Are Maraschino Cherries Vegan and Cruelty-Free?

July 27, 2023

Identifying whether or not maraschino cherries are vegan can be a tricky task. 

This difficulty is often rooted in the manufacturers’ tendency to shroud the nature and source of their ingredients in mystery. 

However, worry not, for this article is dedicated to uncovering the truth and supporting you, our thoughtful reader, in your compassionate vegan lifestyle.

Are Maraschino Cherries Vegan?

Typically, yes, maraschino cherries are vegan. They don’t contain any overtly animal-derived products. However, like many food products, the ingredients used can vary from brand to brand. 

Common ingredients that you’ll typically find in maraschino cherries include cherries, sugar, corn syrup or high fructose corn syrup, cherry juice, citric acid, natural and artificial flavors, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate, red dyes, and sulfur dioxide.

Now, some might question the vegan nature of artificial flavor or red dyes, which in certain products may have an animal origin. However, in the case of maraschino cherries, these are generally plant based or synthetic. Therefore, the cherry’s super sweet and delicious taste comes without the cost of any animal exploitation — probably.

Are Maraschino Cherries Cruelty-Free?

As we just discussed, maraschino cherries are typically vegan and thus generally considered cruelty-free. However, it is important to verify with individual manufacturers, as there can be variations in production practices. 

Certain artificial dyes and flavors are tested on animals, so you should always look up the specific brand to be sure.

What are Maraschino Cherries Made Of?

Maraschino cherries are a popular garnish for cocktails, ice creams, cakes, and other desserts. These cherries get their characteristic bright red color, sweet flavor, and firm texture from a special preservation and flavoring process. Here’s a list of the primary ingredients found in maraschino cherries:

  • Cherries
  • Sugar
  • Water
  • Corn syrup
  • Citric acid
  • Natural and artificial flavoring
  • FD&C red #40


Cherries are the core ingredient in maraschino cherries. Originating from various parts of the world, such as Europe, Asia, and North America, cherries are a type of stone fruit known for their sweet and tart flavor. In maraschino cherries, they provide the base fruit that’s preserved and flavored. Cherries are vegan and gluten-free, being a natural fruit product.


Sugar is a sweetener used in maraschino cherries. It typically comes from sugarcane or sugar beets, both of which are plant-derived, making it a vegan ingredient. However, it’s worth noting that some sugar, particularly in the US, is processed using bone char, which is not vegan. This doesn’t change the composition of the sugar, but it may be a concern for some vegans.


Water is used in the process to help dissolve and distribute the other ingredients evenly. It is vegan and comes from various sources, including springs, wells, or municipal water supplies.

Corn syrup

Corn syrup is another sweetener used in the process. It comes from cornstarch, which is derived from corn, a plant product, thus making it vegan. It provides sweetness and also contributes to the syrupy texture of the liquid in the jar.

Citric acid

Citric acid is used as a preservative and to add a tart flavor that balances the sweetness of the cherries. It’s derived from citrus fruits like lemons and limes. As a fruit-based product, it is vegan.

Natural and artificial flavoring

Natural and artificial flavorings contribute to the specific taste of maraschino cherries. Natural flavoring sources can be plant or animal based, while artificial flavors are typically synthesized from chemicals. Without specific information, it’s hard to determine if these flavors are vegan.

FD&C red #40

FD&C red #40 is a synthetic food dye that gives maraschino cherries their bright red color. It is derived from petroleum and is vegan. However, it’s worth noting that some synthetic dyes have been tested on animals in the past, which may be a concern for some vegans.

Vegan Alternatives to Maraschino Cherries

If you’re still unsure about the vegan status of maraschino cherries, there are numerous vegan alternatives you can use in your recipes. 

Fresh cherries, dried cherries, or cherries preserved in fruit concentrate or fruit juice can all be great vegan substitutes. For a more unique flavor, you might also consider using raspberry or strawberry preserves.


Maraschino cherries are typically vegan and cruelty-free, with their main ingredients coming from plant sources or synthesized chemically. 

However, always remember to check the labels or inquire with food manufacturers directly if you have concerns. 

There are also various vegan alternatives available from different brands if you prefer to steer clear of any ambiguities. Keep making delicious and compassionate choices for our planet and all its inhabitants!