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Every year, I look forward to cherry season. The fleeting weeks that cherries are in season means I buy pounds and pounds of them, more than I can eat by themselves. And because my eyes are always bigger than my stomach, I often have bags of cherries that I need to use before they go bad.
That’s when I scramble to make cherry recipes to use up these cherries. I end up making cherry pie, cherry cobbler, and cherry clafoutis along with adding cherries to my yogurt and breakfast cereal. And when I can’t eat any more cherries, I freeze the fruit for later use.
But the biggest difficulty in using cherries in recipes and freezing them is having to pit them. And though there are hacks and ways to pit cherries without a specialized piece of equipment, if you like cherries as much as I do, it’s worth investing in a cherry pitter. After testing eight of the top cherry pitters, I found the OXO Good Grips Cherry and Olive Pitter to be your best bet.
Whether you want an ergonomic handheld version or an affordable option, here are my picks for the best cherry pickers out there.
Best Overall: OXO Good Grips Cherry and Olive Pitter
What We Love: Easy to clean, matte plastic finish allows for easy grip when wet, comfortable for the occasional large batch
What We Don't Love: Pit occasionally gets trapped in hole, can still be a little messy
The OXO Good Grips Cherry and Olive pitter is my pick for the best overall cherry pitter. Its matte finish and nonslip grip make it easier to grasp than other cherry pitters and keeps hand fatigue to a minimum. The curved arc metal prong has a cross shape at the end, which slides into the cherry smoothly and leaves a smaller hole. Best of all, it’s very reasonably priced.
The open design for the cherry, with a smaller dip in the middle, means you can pit larger cherries or smaller ones as well as olives. The removable juice guard makes it easier to clean, but keep in mind, like most handheld cherry pitters, it’s not completely perfect. During my tests, I found that you never want to wear a nice, white shirt while pitting cherries, as juice might squirt out, regardless of the pitter. The die-cast zinc pitter is durable, dishwasher safe, and locks in the closed position for easy storage. One caveat I had is I felt the locking device was a little small and hard to pull.
"I'm a huge fan of cherries, but not so much of pitting them. Though the OXO Good Grips pitter only handles one at a time, it makes processing a pound of cherries go quickly and with less mess. Just make sure to pit them over the sink since large cherries can spurt a bit, even with the juice guard." — Siobhan Wallace, Commerce Editor
Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 3.25 inches | Capacity: 1 cherry | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
Best Budget: Locisne Cherry Pitter
What We Love: Latches shut for easy storage, extended front lip allows you to roll cherries into place easily
What We Don't Love: Harder to clean, causes hand fatigue
This budget pitter might be a good fit for those who only need to pit cherries once or twice a season and don’t want to invest more money. The Locisne Cherry Pitter is very reasonably priced, and similar to the OXO Good Grips pitter, though not as comfortable or sturdy. The pitter is made of hard plastic, so long-term durability might be an issue. The juice guard also does not come apart, making cleaning the gadget a little more cumbersome.
All that said, the pitter is dishwasher safe, so that’s a good cleaning solution for anyone with a dishwasher, and the pitter does lock for easy storage. The inner silicone ring where you place the cherry help to grip it as you pit and is a very nice touch. But I found during testing that the top guide above where the cherry goes in is a little narrow, so very large cherries might not fit or would be awkward to insert or remove. However, the bottom “lip” that extends out from the front of the pitter allows you to easily roll the cherry into place, without having to maneuver it precisely into the slot, which speeds up the pitting process.
Dimensions: 8 x 1.5 x 3.5 inches | Capacity: 1 cherry | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
Best for Multiple Cherries: OXO Good Grips Multiple Cherry Pitter
What We Love: Pits 6 cherries at a time, large nonslip grip top reduces hand and arm fatigue, removable pit tray for easy disposal
What We Don't Love: Cherry release plastic shield is difficult to use, bulky and hard to store
If you’re looking to pit multiple cherries at once, the OXO Quick Release Multi-Cherry Pitter is a great investment. Since it clamps down with a large, flat, nonslip grip top, I found this leads to less hand fatigue than a squeeze-style pitter. Put the pitter on top of a bowl, place 6 cherries in the tray, and press down firmly on the top, to pierce each cherry with a prong and push the pits into a tray underneath. When you open it up, the cherries will be stuck to the prongs, so pull down on the cherry release shield and the cherries will fall into the bowl the pitter is sitting on.
The ability to pit multiple cherries means you’ll get through a batch of cherries quicker than the individual cherry pitters. But be warned that you need the right size bowl for the pitter to balance on the top, something I discovered during testing. The falling cherries also tend to mostly fall down into the bowl, but occasionally a stray rogue cherry will go bouncing off onto the counter or table. The pitter is also larger than a single cherry pitter, so that means it’s not quite as easy to store, though the lid does rest closed, making it more compact.
