Vanilla Poached Pears make an impressive-looking dessert without a great deal of preparation or effort. This simple recipe looks so fancy and special, but is really quite easy to make with sweet, buttery pears and warm spices that are perfect for fall.

vanilla poached pear in a small white bowl

When it comes to fall fruit, pears don’t always get the recognition they deserve. It’s usually all about apples and pumpkin! I have to admit, when recipe planning, this time of year, I get really excited about baking with apples and pumpkin, and rarely give pears a second thought. But every time I end up biting into a ripe, juicy pear, I remember how much I love them and wonder why I don’t include them in my recipes more often. Pears are so tasty!

If you’re a fan of pears too and you’re looking for a fall dessert that’s easy to make, yet tastes amazing and looks so pretty, these vanilla poached pears will make the perfect finish to any meal. 

They’re a dessert that looks extra special and kind of fancy, so they’re great for serving to dinner guests, but they’re not so labor-intensive that you’d only make them for special occasions. So, basically, they’re the best kind of dessert. 

What are poached pears?

Poaching fruit means to cook it by simmering it in a flavored syrup. This will soften the fruit and give it a shiny, almost translucent appearance. The sugar used in the poaching syrup penetrates the fruit and keeps it firm during and after cooking.

After poaching the pears, they take on a silky, buttery texture. And they absorb the warm, sweet flavors of the poaching liquid. The combination of cinnamon, star anise and vanilla makes these pears so flavorful and quite irresistible. 

Which pears are best for poaching?

I like to use Barlett, Bosc or Anjou pears for poaching.  

Bartlett:

  • Known for its iconic “pear shape.” This variety comes in two colors: green and red.
  • Bartlett pears are traditionally used for canning. 
  • Best pear for all around culinary uses!

Bosc:

  • These pears are known for their warm, cinnamon-colored skin.
  • They are in season starting in late September and during the fall and winter months, they are often part of a large display of many different varieties.
  • Bosc pears are sweeter and more flavorful earlier in the ripening process than other pear varieties. As a result, the complex flavor, honey-sweetness, and juiciness of Bosc can be enjoyed before their flesh has fully softened.
  • They have a more firm, dense flesh than other pear varieties, so they are ideal for use in baking, broiling or poaching.

Anjou:

  • Juicy pear that comes in red and green varieties.
  • Anjou pears are a bit more firm in texture, making them very versatile. 
  • They’re great for snacking on raw, but also hold up well for baking and poaching. 
adding pears to a large pot with a cinnamon stick

How do you tell if a pear is ripe?

When choosing your pears that you will be poaching, they should be just ripe. Not underripe or overripe! But perfectly ripe

Underripe pears are not as juicy and flavorful. Overripe pears could turn soft and mushy after poaching. 

It is best to ripen pears at room temperature, not in the refrigerator.

Determining if a pear is ripe is easy: apply gentle pressure to the narrow “neck” of the pear with your thumb. If it yields to pressure, it’s ripe.

Ingredients needed:

This recipe for vanilla poached pears has a super short ingredient list. Just 6 simple ingredients is all you need! How awesome is that?!

  • Water + sugar. When simmered together with the pears, these ingredients will create a sweet syrup.
  • Pears. You’ll need to make sure the pears you use are soft, yet still slightly firm to the touch. Use Bartlett, Bosc, Anjou or even Red Asian Pears. 
  • Cinnamon. This warming spice pairs well with the texture and flavor of cooked pears. 
  • Star anise. For a lovely sweet, licorice-like flavor.
  • Vanilla. Adds to the sweet caramelized flavor of the poached peaches.

How to make poached pears:

Poached pears look fancy and complicated, but you’re really just simmering the pears on the stovetop — easy!

