Spiked Poached Pears

Pears poached in apple cider, Cointreau and spice

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One of the flavors of the fall that I really enjoy is that of a perfectly poached pear.  Poaching transforms an under-ripe, rather tasteless pear into a tender and delicately flavored bite.  This Spiked Poached Pear recipe has been used for many types of pears and the outcome has been the same every time – delicious! The trick with poaching pears is to start with firm, a bit under-ripe pears. A soft pear that is ready to eat should just be eaten and enjoyed.  If you try to poach it, it will turn to mush.  However, if you have some pears that need a day or two before they are ready to bite into, then poach a few of them.  You’ll love the results.

In this recipe the pears are simply peeled and set into a relatively small amount of fruit juice with a touch of sweet liquor and some spices.  The recipe below is a combination of ingredients that we thoroughly enjoy; however, I do change it up a little here and there depending on what ingredients I have available.  For example, the liquor is quite versatile. You can omit is altogether or substitute with another sweet wine or liquor.  The fruit juice – the liquid base – can be just about any fruit juice you have on hand.  And the spices – those are easy to change up.  See the Kitchen Notes for variations.

Spiked Poached Pears
Pears poached in apple cider, Cointreau and spice

Spiked Poached Pears Recipe
10 mins
20 mins
Total Time
30 mins

A light and delicious poached pears made with apple cider and a hint of orange.

"*" See Kitchen Notes for more information or links to special ingredients.

Course: Fruit, Side Dish, Snack, Vegan, Vegetarian
Yields: 4 servings
Recipe Author: MJ of MJ's Kitchen
  • 4 firm pears, peeled, stems intact
  • 1 Tbsp. orange juice concentrate or juice from half an orange
  • 1 cup apple juice or sparkling apple cider
  • ¼ cup Cointreau
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/8 tsp. cardamom or 2 cardamom pods cracked
  • freshly grated nutmeg, 5-6 short grates with a micrograter or a couple of dashes of ground nutmeg
  • ~1/2 to 1 tsp. cornstarch (optional)
  1. Combine all ingredients (except pears and cornstarch) in a tall sauce pan. The sauce pan should be big enough to hold all four pears and tall enough to put a lid on it.
  2. Place the sauce pan over medium heat. Stir the mixture and bring to a boil.
  3. Pick the peeled pears up by the stems and place, standing upright in the sauce pan. The liquid will be anywhere from an inch to halfway up the pears, depending on the size of the pan.
  4. Turn down heat for a simmer and cover.
  5. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes until done, time depending on the ripeness of the pears*.

  6. When done, transfer the pears from the sauce pan to a plate and cover to keep warm.
  7. Bring the liquid to a boil. Cook uncovered and reduce to about 1/4 cup. If you don't want to wait for the sauce to thicken, you can produce a thicker sauce quickly by slowing sifting the cornstarch into a simmering (not boiling) sauce. I use an old tea strainer to sift. Put the cornstarch in the strainer and tap it over the sauce pan, stirring constantly. Add a little cornstarch at a time until the sauce is at the desired thickness.

  8. Transfer the pears to serving bowls.
  9. Pour a little sauce over each pear and serve.
Kitchen Notes

The Pears – Bosc, Anjou, and Bartletts all work nicely. I haven’t tried Asian or Comice pears, but I can’t imagine they wouldn’t work.  Pears be firm and a touch under-ripe.  If the pear is already soft, poaching it will either turn it to mush.


Cooking Time – Adjust the cooking time to the ripeness of the pears. If the pears are just on the edge of being ripe, then cook for the minimum cook time of 20 minutes.  If they are “hard”, then 30 minutes will be needed.  To test, poke a toothpick into the thickest part of the pear.  If it doesn’t go through to the center without having to hold onto the pear, then cook a couple more minutes. If it goes through easily, then remove the pears from the pan and thicken the sauce, if desired.


Spiking Component – There are several different alcohols that you can use and if you don’t like cooking with alcohol, then just omit it.  Cointreau or Grand Marnier are my favorites. Other options include marsala, sweet tawny port, or another sweet, dessert wine or another flavored liquor.  Just keep in mind that the flavor of the liquor will affect the flavor of the poached pears, so if you don’t like the taste of the alcohol component, you won’t like the taste of the pears.


