Caramel Pear Pie with Oatmeal Cookie Crumble
Step out of your fall baking rut with this Caramel Pear Pie with Oatmeal Cookie Crumble. Ripe pears (learn how to pick the best one!) and a drizzle of homemade caramel sauce are all topped with a crunchy oatmeal topping reminiscent of a crumbled cookie. Move over, apple pie: there’s a new fall favorite in town.
We are once again coming in right under the wire for my Pie of the Month series. But good things are worth the wait, and let me tell you, this caramel pear pie with oatmeal cookie crumble is worth the wait.
Let me repeat this because it’s just so dang good. A pear pie. Drizzled with salted caramel sauce. Covered in an oatmeal cookie crumble. Yes, yes, and YES.
I feel like pears are a kind of underrepresented fruit. They’re plentiful in the fall, and yet all we seem to hear about are apples and pumpkin. Why no love for the pear? It’s time we change this and a caramel pear pie is the perfect place to start.
Ingredients and Substitutions
When it comes to making a delicious Caramel Pear Pie, the ingredients you use can make all the difference. Here are some essential ingredients and potential substitutions.
- Pears: Use a firm pear, like Bosc or Anjou, that will hold its shape while baking. Softer pairs like Bartlett or Comice are juicy and fall apart in the pie.
- Pie Crust: I always recommend my No Fail Pie Crust, but you could use a store-bought crust (or even a graham cracker crust!).
- Sugar: You’ll need both granulated and brown sugar for the filling, caramel sauce, and oatmeal crumble.
- Flour: Flour is used in the filling and crumble, but to keep the pie gluten-free, use a gluten-free pie crust and substitute a 1:1 gluten-free baking blend in the filling and crumble. Cornstarch can also be used for a thickener in the pie – just use half as much (8 teaspoons of cornstarch).
- Butter: You’ll need butter for the crust, caramel sauce, and cooked crumble. I always use unsalted butter but if you prefer to use salted, adjust the salt content in the recipe accordingly.
- Heavy Cream: Heavy cream is needed for the caramel sauce – don’t try to substitute milk or half-and-half instead!
- Oats: Old-fashioned rolled oats provide the proper texture for the cookie crumble.
Baking with Pears
As I mentioned above, pears aren’t nearly as common as apples when it comes to baking. We’ve all had apple pie, apple bread, apple cakes, apple muffins, apple cheesecake – but have you tried these varieties with pears?
Pears behave fairly similar to apples when it comes to baking, especially in pies. They even hold their shape and texture a little bit better. Apple pies are often completely soft and mushy; pear pies still have a little (delicious!) bite to them.
Flavor-wise, they’re also pretty similar, which is why caramel and cinnamon, flavors often associated with apples, translate so well into a pie.
But first, let’s talk a little bit about pears, and maybe why they’re not a super popular fruit choice.
Picking Ripe Pears
Pears are pretty unique — they’re one of the only fruits that are picked early and ripen off the tree. Unlike most fruits, a pear ripens from the inside-out, so by the time the outside of the pear is ripe and soft, the inside will rot in just a few days.
While you might be able to get away with this with your own personal backyard pear tree, you can see why this isn’t conducive to modern agriculture. Instead, pears are picked when they reach their maximum size, but we have to wait for them to ripen at home.
So how do we ripen our pears? It’s time for my favorite subject… some kitchen chemistry!
Like many other fruits, pears give off ethylene, a hydrocarbon gas that is naturally emitted during the ripening process. It’s actually a plant hormone, which helps to regulate the growth and development of the plant (and fruit). As pears release ethylene, the starch in the fruit converts to sugar and the texture changes from hard to softer, resulting in what we think of as ‘ripened’ fruit.
Want to encourage your pairs to ripen faster? Store them in a paper bag on the countertop. The paper bag will trap the ethylene gas, speeding up the ripening process.
We already discussed that pears ripen from the inside out, so if the outside is soft, the inside is super mushy. So how do you tell when your pear is perfect to eat?
Press gently near the stem, where the pear is the smallest. If it has a little give, it’s ripe! Don’t squeeze the bulky bottom of the pear and expect any softness.
Baking the Best Pear Pie
Don’t let the long name of this pear scare you off — it’s actually pretty simple and quick to make, especially since there’s no top crust or lattice involved! There are four main components to this pear pie:
- Pie Crust: While you can use a store-bought crust, my homemade no fail pie crust is easy to make and perfectly flaky!
- Spiced Pears: To make the pears, peel and slice your pears into half-inch thick slices. Toss with some flour, sugar, cinnamon, and lemon juice.
- Homemade Salted Caramel: For this layer, we’re just going to whisk together a really quick, really easy homemade caramel sauce, and then pour it directly onto the pie. The whole thing takes about 10 minutes start to finish. Easy peasy.
- Oatmeal Cookie Crumble: This is basically like oatmeal cookie dough, minus the flour and eggs. And it is so, so good. It’s basically mixing together a few ingredients and sprinkling them on top of the pears.
