Instant Pot Poached Pears are the easiest, most heartwarming dessert you will ever make! Serve them as a dessert topped with ice cream or as a salad with a tangy vinaigrette. It's dreamy either way!
Are poached pears a thing in your home? I literally had never eaten a poached pear until my 30's. It always seemed like kind of a silly concept, and honestly, didn't sound all that appetizing.
Guess what though? Poached pears are insanely yummy in all their warm, juicy, comforting glory! Deeeee – licious I say! Why did I have to doubt for so many years that such a simple dish could be anything short of life-changing!?
Allow me to pause for a sec in my gushing. I want to make sure we're all on the same page.
WHAT DOES “POACHING” MEAN IN REGARDS TO FOOD?
Poach means to gently simmer something in liquid. Think poached eggs, poached chicken, etc. Poaching is also a great way to infuse a specific food with flavor. In this instance, we are taking a mildly flavored pear and infusing it with color and flavor to take it to the top of the “Most Wanted Food on my Table” list.
The great thing about poaching in a pressure cooker is that it's faster and hands off. Meaning you don't need to babysit your pears over the stove top for 30 minutes.
Also, the nature of pressure cooking makes it an ideal environment for infusing flavors. For example, Infused Water, Infused Honey, Vanilla Extract, etc.
Alright, back to gushing about poached pears. Ahhhh!!! So good!!!
I wrote a recipe for a simple Cinnamon Spiced Poached Pear in my cookbook, Master the Electric Pressure Cooker and that was the moment I fell in love. The only thing missing from that cinnamon spiced version was the vibrant color you see with pears poached in red wine.
We don't drink alcohol around here so I had to come up with a different trick. I tried a variety of juices like pomegranate and grape, but the color was almost a murky brown and not an appealing look in the least.
One day while witnessing my son's stained face and fingers from microwaving and eating his blackberries (no idea why he insists on eating them this way) a lightbulb went off. BLACKBERRIES!!!
I threw some frozen blackberries into my poaching liquid and not only did it stain them perfectly, but it also created the most delicious poaching liquid when combined with spices like star anise, cinnamon, and cardamon. I had my recipe!
I took that recipe and used it for dessert one night then used the leftover pears for a fancy salad the next. I couldn't possibly decide which version was my favorite so you're getting a 2 for 1 recipe today:
Healthy Dessert and Fancy Salad starring Poached Pears.
WHY YOU WILL LOVE THESE EASY POACHED PEARS WITHOUT WINE
- Most poached pears contain quite a bit of added sugar. These are instead poached in sweet apple cider so there is simply no need for added sweetener. Healthy dessert – check
- Versatile in so many ways! You can change the poaching liquid and/or the elements you serve it with. Soft, warm, juicy pears just can't go wrong
- So fast and easy you can make it with minutes to spare and still appear to be the master magician of your kitchen
- Make ahead! I'll get into this more below, but yes, they can be made ahead
HOW TO MAKE THE BEST, HEALTHY POACHED PEARS IN THE PRESSURE COOKER
- Peel pears, leaving the stem attached and cut the bottom flat so they stand upright
- Place blackberries and spices into the pressure cooker pot, add pears, then pour in apple cider until it covers three-quarters of the pear
- Cook for 6 minutes then quickly release the pressure. Behold your beautifully colored poached pears
Now it's time to decide how to serve them.
POACHED PEAR DESSERT
You can go with my kids' favorite sweet route and add ice cream. Be sure to strain the liquids in the pot, then, while it's hot, drizzle it over the pear and ice cream. Pretty and delicious, best of both worlds.
Tip: Did you know if you slice blackberries from top to bottom they are absolutely beautiful? I learned this on a recent episode of The Kitchen and I love it!
POACHED PEAR SALAD
Okay, this is hands down my favorite salad I've ever created at home. It's got crunchy pistachios, tangy goat cheese, salty prosciutto, creamy avocado, tart blackberries, topped with a perfectly juicy poached pear and a drizzle of Apple Cider Vinegarette. You have arrived at my most happy dinner place.
I ate this 4 nights in a row and admittedly hid the vinaigrette in the back of the fridge and handed my husband store-bought ranch dressing for his. Ugh, the selfishness! To the man who gives me the last bite of his ice cream cone even!
HOW TO SERVE SALAD TO A CROWD
This is a gorgeous salad to serve at family and friend gatherings as well. I'd suggest serving it in a wide bowl or even on a large cutting board. Scatter a big pile of greens over top, then equally distribute the toppings and poached pear slices over top. Drizzle with half of the vinaigrette and serve the rest of it on the side. The crowds will swoon.
I'm positively ecstatic for you to try this recipe! I love a simple recipe that is delicious, as is, but holds many possibilities as well.
If you switch things up and find another amazing way to serve these poached pears, PLEASE REPORT BACK!!! The simple pear is about to blow filet mignon out of the water.
BEST PEAR FOR POACHING
It's important to use pears that are perfectly ripe. Too soft and they will turn to mush, too hard and the outside will cook, but the inside will be weirdly crunchy. Bosc, Anjou, and Bartlett varieties all work perfectly.
HOW TO MAKE POACHED PEARS AHEAD OF TIME
Prepare the pears as instructed. Chill the pears and the poaching liquid separately in the fridge. Once they are both chilled, pour some of the liquid over the pears to cover and store covered in the fridge for up to 5 days.