Apple Juice vs. Apple Cider – I always have sparkling apple cider which tends to be a little sweeter than most apple juices; therefore, cider yields a little sweeter pear as well as a sweeter sauce. Therefore, if I’m serving the pear as a side, I’ll omit the sauce altogether to keep it from being too sweet of a side.  Of course if you have neither, you could always substitute grape juice, or use all orange juice.


Spices – The combination and amount of spices listed in this recipe yields a delicately spiced pear.  If you want more spice flavor, then increase the amounts.  Throw in a star anise or some fennel seeds for a bit of licorice flavor.  Rather than using individual spices, toss in 1/2 to 1 tsp. of your favorite spice mix.  Just keep the amount of spices to a minimum so you don’t overpower the flavor of the pear that is brought out in the steaming process.



Pears poached in apple cider, Cointreau and spice


Serving Suggestions – Breakfast, as a snack, starter or appetizer, a side to a meal, or as a light, slightly sweet dessert.


These Spiked Poached Pears have been shared with the following blog hops:  Hearth & Soul  .




80 Responses to “Spiked Poached Pears”

  1. April @ The 21st Century Housewife November 5, 2013 at 5:29 am #

    I love poached pears, MJ, and your recipe is one of the most flavourful I have seen. Love the combination of the apple and orange, as well as the addition of the Cointreau! Thank you for sharing this delicious autumn dessert with us at the Hearth and Soul hop.

    • mj November 5, 2013 at 9:20 am #

      Thank YOU April! They really are quite different from most other poached pears I’ve seen, and very good!

  2. Nancy/SpicieFoodie October 26, 2013 at 2:44 pm #

    I look forward to poached pears every autumn. Your recipe sounds fantastic, thanks for sharing it and the lovely photos.:)

    • mj October 27, 2013 at 3:46 pm #

      Thanks Nancy! And thanks for YBR!

  3. Reese October 23, 2013 at 4:40 pm #

    Indeed, MJ! Poached pear dessert is one perfect fall time dessert. The wonderful thing about it is the endless variation when comes to liquor and spices. I really like your detailed kitchen notes which sparks ideas on how to enjoy poached pears at its best. Definitely a good reference for anyone who is making it for the first time. Shared!

    • mj October 24, 2013 at 8:20 am #

      Thanks Reese! I agree -there are so many ways to prepare poached pears. The most common method in red wine is one I have yet to try. 🙂

  4. Charles October 22, 2013 at 8:46 am #

    Hi MJ, your pears look gorgeous! I’m such a huge fan of poached pears… the saddest part is when you get to the core in the middle and you realise there is no more delicious fruit left!

    I normally poach them in red wine, but I love your version with cointreau – will have to give this a try next time!

  5. Viviane Bauquet Farre - Food and Style October 21, 2013 at 6:10 pm #

    These look so good, MJ! I think the suggestion about apple cider is spot-on. Kudos!

  6. Tessa October 20, 2013 at 4:23 pm #

    Your poached pears look delicious! With all the pear orchards close by, there is no excuse to not try this dish!

  7. Gomo | cHow Divine October 20, 2013 at 3:29 pm #

    As luck would have it, we have some under-ripe pears. This is the perfect colder-weather dessert! BTW, I would love to raid your liquor cabinet! 🙂

  8. Yi @ Yi Reservation October 20, 2013 at 3:16 pm #

    I’ve been eating a lot apples and pears recently as they are in season so I am always looking for a new way to serve them. This poached pear recipe sounds absolutely fantastic! I’ve had poached pear served in the restaurants before but I’ve never made it home. Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe. I might finally make my first poached pear dish home!

  9. Zsuzsa October 20, 2013 at 9:00 am #

    Peach Lady, this is simply beautiful! I will remember to poach the pears – most of the ones I find in the store are underripe.

    • mj October 20, 2013 at 10:31 am #

      Thanks Cake Lady!! Hope you’re having a wonderful weekend!

