Maraschino Cherry Liqueur is one of my favorite cocktail—and dessert—ingredients. Its dry, sour cherry, and toasted almond flavor profile is decadent to the point of addiction.
It takes my drinks and dishes to the next level and always leaves my guests asking for seconds.
Unfortunately, I can hardly ever find it at my local liquor store! Imagine my disappointment when I discover the key ingredient to my favorite dishes is out of reach. Even though it’s available online, it rarely arrives by the time I need it. .
Luckily, there’s a better way to achieve the taste of Maraschino Liqueur without waiting for what seems like an eternity.
Whether I’m making cocktails or desserts, I can always find a suitable substitute to achieve a similar flavor.
For Maraschino substitutions in the famous aviation cocktail, try kirsch, cherry-flavored vodka, or cherry heering. Each has the bittersweet taste of cherry distilled in neutral alcohol. If you’re looking for a non-alcoholic substitute, look no further. Try flavored syrups like cherry syrup, grenadine, raspberry syrup, cranberry syrup, or strawberry daiquiri syrup. For baking, try Amarena, fresh cherries, glace cherries, maraschino cherries, or cherry extract.
In this article, we’ll discuss the best way to recreate the taste of Maraschino Liqueur in your favorite cocktails and desserts.
To save yourself time, stress, and money, review the following substitutions. No matter which you select, you can rest assured that your final drink or dish will be delicious.
- 1. Kirsch
- 2. Cherry-Flavored Vodka
- 3. Cherry Heering
- 4. Cherry Brandy
- 5. Cherry Syrup
- 6. Grenadine Cocktail Syrup
- 7. Raspberry Syrup
- 8. Strawberry Daiquiri Syrup
- 9. Cranberry Syrup
- 10. Amarena Cherries
- 11. Fresh Cherries
- 12. Glace Cherries
- 13. Cherry Extract
- 14. Maraschino Cherries
- Health Properties of Maraschino Liqueur
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Final Thoughts
German for cherry, kirsch is a close substitute for maraschino liqueur. Kirsch is made with morello cherries, which makes it tangier than maraschino liqueur.
The cherries are distilled in a clear brandy, creating a fruity, neutral spirit.
Kirsch is comparable to Maraschino Liqueur in calorie count, as it’s about 80 calories per ounce. To learn more about kirsch and how to use it in recipes, check out this site.
The tang is balanced with undertones of toasted almonds, adding sweetness to its overall flavor profile. To substitute, use a 1:1 ratio.
2. Cherry-Flavored Vodka
I love using this substitute in an aviation to cut back on sweetness. The vodka and cherry flavors offer a sharp taste without making cocktails taste too sugary.
Due to artificial flavoring, this substitute has a higher calorie count of 231 calories per three ounces.
Specific flavors depend on the brand of vodka you choose. If you’d like something sweeter, try Pinnacle cherry. Use Smirnoff Cherry if you want a more robust cocktail with a heavier taste of alcohol.
I like using vodka specifically for aviations because it’s clear, so it doesn’t compromise authenticity.
To try this substitution in an aviation, give this recipe a shot and replace Maraschino with cherry-flavored vodka.
3. Cherry Heering
If you’re looking for a substitute that magnifies the flavor of cherry, try cherry heering. This Danish liqueur is made with grain alcohol, spices, and Steven’s cherries.
Cherry heering leans on the sweeter side, and its distinctive red color can make it unideal for traditional cocktails.
However, this substitute is great in a blood and sand as well as in Singapore slings. Because of its strength, use at a 1:2 ratio.
Here are more ideas about cherry heering substitutes and how to use cherry heering in Maraschino Liqueur recipes.
4. Cherry Brandy
The use of fresh cherries in cherry brandy parallels the refreshing taste of maraschino liqueur. Additionally, the sweetness makes any cocktail rich and dimensional in taste.
There are about 78 calories per ounce, which rivals the low-calorie count of maraschino.
To make your own, try this recipe from serenitykitchen.com. Add 1 kg of cherries to a liter of brandy and combine with 300g of golden caste sugar. Let this combination sit for at least six weeks and it’s ready to use!
5. Cherry Syrup
Available in most grocery stores, cherry syrup is a great substitute for Maraschino Liqueur. A sweet, dark red syrup with a sour taste makes cherry syrup almost identical to the flavor of Maraschino.
Because cherry syrup does not contain alcohol, it is less bitter than Maraschino. However, its prominent sour quality compensates for this and prevents the syrup from being overly sweet in cocktails.
Even though it’s a syrup, cherry syrup is only approximately 90 calories per serving. Because of its similar intensity, you can use a 1:1 ratio for this substitution.
6. Grenadine Cocktail Syrup
If you’re looking to forgo the strong taste of maraschino cherry syrup, this should be your go-to substitute.
Made from pomegranate juice rather than cherries, this substitute is not overly tart and quite sweet.
When using this substitution, note whether it’s store-bought or homemade. If store-bought, it will be sweeter because of a high quantity of high-fructose corn syrup.
This substitute is much lower in calories, having only 54 per 1.07 ounces. Try using a 1:2 ratio for substitutions and assess the level of sweetness. This syrup works well in a Tequila Sunrise or classic Shirley Temples.
7. Raspberry Syrup
If you’re looking for an option that offers a fresh take, try this substitute. Raspberry syrup has a different flavor than cherry but is comparably sweet, tart, and fruity.
In cocktails, it works well with bitter liquors like gin. There are about 90 calories per ounce and 44 grams of sugar.
If you’re looking to cutback on sugar, try Torani’s sugar-free raspberry syrup. Since the flavor of raspberry syrup is similar in intensity to maraschino liqueur, use a 1:1 ratio for substitutions.
