This cherry cake is sweet, fruity, and pretty easy to make. Each bite is bursting with cherry flavor that will make you want a second slice!
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I have always loved maraschino cherries. I have been eating them straight out of the jar for as long as I can remember! Cherries on top of ice cream, cherries in fruit salad, and cherry desserts like Cherry Pie and No-Bake Cherry Cheesecake all remind me of my childhood. I wanted to create a cherry cake that captured my love for cherries but was also easy enough to make in a hurry. I think this cherry cake recipe captured it all!
Cherry Cake Recipe
One of the secrets to making the best cherry cake is to not only use the maraschino cherries from the jar but to also use the cherry juice. Cherry juice gives the cake a very subtle pink color and also helps make it a very moist cherry cake recipe. This cake stays moist for days thanks to that cherry juice!
The juice also makes it a very cherry cake. You can never have too many cherries if you ask me! So go grab a jar of maraschino cherries right now so you can start making this cake. You might want to get two jars of cherries while you’re at it—you will want a few extra to use as a garnish (or to just eat plain!).
Ingredients for Cherry Cake
See recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.
- Vegetable oil
- Whole milk
- Maraschino cherry juice – One 10-ounce jar of cherries will have about ¼ – ½ cup of juice which is plenty for the cake and frosting.
- White cake mix – Any brand will work but I love Betty Crocker Super Moist White.
- Maraschino cherries – Cut the cherries into quarters so there will be cherry pieces in every bite of the cake. One 10-ounce jar will have about 20 cherries.
- Cream cheese – Be sure to grab regular cream cheese and not lite cream cheese, which tends to separate when whipped into a frosting.
- Butter – Unsalted butter is best for baking.
- Powdered sugar – Powdered sugar melts into the frosting, leaving behind no gritty texture and a sweet, sugary taste.
Here are a few ingredient substitutions and alterations that you may want to try.
- Bake this cake in two 8-inch round cake pans. Once the cakes are cooled, you can remove them from the pans and use the cherry frosting to seal them together, making a round, stacked cake.
- Replace the vanilla extract with the same amount of almond extract. Cherries and almond taste delicious together.
- Try using chocolate cake mix to make a chocolate cherry cake.
How to Make Cherry Cake
- Prepare: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 9×13 cake pan. Set the pan aside for now.
- Make the cake batter: Mix the cake mix, eggs, oil, cherry juice, and vanilla together in a large bowl. The batter will be thick and smooth. Stir in the chopped cherries. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and spread it to make a smooth layer.
- Bake: Bake the cake for about 30 minutes. The top will be golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake will come out clean.
- Cool: Let the cake cool for about 30 minutes.
- Make the frosting: Beat the butter and cream cheese together until smooth. Add the powdered sugar and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy. Stir in the vanilla and cherry juice.
- Frost the cake: Spread the frosting across the top of the cake. Add some extra cherries as a garnish then slice and serve.
You can make this cake in advance and freeze it to enjoy later on. If you plan of freezing the cake, I recommend skipping the frosting part of the recipe and freezing the uniced cake. When you are ready to eat the cake, thaw it at room temperature for about 2 hours then make the frosting and add it to the room temperature cake. It will be as perfect as the day it was made!
How to Store Cherry Cake
Once your cake has cooled, you can wrap the pan loosely in plastic wrap and store the cake at room temperature for 3-4 days. You can also keep the cake in the fridge for up to a week. The cake stays softer when at room temperature but it is still delicious straight out of the fridge!
You can use fresh cherries in place of maraschino cherries in this cherry cake recipe. Fresh cherries will make the cake less sweet. Use twenty, pitted bing cherries and mix them into the cake batter to make a fresh cherry cake.
Pat the chopped cherries with a paper towel to dry them. Then, toss the dried cherries with a tablespoon of flour. The flour will help keep the cherries suspended in the cake batter.
Cherry cake can dry out when baked too long. Make sure you take the cake out of the oven when the top is a light golden brown. Cake can also dry out if the oil, milk or cherry juice is measured wrong. Make sure you use the proper amounts of each ingredient to get a moist cherry cake!
- Small mixing bowl
- Measuring cup
- Measuring spoon
- 9×13 baking dish
- Offste spatula or knife
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 3 eggs
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 1/4 cup maraschino cherry juice (from the jar of cherries)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 box (15.25 ounces) white cake mix
- 20 maraschino cherries, sliced into quarters
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons maraschino cherry juice (from the jar of cherries)
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 9×13 baking pan.
- Start by making the cake. Add the eggs, oil, milk, cherry juice and vanilla to a large mixing bowl and mix together with an electric mixer.
- Add the cake mix to the bowl and stir to make a smooth batter.
- Fold in the chopped cherries then pour the batter into the prepared pan. Spread it flat within the pan and then bake for 30 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center of the cake will come out clean.
- Let the cake cool in the pan for about 30 minutes.
- To make the frosting, beat the butter and cream cheese together until smooth. Make sure you scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times so there are no chunks.
- Add the powdered sugar to the bowl and beat until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and cherry juice and stir.
- Spread the frosting over the top of the cake then slice and serve!