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20 Sweet & Puckery Rhubarb Recipes for Spring

"Bebop-a-rebop rhubarb pie," (and cake and cocktails and semifreddo.)

March  8, 2021
Photo by Ty Mecham

Rhubarb is spring's biggest challenge and its best reward. On the heels of winter, its stalks emerge bitter and brittle, but no mind—with a bit of coaxing, it turns sweet and inviting, like spring.

Soon enough, we realize that its tough exterior is just a ruse. Feisty rhubarb loves a stiff cocktail just as much as a tart dessert and a savory main course. It's up for anything—because really, it's just as happy as you are that it's spring. To prove it, here are 20 rhubarb recipes to let loose with.

Rhubarb Bread Crumb Cake

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This isn’t an architectural cake—it’s tender and moist and almost, but not quite, like a cobbler, so you may even want to eat it in a bowl. But the most signature element of this dessert is the cinnamon-toasty flavor that comes from bread crumbs.  

Roasted Rhubarb & Strawberries

The rhubarb is delightfully roasted, holding is shape and is complimented with a simple syrup that is created with juicy strawberries, balsamic vinegar, sweet vermouth, pure maple syrup and a pinch of salt. Simplicity at it its finest. 

Rhubarb & Rose Ramos Gin Fizz

An intensely refreshing, classic 19th century cocktail, updated with rhubarb and rosewater.

Canal House's Pork Belly With Gingery Rhubarb Compote

The secrets to releasing pork belly's magic don't require any special machinery or a food handler's certificate—they're techniques you already know, or can learn on the fly. One of them is this sweet and salty rhubarb compote. 

Rhubarb Almond Crumb Cake

This is an any-time-of-day cake. It's perfect for breakfast, brunch, snack, dessert, and anything in between. It's great with tart rhubarb, but the batter is versatile enough to work with most any fruit. If you make it with a sweeter fruit, consider reducing the amount of sugar in the batter.

Rhubarb & Gin Sorbet With Rose Cream

This dessert is simple to put together, but tastes surprisingly complex. It's cool and tart, floral and herbal, creamy and sweet, all in one. If you're not a fan of rose, feel free to use plain whipped cream or leave the cream off altogher—the sorbet is delicious as is.

Cory Schreiber & Julie Richardson's Rhubarb Buckle With Ginger Crumb

 Fiery candied ginger is minced up in this crumb topping, and ground ginger is in the cake, too. It's just enough to give it a warm, flirty je ne sais quoi that doesn't try to shout over the rhubarb.

Rhubarb Curd Shortbread

A silky and tangy blanket of rhubarb curd atop a pad of thick and crumbly spiced shortbread. The curd takes some elbow grease, but make the shortbread in a food processor if you have one handy. Once you have the two basic elements, all you do is fuse them with an icing spreader and finish with a few minutes in the oven.

Rye Shortcakes With Roasted Strawberries & Rhubarb

This springy dessert is a twist on classic strawberry shortcakes, featuring a dose of zingy citrus, sweet vanilla, and tart rhubarb. The rye flour in these shortcakes gives them a bit of milky sweetness.

Naughty Rhubarb Scones

Rhubarb's tang is the perfect foil for this super rich scone (made with heavy cream instead of milk, hence the naughty). You almost don't need jam, but strawberry would be nice, as would some clotted cream on the side. 

Sparkling Rhubarb Lemonade

Homemade lemonade is always a treat, and this lovely pink version with the surprising flavor of rhubarb and brightness of fresh mint is sure to impress. A shot of rum or gin couldn't hurt! 

Rhubarb With Earl Grey Tea, Cardamom & Orange Zest

Rhubarb and Earl Grey are a natural pairing, and one best left relatively unadorned. Toss tart chunks of rhubarb with pieces of apple, a little sugar, a pinch of cardamom, some Meyer lemon juice and some orange zest before adding the tea and gently softening everything in a 350°F oven. The fruit mellows and grows tender without falling apart, and it emerges from the oven swimming in a subtle, tea-infused broth, which thickens into a light syrup as it cools.

