A Cherry Crisp with Rainier Cherries

A Cherry Crisp with Rainier Cherries

When I moved to Seattle in the summer of 1997, one of the first things I did was go to Pike Place Market. I vividly remember seeing folks at Pike Place Fish Market throwing fish. And I remember my surprise tasting a Rainier cherry for the first time. This cherry crisp with Rainier cherries will make you fall in love with Rainier cherries.

If you aren’t already, that is.

This crisp is my bake for the reddit 52 week baking challenge: week 27 (local favorite). The Rainier cherry was developed in Washington State in the 1950s as a cross between the Bing and the Van. It’s a yellowish cherry and one of the sweetest. Unfortunately, Rainier cherry season is relatively short – just a few weeks – so get them while you can!

I love fruit crisps because they require little preparation if you have previously-made crisp topping in the freezer. So they’re great for a weeknight dessert or a casual weekend dinner with friends. Especially if you top them with ice cream or freshly-whipped whipped cream.

Hints and tips

If you make a lot of cherry desserts, or if you have a young child who loves cherries, I’d recommend buying a handheld cherry pitter (see below). I remove the stem and then typically pit them into a strainer in the sink to be sure I’ve removed the pit.

Bonus: cherry pitters double as olive pitters for large olives.

A sequence of 7 photos showing a handheld cherry pitter pitting a Rainier cherry.

For crisps, I typically estimate about a cup of fruit per person. You want to use a shallow baking pan, but there’s no need to grease the pan for a cherry crisp.

This Rainier cherry crisp uses the same topping as in my breakfast apple crisp.

Bake until the crisp has browned and, for cherry and berry crisps, the juices are starting to bubble thickly through the crisp topping. If the topping has browned before that happens, cover the crisp loosely with foil.

a cupful of halved Rainier cherries and more Rainier cherries on a cutting board.
A shallow baking dish filled with the Rainier cherry mixture
The baked Rainier cherry crisp on a cooling rack

FAQs about this cherry crisp recipe with Rainier cherries

Where do Rainier cherries get their name?

The cherries are named after Mount Rainier (“ray-neer”), which stands at 14,410 feet and dominates the Western Washington skyline. Mount Rainier (aka Tahoma) has the most glacial volume in the lower 48 states and is often used for practice for folks training to climb Denali in Alaska.

What should I serve with this?

I went with vanilla ice cream, but I can imagine that lots of flavors might go well. Double up on the cherry. Or maybe a caramel. Or even a lemon sherbet? Or whipped cream (see below).

How do I make sweetened whipped cream?

You’ll need a hand mixer or stand mixer unless you have some good arm strength (or a lot of friends). Combine 1 cup of cold heavy cream with 2 tbsp powdered (confectioner’s) sugar, and 1/2 tsp vanilla. Mix on high with a hand mixer or medium speed with a stand mixer to your desired consistency, anywhere from soft to firm peaks (when the cream stays in a peak when you lift the beater out and turn it over). But be careful not to overmix or you will have butter!

Could I use other cherries?

Yes, you could substitute other sweet cherries in this crisp recipe.

Could I use frozen cherries?

If you need to have a cherry crisp in the wintertime, yes, you could substitute frozen cherries in this recipe. Just bake them from frozen. Or you could use this recipe to substitute a fruit that might be in season.

How long will this crisp last?

Baked crisp can last for a few days in the fridge. While you can freeze any extra crisp topping for up to 6 months, I personally wouldn’t freeze a fruit crisp. If you really want to freeze your cherry crisp, it would be better to freeze it prior to baking.

Can I substitute other nuts for the almonds?

Yes. This recipe would also work well with pecans or hazelnuts. You’ll just want to sub vanilla for the almond extract.

Can I add spices to this recipe?

Sure, a smidge of cinnamon would work in this recipe to bring out the taste in cherries that aren’t the most flavorful.

What can I substitute for almond extract?

You could use vanilla extract or a small amount of bourbon or Grand Marnier or other liqueur.

What else could I do with Rainier cherries?

My favorite is to eat them raw. Or you could use them in this rainbow fruit tart. But stay tuned for more recipes for Rainier cherries soon!

Rainier cherry crisp

Servings 2
Author uglyducklingbakery


  • Food processor


Almond crisp topping

  • ½ cup toasted almonds
  • ¾ cup (94g/3.3oz) all purpose flour
  • ¼ cup (50g/1.8oz) granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 6 tbsp (85g/3oz) unsalted butter, cut into ~1/2" cubes

Rainier cherries

  • 2 cups Rainier cherries, pitted and halved
  • ¼ cup (50g/1.8oz) granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp almond extract


Almond crisp topping

  • Using a food processor, pulse the nuts about 10 times until chopped. Empty about half of the nuts into a small bowl and set aside.
  • Add the flour, sugars, and salt to the food processor and process until fine.
  • Add the butter and pulse until the butter has been chopped to the size of small peas and the mixture clumps together between your fingers.
  • Add the mixture to the bowl with the nuts and mix.

Rainier cherry crisp

  • Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  • Mix the cut cherries, sugar, lemon juice, and almond extract in a small bowl or directly in the baking dish.
  • Crumble small handfuls of crisp topping over the cherries in the baking dish.
  • Bake until the topping has browned and the cherries are bubbling thickly, about 40 minutes.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature.


  • This recipe will make lots of extra almond crisp topping. Just store the extra in a freezer bag for up to 6 months for quick fruit crisps in serving sizes of one or more.
  • If you want to make this Rainier cherry crisp for more people, I generally estimate 1 cup of fruit per person. Perhaps less if you are serving with ice cream or sweetened whipped cream.

What next?

If you make this cherry crisp with Rainier cherries (or any other cherries), please comment and/or share a pic!

If it’s not 100 degrees where you are, check out some of my pie and pastry recipes.

Or if you just like the combination of cherry and almond, check out this cherry bakewell cocktail.

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Previous challenges:
Week 1: New Year new recipe – blueberry galette
Week 2: seasonal – Smitten Kitchen’s grapefruit pound cake
Week 3: Great British Bake Off – Kate’s sticky toffee apple caramel cake
Week 4: Australia – sausage rolls
Week 5: bite sized – cookies
Week 6: Chinese New Year – mushroom bao
Week 7: new tool – baguette baker
Week 8: chocolate – chocolate peanut butter bonbons
Week 9: timed bake – under 1 hour! chocolate chip scones
Week 10: allergy/diet restriction – macarons
Week 11: quick breads – kale and cheese quick bread
Week 12: signature bake – purple cow bread
Week 13: enriched breads (kale and cheese babka fail)
Week 14: childhood favorite –fudgy triple layer chocolate cake with chocolate ganache frosting
Week 15: decorating challenge – purple velvet cake
Week 16: crispy crunchy – bacon cheddar popcorn
Week 17: p52 of a favorite cookbook, or your favorite blog – chocolate peanut butter drip cake
Week 18: pâte à choux – bacon cheese puffs
Week 19: veggies turned sweet – red velvet beet waffles
Week 20: plating – chocolate chip cookie (butter challenge)
Week 21: Birthday Party! – chocolate orange cake
Weed 22: Scandinavian – Swedish apple cake (plus a bonus sourdough discard apple cake)
Week 23: Layers – Pecan apple oat bars (post is pending)
Week 24: Tarts – rainbow fruit tart
Week 25: Bagels and donuts – maple donut cake
Week 26: Surprise inside – surprise heart yeast bread (pending)

Next week: Seasonal ingredients 2

a serving of rainier cherry crisp in a small bowl

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