Small Batch Cherry Jam

A half-pint jar of cherry jam by a bowl of cherries.

The best way to preserve cherries is by turning them into jam, and if you don’t have a huge bounty of cherries this year (or you’ve already gone through a ton with my mini cherry pies, cherry crumble bars, and cherry almond pie recipes), this small batch cherry jam recipe is just for you!

Made with a little more than two cups of fresh cherries, this cherry jam comes together in about 30 minutes and is easy to make. Since cherries are naturally low in pectin, many recipes call for adding pectin to help ensure the jam sets properly. And while that works great (my small batch pomegranate jelly uses pectin), I wanted to keep this a simple cherry jam recipe without pectin in case you don’t have it on hand.

I have plenty of tips in the blog post below and in the recipe card itself to ensure your cherry jam turns out beautifully to help you prolong the taste of summer in your home!

A hand holds up a spoonful of cherry jam from a glass jar.
This sweet cherry jam comes together in about 30 minutes and makes a perfectly spreadable cherry jam.

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Ingredients for Cherry Jam

Cherry jam is easy to make with just a few simple ingredients! I haven’t tested any substitutions, but I have included plenty of tips in the body of this post to make sure your small batch of cherry jam comes out thick and spreadable (and what to do if it doesn’t!).

  • Dark sweet cherries. Fresh or frozen sweet cherries work well in this recipe. If using frozen, you can speed up the cooking process by letting them thaw in advance, but you don’t need to.
  • Granulated sugar. Sugar adds sweetness and helps to thicken and preserve the jam. I have not tested this recipe with sugar substitutes, so at this time, I only recommend using granulated sugar.
  • Lemon juice. Lemon juice adds a little extra brightness of citrus to help cut through the sweetness. Use fresh or bottled—both work!
A bowl of halved cherries, a lemon, and a bowl of sugar on a white quartz counter.
With just three ingredients and no pectin, this small batch cherry jam recipe couldn’t be simpler to make!

Quick Tips for Prepping Cherry Jam

Cherries are naturally low in pectin, so proper prepping is essential for this recipe. The cherries need to be chopped into very small pieces to help the jam set nicely. You can do this with an immersion blender right before you transfer the jam to jars, or, if you don’t own an immersion blender, you’ll need to chop the cherries finely to start.

I like the texture of the jam when it has been blended, so I start with pitted and halved cherries. Then, add the cherries, sugar, and lemon juice to a medium pot. Use a larger pot than you think you will need, as jam tends to double (sometimes triple!) in size while boiling.

How to Make Small Batch Cherry Jam

Jam is one of the easiest things to make, as it has few ingredients and basically no special techniques required. You can watch a short video on how to make this small batch of cherry jam on my YouTube channel below:

Place your cherry jam pot over medium heat, and stir occasionally for 5-10 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved and the syrup has turned bright red. It won’t be long after that until the jam comes to a rolling boil, which is defined as a boil that cannot be stirred down.

Once the jam has been cooking at a rolling boil for 5 minutes or so, start checking the jam to see if it is done. You can do this in two different ways: With a quick-read or candy thermometer or a chilled plate.

Temperature Check

If using a quick-read or candy thermometer (the most foolproof method), check that the jam has reached 218-220°F (103-104°C). Sugar and pectin form a gel at 220°F, so this is a sure-fire way to make sure your jam will set properly. Since cherries have a low pectin content, it’s imperative to cook the jam enough to get to this point. If you don’t, the jam will not set and act more like a syrup.

The Chilled Plate Test

If you don’t have a reliable thermometer, you can also use a chilled plate to see if the cherry jam has gelled properly. Place a plate in the freezer before you start making the jam. Once the jam has cooked at a rolling boil for a few minutes and thickened slightly, get out your plate and dab a few drops on the plate. Allow the jam to cool for 10-15 seconds, then tilt the plate vertically. If the jam stays largely in place, remove from heat. If the jam starts to drip, continue cooking for another minute before retesting.

After the jam has reduced enough, use an immersion blender to break up any large pieces of cherry in the jam. (You can skip this step if you started with finely chopped cherries.) By breaking up the skins and softened flesh, we distribute the pectin throughout the jam a lot better, and it makes the entire jam much thicker than if you were to leave the cherries whole.

Then, pour into jars, seal, and store in the fridge or freezer! I like to use Ball’s half pint jars. This small batch of cherry jam fits neatly into two of the half-pint jars.

FAQs about Cherry Jam without Pectin

Why do I need to use finely chopped cherries or an immersion blender for this cherry jam?

Pectin is largely contained in the skins and rinds of fruit, so finely chopping up the cherries helps to better distribute the pectin throughout the jam.

