The team, originally called Yanmar Diesel, started in 1957 as the company team of Yanmar and was an original founder of the now-disbanded Japan Soccer League. With four Japanese league titles to its credit, it was a mainstay of the JSL First Division until 1990 when it was first relegated, and thus joined the former Japan Football League in 1992.
In 1993, the club incorporated as Osaka Football Club Ltd., and adopted the name Cerezo after a public contest. In 1994, it won the JFL championship and was promoted to the J1 League in 1995. This also coincided with a run to the finals of the Emperor’s Cup, which they lost to long-time league rivals Bellmare Hiratsuka.
In 2001, it finished in the last spot and was relegated to the J2 league. It managed to finish second in the 2002 season and returned to J1 in 2003.
In 2005 they came close to becoming J-League champions, and topped the league into the last match day. In their final match, they led F.C. Tokyo with minutes to go and were on course to win the title. However, Tokyo tied them in the 90th minute, and a number of other late goals around Japan meant they finished 5th. Arch-rivals Gamba Osaka, ended up winning the title. Cerezo fell to J2 for the 2007 season after finishing second to last in 2006. In 2009 they returned to J1. In 2014 they ended their season in 17th place. As a result, the team played in J2 for the 2015 and 2016 seasons. They returned to J1 for the 2017 season, after winning the play-offs to claim the last slot to move back up to J1.