This pear crisp recipe is a sophisticated spin on apple crisp, bursting with ginger, cinnamon spiced pears blanketed in an irresistible buttery, crunchy pecan, oat, cinnamon, brown sugar topping. Despite being unabashedly delicious, this pear crisp is also ridiculously easy - with just 20 minutes of prep! Simply combine the pears with a simple blend of sugar and seasonings then sprinkle on the topping that is stirred together in ONE bowl (no food processor, no cutting in cold butter, etc.!) and bake. This easy pear crisp recipe requires pantry friendly ingredients and can be assembled ahead of time then just popped in the oven for an easy stress-free dessert perfect for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or an any-time easy seasonal treat.
For the filling:
- 3 pounds ripe but firm Bartlett pears peeled, sliced into 1/2-inch slices
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp EACH ginger, cardamom, salt
For the topping:
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
- 1/2 finely chopped pecans
- 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp EACH nutmeg, salt
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Grease an 8x8 baking pan or 9-inch cast-iron skillet with softened butter; set aside.
To make the topping: Add all of the topping ingredients to a large bowl except the butter and stir until combined. Pour in the melted butter and stir with a spatula to combine then use your hands to combine until the mixture resembles crumbly wet sand. Cover and transfer to the refrigerator while you prep the filling.
To make the filling: Whisk all of the filling ingredients together in a large bowl except the pears. Add the pears and stir to combine as you slice each pear. Stir all the pears until evenly combined in the sugar mixture.
To assemble: Transfer filling to prepared baking dish. Sprinkle topping evenly over the filling, breaking up any large chunks.
To bake: Bake at 425 degrees F until fruit is bubbling around the edges and topping is golden brown, about 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. Transfer baking dish to wire rack and let cool until warm, about 15 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.
Recipe Cooking Tips
- Use firm yet ripe Bartlett pears: You’ll want to use pears that are the cusp of their ripeness, meaning they give ever so slightly when squeezed. If you’re pears are too ripe, your filling will turn to mush or be watery.
- Stall pear ripening. If your pears are ripening quicker than you would like, place them in the refrigerator to delay the process. I also suggest purchasing a couple extra pears just in case some ripen more quickly than others.
- Room temperature pears. If you’ve been keeping your pears in the refrigerator, make sure you take them out a couple hours before baking. Room temperature pears will bake more evenly.
- Cardamon: Boasts a complex flavor that’s citrusy, minty, spicy, and herbal and is a nice compliment to both cinnamon and nutmeg and pairs fantastically with pears. If you don’t keep it on hand, however, you can skip it.
- Old fashioned oats: If you only have quick-cooking oats (NOT instant oats), you may use those.
- Butter: Use unsalted butter so we can control the salt. If you only have salted butter, omit the salt in the topping.
- Thoroughly combine topping. I have found the best way to mix the butter into the topping is to start with a spatula then use hands get in there with your fingers to work the topping to make sure all of the flour, pecans and oats are covered with the butter.
- Make topping first and refrigerate. If you wonder why your toppings haven’t gotten as crispy as you like them on previous desserts, it’s likely your topping was not chilled. For the crispiest topping, the butter should be very cold before going into the oven so always make your topping FIRST and refrigerate.
- Prevent burnt topping. I never have the problem of a burnt topping –but if it’s your first time making this pear crisp recipe, keep an eye on it to be safe. If the topping starts to brown too quickly, then lay a piece of foil over the top and bake on.
- Serve warm. This pear crisp recipe is exponentially better served warmed!
HOW TO STORE and reheat
- Pear crisp should be allowed to cool completely at room temperature.
- Once cool, cover tightly with plastic wrap or foil and refrigerate for 3-4 days. I don't suggest transferring the crisp to another container, because inevitably some of the topping mixes with the filling which means no more crunchy crisp.
- To reheat in the microwave: The microwave is convenient for smaller portions but the topping won’t get as crispy as the oven – just full disclosure – but still delish. To microwave, transfer a portion of pear crisp to a microwave safe plate. Microwave for 30 second intervals until warmed through.
- To reheat in the oven: Reheat the baking dish at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes or until heated though. You can also transfer smaller portions to a smaller baking dish or cast-iron skillet to reheat.
HOW TO MAKE AHEAD
You can completely assemble the pear crisp ahead of time according to recipe directions, cover with foil, refrigerate until ready to bake. Bake according to directions, adding an extra 5-10 minutes.
HOW TO FREEZE PEAR CRISP
Both unbaked and baked pear crisps freeze well but if you have the choice, I would reserve freezing baked pear crisp for leftovers. If you are purposefully making pear crisp to freeze, then do not bake first, so the pears and topping only bake once:
- If baked, let the crisp cool completely.
- Wrap the pear crisp with a layer of plastic wrap followed by a layer of foil.
- Freeze for up to 3 months.
- When ready to use, thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
- For pre-baked, warm crisp in the oven at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes or until heated through.
- For unbaked, bake at 425 degrees F for 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly around the edges.