Tart Cherry Sports Drink Recipe

This flavorful and refreshing tart cherry sports drink will rehydrate and refuel – with an added inflammation-busting punch from the tart cherry juice. Thank you to the Cherry Marketing Institute for sponsoring this post!

tart cherry sports drink (1)

You guys know by now that I’m a huge tart cherry fan. Through my partnership with the Cherry Marketing Institute this year, I’ve talked about how tart cherries make a delicious, satisfying snack (recipe: Tart Cherry Pie Snack Balls), and how they can help with sleep due to the natural melatonin they contain (recipes/info: Microwave Tart Cherry Oatmeal and Tart Cherry Kale and Feta Stuffed Chicken). This month, I’d like to talk more about their other big benefit, which is especially important to me as a runner: inflammation-busting. Research has shown tart cherries can serve as a natural recovery aid when consumed in the days before and after intensive exercise!

Tart cherries are high in anthocyanins, which are flavonoids that contribute to their sourness, intense red color, and, most importantly, their anti-inflammatory health properties. Due to these anthocyanins, tart cherries have been found useful for those suffering from joint paint (arthritis) and gout, and can also help to ease muscle soreness following a hard workout, too. When you’re sore after a workout, this is due to a few things – muscle damage, inflammation, and oxidative stress. The good news is that the anthocyanins in tart cherries seem to help with all three of these!

In fact, studies suggest Montmorency tart cherry juice has the ability to reduce muscle pain and weakness after bouts of intense strength training, as well as after long-distance running. Here is a little overview of the running-specific studies I took from There’s more info over on their website!

  • Faster recovery: Marathon runners who drank Montmorency tart cherry juice five days before, the day of and two days after running experienced a faster recovery of strength compared to those who drank a different beverage. 1
    • In another study Montmorency tart cherry juice helped improve the recovery time after intensive exercise compared to the placebo beverage that was used. 2
  • Decreases muscle pain: Runners in an annual 196-mile relay race in Oregon reported significantly less muscle pain after the race if they drank Montmorency tart cherry juice twice a day the week before and on the day of the long-distance race. 3

After reading about all of tart cherry’s benefits this spring, I actually started bringing dried tart cherries with me as fuel on a few of my long runs, and having a swig of tart cherry juice before and after a run, too. Feel free to take that approach, if you like – or, give this tart cherry sports drink recipe a try. You can enjoy it before, during, or after your run – whichever you prefer! I like doing a little before and a little after, but I think I’m going to pick up a little container that I can fit into my hydration vest so I can fill it with some of this sports drink for any longer runs/hikes this summer. (An entire backpack full of sports drink would be a bit much for me – but a small bottle of it would be perfect as an addition to my water!) If you’re having this after your run, just be sure to pair it with some protein, too. :)

tart cherry sports drink 4

Joining with the tart cherry juice in this recipe is water, lime juice, honey, and a little salt. I made it with pure maple syrup in place of the honey recently and that was really good, too. You can also leave out the honey/maple syrup if you’re doing a lighter workout/don’t want it as sweet. Your choice!

tart cherry sports drink ingredients

Here’s the recipe. Happy running and inflammation busting!

Serves ~3     adjust servings

Tart Cherry Sports Drink

Prep Time 5 MINUTES Prep Time
Cook Time
Total Time 5 mins Total Time
Flavorful and refreshing, this sports drink will rehydrate and refuel - with the added inflammation-busting effects of the tart cherry juice.


  • 2 cups tart cherry juice
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons honey or pure maple syrup
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt


  1. Place all ingredients in a large jar and shake vigorously until combined.


p.s. Interested in more sports nutrition info and runner-friendly recipes? Check out my Nutrition for Runners Program.


  1. 1

    love tart cherries! i still always get confused when i see the fresh cherries as to which ones (if) are tart… i need to head over to their website to check it out.
    i love dried tart cherries but have never tried the juice,

    • 2

      In general, the fresh ones you see in stores are sweet cherries — tart cherries (which have higher levels of antioxidants compared to sweet cherries) are available in juice, concentrate, frozen, and dried forms. Fresh tart cherries don’t travel as well and are generally only distributed in the regions where they are grown (in July when they are harvested). I hope that helps! :)

  2. 3

    Hi Anne! I’ve read quite a bit about cherries being good for muscle soreness, and I’ve incorporated some into my smoothies before because of this. Sounds delish, and I like the idea of marketing it towards sports and recovery, paired with protein. Yum!

  3. 5

    Love this! I’m always looking for ways to decrease muscle soreness and improve recovery time…I’ll have to get my hands on some cherry juice.

  4. 6

    Yum! This sounds good!

  5. 7
    Roadrunner says

    Looks terrific. Will get some….

  6. 8

    This looks awesome, Anne! I am going to have to give this a try. Love tart cherry!

  7. 9

    Wow this is genius! Something I will share with my clients as several will be running the Disney Marathon in January and are starting their training plans!

  8. 10

    Hi Anne! Love your blog and love this recipe. Where can you buy tart cherry juice from and is there a brand you recommend?

    • 11

      Most grocery stores have it! Any brand is fine, just look for 100% tart cherry juice (make sure tart is in the name), and that the ingredient list is just tart cherry juice and no fillers (some of them add other juices to make it cheaper, I think, which is lame). Enjoy!

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