My cherry jam came out more like a cherry syrup. What went wrong?

Cherries are naturally low in pectin, so it’s a little tricker to get the jam to gel without adding pectin. That’s why I recommend cooking the jam to 220°F/105°C. I’ve also found that blending the cherries into really small pieces prior to storage (or using finely chopped cherries in the first place) helps to thicken the jam even more. Don’t throw out failed jam—you can thicken it by reheating it in a pot to 220°F/105°C or use it as is for topping ice cream or mixing into drinks.

My jam ended up being really thick. What went wrong?

It sounds like you may have overcooked the jam. This can happen if you leave the jam to cool in the hot pot rather than transferring it to a jar right away. But don’t worry—just stir in a splash of water at a time until it gets to your desired consistency!

How long will this jam keep in the fridge?

Once opened, you should use up the cherry jam within three months. For longer term storage, consider storing in the freezer prior to opening.

Other Recipes You May Enjoy

Use up those summer fruits before they go bad to enjoy them year-round: My strawberry champagne jam is also a small batch recipe and requires no pectin!

If you have more fresh cherries you’d like to bake with, my cherry pie with almond extract, mini cherry pies, and gluten-free cherry almond crumble are summer favorites around here.

A spoon holds up chunky cherry jam over a jar.
Perfectly thick and spreadable, this cherry jam (small batch version) goes great on toast.

Dish Cleanup: Not Too Bad

I rate my recipe cleanups on a scale of 1 to 5. 1 is only a handful of dishes, and 5 is everything including the kitchen sink.

This small batch cherry jam recipe has a cleanup rating of a 2. There’s a large pot, a few measuring bowls, and an immersion blender (or knife and cutting board). I used a lemon juicer to juice a fresh lemon, but you can also use bottled lemon juice if desired to cut down on the dishes even more.

Dishes used to make small batch cherry jam on a kitchen counter.
If you already have pitted and halved cherries in your freezer, you’ll have even fewer dishes left to do up!

Cherry Jam Recipe—Small Batch

Thanks so much for stopping by!
If you make this small batch of cherry jam and love it, please don’t forget to rate the recipe five stars—even better if you leave a short written review!

Yield: a little less than two half-pint jars, about 14 oz

Small Batch Cherry Jam

A small spoon scoops cherry jam out of a half-pint jar.

Quick and easy small batch cherry jam recipe made with no pectin—just dark sweet cherries, sugar, and a little lemon juice! Use finely chopped cherries to start or blend together at the end for a perfectly thick cherry jam.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Additional Time 8 hours
Total Time 8 hours 35 minutes


  • about 2 ½ cups halved and pitted sweet cherries, fresh or frozen (400 g)*
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (200 g)
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice, from about one lemon (30 ml)


Making the Cherry Jam

  1. In a medium pot,** add the prepared cherries, sugar, and lemon juice.
  2. Heat over medium, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and the syrup turns dark red, about 5 minutes from fresh and 10 minutes from frozen.
  3. Bring the jam to a rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. Cook for 8-10 minutes, until the jam has thickened and reached 220°F/105°C, then remove from hear. (Test the consistency by placing a few drops of the liquid jam on a cool plate. Allow the jam to cool for 15-20 seconds, then tilt the plate vertically. If the jam starts to run, it's not ready; cook for another minute before re-testing. If the jam stays largely in place, remove from heat.)
  4. Use an immersion blender to reduce the size of the cherry pieces in the jam. Ensure the blender head stays fully submerged, tilting the pan if needed, and blend for just a few seconds at a time until no large pieces of cherry remain.
  5. Pour into jars, seal, and refrigerate. The cherry jam will thicken as it cools; for best results, allow the jam to set overnight.


*Due to the lack of natural pectin, you need very small pieces of cherry for the jam to set properly. You may either finely chop your cherries prior to adding them to the pot or cook the jam with cherry halves and blend it before storing. I personally prefer to use an immersion blender at the end, but if you don't have one, finely chopping your cherries in advance will work.

**Jam tends to bubble up quite a bit. Use a larger pot than you think you'll need to prevent the jam from boiling over!

Once opened, a jar of cherry jam will last for up to three months in the refrigerator. You may also freeze unopened jars of this cherry jam for up to one year.

This recipe can be processed for long-term storage; see the USDA's website for more information on how to safely can jams.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

1 oz

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 64Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 0gSugar: 16gProtein: 0g

The nutrition facts are estimated and may vary based on specific ingredients used.

I’d love to see how your cherry jam turns out: Take a photo and tag me on Instagram @floralapronblog to share with me, or use the hashtag #floralapronbakes.

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