Pear Vanilla Caramel Sauce

October 29, 2018(updated on August 30, 2021)

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my Pear Vanilla Caramel Sauce class that I taught this last weekend at Lampeter Cafe (big thanks to everyone who came out and joined me). A number of you got in touch, saying that you were too far away to make the class, but would I share the recipe once the class was over?

The answer to everyone who asked was, of course! I’d been planning on posting it once the class was over, because it’s such a good one for holiday gift bags and boxes. I’ve shared similar recipes in the past, but this is a particularly delicious version (there’s also a similar, smaller-scale version of this pear caramel in Preserving by the Pint).

For those of you who haven’t considered such a preserve before, know that it’s delicious on ice cream, as a condiment for cheese, or as filling for cookies (this works best when you’ve cooked it quite thick).

These sauces work much the way dairy-based sauces work. You combine sugar and water and bring it to a boil. Once it has reached between 250°F and 290°F (the higher you go, the more intense the caramel flavor will be), you pour in a fruit puree and return it to a boil, stirring constantly. If you want your sauce to drizzle, take it up to around 215°F. If you want it to spread, aim for 225°F.

There are two things to keep in at the front of your mind when you’re making caramel sauces. The first is that it’s important to stay aware and alert when you’re working with boiling sugar. This is not the kind of project that goes well if you’re multi-tasking.

The second thing to remember is that while using an instant read thermometer is really helpful, it’s also imperative that you also trust your judgment. If the sauce looks like it’s overcooking, but the thermometer isn’t reading a particularly high temperature, trust your eyes rather than the tool.

4.84 from 6 votes

Pear Vanilla Caramel Sauce


  • 2 pounds ripe pears
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups water


  • Prepare a boiling water bath canner and four half pint jars.
  • Core and chop pears. Place them in a blender with the vanilla bean paste, salt, and 1/4 cup water. Puree until smooth. You should have between 3 and 3 1/2 cups pear puree.
  • Combine sugar with the 1 1/2 cups water in a sauce pan. Place over medium-high heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the sugar reaches between 250°F and 290°F and darkens to the color of an old copper penny (the higher the temp, the more assertive the caramel flavor). Do not stir the cooking syrup. Instead hold the handle and gently swirl the pot to move things around.
  • Once the syrup has reached your desired temperature, remove the pot from the heat and stir in the pear puree. It will bubble and spatter, so take care. Stir puree into the sugar and return the pot to the heat. Continue stirring and cooking, until the pear caramel sauce reaches between 215°F and 225°F (the higher the temp, the thicker the finished texture will be). As you stir, take care to really work the bottom of the pot, so that the caramel doesn't stick and burn.
  • Remove caramel from heat and funnel into prepared jars. Wipe rims, apply lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.

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57 thoughts on "Pear Vanilla Caramel Sauce"

    1. You can certainly do this with apples, but you’ll want to cook the apples down into sauce rather than pureeing them raw.

    1. Google offers really reliable conversion tools. Just search for pounds to grams, or cups to liters and plug in the amounts that need conversion.

  • Hi Marisa,
    I’m making this today. A couple of items. You mention peeling the pears but in your picture they are not peeled. Is this because you are using the vitamix and it is a high power blender making peeling unnecessary? Second item in step 4, second paragraph I think you mean return vs reduce. Thanks for the recipe. It sounds delicious.

    1. Thank you for catching my typos. Also, I actually rarely peel the pears for this recipe, so it’s perfectly fine to skip that step.

  • I made two batches of this today and did not peel pears since I blended the pears in my Vitamix. It turned out wonderful. I only got three 1/2 pints from each batch plus a little extra for us to eat this week on ice cream. No one’s complaining about that 🙂 Thanks for a wonderful recipe. This will make great holiday gifts.

  • I don’t have a blender, but my food processor is pretty great. Would it be okay to attempt the pear purée in there?

  • I Love Pearls and Caramel, so thus recipe might be Perfect for me. I also the Vitamix and it is Not necessary to Peel the fruits..

  • Made a double batch today only we used Woodchuck Cider Pearsecco instead of the water. This recipe is very forgiving. We doubled the ingredients, but forgot to double the liquid mixed with the sugar until our caramel was starting to color. We very slowly added an additional 1.5 cups of pearsecco to the bubbling mixture. And nothing bad happened! We continued cooking until it reached 285 degrees and added the pear puree. and continued cooking til 220 degrees. We were greatly relieved when it worked in spite of our big mistake. We used an 8 qt pan for the double batch. Next time I will use less vanilla paste. Ours is very vanilla-forward. The double batch made 10 half pints. We canned 9 jars had served some of the 10th jar over maple pudding. Perfect! This is an excellent dairy-free caramel sauce. Looking forward to experimenting with other fruits.

