Pear Tarte Tatin

French classic, tarte tatin aux poires, upside down pear tart with flakey pastry crust.

  • Prep time: 30 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 8 servings



  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick, 4 ounces)
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup full fat sour cream


  • 2 pounds firm bosc pears (about 5 pears)
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp sugar plus 2/3 cup of sugar
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 2 teaspoons of minced candied ginger
  • Light grating of fresh nutmeg (or a dash of ground nutmeg)

Equipment needed:

  • A well-seasoned 9-inch or 10-inch cast iron pan
  • Rimmed serving plate or pie plate


1 Make the pastry dough. Cube the butter and put it in a bowl in a warm place. In a separate large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Use your hands or a pastry cutter to work the butter into the flour until you see small, pea-sized pieces of butter. Stir in the sour cream with a fork. Form the dough into a ball and shape into a disk. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour before rolling out. (See more instructions here: No Fail Flakey Pastry Crust Recipe.) While waiting for the dough, prepare the pears and the caramel in steps 2 through 5.

2 Peel and halve the pears lengthwise. Reserve one pear half for the center of the tarte, and cut the remaining halves once more lengthwise.  Core the pear quarters and the half. As you peel and cut the pears, place them in a bowl and sprinkle some lemon juice over them to keep them from turning brown. Sprinkle the pear pieces with 2 Tbsp sugar and toss to distribute the sugar and lemon juice over all the pears.

3 Melt butter in cast iron pan on medium heat. Swirl the butter so that it coats the sides of the pan as well. Sprinkle 2/3 cup of sugar over the butter in an even layer. Remove the pan from heat.

pear-tarte-tatin-method-1 pear-tarte-tatin-method-2

4 Place the single pear half, cut side up, in the center of the pan. Fan the remaining pear quarters, with the narrow side pointing toward the center, around the center pear half. Angle them as you go as to fit all of the pears in. Try to minimize any gaps.

pear-tarte-tatin-method-3 pear-tarte-tatin-method-4

5 Return the pan to medium heat and gently cook, without stirring the pears until the sugar butter mixture turns a deep caramel color, about 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat and place on a baking sheet pan.

pear-tarte-tatin-method-5 pear-tarte-tatin-method-6

6. Sprinkle the pears with grated nutmeg and minced candied ginger.

7 Preheat your oven to 375°F. Roll out the pastry dough to 11 inches if using a 9-inch cast iron pan and 12 inches if using a 10-inch pan. Place the pastry dough over the pears and gently tuck the edges inside the edge of the pan. Careful, the pan is still hot. I find using a fork helps to ease the dough inside the edges of the pan.

pear-tarte-tatin-method-7 pear-tarte-tatin-method-8

8 Place the pan in the oven (on the baking sheet to catch any spillover) and reduce the heat to 350°F. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until pastry is baked through and nicely browned. Remove from oven.

9 Place a rimmed serving dish or a pyrex or ceramic pie dish over the pan. Wearing thick, well insulated oven mitts or potholders, using two hands to hold the dish firmly over the pan, flip them over, releasing the tarte tatin to the plate.

pear-tarte-tatin-method-9 pear-tarte-tatin-method-10

The caramel is hot and liquid-y and can easily spill, so take care and work quickly. Don't worry if some of the liquid spills out, just make sure to wear oven mitts (or long sleeves) and an apron to protect yourself as you do the flip. Flip the tarte over  while the tarte tatin is still hot, that way the caramel will not make the tarte stick to the pan as you invert it. The pears will likely have moved a bit in the flip-over, so rearrange them with a fork (they're hot!) so they form an attractive pattern.

Let cool to room temperature before serving. Serve with a little vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

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  • Josh

    For years, this website is one of my go to places when I cook, but my first time posting.. Thanks Elise.

    This recipe is outstanding in every way. But we are cooks who are always tweeking things!

    Here are two observations. If your pears are ripe ( I used Bartlett), 2/3 C. sugar for the caramel seemed almost too sweet. I’d cut back to just 1/3 C. The nutmeg and ginger is very subtle but good. When the tarte is made with apples, Jaques Pepin sprinkles currants and slivered almonds onto the fruit.

    Should you need to – leave the tarte in the pan after cooking. Reheat just to liquify the caramel, then invert. I did this because I brought the tarte to a dinner party.

    In my opinion, Tarte tatin is one of the easiest and most delicious deserts ever.

  • Janet Campbell

    wow i just love this thank you so much Elise

  • Ksenia

    Just made it! So delicious. Great recipe.
    The dough is easy to make and baked perfectly.
    I didn’t have ginger and lemon. And used only 4 teaspoons of sugar for filling.
    Thank you.

  • Marianne Filia

    may i sub prepared minced ginger with fructose/vinegar/salt amongst the ingredients? i can’t afford to buy a bag of candied ginger and in my wee coastal town of Brookings, Oregon, there aren’t any cheap means of obtaining it. (and i love the fact that the crust is via Zuni Cafe, my favorite restaurant for over 30 years!) bless up, Elise.

