Rhubarb Crumble

When my father was a kid growing up in Minnesota, in the summer he used to love to chew on rhubarb that grew like a weed around there, RAW. That’s right. Raw. (The stalks, not the leaves which are poisonous.) Have you ever tried biting into a piece of raw rhubarb stalk? I dare you. It’s like a hundred times more sour than a lemon (okay maybe a little exaggeration here). It’s screaming tart. It’s “what was I thinking?” tart. Anyway, rhubarb is not safe around this house. The refrigerator half life for rhubarb is a couple hours at best. This last bunch we put to work into a lovely rhubarb crumble, based on a recipe dad found in Oprah magazine (yes, I had to get over the shock of that too, my dad, reading Oprah? then again she does have good recipes). Taking a tip from The Flavor Bible, I added a touch of cardamom to the vanilla and rhubarb in the filling, rhubarb+cardamom+vanilla being one of those match-made-in-heaven flavor combinations.

Another favorite combo with rhubarb that I love is ginger and orange zest, which would also work great with this crumble. Feel free to experiment. The only thing you need to really keep an eye on is making sure you have enough sugar to balance out the tartness of the rhubarb. The ratio of rhubarb to sugar in this recipe is perfect for us, but if it ends up being too tart for you, add a little more sugar, or just eat with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, or even straight cream.

Rhubarb Crumble Recipe

  • Yield: Serves 8.

Ingredients

Filling:

  • 2 lbs rhubarb, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

Crumble Topping:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup of butter (1 stick or 4 ounces), cut into cubes

Method

1 Preheat oven to 375°F. In a medium sized bowl, mix together the rhubarb, white sugar, 1/4 cup of flour, the vanilla extract, and the ground cardamom. Spoon into a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.

2 In a food processor, pulse together 1 cup of flour, the salt, and the brown sugar. Add the butter and pulse until the pieces of butter are pea-sized. (Alternatively, mix the dry ingredients together and cut the butter in with two knives or a pastry cutter.) Spread topping mixture over rhubarb mixture.

3 Place in oven and cook for 35-45 minutes, until the filling is bubbly and the topping is lightly browned. Let cool for at least a half an hour before serving.

Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

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Adapted from Catherine Newman's Rhubarb Crumble in Oprah Magazine, May 2009.

41 Comments

  1. Maninas

    My husband eats rhubarb raw! Though he sometimes dips in sugar, mostly he eats it just like it is.

    But this is not why I write. I wanted to suggest adding a bit of rose water to the cardamom and rhubarb combo, plus some almonds in the crumble topping. Works a treat!

    Great suggestions, thank you! ~Elise

  2. Bethany

    OK, so I have been avoiding those rhubarb stalks filling up the farmer’s market and grocery lately — I have never used it and just don’t know what to do with it — but this might get me motivated to try something new! Although I think the chewing on raw stalks might be a whole new level I’m not up for quite yet…

  3. The Italian Dish

    Hey, your dad was just like us! My brothers and I used to run over to a neighbor’s patch of rhubarb in the summer and eat it raw, also! We absolutely loved it. I couldn’t do that now. But I sure do love it in a crumble!

  4. Jillian

    This looks like such a tasty recipe! I was wondering if you would change anything if you were using frozen rhubarb?

    I would just make sure the rhubarb was well defrosted and drained first. ~Elise

  5. Stacey Snacks

    Elise,
    I made Garrett’s terrific cherry clafoutis last night, it turned out great.
    It is on my blog this a.m.

    I will try the rhubarb crumble, since the last of the rhubarb is begging for some crumb topping!
    Thanks for posting the great recipes.
    Stacey Snacks

  6. Diane Cook

    I totally agree with your use of cardamom and rhubarb together; fantastic flavor combination! With a recent surge of requests at work for my rhubarb crunch, I compared your recipe to mine, which my high school Home Ec teacher gave our senior cooking class back in 1967. Both are essentially the same, but mine has a cup of old-fashioned oats added to the topping. To adjust your recipe, as well as adding the oats, add 1/4 c. (1/2 stick) of additional butter.

    I love the Simply Recipes site. I can’t go more than a couple days without finding something to try!