  • My caramel seized up when I added the pear purée, and I thought I did something wrong. I just kept stirring it and it softened and melted just fine. This is the most delicious caramel sauce I have EVER had. Thanks for sharing (and thanks for replying to my email about my concerns about pears possibly not being s idsc enough.)

  • Hi! I don’t have vanilla paste but do have vanilla extract…would it be ok to substitute? Haha! Feeling impatient and want to make this recipe ????
    Thank you!

    1. Unfortunately, the flavor of the vanilla extract will disappear in this product (because as a alcohol-based flavoring, it is not designed for heavy boiling). It’s better to find a different flavor element (like cinnamon or cardamom) if you can’t get vanilla bean paste.

  • Just made this with fairly unripe pears which I peeled. Absolutely delicious, can’t wait to use it in recipes!

  • My pear tree had a dismal crop this year but we had tons from our Asian pear tree. I made a batch and have been keeping in the fridge because I know they aren’t as acidic as regular pears. Do you think they could be shelf stable (would love to reclaim some fridge space)?

    1. I wouldn’t feel comfortable canning this sauce if it was made with Asian pears. There’s just not enough acid. If you make another batch and want it to be shelf stable, you could add some citric acid. Use the same amount that you would for acidifying tomatoes.

  • I made a Chocolate Pear Jam from Jam Cupboard. While it tasted great, it was really grainy. I’ve had this issue with other pear jams. Any suggestions?

    1. Pear preserves are typically quite grainy because that’s the texture of the fruit itself. Personally, I enjoy that texture. If you really dislike it, you could try pureeing it. Or seeking out pear varieties that have less natural grain.

  • The texture of my caramel never really got to where I wanted it to be (it’s not…stringy…if that makes sense) before I try my next batch, is it obvious that it’s something I did?

  • This looks amazing! I was wondering if I could sub the vanilla bean paste with a vanilla bean?

  • Used barely ripe bosch pears unpeeled, like the flavor, texture is grainier than I like. Should I have peeled, chosen riper pears or different variety? I blended the heck out of them. Thanks!

  • Have you ever taken this recipe further to soft ball stage and turned it into a soft caramel candy? I’ve got a vegan recipe I’m trying to tinker on and I’m researching fruit caramel candies. I’m struggling to find any resource material that doesn’t include vegan butter or coconut milk.

    1. I’ve never done it, but I imagine that it would work. There’s no harm in trying it and seeing what happens!

  • Hi Marisa,

    I’m just doing the recipe right now but I’m wondering if the caramel should be cooked until reach between 250F and 290F or Celsius??? Because I cooked the syrup until reached 168 degrees Celsius but it didn’t reach the caramel colour.
    I poured the pear purée now…hopefully will turn out right. 🙂

    1. It is 250F to 290F. I don’t know why your sugar didn’t develop a caramelized color, though. Here’s hoping it turned out!

  • Could I use maple syrup in this recipe? I know maple syrup affects the ph though…but we don’t eat any cane ( or beet or coconut ) sugars here, just maple and honey and I’d LOVE to make this for my son who loves all things caramel!

    1. I have no idea how maple syrup would behave in this recipe. I don’t think it caramelizes the same way that sugar does, so I wouldn’t recommend it.

    1. I’ve never tried it, but I don’t see why you couldn’t use a peeled peach puree instead of the pears.

  • 5 stars
    Out of this world!! The caramel and pear flavors go together beautifully. It’s not hard at all if you read instructions carefully. I did, but I still managed to harden the sugar – I was trying to scrape down the sugar on the sides and I got carried away. Anyway, I just reheated on low with the pear puree and it became a beautiful syrup.If you make this, just be sure to swirl gently if needed and don’t stir. You shouldn’t have any problem. I cooked until 210 degrees, I wanted to keep the pear flavor and I figured I had an 8 degree adjustment due to altitude -I’m at a little less than 6000′.

  • 5 stars
    Thi is incredibly good. Making another batch tonight with pears from our tree and might gift some if I can stand parting with any. Delicious on ice cream and yogurt. So many ways you could enjoy this delicious sauce. I tried adding butter to a small amount to see what that was like but I prefer it without. The pear flavor shines through and it’s delicious. We call it pearamel.

  • 4 stars
    Oh my goodness, this sauce is incredible!
    I did have trouble with seal holding, though, on 2 out of 4 jars. I did all the right things, and even when I reprocessed the failed jars, one of the two didn’t seal.

  • 5 stars
    This is incredible! My husband and I cannot leave this little excess sauce alone….wow! I previously adjusted the recipe to use apples and due to the pectin it was more of a spread rather than sauce but this was my first attempt at the pear version and I can see a single batch will definitely not last long. It’s lucky I still have some pears 😂