When ready to serve simply warm them back up in the juice in a microwave or pan on the stove top.
I've never tried it, but apparently, you can even freeze poached pears. They never last that long here, but that's an option.
HOW TO SERVE POACHED PEARS
Poached pears are good at any temperature. Hot, warm or cold. Also great for any meal of the day, see the variations below.
- Top poached pears with Homemade Yogurt, a drizzle of the cooking liquid, and my favorite Granola of all time (I use almond butter in place of the peanut butter in this recipe)
- Serve poached pears hot on top of Maple Cinnamon Oatmeal
- Drizzle with Healthy Instant Pot Chocolate Sauce – trust me it works
- Serve pear with blue cheese crumbles and walnuts – I'd eat just this for dinner
TOOLS USED TO MAKE INSTANT POT POACHED PEARSPrint
Instant Pot Spiced Blackberry Poached Pears – No Added Sugar
Perfectly poached pears in a fraction of the time.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 6 minutes
- Total Time: 20 minutes
- Yield: 4-6 servings 1x
- Category: Side
- Method: Pressure Cooker
- Cuisine: American
For Poached Pears
- 4–6 firm pears
- unsweetened apple juice or apple cider – enough to cover the pears, 4 – 6 cups
- 1 cup blackberries (frozen give more color to the pears)
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 star anise
- 5 cardamom pods
- 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
For Poached Pear Dessert
- vanilla ice cream or whipped cream
- fresh blackberries, sliced top to bottom
For Poached Pear Salad
- mixed greens
- sliced or chopped Poached Pears
- pistachio nuts
- fresh blackberries, sliced top to bottom
- crumbled goat cheese
- baked crispy prosciutto (see note)
- diced avocado
- Apple Cider Vinaigrette (storebought or see homemade recipe below)
For the Apple Cider Vinaigrette
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- pinch of kosher salt and coarse black pepper to taste
For Poached Pears
- Peel pears and leave whole. Cut bottoms, so they sit flat when the stem is facing up.
- Add pears to the pressure cooker pot, stem up and pour in apple juice to cover three-quarters of the pears.
- Add blackberries, cinnamon sticks, star anise, cardamom pods, and vanilla extract, making sure they are immersed in the apple juice.
- Secure the lid and turn pressure release knob to a sealed position. Cook at high pressure for 6 minutes.
- When cooking is complete, use a quick release.
- If the pears aren't stained as much as you would like, lay them on their sides in the juice for a minute or two.
- Carefully remove the pears from the pot with a slotted spoon.
- Place a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and pour remaining liquid into the bowl.
Poached Pear Dessert
- Leave pears whole or slice in half and scoop out the core with a small spoon or melon baller. Serve in a bowl topped with ice cream, a small ladle of the leftover juice, and fresh blackberries.
Poached Pear Salad
- Prepare Apple Cider Vinaigrette by vigorously whisking all of the ingredients in a small bowl. Blender or food processor works as well.
- To individual plates or on a large platter or cutting board, make a bed of mixed greens. Evenly scatter toppings over greens. Drizzle with Apple Cider Vinaigrette.
- Reserve the extra poaching liquid. Serve with the poached pears, drink it hot or cold (it's like a hot apple cider with a blackberry twist), or use it to poach another batch of pears.
- How to make Crispy Baked Prosciutto: Preheat oven to 375° F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Lay slices of prosciutto on top (don't overlap). Bake until golden, about 15 minutes. It will crisp more as it cools.
- If you don't want to buy a full bottle of the spices above, check your bulk section of the grocery store. You can buy what you need for this recipe for very cheap there.
- Nutrition facts are only for the pear. It will vary depending on how you serve it.
Keywords: instant pot recipe, poached pears, healthy dessert
Thank you Anne!
This made a beautiful and delicious salad. I doubled the vinaigrette and marinated tofu in it for 20 minutes then baked them to top the salads (vegetarians here.) Seriously can’t wait to try the dessert version of the poached pears.
Mary, Oh my goodness, I’m going nuts over your marinating the tofu idea. What a great idea! How do you bake the tofu? What’s the texture like when you marinate and bake it? And I’m partial to the salad version, but a dollop of cream over the pears for dessert just makes me smile.
I cut the tofu into 1/4 inch thick squares before marinating, then baked them in my air fryer oven just until the edges crisped (10 or 12 minutes.) They had a good bite to them without being too dry or too chewy. It made for a very satisfying meal the whole family loved.
Mary, I’m excited to try this, thank you so much for the tip!
This recipe is perfection! I couldn’t find frozen blackberries so subbed for frozen red currents which gave the same effect. We’ve been having them on our porridge for breakfast and they’re a hit with the whole family. Thank you!
Prudence, that sounds fantastic! I’m so glad you enjoyed them, it’s one of my favorite hidden treasures on the blog.
This salad looks so good and I love the idea of serving pears at Christmas time. I plan to use this salad on my Christmas menu. This year, we will have 2 diabetics having Christmas with us. Do you have any “decadent” desserts that a diabetic could eat?
Adele, I know it depends from person to person what they will eat as a diabetic, but I think these poached pears with a dollop of unsweetened cream and roasted pistachio nuts would be lovely. I also have these 2 apple recipes on my blog that may be okay for your guests
How did I miss this recipe? That salad looks amazing! Going to give it a try…I know it will be loved here!
Oh Cecilia, I love this recipe so much! You must try it!