  • victotia

    I want to make this recipe but could you use something else sour creamm if you don’t have any in the frigde?

    • Elise

      Hi Victoria, replace the 1/4 cup of sour cream with 2 additional tablespoons of butter.

  • penny

    Thanks Elise, i see that i will have to go out and buy a pan, That is fine but I will be using the oven quite a bit that day therefor i wonder if this can be made a day ahead and if so how do i reheat it >



  • penny

    Can I use a heavy stainless steel pan instead ?


    • Elise

      Hi Penny, for this recipe you want to use a pan that is relatively stick-free and can handle the heat of the oven. Stainless is not stick free and so when you go to turn the tart over, you may have issues. That said, it is worth experimenting. Let us know how it goes for you!

    • Kate

      I just made this in a stainless steel pan and had no issues whatsoever. It’s cooling down now and I can’t wait to eat it!! :)

  • Cookie Roberson

    This is the best and simplest recipe yet. I was in the midst of making pear tart tatin with another recipe and stopped because it wasn’t working….Went to this web site and found your recipe..Eureka….made it yesterday and it was a big hit with company last night. Will use it again and again…Used bosc pears…

  • cora

    Received a beautiful box of pears for Christmas. I’ve used a couple in juice drinks. My sister raved about our aunt’s pear tart recipe, sounds like it might be (the same) as yours. My dilemma is my cast iron fry pan has ridges. Should I purchase a new one? (then it won’t be seasoned). I am real excited to try your recipe! Seems almost a waste to use these beautiful pears in a juice drink!

    • Elise

      So your cast iron pan is more like a grill pan? Yep, that won’t work. It’s not that hard to season a new cast iron pan (you can Google it), or you can often find great used ones, already seasoned, at thrift stores.

  • Sherry

    It’s looks very delicious! thanks but I have a problem we don’t have sour cream!!!!!!!!!!! what can I do ? I love to make it!

    • Elise

      Hi Sherry, use prepared puff pastry or any pastry crust recipe.

  • Colleen

    You made my Christmas dinner absolutely divine with this recipe! The pear tartin was heavenly and enjoyed by all. Thank you!

  • Sarah

    This turned out sooo tasty, although my crust didn’t do what it was supposed to…sort of cracked and fell apart during the baking process :( I was using pastry flour, maybe that was the issue?? Didn’t even attempt to invert it, just scooped it out and served with homemade whipped cream. Delectable! Makes a great breakfast too :)

    NB: if you’re out buying your Bosc pears, buy a couple more than you think you may need. I bought 5, but it turned out one of them was bad in the middle. It worked with 4 large ones, but barely, and there were noticeable gaps which probably contributed to the crust falling apart. Not really the issue you want to be having in the middle of putting this together!

  • Carla

    Beautiful! Here’s a warning for others. Make sure you use Bosc or some other firm pear. I don’t buy pears often, but after seeing the recipe, I did. Unfortunately, I didn’t pay enough attention to the variety. In case you thought maybe Bartlett pears would work, think again. I just did a little research to learn that Bartletts would not hold their shape at all – they would turn to mush! Okay, I’m going back to the grocery for Bosc pears. No harm done, we can eat those Bartletts out of hand. Can’t wait to make the tart for Christmas!

    • Carla

      We made it, and it was absolutely delectable! The crust fell apart some, but it looked rustic :-). We took the liberty of splashing a little bit of pear brandy over it and that didn’t hurt a bit. Yum!


  • Irene Rothschild

    Hi Elise, thank you for your wonderful and homespun blog. I have tried a number of your recipes and have been very pleased with your presentation as well as the results. This week-end I will be going up to the Aderondacks where my children will be skiing, and I will be the designated cook. I am planning on trying the Pear Tatin, but am wondering about the small amount of flour in the pastry, especially in proportion to the amount of fat, and am also wondering if that will make enough pastry for the one crust.

    • Elise

      Hi Irene, tarte tatin is often made with puff pastry, which has a higher ratio of fat to flour than this recipe, so no worries there. I used the crust recipe with the amounts given for a 9 inch and a 10 inch cast iron pan, with extra dough both times. The sides of this crust aren’t as high as a normal pie, so you don’t need as much.

  • Sandy S

    Elise, between you and I, we are going to make my father very happy! From time to time he has told me about an ‘apple pie’ that his mother made in a cast iron pan. He didn’t now how it was made, but it didn’t have a crust on top. He has always said it was his favorite. I think you have just helped me figure out this mystery! I will forgo my GF ways and swap out the candied ginger and nutmeg for cinnamon/apple pie spices and make an apple tarte tatin just for him.

    • mantha

      And even if it’s not quite the same, he’ll love it and you for making it. Win-win! Happy holidays!

  • Mallory @ Because I Like Chocolate

    Despite it’s simplicity, tarte tatin is always so impressive when you flip it out. I like this version with pears over apples!