I had pear pie for the first time years ago.
The flavor was delicate, like no pie I’d ever tried before.
And though it was a fruit pie, there was something slightly custard-like about the filling. Obviously some sort of magic occurred in the oven as the pears cooked.
The taste of that pie was unforgettable. But unfortunately, I never came across a pear pie ever again.
You know what that means.
I decided to develop my own pear pie recipe.
My Pear Pie Recipe
What puts this pie over the top is the crumb topping, which consists of almond flour, sweetened coconut, and lime zest.
Yes, you read that right, lime zest.
Lime is not a prominent flavor in this pie, but the lime zest in the topping, and lime juice in the filling, really brighten and bring out the pears.
Stella's Pear Pie
I developed this recipe just after the passing of my beautiful great-grandmother, Stella. She was one classy, beautiful, and elegant lady. I’m sure this would have been her kind of pie. And so I’ve named this sophisticated pie after her.
If you’re looking for a show-stopping pie for your Thanksgiving table, this is it.
It’s also perfect for anytime you just need some pie, which in my house happens to be a common occurrence. Make it once, and I’m sure you’ll see why Stella’s Pear Pie is the most requested pie in our family.
My Emile Henry pie dish [aff. link], is my absolute favorite pie dish. (It’s the pink one in these photos.) You can find Emile Henry pie dishes here on Amazon [ aff. link]
My recipe calls for vanilla extract or vanilla paste. Use whatever you have on hand, but if you don’t have vanilla paste in your pantry, I strongly recommend getting some. It ups that vanilla flavor in baked goods, and leaves those gorgeous vanilla bean flecks. Here’s my favorite vanilla paste on Amazon [aff. link].
Stella's Pear Pie
For the crust:
- 1 ½ cup flour
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ cup cold butter, diced into cubes
- ¼ cup cold shortening, diced into cubes
- ¼ cup very cold almond milk, or milk of choice
For the filling:
- 3 ripe large pears, cored and thinly sliced (you can peel the pears or not; I usually don't if the pears are not overly ripe and the skin is still pretty)
- ¼ cup flour
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste, (or vanilla extract)
- 1 tsp lime zest, freshly grated
- 2 tsp lime juice, freshly squeezed
For the topping:
- ⅔ cup almond flour
- ⅔ cup flour
- ⅔ cup shredded sweetened coconut
- ⅔ cup sugar
- 1 tsp lime zest
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ cup butter, cold and cut into cubes
Make the crust
- In a medium-size mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, and salt with a fork.
Add the cold butter and shortening
- With a pastry cutter or your hands, cut the butter and shortening into the dry ingredients. (I always use my hands.)
- Work the butter and shortening into the dry ingredients until you end up with a crumb topping-like mixture, with little balls the size of peas.
Add the cold almond milk
- Now add the almond milk, and mix until the pie dough comes together. If it feels a little dry, add an additional tsp or two of cold almond milk. And if the dough feels a little wet, add an additional tsp or two of flour.
Refrigerate the dough
- Form the dough into a disk, and refrigerate the dough for at least a half hour. (You can also wrap the dough disk in saran wrap, and freeze it if you won’t use the dough for a few days.)
- After a half hour, or whenever you are ready to make the pie, take the dough disk out of the refrigerator.
Roll out the dough
- Roll the dough out on a floured surface. (Rolling the dough on a floured surface will make lifting the dough into the pie dish easier.)
- Roll the dough out to the point that if you were to place the pie dish upside down on top of the rolled out dough, there would be about 2 extra inches of dough around the circumference of the pie dish.
- Now that the dough is rolled out, gently fold it in half, taking care not to press the sides together! Fold the dough in half one more time. (So you have folded the dough into quarters.)
Put the dough in the pie dish
- Oil a standard 9 inch pie dish (a 10 inch pie dish also works). Gently lift the folded pie dough and place it in the pie dish so that the two folded sides of the dough are in the pie dish, and the edge of the dough is going out over the edge of the pie dish.
- Now carefully unfold the pie dough. Start by unfolding it from the quarter so it is now just folded in half. Then gently unfold it so it is no longer folded in half, and is completely open, and in the pie dish.
- Gently press the dough down into the pie dish, then fold and scallop the edge with your fingers. This step is best explained and viewed in my Pie Crust Tutorial, which includes pictures. (You can find the link in the "Notes" section of this recipe.)
- Place the pie shell in the freezer, and freeze for 15 minutes before putting the filling into the pie shell.
Make the filling
- In a medium size mixing bowl, add the pears, flour, sugar, vanilla paste, lime juice, and lime zest. Fold everything together very carefully. You want those pear slices coated in all the other ingredients, but you don’t want to break the pear slices!
- Let the mixture sit for ten minutes. The pears will release their juices.
Make the topping
- Make the topping while the filling sits. In the bowl of your food processor, add the flour, almond flour, sugar, coconut flakes, salt, and lime zest. Pulse a few times.
- Now add the cold butter cubes to the food processor, and pulse again a few times to start incorporating the butter.
- Process the mixture until it comes together. It may still be a little clumpy, which is great since this is a crumb topping. Topping is done.
Compile the pie
- Now take your cold pie shell out of the freezer, and put the pear filling into the pie shell. Layer the pear slices in the pie shell evenly.
- Now crumble the almond coconut topping over the pear filling. Keep going until you have completely covered the top of the pear filing.
Bake the pie
- Bake the pie at 375 degrees for 27 minutes, rotating the pie 180 degrees halfway through. The pie is done when both the crust and the topping are slightly brown. (This pear pie comes out perfectly cooked at 27 minutes every time for me.)
Serve and enjoy!
- Let the pie cool completely before serving. I like this pear pie best at room temperature, but it's also delicious cold, or slightly warmed. This is a stand alone pie, and does not need to be served with anything else.
I would not guess that the secret ingredient was limes! I am so glad that you were able to recreate your favourite recipe – it would have been such a shame (and so frustrating) to lose this one forever. I am sure your family were super grateful!
Isn’t it crazy that limes bring out that pear flavor? I was shocked. Thank heavens I didn’t have lemons on hand when I developed this recipe, otherwise I never would have branched out and tried using limes. Now I am completely addicted haha. Thank you so much for your kind comment Katerina! Hope you’ve had a lovely weekend!
Pear pie is a lovely pudding idea. I love all kinds of fruit pies but haven’t got a recipe for a pear pie. Thanks for sharing Shannon and I hope you have an amazing Christmas!
Thank you Neal! Isn’t it a unique pie fruit? Definitely not the first I think of, but it’s quickly become one of my favorites! Hope you have an amazing Christmas as well! How fast this year has gone by!
I must admit that I’ve never had a pear pie – at least I don’t think I have. I know I’ve never made one! That needs to change as this sounds fantastic, Shannon! And I love the tropical flavors with the coconut and lime in there. Pass me a slice, please!
Thanks David! All the delicious pies are definitely one of the best parts of this time of year. 😋.
Just thought I should share that I’ve made this pie for Thanksgiving the last two years. A hit every time, never any leftovers. So unique and utterly delicious!