make cherry chutney

Here’s a quick summary of how to make cherry chutney. Please see the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the full recipe. 

Step by step photos showing procedure for making cherry chutney.
  1. Sauté onions and garlic in oil.
  2. Add red wine vinegar and cook for a few minutes to soften onions.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and cook for about 30 minutes.
  4. When mixture has cooked down and is thick and syrupy, you’re done!

Fresh cherry chutney Q & A

Here are a few quick tips, and some answers to frequently asked questions.

Can I freeze this chutney?

Yes. Store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months.

How long does chutney last in the fridge?

I’ve had this cherry chutney in the fridge for 10 days without any issues. Keep it stored in an airtight container, in the coldest part of your refrigerator.

Can I use frozen cherries?

Yep! Thaw and drain the cherries before using. Frozen fruit can be watery, which will increase the cook time, so drain well before you begin to avoid this.

Chutney with fresh cherries and red onion.

Variations and substitutions

If you like a little heat in your chutney, you can add half of a finely diced jalapeño pepper, or a teaspoon of crushed red pepper.

Shallots are a perfect substitute for red onion, and the flavor is a bit milder.

Raisins or currants can be omitted if you are not a fan, but they do lend a sweetness to the chutney, so you may have to adjust sugar.

Helpful tools & equipment

  • Cherry pitter – This is an essential tool for making the job of pitting cherries go quickly
  • Dried Currants – This is what you’re looking for at the grocery store, and a link to grab them from Amazon if you can’t find them
  • 8 inch Chef Knife – a great investment, buy a quality knife and take care of it. You’ll never have to buy another one.
  • 8 oz jars – perfect size for storing your chutney

Serving suggestions

This cherry chutney recipe pairs well with a charcuterie or cheese board, plus it makes a great bruschetta topping.

Try it with grilled meats like steak, lamb or pork.

Cherry season is not around for long, so don’t wait too long to grab a couple of pounds. I’ll be making another big batch before the summer is over to put up on the shelves so I can enjoy them long after they disappear from the stores.

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Cherry Chutney

Cheryl Bennett
A sweet & sour condiment made from fresh cherries, cherry chutney is perfect on grilled meat.
4.50 from 38 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Course Condiments
Cuisine American
Servings 1 .5 cups
Calories 43 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 1/2 lb. fresh cherries pitted and roughly chopped, about 3 cups // 680g
  • 3/4 cup diced red onion 1 small // 180ml
  • 1/3 cup dried currants or raisins // 80ml
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tsp. fresh grated ginger
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar // 120ml
  • 1 TB. whole grain mustard
  • 2 TB. light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 TB. canola oil

Instructions
 

  • In a medium pot, heat oil over medium low heat then add onions and garlic.
  • Cook until softened, but not browned, 6 – 7 minutes, then add red wine vinegar and cook a few minutes more.
  • Add in cherries, currants, ginger, brown sugar, mustard, salt and pepper.
  • Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cooked down and thickened. *see note
  • Cool completely then pack in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

Video

Notes

Cook time may vary depending on your cherries – if they do not have a lot of juice, you may not need the full 30 minutes. If they are very juicy and let out a lot of liquid, you may need a bit longer than 30 minutes.
Pair this delicious chutney with grilled steak, a cheese board, a charcuterie board, or on crostini with a bit of goat cheese for an easy appetizer.
This cherry chutney is also terrific on a sandwich instead of traditional sandwich condiments.
Store leftover chutney in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
To make this chutney with frozen cherries, be sure to thaw and drain well before using. Frozen fruit can be watery and this will extend the cooking time.
For a bit of heat in this chutney, add half of a finely diced jalapeño.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/2 ounceCalories: 43kcalCarbohydrates: 9gProtein: 1gFat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 87mgFiber: 1gSugar: 7g
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Thanks for stopping by! Have a delicious day 🙂

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Originally published 8/2/16.

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16 Comments

    1. Betsy, PLEASE PLEASE make this chutney! It is one of the best things I’ve had lately… I’m not exaggerating. It’s DELICIOUS!!!

    1. Hi Margaret, I’ve never canned it before. I would have to test the pH to know if it is safe. If you’re an experienced canner, you could test it, or run the recipe through a canning site, like Ball to check.

    1. Hi Denise, you *could* use balsamic, but it will change the taste of the recipe significantly. I’d suggest replacing 1/4 of the vinegar with balsamic instead of the entire amount. I hope that helps!

  1. I made this expecting excellence but was super disappointed. I followed the recipe to a T but didn’t find this worth the work at all.

4.50 from 38 votes (38 ratings without comment)

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