Strawberry rhubarb crumble is a classic summer must. The enticing aromas of cardamom, orange, and cinnamon make the jammy filling unexpected while the gingery brown sugary crumble is irresistible. A sweet-tangy balsamic drizzle takes it over the top.
Rhubarb season is so short that in June I show up early in the morning at our local market to speak to Richie Pimento, the produce manager. (Quite an apt name, don’t you think?) Before the rhubarb goes out to the coolers, he lets me rummage through the boxes for the best stalks. I like long, sturdy stalks with a deep ruby color, if I can find them.
Once home, I put the vegetable (yes, a vegetable!) to good use in all sorts of dishes: a rhubarb pie, easy rhubarb crisp, and this crumble. What I like about this dessert–or breakfast, ahem!–is the addition of ginger and cardamon. Plus the crumble calls for brown sugar, just a little extra bass note of molasses, which is lovely.
What really kicks this into high gear is the balsamic drizzle. I suggest serving it in a small creamer so people can add it to their portion ’til their heart’s content. If it thickens, stir in a teaspoon or two of hot water.–David Leite
Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble FAQs
So many people (including our testers) love the crumble topping, I’ve been asked if it can be increased. Indeed it can. I’ve made 1 1/2 batches without a problem. Mind you, the pan will be mighty full and the crumble will need to cook a bit longer.
There are 3 categories of balsamic vinegar—traditional, condiment, and imitation. The one you want here is condiment or “condimento balsamico,” identifiable by the I.G.P. (indicazione geografica protetta-protected geographical indentification) designation on the label. Condiment balsamic is the most widely used version of balsamic—it’s still balsamic but not the strictly produced or expensive top-shelf stuff. It’s the most versatile and you can get a decent bottle for a decent price. Darker condiment balsamic vinegars are sweeter and better for drizzling, just like in this recipe.
I think the better question is: What can’t you serve with this! This popular spring dessert is marvelous with vanilla ice cream scooped on top. Some freshly whipped cream (sweetened with a bit of sugar and vanilla, which makes something called Chantilly cream) works nicely, too. And speaking of cream, a simple drizzle of heavy cream will lift this to heavenly heights.
Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble
- Unsalted butter softened to room temperature, for the pan
For the strawberry-rhubarb filling
- 1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange zest preferably organic
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 pounds fresh rhubarb trimmed and sliced into 1-inch (25-mm) pieces
- 1 pound strawberries hulled and cut in half
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- Large pinch of kosher salt
For the crumble topping
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- Large pinch of kosher salt
- 1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter slightly softened, cut into 1/2-inch (12-mm) cubes
For the balsamic drizzle (optional)
- 1/2 cup confectioners' or powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- Pinch of kosher salt
Preheat the oven
- Position a rack in the middle of the oven and crank the heat to 425°F (218°C).
- Generously butter an 8-by 8-inch (20-by 20-cm) square ovenproof baking dish.
Make the strawberry-rhubarb filling
- In a large bowl, rub the orange zest into the sugar with your fingertips until the sugar turns a marvelous light orange and is fragrant.
- Stir the rest of the filling ingredients into the orange sugar and spoon it into the baking dish. Smooth the top.
Make the crumble topping
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugars, ginger, and salt. Work the butter in with your fingertips until the mixture is crumbly.
- Evenly sprinkle the topping over the filling, making sure you have no holidays–those pesky holes where you can see filling.
- Bake the crumble until the topping is golden brown and the juices bubble around the edges, 40 to 50 minutes.
- Let the crumble cool almost completely before serving.
Make the balsamic drizzle (optional)
- Just before serving, in a small bowl, stir together the confectioners’ sugar, balsamic vinegar, and salt until smooth. If the drizzle needs to be thinner, add a bit of water as more vinegar with throw off the sweet-tart balance.
- Serve the strawberry rhubarb crumble and pass the balsamic drizzle, letting everyone add as much as they like. Acknowledge the applause.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
We loved the combination of sweet-tart filling, crisp topping, and tangy balsamic glaze in this strawberry rhubarb crumble recipe. There was plenty of fruit to create a thick, jammy soft fruit layer, and the amount of crunchy topping was just right.
Definitely will be a keeper to return to every rhubarb season. I cooked my crisp in an 8-by 8-inch baking dish made of glass and found I needed 42 minutes to get it bubbling. The filling did bubble up around the crisp on the edges.
This strawberry rhubarb crumble recipe is a wonderfully easy dessert to showcase strawberries and rhubarb when they’re in season. I’ve made many crumbles and crisps, but what really differentiated this one for me was the addition of cardamom. I loved it!
The balsamic drizzle was interesting and had my testers split down the middle—half loved the crumble with the drizzle, half absolutely preferred it without. For me, the rhubarb was tart enough that I preferred it as is, without the additional acidity from the balsamic. I just served my crumble with the drizzle, but it would be wonderful with vanilla ice cream.
I associate rhubarb with my beloved father and have a hard time not indulging when it’s in season. It somehow feels like it honors him and this strawberry rhubarb crumble certainly does him justice.
It’s almost a perfect recipe! The spice-laden filling, with its orange zested sugar is incredible, as is the gingery topping. I would recommend serving the drizzle on the side. And while the crumble could happily serve 6, it would also be way too easy to make it a single serving, fork by fork! It’s that good. Beware.
I will be eating this delightful crumble again for breakfast and toast my father with coffee.
This strawberry rhubarb crumble with balsamic drizzle was a great ending to a summer BBQ. I used sweet local strawberries and rhubarb. It was easy to put together and the recipe could easily be dairy free using vegan butter and whipped coconut cream. If I were to make it again, I would decrease the amount of ginger in the filling. I love ginger but I found it to be a touch overpowering in this dish. I wanted more strawberry flavor and less ginger.
Strawberry and rhubarb has to be one of the best flavor combinations out there. Tart and sweet this dish is amplified by some almost-aggressive spices and a balsamic drizzle that’ll leave your tastebuds vibing. My husband loved the flavors in this but I think the recipe would be better with less ginger and cardamom. The orange zest shines bright in this dish and should not be toned down at all. Rubbing the zest into the sugar is gorgeous – it’s sugary summer in a bowl.
I served this strawberry rhubarb crumble recipe with a dollop of vanilla Greek yogurt. Plain would be great too – as would vanilla ice cream! I drizzled the whole lot of balsamic glaze on top. We loved it but children, or picky people, might prefer it to be on the side.
Originally published June 20, 2021