  1. Prep the pears. Start this recipe with washing and peeling the pears.
  2. Combine ingredients. Place the pears in a large pot with the water. Add the sugar, cinnamon, anise, and vanilla.
  3. Cook pears. Bring the ingredients to a boil and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for about 30 to 40 minutes or until the pears are tender and the liquid is thickened, like syrup.
  4. Serve and enjoy. Serve the pears warm on their own, or with a bit of the leftover syrup. We love to garnish with a sprinkle of cinnamon and/or a drizzle of caramel sauce, or you can also use an anise star, which looks really beautiful when serving at an event. Enjoy!
pears cooked in flavored syrup in a large pot

Tips for recipe success:

This pear dessert recipe could not be easier, but here are a few tips to make sure your poached pears turn out perfect every time.

  • I prefer to use the Bartlett, Bosc or Anjou Pear variety for this recipe, since they have more structure and can withstand the poaching. 
  • Pears are the perfect ripeness for poaching when they yield slightly to pressure, but are still firm. Select pears that are free of blemishes as having to remove them can affect the appearance.
  • When peeling the pears, work in long, even strokes to avoid a uneven appearance. Use a vegetable peeler, which works perfectly. Be careful not to bruise them when peeling.
  • You can remove the stems or leave them on for a pretty presentation.

Serving suggestions:

Not only do these vanilla poached pears make a great dessert served with vanilla ice cream, but I love to keep some in the refrigerator and enjoy them diced and mixed with my morning yogurt and granola. So good! Here are some ideas for ways to serve poached pears:

  • Coconut yogurt or any other favorite yogurt.
  • Dairy-free ice cream or another preferred ice cream or whipped cream. Use coconut or almond whipped cream to keep this treat vegan.
  • Chopped Nuts – try walnuts, pecans, almonds or pistachios.
  • Peanut Butter Granola or any granola you like.
  • Nut Butter – Try a drizzle of almond butter or tahini.
  • Homemade Caramel Sauce – this is my recipe for vegan caramel sauce. It’s easy to make and pairs really well with the poached pears.

For extra sweetness, you can also drizzle the plated dessert with honey or a dust of powdered sugar. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream for a decadent touch!

Storing tips:

Poached pears can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days. You can even prep poached pears ahead of time. You can make them 2 days in advance, once the pears are tender, turn off the heat and let the liquid and pears cool completely. Transfer the pears to a container and cover with the cooled poaching liquid. Then reheat just before serving.

three poached pears in a small white bowl

A beautiful addition to your fall spread, these poached pears are full of warm and cozy flavor, and they’re sure to impress your friends and family. I hope you get a chance to make them very soon because they’re truly one of my new favorites!

As usual, please let me know if you end up making this recipe and how you like it. You can come back here to leave a comment or snap a photo and tag me on Instagram @foodwithfeeling! I always love to see what y’all are making from the blog!

More easy desserts to try:

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vanilla poached pear in a small white bowl

Vanilla Poached Pears


  • Author: Brita Britnell
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: serves 5 1x
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

Vanilla Poached Pears make an impressive-looking dessert without a great deal of preparation or effort. This simple recipe looks so fancy and special, but is really quite easy to make with sweet, buttery pears and warm spices that are perfect for fall.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 1/2 cups of water
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 5 pears, washed and peeled
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick, gently crushed or broken (or sub in 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon)
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 Teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Wash and peel the pears.
  2. Place the pears in a large pot with the water. Add the sugar, cinnamon, anise, and vanilla.
  3. Bring to boil and reduce the heat to low. Let it simmer for about 30 to 40 minutes or until the
  4. pears are tender and the liquid is thickened like syrup.
  5. Serve pears warm on their own, or with a bit of the leftover syrup.
  6. Garnish with a bit of cinnamon, caramel sauce, or you can also use an anise star which looks really beautiful when serving it at an event.
  7. Enjoy!

Notes

Poached pears can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days. You can even prep poached pears ahead of time. You can make them 2 days in advance, once the pears are tender, turn off the heat and let the liquid and pears cool completely. Transfer the pears to a container and cover with the cooled poaching liquid. Then reheat just before serving.

  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: poached pears