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Cranberry Poached Pears: Easy Holiday Dessert

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These Cranberry Poached Pears are a delicious and festive holiday dessert. And so simple to make, you’ll find them a perfect addition to your seasonal feasts and gatherings. Poached in cranberry juice, they’re sweet and fragrant with orange, cinnamon, and cloves.

Side view of Cranberry Poached Pears on a Christmas platter with fresh mint leaves

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In no time at all, you have a special dessert absolutely perfect for the most wonderful time of the year.

Beautiful cranberry colors, these pears are tender and sweet, with hints of the holidays in every bite. Plus, they provide a nice compliment to any feast or dessert table.

Side view of Cranberry Poached Pear with crème fraiche

How to Serve Cranberry Poached Pears

These poached pears are simple to serve from a platter or individually. It’s fun to add a green mint leaf to the top of the pears for festive color, but a simple drizzle of the cranberry sauce, and they’re ready to serve.

If you want to elevate the dessert a touch more, consider adding a dollop of vanilla ice cream, mascarpone cheese, yogurt, or as I’ve done here, a spoonful of Crème Fraiche. And just like that, you have a gorgeous dessert for the holidays.

Ripe pears on a white dessert stand

Which Pears are Best for Poaching?

Bosc pears hole their shape well in baking and poaching. They have a sweet and tart flavor which is delicious after poaching. Anjou or Bartlett pears are also a great choice to use!

Choose pears that are ripe but not too soft.

Top side view of pears poaching in cranberry juice on the stovetop

Tips on Making Poached Pears

You can easily make and serve this fancy French dessert in just under an hour. Here are the best tips about making it:

  • Core the pears: Use a small melon baller to gently remove the core and seeds from the bottom of the pear. This is easy when the pear is perfectly ripe.
  • Immediately immerse pears in poaching liquid: Have the poaching liquid ready to go before peeling and coring the pears. Immediately drop the pears into the liquid after peeling them to avoid oxidizing and browning.
  • Be creative with spices in the poaching liquid: I’ve added my favorite simple spices to this recipe, but be creative and try other fragrant spices and herbs you love like nutmeg, rosemary, vanilla bean pods, or even star anise for a unique twist.

Questions on Poaching Pears

Do you peel the pears before poaching?

Yes. Carefully peel the pears after removing the seeds from the bottom. Be sure to leave the stem intact for a pretty presentation.

Which liquid is commonly used to poach pears?

Poached pears are gently poached on the stovetop using a simple syrup made of sugar and water. To add color and delicious flavor, cranberry juice or wine, along with spices and citrus peels, are often used.

How to you remove the core from pears?

Before poaching, use a melon baller to easily remove the seeds and core from the bottom of the pears.

How long do poached pears last?

In an airtight container, store the poached pears in their poaching liquid in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

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Side closeup view of poached pears on a red and white platter with fresh mint leaves
Side view of Cranberry Poached Pears on a Christmas platter with fresh mint leaves

Easy Cranberry Poached Pears

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

These Cranberry Poached Pears are a delicious and festive holiday dessert. And so simple to make, you'll find them a perfect addition to your seasonal feasts and gatherings. Poached in cranberry juice, they're sweet and fragrant with orange, cinnamon, and cloves.


  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 large pears, peeled and cored with stem left intact
  • 1 quart cranberry cocktail juice
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 large piece of orange peel
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons water


  1. In a large Dutch oven or saucepan, heat the water and sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  2. Reduce heat to low and pour in the cranberry juice and lemon juice. Then add the cinnamon stick, whole cloves, and orange peel into the pan. Let the poaching liquid heat while prepping the pears.
  3. Core the ripe but firm pears using a melon baller from the bottom of the pears and remove the seeds. Then peel the pears and leave the stems attached. Add gently to the poaching liquid.
  4. Cook the pears, uncovered, until they are tender but still holding their shape; about 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Remove the pears to a platter and bring the remaining syrup to a boil in the pan. Continue to cook until the liquid is reduced to 2 cups.
  6. Remove the spices and orange peel from the liquid. Mix together the cornstarch and cold water until dissolved and then stir into the liquid. Stir and cook over moderate heat until the sauce thickens.
  7. Spoon sauce over pears, garnish with mint leaves, add crème Fraiche or whipping cream and serve warm.

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