How to Pit Cherries (Without a Pitter!)

You have cherries, you have plans. Here’s how you can pit those cherries even if you don’t have a designated cherry pitter!

A white bowl filled with red cherries.

Sally Vargas

Cherries are a relatively low-maintenance fruit because there’s no peeling or coring, but you do still need to pit them!

If you only cook with cherries a few times a year, it might not be worth it to get a designated cherry pitter. Here are four other ways you can pit cherries to get them ready for the pies, preserves, and cakes you are dreaming of!

A bowl of cherries with a handheld cherry pitter to the right to show how to pit cherries.

Sally Vargas

How to Pit Cherries

Cherries have pits, and if you don’t like cracking your fillings, you need to get those pits out before you eat them.

It’s best to remove stems before pitting the cherries. Also, I recommend wearing an apron. Cherry juice spatters quite a bit, and it stains.

Sour cherries are not as firm as sweet cherries. To make pitting easier, chill sour cherries in a bowl of ice water for about half an hour before pitting them.

If you want to use a cherry pitter, by all means, do! Handheld cherry pitters pit cherries one by one. They work well, although the juice guard on some models is too small to allow big cherries to fit. Some of these pitters even double as olive pitters!

Hopper-style cherry pitters can pit a batch of cherries fairly quickly. The cherries go in a hopper, and a spring-mounted plunger drives out the pit and shoots it into a catcher. For pie bakers, this is a good option.

A chef's knife with a partially split cherry with the stem and pit romoved is to the left. A large bowl of cherries is to the right showing the best way to pit cherries.

Sally Vargas

Best ways to pit cherries with a chopstick stuck through a red cherry with the pit laying next to it. A bowl of cherries is in partial view to the right.

Sally Vargas

Other Ways to Pit Cherries

  • Use the flat of a knife: Lay a cherry on a cutting board. Smack it with the flat part of your knife’s blade. This demolishes the cherry, but it works.
  • Use a paper clip: Take a large paper clip and pry it open so it makes an elongated S shape. Hold the cherry with one hand. Dig one loop end of the paper clip into the cherry, twist the fruit, and fish out the loosened pit with the clip.
  • Use a chopstick: Take a bamboo chopstick (the kind that comes with takeout sushi works best). Holding the cherry in one hand, poke the chopstick straight through the cherry to drive the pit out. (A firm, reusable straw works if you don’t have a chopstick.)
  • Use a pastry tip: Take a large metal pastry tip (one that’s not fluted). Set it upright on a cutting board. Push stemmed cherries through the tube.
Best way to pit cherries with a straightened paper clip poked inside a cherry. A pitted cherry is behind it along with a large bowl of cherries.

Sally Vargas

How to pit cherries with a metal pastry tip with a cherry on top with the pit popped out. A bowl of cherries are in partial view to the right.

Sally Vargas

You Prepped Cherries—now It’s Time to Cook!