  10. SeattleDee October 19, 2013 at 2:01 pm #

    It’s Pear Week, or it should be. I’m baking pear bread with ginger again today and your poached pears will be an amazing partner for a sure-to-please company dessert. Hopefully there will be leftovers for us to enjoy at Sunday brunch tomorrow.

    • mj October 20, 2013 at 10:30 am #

      Thanks SeattleDee! Oh, the pear bread sounds fabulous! I saw some apple muffins over at The Orgasmic Chef’s the other day, that I thought would be great with pears. Just the smell of a pear bread baking gets me exited.

  11. Rachel Cotterill October 19, 2013 at 10:48 am #

    Poached pears are delicious. Especially with a drizzle of chocolate sauce 😉

    • mj October 20, 2013 at 10:27 am #

      Thanks Rachel! Love the idea of chocolate sauce!!!

  12. Kelly @ Inspired Edibles October 19, 2013 at 8:35 am #

    What an elegant dessert MJ and a great way to use up those under-ripe pears (which I always seem to have on hand!). I’ve roasted pears before but never poached them. I am very intrigued by this technique and the recipe sounds delicious (I just happen to have cointreau on hand too – happy coincidence). I’ve added this delight to the Recipe Wish List on my site :). Thank you for the inspiration!

    • mj October 20, 2013 at 10:27 am #

      Thanks Kelly! O.K. – roasting pears – that’s a new one for me. Sounds wonderful and something I need to try. How do you prepare them for roasting?

  13. Maureen | Orgasmic Chef October 19, 2013 at 6:01 am #

    I bought a few pears the other day just to cut up for the breakfast fruit bowl but you’ve given me a better idea!

    • mj October 20, 2013 at 10:32 am #

      Thanks Maureen! I’ve been using pears for breakfast as well. They’ve been great this year.

  14. Mette October 19, 2013 at 3:15 am #

    I can see you share my love of poached pears, and this version looks particularly fragrant and aromatic. A must try.

    • mj October 20, 2013 at 10:26 am #

      Thanks Mette! Yes – I do share that love! 🙂

  15. Judy @Savoring Today October 18, 2013 at 9:08 am #

    Pears in the fall are such a favorite I slice them and serve on buttered toast, but the way you have prepared them is perfect for dessert as well. 🙂

    • mj October 20, 2013 at 10:26 am #

      Thanks Judy! I love the idea of serving them on buttered toast!

  16. Sanjeeta kk October 17, 2013 at 10:41 pm #

    Oh..never knew that slightly unripe pear is best for poaching…the reason I don’t get a perfectly poached fruit which is firm and juicy as well. Will try this next. Thanks for the lovely tips, MJ!

    • mj October 20, 2013 at 10:25 am #

      Thank you Sanjeeta! You’ll see a huge difference in the final result if you start with underripe fruit. Huge, Huge difference!

  17. Balvinder October 17, 2013 at 10:40 pm #

    I love spiced fruits and this looks like an elegant dessert.

    • mj October 20, 2013 at 10:33 am #

      Thanks Balvinder!

  18. Kate@Diethood October 17, 2013 at 9:45 pm #

    MJ, they are gorgeous! I love poached pears, but girrrrrl, you added in some Cointreau and took ’em up to a whole ‘notha level! 😀 LOVE IT!

    • mj October 17, 2013 at 10:22 pm #

      Well thank ya there Kate!!! 🙂

  19. Bam's Kitchen October 17, 2013 at 8:35 pm #

    Love you beautiful white pears. A great alternative the red wine version usually served. Just light on sugar but big on flavour. Have a super weekend. BAM

    • mj October 17, 2013 at 10:21 pm #

      Thanks Bam! The fruit juice provides plenty of sweetness.

  20. Nami | Just One Cookbook October 17, 2013 at 5:19 pm #

    Poached pears are one of the foods that I am intending to make at home! I love red wine version that I tasted in the restaurant but I am so excited when I saw you use Cointreau! Now I really have to give this a try. I know I’ll be hooked!

    • mj October 17, 2013 at 10:21 pm #

      Thanks Nami! I guess I need to try the red wine version. 🙂 I’ve never had it. Hope you get a chance to try these.

