Classic Poached Pears: Basic Elegance for your Dessert Repertoire

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Classic Poached Pears: Basic Elegance for your Dessert Repertoire

Think about biting into a juicy pear. Fresh, flavorful, sometimes crisp. If you’ve ever tried to capture that burst of flavor in a pie, you probably realized that it’s challenging to cook that crisp bite out of the pears. Poaching is a way to soften the pear through a gentle heating over low heat. You can used poached pears as a basis for many baked goods. The technique of poaching also works well for certain stone fruits, most notable apricots, peaches and nectarines.

Poached Pears:


  • 1 bottle white wine*
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • zest 1-2 lemons
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped and seeded (optional)
  • 10-12 pears**

*It’s best to use wine for cooking that you would happily drink, but it does not need to be something expensive. I tend to use pinot grigio or chardonnay.

**You can poach as may pears as will fit, submerged, into the water, or as few pears as you need for a recipe.


  1. Combine sugar, water, wine and spices in a large pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile peel pears, leaving stem on.
  3. Using a melon baller or 1/4 teaspoon, remove the seeds from pear. This should be done with 2-3 incisions from the bottom of the pear with the goal of removing stem and seeds, leaving a smooth interior.
  4. When poaching liquid has come to a boil, place pears in the pot and lower heat a a gentle simmer.
  5. Cover the pot with a piece of parchment paper weighted down with a plate or bowl. This helps keep all your pears submerged for even cooking.
  6. Test after twenty minutes. Pears are finished when easily pierced with a knife.Continue cooking until finished, anywhere from twenty to forty-five minutes, depending on the size of your pear and cooking temperature.
  7. Let pears cool in syrup. If not using immediately, refrigerate when cool.

Poached pears may keep for up to 2 weeks, refrigerated. Poaching liquid can be saved, strained and used a second time. As with any food item, always taste for freshness before using.

How to use Poached Pears:

Dice and use in a granola yogurt parfait.

Combine poached pears and a little poaching liquid in blender. Blend, strain and process in a home ice cream maker for incredible pear sorbet.

Can with poaching liquid for an elegant homemade hostess gift.

Serve with ice cream, caramel sauce and cookies for an elegant, easy dessert.

Make a pear-frangipane tart.

The poaching syrup recipe above can be modified with other flavors. Substitute cinnamon sticks and orange zest for the star anise and lemox zest, or use these flavors as a guide to spark your imagination!