Additional ideas from The Editors:

Strawberry-Rhubarb Tres Leches Cake

Expert baker and host of “Bake It Up a Notch” Erin McDowell discovered a brilliant way to infuse rich tres leches cake with fruity flavor. This spring adaptation features the classic combination of strawberries and rhubarb, which get puréed together, giving this cake a beautiful rosy hue.

Honey-Butter Pork Chops With Rhubarb Sauce & Herby Peas

This recipe reads like a list of spring’s MVP (Most Valuable Produce). Thick, juicy pork chops get smothered in a sweet and savory honey-butter and served alongside a spiced rhubarb sauce and herb-laden peas. As contributor Grant Melon writes, this dish is "spring on a plate."

Rhubarb Cordial

Stretch rhubarb season well into summer by making this quick, fruity cordial. It makes a delicious spritz with some sparkling water or wine, but the possibilities for creative cocktails with this cordial are endless.

Rye & Rhubarb Anytime Cake

Rye flour pairs exceptionally well with rhubarb, the tart fruit accentuating rye’s malty sweetness. This cake is lightly sweet, zesty, and perfect any time of day, just as its name suggests.

Rhubarb Semifreddo Ice Cream Sandwiches

Semifreddo, which is Italian for "half frozen," is a great way to make ice cream at home without a machine. This rhubarb semifreddo is extra tangy, thanks to the addition of mascarpone cheese. Sandwich scoops between spicy, buttery ginger cookies or enjoy the frozen treat all on its own.

Rhubarb Coffee Cake With Cardamom-Ginger Crumble

"This coffee cake is fit for spring, thanks to a rhubarb jam that counterbalances the sweetness of the sponge and the lemony, gingery crumble," says contributor Grant Melton. I'll take a large latte and a fat slice of this sweet and tart crumble-topped cake for breakfast, thanks so much.

Anne Dimock's Straight-Up Rhubarb Pie

 

If you’re tired of strawberries stealing the show, this is the pie for you. Anne Dimock's Genius Recipe plays on the power of simplicity, its filling composed of just rhubarb, sugar, flour, and a dash of cinnamon, to "bring out the rhubarb's fire."

Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake

Want a dessert-showstopper? This recipe takes the cake, and tastes as good as it looks. Once flipped, a delicately flavored cake ends up blanketed in a buttery crumb topping and gooey, jammy rhubarb. Count me in.

What's your favorite Springy rhubarb recipe? Sound off in the comments!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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Julie Myers

Written by: Julie Myers

Perpetually hungry. Will travel for food.

8 Comments

zakariaelaloui120 March 14, 2021
Delicious.
I take this opportunity to tell you that I have tested a few products bought on this store, I can only recommend it. Take a look: https://www.mykitchenfirst.com
 
Stephanie G. March 8, 2021
Maybe time for an update in content...2014? New recipes, please!
 
selena May 22, 2014
I live in Dallas and cant find rhubarb anywhere! What gives? It used to reliably be in frozen foods. Fresh rhubarb here is a luxury in the hot south.
 
Tammy S. April 21, 2018
Try planting it under a tree with a bit of a cover blocking the direct sun. Use extra dirt and some compost to enrich the soil, if the earth is bare under the tree. Otherwise, don't add a thing as rhubarb loves poor dirt but approves of some drainage, although mine don't seem to care overly much!
 
Shirley M. May 19, 2014
Yum! I so love rhubarb and can't wait to try some of these recipes!
 
David C. May 19, 2014
Stunning photography, as always.
 
Lizthechef May 13, 2014
Thanks for the collection - my husband is a rhubarb fanatic and he will flip for some of these recipes.
 
Samuel G. May 12, 2014
I absolutely love rhubarb, but because I'm on blood thinners I can't experiment much with it due to the high vitamin k content. I'll be sure to squeeze a few of these recipes into spring for my family and sneak an occasional taste.