Why Amarena Cherries are Better than Maraschinos

amarena cherries in strainer

Don't get me wrong, I love a maraschino cherry, but once you've tried Amarena cherries, you'll want to level up. ALL THE TIME. 

I first fell in love with Amarenas when we reviewed a jar from Trader Joe's.

amarena cherries from jar

Both maraschino and Amarena cherries are sweet, pitted cherries in syrup. Both are used in cocktails, topping ice cream sundaes, and pineapple upside-down cakes

pineapple bundt cake with maraschino cherries

So what's the difference between maraschino and Amarena cherries?

You might have noticed that maraschino isn't capitalized, and Amarena is. Amarena cherries are a specific variety of cherries grown in Italy. Maraschino cherries are named after the liqueur that is made from Marasca cherries. 

spec's maraschino cherries in jar

Let's compare ingredients. 

Of course, they'll vary from brand to brand, but this will give you a general idea.

Maraschino cherries ingredients: Cherries, Water, Corn Syrup, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Malic Acid, Citric Acid, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Sodium Benzoate (Preservative), Red 40, Sulfur Dioxide (Preservative).

Amarena cherries ingredients: Cherries, Sugar, Glucose-Fructose Syrup, Sour Cherry Juice, Hibiscus and Carrot Extract (for color), Citric Acid. 

You can find some "natural" maraschino cherries, and I've tried them. Typically, they use beet or radish juice to achieve that vivid red color. Believe me, you'll notice. The last thing I want on my hot fudge sundae is a radish aftertaste. (I appreciate the attempt, though.)

amarena cherries in muffin tin

But how do they taste? 

Amarena cherries are rich and luxurious. Eating one straight from the jar in the middle of an afternoon feels a little scandalous. 

Maraschino cherries are quite tasty, too, but nowhere near the decadence of an Amarena cherry. 

amarena cherry juice

HINT: use some of the Amarena cherry liquid to flavor a cherry Coke or Dr. Pepper! 

amarena cherries for baking

heart-shaped amarena cherry in cake

Can you use Amarena cherries in recipes? Absolutely! Take this Amarena Cherry and Chocolate Marbled Heart Bundt Cake recipe for a spin. 

Need more proof? Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams tops their ice cream sundaes with Amarena cherries. There. I think that's all the proof we need. 

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