Pear Butter

Homemade pear butter spiced with star anise, ginger, lemon, cardamom, and nutmeg.

Pear Butter
Elise Bauer

Every year during apple season I spend days hovering over a large copper pot, slowly stirring a thick, bubbling mixture that will become our year's supply of apple butter. And every fall for the last several seasons I've wondered how I would work the same magic on pears.

I've seen plenty of recipes for pear butter, but most of them look like apple butter to me, heavily spiced with cinnamon and cloves. Pears are more floral than apples. I wanted to see them with ginger, and nutmeg, and maybe some cardamom.

So when my pal Hank offered me a a bagful of Bartletts freshly picked from his backyard tree, I was all over it.

Elise Bauer

This pear butter is similar to apple butter in that it is a spicy, sweet, tangy spread, great over buttered toast (there is no "butter" in apple butter or pear butter), but with a distinctly different taste coming from the pears (obviously) and the seasonings of star anise, ginger, lemon, cardamom, and nutmeg.

Pear Butter

Prep Time 40 mins
Cook Time 3 hrs
Total Time 3 hrs 40 mins
Servings 96 to 128 servings
Yield 6 to 8 half-pint jars


  • 4 to 5 pounds chopped Bartlett pears, do not peel or core them (remove any bruised or damaged parts)

  • 1 star anise

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger

  • 2 cups water

  • 1 cup lemon juice

  • 2 to 3 cups sugar (adjust down or up given the sweetness of the pears)

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest


  1. Cook chopped pears with star anise, ginger, water, and lemon juice:

    Put chopped pears, star anise, and ginger into a large pot. Add 2 cups of water and 1 cup of lemon juice.

    Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until the pears are completely soft, anywhere from 25 to 40 minutes. Remove from heat.

    Elise Bauer
    Elise Bauer
  2. Push cooked pears through food mill:

    Fish out and discard the star anise from the pear mixture. Ladle the pear mixture (liquid included) into a chinoise or food mill and (use a pestle if using a chinoise) force the mixture through to a large bowl below.

    Discard remaining solids (seeds, stems, tough parts).

    Elise Bauer
    Elise Bauer
  3. Add pear purée, sugar, spices to pot:

    Measure the resulting purée, and pour into a large (8-qt), wide, thick-bottomed pan. For every cup of pear purée, add 1/3 to 1/2 cup of sugar (adjust given the sweetness of the pears). Stir to dissolve the sugar.

    Elise Bauer
    Elise Bauer

    Add the cardamom, nutmeg, and lemon zest. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

  4. Cook until thick:

    Cook on medium heat, stirring often to prevent the purée from sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning. Cook until the mixture is quite thick, and a small bit placed on a chilled plate is not runny.

    Elise Bauer
    Elise Bauer

    This can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the batch.

  5. Sterilize jars for canning:

    While the mixture is cooking, sterilize the jars for canning.

    To sterilized the jars, either 1) run them through the short cycle of your dishwasher, 2) rinse them and place them in a 225°F oven for 10 minutes, or 3) place them on top of a steaming rack in a large pot of water which you bring to a boil for 10 minutes.

  6. Pour pear butter into jars to can:

    When the pear butter is ready, pour into hot, sterilized jars and seal, allowing for 1/4-inch head space between the pear butter and the rims of the jars.

    Elise Bauer

    If you plan to store the pear butter outside of a refrigerator, follow proper canning procedures.

    Before applying the lids, sterilize them by placing them in a bowl and pouring boiling water over them.

    Wipe the rims of the jars clean before applying lids. Use a hot water bath* for 10 minutes to ensure a good seal.

    *Place on a steaming rack in a large pot of boiling water that covers the jars by at least an inch.


Pear butter with white wine and fennel from Local Kitchen

Pear Butter
Elise Bauer
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
29 Calories
0g Fat
8g Carbs
0g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 96 to 128
Amount per serving
Calories 29
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 1mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 8g 3%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Total Sugars 6g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 1mg 5%
Calcium 2mg 0%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 23mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.