  7. Regina

    Ah – the memories – grabbing a stalk of rhubarb out of the back yard, rinsing the dirt off (with the garden hose), and then gnawing on it, stopping only to spit out the fibers from which we had drained all that tart goodness!!!!!! We had a rhubarb patch in our back yard (I hope the new owners know what to do with it!)….. but mom never cooked with it….. she let us do what we wanted with it – gnaw on it! (hey, in her mind, any fruit or vegetable was good for us!)

    This crumble sounds AMAZING, and I can’t wait to try it with the ginger-orange zest combo…. anything with ginger in it = yummaliciousness in my mind!

  8. Regnald J

    This looks amazing.

    I have never tried a rhubarb crumble before.

    On that note, I did try your rhubard sorbet and it was very yummy to the tummy.

    Thanks!

  9. Dana

    Rhubarb crumble is my husband’s favorite–I had to learn his mother’s recipe as a prerequisite for marriage. :) He’s like your dad–used to chew it raw out of his mom’s garden. He loves tart! I will definitely have to try this version with the cardamom and vanilla. Thanks!

  10. zoemaya

    I made something like this for my partner on his birthday this year. Rather than adding a lot of sugar to the mix, we cut part of it out and added sweet fruits (strawberries and raspberries). We also added some oats to the crumble topping. so delicious! We met a cardamom farmer when we were in central america, we will definitely be using some of his gift to us in the next rhubarb treat. Thanks Elise (and The Flavor Bible!).

  11. Sara

    Yum! This looks delicious, I love anything with rhubarb and anything with a crumble topping. I ate rhubarb raw as a kid too – just dip it in a glass full of sugar before every bite. I don’t know how I didn’t have more cavities!

  12. Kelly

    Looks delicious (excellent timing too – we’ve got wild rhubarb all over the place). Also, my mom grew up on the North Dakota/Minnesota border and she and her sisters ate raw rhubarb all the time; they actually had contests to see who could eat a whole stalk the fastest.

  13. Susan at Sticky,Gooey,Creamy,Chewy

    That crumble looks so great! Rhubarb desserts are one of the few sweets that my husband will eat. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find it anywhere around here this season. No rhubarb? What’s up with that? Seriously, I need to move someplace where they have better food!

  14. Ashley

    Perhaps eating rhubard raw is a Minnesota thing. I grew up (and still continue) to eat rhubarb raw!

  15. June

    This brought back great memories. When we were kids, my twin sister & I would run around with coffee cups with sugar in the bottom & rhubarb stocks in our hands. Our hands would be stained pink all summer long. This crumble (crisp to Canadians) looks wonderful & I agree re ginger & orange zest. Have you ever tried it with pineapple & ginger? It’s really delish too.

    Pineapple and ginger? Sounds like a great combination, thank you for the idea! ~Elise

  16. Maria

    I grew up in New Hampshire. My grandmother had 2 patches of rhubarb. One was the thick, tall stalks used for making sauce, pies, etc. The other was a shorter, thinner, redder version we used to eat raw, dipped in sugar or salt. Dipping in salt is still my favorite

  17. Weyrleader

    I used to eat cooked rhubarb with lots of sugar added in when I was a kid. Can’t do that these days due to diabetes.

    I’d love to know if an artificial sweetener like SweeT’N Low could be substituted for the white sugar? If so, what would the ratio between the two be?

    Many thanks in advance.

  18. LaVonne

    I used to eat rhubarb raw from my Grandma’s patch in MN too – absolutely loved it. I haven’t had any since then, though, so I don’t know how my taste buds have changed.

  19. Karen

    Sigh… I grew up with Rhubarb in Colorado. My Grandma would hit the door with it first of spring and claim we all had to eat lots of it to ‘clean out our systems’ from the winter. Love it!! Sadly, I live in West Texas now and can’t find it for love or money! Not even frozen in the stores. Can somebody mail me some??? Or tell me a heat resistant variety I can grow (nothing grows here but cactus)

  20. melissa

    MMM… rhubarb stalk fresh from the patch. We used to put salt on it. Yum. The little sour green apples, too. Granted, I can only eat one of them before my mouth puckers shut, but its still one of my favorite childhood experiences. (My dad taught me it, also.)