The oatmeal cookie crumble on top was so good, I may never do a double crust, lattice crust, or regular crumb topping again. Just saying.
I like to serve this caramel pear pie with a big dollop of freshly whipped cream on top, but a scoop of vanilla (or cinnamon!) ice cream would be delicious. Or make a double batch of the caramel sauce and pour some extra on top.
Or, you know, just eat the whole thing straight out of the pie dish with a fork. I support this 100%.
Recommended Tools to Make Pear Pie
- Sheet Pan: I always place a sheet pan under the pie dish in the oven to catch any filling that might bubble up and spill over the edges!
- Pie Dish: This ceramic pie dish is sure to make your pie look its best!
- Mixing Bowls: I love this set of mixing bowls – microwave and dishwasher safe, plus all the sizes you could possibly need.
- 3 Quart Saucepan: Use a heavy-bottomed saucepan to make the caramel – the thick bottom helps prevent the sugar from overheating and burning.
- Whisk: As silly as it sounds, this is my favorite whisk and the one I always reach for – it’s just the right weight to feel heavy but not slow down your whisking.
- Pie Shield: If the edges of your pie crust start to get too dark during baking, cover them with a pie shield for the final 20-30 minutes.
Tips and Tricks for the Best Caramel Pear Pie
- Choose firm, ripe pears with a little give near the stem. Bosc or Anjou are the best for baking, as they hold their shape even when cooked.
- If you’re looking for semi-homemade, you can use storebought pie crust and caramel sauce, but I highly suggest you try out my No Fail Pie Crust and Easy Homemade Salted Caramel!
- To prevent browning and add a little brightness to the flavor, toss the sliced pears with lemon juice before arranging them in the pie crust (bottled lemon juice is fine here).
- Don’t overmix the oatmeal cookie crumble topping – too much mixing will make it tough. You’re looking for some larger buttery clumps to provide the ideal cookie texture!
- Let the pie cool for several hours – ideally overnight – before slicing so the filling can set completely. For a warm slice of pie, heat the pie in a 350 °F oven for 10-15 minutes, until warm throughout.
- While the pie is delicious on its own, it’s even better topped with a scoop of this oatmeal cookie ice cream!
- This caramel pear pie can be stored loosely covered at room temperature for 2 days, refrigerated for 4 days, or frozen for up to 3 months.
More Fall Baking Favorites:
- Cranberry Orange Streusel Muffins
- Maple Walnut Bundt Cake
- Caramel Apple Cake
- Brown Butter Pear Tart
- Sweet Potato Cheesecake
- All Fall Baking Recipes ≫
2018 Pie of the Month Series
For the Crust:
- 12 tablespoons (170 grams) unsalted butter, frozen for at least 2 hours
- 3 cups (360 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/3 cup (61 grams) vegetable shortening, frozen for at least 2 hours
- 6 tablespoons very cold water
For the pie filling:
- 1/3 cup (40 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (99 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 5 cups (900 - 1000 grams) peeled and and sliced pears, cut into 1/2 inch thick wedges (about 6 medium pears)
For the Caramel Sauce:
- 1/3 cup (71 grams) brown sugar, packed
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons butter
- pinch of salt
For the Oatmeal Cookie Crumble:
- 6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 1/2 cups (134 grams) old fashioned oats
- 1/2 cup (107 grams) brown sugar, packed
- 1/4 cup (30 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 400 °F. Place a baking sheet in the oven to heat.
- Prepare the pie crust. Place in a pie dish and flute edges. Refrigerate the crust until the filling is ready.
- To make the pie filling: Whisk together the flour, sugar, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Add in the lemon juice and pear slices and toss to fully coat the pears. Set aside.
- To make the caramel sauce: Heat a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add in the brown sugar, heavy cream, butter, and salt and whisk until butter is fully melted and sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil and boil for 1 to 2 minutes, until thickened. Remove from heat and set aside.
- To make oatmeal cookie crumble: Melt butter in a large microwave-safe bowl. Pour in the oats, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt and mix together until clumpy. Set aside.
- To assemble the pie: Layer the pears along the bottom of the prepared pie crust. Pour the still-warm caramel sauce over the pie in long drizzles (if the caramel sauce cools and starts to solidify, gently warm it over low heat until pourable again). Using fingers, break the cookie crumble clumps up over the pie, scattering across the top until the surface is fully covered.
- Place the pie on the preheated baking sheet and bake at 400 °F for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, turn the temperature down on the oven to 350 °F and bake an additional 30 to 40 minutes. When the pie is done, the filling will bubble up around the edges and make a thumping sound against the crumble. If the crust starts to darken, cover it with a pie shield after 30 minutes of total baking time.
- Remove the pie from the oven and cool completely, preferably overnight, before serving.
Pie can be made ahead and frozen, either as a whole pie or as individual slices. After baking and cooling, wrap the entire pie with plastic wrap, followed by two layers of foil and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight at room temperature. For an individual slice, freeze the slice on a cookie sheet until fully frozen, then wrap it in foil and store it in an air-tight freezer bag.