8. Strawberry Daiquiri Syrup
Great for cocktails, this substitute captures the sweetness of maraschino cherry but lacks the tart characteristic. While not the closest replicant, this substitute is easy to find and perfect to use in a pinch.
Because of the high sugar content, strawberry daiquiri syrup isn’t the healthiest substitution on this list. It packs about 225 calories per serving and about 54 grams of sugar.
This substitute can be used at a 1:1 ratio to Maraschino Liqueur. If you’d like to compensate for the lack of tartness, add a squeeze from a lemon or lime wedge. This substitute works great with rum-based cocktails.
9. Cranberry Syrup
For tartness, try using cranberry syrup as a substitute. This substitute is similar to maraschino cherry but is more bitter than fruity. Due to its bitterness, this substitute is great for sweeter liquors, like brandy or rum.
You can use this substitute at a 1:1 ratio. While not as common as Daiquiri Syrup, it’s regularly found amongst other mixers in grocery stores.
10. Amarena Cherries
Amarena Cherries are grown in the Bologna and Modena regions of Italy. Their Italian origin makes them a staple in European kitchens.
Unlike Maraschino, Amarena Cherries are known for being sour. They are preserved in syrup and stored in small jars.
These cherries are a healthier substitute because they carry only 50 calories per tablespoon — that’s about 9 calories per cherry! Additionally, these cherries carry only about 1 gram of sugar each.
You can use equal parts Amarena with Maraschino. Just be aware that the overall flavor will be less sweet. To compensate, try adding a teaspoon of sugar.
Typically, these cherries are best for chocolate desserts. You can try using them in a Black Forest cake or even to garnish cheesecake.
11. Fresh Cherries
If in season, fresh cherries are one of the best substitutes for Maraschino in desserts. Fresh cherries omit the high sugar content of maraschino cherries, which makes them both healthier and better tasting.
You can use a 2:1 ratio of this substitution. For example, if ½ cup of Maraschino is called for, use 1 cup of fresh cherries. If you’d like more manageable pieces, try cutting each cherry in half.
Because they’re fruit, these cherries are much healthier than the other options on this list. Each cherry has about 4 calories. There is less than a gram of sugar in per cherry and the sugars are natural.
If you’re using it as a garnish, you can sprinkle sugar over the cherries for added sweetness. For baking, try adding a teaspoon of sugar if desired.
12. Glace Cherries
These sweet cherries are made by being processed in a thick, sugary syrup. The sweetness of this substitute makes it a perfect fit for baking.
Glace cherries are especially well-suited for pineapple upside-down cake. Their sweetness complements the tartness of the pineapple.
To try this substitution, follow this pineapple upside-down cake recipe and just replace maraschino cherries with glace cherries.
Because of the sugar content, these cherries are about 81 calories per two pieces. 46 calories are comprised of granulated sugar.
Try using a 1:1 ratio with maraschino cherries. If you’d like to add an edge of flavor, try squeezing a lemon wedge over top.
13. Cherry Extract
While it doesn’t have the characteristic bitterness of Maraschino, cherry extract carries an intense cherry flavor. You can use cherry extract at a 1:1 ratio in dessert recipes.
In cocktails, try adding a drop or two of cherry extract first. Once you’re comfortable with the taste you can add more according to preference.
14. Maraschino Cherries
Similar to glacé cherries, maraschino cherries have a high sugar content. A 160 gram serving — roughly a ¾ cup — contains approximately 264 calories and 62 grams of sugar.
While this means using maraschino cherries in large quantities carries adverse health risks, they’re still great for garnishing.
Their sweetness makes them taste closer to candy than fruit, but they still carry the tart taste of cherry.
Try adding one on top of cake slices, cookies and ice cream, or add a few to a cocktail.
Because of the sugar content, substitute at a lower ratio, 1:4, for maraschino liqueur.
Health Properties of Maraschino Liqueur
Originating from Italy, Maraschino Liqueur is made from distilled wine fermented from Morello cherries, achieving a bitter, cherry-flavored liqueur.
The use of real cherries and distilled liquor makes maraschino liqueur relatively healthy.
There are about 73 calories per ounce and about 8 grams of sugar — it’s also nonfat! While it’s considered a sweet liqueur, it lacks some of the heavy syrups used in other spirits.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Maraschino Liqueur The Same As Cherry Liqueur?
Many have compared Maraschino to Triple Sec in that it’s dry, filtered, and clear. Conversely, cherry liqueur tends to be thick and fruity, often using other spices and flavors.
While cherry liqueur is associated with syrup, Maraschino liqueur is a more pure, alcoholic expression of cherry flavor.
How Is Maraschino Liqueur Made?
Originally, Maraschino was made by distilling a cherry wine. The wine is made from Morello cherries and was first produced in Italy.
What Does Maraschino Liqueur Taste Like?
The most distinct flavor of Maraschino is its intense cherry flavor. The unique toasted almond flavor is given by the role of cherry pits in Maraschino’s production.
The pits are pulverized and are infused into the liquor, which gives it a bitter, nutty undertone.
Maraschino Cherry Liqueur is a unique addition to any bar, but luckily there are excellent substitutes.
Use the substitutes in this article as a guide for achieving a Maraschino-esque flavor to your favorite dishes.
My name is Keren Tayler. I am a stay-at-home mama to three lovely girls, Sarah + Rachel + Hannah. Prior to becoming a mom, I had a successful career in the accounting field, steps away from becoming a CPA. I decided to give up on my career in order to raise my own kids (as opposed to letting a nancy do it, no judgment here) I learned a lot and I love sharing it with other moms. Along the way, I also became a Certified Food Handler.