This Poached Pears recipe is a simple, elegant dessert that is easy to make, requires no baking skills and tastes better the next day. Seasonal pears are simmered in a white wine spiced syrup until tender and flavorful for the perfect make-ahead dessert.
Impressive looking but ridiculously easy, these white wine Poached Pears are sweet, tender and filled with the warm flavors of vanilla, cinnamon and cloves. Serve warm with a scoop of ice cream or chilled with cheese plate for an almost effortless dessert that tastes anything but basic.
Why you'll love this recipe
✔︎ Can a dessert be unfussy and elegant at the same time? We think so! This Poached Pears recipe is made with just a handful of simple, seasonal ingredients but is fancy enough for company or the holidays.
✔︎ There are no baking skills required to make this easy recipe. If you can boil water, you can poach a pear!
✔︎ It's the perfect make-ahead dessert because poached pears actually taste better the next day.
What are poached pears?
Quite simply, poached pears are pears that are gently cooked in a simmering liquid. The idea of poaching pears originated in France when vineyard growers found ways to use fruits that were not ripening on the trees without letting them go to waste. When you simmer unripe pears in a spiced syrup, it brings out their natural sweetness and makes them tender enough to eat but firm enough to still hold their shape.
You can find everything you need for this simple dessert in one trip to the grocery store.
A few ingredient notes:
Pears: I prefer Bosc or D'Anjou simply because they are firmer pears that holds their shape better when cooked.
White Wine: I used Vouvray, but you can also use a Pinot Grigio, Riesling or Gewurztraminer.
Spices: Whole spices infuse the most flavor into the poaching liquid. I used cloves and cinnamon sticks, but feel free to use your favorites spices instead. A whole vanilla bean would also taste amazing in this recipe but I didn't have any on hand.
Maple syrup: I think the combination of maple syrup and juicy pears is the perfect match, but you can also substitute honey if you prefer that flavor.
It takes less than 30 minutes to make this poached pears recipe from start to finish.
Place all ingredients except pears in a large dutch oven. Cook over medium heat until sugar is completely dissolved, stirring occasionally.
Peel and core pears.
Carefully place pears in poaching liquid and bring to a simmer.
Cut a round piece of parchment paper about the size of your pan and place on top of the pears. (This is to prevent the liquid from evaporating too quickly).
Poach pears for about 15-20 minutes, turning pears once or twice to so they cook evenly. Pears will be done when easily pierced with the tip of a sharp knife.
You want to look for firm pears that hold their shapes well when heated. I prefer Bosc or D'Anjou. Bartlett pears can work but they tend to break down more quickly when poached because they have a naturally softer flesh.
Yes. The pear skin may release bitter-tasting tannins during the gentle cooking process on the stovetop, so it's best to peel the pears with a vegetable peeler. This peeler is my favorite - super sharp and easy to control.
Many recipes use poach pears in wine (either white or red), but you can also use water or a combination of water and fruit juice (such as apple cider) instead of the wine.
Many poached pears are served as dessert with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream or a salted caramel sauce. Another option is to reduce cooking liquid by half and drizzle the concentrated syrup over top of the pears for extra flavor. You can also add slices of poached pears to a cheese plate or chopped poached pears to salads (like this pear salad with maple vinaigrette).
Once pears have completely cooled, refrigerate them in their poaching liquid for up to four days. Pears can be served chilled or gently rewarmed.
Expert Tips for making Poached Pears
✘ Choose firm but ripe fruit when poaching pears. If your pears are too ripe, they will lose their shape during poaching.
✘ Prefer red wine? Use red instead of white wine for rich, ruby-colored pears.
✘ You can easily poach pears without wine. Substitute water or a combination of water and fruit juice for the wine in this recipe.
✘ Peel and core pears just before adding to the poaching liquid to prevent the pears from browning.
✘ Coring pears isn't absolutely necessary, but it does prevent your guests from cutting around them while eating the pears. If you choose to keep your pears whole, I recommend using a melon baller to cleanly core your pears. Simply core the bottom of the pear to remove the stem and access the core and then scoop out the seeds.
✘ Choose the right sized pot. The pears will cook most evenly and be less likely to brown if you keep them mostly submerged in liquid as they cook. Keep the syrup from reducing too quickly by placing a round of parchment paper over the top of the pears while they poach.
✘ Cook the pears over a very low boil. When in doubt, simmer at a lower heat for longer rather than a high temperature as the pears will break down more quickly.
✘ Cool pears completely before transferring to a sealed container. Choose a container where the pears can be mostly submerged in the poaching liquid. Store in the fridge for up to 4 days.
✘ Poached pears can be served with ice cream or caramel sauce for dessert or added to a cheese plate or salad for a more savory option.
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- 750 ml white wine
- 1½ cups water
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup pure maple syrup
- lemon peel
- 6 whole cloves
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 vanilla bean, cut in half (optional but highly recommended)
- 6 ripe but firm pears
- Place all ingredients except pears in a large dutch oven. Cook over medium heat until sugar is completely dissolved, stirring occasionally.750 ml white wine, 1½ cups water, ¼ cup granulated sugar, ½ cup pure maple syrup, lemon peel, 6 whole cloves, 2 cinnamon sticks, 1 vanilla bean, cut in half
- Peel and core pears and gently add to poaching liquid. Cut a round of parchment paper about the size of your pot and place it on top of the pears. Reduce heat and let the pears simmer for about 15-20 minutes, turning pears once or twice if needed. Pears will be done when easily pierced with the tip of a sharp knife.6 ripe but firm pears
- Serve immediately if desired, or cool pears completely and transfer pears and poaching liquid to a sealed container and refrigerate for up to 4 days.
- Choose pears with firmer flesh like Bosc or D'Anjou as they will stand up better to poaching.
- While the poaching liquid is heating, peel and core the pears and immediately add them to the liquid to prevent the pears from browning. A melon baller is an easy way to neatly core the pears. You can also poach pear halves or pear quarters if you prefer.
- Wine substitutions: Use red wine instead of white for ruby colored pears or omit the wine entirely and use a combination of water and fruit juice instead.
- Choose a pot that will allow the pears to be mostly submerged by the poaching liquid. Keep the syrup from reducing too quickly by placing a round of parchment paper over the top of the pears while they poach.
- Serve warm pears immediately with a scoop of ice cream, whipped cream or a drizzle of salted caramel sauce. If desired, you can also remove the pears from the poaching liquid and reduce the liquid by about half to spoon over the warm pears.
- If not serving pears immediately, allow them to completely cool in the poaching liquid. Transfer pears and liquid to a lidded container and refrigerate for up to 4 days.
- Pears can be served warm or chilled.
Nutrition info not guaranteed to be accurate.