  21. Rita

    I just put this in the oven. Can’t wait to taste it.

    Just wanted to give everyone a tip about the cardamom. I didn’t have any and they wanted $14.59 for a bottle of it in the spice section at my local grocery store. I went to the bulk spices section of my store and I ended up getting a couple ounces for about 81 cents. Much better deal!

    Indeed. It’s also better to get whole cardamom pods which last for years, than the already ground cardamom. When you need ground cardamom, just remove some of the seeds from a pod and grind them up with a mortar and pestle. ~Elise

  22. Sonya

    This may sound like a dumb question (I am a cooking noob, but every one of your recipes I have tried has made me look like a pro)

    Does this need to be refrigerated? I want to take this to an out-of-town event this weekend.

    Thanks!

    It’s probably a good idea if you aren’t going to eat it right away. This batch I made the day before, refrigerated it, and then served it cold with ice cream. I could have reheated it too. ~Elise

  23. Amy

    “When my father was a kid growing up in Minnesota, in the summer he used to love to chew on rhubarb that grew like a weed around there, RAW. That’s right. Raw.”

    My aunt just told me her dad (my grandpa) did the same thing! I have to confess I’ve never tried biting it raw myself, or I probably did as a child and repressed the sour memory.

    Man, I wish my rhubarb hadn’t been so wimpy this year. There was totally not enough of it!

  24. kelly

    Love my mom’s rhubarb’s crisp, but now she’s out of state so I don’t have her thickets of rhubarb to rely on (or her to cook for me :) )

    I found some kind of sad looking fresh at the supermarket so going to try it. I’ll have to get her recipe and compare.

  25. Kim

    I love rubarb, as a kid my mom would send us down to the neighboors with baggies of sugar to dip the stalks in…

  26. Kim

    Oh my goodness! What a trip down the old memory lane! Growing up in Minnesota as well, I remember sitting under my Gram’s huge lilac bushes with her sugar dish…munching out on rhubarb – definitely double dipping! If I can find some good rhubarb, I will definitely make this recipe! Thanks!

  27. Sue

    I have several recipes I use for rhubarb and the neighbors too, use lots of rhubarb. My question though, how many cups is 2 pounds chopped up?

    Good question. Depends on how big the pieces are. With this batch, the rhubarb stalks were quite thick, I would estimate that cut up they were probably about 6 cups. But with getting the sugar ratio right, you kind of have to go with weight, not volume. ~Elise

  28. Matt

    Just made this with 1/2 pound of strawberries and 1 1/2 pounds of rhubarb. Minor tweak I know but my dad loves the strawberry rhubarb combo.

    It was delicious, some pieces of rhubarb were more tart than others but it gave the dish nice contrast.

  29. Tracy

    To those that are living in hotter parts and cannot find rhubarb: Here in Australia rhubarb is a winter treat :)
    Hot stewed rhubarb and apple with thick, hot custard is a favorite winter warmer. Or a dollop of natural yoghurt on the top of a bowl of apples and rhubarb for a warm breaky.
    If you can get some crowns, they will die down over the heat of summer (they don’t like over about 27C), but if you keep them well watered and fed, they will come back as the temperature cools. We can usually get rhubarb from winter through spring, and again at the end of summer.

  30. mary kelly

    I also used to pick the rhubarb and hose it off and eat it while on the roof of my grandparents chicken coop-one of my favorites. Eaten a lot in Ireland.

  31. Madeline

    My husband grew up eating raw rhubarb from his Mother’s rhubarb patch. He still eats it right out of our garden. Just snaps it off and chows down. I am not so brave. I like rhubarb with ginger but I have never heard of pairing it with cardamom. Great idea! Also, in reading the comments, good to know about buying the pods.

  32. kelly

    Just made this and it was very good, but I think I had some extra tart rhubarb, it was mouth puckering (and I like tart normally), the ratio of ice cream to rhubarb was a little higher than normal :) maybe I’ll pick up some poundcake and serve it on a thin slice with the ice cream.

