Breaking pie news!

By Sarra Sedghi
June 27, 2019

It’s finally almost July, and that can only mean one thing: cherry pie season. Cherries are at their peak right now, and a certain American holiday on the horizon pretty much guarantees you’ll have a slice of cherry pie right before gazing at fireworks. 

But to new bakers, pie can be intimidating, especially when it’s filled with a finicky fruit like fresh cherries. While nothing beats homemade cherry pie, there’s no shame in using a canned filling, which leaves little margin for error. Plus, some canned pie filling is downright delicious. 

So we did that thing we do: We bought every brand of cherry pie filling we could find and baked pies using the same crust for each one. Then we held a blind pie tasting, pitting the fillings against one another. Here’s what everyone thought. 

Get the recipe: Stars-and-Stripes Cherry Pie

The Contenders

Duncan Hines Comstock Original Country Cherry Pie Filling & Topping

Duncan Hines

Along with Betty Crocker and Pillsbury, Duncan Hines has a monopoly on the baking market. They have 12 different varieties of cherry pie filling, and our local Publix didn’t even carry them all, so we went with the option that looked the best. Perhaps we made the wrong choice. Comstock Country Cherry was way too sweet, with a goopy, gelatinous texture, and definitely not what we’d expect out of a brand that makes pretty good box mix. In the words of Tyra Banks, “we were all rooting for you. How dare you?”  

 

Solo Cherry Cake & Pastry Filling

Walmart

When I dumped Solo’s cherry filling into a pie crust, it stood out. The cherries in this filling were pureed instead of bulbous balls, so I hypothesized that the Solo pie would have a distinct flavor. Well, that’s not the only thing the pureed cherries affected. This pie was super sweet, but also thick and sticky like the filling inside a Pop-Tart. One taster noted that it tasted “like canned filling with sugar added on top,” which was, in this case, a compliment. 

 

Lucky Leaf Cherry Fruit Filling & Topping

Walmart

Unlike the first two, Lucky Leaf's filling had a key component of quintessential cherry pie: tartness. This filling had a nice mixture of tart and sweet flavors, but it wasn’t tangy enough to secure the top spot. One taster also noted that this filling had an artificial, metallic aftertaste.

 

The Unanimous Winner: Market Pantry Cherry Pie Filling & Topping

Target

Market Pantry, better known as Target’s in-house brand, was the only pie filling that didn’t get any negative responses. (Interestingly enough, Market Pantry also won our chocolate chip taste test, so clearly they’re doing something right.) Our Market Pantry pie had a great tartness and wasn’t overly sweet like the other brands. The cherries tasted and felt real, and the filling’s texture was much more enjoyable. If you prefer less tartness, then Lucky Leaf is probably the way to go. But if you’re looking for a cherry pie filling that’s both tangy and flavorful, then it’s time for a Target run. 

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