These elegant, yet easy, Vanilla Bourbon Poached Pears are truly a show-stopper dessert. With a mix of cinnamon, vanilla bean, smoky bourbon, & fresh orange juice, you will fall in love with these spiced poached pears.
It's likely you're familiar with the term poaching from "poached eggs". However, you can actually poach so many foods! Poaching essentially means cooking food in a liquid just below the boiling point.
Poaching pears involves cooking firm pears in a flavored syrup. A lot of recipes call for poaching pears in wine. However, for this recipe, I wanted to do something a bit more unique.
Some of the inspiration for this flavor came from my super popular Pear Vanilla Gin Cocktail. Add in bourbon, orange, & cinnamon and you have a truly unique poached pear recipe!
- Pears: For poaching, I prefer firm bosc pears. I love the shape of them and they do hold their shape well when cooking. Other varieties that work well include Anjou or Bartlett Pears.
- Vanilla bean paste: I couldn't find vanilla pods, so I chose to use vanilla bean paste which has the vanilla bean seeds in it and more vanilla flavor than extract.
- You can substitute for a full vanilla bean pod sliced down the center for even more flavor. Vanilla extract can also work but it's not as flavorful.
- Bourbon: I have made this recipe with Woodford Reserve Bourbon & Makers Mark and both work perfectly in this poached pear recipe.
How to make vanilla poached pears
Bring syrup ingredients to a simmer
Luckily, the syrup ingredients are pretty simple and include water, sugar, bourbon, orange juice, vanilla, and a cinnamon stick. Once everything is added to a pot, just stir together to combine and bring the mixture to a low simmer.
Peel & core pear
Once the syrup is simmering, peel the bosc pears and then core them from the bottom to remove the inside pit.
P.S- If you happen to have any leftover bosc pears, save them to make my Baked Maple Cinnamon Pears next!
Cook pears in vanilla bourbon syrup
Add the peeled pears to the simmering pot of vanilla bourbon syrup, add a lid, and simmer the pears for 25-30 minutes until soft.
As a best practice, make sure to stir the pears every 5-10 minutes. Since they won't be completely submerged in the syrup, this makes sure they get evenly cooked.
You will know the pears are done cooking when they can be easily pierced with a knife and are soft, but not falling apart or mushy.
Reduce remaining syrup to thicken
Once the pears are cooked, remove them from the syrup and set aside to cool. You'll also want to remove the cinnamon sticks from the syrup at this point as well and discard them.
Then, continue cooking the syrup for another 30 minutes or so until it has reduced to about half. It should still be cleared and not browned, so make sure to continue cooking at low heat.
How to serve poached pears:
You can honestly enjoy these vanilla-poached pears hot or cold.
If you're enjoying them warm, they taste amazing with some of the reduced vanilla bourbon syrup on time and a scoop of ice cream. Better yet, pour some vegan caramel sauce on top for an extract decadent dessert.
If serving cold, I love having them with a bowl of vanilla yogurt & homemade granola (my maple almond butter granola & chai pecan granola are personal favorites). They also make a really fun & unique addition to a cheeseboard.
Lastly, you can even save them to add to other desserts like a Pear Frangipane Tarte or even use them inside a cake like in this gingerbread poached pear cake.
FAQ & Tips:
The best pears for poaching are going to be ones that will hold their shape while being cooked.
My personal favorites are Bosc Pears. Other pear varieties that work well for this recipe include Anjou Pears & Bartlett Pears.
Pears are done being poached when they are easy to pierce with a knife and tender. They should not be too soft or mushy as that means they are overcooked.
The pears will look slightly translucent on the outside as well
Poached pears are best stored in a closed container in the fridge covered with any leftover syrup. They should keep in the fridge for 4-5 days.
I don't recommend freezing poached pears as I think it affects the texture. However, if you need to store them this way they will keep in a closed container in the freezer for up to 1 month.
I hope you love these delicious & easy Vanilla Bourbon Poached Pears! They are truly full of flavor and make the perfect Holiday dessert or breakfast treat. Enjoy!
More vegan dessert recipes you will love:
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Vanilla Bourbon Poached Pears
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup bourbon
- ¼ cup fresh orange juice about 1 orange juiced
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or 1 vanilla pod sliced in half
- 4 medium bosc pears
- First, add the water, sugar, bourbon, orange juice, cinnamon sticks, and vanilla bean paste to a large pot or dutch oven. Stir together and bring to a simmer.
- Once simmering, peel the pears and use a melon baller or spoon to "core" them from the bottom and remove the seeds. Then, immediately add the peeled and cored pears to the simmering syrup. It's very important to ONLY peel the pears once the liquid is simmering or you risk the pears browning.
- As soon as the pears are in the pot stir them so they are completely coated with liquid, Then, turn the heat to a very low simmer and cook the pears in the syrup for 20-25 minutes (or up to 40 minutes for large pears).
- Since the pears will not be fully immersed in the syrup, make sure to rotate the pears every 5 minutes so they poach evenly on all sides. You can also stand them up in the syrup if needed to give the bottoms extra cooking time.
- Once the pears are poached, gently remove them from the pot and transfer to a bowl to allow to cool. You will know the pears are poached when they are slightly transcluent on the outside and easy to pierce with a fork or knife, yet not and mushy (which would mean they are overcooked). You will also want to remove and dicard the cinnamon sticks at this point.
- While the pears are cooling, continue to stir & cook the remaining syrup at a low simmer to thicken for another 15 minutes. It should not brown or caramelize, but should become a sweeter thicker syrup during this additional cooking time.
- To serve pears warm, add them to a plate and top them with the warmed syrup. If serving cold, store the pears and with the room temperature syrup in a closed container in the fridge until cooled. Then, serve with your choice of toppings & enjoy!
- Please note: nutrition facts take into account using all the poaching syrup, but each pear is significantly fewer calories if eaten without remaining syrup.
- I love serving these pears cold with vegan yogurt & my homemade maple almond butter granola.
- Pears can also be served warm with ice cream and salted caramel sauce.
- Leftover pears can be stored in a closed container with the remaining poaching syrup for 4-5 days in the fridge. I don't recommend freezing poached pears.
Can you make ahead and reheat?
I don't think they are as good reheated as they can get overcooked, but they are really delicious enjoyed cold too!
Have always wanted to poach pears, totally worth it! I added some cardamom pods to the liquid, subbed lemon juice I had on hand, and used brandy for the alcohol. It didnt really cook down into a thickened sauce, even after 45minutes, but the liquid was still delicious! Will make again.
Glad you enjoyed it! Just so you are aware,the liquid doesn't get super thick like a sauce, but will get a lot thicker than it starts and be sweeter as you reduce it 🙂