Searching for an easy yet elegant seasonal dessert? Look no further! Poached pears, simmered in white wine, honey, vanilla, & spices.

Poached pears served on small ceramic plates with pink flowers.

Today I’m sharing kind of a fancy-pants dessert recipe: poached pears!

They’re so elegant I can’t help but think of them this way. I imagine eating them at a dressy holiday party, bridal shower, or ladies’ brunch.

But the truth is, they’re incredibly easy to make!

And I especially love them at this time of year. Pears are at the peak of their season during late fall and winter. They’re so delicious baked into this Pear Gingerbread Upside Down Cake, this Pear Cranberry Crisp, or these Pear Dumplings.

And because this recipe includes warm spices like cinnamon, ginger, and vanilla bean, it’s perfect for when the weather turns cool.

Read on to learn all about this classic poached pear recipe!

Poached pear recipe, prepared and served on white plates, with a text overlay that reads "Poached Pears."

WHAT ARE POACHED PEARS?

Poached pears are just cooked pears that have been simmered in a sweet and fragrant liquid. They’re soft and juicy, and they make a really nice light dessert.

You can add anything you like to the liquid. Wine, honey, lemon, vanilla, and spices like ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and star anise are typical. But you can really get creative, swap ingredients out, and make them your own.

HOW TO MAKE POACHED PEARS

To make this easy recipe, start with a large, heavy-bottomed pot. I like to use my enameled cast-iron Dutch oven. Here’s a link to the kind I have: Dutch oven.

Add wine (I used a white sauvignon blanc, but you could use red wine instead or even port would be nice), water, sugar, honey, lemon zest, fresh ginger, a cinnamon stick, and a vanilla bean, and give everything a quick stir.

Overhead view of poaching liquid in a large pot.

This is your poaching liquid. Set this over medium heat until it comes to a simmer.

Once your poaching liquid has reached a simmer, go ahead and peel your pears. (You want to use a very firm variety of pear, such as Bartlett or Anjou. I would not recommend Bosc pears, as they are too soft and they will just turn to mush.)

Adding peeled pears to a pot of poaching liquid.

Turn the heat down to low so that the liquid is barely simmering, then add the pears as soon as they are peeled. This way they won’t discolor and turn brown.

Poaching pears in a fragrant liquid.

Allow the pears to simmer in this liquid, turning them every so often, until they are very soft. You should be able to pierce them with the tip of a knife, and feel no resistance whatsoever.

Sliding the tip of a sharp knife into a poached pear to check for doneness.

Once the pears are tender, remove them from the poaching liquid and turn the heat up to high. Boil the liquid and allow it to reduce to a thick syrup. This syrup can be drizzled over the pears for extra shine and sweetness.

Drizzling reduced syrup over poached pears.

Serve poached pears warm, at room temperature, or chilled. It’s up to you!

WHAT GOES WITH POACHED PEARS?

These poached pears are just lovely as is, with a little drizzle of the liquid they were poached in. Or, they’d be fantastic served on a pool of chocolate sauce or salted caramel sauce. Raspberry sauce would be delicious as well!

They’re also very good with vanilla ice cream, or a dollop of creme fraiche or mascarpone cheese.

You could even add them to salads! They’re really nice in a salad with bitter greens like frisee, along with crumbled blue cheese and toasted walnuts. A really classic combination of flavors.

Another great option would be to serve them thinly sliced on top of a tart. Pastry cream would be the perfect filling, and you can check out my favorite tart crust recipe here: Tart Crust.

Extreme close-up image of wine poached pears.

ARE THEY GLUTEN-FREE?

These poached pears are 100% gluten-free, so if you or someone you love has an intolerance, you can serve these without a worry.

They are also egg-free and nut-free, and vegetarian.

Since this recipe includes honey, they are not vegan. But you could easily swap out the honey for maple syrup if you wanted a vegan version.

CAN YOU CAN THEM?

If you’d like to preserve these poached pears, they can be canned.

Once they are soft, transfer them to sterilized jars and add the poaching liquid (skip the step of reducing the liquid). Wipe the edges of the jars with a clean cloth, pop on the lids, and screw on the rings. Then submerge the jars in boiling water for 15 minutes.

Remove the jars from the boiling water and allow them to come to room temperature. The “button” on the lid should have suctioned down. This is how you know you’ve done it properly.

Canned pears will keep in a cupboard (at room temperature) for several months. <-- Which means they make a really nice homemade holiday gift!

HOW LONG WILL THEY KEEP?

If you don’t process them in jars, poached pears will keep for a week or so in the fridge. Or, you can freeze them (along with the poaching liquid). They will last in the freezer for about 2 to 3 months.

Poached pear on a plate with a vintage silver fork and a floral garnish.

A FEW MORE OF MY FAVORITE FALL/WINTER DESSERTS:

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Poached pear recipe, prepared and served on small plates, with a text overlay above that reads "Poached Pears."

Poached pear recipe, prepared and served on small plates, with a text overlay above that reads "Poached Pears."

Poached pear recipe, prepared and served on small plates, with a text overlay above that reads "Poached Pears."

Poached Pears
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
50 mins
 

Searching for an easy yet elegant seasonal dessert? Look no further! Poached pears, simmered in white wine, honey, vanilla, & spices.

Course: Brunch, Dessert, Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: how to poach pears, poached pear recipe, poached pears, wine poached pears
Servings: 6 whole pears
Calories: 510 kcal
Ingredients
  • 1 bottle wine* (red or white- I used Sauvignon Blanc)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup honey
  • 2 strips lemon zest
  • 1 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 6 pears, firm (such as Bartlett or Anjou)
Instructions
  1. Place the wine, water, sugar, honey, lemon zest, ginger, and cinnamon stick in a large pot.

  2. Split the vanilla bean, remove the seeds, and add both the seeds and the pod to the pot.

  3. Stir the mixture and place it over medium heat, until it comes to a low simmer.

  4. When it has reached a simmer, turn the heat down to low, peel the pears, and add them to the pot.

  5. Place a circle of parchment or a plate directly on top of the pears, to weigh them down and prevent browning.

  6. Simmer the pears in the liquid until they are very soft (approx. 20 minutes).

  7. Remove the poached pears from the pot, turn the heat up to high, and boil the liquid until it's reduced to a syrup.

  8. Serve the poached pears warm, at room temperature, or chilled, with a drizzle of the syrup.

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes

*If you don't want to use wine, substitute an equal amount of fruit juice.

Nutrition Facts
Poached Pears
Amount Per Serving
Calories 510 Calories from Fat 9
% Daily Value*
Fat 1g2%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Sodium 15mg1%
Potassium 360mg10%
Carbohydrates 111g37%
Fiber 6g25%
Sugar 98g109%
Protein 1g2%
Vitamin A 45IU1%
Vitamin C 8mg10%
Calcium 38mg4%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.