This easy rhubarb crisp is made with a buttery cinnamon streusel topping—without oats, thank you very much—and beneath it lies just humble rhubarb, sugar, and orange zest. A quintessential spring dessert. Not too sweet. Not too tart. Just right. And superbly simple.
This rhubarb crisp goes beyond being a truly inspired dessert to also being a lovely breakfast dessert—so much so that some of us have been known to wake early and bake a batch, especially for said purpose. (And while it’s perfectly lovely all on its own, we wouldn’t kick it out of bed with a little ice cream, whipped cream, or yogurt. Do with that information what you will.)–Renee Schettler
HOW DO I KEEP MY RHUBARB CRISP FROM BEING RUNNY?
The simple elegance of this recipe means that there aren’t a lot of extra ingredients, like flour or cornstarch, to thicken up the juices in the filling. This means that you’re relying on cooking down the fruit to get a good consistency. Don’t overcook the fruit but do let the juice simmer enough to reduce. It should only take 5 minutes and you’re going to want to keep an eye on it. Also, keep in mind that the filling will set up a little bit as it cools, so you might be just fine.
Easy Rhubarb Crisp
For the rhubarb filling
- 1 1/2 pounds fresh rhubarb trimmed and sliced (about 4 1/2 cups)
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest preferably organic
For the streusel topping
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar preferably Demerara
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 pinch kosher or fine sea salt
- 7 tablespoons (3 1/2 oz) unsalted butter cold, cut into pieces
- Whipped cream or ice cream for serving
Make the rhubarb filling
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 425°F (218°C).
- In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the rhubarb, sugar, and orange zest and simmer until the sugar dissolves into a gooey syrup and the rhubarb is sorta but not totally tender, about 5 minutes.
Make the streusel topping
- If using a food processor, toss the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in the bowl of the food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles very coarse crumbs containing pea-sized blobs of butter. If not using a food processor, combine the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl. Use 2 knives to cut the butter into the flour mixture until what you have in the bowl resembles very coarse crumbs containing pea-sized blobs of butter.
Bake and serve the crisp
- Dump the rhubarb mixture into a 9-inch pie plate or 10-inch gratin dish and sprinkle the flour mixture evenly over the top. Bake until the topping is golden brown, about 25 minutes.
- Let the crisp cool ever so slightly. Serve it warm with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
The first thing I have to say is this will be my new go-to recipe for rhubarb crisp. We love rhubarb in this house (except for my son and son-in-law) and this was definitely a big hit here. Even though this is a really simple recipe, the orange zest really makes the rhubarb sing. My daughter smelled the filling simmering and couldn't believe it was just rhubarb, orange zest, and sugar. The topping is perfect, too, as it doesn't overwhelm the filling.
Whipped cream was a great addition to this warm dessert, but my daughter and I agreed it would be good even without the whipped cream.
In just a little over 45 minutes, with only about 15 of those hands-on time, you have a perfect dessert to top off most any meal. Next time I have a craving for rhubarb, I know what I'll be making.
It's almost summer and this rhubarb crisp recipe fits in just right. It's light and fresh, sweet and fruity, and very easy to make. Just cook the sliced rhubarb with some sugar and orange peel for 5 minutes, put it in a nice gratin dish, top it with streusel, and bake for 25 minutes. That's all. You can assemble it in advance and pop it in the oven just before dinner. We had some whipped cream with it, and everybody liked it.
Originally published May 30, 2014