  21. Sissi October 17, 2013 at 1:56 pm #

    I only know classic French red wine-poached pears (of course I love them), but I find your idea to use Cointreau genius! Your pears look marvellous and not too mushy (like they sometimes do alas… You are right about slightly underripe fruits; these are the best). I must say I prefer underripe pears in general (and even underripe bananas, but apparently these are not as healthy as fully ripe…). Excellent light dessert idea!

    • mj October 17, 2013 at 10:20 pm #

      Thanks Sissi! When I first started poaching pears, I learned very quickly about firm vs. ripe pears. I used overripe pears once and Bobby and I neither one could eat them. The taste was fine, but the texture was very unpleasant. As far as just eating them, I prefer them quite ripe; however, I want my bananas a little underripe, like you.

  22. Adri October 17, 2013 at 12:21 pm #

    I love poached pears. They have always been a favorite in our home. Poached in everything from simple syrup to Port, to other wines and liqueurs of all stripe, they never fail to please. Yours are truly lovely. Bravo!

    • mj October 17, 2013 at 10:15 pm #

      Thanks Adri! Oh I love the idea of the port poached pears!

  23. Adora's Box October 17, 2013 at 12:00 pm #

    Love it, MJ. The cardamom and nutmeg must have given it a Christmassy twist. What a perfect dessert for autumn.

    • mj October 17, 2013 at 10:14 pm #

      Thanks Adora! Yes, these do have a holiday feel to them. 🙂

  24. Purabi Naha | Cosmopolitan Currymania October 17, 2013 at 11:55 am #

    Spiked pears make such an interesting recipe. I love your pictures!! Although I never made this at home yet, I am determined to try these at home now.

    • mj October 17, 2013 at 10:14 pm #

      Thanks Purabi! They are so easy to make. You really should give them a try!

  25. wok with ray October 17, 2013 at 9:59 am #

    Oh yes, perfect time for this delicious dish of yours as there are plenty of pears in the market. I like poached pears and yours look very elegant. Perhaps more liquor on mine? 😉 Thank you, MJ! 🙂

    • mj October 17, 2013 at 10:13 pm #

      Ray, I actually started with 1/2 cup Cointreau (thinking the same as you :)), but it was a little too much for me in the sauce. The pears without the sauce were great, so if you don’t plan to reduce the sauce, then yes – go for it! Have a great weekend my friend!

  26. Minnie@thelady8home October 17, 2013 at 9:51 am #

    I would have never thought of making these….what a great idea. I never heard of these either. Awesome way to serve pears. Thanks MJ for this delightful recipe.

    • mj October 17, 2013 at 10:12 pm #

      Minnie, if you’ve never had poached pears, you do need to give it a try. I think you’ll love them. Thanks!

  27. Debra October 17, 2013 at 9:37 am #

    Sometimes we see signs by the side of the road that say “Free Pears.” I have even seen five gallon buckets sitting by curbs. Now that I want some, I can’t find any. Hope the FM has some this weekend. Love this post. Thanks.

    • mj October 17, 2013 at 10:10 pm #

      Isn’t that the way it always happens?! 🙂 Hope you find some this weekend. Thanks!

  28. Shashi @ http://runninsrilankan.com October 17, 2013 at 6:59 am #

    Wow – so simple and yet so decadent looking! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • mj October 17, 2013 at 10:09 pm #

      Thanks Shashi!

  29. cquek October 17, 2013 at 1:46 am #

    Oh my gosh, it’s posts like these that make me want to live closer to you.

    • mj October 17, 2013 at 10:08 pm #

      You are so sweet! 🙂 Thanks!

  30. Sarah | The Sugar Hit October 17, 2013 at 12:43 am #

    Poached pears are such a great dessert – and I love the sound of these! Boozy!

    • mj October 17, 2013 at 10:24 pm #

      Thanks so much Sarah!

  31. Hotly Spiced October 17, 2013 at 12:24 am #

    These spiced pears are a wonderful Fall dessert. I love pears cooked this way. I love how these are cooked in Cointreau – I’m sure the Cointreau gives plenty of flavour xx

    • mj October 17, 2013 at 10:23 pm #

      Thanks Charlie! Yes – the Cointreau does make them quite special.

