Cherry liqueur is popular in recipes for desserts, fondues and many other foods. While most recipes call for relatively small amounts of cherry liqueur, it often provides essential flavor or texture elements. If you don't have cherry liqueur available or you want to make a recipe without using alcohol, you may be able to substitute another ingredient. These substitutions might not provide the exact flavor of cherry liqueur, but they are often close enough to capture the basic character of the dish.
If you are making a dessert in which the cherry liqueur lends a pronounced cherry flavor, substitute cherry syrup. Drain canned cherries or use cherry-flavored Italian soda flavoring syrup. Use the same amount of either syrup as you would cherry liqueur and make the recipe as usual. This substitution does not work for traditional fondues, which require the alcohol in cherry liqueur to aid melting.
Another non-alcoholic substitute for cherry liqueur, cherry jam works best in relatively dry recipes with a sweet flavor. You may need to mix a little water with thicker jams to produce an appropriate amount of cherry-flavored liquid. Avoid cherry preserves unless the recipe you are making already contains pieces of fruit.
If you don't mind alcohol in your dish but don't have cherry liqueur in your pantry, use cherry wine. This ingredient will provide a lighter cherry flavor and less alcohol than cherry liqueur. If you need a strong cherry taste in your recipe, substitute extra cherry wine for water or other liquids in the dish.
Extracts provide a very bold cherry flavor that can border on artificial. Because extracts are so strong, use only a few drops at a time until you achieve the desired flavor. If you need additional liquid, add the appropriate amount of water to fill out the recipe.
Some cherry liqueurs have a chocolate element. If you are making a recipe that calls for this kind of liqueur, substitute an equal amount of chocolate liqueur. You can add a little cherry flavor using syrup or extract if necessary.
This commonly available liqueur makes an acceptable substitute for maraschino liqueur, a semi-dry product made with sour cherries. Amaretto's slight bitterness mimics the complexity of maraschino liqueur, although the taste will be slightly different.