The Best Ways to Use Asian Pears

How do Asian pears compare to other common pear varieties?

There are dozens of pear varieties, but the most common grocery store types are Asian, Anjou, Bartlett, and Bosc. We tasted each raw in our Spinach Salad with Gorgonzola and Pear (which uses pear slices in the salad and processed pear in the dressing), roasted, and in our Pear-Walnut Upside-Down Cake. Our notes on each variety follow.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Asian pears are more crisp, less juicy, and have a milder flavor than other common pears, so they are not really suitable for cooked applications. But they’re good for snacking or to add texture to salads.

Asian Pears: Sometimes called “pear-apples,” Asian pears are rounder and squatter than other varieties. They are crunchy, as they do not soften as they ripen. Tasters noted that they “lack pear flavor,” with one taster asking, “Is this a pear or an apple?” They add crisp texture to salads or slaws.

Anjou Pears: Available with red or green skin, Anjou pears are squat and plump, with wider necks than other varieties. Their flesh is creamy, tender, and incredibly juicy when ripe. Tasters described them as having “classic pear flavor.”

Bartlett Pears: Green when underripe, these pears take on a yellowish hue when ripe. They have a floral, sweet flavor and thin, delicate skin. Bartletts are the most widely grown pear in America and are the variety typically used for canned pears.

Bosc Pears: Easy to recognize by their brownish skin and elongated necks, Bosc pears are very sweet and fragrant when ripe and are our favorite pears for baking. They’re naturally firmer than other varieties, which keeps their flesh from turning mushy when cooked.

This is a members' feature.