  32. Asmita October 16, 2013 at 8:29 pm #

    So elegant and delicious!

    • mj October 17, 2013 at 10:22 pm #

      thanks Asmita!

  33. Liz October 16, 2013 at 7:59 pm #

    Oh, I have got to get on the pear bandwagon this fall. Your poached pears look spectacular!!!

    PS…monkey bread is usually made in a Bundt or tube pan. I wasn’t sure how it would do in a slow cooker, but the family loved it.

    • mj October 17, 2013 at 10:07 pm #

      Thanks Liz! And thanks for the clarification on the Monkey Bread. I thought that was the case, but your slow cooker version looks so perfect that I thought that was normal. 🙂

  34. Evelyne@cheapethniceatz October 16, 2013 at 2:09 pm #

    This is always such a wonderful and elegant dessert. Nice to see a twist from the regular red wine. Looks great.

    • mj October 17, 2013 at 10:05 pm #

      Thanks Evelyne! I have to be honest here – I’ve never had the poached pears in red wine. 🙂

  35. Bill October 16, 2013 at 4:50 am #

    What a perfect healthy sweet treat for fall. Pears are by far my favorite fruit but I’ve never poached them. I love the idea! Great post!

    • mj October 16, 2013 at 7:55 am #

      Thanks Bill! You really need to give poached pears a try. They are really, really good!

  36. Katerina October 16, 2013 at 4:38 am #

    Your pears look absolutely perfect! A glass of sweet wine and a pear like this is I think is the perfect way to end your day!

    • mj October 16, 2013 at 7:55 am #

      A glass of marsala or any sweet wine would be perfect with these. Thanks Katerina!

  37. Giulietta | Alterkitchen October 16, 2013 at 2:37 am #

    Ohhhh, I love poached pears, too… and caramelised pears? And pear jam?
    Ok, I’m in on this recipe 🙂

    • mj October 16, 2013 at 7:54 am #

      Thanks Guilia! O.K. now you have me craving caramelized pears. YUM!

  38. ChgoJohn October 16, 2013 at 12:15 am #

    I really do like the sounds of your pears, MJ. Like John before me, I’ve only poached mine using red wine with a few spices. I’m do for a change and I think yours would be lighter tasting, allowing for more of that pear flavor that we all love so much.

    • mj October 16, 2013 at 7:53 am #

      Thanks so much John! I hope you get a chance to give these a try. They are delicious!

  39. john@kitchenriffs October 15, 2013 at 7:57 pm #

    Poached pears are so nice, and I haven’t made them in forever and a day! Lovely recipe – I like the spiking! I’ve used red wine before, which is flavorful (although it does color the pears). Great tips and notes – thanks so much.

    • mj October 16, 2013 at 7:53 am #

      Thanks so much John! I have to say that I actually buy Cointreau now because of you. I use to be totally Grand Marnier, but with all of your wonderful drinks, you got me interesting in Cointreau, now I’ll never go back. 🙂 I’ve never poached in red wine primarily for the reason you mentioned. I didn’t think I would like the color. I know that sounds crazy, but…

  40. Vicki Bensinger October 15, 2013 at 6:12 pm #

    Yum! I love spiced pears and peaches. Your recipe sounds fantastic. I can almost smell it simmering in my home. With a scoop of vanilla ice cream this would be the perfect fall dish.

    • mj October 16, 2013 at 7:50 am #

      Thanks Vicki! Oh, I love the idea of a scoop of ice cream. I’d wait and pour the sauce over the ice cream as well. YUM!

  41. Ramona October 15, 2013 at 4:21 pm #

    Your timing couldn’t be better… I just bought some little pears just like this at Trader Joe’s today. 🙂 Looks great. 🙂

    • mj October 16, 2013 at 7:49 am #

      Thanks Ramona! Hope you enjoy!

  42. Laura @ Family Spice October 15, 2013 at 3:58 pm #

    Oh, yum! I love fruit desserts the most and these poached pears look amazing!

    • mj October 16, 2013 at 7:48 am #

      Thanks so much Laura! I’m with you on fruit desserts. YUM!

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