This cherry rhubarb pie boasts a sweet, jammy filling with the fresh flavors of sour cherries and rhubarb. It's a pie for fruit lovers who want the essence of the ingredients to shine through. It has an exceptionally flaky all-butter crust that's easy to make and handle. Use fresh or frozen fruit to make the filling!
Sour cherries are a fantastic fruit for pie-making, with their unique combination of tart and sweet flavors. The sour tang from the cherries helps ensure this pie doesn't lean too sweet, creating a perfectly balanced taste.
Their bright red color adds a beautiful visual appeal to this pie, while their juicy, plump texture provides satisfying bite. They hold up well in baking, maintaining their shape and texture, and their distinct flavor pairs well with a variety of other fruits and spices.
With a filling of sour cherries paired with rhubarb, you might worry this pie tastes too tart. However, I've found that it works beautifully. The sugar called for is just the right amount to balance out the tartness. It's a perfect pie for anyone who wants the natural flavors of the fruit to be the main focus.
Using tapioca flour as the thickener for the cherry rhubarb filling creates a luscious and jammy consistency without any clouding or floury, chalky taste.
This recipe makes enough all-butter pie dough for both a bottom crust and a dramatic diamond lattice top. The lattice adds both a beautiful visual appeal and a crispy, crunchy texture that perfectly complements the soft, juicy filling.
For another sour cherry recipe, check out this black-forest inspired sour cherry chocolate tart. And for more rhubarb pies, there's this rhubarb apple pie with ginger and lemongrass, and this rhubarb and strawberry slab pie with lime zest.
These notes will help you to select and prepare the ingredients for this old fashioned cherry rhubarb pie recipe. Not all ingredients are mentioned here.
* See recipe card for full list of ingredients and quantities.
FOR THE PIE DOUGH
- Unsalted butter - Butter should be cubed in ½ inch (1.25 centimeter) pieces and chilled. Using unsalted butter allows you to control the total quantity of salt in the recipe. Salt content in salted butter varies from brand to brand.
- Turbinado sugar - The unbaked pie is brushed with egg wash and then sprinkled with golden Turbinado sugar (affiliate link). It's also known as raw sugar. It add a delightful crispy texture and a bit of sweetness to the crust.
FOR THE SOUR CHERRY RHUBARB PIE FILLING
- Sour cherries - I've tested this recipe with sour cherries, a mix of sour and dark sweet cherries, and all sweet cherries. They all work well! You can use either fresh or frozen cherries.
- If your cherries are particularly sweet, feel free to reduce the total sugar in the filling to 150 grams (¾ cup).
- If using frozen cherries, be sure to defrost the fruit and drain the juices first.
- Rhubarb - You can use either fresh or frozen rhubarb for this recipe, as long as it's diced into roughly ¼ inch pieces.
- Tapioca flour - Tapioca flour (also called tapioca starch) combines beautifully with fruit and sugar to create a clear, cloudless, tasteless gel.
- Tapioca flour is ground from the root of the cassava plant, native to South America.
- Check labels to ensure that your tapioca flour is sourced from cassava. Some packages substitute with sago, the inner portion of the sago palm tree, which will give you unsatisfying results.
Learn how to make this sour cherry and rhubarb pie! These photos provide visual cues. Find the detailed instructions in the recipe card.
Add flour and salt to a large mixing bowl. Add chilled butter cubes and toss to coat with flour.
Using your fingers, squeeze each cube of butter to flatten it. Continue to toss flour mixture with butter to make sure it's coated.
Continue cutting butter into flour mixture (with your hands or a pastry blender) until the butter is in flattish, pecan-sized pieces.
Form a well in the center of the dry mixture. Pour in chilled water and vinegar. Mix liquid into dough with a spoon.
Using your hands, lift edges of the rough dough mass, turn them inwards and press them firmly down. Repeat this, turning bowl, until you can gather dough into a rough ball, and there are no loose pieces at bottom of bowl.
Gather the dough into a ball. Divide into two equal pieces and flatten each into a disc. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Remove both discs of dough from the fridge and let rest for about 15 minutes. Roll one disc into a 10 inch diameter circle on a piece of lightly floured parchment paper. Use a bit of flour as needed to keep the rolling pin from sticking.
Transfer dough to pie pan and press into base. Trim edges so there is a ½ inch overhang. Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator to chill. In a large bowl, mix filling ingredients together. Let sit for 15 minutes to thicken a bit.
Roll out second disc of dough to a 10 inch diameter circle. With a sharp knife and a ruler, cut lattice strips in ¾ inch lengths.
Drain off extra liquid from filling and pour into bottom crust of pie. Place lattice strips onto top of pie in a diamond weave. (Place half of strips in one direction, then weave in second half of strips making an X shape. The holes between lattice should form a diamond pattern.) Trim lattice strips at inner edge of bottom crust.
Fold bottom edge down under itself to create double layer at edge of pie pan.
Crimp the pie crust. Brush the lattice and crust with egg wash and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Place in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes.