    Thank goodness for ice cream, eh? :-) ~Elise

  33. Marc @ NoRecipes

    Agreed on the raw rhubarb. I’ve been playing with making a ceviche with raw rhubarb in it. Your crumble looks great. Love that the color isn’t diluted with strawberries or some other fruit.

  34. Sandy

    I made this recipe last night and made only one small change, I added a scant 1/4 tsp of salt to the rhubarb mixture. This is a spectacular dessert, my mother has an arsenal of rhubarb recipes due to having a huge rhubarb patch, and as my father dug into this he declared it “a keeper” and that it ought to be put at the top of the pile of recipes for rhubarb. High praise indeed. I ended up using 7 cups of cut up rhubarb with the 1 1/4 cups of sugar and it was perfect.

  35. Kristin

    My family loves rhubarb desserts, and loves your site, so when we had some rhubarb this week in our farmers’ market basket, we decided to try this recipe. Although it tastes good, I must have done something wrong, because it was very runny. I had 4 big, thick stalks of rhubarb, so I think I had enough, but for some reason it never really firmed up—maybe I needed to cook it longer?? Anyway, we really love your recipes, and always tell people to come check your site out. Keep up the good work!

    Sounds like it just needed to cook a while longer. ~Elise

  36. Jonathan Perceval Maxwell

    Got given some rhubarb by a colleague at work, and had a stab at a crumble, the first I have ever made, absolutely delicious! (modesty is my middle name) The cardoman addition is just fantastic. I also added a little Tokay which is a fortified wine unique to Australia, which just adds a lovely tea leafy and toffee component. All in all very happy with result. Thank you for providing such an easy to follow and delicious recipee. Jonathan

  37. Elise

    Loved this recipe! Made it this past Saturday. It was delicious and loved the cardamon in it. It is also fairly easy which I like. This is a keeper. Thanks! Elise Lafosse

  38. sarah p.

    I keep making this, and making this, and making this. . . I have 9 weeks till my due date and am craving the perfect sweet/tart dessert. This is such a great recipe! I sometimes do half rhubarb and half strawberries, depending on what’s in my fridge. Out of self defense, I’ve had to start making half recipes (or splitting one and giving half away!). It’s so good I just can’t stop eating it if it’s in my kitchen. :) Thanks for sharing!!!!

  39. Jane Castrignano

    The sugar content for the filling could have been reduced by at least a 1/4 of a cup and even maybe a 1/2 cup. It was way too sweet compared to other recipes. The crumble topping was delicious though.

  40. Mary

    Elise – This dish was a perfect Father’s Day treat for a hot summer night! Thanks for the never-ending supply of excellent recipes! You make me look like a pro every time, without fail :) – Mary

  41. Karrie Youngblood

    I tried this recipe this weekend. I was going through your site looking for a Rhubarb recipe, something different. Something beside my usual Rhubarb crisp recipe, which is really good, but I wanted something different. I usually half my sugar anytime I make a Rhubarb recipe, because I like the tartness of Rhubarb, but after reading you comments I decided to make it just like you have it. It was amazingly good! I wanted to try it once it came out of the oven and then couldn’t stop eating it. I just recently started using Cardamom and I can’t believe how much I like it. Thank you for such a great website and for sharing yourself with us.
    I have another Rhubarb recipe that I like and it is really easy. I call it Rhubarb cream cake and it is made with a cake mix.
    Ingredients.
    1 yellow cake mix and the ingredients to make it.
    4 cups of chopped Rhubarb
    ¾ cups of sugar
    1 pint of cream
    Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9×13 pan. Make cake mix per instructions. Pour into the pan. Spread the Rhubarb evenly on top of the cake batter. Then pour the sugar evenly over the Rhubarb, pour the pint of cream over that. Bake in the over for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out of the cake cleanly. Serve warm or chilled. The Rhubarb, cream and sugar make custard at the bottom of the cake. I don’t know what the chemistry is that makes this work but it is great. You do not have to post this recipe. I just wanted to share with you. The original recipe called for two full cups of sugar. Way too sweet! I think next time I make it I will add some cardamom and vanilla to the sugar and see what happens. Yum Yum!!

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