Dimensions: 8.5 x 3.5 x 2.25 inches | Capacity: 6 cherries | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
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Best for Big Batches: Leifheit Cherry Pitter with Stone Catcher Container
What We Love: Pits large batches quickly, slanted feeding mechanism automates the cherries input, sturdy design
What We Don't Love: Pricey, larger with multiple components and thus more difficult to store
If you own a cherry tree or buy large bulk amounts of cherries to make preserves and desserts, the Leifheit cherry pitter with stone catcher container is the device you need. Instead of individually placing cherries into a pitter or a tray, you just place them all in a large heap on the top of this device. The slanted hopper feeds into a narrow slot where cherries line up. Press down on the punching handle and the cherries are pitted quickly, falling out of the chute into a bowl placed under the chute, with the pits falling into the clear container underneath the pitter.
The company claims that you can pit 25 pounds of cherries in an hour. I didn't explore if that is true during my tests, though you’d have to be pretty quick and relentless to process that many cherries. Still, processing large batches of cherries with the Leifheit is significantly faster than individually placing them into a single or multi-cherry pitter. Keep in mind that the Leifheit device is the bulkiest of all the devices I recommend. The components do break down and can be stored inside the plastic bin, which makes it a little more compact when stored. Multiple components do mean more pieces to wash when it's time to clean up.
Dimensions: 9.5 x 4.25 x 11.25 inches | Capacity: Multiple cherries | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
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Most Durable: Instecho Cherry Pitter Push Button for Glass Jar
What We Love: Classic easy-to-use design, durable metal pieces, small and easy-to-store
What We Don't Love: Requires a mason jar to use, metal push button is small and isn’t comfortable for large batches
Almost all cherry pitters wear out after multiple uses, but the Cherry Pitter Push Button for Glass Jars is made to last. This pitter attaches to the top of a regular-mouth mason jar, then you place the cherry under the metal spring, and press down. The spring punches the pit out of the cherry and into the jar underneath it.
Though it sounds similar to other individual cherry pitters, unlike the squeeze kind of pitter, this push button style is easier on the hand and wrist and won’t cause cramping when pitting small batches. It’s also one of the smaller mechanical pitters on this list, measuring around 4 inches without a jar attached. More importantly, the all-metal lid and spring mean the pitter will last a long time. The only piece you’ll have to replace is the rubber gasket that the cherry sits on. Users and reviewers say it eventually gets stretched out, though I didn't experience that during my tests. Otherwise, the unit will last you through many cherry seasons.
"I have the Instecho Cherry Pitter and really love it! It's simple but effective!" — Emma Christensen, Associate General Manager
Dimensions: 3 inches x 3 inches x 4.25 inches | Capacity: 1 cherry | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
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Best for Garnishes: Triangle Germany Cherry Pitter
What We Love: Small and easy to store, allows you to remove pit while leaving stem on, nothing to break or wearout
What We Don’t Love: Has a learning curve, takes more time to pit cherries, messy
Unlike other cherry pitters, The Triangle German Cherry Pitter does not have a mechanical prong that is inserted to push the cherry pit out. Instead, it has a small metal hooked loop that you insert into a cherry (or olive) and that pulls out the pit. This means there is only one hole made in the cherry, instead of two.
Though they recommend you insert the pitter into the top end of the cherry, where the stem is, I found you can easily insert the pitter into the bottom end, removing the pit and leaving the stem intact. This makes the pitter great for garnishing desserts and drinks where the stem can remain as a decorative element. The Triangle German Cherry Pitter does take some practice, with the first few cherries getting mangled as you learn to swivel and dig the cherry pit out. And even after you get the hang of it, pitting cherries with this tool is slower and messier. Still for a reasonable price, this is a great pitter for those who only want to pit a few cherries for decoration and garnishing.
Dimensions: 5.25 x 0.75 x 0.25 inches | Capacity: 1 cherry | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
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For most folks who only need a small and compact pitter for the all-too-quick cherry season, the OXO Good Grips Cherry and Olive Pitter is the perfect device. If you regularly need to get through a pound or two of cherries, the OXO Good Grips Multiple Cherry Pitter will be a game-changer.
What Are the Other Options?
Chef'n QuickPit Cherry Pitter Preserve Prep Lid: As a lower-end model of cherry pitter, I tested this as a contender for our budget pick. The small device screws into the top of a canning jar, and then you pit the cherry via a top handle, which works well in theory. But during testing, I found the design to be awkward and the handle didn't always pull up enough to release the cherry. This aspect led to constant fussing instead of pitting cherries and for that, I can't recommend this.
Prepworks by Progressive by Progressive Cherry-It Cherry Pitter: Similar to the OXO multi-pitter, the tray-like pitter can handle up to four large or small cherries at a time—the tray is reversible for the different sizes—which is a great aspect. As I was testing it though, the pitted cherries didn't always release and sometimes bounced everywhere, leading to a mess. I feel you're better off with the OXO model if you want to pit more than one cherry at a time.
How We Tested
Our tester and writer Irvin Lin sifted through dozens of highly-rated cherry pitters, closely looking at consumer reviews and available manufacturer information, to choose his top picks. We then purchased these products for Irvin so he could put them to the test in his home kitchen. After looking over the instructions, he pitted pounds of fresh cherries. He assessed each for consistency in pitting and how easy (or difficult) it was to use.