Bake pie for 50-60 minutes, until crust is golden brown and the juices of the cherry rhubarb pie filling are bubbling in the middle (not just at the sides). Cool fully prior to slicing so that filling has a chance to set.
Hint: Before baking the pie, chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes so that the butter in the crust is cold. This will help ensure your pie crust bakes up flaky and crispy and maintains its structure.
- Sour cherries - If you are not able to source sour cherries, you can substitute with regular dark cherries. You can leave the amount of sugar as-is, or adjust down to 150 grams (¾ cup) as desired.
- Tapioca flour - While I recommend tapioca flour for this recipe, if you just can't find tapioca flour, you can make this cherry rhubarb pie with cornstarch. You will need 20 grams corn starch (just under 3 tablespoons). Note that corn starch will cause the fruit filling to cloud when it gels.
I chose to keep the flavors simple to focus on the cherries and rhubarb, but you could easily add warming spices:
- Spiced - Add a blend of spices such as cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom and allspice to the filling. I'd start with ½ teaspoon of cinnamon and choose a few of the others, keeping them each to ¼ or ⅛ teaspoon. Using them sparingly will keep them from overpowering the natural flavors of the fruit.
- Flavored crust - Consider adding spices to the pie crust instead of the filling for a unique twist on the above pie variation. Increase the amount of cinnamon to 2 teaspoons. Mix in with the flour before working in the butter.
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Pie pan - I love USA Bakeware pans. This 9 inch pie pan works very well.
Pie shield - I often use a pie shield to protect the outer crust from getting too dark during baking. It's quick to place and saves you the fuss of wrestling with small pieces of aluminum foil. (If you need to tent the whole pie, it's still easiest to use a big piece of aluminum foil.)
Store: After baking, wrap leftover cooled pie in plastic wrap and store at room temperature (if not in a hot climate) up to 2 days. Store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Freeze: To freeze your baked pie, first make sure it is fully cooled. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and a layer of foil and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. To defrost, place in refrigerator overnight.
Reheat: If you'd like to reheat your pie, cover top loosely with foil and bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177° C, Gas Mark 4) until warm in the middle, about 15-20 minutes.
Make ahead: You can mix up the pie dough a day or two in advance. Well wrapped, it will keep in the fridge for 3 days, and up to 3 months in the freezer. Place frozen dough into the refrigerator overnight to defrost.
These tips will help you make sure your pie dough is flaky and crisp!
Use cold butter - Make sure your butter is cold before adding it to the flour mixture. When the cold butter is mixed with the flour, it creates distinct layers of butter throughout the dough. During baking, the water in the butter turns to steam and creates air pockets in the dough. This results in a flaky texture. If the butter is too warm or melted, it won't have the same effect and the crust might turn out dense or tough.
Use cold liquid - When adding water and vinegar to the dough, make sure they are ice-cold. This helps to keep the butter cold.
Don't overwork the dough - Overworking the dough can cause the butter to melt and result in a tough crust. It also encourages excess gluten development, which you want to avoid. Mix the dough just until it comes together.
Chill the dough - After mixing the dough, wrap it in plastic wrap and chill it in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. This keeps the butter cold and gives the gluten a chance to relax, which will make it easier to roll out the dough. It also keeps the pie crust from shrinking when it's baked!
Chill the pie right before baking - To ensure that the pie dough is firm before it goes into the hot oven, chill the fully assembled pie for 15 minutes in the freezer or 30 minutes in the refrigerator before baking.
A runny pie (or a burnt mess at the bottom of the oven) is the worst! To ensure you have success, follow these suggestions:
Carefully measure your thickener - This recipe calls for tapioca starch to thicken the fruit juices. I recommend using a digital kitchen scale to make sure the amount is accurate. Thickeners are not equal. If you choose to make this cherry rhubarb pie without tapioca flour and replace the thickener with a different type, make sure it's the appropriate amount for the quantity of fruit and sugar.
Rest the filling mixture - After stirring all the filling ingredients together, let the mixture sit for 15 minutes so the tapioca starch begins to thicken.
Drain extra juices - After the filling rests, stir it together and then scoop the fruit mixture into the bottom pie crust. Don't pour in the additional juices.
Bake on a foil lined rimmed baking sheet - Even with all the above precautions, sometimes a bit of the juices bubble over. Save yourself a big mess and line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil to catch any drips for easier cleanup!
Bake until the filling bubbles in the center - To ensure the filling is fully baked, bake the pie until it begins to form juicy bubbles at the center - not just at the edges.
Fully cool the pie - This may be the hardest part of all! As the pie cools, the tapioca starch will set into a gel. If you cut into the pie too soon, the juices will still be thin and runny. The pie won't have structure and the filling will collapse.
If you liked this rhubarb cherry pie recipe, you'll enjoy these other pies and galettes too!
