Pantry recipes: canned pear cobbler

The pantry recipe series is designed to help you use up your pantry preps with as much versatility and as little waste as possible. Ample substitution recommendations and other helpful tips are provided. New recipes are added weekly. 

It’s not quite a crumble and it’s not quite an upside-down cake. It’s somewhere in the middle (we’ll settle for cobbler) and it’s absolutely delicious.

This dessert is simple to prepare and perfect for a breakfast or dessert. The addition of oats adds some much needed texture, protein, and fiber, and helps to soak up the pear syrup so nothing is wasted.

The resulting cobbler is not too sweet, either. It can be gussied up with a multitude of creams or sauces: whipped cream, plain cream, vanilla ice cream, half-and-half. It’s also perfect served as is.

The recipe is my own, but it’s tried and tested and is a household hit. It’s versatile enough that any number of substitutions can be made to help use what you happen to have in your pantry. See the recommended substitutions below. Enjoy.


  • 2 15-ounce cans of sliced pears in syrup
  • ¼ cup softened butter
  • ½ cup golden brown sugar, loose and unpacked (75 g)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 dashes ground nutmeg
  • 1 dash ground clove
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup pancake mix


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Drain pears and preserve the syrup (about 1 ¼ cup)
  3. Arrange pears at the bottom of an 8” x 11” x 2″ baking dish
  4. Cream butter, sugar, and vanilla with a fork
  5. Add dry oats and spices and incorporate by hand
  6. Add dry pancake mix and crumb with a fork until uniform
  7. Add all of the preserved syrup, mix, and pour the wet mixture over the pears
  8. Bake at 350 F for 50 minutes


  • Total time: 1 hour
  • Preparation: 10 minutes
  • Bake time: 50 minutes
  • Servings: 8
  • Estimated calories per serving: 243


You can use virtually any canned fruit in syrup here: peaches, apricots, even fruit cocktail. It doesn’t matter if the fruit is in heavy or light syrup.

The baking dish does not need to be greased. I used a tempered glass dish but a glass dish is not required–metal or otherwise is fine. An 8″ by 8″ square dish is too small.

Other oils may be substituted for butter (vegetable oil, crisco, or coconut oil). I would avoid olive oil as the taste overwhelms the flavor of the pear.

Any brown sugar will do (light, golden, or dark brown). It’s important not to pack it, or it will be too sweet. Plain or unrefined sugar can be used if you don’t have brown sugar. Use a kitchen scale to measure 75g if you want to be precise.

If you use a cup of cake mix instead of pancake mix, omit the sugar.

A cup of self-rising flour or a cup of flour of your choice with 2 teaspoons of baking powder in it can be used instead of pancake mix.

Instant oats are fine, but if you use steel-cut oats you may want to pre-soak in water beforehand, or soak them in the syrup as you go about your other preparations.

Apple pie spice or pumpkin spice can be used, or you can use all cinnamon if you don’t have clove or nutmeg.

Go light on the clove and nutmeg–they can overpower a recipe quickly.



    • Vaylon

      This looks wonderful! I love baking — I’ll have to try this recipe and let you know how it turns out.

      8 |
      • Stephanie ArnoldContributor Vaylon

        My family loved it. It was gone in a flash. I wish I had had some vanilla ice cream to put on top. I’ve been told by a reader that canned milks work well on cobblers, too.

        10 |