After testing, Irvin submitted feedback about what he liked and didn’t like about each product and rated each one on the following features: Performance, Design, Ease of Cleaning, and Overall Value. Learn more about how we test products.
What to Look for in a Cherry Pitter
Cherry pitters come in a variety of styles, from handheld squeezing, tabletop multiple cherry pitting, hopper-style, and garnishing tools. Each one has its own advantages and disadvantages.
Handheld cherry pitters often pit one at a time. Look for ones that are easy to grip, so your hand doesn’t get fatigued after pitting too many cherries, and lock closed for easy storage.
Hopper-style pitters will have you place piles of cherries in the hopper. The cherries are funneled into a tunnel, you push down on the level and it punches out the pits of the cherry. Then the cherry falls down into a bowl. Repeat pushing the level and you’re processing cherries back-to-back fast. This is great for large batches of cherries, but the downside is that hopper-style pitters are larger, taking up more storage space, cost more, and have more components to clean.
Tabletop style multiple cherry pitters have you placing the cherry in the machine and pressing down on the top of the unit, punching down on the cherry to pit it. They are more ergonomic and don’t fatigue your hand as much as the handheld kind. And they often will pit more than one cherry at a time. But they take up more storage space, require some extra counter space to use, and are slightly more expensive than handheld squeezing pitters, though they cost less than a hopper-style pitter.
Finally, garnishing tools allow you to pit cherries and olives by just inserting the tool and digging the pit out. These only create one hole in the cherry or olive and are ideal for making garnishes. They are relatively inexpensive but are slower to use and take a little bit of practice. Pick this tool if you only pit a few cherries at a time for decorative use. They’re not ideal for large batches of cherries.
Multi-Pitter vs. Single Pitter
The capacity of the pitter you want will depend on how often and how many cherries you pit in a season. If you only pit enough cherries for a pie or cobbler once or twice a season, an individual single pitter will most likely be fine for you. It pits cherries slower, but it also takes up way less storage space. But if you own a cherry tree, you regularly make cherry preserves or chutney, or just love cherries a lot and know you’ll be pitting large batches of cherries every season, a multi-pitter will be worth the investment in money and kitchen storage space.
Pitting fruit will make a mess, no matter how great your device is. There will always be stray juice that squirts about, but a good cherry pitter will minimize accidents. Look at how the design of the pitter is and if it has juice guards in place to minimize mess. Also, check to see how easy the pitter comes apart for clean-up after the pitting session and if it is dishwasher safe.
Are cherry pits toxic to humans?
You may have heard that cherry pits have cyanide in them, which is a dangerous toxin. And that’s true. But it’s a little more complicated than that. The seeds of a cherry, like all summer stone fruit, contain an internal kernel on the inside. And when that kernel is exposed to the plant’s enzyme (which happens when you crack open the seed) the kernel forms cyanide.
What does this mean? If an adult were to accidentally swallow one cherry pit by itself, most likely it will pass through the body intact. But if an adult were to chew on one pit and break it open when swallowing the pit, the kernel will be exposed, and that cyanide is ingested. But fear not! Someone would have to ingest seven to nine cherry pit kernels to actually be poisoned. Most adult bodies are able to handle and process the cyanide in small amounts without any issues. Morello cherries have more cyanide in them, but someone would still have to swallow 3 or 4 cracked pits to be in any real danger.
Of course, cherry pits can pose a choking hazard, so avoiding swallowing them is probably a good idea. Young children have smaller bodies, so they are more susceptible to cyanide poisoning. So definitely teach your kids to spit out the cherry pits as well as other stone fruit seeds. Or just use a cherry pitter to serve them pit-free cherries.
Can you use a cherry pitter for other tasks?
Cherry pitters seem like a bit of a unitasker, something you use in the summertime for one fruit and then put away for the rest of the year. But if you are a fan of olives, which are conveniently jarred and available all year, you can use the cherry pitter to pit the olives. Some cherry pitters work better at pitting olives than others. And some cherry pitters require you to place the olives in a certain direction for optimum pitting, so experiment a bit with the pitter that you own to make sure it will work for olives.
Why Trust Simply Recipes?
This article is written by Irvin Lin, a cookbook author of "Marbled, Swirled, and Layered" and an ongoing contributor to Simply Recipes. He runs his own blog Eat the Love, is a professional recipe developer, and an enthusiastic stone fruit and cherry fanatic. He’s cooked and baked with cherries for nearly all his life. For this article, he consulted various websites and articles, looked at numerous product reviews, and talked with cherry tree owners about their favorite cherry pitters.
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Poison Control. I swallowed a cherry pit! Accessed December 2021.
Bolarinwa IF, Orfila C, Morgan MRA. Amygdalin content of seeds, kernels and food products commercially-available in the UK. Food Chemistry. 2014;152:133-139. doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2013.11.002