Cherry On Top: 5 Varieties You Should Be Using

This iconic fruit is categorized in two main types, sweet and sour cherries. From beverages to baked goods, cherries add a refreshing flavor and smooth mouthfeel. The nutritional content is no slouch either, as sour varieties such as Montmorency have well-established anti-inflammatory properties. To pair the right cherry to your dish, follow along with this handy guide.


The most popular variety of sweet cherry, Bings are recognizable for their heart shape and sweet, lingering aftertaste. Originally cultivated in Oregon, these cherries peak in season from May to August. Bings are a great multi-use cherry, working wonderfully in baked goods like cobblers and tarts.


Often seen as the “Golden Child” of the cherry world, Rainers have a yellow exterior with a dab of red throughout. They typically have another level of tartness that you may not notice in bing cherries, creating a rounded flavor profile. The season is slightly shorter than other varieties, as they are in high demand, and typically lasts from June to August. Their layered flavor makes Rainers an ideal choice for beverages, so bust them out for a lovely lemonade or a saccharine sangria!


Perhaps the most widely known variety of sour cherries, you’re most likely to find Montmorencys frozen or canned throughout the year, but they are available fresh during the summer months. These cherries are particularly tart in flavor, and are better used as inclusions to sauces or fillings rather than being served on their own. Montmorencys found in the US are almost entirely grown on home soil, making them a great option for chefs who want to support local produce.


Commonly referred to as “black cherries” Chelans reside in a unique category. Sharper in taste than a traditional sweet cherry, they mirror the seasonality of Bings, but are best served fresh and diminish in texture when baked. With a slightly longer shelf-life than other cherries, these are a great option for summer salads.


A little bit of a late bloomer, these cherries tend to ripen in July, but are praised for their large, flavorful fruit. Similar in taste to Bing cherries, Lamberts are a great option for chefs looking to get the most bang for their buck. Very versatile, Lamberts do not lose their texture when cooked.