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Cherry Rhubarb PiePrint Recipe Pin Recipe
All Butter Pie Dough
- 15 mL (1 Tablespoon) vinegar (chilled)
- 60 mL (¼ cup) water (chilled)
- 300 grams (2½ cups) all purpose flour
- 1 tsp kosher salt (I use Diamond Crystal)
- 226 grams (1 cup; 8 ounces) unsalted butter (in ½ inch cubes, chilled)
- 1 large egg (for egg wash)
- 5 mL (1 teaspoon) water (for egg wash)
- 24 grams (2 Tablespoons) Turbinado sugar (to sprinkle on crust before baking)
Cherry Rhubarb Pie Filling
- 450 grams (3 cups) sour cherries
- 244 grams (2 cups) rhubarb (cut in ¼ inch pieces)
- 30 mL (2 Tablespoons) lemon juice
- 40 grams (⅓ cup) tapioca flour (also called tapioca starch)
- 200 grams (1 cup) granulated sugar
ALL BUTTER PIE DOUGH
- Place vinegar and water into a small cup in the freezer to chill.15 mL (1 Tablespoon) vinegar, 60 mL (¼ cup) water
- In a large bowl, combine flour and salt with a whisk. Add cubed butter to the flour mixture and toss to coat butter pieces.300 grams (2½ cups) all purpose flour, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 226 grams (1 cup; 8 ounces) unsalted butter
- Using your fingers, squeeze each cube of butter to flatten it into a wide, thin layer. Continue to toss flour mixture with butter to make sure it's coated.
- Continue cutting butter into flour mixture (with your hands or a pastry blender) until the butter is in flattish, pecan-sized pieces.
- Form a well in the center of the dry mixture. Pour in chilled water and vinegar. Using a bench scraper or a heavy spatula or wooden spoon, push the mixture back and forth until the liquid has been absorbed into the dry ingredients. Using your hands, lift the edges of the rough dough mass, turn them inwards and press them firmly down. Repeat this, turning the bowl, until you can gather the dough into a rough ball, and there are no loose pieces at the bottom of the bowl.
- On a work surface, divide dough into two equal pieces and flatten each into a disc. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
- Remove both discs of dough from the fridge and let rest for about 15 minutes. On a piece of lightly floured parchment paper, roll one disc into an 11 inch diameter circle. (Roll the dough out by placing the rolling pin in the center of the circle and firmly pressing down while moving the pin towards the outer edge of the dough. Turn the dough clockwise 90 degrees and continue this process of rolling and turning until the dough forms a circle approximately 10 inches in diameter. Use a bit of flour as needed to keep the rolling pin from sticking.)
- Lift dough onto your 9 inch pie pan. Center it carefully, pressing down into the base and corners to be sure there are no air pockets trapped underneath. Trim the outer edge so that it uniformly overlaps the edge of the tin by ½ inch. Wrap in plastic wrap and place into the refrigerator to chill.
- On a piece of parchment paper, roll the second disc of dough into a circle 10 inches in diameter. Using a knife and a ruler, cut lattice strips in ¾ inch widths. Transfer the strips on the parchment to a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to chill.
CHERRY RHUBARB PIE FILLING
- In a large bowl, combine sour cherries and diced rhubarb. Add lemon juice, sugar and tapioca flour. Fold ingredients together gently until completely blended. Let sit for 15 minutes to thicken slightly.450 grams (3 cups) sour cherries, 244 grams (2 cups) rhubarb, 40 grams (⅓ cup) tapioca flour, 200 grams (1 cup) granulated sugar, 30 mL (2 Tablespoons) lemon juice
PIE ASSEMBLY AND BAKING
- Scoop pie filling into dough-lined pie pan, leaving extra liquid in the bowl.
- For diamond lattice, evenly space half of lattice strips along the top of the filled pie. Fold back every other strip. Place a strip in the center of the pie at a 45 degree angle to the first strips, forming an X shape. Unfold the folded strips, covering the most recently placed strip. The holes between lattice should form a diamond pattern.
- Repeat this under/over weaving procedure on either side with the remaining strips of dough until you have a fully woven lattice crust. If this seems complex, refer to my detailed post on how to make lattice crusts for additional instruction.
- Trim the edges of the lattice so that they just meet the inner edge of the pie tin. Fold edge of bottom piecrust down under itself to create a double layer at edge of pie pan.
- Crimp the pie crust. In a small bowl, beat egg with water and brush the lattice and crust with egg wash. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Place in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes.1 large egg, 5 mL (1 teaspoon) water, 24 grams (2 Tablespoons) Turbinado sugar
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Line a rimmed baking sheet in aluminum foil (to catch any spills) and place on the lower rack to preheat.
- Place the pie on the hot baking sheet and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until top crust is golden brown and juices at center of pie are bubbling (not just at the edges). At about the 30 minute mark, gently tent pie with aluminum foil to keep top crust from browning too much. Remove from oven and place on a metal rack to cool completely. Pie should be fully cool before slicing to ensure fruit filling has gelled.
- Serve individual slices with sweetened whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
The Floured Table
Recipe Author: Kathleen Culver